Week 14 was a crazy week for injuries, and right before the fantasy playoffs too! All owners could do was shake their heads as stud after stud went down, and thousands of fantasy football matchups were decided by these injuries. We’ll take a quick look at the players in general order of importance, examine their status, and discuss alternatives for Week 15 and beyond.
Peterson left the insane Vikings / Ravens game on Sunday with what was originally classified as a “right foot sprain”. It was feared to be of the high-ankle or Lisfranc variety, but as of Tuesday, tests have confirmed no structural damage or fractures. That is about the best that owners could hope for, but the fact remains that it’s unlikely that AP returns with the Vikings season mostly down the toilet at 3-9-1. He’s considered ‘extremely questionable’ at the current time. Toby Gerhart is the direct backup to AP, and ran well before himself exiting late in the game with a hamstring strain (apparently minor). He should be owned in all leagues immediately. Owners in a RB pinch can also consider adding Rashad Jennings if he was dropped after being inactive last week.
Man, what a crazy year it’s been for the Gronker. From the Belichik-ian circus sideshow of the first 6 weeks, to his continued domination of the opposition after multiple surgeries, and now he finally lands on injured reserve with a torn ACL and MCL. He’s done for the season and droppable in all leagues. He’s only 24 but at some point all these injuries are going to start catching up with him…perhaps something to consider next year at the draft table. There’s zero fantasy value to be had in his potential replacements on the Patriots, so we have to look elsewhere for a plug-in TE option. I’d recommend Jacob Tamme, who played all the slot snaps in the Peyton offense after Wes Welker was concussed (more on that later), Dennis Pitta, Charles Clay, and if you’re feeling super risky or are in a deeper league, Ladarius Green.
Bush did the ultimate screw-job to owners on Sunday. He was declared as active, and was seen participating in pregame warm-ups. Everyone plugged him in to their lineups based on this, and went to do whatever it is you do when you’re not obsessed with fantasy sports like me. Trouble was, Bush slipped in the snow during said warm-ups and aggravated his previous hamstring issue. He ended up not playing at all, and is being called ‘day-to-day’ at the moment.
I feel that there are two takeaways here for Bush owners. The first would be to have a solid backup plan ready if at all possible. The preferred handcuff, of course, is direct backup Joique Bell, followed closely by his backup, Theo Riddick. Other potential backup RB options would be Toby Gerhart, Rashad Jennings, Jordan Todman, or potentially Marcelle Reese if you’re really desperate. The second is where it gets tricky: The Lions play on Monday night this week, at home against the Ravens. If you’re betting on Bush playing and he’s out, you’ll have lost your chance to start someone else, as all other games will long since concluded.
My advice would be to keep an eagle eye on Reggie Bush status updates during the week (ask on the forum if you’re not sure you have the latest) and if his status is still very much up in the air on Sunday, roll with one of your alternatives. If one of your alternatives is Bell, you’re sitting pretty regardless. The point here is that you can’t take the chance that Bush grows roots on the bench and leaves you with a 0 in the playoffs.
Welker sustained his second concussion of the season just before halftime of the Broncos – Titans game, exited, and did not return. He’s now in the NFL’s extensive concussion protocol testing, and based on the fact that Denver plays this coming Thursday night, it seems virtually impossible that he will be cleared in time to be active. He’s not a drop, but don’t count him in your plans for this playoff week. I’d hope that you have some WR depth on your team that you can plug in, but if you’re seriously WR needy, you can take an upside flier on Da’Rick Rogers, Corradelle Patterson, Rod Streater, or Andre Holmes (in that order).
Life in Mr. Rodgers neighborhood has been fraught with uncertainty lately, and unfortunately at this point it’s more of the same. Rodgers has been out since Week 9 with a broken collarbone, and although his activity levels have continued to rise in the last few weeks, there is very little definitive evidence that he’s ready to come back. In his latest interview, he said that he had pain “…doing simple movements” and “…the scan last week did not show healing”. I believe there is no chance he plays week 15, and that it is unlikely that he suits up before the playoffs. If the Packers had lost on Sunday, I think Rodgers would be headed to IR. The fact that they won means that he will continue to rehab in the hopes of returning around / before the end of the regular season, and in turn, this means you have to keep stashing him unless the need is very dire.
Cutler’s ankle is still apparently bothering him, as he’s reportedly yet to get through a full week of practice. HC Marc Trestman has stated “When [Cutler] is good to go and can have a full week of practice, he’ll be our quarterback”. So there’s that, but it seems mighty convenient that Jay’s ‘still not quite ready’ status has happened to coincide with Josh McCown’s nuclear hot QB play. The Bears offense is humming like a Ferrari engine, and I think it’s very unlikely that McCown gets benched in the middle of a playoff run for the talented but-often-erratic Cutler. McCown remains a must own player, while I would feel comfortable dropping Cutler if I really needed the roster spot. There’s just too much working against him for me to be certain that he’ll be useful within the next 2 weeks or so.
Allen left the game in the first half with what was defined as a ‘shoulder sprain’, and yours truly immediately had a flip-out moment. Fortunately, Allen not only returned to the game, but he was apparently pissed off enough that he went for 2 TD’s thereafter. The Rivers – Allen chemistry is growing, and Allen is worthy of WR2 consideration with WR1 upside this week against Denver. He practiced in full on Monday and should be a full go for Thursday night. Disaster averted!
Lacy played through an ankle sprain on Sunday, and although his 15 total fantasy points would suggest otherwise, he wasn’t anywhere near full effectiveness. He’s a punishing, brutal runner who delivers blows and wears down defenses, and to be effective at tackle-shedding, he’ll need this ankle at full strength. He has a green-light matchup with the Cowboys this coming week, which is looking better and better after the woodshed whipping the Bears put on them on national TV last night. In fact, this matchup looks so good that Lacy owners seriously need to consider rostering James Starks this week, just in case Lacy suffers a setback or Green Bay just decides to hold him out for whatever reason. The matchup improves even more if Aaron Rodgers is able to take the field. I’d guess that Lacy plays this weekend, but in a playoff week, you can never be too careful.
Miller took a huge hit on Sunday against Pittsburgh, was slow to get up, and was ruled out 30 minutes later with a concussion. Daniel Thomas, rumored to be headed to IR earlier last week, came on and ran for 105 yards and a touchdown. All reports seem to indicate that Miller suffered only a ‘slight’ concussion, but his injury still muddies the water considerably. It seems likely that both backs with split the workload as they did earlier in the year, making it impossible to predict touches and therefore fantasy scoring. I’d avoid the Dolphins RB situation if at all possible, even though they are in a favorable running situation at home against NE in week 15.
I just wanted to post a blurb on J-Stew here in case you were holding out hope of a late-season renaissance. He tore his MCL in Sundays game against the Saints, and while the injury reportedly won’t require surgery, he’s safe to drop for the balance of the fantasy football season. Of greater import than Stewart’s status for fantasy owners is the impact this injury has on running mate DeAngelo Williams. Stewart was poaching 8-10 change of pace touches per game, most of which will now go to Williams. DeAngelo still must compete with Cam Newton and Mike Tolbert for goal-line carries, but the Stewart injury definitely raises his potential to RB2 territory for the fantasy playoffs.