We're coming off a weekend busy with preseason games, in which we saw a decent number of starters get some run. That means we're getting close to games that count. In turn, injury notes are more impactful now and could start to dictate draft decisions.
The headline of the day comes from Los Angeles, where Darrell Henderson exited practice with a thumb injury. He's since been diagnosed with a sprain and should be ready for the regular season. Still, it's worth noting that the Rams have been careful with Henderson in camp based on both his injury history and the fact that the team has already lost Cam Akers for the season. Xavier Jones appears to have the inside track to serve as the backup to Henderson, so he could be a name to keep in mind.
Saquon Barkley is expected to ramp up his practice participation this week, though the team has not made exact plans known. It is worth noting that the team is having joint practices with the Patriots, so he could see some live action. Barkley's status for the regular season remains unclear, though the news remains positive in large part.
Carson Wentz returned to practice handle reps in 7-on-7 drills. He remains optimistic that he will take the field for Week 1 of the regular season, and beat reports from the practice field backed up that optimism. While Wentz himself may not immediately be a strong fantasy option, his return would lift the potential production of Jonathan Taylor, Michael Pittman, T.Y. Hilton, Zach Pascal and Parris Campbell.
CeeDee Lamb was placed in the COVID protocols, along with several other members of the team. It's not clear whether he tested positive or was a close contact, and he will remain ineligible to return to practice until he passes protocol. Lamb should be back in time for the Cowboys' regular season opener, though the situation is worth monitoring.
There were a number of news items surrounding A.J. Brown, with the first piece being that he is still bothered by knee issues. Brown underwent surgery on both of his knees immediately after the team was eliminated from the playoffs to end the 2020 season. The issue seemed to be behind him when he practiced in full for much of training camp, but he was absent last week with an undisclosed issue. While we now know the injury, Brown practiced on Monday and is expected to be ready for the regular season.
A few news items also emerged out of Detroit. T.J. Hockenson returned to practice, albeit with a non-contact jersey on. Even so, Hockenson sounded extremely confident in his health, which bodes well for his potential to produce when games count. The news was also positive surrounding D'Andre Swift. The team has largely been cautious with him while he deals with a groin injury, but once again, there appears to be little to worry about in terms of health.
Marquise Brown has been sidelined since July 29 and remained out of practice Monday. This is one situation that began as a non-issue but continues to escalate as we get deeper into camp. Brown is said to be nearing a return, but at this point reports will be extremely important to watch. Speaking of sidelined Baltimore wideouts, Sammy Watkins' absence also continued. He's been sidelined for a week with an undisclosed injury. Given his lengthy track record of being sidelined and the lack of projectable passing volume in Baltimore, Watkins is difficult to trust at this point.
Cam Newton has not tested positive for COVID, but he violated the league's testing procedures while he was on an excused absence from the team. That will give Mac Jones an opportunity for more reps in practice. Coach Bill Belichick has consistently stated that Newton is the team's starting quarterback, but Jones could still take advantage of the opportunity to become familiar with the team's offense and top wideouts for a potential takeover in the middle of the season. Finally, Jonnu Smith returned to practice after battling an ankle injury that cost him Friday's preseason contest. Targets may be hard to find for Smith to begin the season as the team sorts through its myriad of offseason additions, but he could emerge as a favorite of either Newton or Jones as the season goes along.
Tyreek Hill returning to practice would typically be a higher priority in the article based on his importance to fantasy teams. However, his absence with a hamstring issue was always deemed precautionary. Now that he's back on the field, those original reports were confirmed.
We'll end with kicker news. While it's not the most exciting, it's important as a scoring position in most league setups. Cody Parkey was placed on injured reserve in Cleveland. While the news doesn't necessarily rule him out for the entire season due a loophole in the injury settlement process, he'll be sidelined for quite some time. Chase McLaughlin is the team's kicker currently, though there have already been plenty of whispers about the Browns potentially bringing in alternative options to compete for the role.