Stephania Bell: Jeremy Shockey



It's the last week of the NFL regular season and for many fantasy players, this is the grand finale. Week 17 always presents unique challenges as many NFL teams with secure playoff bids opt to rest key players, leaving fantasy owners scrambling to set their final rosters. This year there are some NFL teams whose playoff hopes are still barely alive or who could (or should) be playing for pride, but injuries may still force their starters to rest. And in what could be the worst scenario for fantasy owners, some teams are considering starting their main players to keep them in the rhythm of game preparation and competition, but how much playing time they get is anyone's guess.

[+] EnlargeMichael Vick
Hunter Martin/Philadelphia Eagles/Getty ImagesMichael Vick suffered a thigh contusion early on against the Vikings, and the Eagles' loss Tuesday night does help make the decision to sit him easier.
So what is a fantasy owner to do? For starters, give thanks to those teams who have already announced key players as out. Sources tell the Philadelphia Inquirer the Philadelphia Eagles have, rather unsurprisingly, ruled out quarterback Michael Vick. His thigh contusion had him limping throughout Tuesday night's game and there is no reason to further risk his health. Kevin Kolb is expected to get the start after working with the first team Thursday.

The Florida Times-Union reports Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback David Garrard has undergone surgery to repair a torn ligament in the middle finger of his right (throwing) hand and faces a two-month recovery. Trent Edwards is poised to start in his absence. ... The Cincinnati Bengals announced via Twitter that wide receiver Chad Ochocinco will not make the trip to Baltimore because of his ankle. And, as a reminder, San Diego Chargers tight end Antonio Gates should not be on anyone's fantasy roster (if you were hoping for a miracle) as the team has placed him on injured reserve. At least savvy fantasy owners can get a jump on picking up unclaimed backups or other more appealing free-agent alternates for these players.



While the Week 17 fates have already been decided for some, there are many others still on the fence. Here's who else you might be concerned about heading into Sunday's games:

Quarterbacks

[+] EnlargeMark Sanchez
Mike DiNovo/US PresswireSaMark Sanchez is likely to start Week 17, but it's very possible he won't finish.
Mark Sanchez, New York Jets: Initially, it sounded as if Sanchez would be out for Week 17, but then coach Rex Ryan seemed to hint at his starting quarterback playing. Now it just sounds like a situation to avoid altogether. Sanchez's shoulder was sore heading into Week 16 and while it does not appear to be impacting him severely, the Jets might be concerned about him suffering a setback, which would be undesirable heading into the playoffs. That said, the New York Post reported Tuesday that Ryan was considering starting Sanchez "because he's hot right now." Ryan added, "We can't afford for him to take a dip. We need him to stay at this level." The Jets are trying to balance protecting Sanchez with keeping him in a rhythm, all of which points to a scenario where Sanchez starts but doesn't finish. The problem is there is no way of telling just how much playing time Sanchez will see. This is a situation for fantasy owners to avoid.

Matt Hasselbeck, Seattle Seahawks: On Tuesday, we outlined the injury concern for Hasselbeck and the team's plans to proceed as if Charlie Whitehurst will be under center. Hasselbeck clearly wants to play in Sunday night's game, and although he was not able to practice Wednesday or Thursday, he is rehabbing diligently with Sunday's goal in mind. As Danny O'Neil of the Seattle Times reports, coach Pete Carroll thinks it's unlikely Hasselbeck will play but acknowledges the door is still open. "I'm totally convinced that he's waging a battle that's against the odds," said Carroll. "He's going to make a miracle comeback if he can." This could come down to a game-time decision.

Jon Kitna, Dallas Cowboys: According to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Kitna, who is dealing with a left abdominal oblique injury, says that all movement feels "like you have a knife in your side." As he sat out practice Wednesday, Kitna still held out hope for a Sunday return, but the pain he is experiencing certainly casts doubt on whether he will be able to throw the ball effectively. If Kitna does not play, Stephen McGee will get his first career start.

Brett Favre, Minnesota Vikings: Most fantasy owners would not rely on Favre to help them win their championship Sunday even if he does suit up. But they might consider Joe Webb, thus making Favre's injury status relevant. Favre has yet to pass required post-concussion tests, making it unlikely he'll play Sunday. Even beyond passing those tests, Favre would need to return to a graded exercise progression to be sure his symptoms did not recur with physical exertion. The window for Favre to be able to play is closing simply because of the narrow time factor. The Minneapolis Star-Tribune reports that Favre could repeat the tests Thursday or Friday and coach Leslie Frazier has not ruled him out for Sunday's game. Stay tuned, folks. By now everyone should know things can come down to the wire in Minnesota.

Ryan Fitzpatrick, Buffalo Bills: The Bills quarterback has missed two days of practice because of his knee and it's starting to raise concern about his availability for Sunday. Fitzpatrick has been sore for quite some time but the back-to-back missed practices are more troublesome. Brian Brohm has been practicing with the first team in his absence. Friday should be telling in forecasting who will start for the Bills.

Running Backs

[+] EnlargeMaurice Jones-Drew
Scott A. Miller/US PresswireIt's very possible Maurice Jones-Drew will miss two of the most critical weeks of the fantasy season.
Maurice Jones-Drew, Jacksonville Jaguars: Jones-Drew did not play in Week 16 because of persistent swelling in his knee, and it looks as if he may be sidelined again Sunday. Jones-Drew did not practice Wednesday or Thursday. Rashad Jennings would start in his place against the Houston Texans.

Peyton Hillis, Cleveland Browns: Hillis did not practice Wednesday or Thursday, allowing his sore ribs some rest after taking a shot in the back Sunday. It sounds as if the Browns plan to have Hillis available to play against the Pittsburgh Steelers and their best chance for that is to rest him during the week.



