Stephania Bell: Jeff Garcia

Many RBs are questionable for this key week

December, 20, 2008
Championship week at last! Or close to it for most fantasy teams. Who is playing and will those players be effective? That's all most fantasy owners care about; no one is particularly interested in whether a guy will be better in four weeks or three months at this time of year. So today's blog is designed just for you fantasy playoffs people. Let's cut to the chase.

Marion Barber, RB, Cowboys: Saturday night game warning! Set your lineups early. And you might not want Barber in your lineup. Officially listed as questionable, Barber will test his injured toe in warm-ups to see whether he will be active. Despite the fact that he has not practiced all week, it's quite possible the Cowboys will keep him as an active option. After all, he did catch a few passes in Week 15. His running game was largely ineffective, though, and he clearly is still limited by his injuries. As if that wasn't bad enough, the Cowboys have to face the Ravens' tough run defense. Expect Tashard Choice to handle the bulk of the running game; he's proved to be quite capable so far. Incidentally, Tony Romo (probable) will play despite a sore back, but if the Ravens get to him early and often, this could be a problem.

Brandon Jacobs, RB, Giants: Jacobs rested his sore left knee Friday, and despite the questionable tag, is expected to play against Carolina on Sunday. In fact, coach Tom Coughlin said after Friday's practice that Jacobs will play barring a setback. Keep in mind that although his symptoms appear to have settled, at least enough that he could practice on a limited basis all week, this is not an injury that "heals." As Jacobs himself indicated, this most recent setback is an aggravation of a previously sprained knee (posterior cruciate ligament), and that means he has some residual instability in that left knee. It's conceivable that he could perform very well. It's also conceivable that he could get rolled up from behind, fall directly on the front of a flexed left knee or slip and slide on a wet field (wintry mix weather conditions expected), any of which could aggravate the knee and cause him to leave early. Jacobs undoubtedly will share some work with Derrick Ward (probable), who is recovering from an ankle injury, but assume that Jacobs will get the majority of the carries as long as his knee cooperates.

Adrian Peterson, RB, Vikings: Put him in your lineup. Peterson, listed as probable, most certainly will be on the field for the Vikings, who are in playoff contention. Not to mention that Peterson is vying for the league rushing title. He had a sore ankle following Sunday's contest and was limited in practice throughout the week. But he shrugged it off, calling the issues with his ankle just the "normal wear and tear of the season," according to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. It does not sound as if this is an injury that will affect his ability to run or cut, perhaps just a mild sprain, and fantasy owners should expect a typical "All-Day" performance.

Frank Gore, RB, 49ers: Gore is listed as questionable and is another game-time decision with his sprained ankle that kept him out in Week 15. Despite Gore's remarks in the San Francisco Chronicle earlier in the week that his ankle felt much better, he still has not participated in practice, doing only side work individually. While we're happy to see that he's coming along, you have to be skeptical that he is really ready to go. And the fact that the game will be on the artificial turf in St. Louis might present even more of a challenge for Gore's already limited ankle. Matt Maiocco of the Santa Rosa Press Democrat adds that even if Gore suits up, "it seems unlikely that he would have a big role in the game." The 49ers were happy with what they saw from DeShaun Foster in Week 15 and likely will lean on him again Sunday.

Anquan Boldin, WR, Cardinals: Sorry, fantasy owners. Start scrambling for a replacement, if you haven't already, because Boldin is likely to sit this one out. He has had some struggles recently, perhaps due to some of the new offensive plays he has been learning, perhaps due to a sore shoulder. Either way, coach Ken Whisenhunt said on the Cardinals' Web site this week that he would be willing to rest Boldin on Sunday in the interest of having him at full strength for the playoffs. In general, the game does not stack up well for the Cardinals: travel to the East Coast, cold and snowy weather, and an already secure playoff spot. Although he's listed as questionable and a game-time decision, Boldin did not practice all week and seems quite unlikely to play. Expect Steve Breaston to get the majority of the work.

Clinton Portis, RB, Redskins: Portis developed some back spasms Friday that kept him out of practice. According to The Washington Post, Portis was having difficulty bending and was moving slowly. Hmmm. Those symptoms sound awfully consistent with a flare-up of a disc in the back. Not the kind of thing that goes away quickly. Portis was expected to seek treatment, and his status (questionable) remains uncertain for Sunday's matchup against the Eagles. Despite his ability to play through just about everything else, I don't like the way this sounds. If you have a viable alternative, use him, because Portis' availability and ability to play through this are far from sure things.

Marshawn Lynch, RB, Bills: We know Trent Edwards will be back calling the plays for the Bills' offense Sunday, but will Lynch be running? Lynch is listed as questionable because of a sore shoulder, but the Bills have not made much of this injury. In fact, Lynch was able to increase his practice workload throughout the week, and it looks as if he will be available against Denver. What is uncertain is how much the Bills will utilize him, given their non-playoff status. Perhaps they will be motivated to wrap up their season on a high note, beginning with a hard rushing game against a weak run defense.

