Welcome to what for most folks is championship weekend! It's time to make final roster decisions for the big game and fortunately for us, most NFL teams still have much on the line. There's little concern about teams resting players for the playoffs at this point, a relatively rare occurrence resulting from a more competitive NFL season.
Anyone who has made it this far has at some point successfully navigated around injury concerns. That challenge may present itself once again, as there are some players who have already been ruled out and several who remain question marks as we head into Week 16. Thus, here begins the Saturday update ...
Robert Griffin III, Washington Redskins, knee (P): Griffin has continued to make improvements throughout the week and all is lined up for him to take the reins again Sunday. Last week Griffin was forced to watch from the sidelines as Kirk Cousins filled in due to fears of worsening his sprained LCL. This week Griffin cranked it up to full practices every day of the week. He continues to wear a brace for additional protection and he may not present as much of a running threat out of the gate, but don't expect the knee to hinder him significantly. The Redskins wouldn't bring him back to play in a cautious manner. Be sure to double-check pregame inactives, but the plan appears to be Griffin under center for the Redskins in Philadelphia.
Addendum: According to ESPN's Adam Schefter, Griffin has been cleared to start Sunday.
Ahmad Bradshaw, New York Giants, knee/foot (Q): Bradshaw was held out of last week's game because of his knee. This week Bradshaw told me why he was more confident he would play. It remains a medical decision, but Bradshaw did return to a limited practice Friday. If there was no adverse reaction to the work, expect to see him on Sunday. This is a late game, so fantasy owners need to have a backup plan.
Addendum: According to ESPN's Rachel Nichols, Bradshaw says he will play. He says he was able to cut well when he tried running Friday.
Mikel Leshoure, Detroit Lions, calf (P): Leshoure was held to limited practice all week, but that's not surprising when the issue is a calf injury in a running back who has torn an Achilles in his recent past. No one from the Lions has suggested this is a serious injury and Leshoure is expected to play Saturday night.
Adrian Peterson, Minnesota Vikings, abdomen/groin (P): Despite adding the term "groin" next to abdomen, nothing has changed for Peterson. He said earlier this week that any rest (he had Wednesday and Thursday off) and treatment during the week was about the "push" to Sunday. He's playing, of course.
DeMarco Murray, foot and Felix Jones, knee, Dallas Cowboys (P): Both running backs are again listed as probable and both are expected to play against the Saints. Murray remains restricted in terms of practice reps, but will still be the go-to back on Sunday.
Knowshon Moreno, Denver Broncos, ribs (P): Of course Moreno's ribs are sore. He's been seeing so much action he's bound to get his ribs bumped and bruised. It didn't keep him from any practice reps and it won't keep him from game action, either.
Marshawn Lynch, Seattle Seahawks, back (P): Lynch's back continues to present a bit of a threat, but it hasn't hindered his productivity yet. He is fully expected to play Sunday night in a big divisional matchup against the 49ers.
Pierre Thomas, knee (P) and Chris Ivory, hamstring (Q), New Orleans Saints: Thomas was limited Thursday and Friday but the issue with his knee does not appear serious, as evidenced by the probable tag. Ivory, meanwhile, who ran well while Darren Sproles was injured, has missed the last two games with an injured hamstring. With Thomas, Mark Ingram and Sproles all in the mix, don't be surprised if Ivory -- who has only put in limited practices -- sits again.
Ben Tate, hamstring/foot and Justin Forsett, knee (P): Tate and Forsett were both healthy enough to be active last week, but neither has registered much lately on the fantasy scoring radar. Expect both to be available again this week, but it's hard to count on their contribution.
Alex Green, Green Bay Packers, concussion (Q): Green did not practice at all this week and appears unlikely to play Sunday. The Packers have not ruled him out, and if he is granted medical clearance there is a possibility he'll return. Check game-day inactives to be sure.
Ronnie Brown, San Diego Chargers, hamstring (P): What a difference a week makes. Brown did not play in Week 15 after being listed as doubtful, but now comes in at probable after back-to-back full practices Thursday and Friday. With Ryan Mathews done for the season with a broken collarbone, Brown, Jackie Battle and Curtis Brinkley could be sharing the work.
