Stephania Bell: NFL injury wire

Key fantasy injuries for Week 17

December, 28, 2013
12/28/13
5:50
PM ET
Aaron Rodgers AP Photo/Ann HeisenfeltHow will quarterback Aaron Rodgers fare in his first game back from a collarbone injury?
The final Sunday of the NFL regular season is upon us, and for those who are still playing fantasy football in Week 17, this one, as they say, is for all the marbles. The final final. Championship Sunday. Bragging rights for a year!

It’s also a very different week for NFL teams depending on their status heading into Sunday. For those that are trying to win their division or secure playoff hopes, it is imperative they have their best players on the field. Those already guaranteed a part of the postseason action may consider resting some of their stars or at least removing them from this week’s game early. In other words, fantasy nightmares are all around us.

From the injury standpoint, here’s what we know as of Saturday afternoon:

Quarterbacks

Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers, collarbone (P): And so it has come to pass. Rodgers has been cleared to return to the football field and has been named the starter for Sunday’s decisive NFC North matchup against the Chicago Bears. Enough has been written about Rodgers’ injury, but what are we to expect upon his return? It’s tough to imagine a quarterback missing seven weeks and not looking a little rusty, but if anyone could adjust quickly to being back in a game, it’s likely to be a signal-caller as consistent as Rodgers. What about the risk of re-injury? Coach Mike McCarthy perhaps said it best at the news conference when he announced Rodgers’ return. The organization (whose opinion, one would imagine, is framed by insight from the medical staff) believes he is at no greater risk than any other player stepping on the field Sunday.

“Every football player that plays in this game Sunday will have risk. I think we all understand that," McCarthy said. "So we've done our due diligence, we've gone through all the evaluations, and we feel it is time. Aaron is ready to play."

There must be sufficient evidence of bone healing to justify his return, knowing he is likely to absorb at least some contact, including potentially a direct blow to the left shoulder or clavicle (collarbone). There are never any guarantees that a player who sets foot on the field on any given Sunday will emerge unscathed; the same applies to Rodgers. It appears the difference this week is the team believes his risk is the same as any other player's.

Carson Palmer, Arizona Cardinals, right elbow (P): Palmer played through ankle and elbow injuries to lead his team to victory in Seattle. OK, so it wasn’t perfect and he did throw four interceptions, perhaps due at least in part to his physical ailments. He was out there nonetheless, and it appears he will be again this week to face the 49ers.

EJ Manuel, Buffalo Bills, knee (D): Remember how heading into Week 16 coach Doug Marrone said that despite Manuel missing that contest due to his knee injury he was “110 percent” certain Manuel would return for Week 17? Maybe he was a bit overconfident. Manuel did return to do some limited work in practice but clearly is struggling enough with his latest knee issue -- an LCL sprain in his left knee, the same one he had meniscus surgery on in the preseason -- that the team neither thinks he can be effective nor deems his presence worth the risk. He is not going to play this week, but the topic of Manuel’s knees will certainly resurface heading into 2014.

Tom Brady, New England Patriots, right shoulder (P): It’s almost not worth mentioning, but he’s on the injury report, so we mention it. Brady will play as he always does.

Cam Newton, Carolina Panthers, ankle (P): Newton’s ankle has been an annoyance for him the past couple weeks, but it hasn’t kept him from taking the field. It hasn’t even cost him any time in practice. He is expected to make his usual start.

Peyton Manning, Denver Broncos, ankle (P): See note in above entry for Tom Brady. Manning, like Brady, remains on the injury report because of what is a chronic ailment he has to deal with during the season. And like Brady, he will play in a way that makes us forget he was on the injury report.

Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints, knee (P): The addition of Brees to the injury report after a limited Wednesday practice rounds out the top fantasy quarterbacks making the list this week. Like the other top quarterbacks, there is no danger of Brees sitting this one out, as the probable tag indicates.

Running backs

Eddie Lacy, Green Bay Packers, ankle (P): Lacy has already shown that he can play through the ankle sprain, but it may be getting tougher as the weeks wear on. He did not practice until Friday, and even then it was only a limited workout. Obviously it is in the team’s best interest at this point to rest (and treat) Lacy’s ankle as much as possible during the week in order to optimize what he can do on Sunday. There is no doubt on Lacy’s part that he will play Sunday and push through the discomfort. The question may be whether he will hold up to a full workload, something that will get answered only as the game evolves.

Ray Rice, Baltimore Ravens, thigh (Q): Rice is back on the injury report with a thigh injury that limited him in practice throughout the week. This has the feel of being linked to his hip injury early in the season, despite Rice’s denials. Perhaps that is because his comments to reporters earlier in the week seemed to reflect on how the injury (or injuries, whether directly or indirectly related) affected his performance. “It’s life,” Rice said, according to the Baltimore Sun. “From a personal standpoint, understanding that I played through a lot this year.” He went on to state that he plans to focus this offseason on whatever it takes to come back better than ever next year. Unfortunately for fantasy owners playing in matchups this weekend, a totally healthy Ray Rice is not going to be an option.

Maurice Jones-Drew, Jacksonville Jaguars, hamstring (P): Jones-Drew may not be fully recovered from his hamstring injury, but he is doing more than he was at this time last week. After resting Wednesday, Jones-Drew got in limited work Thursday and Friday. At probable, he is expected to play in the team’s final game.

Andre Brown, New York Giants, concussion (P): Brown returned to full practices Thursday and Friday. Successful back-to-back practices along with the probable tag bode well for Brown playing Sunday.

Shane Vereen, New England Patriots, groin (Q): Vereen was a limited participant in practice throughout the week after sustaining a groin injury Sunday. He left the Week 16 game after only two carries and one reception because of the injury, and there was some concern as to the severity. When Vereen showed up at practices early in the week, it was a positive indicator, but there is still some question as to whether he is healthy enough to participate in game action. ESPN.com’s Mike Reiss suggests the Patriots could hold Vereen out for an additional week of recovery, given the nonplayoff nature of the game. Clearly fantasy owners will want to check pregame inactives and, at the very least, have a backup plan in place.

Fred Jackson, Buffalo Bills, ribs (P): Jackson played through the sore ribs last week and will do so again this week after limited practice Thursday and full practice Friday.

Frank Gore, San Francisco 49ers, knee (P): Is there really any doubt? Despite limited practices Wednesday and Thursday because of his sore knee, Gore turned in a full practice Friday. He is a lock to play in Sunday’s divisional matchup against the Cardinals.

Ryan Mathews, San Diego Chargers, foot (P): Last week, coach Mike McCoy said he expected Mathews to play despite Mathews sporting a boot on his injured foot. It appears he will indeed take the field, listed as probable after returning to limited practice Friday.

Joique Bell, Detroit Lions, knee (P): Despite sitting out Wednesday’s practice with a sore knee, Bell returned to limited practices Thursday and Friday and is listed as probable for Sunday’s game. In other words, expect Bell to play in the Lions’ final game of the season.

Daniel Thomas, Miami Dolphins, ankle (Q): Thomas’ ankle continues to present a challenge for him, which shouldn’t come as a surprise given the severity of his original injury. Since aggravating the ankle, Thomas has remained on the injury report and was held to limited practices on Thursday and Friday. He has played in the last two games despite the setback, but his numbers (five carries for 16 yards in Week 15 and nine carries for six yards in Week 16) should tell fantasy owners all they need to know heading into Sunday’s contest.

Rashard Mendenhall, Arizona Cardinals, finger (P): Mendenhall has already played with the finger injury and is expected to do so again this week.

Chris Ivory, New York Jets, quadriceps/ankle (P): Despite his presence on the injury report because of two separate injury issues, Ivory has been a full participant in practice throughout the week. He is expected to play Sunday.

Willis McGahee, Cleveland Browns, knee (P): McGahee is no longer listed on the injury report because of a concussion. Instead it is the chronic knee issue he has been dealing with throughout the season that has him here. McGahee was a full participant in practice throughout the week and is expected to play Sunday.

Wide receivers

Calvin Johnson, Detroit Lions, knee (Q): Just when fantasy owners need him the most, Johnson might not be able to deliver. There is no doubt he is at less than 100 percent health; his knee, in fact, has been problematic much of the season. Johnson, competitor that he is, would like to play Sunday, and the Lions may wait until game time to make that decision. Last week, his status was a game-time call and Johnson struggled mightily in his limited appearance. This week, he did not participate in any practices and, as ESPN.com’s Mike Rothstein noted, remained characteristically quiet on the subject of his injury. It’s the ultimate fantasy owner’s dilemma, not so much if Johnson is declared inactive (which at this point wouldn’t take anyone by surprise), but rather if he is declared active when it is abundantly clear that he is operating at a deficit. He will always play hard, but whether he can play effectively and how well he can hold up will be big questions.

[+] EnlargeTorrey Smith
Doug Kapustin/MCT via Getty ImagesA thigh injury could keep Torrey Smith out of the Ravens' lineup this weekend against the Bengals.
Torrey Smith, Baltimore Ravens, thigh (Q): Smith is dealing with what appears to be a minor injury and practiced on a limited basis throughout the week. He is listed as questionable but appears to be a likely candidate to play. Of perhaps greater concern is the health and mobility of quarterback Joe Flacco, who does not appear on the injury report but is still dealing with the aftereffects of a sprained MCL. Last week, Flacco and Smith had trouble connecting; injuries to both doesn’t likely help their cause.

Andre Johnson, Houston Texans, wrist (P): Johnson played through the wrist injury last week and will do so again this week after practicing fully each day.

Demaryius Thomas, neck, and Eric Decker, thigh, Denver Broncos (P): Thomas has been on the injury report for a few weeks because of his shoulder, but now he is listed with a neck injury. It’s unclear whether this is related to his prior shoulder issue or was newly acquired during his strong Week 16 performance. Either way, Thomas has practiced fully each day and is line to play Sunday. Decker, who had an even bigger Week 16 performance than Thomas, was added to the injury report with a thigh ailment, but it doesn’t appear to pose any threat to his status for Sunday. Decker was limited Wednesday but returned to full practices Thursday and Friday. At probable, he is expected to play.

Cordarrelle Patterson, Minnesota Vikings, chest (P): After a limited practice Wednesday, Patterson was a full participant Thursday and Friday. Given the probable tag, the Vikings are counting on him suiting up for the season finale.

Santonio Holmes, foot/hamstring, and Jeremy Kerley, elbow, New York Jets (P): This has been the standard status for these two receivers the past few weeks. Both continue to practice daily (although Holmes works on a limited basis), and both are expected to play Sunday.

Danny Amendola, groin (P), Kenbrell Thompkins, hip (Q), and Aaron Dobson, foot (Q), New England Patriots: This is the third week in a row with these receivers having these respective designations. Amendola remains the only one of the three practicing fully each day while the other two work on a limited basis. As such, Amendola is the only sure bet to play. Dobson was active in Week 16 (one reception), making him likely to see the field again. Thompkins has another week of recovery from his hip injury under his belt, but it’s unclear just how much of a target he would be anyway with a plethora of pass-catchers available to Tom Brady. As usual, note the Patriots inactives before locking any fantasy lineup.

Brian Hartline, Miami Dolphins, knee (P): Despite appearing on the injury report because of a knee injury, Hartline is listed as probable and is fully expected to play. After being limited early in the week, he was a full participant in Friday’s practice and will be on the field to face the Jets.

Michael Crabtree, San Francisco 49ers, ankle/wrist (P): Crabtree has already played through both the ankle and wrist ailments. After practicing fully each day, expect him to play again Sunday.

Tavon Austin, St. Louis Rams, ankle (Q): Austin finally made an appearance in practice after being absent for the past two weeks, but it was only a limited one on Friday. He is expected to be a game-time decision, though fantasy owners would be rolling the dice to count on Austin after so little activity in recent weeks.

Emmanuel Sanders, Pittsburgh Steelers, knee (Q): Sanders did not practice Wednesday or Thursday because of the knee he injured in Week 16. He returned to a full practice Friday, an encouraging sign. Naturally, the team will want to see how his knee responded to the work, but Sanders said the pain is bearable and, according to ESPN.com’s Scott Brown, rated himself as 50-50 to play. He is going to be a game-time decision.

Eddie Royal, San Diego Chargers, toe (Q): Royal is again listed as questionable because of his toe, a familiar sight throughout the fantasy season. He also, for the most part, has played on Sundays despite the questionable tag, even after not practicing, which is the case for him this week. Still, fantasy owners should be mindful of the fact this is a late game and he is not a lock to start until the official word comes before kickoff.

Tight ends

Tony Gonzalez, Atlanta Falcons, toe (P): It can’t be the year he envisioned when Gonzalez agreed to come back to the Falcons for one more season. He’s such a class act, though, that he’ll finish it out strong despite their lack of postseason hopes and an injury to his toe. Fantasy owners have to believe the team would like to see him go out with a score. It’s the least the Falcons could do.

Tyler Eifert, neck (D), and Jermaine Gresham, hamstring (Q), Cincinnati Bengals: Eifert suffered a stinger in last week’s game and was unable to return to practice. It appears all but certain he will sit this one out. Gresham has been listed in recent weeks with a hip, abdominal and now a hamstring strain, the combination of which suggest a core injury that will likely not be 100 percent resolved before season’s end. Still, he could play Sunday, and his status is slightly more optimistic than Eifert’s.

It’s worth noting that Gresham did find the end zone for a score in Week 16. Then again, this could be a situation where the Bengals are interested in protecting Gresham for the playoffs and allowing him some additional recovery time. Of concern is that he practiced on a limited basis Wednesday but was listed as a nonparticipant Thursday and Friday. The bottom line for fantasy owners is that Gresham’s status needs to be verified before kickoff.

Jordan Cameron, Cleveland Browns, concussion (Q): Cameron did not play last week because of the head injury, and his status for this week is still up in the air. Cameron’s only practice was a limited one on Friday, and he still needs to be cleared by an independent neurologist to be eligible to play Sunday. His status may not be known until game day.

Out

Adrian Peterson, RB, Minnesota Vikings, groin/foot: As ESPN.com’s Ben Goessling notes, Peterson’s lingering groin injury is causing more trouble for him than his recently sprained foot. It’s enough of a problem that the team decided to keep him out of its final contest of 2013 -- and final game at the Metrodome. Coach Leslie Frazier had hinted at sitting Peterson unless something were to change dramatically before Sunday. Apparently it did not.