Jeff Garcia, QB, Buccaneers: In Week 15, it sounded on Friday as if Garcia might play, but some fantasy owners found themselves scrambling to find a replacement Sunday when it was announced Brian Griese was starting instead. This week, the news out of Tampa Bay sounds a little more convincing that Garcia will indeed start, and he has had the benefit of an added week of rest for his ailing calf. He is listed as questionable, but he has put in limited practice every day this week and expects to be under center when the game gets underway. The St. Petersburg Times reported that coach Jon Gruden seemed to echo that sentiment when he said after Friday's practice, "I believe he'll be the starter." Garcia is a scrambler and often jumps in the air to throw, and a sore calf might affect his typical moves a bit. He obviously has shown enough in practice to at least secure the start, and being the tough player he is, this injury should not hold him back.

Matt Forte, RB, Bears: This game isn't until Monday night, so Forte's absence from most of the week's practices might have some owners in a panic. Breathe deeply -- it appears Forte will play. He is listed as questionable after injuring his right big toe in Week 15's Thursday night game, but coach Lovie Smith said Forte would return to practice Friday, and he did. Smith also said Forte would play Monday, and so far, he has been good on his remarks. It appears the Bears were proactively giving Forte extended rest, knowing how problematic toe injuries can be. Assume that Forte will play in this Monday night game, which is meaningful for the Bears, and unless he suffers a setback in the game, expect him to get his usual workload.

Good luck in Week 16! Be sure to check out our site Sunday for pregame chats and Fantasy Football Now at noon ET.

Backfield Brittleness

December, 17, 2008

The status of star running backs has fantasy owners who are in the throes of championship matchups panicking. Week 15 saw Joseph Addai, Brandon Jacobs and Frank Gore sitting on the sideline. Marion Barber played but perhaps should have rested. Will any of them return this week? Based on early reports, here's what we've heard on the injury front so far:

Joseph Addai, RB, Colts: The Colts travel to Jacksonville for Thursday night's matchup, and early signs suggest Addai will play. He was held out of Sunday's contest with a sore shoulder, and as noted in Monday's blog, coach Tony Dungy said it would have been doubtful for Addai to have managed to play two games in five days. The rest allowed every sore body part some recovery time, and Addai returned to practice Tuesday. After practice, Dungy said he expected Addai to play and see his usual playing time (meaning roughly a 60-40 split with Dominic Rhodes, perhaps with a little splash of Chad Simpson thrown in). Colts team president Bill Polian later told the NFL Network that Addai was "questionable," raising concern about Addai's true status. On Wednesday before practice, Dungy confirmed Addai's official status as questionable but hinted he would play.

According to Tom James of the Terre Haute Star-Tribune, Addai and teammate safety Bob Sanders, who also is listed as questionable, are excited to play. James quotes Dungy as saying, "My sense is they'll [play], but we'll see what happens in the next 36 hours." In other words, both players ultimately will be game-time decisions. Dungy has been very clear since Addai originally injured himself two weeks ago that if there were any question at all about his readiness, the Colts would err on the side of caution. If Addai is able to practice without a setback before Thursday night, the Colts likely would give him an opportunity to see the field. Because it's an early game, fantasy owners should be cautious and check the inactives list just before kickoff.

In other news out of Colts camp, James also reports that receiver Marvin Harrison is questionable with a hamstring injury. Apparently, Harrison sustained the injury when the Colts faced Detroit and did not practice Tuesday. Harrison underwent an MRI on Wednesday (results are not yet known), and Dungy said he is questionable for Thursday night's game. A hamstring strain and a receiver are never a good combination, especially during a short week. With the Colts emphasizing their cautious approach, it would not come as a surprise if they were to hold Harrison out of Thursday's game. Fantasy owners should plan on using someone else in place of Harrison.

Brandon Jacobs, RB, Giants: Even Jacobs has announced he'll play this weekend, according to the New York Daily News, which quoted Jacobs while in attendance at a local high school event. Jacobs, who sat out Sunday's game to rest his knees, hopes to practice Wednesday and return to the lineup for Sunday's game. Jacobs hinted that his knees felt good enough to play Sunday but that in the interest of the impending playoffs, the decision was made to rest him. This will turn out to be a wise decision as Jacobs is nursing a PCL injury in his left knee and has a history of an MCL injury on the right. Even if Jacobs plays Sunday, he will share some time with Derrick Ward and perhaps even Ahmad Bradshaw, and the manner in which he is used may depend on how the team fares. Naturally, his participation in practice bears watching throughout the remainder of the week, but fantasy owners should expect Jacobs in the lineup.

Some other players to keep an eye on as the week progresses:

&#8226 49ers feature running back Frank Gore is still dealing with soreness in his ankle. As disappointed as he might have been not to be able to suit up in his hometown of Miami on Sunday, the fact that he was limping all week is enough to confirm that resting was a smart move. The next question is whether he will be ready for a favorable matchup Sunday against the Rams. At this point, he is very questionable, and fantasy owners should prepare a backup plan. But if he makes major progress with the ankle, we will upgrade his status.

