‘Twas the night before Christmas and all through the house … all 49ers fans were celebrating a magical “Monday Night Football” victory over the Falcons that may have marked the last NFL game in Candlestick Park. Fantasy owners had solid nights out of several players on both sides of the ball, and for those playing into Week 17, were thankful to come away with no major injuries out of Monday night’s contest.
However, there were several major injuries around the league in Week 16, some of which will cause concern not just for owners who play in Week 17, but also for those in keeper leagues heading into next season.
Here are several key injuries to keep an eye on this weekend.
Adrian Peterson, RB, Minnesota Vikings (foot/groin): If your matchup last week included Peterson on your fantasy roster, his numbers likely were disappointing. Those numbers may not improve this weekend, especially if Peterson does not play. At this point, Peterson sitting out appears to be a distinct possibility given the limitations imposed on his performance by a couple of ailing body parts. After working hard -- and lobbying hard -- to return following a midfoot injury a couple of weeks ago, all while still battling a nagging groin strain, Peterson was hardly himself, netting less than 50 total yards before being removed from the game.
As ESPN.com’s Ben Goessling notes, Peterson seemed to understand the decision, saying “My body is just not responding the way I want it to right now." The Vikings are out of postseason contention and Peterson is perhaps better served by resting his body and not risking further damage by pressing through injuries. His own acknowledgment about how his body is functioning seems to point in that direction as well. For fantasy owners with matchups this weekend, this might be the rare occurrence where you’re seeking an alternative to AP.
Steve Smith, WR, Carolina Panthers (knee): Smith pulled his left leg off the ground instantly after he felt a “pop” in his knee during Sunday’s game and it became apparent something was seriously wrong. After undergoing an MRI, Smith was declared to have a sprained PCL, not insignificant when it comes to injuries but it certainly could have been worse. The bottom line for fantasy owners is that Smith is highly unlikely to play this week and the Panthers have a postseason to consider. PCL injuries are rarely surgical and the Panthers, who are calling Smith week-to-week, are hopeful he can contribute after the regular season ends. For fantasy owners, that would mean not until next season; if your championship is this weekend and you were planning on playing Smith, you will need to make alternate plans.
Ryan Mathews, RB, San Diego Chargers (foot): Although Mathews was spotted in a protective boot after Sunday’s game, the team remains optimistic about his availability for Week 17. Coach Mike McCoy already indicated that he expected to have Mathews available Sunday, and so far he has been right on point when declaring whether he foresees a player taking the field following an injury. Fantasy owners should check practice reports but as of early in the week, it looks like you can count on Mathews.