Resting Peterson should not come as a huge surprise after his effort in Week 16, which proved that while he had the mental toughness to push himself through pain, physically his body could not keep up. In fact, Peterson acknowledged after Sunday’s game that his body was not responding the way he wanted it to, which hinted at a potential absence this week. With Toby Gerhart sidelined again due to a hamstring injury, Matt Asiata will get the start.

Tony Romo, QB, Dallas Cowboys, back: Well, it is tough to play two days after back surgery, which Romo underwent Friday morning. The signs and symptoms of his herniated disk were significant enough that an epidural injection barely made a dent. Romo should have plenty of time to recover in time for camp. The discussion of his health can now be put on hold until organized team activities roll around.

Dwayne Bowe, WR, Kansas City Chiefs, concussion: Bowe showed up on the injury report Thursday with a concussion, leaving little doubt he would miss Week 17. The Chiefs confirmed this in their Friday injury report, ruling Bowe out ahead of Sunday’s game.

Toby Gerhart, RB, Minnesota Vikings, hamstring: It’s a tough time to be a running back in Minnesota. Adrian Peterson is doubtful with groin and foot injuries, and Gerhart’s hamstring injury continues to bother him enough that the team has already ruled him out. Matt Asiata will start this week.

Wes Welker, WR, Denver Broncos, concussion: As noted last week, ESPN’s Chris Mortensen and Jeff Legwold reported Welker was likely to sit out Week 17. Although he has made enough improvement to participate in practice on a limited basis, Welker has officially been ruled out of Sunday’s game.

Jacquizz Rodgers, RB, Atlanta Falcons, concussion: After not practicing all week due to concussion symptoms, it comes as no surprise that Rodgers is out.

Steve Johnson, WR, Buffalo Bills, not injury related: Johnson remains in California with his family following the passing of his mother and will not play this week.

Jonathan Stewart, RB, Carolina Panthers, knee: Stewart injured his MCL in Week 14 and remains out this week.

Steve Smith, WR, Carolina Panthers, knee: Smith joins his teammate Stewart on the “out” list for Week 17 after spraining his PCL in last Sunday’s game. The Panthers hope he will be able to make a return in the playoffs.

Victor Cruz, WR, New York Giants, knee/concussion: No one expected Cruz to play after he underwent knee surgery last week, and he is officially out.

Percy Harvin, WR, Seattle Seahawks, hip: Harvin has been quiet ever since his single appearance this season. He remains a nonparticipant in practice and is out again this week.

Garrett Graham, TE, Houston Texans, hamstring: In what appears to be a typo, Graham is listed on the NFL official injury report as probable. There are multiple reports out of Houston, however, that Graham is not expected to play, including one from ESPN.com’s Tania Ganguli. Supporting that notion, Graham never appeared in practice this week after missing the last two games with a hamstring injury. Fantasy owners should have already made other plans.

Key fantasy injuries for Week 16

December, 21, 2013
12/21/13
4:24
PM ET
Carson Palmer Mark J. Rebilas/USA TODAY SportsWill elbow and ankle injuries force Carson Palmer to miss Sunday's game against Seattle?
It’s championship time! Many of those playing this week are playing for the big one, the bragging rights and the accolades that come with winning the league. It is, in the words of Europe, the final countdown.

With all that is on the line, what could be more important than setting your optimal lineup? In order to do so, it’s important to know who’s limping into Week 16. Here’s what we know as of Saturday afternoon.


Quarterbacks

Joe Flacco, Baltimore Ravens, knee (Q): Despite the questionable tag, Flacco is expected to play Sunday against the Patriots. On Thursday, we outlined the injury and how it might affect him. Unless he takes another hard shot to the knee, he should not have particular difficulty making it through four quarters.

Carson Palmer, Arizona Cardinals, right elbow/ankle (Q): Palmer has played through the elbow issue; now he adds an ankle sprain to the mix. Palmer did practice on a limited basis Thursday and Friday after getting Wednesday off. There is every expectation that he will play, but he will likely be a little less mobile and faces a tough defensive matchup in Seattle.

Tom Brady, New England Patriots, right shoulder (P): Nothing to see here. Brady will play as he always does.

Peyton Manning, Denver Broncos, ankle (P): Manning’s sprained ankle keeps him on the injury report, but it hasn’t kept him off the field. Expect him to play, as usual, against the Texans.


Running backs

Adrian Peterson, groin/foot (Q), and Toby Gerhart, hamstring (P), Minnesota Vikings: On Thursday, we updated Peterson’s and Gerhart’s status, indicating both appeared likely to play Sunday. The final decision on Peterson may not be made until pregame, although he indicated Friday that, as far as his foot was concerned, he was “ready to roll.” Perhaps the team wants to wait to make the final call to allow it a little more time to evaluate the decision. Functionally, it sounds as if Peterson feels his foot is progressing well, but there is always the risk of re-injury versus reward -- unclear in this case since there are no stakes for the Vikings as far as the postseason is concerned -- to take into account.

The probable tag for Gerhart tells us the Vikings plan on having him available, although the health of his hamstring won’t truly be tested until he is on the field. As far as Peterson’s status, every hint has been that he would play Sunday, but fantasy owners will want to double-check pregame inactives, just in case the team has second thoughts.

Eddie Lacy, Green Bay Packers, ankle (P): Lacy has already shown that he can play through the ankle sprain. After lighter work Wednesday and Thursday, Lacy was a full participant Friday. He is expected to play his usual role Sunday.

Maurice Jones-Drew, Jacksonville Jaguars, hamstring (Q): Jones-Drew is enough of a competitor that he wants to play, no matter the outcome of the season. His body, however, may not let him compete. He did some work Friday, the first time he tested his hamstring since injuring it two weeks ago. But there is a gap between what he has done so far and what he would need to do in a game situation. Expect this to come down to a late decision, but even if Jones-Drew is active, he most certainly will not be at 100 percent.

Darren McFadden, Oakland Raiders, ankle (P): McFadden has been back on the practice field and wants to finish out the final two games of the season. It appears he will have an opportunity to play this weekend after putting in his first full practice Friday. Even with his return, the Raiders have turned to Rashad Jennings as their starter and McFadden will be the No. 2 back.

Fred Jackson, Buffalo Bills, ribs (P): Despite sore ribs, Jackson practiced Thursday (limited) and Friday (full). At probable, he is expected to play.

Donald Brown, Indianapolis Colts, neck (P): When a stinger took Brown out of the Week 15 game early, it certainly posed a possibility of sidelining him. Brown has had a good week, though, participating fully in practice each day. At probable, he is expected to play against the Chiefs.

Frank Gore, San Francisco 49ers, ankle (no designation): It’s the final game at Candlestick and an important matchup for the 49ers. Gore may be dealing with a less-than-perfect ankle, but he will play.

Ryan Mathews, San Diego Chargers, foot (P): Despite a few bumps and bruises, the oft-injured Mathews has remained remarkably healthy this year. After one limited practice this week, Mathews turned in two full days Thursday and Friday. At probable, he is expected to play.

Daniel Thomas, Miami Dolphins, ankle (Q): First it was widely hinted that Thomas was done for the season after injuring his ankle in Week 12. He missed the following week’s game but surprised virtually everyone by being active in Week 14. It was fortunate too, as he stepped in when teammate Lamar Miller suffered a concussion.

Thomas just happened to put up his best numbers of the year in that game, leading everyone to forget about the ankle injury that nearly brought his season to an early close. Then came Week 15 and Thomas aggravated the ankle. After not practicing Wednesday and Thursday, Thomas did participate on a limited basis Friday. Still, the questionable tag reflects the uncertainty about his status for Sunday’s game in Buffalo.

Chris Johnson, Tennessee Titans, knee (P): Despite a sore knee, which kept him out of practice Wednesday, Johnson is expected to play Sunday when the Titans visit the Jaguars.

Andre Ellington, quadriceps, and Rashard Mendenhall, finger, Arizona Cardinals (P): Ellington suffered a thigh bruise last week but was never particularly concerned about his status. After limited practice Wednesday, he turned in full practices Thursday and Friday and is expected to play. Mendenhall is back on the injury report, this time with a finger injury that resulted in a limited practice session Thursday. He was back in full practice Friday and should not have any issues Sunday. These two will continue to divide the work at running back.

Willis McGahee, Cleveland Browns, concussion/knee (P): McGahee missed last week’s game due to the concussion component of his injury. This week, he was able to return to limited practices Wednesday and Thursday then bumped up to a full practice Friday. As long as there are no setbacks, expect McGahee to suit up Sunday.


Wide receivers

Larry Fitzgerald, concussion (Q), and Michael Floyd, ankle (P), Arizona Cardinals: Fitzgerald has made rapid progress since suffering a concussion late in the Week 15 game. After passing neurocognitive tests early in the week, he returned to limited practice Thursday and repeated the effort Friday. Despite the questionable tag, he is expected to play Sunday as long as there are no setbacks. It could be a tough day for Fitzgerald nonetheless. His quarterback is contending with two injuries and the Cardinals are traveling to Seattle.

Floyd’s status is upgraded this week compared to last, hinting at improvement in his ankle. He turned in full practices Thursday and Friday. The expectation is that Floyd will play, but he and teammate Fitzgerald face tough matchups against the Seahawks this week.

[+] EnlargeCalvin Johnson
Tom Lynn /Getty ImagesExpect Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson to play this weekend against the Giants.
Calvin Johnson, Detroit Lions, knee (Q): Johnson continues to appear on the injury report each week, alternating between probable and questionable. While it’s more comforting when he comes in listed as probable, it’s hard to imagine Johnson sitting out completely this week. His knee may be giving him a little more trouble since his only appearance in practice was a limited effort Friday.

Still, there has been no serious indication that he is in danger of missing Sunday’s game, and it’s worth noting the Lions did have a short week after their Monday night game. Fantasy owners will want to double-check his status pregame to be safe.

Andre Johnson, Houston Texans, wrist (P): Despite a tough season for the Texans, Johnson has been consistent from a productivity standpoint, for the most part. He has definitely been consistent as far as attendance, playing in every game of the season thus far. The wrist ailment that has him on the injury report will not cause him to miss any playing time. Expect Johnson to take the field against the Broncos on Sunday when he will have Matt Schaub throwing to him as Case Keenum is out with a thumb injury.

Demaryius Thomas, Denver Broncos, shoulder (P): Thomas has been on the injury report for a few weeks because of his shoulder, but it hasn’t appeared to limit him in games. After full practices each day, Thomas is ready to go on Sunday.

Santonio Holmes, foot/hamstring, and Jeremy Kerley, elbow, New York Jets (P): Both receivers were listed as probable last week and played, just as they did the prior week after being listed as questionable. Given the nature of their injuries, they are likely to finish out the year on the injury report, even as they continue to play. Expect both to be available again this week.

Danny Amendola, groin (P), Kenbrell Thompkins, hip (Q), and Aaron Dobson, foot (Q), New England Patriots: The status of these three players is unchanged from last week, although with another week of limited practices under their belts, Thompkins and Dobson appear to have a better shot at playing. Still, their status remains murky, as will their potential contribution if they are active. The only one fantasy owners can trust at this point is Amendola, who is expected to play.

Brandon Marshall, Chicago Bears, hamstring (P): Marshall has had some soft tissue injuries to deal with intermittently this season but has played each week. He will do so again Sunday night when the Bears travel to Philadelphia.

Michael Crabtree, San Francisco 49ers, ankle/wrist (no designation): Crabtree has already played through the ankle issue, and the wrist isn’t enough to hold him out of the Monday night game. Expect him to play.

Vincent Jackson, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, hamstring (P): Jackson increased his practice work this week by practicing fully Thursday and Friday. He will play Sunday.

T.Y. Hilton, Indianapolis Colts, shoulder (Q): Hilton has been dealing with this shoulder injury for multiple weeks, and sometimes it presents more challenges than others. Like this week, for instance. Hilton did not practice Thursday, and coach Chuck Pagano acknowledged the shoulder remains an issue for Hilton. He did return to limited practice Friday but is listed as questionable this week (compared to the probable tag he had last week). Fantasy owners will definitely want to check the pregame inactive list.

Tavon Austin, St. Louis Rams, ankle (Q): Austin is still not practicing and cannot be counted on for fantasy owners this week.

Emmanuel Sanders, Pittsburgh Steelers, foot (P): Sanders practiced in full each day and is expected to play against the Packers.


Tight ends

Tony Gonzalez, Atlanta Falcons, toe (no designation): As he approaches the close of his career, at least Gonzalez can soak up the memorable moments. This week could be one of them as the Falcons visit the 49ers in what will be his final Monday night game and likely the last game ever at Candlestick. Expect Gonzalez on the field.

Garrett Graham, Houston Texans, hamstring (Q): Graham had the questionable tag last Friday as a result of his hamstring injury but was downgraded to out before game day. He still has not practiced, and it would be a surprise to see him anywhere but on the sideline Sunday.

Julius Thomas, Denver Broncos, knee (P): Thomas has made significant improvements with his knee, but it still warrants an appearance on the injury report. He has been a full participant in practice daily and is expected to play Sunday, as usual.

Greg Olsen, Carolina Panthers, foot (P): After not practicing Wednesday, Olsen practiced fully Thursday and Friday. Listed as probable, he is expected to play.


Out

Aaron Rodgers, QB, Green Bay Packers, collarbone: Rodgers did not receive medical clearance to return. Need we say more?

Wes Welker, WR, Denver Broncos, concussion: Welker missed last week after suffering his second concussion in four games the prior week. He has been making steady progress, including a return to light cardiovascular exercise and weight training. He has not made enough progress to resume practice, however. For those playing in 17-week leagues, it’s worth noting that ESPN’s Chris Mortensen and Jeff Legwold reported Friday that the Broncos are likely to hold Welker out through the end of the regular season.

Jordan Cameron, TE, Cleveland Browns, concussion: Cameron had a delayed onset of concussion symptoms after last Sunday’s game. He is still in recovery mode and has not yet returned to practice.

Steve Johnson, WR, Buffalo Bills, not injury related: After the sudden passing of his mother last week, Johnson is spending time with his family in California and is out for this week’s game.

Percy Harvin, WR, Seattle Seahawks, hip: Harvin remains a nonparticipant in practice and is out again this week.

Jonathan Stewart, RB, Carolina Panthers, knee: Stewart injured his MCL in Week 14 and is out again this week.

Victor Cruz, WR, New York Giants, knee/concussion: Cruz had knee surgery earlier this week and is expected to be out the remainder of the season.

Brandon Pettigrew, TE, Detroit Lions, ankle: Pettigrew was unable to practice all week and consequently will miss Sunday’s game.

