NFL Week 1 Injury Report and Analysis

Sep 9th 2022

Sosa Kremenjas

Week 1 of the NFL season has arrived. In this article, we're going to dive into the biggest injuries every week, highlighting the impact they may have, and the potential players who stand to benefit.

Let's dive into the most questionable players in Week 1.

All stats are sourced from PFF and Sports Info Solutions.

San Francisco 49ers TE George Kittle

Practice participation: DNP, DNP

Injury: groin

Out of all the players listed here, Kittle might be in the most trouble when it comes to missing Week 1. The star tight end randomly crept onto the injury report and has yet to practice this week. Looking back over his career, Kittle has played in 16 games just once, though he's played in 14 games twice, and in 15 games once. Really, just the 2020 season was a nightmare, though it feels like he's battled injuries throughout the entirety of his career.

Last year, Kittle demanded an 18.3% target share (second-most on the roster) while playing in just 14 games and running 352 routes (third-most). It's clear he's still a dominant receiver and a target who's featured when playing.

When Kittle was out (Weeks 5-8), the 49ers funneled the majority of their passing game work to WR Deebo Samuel, unsurprisingly. The star had 29 targets with Brandon Aiyuk coming in second with 12, and then Mohamed Sanu and JaMycal Hasty in third with eight each. Backup tight ends Charlie Woerner chipped in five targets of his own and Ross Dwelley four.

If Kittle is sidelined, we can probably expect an uptick in work for Deebo Samuel and Brandon Aiyuk across the middle of the field, but not a ton for the backup tight ends. The 49ers don't appear to have a streamable tight end in the potential absence of Kittle.

Pittsburgh Steelers WR Diontae Johnson

Practice participation: LP, LP

Injury: shoulder

Johnson appears to be the first real questionable heading into Week 1. Offensive coordinator Matt Canada sounded confident Johnson would suit up, as did fellow receiver Chase Claypool.

Going back to last year, Johnson recorded the fourth-highest target share among all receivers at a dominant 28.8%. Of course, the Steelers changed quarterbacks from Ben Roethlisberger to Mitch Trubisky so there are some unknowns, but he's as clear-cut as it gets for a No. 1 wide receiver.

If Johnson were to shockingly miss time, both Claypool and rookie George Pickens should see an increased target share, though tight end Pat Freiermuth isn't one to forget about. Johnson recorded a team-high 10 targets inside the 10-yard line last season, with Freiermuth following right behind with nine. If the Steelers find their way into the red zone or inside the 10-yard line, Freiermuth is a player to circle.

Miami Dolphins RB Chase Edmonds

Practice participation: LP, FP

Injury: groin

Edmonds is trending in the right direction and looks like he'll play in Week 1. The Dolphins' backfield has been entirely re-made with the additions of Edmonds and Raheem Mostert, and so too has their coaching staff with the addition of Mike McDaniel.

Miami is entirely a guessing game, let's call it what it is. Going back to last year though, Edmonds recorded the 10th-highest target share among all running backs with a 13.1% figure. For a part-time player, that's impressive.

Coach McDaniel comes from the 49ers, where they've historically mixed and matched running backs under Kyle Shanahan. We should expect McDaniel to do the same. While Edmonds seems to be the first man up, it could be Mostert who handles a decent portion of the rushing work, while Edmonds could carve out a larger receiving role in addition to at least a 50/50 rushing split. As you can see, this backfield is entirely a guessing game, but it doesn't take a genius to know Mostert is an incredibly strong play in the event that Edmonds misses time.

New Orleans Saints WR Michael Thomas

Practice participation: LP, LP

Injury: hamstring

Thomas has appeared in just seven games since the 2020 season but it appears he's going to make his return to the field in Week 1. If healthy, Thomas is a plug-and-play receiver, though his role remains to be seen within the newly built Saints offense.

Rookie Chris Olave and veteran Jarvis Landry are expected to play major roles alongside Thomas in the Saints' passing attack. Over the course of his career, Landry has lined up in the slot 66.9% of the time. Thomas has aligned there just 24.9% of the time. While Landry should be a focal point in the short receiving game and featured as a yards-after-the-catch weapon (YAC), Thomas and Olave will likely work on the boundary.

Last season, the Saints ranked just 26th in 11 personnel usage. Looking at the past few seasons:

  • 2020: 22nd

  • 2019: 15th

  • 2018: 30th

There's reason to believe they'll trot out more 11 personnel sets this season with three quality players at the position, but Sean Payton's offenses have not traditionally worked in those formations a ton over the past few seasons. That's obviously a concern, but new head coach Dennis Allen should mold his strategy to the strength of his players, and that's clearly 11 personnel. Both Olave and Landry could see a target share boost sans Thomas, though the veteran seems like he'll play.

