Saints WR Michael Thomas against the Titans
Dec 22, 2019; Nashville, Tennessee, USA; New Orleans Saints wide receiver Michael Thomas (13) breaks the record for receptions in a season with this touchdown reception during the second half against the Tennessee Titans at Nissan Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

As we look ahead to Week 2 of the NFL season, the latest injury reports allow us to see what stars will be able to play this week and what players will be inactive. It’s especially important for fantasy football owners, with several prominent players coming into Thursday with significant injuries.

Things are looking positive for Philadelphia Eagles running back Miles Sanders, who missed Week 1 with a hamstring injury. However, the NFL’s latest injury news isn’t all positive with receivers Michael Thomas and A.J. Brown in serious jeopardy of long-term absence.

Let’s take a look at Thursday’s NFL injury report and the latest news on some of the biggest fantasy stars heading into Week 2.

NFL Week 2: Picks, schedule and odds

Latest news on Michael Thomas’ ankle injury

When running back Latavius Murray rolled into Michael Thomas’ left ankle late in Week 1, the New Orleans Saints hoped their All-Pro receiver avoided a serious injury. As he walked around the locker room, the Saints seemed to have caught a break. Unfortunately, the good vibes didn’t last long.

Thomas suffered a high-ankle sprain, an injury the team fears could sideline him for multiple weeks. The creation of the short-term injured reserve, which would sideline Thomas for three weeks, seemed like a compelling route for New Orleans to take.

On Thursday, after his star receiver missed another practice, head coach Sean Payton refused to comment on the injury. For now, it’s highly unlikely Thomas plays in Week 2 against the Las Vegas Raiders and his status for Week 3 should also be considered questionable.

Fantasy impact on Saints’ offense if Michael Thomas sidelined

Losing the NFL’s single-season record holder for catches (149) is an obvious blow for the Saints. Thomas is the easy go-to receiver for Drew Brees, serving as the engine that helps make this passing attack run. With him out of the picture for Week 2, there is a huge impact on the offense.

Emmanuel Sanders, who signed with the Saints this offseason, steps in as the No. 1 receiver. He can make plays after the catch and get open on short and intermediate routes, making him ideal for Brees’ skills. In addition, tight end Jared Cook – an impact player in Week 1 – should see more targets and should be considered a top-five play in fantasy rankings this week.

Many will look towards Tre’Quan Smith as a potential sleeper, especially in DFS. However, he finds himself behind Sanders, Cook and Alvin Kamara in line for targets.

NFL power rankings: Latest rankings entering Week 2

NFL news: Titans WR A.J. Brown suffers bone bruise, out for Week 2

Coming off a last-second Week 1 win over the Denver Broncos, Tennessee seemingly escaped without a scratch. The offense showed its potential and with A.J. Brown and Corey Davis at receiver, this team looked ready to roll.

Everything took a turn on Thursday. According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, Brown missed practice after being diagnosed with a bone bruise. With their Week 2 matchup closing in, the Titans may now be without their star receive for Sunday’s game and beyond.

Fantasy impact of A.J. Brown’s potential ‘multi-week’ absence

While it’s not known when Brown suffered the knee injury, it would explain his struggles in Week 1. Coming off a 1,000-yard, eight-touchdown season, the 23-year-old hauled in only eight targets for 39 receiving yards against Denver.

Tennessee will take a cautious approach with its No. 1 receiver, especially given its intentions to contend for the Super Bowl this season. As a result, fantasy owners should be prepared for Brown to miss Sunday’s game and he is likely questionable for Week 3.

With Brown sidelined, Corey Davis will step in as Ryan Tannehill’s go-to target. He led the team with 101 receiving yards in Week 1 and the No. 5 overall pick in the 2017 NFL Draft should be a WR2 in fantasy this week. We also expect tight end Jonnu Smith to receive an expanded role, locking him in as a top-10 tight end in Week 2.

Philadelphia Eagles injury report: Miles Sanders expected to play in Week 2

After missing Week 1 with a hamstring injury, the Eagles were confident Sanders would return to action this week. Following positive reports to begin the week, the team’s latest injury report is great news for a potential return.

Sanders was a full participant in practice on Wednesday, proving he has recovered from the injury that sidelined him in training camp. If there were any lingering concerns, the 23-year-old remained a full participant in practice on Thursday.

Fantasy impact of Miles Sanders’ return

The NFL ditched the ‘probable’ tag on injury reports over a year ago. So, when the Eagles release their final injury report on Friday, Sanders might be removed entirely. Better yet for Philadelphia, right tackle Lane Johnson could also return in Week 2.

A matchup against the Los Angeles Rams looks promising for Sanders. While the Rams boast one of the NFL’s best defenses, this group just allowed the Dallas Cowboys to rush for 136 yards in Week 1. Sanders, a dangerous all-purpose back, projects as a high-end RB2 in Week 2.

NFL injury report: James Conner (ankle) likely to play in Week 2

When Conner suffered an ankle injury on Monday Night Football, many wondered if he could suit up on short rest for Week 2. The concern only intensified when Pittsburgh’s starting running back couldn’t even take the practice field on Wednesday due to the injury. Fortunately, the team’s injury woes took a positive turn on Thursday.

Conner’s return to full activity on Thursday is a great sign for his Week 2 availability. It proves that this is a mild issue for Pittsburgh’s lead running back and it likely won’t keep him off the field in Week 2 against the Broncos.

Fantasy football rankings: James Conner a risky play in Week 2 matchup

While Conner’s availability for Sunday’s game is important for the Steelers, this might be a situation for fantasy owners to avoid. He didn’t look sharp in the team’s season-opening win against the New York Giants. In fact, running back Benny Snell Jr. looked vastly superior with 113 rushing yards compared to Conner’s nine yards.

We know Conner is capable of being very productive, as he proved it in 2018 with 973 rushing yards. However, Pittsburgh seems very willing to use the committee approach at running back. Given Conner will be injured and splitting touches with Snell, it makes him a fringe RB3 this week and ranked outside the top-25 running backs for Week 2.

Matt Johnson
NFL, MLB & college football writer for Sportsnaut. Graduated from San Diego State University with BA in Journalism, 2019. Grew up in Sacramento, now based in Indianapolis. Seen on MSN. Previously: eDraft, The Connection, With the First Pick