Week 16 fantasy injury notebook

December, 19, 2013
12/19/13
7:18
PM ET
It’s getting ever closer to championship weekend for fantasy owners, when setting optimal lineups is critical. Unfortunately, the injuries of the season are taking a toll as some players are being sent to injured reserve while others are being rested in anticipation of an NFL team’s real playoff chances. All a fantasy owner really wants to know at this point is who can be counted on come Sunday. There is still some uncertainty with three days yet to go, but here are some clues as of late Thursday.

Don’t count on ...

Victor Cruz, WR, New York Giants: After Sunday’s game where Cruz sustained both a head injury and a knee injury, it appeared we might have seen the last of him in 2013. Now we know we have. The Giants announced that Cruz underwent arthroscopic surgery on his left knee with Dr. James Andrews Thursday. It was formally called a debridement, a lovely French term essentially describing a cleanup procedure for the knee. This season may be finished, but there is nothing here to suggest Cruz will face any lingering issues into next year.

Jordan Reed, TE, Washington Redskins: Fantasy owners already knew not to count on Reed after he had been struggling with post-concussion symptoms for multiple weeks. Reed appeared poised to return in Week 13 but was scratched just before kickoff due to recurrent headaches. Sadly for him he has continued to experience these symptoms intermittently for several weeks. On Thursday, Reed consulted with noted concussion specialists in Pittsburgh who recommended three weeks of no practice activity, effectively terminating his season. Consequently the Redskins placed him on IR. First and foremost the hope is that Reed will make a full recovery. After that, the talk for next season can commence.

Ben Tate, RB, Houston Texans: Who could help but admire the toughness of a guy who insisted on playing despite dealing with fractures in four ribs? Tate remained on the injury list each week because of the ribs but continued to play and played pretty well, considering the extremely painful nature of his injury. In Week 15, however, he took another hit which set him back, and the Texans, knowing their season was drawing to a close in short order, placed him on IR. Tate should be ready to go when next season rolls around.

Cecil Shorts III, WR, Jacksonville Jaguars: Shorts missed Week 15 after suffering a setback with a nagging groin injury that he had managed to play through for a significant portion of the season. He acknowledged he would need surgery after the season to help correct the issue. That day came a bit sooner than expected as Shorts underwent surgery Thursday for a sports hernia, coach Gus Bradley announced. The good news is that players do very well following this type of procedure and Shorts should be healthy by the time OTAs roll around.

Jordan Cameron, TE, Cleveland Browns: Cameron’s case is an example of how tricky concussion symptoms can be. He experienced a delayed onset of those symptoms (on Monday) after not exhibiting any outward signs or complaining of any concussion-type symptoms either in the game Sunday or immediately afterward. The development of symptoms triggered the initiation of the league-mandated concussion protocol and Cameron has not practiced this week. He is not expected to play.

Wes Welker, WR, Denver Broncos: Welker missed Week 15 with a concussion and is still in recovery mode. As of Thursday he was not participating in team practice but he has made strides as far as his activity. According to ESPN.com’s Jeff Legwold, coach John Fox indicated Welker did work in the weight room Thursday as well as some running work outside. This has the sound of the light activity phase of the graded exercise return that is a component of the league-mandated concussion protocol. Fox also noted that Welker was “doing better every day,” suggesting he has not had any recurrence of symptoms thus far with the increased activity. There are still more aggressive hurdles to cross before Welker will be declared fit to return to football and he would still need to be cleared by an independent neurological consultant, in addition to the team’s own medical staff. As of Thursday night, it's expected that he will be out for Week 16.

Things are looking good for ...

Larry Fitzgerald, WR, Arizona Cardinals: Fitzgerald suffered a concussion in Week 15 and as everyone knows by now, the recovery path for each episode and each individual is unique. Fitzgerald is also a unique athlete, incredibly fit and extremely hardworking; it comes as no surprise that his body seems to be rebounding well from this injury. He returned to full practice Thursday after undergoing exertional tests earlier in the week and responding well. He has yet to be cleared by an independent neurological consultant but that could happen Friday, as reported by ESPN.com’s Josh Weinfuss. As of now, Fitzgerald appears on track to play against the Seahawks, barring a setback.

Adrian Peterson, RB, Minnesota Vikings: Peterson was looking good, surprisingly good in fact, as early as last Friday despite spraining his right midfoot a week earlier, but the team thought it wiser to hold him out for Week 15. Good luck keeping a healthy -- or at least healthier -- Adrian Peterson sidelined, no matter what the team’s standing. Peterson did some limited practice Wednesday but was held out Thursday for what coach Leslie Frazier termed precautionary reasons. As ESPN.com’s Ben Goessling reported, Frazier said he expects Peterson to play Sunday unless something unexpected occurs. The Vikings undoubtedly have more confidence in the health of Peterson’s foot this week with the benefit of some additional recovery time and after seeing him test it in more than one practice session. Peterson will likely be joined Sunday by fellow back Toby Gerhart, who missed Week 15 with a hamstring strain but appears to be much improved.

Darren McFadden, RB, Oakland Raiders: Remember him? He would like to help refresh your memory by playing in the team’s last two games of the season. McFadden most recently has been dealing with an ankle injury that caused him to miss the past two games. In the interim Rashad Jennings has been the primary running back for the Raiders. McFadden’s presence would be as the second back behind the starter Jennings, but it might be enough to dip into Jennings’ stats on Sunday against the Chargers.

The biggest question marks

Maurice Jones-Drew, RB, Jacksonville Jaguars: The competitor in him wants to play but his body may not allow it. Jones-Drew missed last week’s game due to a hamstring strain, which still has not allowed him to practice. His veteran status has earned him the right to test the injury late in the week but, as of now, things are not looking promising. ESPN.com’s Mike DiRocco wrote this in his Thursday mailbag when asked if MJD was going to play:

“I talked to Maurice Jones-Drew on Thursday, and it doesn’t sound likely. He said he’s going to try, but it all depends on how the hamstring responds on Friday when he tests it for the first time this week. If it still doesn’t allow him to accelerate with power, prevents him from sudden changes of direction and robs him of his burst, he’s not going to play. Then we’d see another huge dose of Jordan Todman, who filled in pretty well for Jones-Drew last week.”

There you have it. Jones-Drew has a chance to play, but it appears to be a relatively slim one.

Aaron Rodgers, QB, Green Bay Packers: Rodgers looks good. He feels good. His coach thinks he looks ready to play. He believes he is ready to play. But he does not yet have medical clearance to return. An announcement is expected Friday regarding his status for Sunday’s game, but so far this week, Matt Flynn has taken all the first-team reps. For more details on Rodgers and the Packers' injuries, click here.

Key fantasy injuries for Week 15

December, 14, 2013
12/14/13
5:46
PM ET
Adrian PetersonBruce Kluckhohn/USA TODAY SportsWill Vikings running back Adrian Peterson be ready to face the Eagles this weekend?
The playoff push continues for fantasy owners far and wide. With each player’s contribution in the scoring department being so critical, no one wants to make an ill-advised decision. There are some tricky injury situations heading into Week 15, but aren’t there always? Maybe it’s more painful because of the potential consequences this week.

Here’s what we know as of Saturday afternoon.


Quarterbacks

Jay Cutler, Chicago Bears, ankle (P): The Bears announced Thursday night that Cutler would be their starting quarterback in Week 15, giving fantasy owners ample time to agonize over what to do. McCown has been solid in his role as the replacement quarterback for the past five weeks as Cutler has been recovering. On Thursday, we noted how the Bears arrived at this decision and what lingering concerns might exist with regards to the injury. On Fantasy Football Now Friday, we discussed Cutler’s status in further detail.

In short, coach Marc Trestman has indicated he expects Cutler to play “effectively and efficiently.” It will be interesting to see how Cutler fares from a performance standpoint after such a lengthy absence. More importantly, here’s hoping he can avoid the type of contact that caused his ankle injury in the first place, a repeat of which would likely set him back.

Carson Palmer, Arizona Cardinals, right elbow (Q): Palmer played through his elbow soreness in Week 14 and looked better than anticipated, given his limitations during the week. He remained limited in this week’s practice sessions to continue to rest his elbow. Despite the questionable tag, Palmer is expected to play Sunday at Tennessee.

Tom Brady, New England Patriots, right shoulder (P): The only unusual thing is that Brady was listed as limited for two straight days. He is expected to play, as usual.


Running backs

Adrian Peterson, groin/foot, and Toby Gerhart, hamstring, Minnesota Vikings (Q): When Peterson went down in obvious pain Sunday and had to be carted off the field, most thought he might not return this season, much less this week. As reported Tuesday, despite all tests indicating no significant structural damage, it seemed unlikely Peterson would be ready to play by Sunday.

Early in the week, however, Peterson maintained he wanted to play, if able. He participated in pool workouts as part of his physical therapy, but even coach Leslie Frazier was not optimistic as late as Thursday evening. But this is Adrian Peterson, an athlete who routinely defies expectations. On Friday, he returned to the field to participate in running drills. Frazier’s comment that day reflected his surprise. "He was able to plant. He was able to push off," Frazier said. "We'll see tomorrow if there's any soreness, but he looked far better than I anticipated."

As ESPN.com’s Ben Goessling notes, Peterson is listed as questionable and will be a game-time decision. The primary concern would be the risk of Peterson suffering further injury during the game. He still is listed on the injury report with the groin ailment that has been hampering him for multiple weeks. Although he was limited from a productivity standpoint when the groin injury first cropped up, he had performed well recently, almost making people forget there was an injury at all. Now there are two body parts that are, at the very least, less than 100 percent. If the Vikings give Peterson the green light to play, it would suggest they are confident that his foot has recovered to the point where he can be effective.

And what, then, to make of Gerhart? He stepped in for the injured Peterson on Sunday and performed well until straining his hamstring near the end of the game. Gerhart did not practice until Friday either when he joined Peterson for some light running drills but was kept to limited work, although he indicated he felt “pretty good” afterward. Hamstring injuries are notorious for being easily aggravated, and there may be just as much concern about the risk for Gerhart taking the field and suffering a setback as there is for Peterson. Ultimately, the availability of both players will not be known until just prior to the game. Thankfully, this game kicks off early on Sunday.

Eddie Lacy, Green Bay Packers, ankle (P): On Thursday evening, there was optimism on the Lacy availability front from Packers coach Mike McCarthy. Lacy, who injured his ankle Sunday but was able to return and finish the game, joined his teammates in practice Friday for the first time since the injury. He was able to participate on a limited basis, and with the probable designation, all signs point to him being active against the Cowboys. While he might not be functioning at 100 percent, the time off during the week undoubtedly helped in his recovery.

Maurice Jones-Drew, hamstring (D), and Jordan Todman, shoulder (P), Jacksonville Jaguars: It’s certainly not looking good for Jones-Drew this week. The doubtful tag means he is likely to sit this week out due to his injured hamstring. Jones-Drew was hoping to return to practice Friday, but that did not come to pass. While the team is giving him until game time to make it official, it appears unlikely he’ll have shown enough improvement to be able to go.

Todman would get the start should Jones-Drew sit out. He has been dealing with a shoulder injury but did practice on a limited basis Wednesday, then fully Thursday and Friday. Barring a surprise change of circumstances, Todman will be the lead back for the Jaguars when they host the Bills on Sunday.

Reggie Bush, Detroit Lions, calf (Q): Debating whether to play Bush will be perhaps one of the toughest situations for fantasy owners. In the midst of fantasy playoffs, no one wants to deal with uncertainty, and there is plenty of it here. Not so much from the perspective of whether Bush will play, though, as he has said he expects to play and his limited participation in practice Friday suggests he will.

Two potential problems present themselves. Bush could suffer another pregame setback, just as he did last Sunday, resulting in a late decision not to take the field. That seems unlikely, simply because that type of thing rarely happens to the same player two weeks in a row. The next potential problem for fantasy owners would be if Bush were to start the game but end up being limited by the calf. The limitation could be the result of the calf not having the opportunity to fully heal yet or there could be an in-game setback. Either situation could result in Bush yielding work to Joique Bell, a possibility even without a setback. For fantasy owners who decide to roll the dice, it would be wise to have an alternate plan Monday night should Bush suddenly be unable to play.

Rashad Jennings, Oakland Raiders, concussion (P): After sitting out last week’s game due to lingering effects from a concussion sustained on Thanksgiving Day, Jennings is poised to return in Week 15. He has been a full participant in practice each day, and barring an unexpected setback, Jennings will own the starter role with teammate Darren McFadden still out.

Frank Gore, San Francisco 49ers, ankle (P): Gore continues to play week in and week out despite nursing a sore ankle. At times in games, Gore can be seen visibly limping and will be periodically spelled by the likes of Kendall Hunter. Not to worry. Gore remains the feature back for San Francisco.

Shane Vereen, New England Patriots, wrist (P): Despite remaining on the injury report because of his wrist, Vereen continues to practice in full each day. At probable, he is expected to play against Miami on Sunday.

Lamar Miller, Miami Dolphins, concussion (P): Last week’s pectoral injury turned out to be a non-issue for Miller as he was forced out of the game with a concussion. Surprisingly, teammate Daniel Thomas had his best game of the year stepping in for the injured Miller and collecting more than 100 yards and a score in the process. All this from a back who some thought might be done for the year with an ankle injury sustained in Week 12 against the Panthers.

While it’s encouraging that Miller is recovering nicely from his concussion (practicing fully from Wednesday through Friday), the situation presents a conundrum for fantasy owners. Miller, at probable, is expected to play and Thomas isn’t even on the injury report, indicating he too will play. A divided workload perhaps? It certainly looks that way. Unfortunately for fantasy owners, it’s hard to know how last week’s performance by Thomas could influence that split.

Andre Ellington, Arizona Cardinals, knee (P): Ellington played in Week 14, and while his numbers weren’t spectacular, he did score a touchdown. This week, his knee appears to be further improved as he practiced daily, upgrading to a full workout Friday. He is expected to play again this week but will continue to share duties with Rashard Mendenhall.

Ben Tate, Houston Texans, ribs (P): Tate has been out there every week, with some outings being more productive than others. The ribs have been part of his injury repertoire for multiple weeks, and by now we know he will play regardless, despite participating in limited practice all week.

Marshawn Lynch, Seattle Seahawks, shoulder (P): We’re accustomed to seeing Lynch listed because of his knee, but this week it’s his shoulder. Expect the outcome to be the same; Lynch will play Sunday when the Seahawks visit the New York Giants.

BenJarvus Green-Ellis, Cincinnati Bengals, illness (P): Green-Ellis missed two practices due to illness this week but returned to full practice Friday. Listed as probable, he is expected to play Sunday night when the Bengals visit the Steelers.