[+] EnlargeMarion Barber
Wesley Hitt/Getty ImagesBarber is hoping to be on the field to help the Cowboys' playoff push.
&#8226 Cowboys running back Marion Barber may have aggravated his injured pinkie toe. ESPN's Ed Werder reported Tuesday that Barber was seen limping from the team's locker room toward the part of the building where MRIs are performed. Werder also reported that team owner Jerry Jones said in the locker room that Barber felt something pop. The team was not clear whether this was a setback or some scar tissue tearing. So far, there has been no official word from the Cowboys as to any test results or updating of Barber's status. Tuesday was the players' day off, so whether Barber can participate in practice won't be known until Wednesday afternoon. Stay tuned for updates, but at this point, nothing in this report spells good news for Barber. If anything, it casts further doubt on his availability for Sunday.

&#8226 Matt Forte left Thursday's game with an injured toe. He returned to the game eventually but played in only a limited capacity. A source close to the team in Chicago confirmed that the affected toe was Forte's right big toe but added that Forte says he's fine. No one in Chicago seems too concerned, even though Forte did not practice Tuesday. Apparently the Bears decided to proactively rest a number of their players Tuesday in advance of a planned day off Wednesday. In the meantime, Forte has tried to get treatment for his toe because, as he said on the team's Web site, "A lot of people think it's just a toe. But a toe's very important when you're a running back because you have to make cuts and things like that." He expects to be at full strength when the team plays Monday night, and the extra few days of rest between contests has to help.

&#8226 In Tampa Bay, coach Jon Gruden is hopeful that Jeff Garcia will be back under center this week after sitting out Sunday with a calf strain. The St. Petersburg Times reports that Gruden wants to make a decision on his starting quarterback by Wednesday, so fantasy owners should get some lead time. Because Garcia was somewhat able to practice by Friday, he should be ready to play this week, barring a setback in practice.

Don't forget that the Colts face the Jaguars on Thursday, so get your lineups in early. We'll have the latest injury updates affecting the Week 16 Sunday and Monday contests and any postmortem on Thursday injuries in the Saturday blog.

In the course of 48 hours, we have learned of three key players whose 2008 season ended almost as quickly as it began. New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady is going to have season-ending surgery on his left knee. The Patriots have yet to specify the exact nature of his injury, but it likely involves at least one major ligament if surgery is involved. The Seattle Seahawks, who were thin at wide receiver to begin with, lost Nate Burleson to a torn ACL, and he too will undergo reconstructive surgery. Lastly, San Diego Chargers All-Pro linebacker Shawne Merriman had a significant knee injury that was well-documented before his start of the season. Merriman played substantially in Week 1, but apparently the knee issues proved too daunting to overcome. Merriman has now been placed on injured reserve as he too prepares to undergo reconstructive knee surgery.

For all the fantasy owners in mourning over this latest turn of events, don't despair; that's why there's the waiver wire. At least you know these players are done. On the other hand, there are plenty of players who got nicked up this weekend whose status is a little less than certain. Here's what we know so far.

Vince Young
AP Photo/John RussellVince Young likely will miss at least a couple of games with a knee injury.
Vince Young, QB, Tennessee Titans: Tests have confirmed the initial diagnosis of a medial collateral ligament (MCL) sprain, according to The Tennessean. Early reports suggested that Young could miss two to four weeks, which, for a mild sprain, represents a feasible time frame for a quarterback. Since the lateral mobility demands for a quarterback are less than that for a running back, a quarterback can often return to action a little sooner, wearing a brace for reinforcement. Young plays a physical game, though, and it would be surprising to see him back early, especially considering how much pain he looked to be in at the time of the injury. He was also nursing a sore hamstring heading into Week 1, so he may benefit from extra time to ensure that he is truly healthy before he attempts to return.

The other issues surrounding Young's overall well-being cannot be ignored. Nashville police were searching for Young on Monday night when his family did not know where he was and he did not have his cell phone with him. All ended well, and it turned out that Young was with a friend, but the incident raised the specter of how adversity might be affecting the young quarterback. Young's mother, Felicia Young, told The Tennessean, "It is hard, all he is going through right now. He's hurting inside and out."

If Young is your quarterback, be sure to get a replacement this week. It looks as if the reins have been turned over to Kerry Collins for the immediate future, and there is no guarantee, particularly if Collins does well, that Young automatically assumes his role when he returns.

Ben Roethlisberger, QB, Pittsburgh Steelers: There does not appear to be any major cause for concern here. After all, what sort of football season would it be in Pittsburgh if Big Ben were not getting a bit banged up? Roethlisberger appeared to suffer a leg injury (later called a knee bruise) in the first half and looked to be limping, but returned in the second half, proving it was not serious. According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Roethlisberger said his knee was hyperextended on a tackle by Amobi Okoye.