Atlanta Falcons WR Drake London

Practice participation: LP, LP

Injury: knee

London has put in consecutive limited practices and the team has stated they will make a decision on his status late in the week. For fantasy players, that's one of the worst statements you can hear, but he's practicing at the very least.

Of course, like many teams on this list, London is a hard player to peg and so are the Falcons. They've acquired a new quarterback in Marcus Mariota and London played all of five snaps in the preseason. The rookie was targeted just once but was able to record a reception for 24 yards on that occasion.

Tight end Kyle Pitts is expected to be the No. 1 option for the Falcons, though London could carve himself out a strong role as the next-best weapon. While Atlanta isn't likely to throw it as much as they did last season, No. 1 receiver Calvin Ridley ranked ninth in the league with a dominant 26.8% target share. London probably won't replicate that, but he is in line for a major workload.

If London is sidelined, expect Bryan Edwards to be the beneficiary. They're similar in stature and both excel at winning jump balls, though Edwards did miss a handful of training camp practices by way of injury, too.

Baltimore Ravens RB J.K. Dobbins

Practice participation: LP, LP

Injury: knee

We're all prepared to see the return of Dobbins, though we might have to wait for a future week to see it. The Ravens are approaching his return cautiously and that makes sense considering RB Gus Edwards is stashed away on the injured list for at least four games. Dobbins might miss this game after missing all of last season with a torn ACL.

Even if he suits up, this is going to be a running back by committee approach, which is exactly the opposite of what all fantasy football players want to hear. Dobbins might start if healthy, but he certainly won't carry a workhorse-like usage rate. Anticipating this, the Ravens signed veterans Mike Davis and Kenyan Drake throughout the offseason. Oddly enough, both players put together career years in 2020 and down years in 2021. Dating back to 2020, Davis ranked seventh in missed tackles forced with 43 among all running backs with 50-plus rushing attempts. Drake ranked 19th. Maybe their past usage will help indicate how the Ravens think they fit:


  • Gap runs: 328

  • Zone runs: 398


  • Gap runs: 202

  • Zone runs: 341

Ravens offense (2021):

  • Gap runs: 2nd

  • Zone runs: 31st

These numbers could mean nothing at all, but both players have the ability to play all three downs, yet Drake has more experience running in a gap scheme. If Dobbins is able to suit up, he might be worth a FLEX play at best, though that seems like a risky option to me. I'd suggest avoiding this situation entirely in Week 1 and addressing it on the waiver wire after this week.

Green Bay Packers WR Allen Lazard

Practice participation: DNP, DNP

Injury: ankle

Like Kittle, Lazard does not look like he's going to be in a position to play this week. It's an unfortunate turn of events for a guy that's expected to be the team's No. 1 wide receiver. As of now, the Packers are likely to start Sammy Watkins and Randall Cobb, though the third receiver spot is up for grabs between two rookies in Christian Watson and Romeo Doubs. Watson is also injured but is practicing fully, while Doubs was the talk of training camp.

Or, the Packers could begin to roll out an interesting adjustment that includes having both A.J. Dillon and Aaron Jones out on the field together:

Will it happen? We'll see. But, the Packers are such a productive offense that if Lazard can't go, there is surely a lot of value to go around. Perhaps the Packers will look to use Lazard in a similar role to last season. If so, here are some of his usage metrics:

  • 44.2% of his snaps in the slot (4th on roster)

  • 11.3 average depth of target (2nd on roster)

  • 11.9% target share (88th among WRs)

We didn't get to see Watson in the preseason, but Doubs would align with this type of usage fairly well:

  • 16.3% of his snaps in the slot

  • 11.7 average depth of target

  • 15.6% target share

Tampa Bay Buccaneers WR Chris Godwin

Practice participation: FP, DNP (rest)

Injury: knee

Godwin looks like he's on track to suit up, but the Buccaneers are going to take it down to the wire it appears. The stud receiver might not even play a full complement of snaps if he is out there but that remains to be seen. In addition to his injury, Russell Gage (hamstring) is also dealing with an ailment and could be considered questionable or probable.

With Godwin still ailing, veteran Julio Jones stands to benefit. During Weeks 16-18 last year — with Godwin sidelined — Tom Brady peppered a handful of rotational receivers with targets:

  • Week 16: Antonio Brown - 14 targets (no Godwin or Mike Evans)

  • Week 17: Cyril Grayson - 8 targets

  • Week 18: Tyler Johnson - 6 targets

While it may be concerning a new receiver was featured each week, we have to add the context that includes the whole Brown jersey-removal saga. The Bucs were in a state of flux at the time. It's fair to expect Evans to be featured to some degree although not as much as he should be with Brady. The issue is someone else has to step up. Gage could play, but Jones is the viable healthy option. As it stands, all Bucs receivers are worth playing this week, even Godwin.