The Steelers were dealt a major blow to their unsettled running back situation, as perceived frontrunner Le'Veon Bell (foot) was diagnosed with a Lisfranc injury and is expected to miss the next six weeks of action. The news obviously sends his draft stock tumbling downward, paving the way for Isaac Redman, Jonathan Dwyer and LaRod Stephens-Howling to head the Steelers' rushing attack early on. Redman is the longest-tenured runner of the group and seems to be favored by the coaching staff, so it would seem he's the most likely candidate to start in Week 1, though Dwyer should also see his fair share of snaps.
In more encouraging running back news, Arian Foster (back) was activated from the PUP list Wednesday but remains unlikely to play in Sunday's preseason game against the Saints. Since he'll have only limited practice time under his belt before Wednesday, it's probably a smart decision by the Texans not to rush him back to action, and it wouldn't be surprising if he sat out the preseason finale as well. Texans GM Rick Smith indicated Wednesday that he is confident that Foster will suit up in the team's regular season-opener Sept. 9 at San Diego, which is all that likely matters to both Foster and his fantasy owners. In any case, in light of his lengthy absence this summer and three consecutive seasons of 275-plus carries, it's reasonable to expect at least a slightly lighter workload in the running game for Foster this season.
Though Marques Colston (foot) practiced both Monday and Tuesday before being rested during Wednesday's session, he admitted that he is still not feeling 100 percent healthy, despite missing more than a dozen practices during training camp. The foot injury seems to have lingered from last season, and may be further compounded by the extensive work he's been subjected to in the passing game over his career, piling up six 1,000-yard receiving campaigns in his first seven seasons. Colston should gradually feel better as the season nears, and though we've probably already seen the upper limits of his talents, he is still one of the most consistent fantasy options at his position.
Packers coach Mike McCarthy expressed optimism regarding Jordy Nelson's (knee) recovery, stating the wideout was "very close" to returning to action. Nelson underwent a minor arthroscopic procedure two weeks ago, and while he seems to be on track to suit up for Week 1, fantasy players should still account for the possibility that, in the event of a setback, he may be forced to play limited snaps or, in a worst-case scenario, sit out entirely in the early going until he feels completely healthy.
Ahmad Bradshaw (foot) was able to practice in pads for the first time during training camp Tuesday, but coach Chuck Pagano said it remains unlikely that he'll play in any preseason games. Pagano's statement doesn't seem to represent any skepticism about Bradshaw's health, and can more or less be inferred as entrusting the veteran running back to know what it takes to get his body ready for the regular season. He's expected to open the season as the team's starting running back and should be dependable in goal line situations and pass protection.
Wes Welker shook off a mild ankle sprain to return to practice Wednesday and appears on track to play in Saturday's third exhibition against the Rams. In spite of the recent suspension of Von Miller in addition to some key personnel losses at center, the Broncos remain at full strength at wide receiver, with Welker, Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker all expected to be excellent fantasy options across most any format.
Welker's de facto replacement in New England, Danny Amendola missed his second straight practice with an undisclosed injury Tuesday, and as a result, appears unlikely to play in Thursday's exhibition game against the Lions. Even though he's sat out all week with the unidentified issue, the Patriots don't consider it serious and seem to be just exercising precaution. It's hard to blame the team for playing it safe with Amendola given the concerns about his injury history that may have driven several other suitors away in free agency.
The hard-luck Chargers seem to finally have received some positive news, as Malcom Floyd (knee) has been able to resume running the last two days. Floyd's recovery has progressing quicker than expected for the Chargers, so much so that there's some realistic hope that he'll be available for the season opener. Though Floyd will in all likelihood miss the Chargers' remaining two preseason games, his return for Week 1 - even in a limited capacity - would be welcome news for a team that has lost Danario Alexander to a season-ending knee injury.
The Ravens and Colts came to terms on a minor trade Wednesday afternoon, with the Colts sending Delone Carter to the Ravens in exchange for receiver David Reed. Ahmad Bradshaw's return to practice this week was enough for the Colts to part ways with Carter, who figures to slot in as the team's No. 3 running back. Reed will add depth to the Colts' receiving corps but isn't a lock to make the Colts' final roster, much less earn a meaningful role in the passing game.
Fantasy owners in deeper formats looking for a direct replacement for Josh Gordon while he misses the first two games to suspension may want to take a look at Travis Benjamin, who is viewed as the top option behind Gordon on the Browns' depth chart. Benjamin has flashed big-play potential on special teams this summer, but his impact on the offensive end remains a bit unknown. The Browns' upcoming third preseason game should provide a glimpse of what Benjamin can do while Gordon is out, but it doesn't seem like there's a ton of upside here.