Turns out Roethlisberger also suffered a bruised shoulder in the season opener, thanks to a Mario Williams sack. That injury seemed to be a bigger concern to coach Mike Tomlin, who told the Post-Gazette that he expects Roethlisberger to be limited in practice with the sore shoulder. Other than calling it sore, there has been no particular diagnosis on Roethlisberger's shoulder, which is a good sign. A hard fall on the turf, when it doesn't result in a separated shoulder, can impact the rotator cuff tendons. Any swelling or bruising in the area could affect a thrower's ability to deliver the ball accurately. Rest, ice and some treatment in the training room are no doubt a big part of Roethlisberger's schedule over the next few days. Stay tuned.

Marion Barber
Matthew Emmons/US PresswireMarion Barber had two scores in Week 1, but his hard rushing style has already resulted in an injury.
Marion Barber, RB, Dallas Cowboys: Team owner Jerry Jones told the (Fort Worth) Star-Telegram that Barber likely will have to play in some pain for a while. I wonder if he's ever had a rib cartilage injury. Hmmm. It hurts just to take a deep breath, much less take a hit from a large human moving at breakneck speed.

That aside, it does sound as if the Cowboys expect Barber to return to practice Wednesday and be ready for Monday night. Despite the optimism, keep an eye on practice reports throughout the week, as this is the type of injury that can linger. It's also possible that Barber may wear added protection for his ribs. The bulkiness of the extra gear can make ballhandling a bit more difficult, so players often prefer not to use it. After Barber practices this week, we should have a better picture of his Monday status.

Marques Colston, WR, New Orleans Saints: Wow, this one was a surprise! Colston apparently suffered a ligament injury to his left thumb during Sunday's game, which ultimately required surgery. The surgery was performed Tuesday, according to The (New Orleans) Times-Picayune, and Colston is projected to be out at least a month. Depending on the healing process, the time frame could extend upwards to six to eight weeks. No specifics have been given as to which ligament was damaged, but in all cases, the role of the thumb for a receiver is critical in terms of ballhandling. This is not exactly a position where it would be easy to return wearing a splint or a cast, so expect him to be out closer to six to eight weeks. More catches could be in line for David Patten, Devery Henderson and tight end Jeremy Shockey as a result.

Dallas Clark, TE, Indianapolis Colts: Clark underwent an MRI on his injured right knee, but the specifics have not been made public. According to The Indianapolis Star, general manager Bill Polian said team physicians were "fairly optimistic" about Clark's knee. This is another situation where Clark's practice activity this week should give a better hint as to whether he will be available this weekend. Coach Tony Dungy told the Star that he hopes Clark will be OK, but "if it is going to be a couple of weeks, we'll adjust." It sounds like contingency plans should be made if you're a Clark owner.

Drew Bennett
Photo by G. Newman Lowrance/Getty ImagesAs if the Rams offense needed any more bad news, Drew Bennett has a fractured foot.
Drew Bennett, WR, St. Louis Rams: Bennett suffered a foot fracture in Sunday's opener and is expected to miss at least a month and probably longer. Fractures take four to six weeks to heal, and then there's the issue of actually being able to run, turn, jump and land on the foot effectively enough to play the receiver position. If Bennett is on your fantasy team, it's probably worth going in a new direction as it will be quite some time before he could potentially contribute. Not to mention the Rams' offense didn't exactly light it up in Week 1. Bennett is likely to be replaced by rookie Keenan Burton, and the Rams just signed veteran Eddie Kennison.

Maurice Morris, RB, Seattle Seahawks: It wasn't enough for the Seahawks to lose a receiver to injury. They also saw one of their running backs exit the game with a knee sprain. Fortunately, Morris' injury was not as serious as Burleson's, but nonetheless he is expected to miss at least two weeks. According to the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, the Seahawks are hopeful that Morris, Deion Branch (still recovering from a reconstructed left ACL) and Bobby Engram (healing from a fractured shoulder) will all return after Seattle's Week 4 bye. Former Cowboy Julius Jones will get the starting nod at running back in Seattle, at least for the time being.

Jeff Garcia, QB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Garcia sprained his ankle Sunday but managed to finish the game, tough guy that he is. It does appear that the ankle injury could be problematic, though, since coach Jon Gruden told The Tampa Tribune that Garcia had swelling, and he has been labeled as questionable this week. Garcia was already nursing a calf injury during camp as well as a jammed pinkie finger on his throwing hand. Garcia is known to play through pain, but wasn't altogether effective last Sunday, which may factor into the overall decision on whether to start him.

Fantasy owners beware. We've been down a similar road before. Late last season, Garcia took a shot to the back and was stiff, sat out part of practice, but by the end of the week was assuring everyone that he could play. At the last minute, Gruden scratched him from his start, much to the dismay of Garcia fantasy owners. For his part, Gruden told The Tampa Tribune that he wants to decide who will be under center by Wednesday. (Brian Griese is the backup in Tampa Bay).

Let's see what Garcia actually does in practice this week, but if you own him in your league, secure a replacement just in case.