Jonathan Stewart, Carolina Panthers, ankle (Q): Stewart has missed the last three weeks with an ankle injury but his status has been upgraded to questionable this week. He actually returned to limited practice on Friday, the first time he has done so since the injury. If Stewart is active, it clouds the running back picture in Carolina, as it's hard to imagine him getting a full workload. That would translate to a mix of DeAngelo Williams, Mike Tolbert and Stewart -- not ideal for a fantasy championship weekend.
Bilal Powell, New York Jets, shoulder/toe (P): After playing last week, it's virtually certain Powell will suit up again this week. He still appears to be limited to some degree, but he is expected to be active.
Dez Bryant, Dallas Cowboys, finger (P): Bryant already proved he could play with a broken finger, albeit not quite as effectively as usual. He was limited in practice all week but after suiting up last week, there's no doubt he will again. The challenges remain the same, so there is a risk that he could take a hit or land in such a way as to make things worse, but it doesn't outweigh the benefit.
Hakeem Nicks, New York Giants, knee (P): The analysis on Nicks remains identical to what was written in this space last Saturday. Nothing has changed as far as his status, but the Giants do expect to have him on the field Sunday against the Ravens.
Roddy White, Atlanta Falcons, knee (Q): No fantasy owner wants to see a questionable designation on a championship weekend, but there are a couple of positives here. First, the Falcons play on Saturday night, so owners who wait for pregame inactives will have plenty of time to adjust their lineups before remaining games. Second, White was listed as questionable last week, didn't practice at all and still played. This week he took Wednesday off but returned to limited practice Thursday and Friday. His increased activity, including back-to-back workdays, would seem to suggest he will play.
Third, White has never missed a game. Enough said. The team hasn't offered much in terms of specifics when it comes to his injury, but the fact that he continues to play suggests it's not overly serious. The real uncertainty here is how much the knee will affect him. It seemed to be affecting him to some degree in Week 15, although he played close to his normal number of snaps. An additional week's time since sustaining the injury should only help him.
Torrey Smith, Baltimore Ravens, head (Q): Smith suffered a concussion last week but made enough progress to return to limited practice Thursday. That he was able to repeat the effort Friday is a good sign. The Baltimore Sun reported Friday that Smith still needed to pass "baseline neurological tests" in order to play. Whether that refers to neurocognitive testing or needing clearance from the neurologist is unclear. Although Smith's increased activity has been encouraging, with this being one of only four late games, fantasy owners should be sure to have an alternate plan.
Sidney Rice, Seattle Seahawks, knee (Q): Last week it was his foot, this week it is a knee injury that is ailing Rice. He was not practicing Wednesday or Thursday, but returned to limited side workouts only on Friday. Coach Pete Carroll says Rice will be a game-time decision, according to the Seattle Times. It is hard to imagine Rice sitting this one out unless the knee is really giving him trouble, but since this is a Sunday night game, fantasy owners may have an earlier decision to make.
Pierre Garcon, Washington Redskins, foot (P): At this point we know Garcon is going to play, barring a gameday surprise. He will not be fully healthy until he has a chance to take care of his foot in the offseason, but has now shown he can be productive nonetheless.
Calvin Johnson, Detroit Lions, knee (P): This week Johnson didn't even take a full day off; he just took limited reps throughout the week. Johnson will come out and play Saturday night just as he has done every week this season.
Earl Bennett, concussion (Q) and Brandon Marshall, hamstring (P), Chicago Bears: Bennett has been recovering from a concussion which forced him to miss Week 15. He participated in limited practice during the week but his status for Sunday remains uncertain. Marshall's status is not in doubt, especially after putting in a full practice Friday.
Wes Welker, ankle and Brandon Lloyd, knee, New England Patriots (Q): Although both receivers are listed as questionable, both have played in every game so far this season. It would be shocking if that changed Sunday.
Randall Cobb, Green Bay Packers, shoulder (P): Given their injuries at the wide receiver position, the Packers were wise to give Cobb lighter practices this week. He did put in a full day Friday, however, and is poised to play again. Teammate Jordy Nelson remains out this week with a hamstring injury.
