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Impact of “probable” injury report elimination on fantasy football

The NFL will be changing injury reports this year; how will that impact your fantasy football team?

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NFL: AFC Championship-New England Patriots at Denver Broncos
Injury status unclear, or more clear?
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Anyone who plays fantasy football knows the weekly dilemma of using injury reports as a gauge for determining if you need to add a waiver wire replacement, and who to start and sit for your games.

As of last year, The NFL had four designations for injuries, which were supposed to follow these guidelines:

  • Probable: 75% chance of playing
  • Questionable: 50% chance of playing
  • Doubtful: 25% chance of playing
  • Out: No chance of playing.

From a fantasy football perspective, a probable player was pretty much a lock to play, as 95% of players with this designation ended up playing. Doubtful players were almost a certainty to miss the game, while questionable ones definitely needed to be checked in by fantasy players before game time.

The NFL has removed probable as a designation going forward and has redefined the other two injury designations:

  • Questionable: It is uncertain as to whether the player will play (between 99-50% chance of playing).
  • Doubtful: It is unlikely the player will participate (less than 50% chance of playing).

In doing this, the league has essentially taken a pool of murky water and tossed a bucket of mud into it - making it even less clear. For fantasy players, the league not only removed the one sure sign that an injured player would be playing (probable), but also changed the doubtful designation to a wishy-washy label that doesn’t really say much of anything.

Ultimately, now for fantasy players, it seems the league has made it a necessity for fantasy players to check the active gameday roster an hour or so before kickoff of each game to see if your players are playing. This adds an extra layer into your weekly fantasy roster decisions, which seems to be in line with how Marvin Lewis views the changes, something that impacts fanbases, but not NFL teams.

“It just makes no difference,” Lewis told the Cincinnati Enquirer. “Guys are going to play. You’re going to defend a team. It doesn’t really matter. I don’t pay attention to the injury report. I don’t know that many coaches do. It’s more of, I think, fortunately and unfortunately, it seems like more of a fan base thing than anything else. We’re going to prepare and play whoever shows up and that’s what we’re going to do anyway.”

More players will now be deemed questionable on a week-to-week basis and that’s going to play into your fantasy decision making. To stay on top of your team, keep in mind that the active gameday rosters are posted 90 minutes before kickoff and we’ll always have the Bengals’ for you on Cincy Jungle as soon as it’s announced.