It's not too late! Leagues are forming and drafting until Sep. 20, with scoring retroactive to Week 1.
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Ahman Green, RB, Houston Texans: Did you really think Green would stay healthy the entire season? He has had a tough time of it over the past year or so. Last year, he was continually challenged with inflammation in his knee that effectively ended his season prematurely. This year he was limited in camp with a groin injury but had recovered enough to suit up for Week 1. The clean bill of health did not last long, however, as Green was forced to the sideline early with an ankle injury. Other than listing him as day-to-day on their official Web site, the Texans have not released the specifics as to the nature of Green's ankle problem.

Rookie Steve Slaton saw increased action as a result and likely will continue along that path. However, according to the Texans' official Web site, they plan to bring in some other running backs for workouts and may also consider bringing up Darius Walker from the practice squad. Could Shaun Alexander show up here? He's certainly made it known that he's available. This could get interesting.

That should get your waiver wires going for the week. Be sure to tune in to my chat Friday at 11 a.m. ET here on as we discuss all things injury-related. Also, my injury blog will update Saturday with the latest injury-report information headed into the Sunday games.

Update on Reggie Bush

December, 7, 2007

Thursday night football has not been kind to the starting quarterback. In Week 13, Packers quarterback Brett Favre was forced out of the game with a bruised forearm that affected his ulnar nerve. Thursday, Rex Grossman of the Chicago Bears and Jason Campbell of the Washington Redskins both went down with injury, both as a result of taking a hit to their plant leg as they delivered the ball. For more on these injuries as well as a look ahead to who will be affected by injuries, please, read on.


Matt Schaub, QB, Texans: Still recovering from a dislocated left shoulder, Schaub does not have a timetable for his return.

D.J. Hackett, WR, Seahawks: Hackett is out again due to re-injury of his ankle, but the team expects he could return within a week or two. We'll update his status later.

Roy Williams, WR, Lions: Williams injured his knee and will not return for your fantasy team this season.

Larry Johnson, RB, Chiefs: Still out, yet the team still expresses hope. There is no information to suggest one way or the other whether Johnson will return this season, but as a fantasy owner, you just can't count on it.

Anthony Thomas, RB, Bills: A torn popliteus muscle (small muscle behind the knee) will keep Thomas out the remainder of the season. Marshawn Lynch and Fred Jackson will take it from here.

Ahman Green, RB, Texans: The Texans announced today that they are placing Green on injured reserve because of lingering problems with his knee. They tried to hold out hope, but to no avail. Green's football future may be in question.

Here's what we know so far about other players with injury concerns heading into Sunday.

Running Backs

Marshawn Lynch, Bills: Lynch practiced all week on a limited basis, progressively improving as he returns from a high ankle sprain. The Bills will undoubtedly ease him back into the game, meaning he is likely to lose some action to Fred Jackson, but is expected to play. There is always a bit of a risk when an athlete returns from a high ankle sprain, but this is a good matchup for Lynch against the Dolphins.

LenDale White, Titans: Despite some residual swelling and stiffness in his middle finger, White (probable) is expected to play Sunday. He should be able to go the distance, but may struggle some with ballhandling.

Brandon Jacobs, Giants: Jacobs is expected to play, according to a report in Newsday, and there is no Derrick Ward to share carries with anymore. There is Reuben Droughns, however, and he will likely absorb some of Jacobs' work. Jacobs is returning from a hamstring strain, always a bit risky for the first game back, but he has been working out well and sounds ready to go.

Reggie Bush, Saints: ESPN's Chris Mortensen reported Friday that Bush has a torn posterior cruciate ligament (PCL), which was confirmed by the Saints, although they have not indicated the degree of injury. Bush is getting a second opinion from Dr. James Andrews, but it appears doubtful that he will play Monday. Coach Sean Payton told the New Orleans Times-Picayune that he is still hopeful that Bush can play Monday given that he practiced some this week, but this really does not appear likely. All you have to do is look at how long it took Travis Henry and Andre Johnson to return from a PCL injury to appreciate the time frame Bush is dealing with, if it is a nonsurgical injury. The injury apparently occurred Nov. 4, and this may go a long way toward explaining why Bush really hasn't seemed like himself over the past month. There is some question as to whether Bush may now miss the remainder of the season. Stay tuned for updates regarding his status. In the meantime, find a replacement for your fantasy roster.


Jason Campbell, Redskins: Campbell took a hit on his plant leg which forced it inward as he fell to the ground. This is often a mechanism for a medial collateral ligament (MCL) injury, but it appeared that Campbell took the hit just slightly lower on his leg, forcing it to rotate inward as his leg collapsed, more of a mechanism for a patellar (kneecap) dislocation. If you saw the game, perhaps you saw Campbell grab the outside of his leg with his hand. Had he torn his MCL, you would expect him to grab the inner knee, where it would be most painful. Campbell grabbed his outer knee because he was trying to put a hand around his kneecap, which he had just dislocated. The response of the medical staff also suggested a patellar dislocation. Campbell was immediately placed in a knee immobilizer, the best position to allow the kneecap to resume its proper alignment, and the least stressful for it. The bottom line for Campbell is that his season has essentially ended, as the tissue that was stretched on the outside of the knee during the dislocation has to heal. After immobilizing the knee for a few weeks, which allows the tissue to heal while preventing a repeat episode, Campbell will have to gradually regain his range of motion and strength. Coach Joe Gibbs said in his postgame news conference that it was fortunate that no ligaments were involved, which is true because the injury he did suffer is nonsurgical. Consequently his overall healing time should be reduced. The Redskins could conceivably have Campbell available the final week of the season or if they venture into the playoffs, but from a fantasy perspective, he is done.