Wide receivers

Cecil Shorts, Jacksonville Jaguars, groin (Q): Shorts listed as questionable heading into Sunday isn’t altogether unusual, and fantasy owners have come to assume he will play. Not this week. Shorts suffered a setback with the groin injury that has been bothering him for multiple weeks. In fact, Shorts said he needs surgery after the season to repair the injury, according to The Florida Times-Union, but still hopes to play Sunday.

It seems like a tall order given the only practice Shorts could participate in was a limited one on Friday. He has certainly played through significant pain (including a sprained SC joint earlier this year), but this injury is not just a matter of pain. It has the potential to limit his mobility and power, making it difficult for him to make explosive movements or go up high to catch passes. First he has to get on the field though, and that decision may not come until game time. Fantasy owners should take appropriate precautions.

Roddy White, Atlanta Falcons, knee (Q): It was so exciting to see White finally off the injury report, but that didn’t last long. This week, he returns to the report because of a troublesome knee that limited him in practice throughout the week. The sense is that he will try to play, but the questionable tag means fantasy owners need to double-check before game time.

Denarius Moore, Oakland Raiders, shoulder (Q): Moore has been unable to play for the past three games due to a shoulder injury, but that could change Sunday after getting in limited practices daily this week. Coach Dennis Allen said things are “looking positive” for Moore, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. Given the questionable tag, fantasy owners should verify his status before kickoff.

Santonio Holmes, foot/hamstring, and Jeremy Kerley, elbow, New York Jets (P): Both receivers were listed as questionable last week, and both took the field. Kerley even landed a score in his first game back since Week 9. The results for Holmes were fairly pedestrian, but that has been the story of his season. With both players listed as probable, at least fantasy owners know both should be expected to play.

Michael Floyd, Arizona Cardinals, ankle (Q): Floyd does not appear on the injury report because of his shoulder, but rather because of an ankle injury sustained a couple of weeks ago. His stats were way down in Week 14, in part because of the limitations in his mobility. He is still limited despite making the effort to tough it out with the injury. Floyd is likely to try to play, but the questionable designation indicates that could change by game time. Fantasy owners should check his status and may want to consider other options.

Danny Amendola, groin (P), Kenbrell Thompkins, hip (Q), and Aaron Dobson, foot (Q), New England Patriots: Amendola is a regular here but has been playing the past few weeks without incident. He is once again expected to start for the Patriots.

The two rookie receivers -- Thompkins and Dobson -- are bigger question marks. Dobson has been out since Week 12 with a foot injury. He did return to practice on Friday, but that was as a limited participant. It would seem a stretch for him to play. Thompkins practiced on a limited basis each day. Last week, he did the same thing, was listed as questionable and did not play. The Patriots often like to see their players get a few weeks of practices under their belt before releasing them to play, so his chances have improved somewhat. Until the Patriots make their official inactive announcement, however, Thompkins remains risky.

Michael Crabtree, San Francisco 49ers, ankle (P): Crabtree was listed on the injury report this week because of his ankle, although the 49ers indicated this was not related to his recently repaired Achilles. On a positive note, Crabtree was a full participant in Friday’s practice after doing limited work Wednesday and Thursday. The probable designation indicates the team plans to have him on the field in Tampa Bay.

Vincent Jackson, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, hamstring (P): The hamstring didn’t keep Jackson off the field in Week 14 even if it did cause him discomfort. After getting Wednesday off to rest, Jackson returned to limited practice Thursday and full work Friday. He plans to play Sunday.

Tavon Austin, St. Louis Rams, ankle (Q): There really isn’t much encouraging news when it comes to Austin’s status for this week. After injuring his ankle in Week 14, Austin has not practiced all week. As ESPN.com’s Nick Wagoner notes, Austin was still sporting a walking boot on his left foot Friday. Given the questionable tag and his lack of activity, it appears unlikely fantasy owners should count on Austin for Sunday.

Emmanuel Sanders, Pittsburgh Steelers, foot (P): Sanders was limited in Thursday’s practice due to a sore foot but returned to full practice Friday. At probable, he is expected to play Sunday night against the Bengals.


Tight ends

Tony Gonzalez, Atlanta Falcons, toe (Q): By now we know Gonzalez is going to play despite the questionable tag and sore toe. He continues to practice on a limited basis each day but takes the field each Sunday.

Garrett Graham, Houston Texans, hamstring (Q): Graham, who has been playing in place of the injured Owen Daniels, is dealing with a hamstring strain that kept him out of practice the entire week. His status is very questionable indeed as he will be a game-time decision.

Jordan Cameron, Cleveland Browns, ribs (P): Cameron appears on track to play after practicing in full every day, despite bruised ribs.

Jordan Reed, Washington Redskins, concussion (Q): Reed has been out of commission since suffering a concussion in Week 11. At one point he appeared on the verge of returning, but a recurrence of concussion symptoms (headache) quickly altered those plans. He continues to struggle with symptoms and has not yet returned to practice.

He is not expected to play this week. Although the team has not shut him down, his slow recovery suggests he might not reach the point of returning before the regular season is out.

Delanie Walker, Tennessee Titans, concussion (P): After missing last week’s game with post-concussion symptoms, Walker is on track to return Sunday. He practiced in full every day, and unless there is a surprise recurrence of symptoms, he will be on the field for the Titans.

Greg Olsen, Carolina Panthers, foot (P): After not practicing Wednesday, Olsen returned to a limited workout Thursday and a full practice Friday. Listed as probable, he is expected to play.


Out

Aaron Rodgers, QB, Green Bay Packers, collarbone: Rodgers did not receive medical clearance to return. It is that simple. Despite increasing his practice efforts, the choice to sit is, well, not really a choice. Rodgers, according to ESPN Wisconsin's Jason Wilde, described himself as “sad” upon getting the news. Matt Flynn gets the start again.

Willis McGahee, RB, Cleveland Browns, concussion/knee: It is the concussion that kept McGahee out of practice all week and will sideline him for this game. Chris Ogbonnaya is expected to start.

Darren McFadden, RB, Oakland Raiders, ankle: McFadden remains out of practice with the ankle injury and with no clear timetable for a return on the horizon.

Percy Harvin, WR, Seattle Seahawks, hip: Harvin has still not returned to practice since flaring up his hip during his season debut. The Seahawks are making no projections about his return.

Jonathan Stewart, RB, Carolina Panthers, knee: Stewart injured his MCL in Week 14 and is out for this week, at the very least.
It's another murky week in Green Bay on the injury front. Here's the outlook as of Thursday night:

Eddie Lacy, RB (ankle): As noted here Tuesday, Packers coach Mike McCarthy said it was too early in the week to predict whether Lacy would play Sunday at Dallas after injuring his right ankle in Week 14. On Thursday, the prognosis appeared better, despite Lacy remaining out of practice. As ESPN.com’s Rob Demovsky noted, McCarthy was encouraged by what he was hearing from the team’s medical staff. Although Lacy was still in a walking boot, McCarthy said he would be re-evaluated in the morning, after which a practice plan would be determined. It appears that even if his work is limited, as long as there are no setbacks, Lacy’s outlook for Sunday will be positive.

"Based on Eddie's specific injury, the training staff feels confident he'll be ready to go," McCarthy said.

Ideally, it would be reassuring to know he had tested the ankle on the practice field, but it is worth noting Lacy did return to last weekend’s game after the injury.

Aaron Rodgers, QB (collarbone): The outlook is far less certain for Rodgers, who is expected to undergo another CT scan on his left collarbone Friday, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter. Rodgers has not been medically cleared to play, and inadequate healing of the bone is at least partially responsible for that decision. This scan will come 10 days after the previous one. Rodgers was also experiencing pain with certain movements at the time of his last scan, adding to the team’s rationale for being cautious. His progress in practice would suggest he is improving in that area as well and, according to Demovsky, Rodgers confirmed he felt better in practice this week compared to last. As for whether he is able to play this week, obviously the medical staff would need to clear him to return. Rodgers says he would also “need to take the majority of the reps” in Friday’s practice if he were going to play Sunday.

From a functional standpoint, this makes sense. To help remove any lingering anxiety around the injury itself, an athlete has to regain confidence that his body is going to respond in the way to which he is accustomed. Practice is not an exact replica of a game situation, but getting reps is certainly a means of building confidence. Since becoming the starter in Green Bay, Rodgers has missed virtually no time. Now in his sixth week of being sidelined, completely unfamiliar territory for Rodgers, a full slate of reps in Friday’s practice would at least reassure him that his shoulder feels ready. If the medical staff says it also looks ready, then there’s a chance Rodgers could make his return in Week 15.

Week 15 injury update: Reggie Bush

December, 12, 2013
12/12/13
8:22
PM ET
Detroit Lions running back Reggie Bush has not practiced since aggravating his calf in pregame warmups Sunday. As fantasy owners are well aware, Bush did not play as a result, despite being declared active minutes earlier. Now the question is: What to expect for Monday night's game against the Baltimore Ravens?

Well, a return to practice would be a nice start. After being held out Thursday for what he described as precautionary reasons, Bush says he expects to practice Friday, according to Michael Rothstein of ESPN.com. How much or how little he does could go a long way toward setting expectations for Monday’s game. Bush told the Detroit Free Press he had not missed a game because of a muscle pull prior to last week. Perhaps not, but he has only played all 16 regular-season games just twice in his career. And while he is just 28 years old, one could make the argument that the accumulated wear and tear of being a running back in the NFL combined with his previous injuries qualifies him as an injury risk.

Bush has certainly looked strong when he’s taken the field this year, reinvigorated even, in this Detroit offense. But calf injuries can be stubborn, even when they are minor. And the explosiveness Bush has displayed this season may be compromised if his calf is not fully cooperating. Bush said he expects to play this week, but until he takes the field Monday night and gets through the game without a setback, he retains some risk.

Key fantasy injuries for Week 14

December, 7, 2013
12/07/13
5:33
PM ET
Carson PalmerMark J. Rebilas/USA TODAY SportsWill a right elbow injury keep Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer off the field this weekend?
Welcome to the first round of fantasy playoffs! This is the point in the NFL season when team goals and fantasy owner goals might not mesh. Teams that are looking at postseason opportunities might exercise caution with players returning from injury. Players who suffer injuries in games might be removed more quickly with those postseason goals in mind. There’s not much one can do about things that happen during the game, but fantasy owners certainly want to avoid a roster lineup that includes an inactive.

As you set your fantasy roster, here’s what we know as of Saturday afternoon.


Quarterbacks

Carson Palmer, Arizona Cardinals, right elbow, (Q): Palmer’s throwing elbow was undoubtedly sore after the contact he absorbed in Week 13, but he did return to finish out the game. Still, he was limited daily in practice this week, very limited, in fact, in terms of actual throwing, while wearing a protective sleeve. It’s worth noting this is the same elbow Palmer injured years ago, suffering a partial tear of his right ulnar collateral (Tommy John) ligament. Palmer opted to treat the elbow conservatively, going the rehab route after surgery, but missed time with the injury.

Although he has proved he can still be an NFL quarterback, his elbow, given his history, is more vulnerable than most. The Cardinals sounded optimistic Palmer would be able to play by Sunday, but this does lead one to wonder whether he will struggle in that effort.

Peyton Manning, Denver Broncos, ankle, (P): Manning’s right ankle still warrants a day off of practice early in the week (Wednesday), but his full participation Thursday and Friday confirms he will be ready to play.

Jason Campbell, Cleveland Browns, concussion, (P): Early in the week with Brandon Weeden and Campbell sidelined with concussions, the signing of Caleb Hanie hinted at yet another starting quarterback for the Browns this season. Campbell was cleared to return to practice by Thursday, though, and, by the end of the week, was cleared to play. Barring any recurrence of symptoms pregame, Campbell is expected to start Sunday.

Tom Brady, New England Patriots, right shoulder, (P): The sight of Brady on the injury report because of a sore throwing shoulder is not unusual, nor is the fact he practiced fully each day anyway. Expect him to start against the Browns.


Running backs

Reggie Bush, Detroit Lions, calf, (Q): As noted Thursday, Bush worked on the side doing ball control drills but was not a formal participant in practice after sitting out the day before with a calf injury. He did return for limited work Friday, but the "questionable" tag suggests the Lions do not want to commit to his availability before game day. Bush has had limited practice weeks on several occasions this year, usually to rest his knee. This is the first report of a calf injury, and it is not clear when Bush suffered it, thus making it a little trickier to predict just how much of a risk it is to affect his performance, presuming he plays.

Rashad Jennings, Oakland Raiders, concussion, (Q): Jennings suffered a concussion in the Raiders’ Thanksgiving Day game, and the hope was that the extra time between games would boost the odds of his return for Week 14. This is a reminder that concussions resolve on their own timetable. Jennings participated in practice on a limited basis Wednesday through Friday but was still listed as questionable in the Friday evening injury report. The plan, according to the San Jose Mercury News, was to allow Jennings to travel to New York with the team to evaluate him further.

Coach Dennis Allen said they would “see how he’s feeling” Saturday. Jennings would need final clearance to play and no recurrence of concussion symptoms. With Darren McFadden and Jeremy Stewart out, Taiwan Jones -- who got reps at running back this week in practice -- could see some playing time alongside Marcel Reece.

Knowshon Moreno, Denver Broncos, ankle, (P): There was great concern about Moreno’s status early in the week after he left the Week 12 game on crutches and in a walking boot. The bone bruise must have appeared more serious than it was because Moreno was back practicing late in the week and was on the field for the Broncos this past Sunday. This week, it’s easy to be more confident after a light workout Wednesday followed by full practice late in the week. At "probable," Moreno is expected to play.

Adrian Peterson, Minnesota Vikings, groin, (Q): Heading into this weekend, Peterson’s presence on the practice field was scarce, with him sitting out Wednesday and Thursday, then returning for limited work Friday. The concerning thing here is not so much the lean practice time but the downgrade of Peterson’s status this week from probable to questionable. The groin issue is not new, and Peterson acknowledged several weeks ago that it was limiting his explosiveness.

The next week, however, he looked like his vintage self, putting up 146 yards and a touchdown. Then, in Week 13, all he did was post more than 200 yards on the ground, leading us to ask, “What groin injury?” Holding him out of practice makes sense, but would the Vikings hold him out of a game? Peterson has expressed his competitive nature in wanting to be on the field to play for his team, and he was listed as questionable two weeks ago before that strong performance. Barring a setback it appears he will play.