Jeremy Maclin, Philadelphia Eagles, back (P): Maclin was limited Wednesday, making fantasy owners nervous. He returned to full practice Thursday and Friday, however, and is expected to play. Also expected are Jason Avant (hamstring) and Riley Cooper (knee), both listed as probable.
Eric Decker, Denver Broncos, ankle (P): Decker put in full practices each day despite the ankle injury and will play on Sunday.
Brian Hartline, Miami Dolphins, back (Q): Hartline did not practice Thursday after being limited Wednesday, typically a cause for concern. He was back in practice Friday on a limited basis, but the back still appears to be an issue. There seems to be little worry in Miami that he will play, and with Davone Bess already ruled out, the Dolphins could use him. Check pregame inactives to be sure.
Braylon Edwards, New York Jets, hamstring (Q): Edwards came to the Jets with a hamstring injury, so this is not new. He did practice on a limited basis throughout the week after playing last week. It's certainly possible he's active, but he hasn't been 100 percent healthy for some time.
Mario Manningham, San Francisco 49ers, shoulder (Q): Manningham has returned to limited practice and remains a possibility for Sunday night, although he is not at full health.
Eddie Royal, San Diego Chargers, hamstring (P): It finally looks like Royal will return to the lineup, but after missing the last four games with a hamstring injury, it's hard to know just how many targets he will see. Not to mention the fact that his hamstring has not been tested at game speed. Dicey.
Brandon LaFell, Carolina Panthers, toe (P): LaFell played in Week 15, but admitted to having difficulty pushing off the toe. In other words, he is expected to play but is still contending with the effects of the injury.
Jimmy Graham, New Orleans Saints, wrist (P): Graham is new to the injury report this week for his wrist but he admitted he had been playing through it for a while. He continues to put in full practices and will continue to play. The bigger concern is whether Graham will continue to struggle, something unusual for him but more common of late ... and now there seems to be an explanation. It's a bit more uncertainty for fantasy owners, but it's hard to leave a player with Graham's talent out of the lineup.
Brandon Pettigrew, Detroit Lions, ankle (D): Pettigrew suffered a high-ankle sprain two weeks ago and still has not practiced. It seems pretty clear given the doubtful tag that he will not play, but the Lions insist on leaving the proverbial door open. Fantasy owners should plan on using another tight end.
Dustin Keller, New York Jets, ankle (D): Keller is still not able to practice and looks like he will miss another game.
Brent Celek, Philadelphia Eagles, concussion (P): Celek was able to practice fully each day and is expected to play Sunday.
Aaron Hernandez, ankle and Rob Gronkowski, forearm, New England Patriots (Q): Last week I said on "Fantasy Football Now" that it would not be surprising, despite his appearance in practice, if Gronkowski was held out for six weeks post-fracture to optimize the bone healing. Despite his questionable listing, it appears he is unlikely to play. The Boston Globe reports Gronkowski will not play, citing a league source. Of course, Hernandez has been playing for several weeks now and is expected to do so again.
Addendum: Gronkowski has been ruled out of Sunday's game.
This space is intended for a list of key players, not including those who have been moved to injured reserve status, who are officially listed as "Out" for the upcoming game.
Maurice Jones-Drew, RB, Jacksonville Jaguars (foot): Jones-Drew reportedly did some running this week but he has not been able to return to practice. Last week we said there was not much reason to hold on to him for your fantasy team. At this point the best hope is that Jones-Drew will make a full recovery in advance of next season.
Stephen Hill, WR, New York Jets (knee): Hill is expected to undergo arthroscopic surgery on his knee and has been placed on IR.
Davone Bess, WR, Miami Dolphins (back): Bess missed Week 15 because of a back injury and sits out again this week for the same reason.
Jordy Nelson, WR, Green Bay Packers (hamstring): This is not a big surprise. Nelson has not returned to team practice and the Packers are clearly interested in ensuring his health for the postseason.
Be sure to check out "Fantasy Football Now" on Sunday airing on ESPN2 at 11 a.m. for last-minute inactives, rankings, injury impact and more.