Rex Grossman, Bears: Poor Rex. He didn't make it through even a full quarter before the injury bug bit him. Grossman also suffered a blow to the outside of his leg that forced his knee inward, the mechanism described above that typically affects the MCL. And so it is. The Chicago Sun-Times is reporting that Grossman sprained his MCL and given the recovery time for this type of injury, it is fair to assume that we will not see Grossman again this season.

Brett Favre, Packers: He's had a week now to let the forearm rest and has resumed practice. As of the end of the week, Favre was handling the majority of the reps with the first team and throwing quite a bit without limitation according to the Packers' official Web site. You can expect to see him Sunday and expect the streak to stay alive.

Brodie Croyle, Chiefs: Croyle missed Week 13 with a deep back bruise, but the time off seems to have helped. Croyle was able to practice fully all week, is listed as probable and is expected to start Sunday. This news is as good for Dwayne Bowe fantasy owners as it is for Croyle fans.

Jeff Garcia, Buccaneers: Garcia's status will be a game-time decision as coach Jon Gruden wants to see how Garcia's back feels once the team gets to Houston, according to a report in the Tampa Tribune. Garcia, who sat out Week 13 with a back injury, was able to gradually increase his activity tolerance over the past two weeks, but is not yet 100 percent. Garcia has looked good in practice, although he was given Friday off to rest, and the expectation is that he will play Sunday. He may be a little stiff, but if his offensive line is able to protect him so that he can avoid significant contact, he should be able to play well.

Donovan McNabb, Eagles: McNabb (probable) is primed to make his return Sunday from a jammed thumb and sprained ankle that caused him to sit out two games. McNabb has been practicing and although his mobility may yet be limited somewhat by the ankle, he should be able to be effective. McNabb wanted to play this past Sunday but was held out by coach Andy Reid, who wanted him to be closer to 100 percent before returning to a game situation. Given Reid's criteria, I expect McNabb will be able to perform heading into Sunday's contest.

Marc Bulger, Rams: Bulger is listed as questionable on the Friday injury report after suffering a setback during the week. Bulger, recovering from a concussion, had been cleared to practice Tuesday. But as the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports, Bulger did not feel well after practice Thursday, causing the Rams to downgrade him. This is why athletes are gradually returned to activity after concussions; there is always the possibility that symptoms can return with increased intensity of exercise, which indicates the brain has not fully recovered. Coach Scott Linehan wisely says he will not return Bulger if he is not fully healthy, and he will use the next 12 to 24 hours to make that decision. Plan on another quarterback.

Wide Receivers/Tight Ends

Marvin Harrison, Colts: Could it be? Could Harrison actually make a return Sunday? Harrison practiced some on Wednesday and was seen walking without a limp afterward, a good sign. He was held out of practice Thursday as a precaution. According to the Indianapolis Star, coach Tony Dungy has indicated that the Colts are being more cautious than if they were in a must-win situation to get into the playoffs. Harrison is clearly not 100 percent and the Colts do not want to risk losing him for the time when it really counts. There is a chance, albeit a slight one, that Harrison plays Sunday, but even if he steps on the field it will be on a limited basis. There is no fantasy value here.

Anquan Boldin and Larry Fitzgerald, Cardinals: Boldin dislocated a toe Sunday and has been unable to practice all week. According to the Arizona Republic, the medical staff has been trying to find a supportive insert for his shoe that would allow him to run without pain, but so far that has not happened. There is still a chance that he could be outfitted with something before Sunday, but Boldin has said that he does not like to play without having practiced at least once during the week. Add to that the fact that his hip is still bothering him and it is unlikely he sees the field this week. Teammate Fitzgerald has been contending with a groin injury, but has been increasing his activity, and was running routes late in the week. Also listed as questionable, Fitzgerald is more likely to see playing time, but may not yet be fully recovered. The concern with the groin injury is lateral cutting and speed, so Fitzgerald may not be up to the monster performances that he has put up of late, but there is a reasonable chance that he is active and efficient on Sunday.

Brandon Stokley and Javon Walker, Broncos: Stokley, who was reported to have injured his knee this past Sunday, had not practiced during the week and appeared unlikely to play. Friday, however, Stokley was able to put together a full practice and, although listed as questionable, he is expected to start, according to the Denver Post. Teammate Walker has been hampered by his knee and has not had a strong outing since returning, which is a bit surprising as he had looked good in practice. The expectation is that Walker will play, but he is not yet fully healthy and remains a risky start.