DeAngelo Williams, thigh, Jonathan Stewart, ankle and Mike Tolbert, knee, Carolina Panthers, (P): Last week, it looked as if the entire Carolina backfield might be in jeopardy of missing the game. This week, it looks as if all will be available. Williams, with his quad contusion, was the only one of the three to sit out Week 12. He has made enough progress this week, including upgrading to full practice Friday, to be on track to play. Stewart was given time to rest his ankle Wednesday and Thursday but returned to full practice Friday. Tolbert never seemed a threat to sit this week, however, he got some light work Wednesday and Thursday before a full practice Friday. All three backs are listed as probable, and all are expected to play.

Andre Ellington, Arizona Cardinals, knee, (P): Ellington wanted to play last week despite having tweaked his knee in practice three days earlier but later admitted it was probably a good idea by the coaches for him to sit out. This week, he went from no practice Wednesday to limited Thursday, finishing with a full practice Friday. Listed as probable, he is expected to play.

Chris Ivory, New York Jets, ankle, (P): The Jets say they are the healthiest they’ve been in a while, and Ivory is one of the examples. Despite injuring his ankle a couple of weeks ago, Ivory was able to practice fully each day. He is expected to play Sunday when the Jets host the Raiders.

Frank Gore, San Francisco 49ers, ankle, (P): The veteran running back routinely gets a light workout at least one day a week, and this week it was Wednesday. Full practices Thursday and Friday along with the probable tag prove Gore is expected to play against divisional foe Seattle.

Shane Vereen, New England Patriots, wrist, (P): Vereen likely will be listed here the remainder of the season, but he continues to practice fully every day. He is expected to play.

Le’Veon Bell, Pittsburgh Steelers, concussion, (P): The way the Thanksgiving hit looked, no one would have expected Bell to have one of the bigger practice weeks of all the players listed with concussions. Proof again that the severity of the hit does not necessarily equate with the seriousness of the injury. Bell practiced fully Wednesday through Friday and, as long as there are no pregame setbacks, will play Sunday against Miami.

Lamar Miller, Miami Dolphins, pectoral, (P): Miller was kept to light work Wednesday and Thursday with a pectoral strain but was back in full practice Friday. At "probable," he is expected to play.


Wide receivers

Vincent Jackson, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, hamstring, (Q): No one likes to see hamstring injuries for players who have to run to be effective, but here we are. Jackson had Wednesday off but practiced on a limited basis Thursday and Friday. He is listed as questionable but is hoping to play. Coach Greg Schiano did not seem concerned early in the week, telling the Tampa Bay Times, "Vince had a little bit of a leg issue, I don't think it's real serious.”

On Friday, Schiano told reporters he was “cautiously optimistic” that Jackson would be available Sunday, not quite the endorsement fantasy owners would prefer heading into game time. It appears Jackson is likely to play unless there are issues in pregame warm-ups, however it is definitely worth verifying his status before kickoff.

[+] EnlargeDanny Amendola
Kevin Hoffman/USA TODAY SportsDanny Amendola is expected to play Sunday against the Browns.
Danny Amendola, groin, (P), New England Patriots: Amendola was a full participant in practice each day despite remaining on the injury report. He is expected to play.

Calvin Johnson, Detroit Lions, knee, (P): Johnson is kept to light work early in the week, then returns for an upgrade late. The "probable" tag is a reassuring sign that Detroit expects to have him on the field.

Demaryius Thomas, Denver Broncos, shoulder, (P): Thomas hurt his shoulder early in last week’s game but played through it. After two limited practices, Thomas was a full participant Friday, moving well and catching passes overhead without any apparent discomfort. Expect him to play as usual.

A.J. Green, Cincinnati Bengals, groin, (P): This is not the first week Green has dealt with a soft tissue ailment, and he doesn’t intend to let it hold him back. Green was a full practice participant Thursday and Friday and, listed as probable, expects to play.

Santonio Holmes, foot/hamstring and Jeremy Kerley, elbow, New York Jets, (P): Holmes has been struggling with a hamstring issue that he aggravated last week. This explains his very brief appearance in Sunday’s game. Holmes is reportedly healthier this week and heads into the game against the Raiders as probable, although the Jets might still choose to be cautious in terms of how much they use him. Meanwhile, Kerley is recovering from his dislocated elbow and practiced fully each day this week. He still has soreness but rates himself at least 90 percent recovered, according to ESPNNewYork.com’s Jane McManus, and he plans to play.

T.Y. Hilton, Indianapolis Colts, shoulder, (P): Hilton has been a full participant in practice on Thursday and Friday the past two weeks despite being on the injury report because of his shoulder. He is expected to play.

Michael Floyd, Arizona Cardinals, ankle, (P): Floyd has been on the injury report the past few weeks but still has put up amazing numbers. The injury this week, however, is not the same AC sprain he’s been dealing with of late; this is an ankle injury suffered in Week 13. Both Floyd and coach Bruce Arians indicated he is expected to play, though, and, more importantly, Floyd declared himself largely past the injury.

Eddie Royal, San Diego Chargers, toe/chest, (Q): Royal was downgraded last Saturday to doubtful after originally being listed as questionable, so his status is worth keeping an eye on right up until game time. He did not practice all week, so there is little info to go on other than the fact that Royal has suited up several times this year after not practicing at all. Consider his status a potential game-time decision.

Golden Tate, Seattle Seahawks, hip, (P): Tate’s appearance here doesn’t seem worrying because he practiced in full Thursday and Friday despite the short week. Expect him to play Sunday in San Francisco.

Brandon Marshall, Chicago Bears, quadriceps, (P): Marshall went through a similar practice routine last week because of the quad yet played. One assumes he will do so again, given that he is listed as probable.

Dez Bryant, Dallas Cowboys, back, (P): Bryant’s back again has him listed on the injury report, but he is not missing any practice. With Bryant a full participant Thursday and Friday, the expectation is he will be good to go for the big Monday night matchup against the Bears.


Tight ends

Tony Gonzalez, Atlanta Falcons, toe, (Q): Gonzalez continues to be limited in practices by the toe and listed as questionable heading into the game, but the expectation is he will continue to play.

Julius Thomas, Denver Broncos, knee, (P): Last week’s inactive status for Thomas was a big surprise to fantasy owners after the team’s optimism about his health early in the week. Apparently, Thomas felt his knee stiffen up and became more apprehensive about playing on it Saturday evening and into Sunday morning.

The decision was made to exercise caution with the young star tight end, and it appears to have paid off. Thomas was more involved in practices this week, participating fully Thursday and Friday. With him listed as probable this week, his status appears much more certain.

Rob Gronkowski, New England Patriots, back/forearm/hamstring, (Q): Gronkowski also was listed as questionable last week but played anyway. We expect him to do the same again this Sunday.

Delanie Walker, Tennessee Titans, concussion, (Q): Walker suffered a concussion early in the Titans’ Week 13 game. On Thursday, Walker participated in what was referred to as a “rigorous” workout away from the practice field, according to ESPN.com’s Paul Kuharsky, with the hope he might be cleared to return to practice Friday. Walker did not participate in Friday practice, however, making it appear unlikely he will play Sunday.

The Titans have not officially ruled him out, but, given that coach Mike Munchak said Thursday that Walker and (fellow tight end) Craig Stevens, who is also sidelined with a concussion, “would have to both be doing really well in our mind” to be active, it is not looking great. Stay tuned for any surprise updates, but fantasy owners should make alternate plans.

Jordan Reed, Washington Redskins, concussion, (Q): Reed has missed two games because of a concussion, and last week’s decision to hold him out came at the last minute. That late decision was made when Reed had recurrent headache symptoms. After not practicing Wednesday, Reed returned to limited work Thursday and Friday but still comes into Sunday’s game listed as questionable. Lesson learned from last week: Things can change up until kickoff. Thankfully for fantasy owners, this is an early game Sunday.


Out

Jay Cutler, QB, Chicago Bears, ankle: Cutler showed signs of progress by returning to practice this week, and, according to coach Marc Trestman, threw the ball “really, really well.” After nearly a month’s absence from the field, however, two days of practice is not enough to warrant a start. Cutler will continue to work his way back, but how long that will take is unclear at this point. In the meantime, Josh McCown will make another start.

Aaron Rodgers, QB, Green Bay Packers, collarbone: There were fairly significant hints that Rodgers would not play this week, the biggest coming Tuesday when he did not receive medical clearance to return. He is not sitting idle, however. In fact, Rodgers returned to practice Wednesday on a limited basis, then came back -- in pads -- for more on Thursday.

Matt Flynn continued to garner first-team reps all week, though, another hint the team did not plan on having Rodgers available. Both he and the team insist there is no talk of shutting him down, well, at least not yet. The lingering primary concern centers on risk of reinjury. Whether that concern dissipates enough to allow Rodgers to return to play remains to be seen.

Christian Ponder, QB, Minnesota Vikings, concussion: Ponder has not returned to practice since suffering a concussion and will sit out this week.

Darren McFadden, RB, ankle and Denarius Moore, WR, shoulder, Oakland Raiders: McFadden has anew injury he’s contending with now, and his return timetable is uncertain. The team ruled him and teammate Moore, who is dealing with a lingering shoulder injury, out early this week, and the two did not travel to New York.

Percy Harvin, WR, Seattle Seahawks, hip: Harvin’s setback was a little more pronounced than the Seahawks initially let on, and the plan to bring him back to the field is, understandably, a cautious one. He has already been ruled out for this week, and the Seahawks are being mindful of his long-term health. Although the Seahawks have placed no timetable on his return, they have to be viewing their season as extending well into the playoffs. He might not return as a major contributor in time to help fantasy owners.

Week 14 injury update: Raiders RBs

December, 5, 2013
12/05/13
7:33
PM ET
It’s no surprise that RB Rashad Jennings is still working his way back from a concussion sustained in the Thanksgiving Day game against the Dallas Cowboys. But the Darren McFadden component here is a surprise. Let me clarify.

It’s not a shock that McFadden is on the injury report. What is surprising is that it is not because of his recently strained, then subsequently aggravated hamstring. Now McFadden is listed with an ankle injury, one that was apparently suffered during Thursday’s game. Unfortunately for McFadden, the Raiders, his loyal (er, hopeful?) fantasy owners and anyone else on the McFadden spirit squad, this latest news pretty much takes all the wind out of any remaining sails. Coach Dennis Allen’s comments Wednesday indicated this latest McFadden ailment was not trivial.

"He actually injured the ankle in the game the other day and it was [hurt] more than what we had initially thought," Allen said.

McFadden has not practiced since and looks poised to miss yet another game. As ESPN.com’s Paul Gutierrez noted, prior to the Cowboys game McFadden had played in only 17 of the Raiders' previous 36 games. Less than 50 percent participation does not bode well for McFadden’s long-term future with the Raiders (he is in the final year of his rookie contract) but that is a discussion for another time. In the interim, the Raiders will take it day-to-day with him, but it’s unclear when -- or if -- he will return.

Jennings has participated in back-to-back practices on a limited basis Wednesday and Thursday, a good sign of post-concussion progress. He still has some steps to complete to be able to play on Sunday but appears on track. It is worth a reminder that until a player takes the field, there is always the chance that symptoms can return, which will force a late deactivation.

With McFadden out and Jennings limited, the Raiders had Taiwan Jones on the field taking practice reps at running back Wednesday. Of course there is still Marcel Reece to lean on, but the reps for Jones are worth noting, especially if Jennings is unable to play. As the weekend rolls around, it will be worth keeping an eye on how the Raiders’ backfield is shaping up.

Week 14 injury update: Reggie Bush

December, 5, 2013
12/05/13
7:21
PM ET
Detroit Lions running back Reggie Bush did not formally participate in practice on Wednesday or Thursday and is listed on the injury report with a calf issue. It’s not clear when exactly the injury occurred, as Bush did participate in the team’s workouts Tuesday.

Bush was present on the field Thursday, working on the side in what appeared to be ball-control drills. After all, the injury is not to his upper body and Bush has had three fumbles in his past five games, something he would obviously like to correct. There does not appear to be a high level of concern about Bush’s game-day status, and if he returns to practice Friday, it will reinforce the notion that he is indeed expected to play. Nevertheless, teammate Joique Bell remains a regular on the field, and if Bush should have any problems with his legs (he has been bothered intermittently by a knee issue, which kept him off the field in Week 3) or his hands, Bell’s responsibilities will increase.

Key Week 13 fantasy injury updates

November, 30, 2013
11/30/13
4:29
PM ET
Knowshon MorenoJim Rogash/Getty ImagesHow effective will Knowshon Moreno be on Sunday, given his injury against the Patriots last week?
Happy post-Thanksgiving fantasy football weekend! With three games out of the way already, there are fewer fantasy choices to make heading into Sunday and Monday’s games.

Here’s what we know as of Saturday afternoon:

Quarterbacks

Peyton Manning, Denver Broncos, ankle (P): Manning’s ankle issues are not behind him, but he’s proven he can play through the discomfort and still be effective. His biggest challenge is making sure he doesn't end up on the bottom of a pile where the vulnerable right ankle could get twisted. He certainly knows how to make adjustments, but Manning can’t be disappointed that the Chiefs will be without one of their key pass-rushers, Justin Houston, who has already been ruled out with an elbow injury.

Running backs

Knowshon Moreno, Denver Broncos, ankle (P): This is the biggest (pleasant) surprise of the weekend injury report. Based on how Moreno looked last Sunday night both during the game (coming on and off the field in the final quarter, limping significantly) and afterward (in a walking boot, on crutches), his chances of playing this Sunday appeared slim. Moreno was reportedly dealing with a bone bruise in his ankle -- and a “significant” one at that -- suggesting his status for Week 13 was a legitimate concern. After all, bone bruises are not to be ignored. A severe bone bruise can take weeks to resolve and continued trauma to the joint, even in the simplest form of high-impact weight bearing, can lead to further problems.

That's why it was no surprise when Moreno was a non-participant in Wednesday’s practice, but it was a surprise when he not only turned up Thursday, but also looked to be moving pretty well on the practice field. By Friday, he increased his workload to “full” participation, and the team was confident enough in what they saw to list him as probable.

Now comes the tricky part. While Moreno is clearly on track to play Sunday, how much of a workload can be expected, given that he is coming off the recent ankle injury? It’s reasonable to think Montee Ball could see some extra touches in an effort to off-load Moreno. It’s also reasonable to think that how much Moreno plays will be fluid depending, at least in part, on how his ankle withstands the early work. In any case, the outlook for Moreno is far brighter than it was as recently as Wednesday. Despite the late kickoff Sunday, fantasy owners can feel confident that Moreno is expected to be on the field against the Chiefs.

