Alshon Jeffery: Chicago Bears WR Week 1 Outlook
The status of Chicago Bears wide receiver Alshon Jeffery is perhaps the biggest injury news of Week 1 of the NFL season. Jeffery missed the Bears’ entire preseason slate and a huge majority of training camp with a strained calf muscle that he suffered way back on August 12th.
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Jeffery was finally able to return to the field this week, partaking in the Bears’ practice sessions on Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday. However, he was listed as a limited participant in each of those practices. One thing is for sure, Bears’ head coach John Fox is not giving many hints towards the availability of Jeffery on Sunday.
"“[Jeffery] is still day-to-day and we’ll continue to evaluate him at tomorrow’s practice,” Fox told reporters on Friday, according to Jeff Dickerson of ESPN.com. “We’ll see what that brings. We have a training room set up at our team hotel at night, and really, I don’t solidify on the inactives until we get to Sunday morning to make sure nobody gets sick or anything goofy pops up.”"
Jeffery is officially listed as questionable for Week 1 at the moment. With that quote, and Fox’s history of being extremely secretive with his player’s injuries, I do not expect to know much about Jeffery’s availability until the Bears are forced to report inactives 90 minutes prior to kickoff.
This is based on nothing besides the information mentioned above, but I think Jeffery will be out there for the Bears this weekend. They have taken it easy with him throughout the preseason, but the Bears know what they have in their number one receiver. He is extremely familiar with quarterback Jay Cutler, and is one of the few established players who are still smack-dab in their prime on the roster.
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Obviously, the Bears would have loved to have Jeffery on the field during the preseason, but getting him as fresh and healthy as possible was the more important part of the equation. He needed to partake in practice this week in order to play, which is why he was out there in a limited capacity. The Bears held Jeffery with kid gloves throughout this preseason, but I think it was in anticipation of having him ready for Week 1.
So, I think Jeffery plays, but what can we realistically expect out of him? Unfortunately, as far as his health is concerned, we may not know until Jeffery is legitimately tested at gametime. ESPN’s resident injury expert Stephania Bell has an uneasy report for Bears’ fans and fantasy owners of Jeffery.
“It’s worth noting that Jeffery’s injury was described by Fox initially as day-to-day, but it was nearly four weeks before he returned to practice,” Bell said. “So was the lengthy absence due to the fact the injury was more severe than the team indicated initially? Or was it a proactive measure to help ensure a second receiver wasn’t lost for multiple weeks? There’s no way to know for sure, just as there’s no way to definitively know how ready Jeffery is for game action.”
“Calf strains can be stealthy, allowing an athlete to feel he can do anything until he does just a little too much — one explosive move, for instance — when the pain can resurface out of nowhere and sideline him again,” she continued. “The only way to know an athlete is past the injury is to see him play without incident, several times, then retrospectively pronounce the injury gone. Hamstring injuries and to a lesser degree quad injuries can behave similarly, but max demands of the calf are hard to simulate in non-competitive situations.”
Obviously, if Jeffery is deemed to be active that is good news as it relates to his health moving forward. However, Bell’s assessment of the injury certainly has me worried. Essentially, she is saying it is impossible to really know how much the injury will affect Jeffery in the game until we see him perform at full speed on the field.
Not an exactly an ideal situation, especially for those who have to decide whether to put Jeffery in their fantasy lineups.
The match-up against the Green Bay Packers is a relatively favorable one for Jeffery. Their secondary is solid, but they do not have anyone who can realistically defend a fully healthy Jeffery one-on-one with any sort of consistency. Also, a healthy Jeffery is far and away the best option for the Bears in the receiving core. He will be targeted by Cutler often when he is one the field.
When it comes to fantasy football, having Jeffery on your squad is a tricky situation this week. If he plays, he is very likely the most talented player in any sort of line-up decision you may have. That being said, as we learned from Bell, it is nearly impossible to predict what will happen once he tests that calf on the field.
Dec 15, 2014; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Bears wide receiver Alshon Jeffery (17) catches a touchdown pass over New Orleans Saints defensive back A.J. Davis (20) during the second half at Soldier Field. New Orleans won 31-15. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports
It is certainly possible that the Bears make Jeffery active, but he goes out there and tweaks his calf on the first play, and does not return. It is not a likely scenario, but it is certainly within the realm of possibility.
Assuming he is active, I am personally rolling with Jeffery in any league that I own him this week. I understand the risks involved, and am prepared to be upset with myself if something unfortunate happens. However, Jeffery is an absolute monster at the wide receiver position, and this advantageous match-up is too much for me to pass up.
Jeffery’s Week 1 status is very much up in the air, but if he plays, I cannot imagine sitting him on the bench. The golden rule in fantasy football is to always start your studs, and Alshon Jeffery is undoubtedly a stud. Watch the Sunday morning injury reports closely, but if Jeffery is active, get him in there.
Next: Fantasy Football Week 1 Start/Sit