Santonio Holmes, Steelers: Holmes is off the injury report, a good sign that his high ankle sprain has healed enough to allow him to play. Expect to see Holmes in action Sunday, but he is returning after a relatively short time frame. We have seen the high ankle sprain injury regress after a player returns (D.J. Hackett, Michael Pittman) and until Holmes has fully tested it, temper expectations for his return.

Laveranues Coles, Jets: Coles remains a game-time decision as he recovers from his high ankle sprain. Coles is tough and can be expected to play through pain, as he has done many times before. With Cotchery out, the Jets need Coles even more, so expect him to be on the field. He is not likely to be 100 percent, but unless he suffers a serious setback during the game, don't expect that to limit his performance.

Don't see your player here? Be sure to check back Saturday when we check late Week 14 updates and add a few defensive players.

Broncos RB carousel continues

December, 5, 2007

Well, it finally happened. My injury-laden fantasy team in our GMC Pro Grade League finally succumbed in a loss that pushed me out of playoff contention. But not without a fight! Despite the multiple injuries over the season, which forced me to nearly completely renew my roster, I lost by a hair (six points) to Matthew Berry, the Talented Mr. Roto, he of the high-scoring Tom Brady, Wes Welker, T.J. Houshmandzadeh and Justin Fargas crew. In fact, had Brett Favre, whom I just recently acquired via trade because of the recent injuries to Donovan McNabb, not left Thursday's game with an injury, I am confident that I would have won. I guess my point is two-fold: 1) Berry can mock my undying loyalty to my 49ers, but he cannot gloat in his barely eked-out victory, and 2) I believe that I have demonstrated, by virtue of my injury-laden team, that I understand and sympathize with fantasy owners everywhere whose teams have been decimated by those unpredictable injuries that can make all the difference between agony and ecstasy.

So for those of you fortunate enough to have made the playoffs, and for those of you just trying to spoil the playoff dreams of others, here are some of the injuries fantasy owners should be aware of early this week. Keep in mind that the Thursday matchup will feature Chicago at Washington.

Running Backs

Adrian Peterson, Vikings: Well, it seems the questions about Peterson's readiness to return have been answered. He looked remarkably solid in his first outing since tearing his lateral collateral ligament, brace and all. The Vikings somewhat limited Peterson's activity as planned -- he had 15 carries and did not appear in the fourth quarter -- but he is so dangerous whenever he touches the ball that his numbers made it seem as if he played the entire game. According to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Peterson felt as good as he has all year after Sunday's outing, so we can expect to see him and Chester Taylor utilized in tandem the rest of the season.

Marshawn Lynch, Bills: Coach Dick Jauron still is being cautious about Lynch's status for Sunday, saying Lynch has made a lot of progress but he doesn't want to "overstep it right now." Jauron's comments on the Bills' Web site are the most positive since Lynch's injury about four weeks ago, but they are necessarily guarded, given the nature of the injury (high ankle sprain). Lynch will be evaluated on a day-to-day basis as he practices throughout the week, and we should have a better idea of his status late in the week.

Brandon Jacobs and Derrick Ward, Giants: The Giants have made it official. Ward has been placed on injured reserve after suffering a broken fibula in Sunday's contest. So will Jacobs make it back this week? It appears that way if you listen to coach Tom Coughlin. Coughlin told the New York Daily News that all along, the plan has been for Jacobs to return this week, and he is not being rushed back because of Ward's injury. That sounds reasonable. Now, let's hope Jacobs can not only make it back, but also stay to finish out the year healthy.

Selvin Young and Travis Henry, Broncos: Young appeared to be the healthier back headed into Sunday's game and, in fact, was the starter. But he managed to sustain yet another injury, this one to his arm, according to the Denver Post, and his status is uncertain for this week. Meanwhile, Henry received word from the NFL that he won his suspension appeal, so now his game availability depends only on his health. Henry was able to get back in the lineup last week, so if Young cannot go, Henry likely will start. There always are more running backs to be found in Denver, though, so starting does not necessarily translate into more fantasy points. It is worth watching the practice reports throughout the week to see how the running back lineup is shaping up.

Larry Johnson, Chiefs: Johnson already has been ruled out for Week 14, but the Chiefs continue to be guarded in their statements regarding Johnson's status for the season. In comments made on the Chiefs' Web site, coach Herm Edwards reinforced the idea that no decision has been made, saying only that Johnson is "getting better" and the team will continue to evaluate him. He did say that if the star back were to return too soon and re-injure his foot, it could result in Johnson requiring surgery, which always is the potential scenario for a mid-foot injury. It is not totally clear what is going on with Johnson and the Chiefs. Johnson being ruled out so early in the week suggests he is a long way from being able to return. Yet the Chiefs continue, at least outwardly, to indicate there is hope he will return this season. Perhaps there is some motivational incentive; the potential of getting back on the field might help Johnson maintain the intensity of his rehabilitation. And he might yet return, but it remains just a possibility, not one worth taking up a spot on your fantasy roster.