Adrian Peterson, Minnesota Vikings, groin (P): It’s no surprise that Peterson got two days off from practice this week. After all, he has recently been nursing a sore groin -- not that anyone noticed with his 146 yards rushing and a score in Week 12 -- and the team plans to continue to rely on Peterson’s legs. Coach Leslie Frazier came right out and said as much, according to ESPN's Michael Wright. “We feel like we've got the best running back in the NFL on our team,” Frazier said. “So we’re going to try to play to our strength.” He will not get any arguments from fantasy owners.

Matt Forte, Chicago Bears, knee (P): Even with coach Marc Trestman’s confidence earlier in the week that Forte would be ready to go by Sunday, it’s still reassuring to see the probable designation next to his name at the end of the week. Forte hyperextended his knee in last Sunday’s game but, as noted here Tuesday, he returned to finish out the game, a positive sign. After sitting out Wednesday’s practice, Forte returned to a limited effort Thursday followed by a full practice Friday. He is expected to play as usual against the Vikings.

Zac Stacy, St. Louis Rams, concussion (P): The news for Stacy got better and better as the week went on and he increased his involvement in practice. By Friday, he was a full participant and as ESPN’s Nick Wagoner notes, Stacy was cleared to play against the 49ers. Barring any surprise return of his concussion symptoms, Stacy will be on the field Sunday.

DeAngelo Williams, thigh, Jonathan Stewart, ankle and Mike Tolbert, knee, Carolina Panthers (Q): It can’t be a good sign when the entire backfield comes into a game listed as questionable; the challenge then is figuring out who is more questionable than the others. Williams may be at the top of that list, with the Panthers expressing genuine concern about his availability. Williams did not practice the entire week because of a quad contusion sustained in last week’s game, and while he has not been ruled out, there is not a lot of optimism. Coach Ron Rivera made it plain and simple when talking to reporters after Friday’s practice, saying there are "a lot of concerns with DeAngelo."

The team seems far more hopeful when it comes to the availability of Stewart and Tolbert, who were limited in practice late in the week but are expected to play.

Andre Ellington, Arizona Cardinals, knee (Q): Fantasy owners do not like late-week downgrades, therefore they will not like seeing this change in Ellington’s status. According to ESPN’s Josh Weinfuss, Ellington injured his left knee late in Thursday’s practice. He did not practice Friday and will be a game-time decision, per head coach Bruce Arians. While Ellington sounded hopeful Friday that he would be able to play, there are the effects of a cross-country flight to consider, and the coach’s hint that he wants to be cautious with his explosive back. Even if Ellington is active, this setback won’t do anything to help his fantasy owners’ desire to see him get increased work, at least not this week.

Chris Ivory, New York Jets, ankle (P): Things didn't look so good for Ivory after he had to concede carries to teammate Bilal Powell in the Week 12 contest because of an ankle injury. He didn't miss any practice days, however, and after a limited effort Wednesday and Thursday, he returned to full practice Friday. The probable tag gives us confidence he will play. How well Ivory’s ankle holds up during the game may dictate just how much action he will see.

Ben Tate, ribs (P), Houston Texans: Perhaps the most notable thing about Tate here is that he is only listed on the injury report because of his ribs. His other injuries seem to have healed. Naturally, Tate is expected to play against the Patriots.

Ryan Mathews, San Diego Chargers, hamstring (P): As his teammate Antonio Gates noted, hamstring injuries are “tricky.” Despite coach Mike McCoy downplaying Mathews’ hamstring issue coming into Week 12, Mathews aggravated the injury in the third quarter of Sunday’s game and made an early exit. The setback didn't appear to be severe, since Mathews was back in practice on a limited basis Thursday, followed by a full workout Friday. He’s not out of the woods by any means, but he is expected to play against the Bengals.

Frank Gore, San Francisco 49ers, ankle (P): Gore is again listed as probable because of his ankle. He was held to limited practices this week (last week he was a full participant each day), indicating perhaps a little more soreness in that ankle, but he is in no danger of missing Sunday’s game.

Marshawn Lynch, Seattle Seahawks, knee (no designation yet): Lynch continues to be listed on the injury report because of his knee, but he has yet to miss a game. Expect him on the field for a big Monday night game against the New Orleans Saints.

Darren Sproles, New Orleans Saints, ankle (no designation yet): Sproles was inactive in Week 12 because of injuries to each leg, an ankle on one side and a knee on the other. Considering the Saints’ Week 12 game came just four days after their Week 11 contest, the move to hold Sproles out was wise. While the Saints did not offer much in the way of detail, Sproles’ return to full participation in practice Thursday suggests he is much improved after the week off. Sproles is expected to be back on the field Monday night when the Saints travel to Seattle.

Wide receivers

[+] EnlargeMichael Floyd
Mark J. Rebilas/USA TODAY SportsMichael Floyd is expected to play this week.
Michael Floyd, Arizona Cardinals, shoulder (P): Floyd has not only been playing, he’s been performing extremely well the last couple of weeks, despite spraining his right acromioclavicular (AC) joint in Week 10. After limited practices Wednesday and Thursday, Floyd practiced in full Friday and is expected to play against the Eagles.

Brandon Marshall, Chicago Bears, quadriceps (P): Marshall was limited Thursday because of the quad, but to the relief of his fantasy owners and Bears fans, he was back in full practice Friday. At probable, he is expected to play.

Cecil Shorts, groin (P) and Mike Brown, shoulder (Q), Jacksonville Jaguars: By now, the practice pattern for Shorts is familiar enough that fantasy owners would perhaps be more surprised if he was not on the injury report. Listed as probable, Shorts is expected to play as usual. Unfortunately for him, he draws the Joe Haden coverage tag this week. Brown is a different story. He is contending with an AC sprain suffered two weeks ago and sat out last Sunday’s game. This week he will be a game-time decision, according to coach Gus Bradley. The team will work him out pregame to make a final determination as to his status. For fantasy owners who are considering Brown, be sure to check pregame inactive reports.

Steve Johnson, Buffalo Bills, groin (P): Johnson has hinted all week that he would be ready to take the field this Sunday after sitting out the Bills’ last game. That game was two weeks ago, as the Bills had a bye in Week 12, conveniently allowing Johnson some extra recovery time from this latest soft tissue injury, a right groin strain. He doesn't appear to be limping into this week’s contest, either, practicing fully each day and designated as probable. It should be nice and warm for Johnson, too, as the location for this week’s game is the Rogers Centre in Toronto, where presumably the roof will be closed.

Santonio Holmes, foot/hamstring and Jeremy Kerley, elbow, New York Jets (Q): Holmes returned from his hamstring injury following the team’s bye, but the injury is clearly not behind him. In fact, one wonders if he took a step backward. Holmes was limited in practice Wednesday but did not practice at all Thursday or Friday. The Jets are calling him a game-time decision and even if he does play, it’s questionable how much he’ll contribute. Meanwhile, Kerley is on the mend from an elbow injury and only shed his non-contact jersey this Wednesday in practice. He remained limited throughout the week and will likely come down to a game-time call.

T.Y. Hilton, Indianapolis Colts, shoulder (P): There was some understandable concern when Hilton did not practice Wednesday, but that was alleviated when he returned Thursday. Hilton put in full practice efforts both Thursday and Friday, and at probable, he is expected to play.

Hakeem Nicks, New York Giants, abdomen (P): Nicks says he could have played last week, but the Giants didn't agree. The abdominal strain that sidelined him still kept him limited in practice Wednesday and Thursday, but Nicks turned it up for a full practice Friday. At least fantasy owners can feel confident that Nicks will play this week, despite the late start. If only results on the field could be equally assured. It’s hard to believe, but Nicks has yet to find the end zone this season.

Eddie Royal, San Diego Chargers, toe/chest (D): Royal has been a fixture on the injury report, so the initial designation of questionable didn't raise a huge red flag. On Saturday, however, the Chargers downgraded Royal’s status to doubtful, according to Michael Gehlken of the San Diego Union-Tribune. The chest injury Royal suffered last week appears to be the culprit (the toe has been a long-standing ailment), and he appears very likely to sit this one out.

Percy Harvin, Seattle Seahawks, hip (D): (Note: This section has been updated to reflect Harvin's designation.) Harvin did not practice Saturday and the team has officially listed him as doubtful for Monday night’s game. After Harvin’s initial limited outing in Week 11, the Seahawks said that he experienced only minor soreness and hinted at removing restrictions from his playing time. Head coach Pete Carroll later seemed to retreat a bit emphasizing the team would be cautious with Harvin and would manage him going forward. Perhaps this limited practice is part of the management plan, which is entirely reasonable. But if Harvin is experiencing some lingering soreness or discomfort, it goes without saying the restrictions on his playing time will not be removed.
Tight ends

Tony Gonzalez, Atlanta Falcons, toe (Q): Gonzalez has come into the game listed as questionable the past two weeks because of his toe injury, but has played. While he is clearly not 100 percent, as is evident by his limited practices each day, Gonzalez is expected to play Sunday in Toronto against the Bills.

Antonio Gates, San Diego Chargers, hamstring (P): Gates hasn't been on the injury report much in the last two years, a welcome change for him and for fantasy owners after battling plantar fascia issues for more than two years. He resurfaces there this week, however, after suffering a hamstring injury in last week’s game. Gates had two days off to rest, and despite returning to practice Friday, he indicated if the game were to be played that day, he was not sure he could have taken the field. He described the injury as “tricky,” according to the San Diego Union-Tribune. “It's one of those injuries where you can't fully grasp whether or not you can do something because it's all running,” Gates said.

Friday’s practice gave the veteran tight end an opportunity to gauge his health, and it sounds as if the vibe was largely positive, given the probable tag assigned to him. Gates is expected to play but, as he noted, it’s a tricky injury. The hope is that he can get through the game without a setback.

Julius Thomas, Denver Broncos, knee (Q): Thomas sat out last week’s game when his hyperextended right knee had not recovered to the point of allowing him to participate. Although the injury, sustained in Week 11, was not considered particularly serious in that there was no significant structural damage, Thomas still had enough soreness and stiffness to limit his mobility throughout the week. The decision to hold him out appears to have been a wise one, and Thomas was held to limited practices throughout this entire week. But as ESPN’s Jeff Legwold notes, Thomas is on track this week to play against the Chiefs.

Rob Gronkowski, New England Patriots, back/forearm/hamstring (Q): It is not unusual to see Gronkowski on the injury report, but seeing him listed as questionable is a bit surprising. Since returning from offseason surgeries, Gronkowski has played each week, although the hamstring ailment is a new addition in recent weeks. The tag is likely a reflection of Gronkowski’s limited practice sessions. As of now, it appears he will take the field as usual Sunday.

Jordan Reed, Washington Redskins, concussion (Q): Reed sat out the Week 12 game because of a head injury and remains uncertain for this week. He has returned to daily limited practices and he said he expects to play, but Washington, assigning Reed a questionable tag, appears less ready to formally commit. According to ESPN’s John Keim, the Redskins are indicating Reed will play as long as there is no recurrence of symptoms. This is a Sunday night game, so fantasy owners should have an emergency backup plan in place.

Out

Jay Cutler, QB, Chicago Bears, ankle: Cutler has graduated from a hard cast to a smaller brace on his left ankle, but he remains sidelined by his high-ankle sprain. The Bears still describe him as week-to-week.

Jason Campbell, QB, Cleveland Browns, concussion: Campbell was ruled out earlier in the week. Brandon Weeden gets the start for Cleveland.

Key fantasy injuries for Week 12

November, 23, 2013
11/23/13
4:23
PM ET
Adrian PetersonAP Photo/Evan VucciWill a groin injury keep Vikings running back Adrian Peterson off the field this weekend?
It’s Week 12, and there are four teams that finally get their bye this week. The Philadelphia Eagles, Buffalo Bills, Cincinnati Bengals and Seattle Seahawks are resting in advance of the final push of the regular season.

Some fantasy owners are also trying to make their final push for a valued spot in the playoff bracket. With so much on the line, selecting optimum roster lineups is critical. Given the questionable status of some players, fantasy owners will want to be sure to check pregame inactives. There are even a couple of players in late games whose status may be questionable enough to cause owners to find early alternatives.

In the interest of filling out those lineup cards, here’s what we know as of Saturday afternoon:


Quarterbacks

Peyton Manning, Denver Broncos, ankle (P): Manning got through Week 11 quite nicely after aggravating his right high ankle sprain a week earlier. That isn’t to say he’s out of the woods; in fact, his ankle will likely have to be managed across the rest of the season. The Broncos have to hope Manning can continue to play as well as he has without sustaining any further injury. As for this week, Manning was able to practice fully Thursday and Friday after getting Wednesday off. Listed as probable, he is expected to play Sunday night against the Patriots.

Christian Ponder, Minnesota Vikings, shoulder (P): Ponder played last week for the first time since dislocating his left shoulder. He has a harness for stability, but given the injury is to his nonthrowing shoulder, there is no significant limitation. Ponder practiced fully each day and is expected to play Sunday when the Vikings travel to Green Bay.

Terrelle Pryor, Oakland Raiders, knee (Q): Pryor is still recovering from the knee sprain that forced him to exit the Week 10 game early and sit out entirely in Week 11. He is back in limited practice, but with running being so integral to his game, Pryor is not quite ready to return. In the meantime, Matt McGloin gets another start -- and another opportunity to claim the starting role.


Running backs

Adrian Peterson, Minnesota Vikings, groin (Q): On Thursday in this space, I expressed concern about Peterson’s groin injury based on how it limited him in his last outing, something he and coach Leslie Frazier openly acknowledged. The worry isn’t as much about whether Peterson will play -- he insists that he will -- but about what happens once he gets on the field and if he lasts the entire game. The conundrum for fantasy owners is that Peterson has been known to post good numbers even when playing at less than full health. Nonetheless, it’s worth noting that he had only one limited practice on Friday. He is coming into Sunday listed as questionable, so owners will want to verify his status before game time.

Ben Tate, Houston Texans, ribs/ankle/toe (P): Despite the number of body parts listed next to Tate’s name, he still plans on playing Sunday. Considering his various ailments, Tate was limited in practice each day, but the probable tag indicates the Texans plan for him to be on the field against the Jaguars.

