As usual, I’ll save my extended thoughts on those players already ruled out, including Michael Vick, Ben Roethlisberger and Percy Harvin, until tomorrow’s debriefing. With a couple of possible exceptions, the correct approach on today’s list of injury questions is, “If in doubt, keep them out,” – of your fantasy lineups.
The news on Matt Forte turned positive by mid-week. Initially, there was good reason for concern that Forte might miss multiple games, but his practice participation and post-practice comments are more reassuring than the two-sided comments and disinformation we heard with his ankle injury earlier this season. The ankle injury could still limit him today, however, and the presence of Michael Bush (especially around the goal line) and a strong Seattle front seven won’t help either. Fantasy recommendation: Consider sitting Forte today, especially in non-PPR leagues, if you have another top 25 option available.
DeMarco Murray and Darren McFadden could both return to play today. Neither has been able to practice fully yet and neither is likely to see anything close to their pre-injury workload. The Cowboys have been extremely cautious with Murray, choosing to hold him out until he was able to pass stringent strength and range of motion tests. If he plays today, there’s a chance he surprises and gets 20 touches. That chance is slight, at best. McFadden, like many players with syndesmotic (high ankle) injuries, is likely to miss time during the game with a minor tweak and his conditioning isn’t likely to allow him to carry a heavy workload. The presence and recently good play of Marcel Reece means McFadden probably won’t be given the chance to get 20 touches even if he’s feeling good. Fantasy recommendation: Wait until Week 14 before starting Murray or McFadden. They’re no better than low ceiling, desperation flex options this week. Edit: Adam Schefter now reporting that McFadden will not play today.
There won’t be any significant medical restrictions on Greg Jennings today. His conditioning should be near 100% after the Packers eased him back into practice last week and the risk of re-injury after his abdominal surgery is low. But the emergence of Randall Cobb and the other options available to Aaron Rodgers will hold Jennings’ snap count and targets down. Always a high variance WR1 / WR2, Jennings should drop at least a full tier until his role is settled. Fantasy recommendation: Jennings is a risk-reward WR3 right now, and his WR4- floor is much more likely than his WR2 ceiling.
Midweek soft tissue injuries are always concerning, but the Jaguars have listed both Justin Blackmon (groin) and Cecil Shorts (hamstring) as probable to play. The probable tag is reassuring, but no guarantee that both will be in full form and finish the game. Without a crystal ball, however, the probable tag and strong recent performances from both receivers make it difficult to leave either out of your lineup today. Fantasy recommendation: There’s risk here, but start Blackmon and Shorts as you normally would.
Miles Austin was limited in practice all week. He’s officially listed as having a hip injury, but it’s very likely that his hamstring is also less than 100%. Though Austin has had ten days to recover since playing just 11 snaps on Thanksgiving, he’s rarely played effectively through these type of injuries. He’s also been an inconsistent part of the Dallas offense when healthy. Fantasy recommendation: Consider Austin a desperation WR3 only.
Sidney Rice was added to the injury report late this week with a calf injury. Unlike Blackmon and Shorts, he’s listed questionable and there seems to be much less optimism about his game day effectiveness. Any muscle strain will limit a wide receiver’s explosiveness, and the calf strain will hurt Rice’s ability to beat a jam at the line and separate deep, both critically important against the mix of press and two-deep coverages Chicago will employ against him today. Fantasy recommendation: Rice is too risky to use today.
The Steelers will get Antonio Brown back today. His three consecutive practices do not guarantee that he’ll play every snap without a tweak today, but they are very reassuring. His fantasy value will be limited more by the play of Charlie Batch than his injury. Fantasy recommendation: Brown should be healthy, but is still a low ceiling WR3 option at best.
Chris Wells is listed as questionable, but Ken Whisenhunt has said he’ll play against the Jets today. Wells has had another week to get into game shape and has another above-average matchup today. Given the relative lack of strong fantasy options at the running back position, Wells warrants consideration in a higher tier than he might otherwise. Fantasy recommendation: Wells is a solid RB2 play today with borderline RB1 upside if he produces at the goal line again this week.
Danny Amendola may defy the doubtful designation and talk himself onto the active roster again, but he’s not a fantasy option until he returns to practice or shows he can take a full complement of snaps without practice. Fantasy recommendation: If he’s active, keep Amendola on your bench.
Categories: Sunday Expectations