LenDale White, Titans: According to the Tennessean, White (dislocated middle finger) is expected to play Sunday against the Chargers. On Monday, we mentioned fumble concerns as a possibility, especially if the finger remains sore and swollen. Given Chris Brown's effectiveness Sunday after White exited the game, there could be concern Brown will steal some action from White this week, especially if White shows any signs of struggling with the finger.


Jeff Garcia, Tampa Bay: According to the St. Petersburg Times, Garcia said his back is feeling better by the day and he expects to return to practice Wednesday. Despite some residual soreness, Garcia plans to play Sunday against the Texans while his mobility and flexibility continue to improve. It still is wise to check back at the end of the week, but at this point, it sounds as if he is preparing to make his return.

Donovan McNabb, Eagles: has reported that McNabb is expected to return this week from the thumb and ankle injuries that have caused him to miss two straight games. Coach Andy Reid said McNabb can grip the football well now but might wear a brace on his hand to protect the thumb. The bigger concern is his mobility with the ankle, but Reid said McNabb moved around better in practice last week. Nonetheless, he held McNabb out of Sunday's contest because he did not feel he was ready to go from a health standpoint, and the extra rest no doubt has helped the quarterback. Barring a setback in practice this week, expect McNabb to get the green light Sunday.

Marc Bulger, Rams: According to a report by ESPN's Len Pasquarelli, Bulger underwent another battery of tests Tuesday as a follow-up to his concussion a week ago and was cleared to return to practice Wednesday. The Rams are optimistic that Bulger will be available Sunday, but it should be noted that he will be monitored throughout the week to ensure his symptoms do not return as his practice activity increases. Bulger's replacement, Gus Frerotte, suffered a shoulder injury Sunday that might keep him out for at least one game. According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Frerotte has a sprained shoulder and a partial tear of the labrum, the ring of cartilage that helps reinforce the shoulder joint. Frerotte injured the shoulder in the third quarter of Sunday's contest but was able to return to finish the game; however, the shoulder was much more sore the next day, prompting the additional tests. If neither Bulger or Frerotte is able to go, it could be Brock Berlin. Fantasy owners, keep your fingers crossed that practice agrees with Bulger.

Brodie Croyle, Chiefs: Croyle sat out last week's contest with a sore bruised back but could make his return Sunday if, as coach Herm Edwards said on the Chiefs' Web site, he's "mobile enough to get out of the way." Edwards also said that although the Chiefs would like to see Croyle back in the lineup, the team will not risk putting him in there if he is not fully recovered. Croyle is expected to return to practice Wednesday, and his progress, particularly his mobility, will be evaluated throughout the week.

Alex D. Smith, 49ers: Smith has sat out the 49ers' past two games because of lingering pain in his shoulder (a Grade III, or complete, separation) and his forearm (tendinitis, which developed after he injured the shoulder, possibly while trying to rehabilitate the arm). Smith might yet face shoulder surgery, but before that decision is made, Smith will try to throw this week, according to ESPN's Len Pasquarelli. Smith will see how the arm feels while throwing and then will consult with the medical staff to evaluate his status. Either way, he is not a factor for the remainder of the fantasy season (not that he was much of a factor beforehand). His progress will be relevant for next year, so we will monitor him with that in mind.

Wide Receivers/Tight Ends

Roy Williams, Lions: Williams sprained his posterior cruciate ligament Sunday and, according to a report in the Detroit News, is expected to miss the last four games of the season. ESPN's John Clayton is reporting that the Lions do not plan to put Williams on season-ending injured reserve in the hope that he can heal quickly, but it is a slim hope. This is an injury similar to the one that kept Broncos running back Travis Henry out four weeks and Texans receiver Andre Johnson out eight weeks. Coach Rod Marinelli said the ligament is not torn, usually a reference to the ligament not being completely torn, since any sprain reflects some degree of injury to the tissue, even if microscopic. The timeframe will depend on how long it takes any swelling and pain to subside, and the amount of tissue healing that needs to take place. Williams then would need to regain his strength and mobility, as well as the confidence that his knee is stable enough to support him running, cutting and jumping. That is a lot to ask in less than four weeks. Nonetheless, if the injury is minor, there is a chance he could return, but it is a small one. If Williams is on your fantasy roster, you need to find a replacement that you can count on for the duration of the season.

Santonio Holmes, Steelers: Holmes, who missed the past three games with a high ankle sprain, could return in Week 14, according to a report in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Coach Mike Tomlin said "it depends on how [he] perform[s] in practice." Even mild high-ankle sprains often require about four weeks before a player can return, so Holmes is just now coming up on that mark. Practice will resume Wednesday, meaning we won't have a real indicator as to whether Holmes is likely to play until late in the week. Stay tuned.

Don't see your player here? Be sure to check back later in the week when we check further Week 14 updates. We also will quickly touch on any Thursday game injuries at that time.