Trent Richardson, Indianapolis Colts, calf (Q): Richardson’s fantasy owners have already been concerned about his numbers; now there’s an additional reason to worry. Richardson aggravated his calf during the week, leading to limited practices on Thursday and Friday. He is designated as questionable for Sunday’s game, but coach Chuck Pagano sounded encouraged Friday about his chances of playing. Still, the Colts play in a late game Sunday, making Richardson’s uncertain status more problematic for fantasy owners.

Then there’s the emergence of his teammate to consider. Donald Brown saw nearly double the touches of Richardson when it came to running plays last week and certainly netted more points with his opportunities. The Colts may turn to Brown more again for the ground game this week, even if Richardson is active.

Joique Bell, Detroit Lions, Achilles (Q): Bell left last week’s game early, reportedly due to an ankle injury. He later revealed he had been bothered by tendinitis in recent weeks but said there came a point during the game when he knew he could not run. The listing of “Achilles” next to his name indicates just where the tendon inflammation is. While this sounds like something Bell can play through -- he said it was an injury that could be “contained” -- how effective he can be may depend on how severe this in-game tweak was.

After a day off Wednesday and limited practice Thursday, Bell was a full participant Friday. Presuming no setbacks following the consecutive practice days, Bell should be on the field Sunday.

Ryan Mathews, San Diego Chargers, hamstring (P): Mathews played last week despite being on the injury report with the hamstring problem and should do so again this week. He practiced fully every day and does not appear to be limited.

Brandon Jacobs, New York Giants, knee (Q): Jacobs was questionable last week with the knee and hamstring ailments; this week, it is just the knee listed next to his name, but his status remains in question. He was a limited practice participant Thursday and Friday, and it looks as if he could sit out another week.

Frank Gore, San Francisco 49ers, ankle (no designation): Gore is another one of those veteran players who routinely appears on the injury report yet continues to go out on Sundays and grind. It is safe to say he is expected to play Monday night against Washington, despite there being no official status designation yet.


Wide receivers

Calvin Johnson, knee, and Nate Burleson, forearm, Detroit Lions (P): Johnson is on the now somewhat familiar schedule of one day off during the week (Wednesday) followed by limited practice the subsequent two days. Burleson was cleared for full contact this week, and all signs point to him making his return from forearm surgery, including being listed as probable.

Miles Austin, hamstring, and Dez Bryant, back, Dallas Cowboys (P): It appears Austin will be making his post-2013 hamstring injury debut this weekend after being granted some extra recovery time. As always, the risk of re-injury remains, but the hope is that the extra downtime will have paid off. Bryant continues to receive treatment for his back but, along with Austin, practiced fully every day this week. He, too, is expected to play Sunday against the Giants.

[+] EnlargeHakeem Nicks
Tim Heitman/USA TODAY SportsDespite an abdomen injury, Hakeem Nicks is expected to play for the Giants on Sunday.
Hakeem Nicks, New York Giants, abdomen (Q): Interestingly, Nicks was listed on the injury report Wednesday with a groin injury. On Thursday, the listing changed to “abdomen.” The overlap of a groin/abdominal injury is suggestive of the core muscle type of issue (previously referred to typically as sports hernia), which can be a source of chronic limitation. Nicks did not practice Wednesday but did do limited work Thursday and Friday. ESPN.com’s Dan Graziano reports Nicks said he will “surely play.” More importantly, he said he feels good, suggesting he does not expect to be limited if he is on the field. The team, however, is unlikely to confirm his status until pregame warm-ups.

Cecil Shorts, groin (P), and Mike Brown, shoulder (Q), Jacksonville Jaguars: Shorts practiced every day this week, albeit on a limited basis. This is different from past weeks, when he has often taken Thursday completely off. Expect Shorts to play as usual. Brown is dealing with a shoulder injury (AC sprain) and did not practice until Friday, then only on a limited basis. His status could be a game-time call.

Michael Floyd, Arizona Cardinals, shoulder (P): Last week, Floyd entered the weekend with questionable status after spraining his right acromioclavicular joint the week before. His performance proved that he could play -- and more importantly that he could be effective as a receiver -- despite the recent injury. Floyd was in practice daily, limited Wednesday and Thursday but a full participant by Friday. With an additional week under his belt, Floyd’s status has upgraded to probable, and the Cardinals expect him to be out there when they host the visiting Colts.

Keenan Allen, San Diego Chargers, knee (P): On Thursday, we noted there was little reason to worry about Allen’s status given his coach’s confidence and his practice participation. He put in a third day of full practice Friday and is listed as probable, both solid signs that the team expects him to play against the Chiefs.

Mike Wallace, Miami Dolphins, hamstring (P): Wallace came in as questionable last week after straining his hamstring days before the game yet played. He was a full participant in practice by Friday and, at probable, is expected to play against the Panthers.

Marlon Brown, Baltimore Ravens, knee (P): Late last week, Brown appeared on the Ravens’ injury report due to soreness in his surgically repaired knee then sat out last Sunday’s game. He must be feeling better this week as he was a full participant in practice each day. Barring a surprise, Brown will be active when the Ravens host the Jets this week.

Santonio Holmes, foot/hamstring (P), and Stephen Hill, knee (P), New York Jets: Holmes returned last week after missing multiple weeks with a significant hamstring strain. He was given a day off Wednesday but participated on a limited basis Thursday and Friday, hopefully enough practice time to work out some kinks. Geno Smith wants to throw to Holmes, especially with Jeremy Kerley remaining out following a dislocated elbow.

Hill continues to be on the injury report because of his knee, but the Jets have made it clear they’re not endorsing him as a meaningful option. Holmes is expected to play, and it will be interesting to see whether he and Smith have a better connection against the Ravens.

Emmanuel Sanders, Pittsburgh Steelers, foot (P): Sanders had a sore foot after he was stepped on in Sunday’s game, but he dismissed the injury as insignificant. It certainly didn’t look as if it was bothering him much since he was a full participant in practice every day this week. He is expected to play against the Browns.

Wes Welker, Denver Broncos, neck/concussion (P): Last week, I pointed out that the presence of Welker on the injury report was so routine that fantasy owners barely gave it any attention. The difference this week is that the body part listed is no longer the ankle but rather a much more concerning dual listing of “neck/concussion.” Early in the week, there was legitimate uncertainty about his status given the nature of the injury. Welker has made good progress, and the team’s decision to list him as probable reflects its confidence that he will play Sunday night.

It’s worth reminding fantasy owners that there is always the possibility, even if remote, that a player will experience a recurrence of symptoms before game time and be downgraded to out. Given Welker’s progression in practice (limited Thursday, full Friday), combined with the probable tag, the odds are leaning in favor of him playing against his former team Sunday night in Foxborough.


Tight ends

Julius Thomas, Denver Broncos, knee (Q): Thomas has been on the injury report the past two weeks because of an ankle injury sustained before the team’s bye but has played in both games. This week it is his knee, and despite putting in two days of limited practice, the Broncos seem to be awaiting a pregame call. As ESPN.com’s Jeff Legwold notes, Thomas would likely have to show some improvement between Friday and Sunday to be given the green light to play. Not only is the status of Thomas uncertain, the game isn’t until Sunday night.


Out

Aaron Rodgers, QB, Green Bay Packers, collarbone: Rodgers is still healing from his fractured left clavicle (collarbone). There remains no target return date, but he has been doing some light throwing, so there is functional progress. The biggest factor when it comes to evaluating his readiness to play will be the concern of re-injury should he take a similar hit to the shoulder.

Jay Cutler, QB, Chicago Bears, ankle: Cutler has graduated from a hard cast to a smaller brace on his left ankle, but he remains sidelined by his high ankle sprain. The Bears still describe him as week-to-week.

Jeremy Kerley, WR, New York Jets, elbow: Despite seeing some limited practice time this week, Kerley is not ready to return to a game situation.

Jordan Reed, TE, Washington Redskins, concussion: ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported Saturday that Washington has ruled out Reed for Monday night’s game against the 49ers. It appeared he was headed that direction after not practicing. Fantasy owners now have an early opportunity to seek out a replacement.

Darren McFadden, RB, Oakland Raiders, hamstring: McFadden has not yet returned to practice and continues to recover from his hamstring injury. Meanwhile, Rashad Jennings continues to take advantage of the opportunity.

Denarius Moore, WR, Oakland Raiders, shoulder: Moore injured his shoulder, and after undergoing an MRI, the conclusion was he would need to “manage” through the pain. This week, he will manage by sitting out.

Key fantasy injuries for Week 9

November, 2, 2013
11/02/13
6:34
PM ET
James JonesAP Photo/Jeffrey PhelpsWill Packers wide receiver James Jones be ready for the Bears on Monday night?
It’s Week 9 and once again there are six teams on a bye, leaving many fantasy owners in the lurch. The Denver Broncos, Detroit Lions, New York Giants, Arizona Cardinals, San Francisco 49ers and Jacksonville Jaguars all have a chance to rest.

Fantasy fill-ins are increasingly hard to find this week between the bye and the number of players sidelined by injury (although some will be returning from their injured reserve/designated for return status in the next couple of weeks). Making matters more challenging, some teams -- like the Houston Texans and the New York Jets -- have multiple health question marks at a single position. Who will start and who will sit?

Here’s what we know as of Saturday afternoon.

Quarterbacks

Tom Brady, New England Patriots, shoulder, (P): Although there was much attention on Brady’s taped fingers on his throwing hand, the only body part of his listed on the injury report is his shoulder. Brady is going to play.

Robert Griffin III, Washington Redskins, knee, (P): Griffin’s status was never really in doubt after he practiced fully each day. He will play and should not be limited in terms of his mobility.

Kellen Clemens, St. Louis Rams, shoulder, (P): Clemens took some hits in his Monday-night start, including to his shoulder. He was limited on Wednesday but was back to full work both Thursday and Friday. With Sam Bradford out for the year with a torn ACL, the Rams have turned to Clemens. At probable, he is expected to play.

Running backs

[+] EnlargeArian Foster
Jared Wickerham/Getty ImagesWill a hamstring injury keep Arian Foster off the field in Week 9?
Arian Foster, hamstring, (Q) and Ben Tate, ribs, (P), Houston Texans: Foster benefited from a well-placed bye week to rest the hamstring he strained in Week 7. Typically resilient in his recovery from soft-tissue injuries, Foster returned to limited reps in practice Thursday and a full practice Friday. Coach Gary Kubiak labeled Foster a game-time decision, not surprising given the fickle nature of the injury.

The problem for fantasy owners is that this “game time” is 8:30 ET Sunday night, so there is some rolling of the dice involved if waiting on Foster. Beyond knowing whether he’ll be active, there’s the uncertainty of whether Foster can get through an entire game without the hamstring flaring up.

There does seem to be more certainty around the status of Tate. Despite four (4!) cracked ribs, Tate practiced every day this week, albeit on a limited basis. Given that the Texans have him listed as probable, it’s clear they expect him to play, but how will his ribs hold up?

It’s one thing to try to protect a single cracked rib from becoming increasingly painful during a game where the athlete is likely to take a direct hit over the injury; it’s quite another to protect multiple ribs from either direct or indirect contact. Tate already showed his toughness by playing through the injury in Week 7, but how much the Texans will use him -- and how much they will need to use him -- may relate to Foster’s status.

At the start of the week, the Texans signed three running backs to the active roster as insurance, which speaks to the concern of the health of their starters. As ESPN.com’s Tania Ganguli reported Friday, the team is uncertain which of the three will be behind Foster. In other words, this has all the makings of a fantasy nightmare.

Zac Stacy, foot, Daryl Richardson, foot, and Benny Cunningham, ankle, St. Louis Rams, (Q): Foot and ankle problems are the theme for Rams running backs this week. Stacy ran hard and ran often on Monday night but was on the sideline late in the game with what was originally reported to be an ankle injury (coach Jeff Fisher referred to his injury as an ankle sprain Monday night, but the official injury report lists “foot” next to Stacy’s name). After practicing fully Thursday, Stacy was scaled back to limited work Friday.

Was that a proactive (save it for Sunday) or reactive (soreness post-Thursday workout) move? The Rams did not offer an answer. With Richardson looking iffy (no practice Wednesday or Friday, with just limited work Thursday) with his chronic foot problem and Cunningham still listed as questionable despite fully practicing each day in his return from an ankle injury, the situation is somewhat murky.

C.J. Spiller, ankle, and Fred Jackson, knee, Buffalo Bills, (P): Coach Doug Marrone made the decision to rest Spiller in Week 8, and it sounds like both of them believe it helped. Spiller returned to limited practices Wednesday and Thursday after sitting out all practices last week, and upgraded to full work on Friday. Marrone acknowledged that Spiller looked “very rusty” early in the week but noted he had made “really good strides” as the week progressed.

Despite the improvements, it sounds as if Spiller is not quite out of the woods. For his part, Jackson remains on the injury report since spraining his MCL several weeks ago. He has not missed a game, however, and practiced fully both Thursday and Friday after getting Wednesday off to rest. Jackson has been shouldering the bulk of the workload with Spiller compromised, and that may very well continue this week.

Marshawn Lynch, Seattle Seahawks, knee, (P): Lynch gave fantasy owners a scare when he missed practice for two consecutive days. It’s worth noting though that the Seahawks did play a Monday night game and no doubt wanted to give Lynch and his sore knee some extra rest on this short week. He was listed as a full participant Friday and is expected to play against the Buccaneers.

DeMarco Murray, Dallas Cowboys, knee, (P): Murray was held out of Week 8 when his knee stiffened up pregame; he later agreed that was a good decision. After spraining his MCL in Week 6, Murray has gone from doubtful the following week to questionable in Week 8 to probable now. This week he has practiced fully every day and as his activity has increased, the concerns over aggravating the injury have decreased. Murray is expected to play when the Cowboys host the Vikings on Sunday.

Jamaal Charles, Kansas City Chiefs, knee, (P): The big worry for Charles might not be his status for this week, but rather his overall health status looking forward, given how much work he is seeing (averaging more than 24 touches per game). For now, it appears that workload will continue. Charles did suffer a knee contusion (deep bruise) last Sunday and exited the game briefly but returned to finish it out. After a day off Wednesday, he increased his activity the next two days and is expected to play against the Bills.

DeAngelo Williams, Carolina Panthers, quadriceps, (P): Williams was given Wednesday and Thursday to rest his sore quad but returned for limited work Friday. The team is confident about his status for Sunday, as evidenced by the probable designation. Williams will be joined on the field by teammate Jonathan Stewart, who will make his first start of the season. Stewart was activated off the physically unable to perform list Saturday and, according to ESPN.com’s David Newton, coach Ron Rivera expects him to get in the neighborhood of six to 10 carries Sunday.

Willis McGahee, Cleveland Browns, knee, (P): This has become a routine listing for McGahee, as he typically gets a day off from practice. Full practice on Friday and a probable tag indicate McGahee will play as usual, this time against one of his former teams, the Ravens.

Brandon Bolden, New England Patriots, knee, (Q): Bolden’s pattern of limited practices and playing on Sunday is expected to continue. It will get interesting in Week 11 when Shane Vereen looks to be back from his wrist injury. For now, it remains Bolden in the mix with Stevan Ridley and LeGarrette Blount, but it is wise to check pregame inactives for Bolden’s official status, just in case.

Wide receivers

Roddy White, Atlanta Falcons, hamstring/ankle, (Q): White returned to practice Friday for the first time since injuring his hamstring in Week 5. Following the Falcons’ bye, White missed his first career game in Week 7, followed by another absence in Week 8. Despite not practicing until Friday, White was doing running workouts with the rehab staff early in the week, no doubt increasing the workload on his leg and testing his readiness to return.

Let’s not forget White started the season with a high ankle sprain, and for most of his first five weeks of action looked like a shell of himself. The bye was expected to help White get over the hump with his ankle; the hamstring injury complicated the picture. There was no getting around the need for White to miss game action to minimize the risk of re-injury (or further injury).

With Julio Jones done for the season with a foot injury, the Falcons could use a healthy White. Given the caution being exercised with him since the bye, a limited single practice on a light day doesn’t seem a convincing indicator of his readiness to return to competition. On the other hand, the Falcons have been watching White run all week and may feel they have seen enough to give him the green light.

After all, no one can really say for certain when a hamstring has healed enough to return to play. Exhibit A: Eagles quarterback Michael Vick. By listing White as questionable and taking the decision to pregame warm-ups (ESPN.com’s Vaughn McClure reports White says he will test the leg with pre-game sprints), this really has a chance to go either way.

James Jones, Green Bay Packers, knee, (Q): Jones has missed the last two weeks after spraining his posterior cruciate ligament. This week he seemed headed for a third absence after missing practice Thursday (he was reported as limited, but coach Mike McCarthy said Jones worked only with the rehab staff). Jones returned to limited practice (in pads) Friday, then repeated the effort Saturday.

Although the team lists him as questionable, if Jones has no setbacks in the interim, there is a good chance he plays Monday night. Fantasy owners who have faced similar situations in the past know to have a backup plan in place if planning to pencil Jones in Monday night.

Miles Austin, Dallas Cowboys, hamstring, (D): Austin continues to struggle with this latest hamstring injury. He has not practiced at all this week and there appears to be virtually no chance he plays.

Darrius Heyward-Bey, Indianapolis Colts, hamstring, (Q): Heyward-Bey injured his hamstring during Thursday’s practice, then missed Friday. Not the type of thing a fantasy owner wants to see heading into the weekend. With Reggie Wayne out for the year with a torn ACL, Heyward-Bey stands to see an uptick in productivity.

Coach Chuck Pagano told reporters Friday he still expects to have Heyward-Bey available, but it should be noted this is a Sunday-night game and things could change. Speed is a big part of his game and could be compromised by a tricky hamstring. Fantasy owners should have an alternate plan as insurance.

Julian Edelman, thigh, and Danny Amendola, groin, New England Patriots, (P): Both played last week after being listed with the same ailments (Amendola was also coming off a concussion) and with the designation of questionable. This week they both come in at probable after practicing daily (on a limited basis, likely precautionary) and are expected to play against the Steelers.

Steve Johnson, Buffalo Bills, hip, (P): It appears Johnson will play Sunday after he practiced in full on Friday. Johnson missed Wednesday’s practice and worked on a limited basis Thursday. It’s worth noting Johnson has a history over the years of playing through various injuries and performing quite well, despite whatever is ailing him. The concern this time is the flare-ups of seemingly different structures in the same region (back/hip/groin), which hints at an injury that isn’t going away anytime soon.

DeSean Jackson, Philadelphia Eagles, ankle, (P): Jackson didn’t miss any time after injuring his ankle in practice Wednesday, so there is little doubt he will play Sunday. The doubt may lie in how well he and quarterback Nick Foles will connect against the Raiders.

Pierre Garcon, Washington Redskins, calf, (P): This injury hasn’t limited Garcon much other than one day (Wednesday) in practice. He is expected to play and the hope is that it won’t turn into a bigger issue during the game.

Dwayne Bowe, Kansas City Chiefs, groin, (P): At least Bowe comes in as probable this week so fantasy owners at least know he is expected to play, even if they do not know what to expect. Bowe practiced fully Friday after taking fewer reps on Thursday and will play in Buffalo, barring a setback.

Marques Colston, New Orleans Saints, knee, (Q): Colston did not practice Friday after doing limited work Thursday, making him appear to be a legitimate question mark for Sunday’s game. Colston battled an offseason foot injury but it has not been enough of a problem to keep him out of any games so far this year.

While the details of his knee injury are unknown, what is known is that his targets are down compared to recent years and his touchdowns are virtually nonexistent (only one this season). Fortunately, the Saints play early on Sunday so fantasy owners will want to check pregame inactives.

Eddie Royal, San Diego Chargers, toe, (Q): Royal injured his toe in the Chargers’ Monday night game in Week 6. The following week he wore a protective boot and did not practice, yet still suited up for Sunday’s game. He was more than a decoy (four catches plus a touchdown) but his toe, two weeks later, is still a problem.

The Chargers had a bye last week but Royal remained out of practice all of this week. Given that he played in Week 7, one suspects he might do the same in Week 9, although coach Mike McCoy is calling him a game-time decision. Thankfully, the Chargers have a rare 1 p.m. ET start.

Jeremy Kerley, illness, and Stephen Hill, foot, New York Jets, (P): Kerley has been dealing with a hamstring strain recently, but this week it was an illness which had him on the injury report. After practicing fully Thursday and Friday, he appears on track to play.
Hill injured his foot in the Week 8 game but always maintained he would play. He returned to limited practice Thursday and Friday and, with the probable tag, seems to be shaping up to take the field Sunday.

Tight ends

Rob Gronkowski, New England Patriots, back/forearm/hamstring, (P): Gronkowski would still likely be listed on the injury report even after returning from his back and forearm surgeries. He did manage, however, to add a hamstring ailment to the list. Gronkowski still practiced on a limited basis each day and is expected to play again this week.

Jimmy Graham, New Orleans Saints, foot, (Q): We saw what Graham could do on a limited snap count last week and he says he wants more snaps in Week 9, according to ESPN.com’s Mike Triplett. The injury is not gone by any means, hence the questionable status, but as long as Graham’s pain is manageable he should continue to contribute.

Jeff Cumberland, New York Jets, concussion, (Q): Last week it was a hamstring issue for Cumberland; this week it’s a concussion. He did not practice until Friday, when he was listed as limited. As ESPN New York’s Jane McManus noted, Cumberland was in a non-contact jersey Friday.

He would still need medical clearance to return to play, but coach Rex Ryan indicated that door was still open. The Jets play in an early game against the Saints, so fantasy owners will want to be sure to check the inactives and plan ahead for a backup.

Kickers

Blair Walsh, Minnesota Vikings, left hamstring, (P): Walsh is again listed as probable and is expected to play.

Out

Michael Vick, QB, Philadelphia Eagles, hamstring: Vick was a limited practice participant Wednesday and Thursday, upgrading to full practice on Friday. After he aggravated his hamstring injury last week, the Eagles aren’t about to rush him back. Foles, listed as probable (concussion), is expected to start after practicing fully all week.

EJ Manuel, QB, Buffalo Bills, knee: Manuel is making progress from the LCL sprain he suffered in Week 5, returning to limited practices every day this week. He is not game-ready yet, however, and remains out this week.

Jay Cutler, QB, Chicago Bears, groin: Cutler is still recovering from his groin injury and has not yet resumed practicing.

Santonio Holmes, WR, New York Jets, hamstring: Holmes said he expected to be out through the team’s Week 10 bye and it appears he was accurate in his prediction. The question will be whether he’ll be ready to return in Week 11.

Doug Martin, RB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, shoulder: Both Martin and the team indicate he is making progress with his shoulder rehab. Whether he will make enough progress to allow him to return this season is still unclear. Mike James gets another start this week.

Jermichael Finley, TE, Green Bay Packers, neck: Finley suffered a spinal-cord contusion in Week 7 and he remains out indefinitely.

Panthers-Bucs Thursday injury update

October, 24, 2013
10/24/13
11:25
AM ET
"Thursday Night Football" features an NFC South matchup as the Carolina Panthers pay a Week 8 visit to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Here’s an injury update on key fantasy players on both teams.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Doug Martin, RB, shoulder (out): Martin injured his shoulder in Sunday’s game when he landed hard on his elbow while trying to make a catch. He reportedly suffered a torn labrum, and the amount of time he will miss is not clear. Other than ruling him out early for Thursday night’s game, the team has given no indication as to how long Martin will be absent. For his part, Martin has expressed confidence that he will return this year. According to ESPN.com’s Pat Yasinskas, Martin said during his weekly radio show that his pain has decreased and his range of motion has increased, two encouraging early signs. Although it may take some time for him to attempt a return, he has not given up on this season. In the meantime, Mike James will take his place.

Mike Williams, WR, hamstring (questionable): The good news is that Williams played Sunday after being listed as questionable. The bad news is that his hamstring issue is still enough of a problem to keep him listed as “questionable” entering Thursday’s game. Williams cropped up on the injury report in Week 4 (though he played), had a bye in Week 5, sat out Week 6, and then returned without much fanfare in Week 7 (four receptions for 32 yards). Williams was listed as a full practice participant Monday, was listed as a limited participant Tuesday, and then upgraded to full status on Wednesday. Barring a setback, it appears likely that Williams will take the field Thursday night. However, it also appears his hamstring is still limiting him. Having two games only four days apart isn’t helping.

Carolina Panthers

Steve Smith, WR, ankle (probable) and Brandon LaFell, WR, knee (probable): One of the least favorite sights in fantasy football is when a player’s name is added to the injury report the day before a game. That is the case with Smith, who appeared on Wednesday’s injured list after reportedly getting his foot stepped on in practice. However, the “probable” tag tells us not to be concerned, and Smith is expected to play. As for LaFell, he was limited in Monday’s practice coming out of the Week 7 game but was back to full practice on Tuesday and Wednesday. He also is expected to play Thursday night.

Greg Olsen, TE, foot (probable): Olsen has been a regular on the injury report for several weeks with a foot ailment, often starting the week in a boot but upping his activity late in the week and playing on game day. It appears he is doing the same thing this week. Olsen sat out Monday’s practice but was a full participant Tuesday and Wednesday. Despite the short week, Olsen is expected to play against the Buccaneers.

Jonathan Stewart, RB, ankle (out): Although Stewart has been ruled out for Thursday night’s game, the important note is that this week he joined his teammates on the practice field for the first time this season. Stewart started the year on the physically unable to perform (PUP) list after lingering problems with his ankles, both of which had been operated on in the offseason. According to ESPN.com’s David Newton, Stewart expects to play Nov. 3 when the Panthers host the Atlanta Falcons.

Houston Texans RB injury update

October, 22, 2013
10/22/13
6:24
PM ET
The Houston Texans’ running back tandem of Arian Foster and Ben Tate has appeared on the team’s injury report throughout the 2013 season, but no real alarms have sounded since both have played in each game.

However, coming out of Week 7, both Foster and Tate sustained injuries which would have likely prevented them from suiting up this Sunday. Fortunately for the Texans, this is their bye week. But what about next week?

For his part, Foster left last week’s game after delivering just 11 yards on four carries, his early exit the result of an injured hamstring. Perhaps the injury should not have come as a surprise given that Foster had a hamstring ailment added next to his name on the practice injury report late last week. It was simply reported as “soreness” in his hamstring, which kept him from practicing Thursday, and his return to full work Friday hinted at it being a minor concern. The danger with hamstrings is that a little soreness or tightness often predates a pull or a strain, which was apparently the case with Foster.

Although he was removed from the game due to the injury, Foster did not sound as if the injury was particularly worrisome. "It doesn't seem too severe right now, so we will just play it out,” Foster said, according to ESPN.com Texans reporter Tania Ganguli. “I have a bye week coming.”

Yes, thankfully for him, Foster is afforded an extra week of rest, and the hope for the Texans is that he will be ready to go by Week 9. There will be few clues as to his health until the team engages in practice, but, in the past, Foster has proved to be fairly resilient. In 2011, he injured his hamstring in the preseason, an ailment which appeared to be fairly significant at the time. Foster played in only one game in the first three weeks of the season but returned strong after that, finishing with more than 1,200 rushing yards on the season. There doesn’t seem to be reason to panic over this latest injury, but the uncertainty is bound to make Foster’s fantasy owners nervous.

If fantasy owners’ strategy, like that of the Texans, was to have backup insurance in the form of Tate, that might not be much help in Week 9. Tate was injured last week after taking over when Foster left the game. Tate played through a rib injury but after the game told the Associated Press he has four broken ribs. Bruised ribs are painful. One broken rib can be excruciating. But four? Tate thinks that, despite the severity of the injury, he, too, will be ready to play after the bye. It’s an impressive goal, but it remains to be seen just how well Tate will be moving a week from now.

Fantasy injury report: Doug Martin

October, 22, 2013
10/22/13
5:24
PM ET
Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back Doug Martin left Sunday’s game in the third quarter with a shoulder injury, and early reports sounded encouraging. It was Martin who indicated X-rays on his left shoulder were fine, and that his shoulder was not separated.

But X-rays only tell the bony part of the story. Later media reports indicated Martin suffered a torn labrum, damage to the fibrocartilaginous ring that adds depth and stability to an otherwise shallow and inherently unstable shoulder joint. Depending on the location and extent of the damage to the labrum, the injury can range from something an athlete can play through with intermittent discomfort to something that requires surgery and cuts a season short.

Labral tears are most often associated with throwing athletes, as the repetitive motion of bringing the arm overhead wears down the tissue with time. Acute labral tears like the one Martin apparently suffered are more often the result of episodes where the shoulder is jammed during a hard fall or when contact forces the shoulder to either sublux (slip quickly out of place but pop back in) or completely dislocate, resulting in damage to the surrounding tissue.

Ultimately, the degree of damage and loss of function will determine whether the player can continue to play. At this point, it sounds as if that has not been determined. Presuming Martin undergoes a trial of conservative rehab to see how his shoulder progresses, it could be a matter of weeks before the team arrives at a final decision.

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