Darren McFadden, Oakland Raiders: Listed on the official NFL injury report with a "toe" ailment, McFadden's status for Sunday is unclear. He did not practice Wednesday and the Oakland Tribune listed "ankle" next to his name as the reason. (On Tuesday, we noted there were conflicting reports about the nature of McFadden's injury.) The Tribune notes that McFadden participated in the morning walkthrough Thursday, suggesting he would practice, but his activity level remains to be seen. According to Vittorio Tafur of the San Francisco Chronicle, coach Tom Cable says McFadden could be a game-time decision.

Knowshon Moreno, Denver Broncos: Moreno managed to see some playing time in Week 16 but left the game early after aggravating his rib injury. Moreno did not practice Wednesday but was expected to practice Thursday in an effort to gear up for Week 17. After Correll Buckhalter's Week 16 effort, however, Sunday could turn into a time-share situation, especially if Moreno is less than 100 percent.

Chris Ivory and Reggie Bush, New Orleans Saints: Ivory has been on the road to recovery from a hamstring injury for the past two weeks but has not been quite ready to play. Week 17 could be different as Ivory returned to full practice Thursday. Bush was listed on this week's injury report with a "chest" injury (SC joint per NFL Network) but practiced fully Thursday and does not appear in danger of missing Sunday's game.

Wide Receivers

Andre Johnson, Houston Texans: Coach Gary Kubiak announced early in the week that Johnson would not practice (he has not) and that Johnson would indicate whether he is able to play (he has not ... yet). Fantasy owners will likely be waiting until the bitter end to find out whether Johnson can indeed play against the Jaguars. As of now, there is no real hint which way the cards will fall, but Johnson is a competitor who will not give up simply because the Texans are out of the playoff race. Expect him to play if he feels he can contribute, but have a backup plan in place.

[+] EnlargeHakeem Nicks
Jim O'Connor/US PresswireHakeem Nicks, who could miss Week 17 with a broken toe, is seventh in scoring among fantasy wide receivers despite missing two games with a leg injury.
Hakeem Nicks, New York Giants: He has a broken toe, putting his Sunday status into question. The Newark Star-Ledger reports Nicks broke the big toe in his left foot in Sunday's game. When asked by reporters Wednesday if Nicks could play this weekend, coach Tom Coughlin's response was blunt and discouraging: "I doubt it." Fantasy owners who have benefited from Nicks' contributions week in and week out should attempt to find a replacement in a hurry.



Marques Colston, New Orleans Saints: In what likely comes as a surprise to many, Jeff Duncan of the New Orleans Times-Picayune reports Colston underwent an arthroscopic surgical procedure on his knee Tuesday, according to coach Sean Payton. Duncan says the Saints are listing Colston as questionable, but fantasy owners should plan on him being absent for Sunday's game, just five days after surgery.



DeSean Jackson, Philadelphia Eagles: Jackson did not practice Thursday because of his sore foot and it is looking as if he may not play this weekend. This could be another blow to those who might have been counting on some big points from this big playmaker. While the Eagles have not yet ruled Jackson out, fantasy owners would be wise to plan for a substitution.

Sidney Rice, Minnesota Vikings: It's not a setback with the hip but a concussion he suffered in Tuesday night's game that has Rice on the injury report. He did not practice Thursday and with the short week has less recovery time than normal. Rice has not yet been ruled out for Week 17 but fantasy owners should prepare for that possibility.

Calvin Johnson, Detroit Lions: Although Johnson has not practiced this week because of a sprained ankle, he is still holding out hope he can play Sunday. Johnson told the Detroit Free Press he is "just taking it day by day," undergoing treatment and trying to ready himself for the game against the Vikings. On Tuesday, we noted that Lions coach Jim Schwartz had said Johnson could miss practice and still play. It would be nice to see Johnson on the field by Friday, however, as reassurance.



Malcom Floyd, San Diego Chargers: It looked to be all but certain that Floyd would miss Week 17 with his still ailing hamstring injury, now his second of the season. But Floyd showed up in practice Wednesday, albeit on a limited basis, enough to suggest he could be available for the Chargers' finale. Wait to see if Floyd can get through an entire week of practice without a setback before getting comfortable with him in your lineup.

Tight Ends

Todd Heap, Baltimore Ravens: He returned to full practice Wednesday and Thursday, just in time to encourage fantasy owners for Week 17. It looks as if Heap is on track to play Sunday barring a setback.

Aaron Hernandez, New England Patriots: Hernandez has been a limited participant in practice this week because of a hip injury. After missing Week 16, fantasy owners should be advised that despite returning to practice, Hernandez could still be held out of the game.

Jeremy Shockey, New Orleans Saints: Shockey missed practice Thursday because of a groin injury. Jimmy Graham has clearly developed a rapport with quarterback Drew Brees and may be the better fantasy start, even if Shockey plays.

Have a Happy New Year and we'll have the latest injury updates affecting Week 17 in the Saturday morning blog!

Week 12 Tuesday injury update

November, 23, 2010
11/23/10
6:17
PM ET


San Diego Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers continues to show that he can get the job done no matter who steps in to take his handoffs or catch his passes. In front of millions on "Monday Night Football," Rivers delivered a star performance with running back Ryan Mathews, wide receiver Legedu Naanee and tight end Antonio Gates all watching from the sidelines. Mike Tolbert handled the bulk of the running game (and likely will again in Week 12) and fresh-off-the-injury-report Malcom Floyd did his part to contribute to the passing game with a couple of catches and a score (although according to Kevin Acee of the San Diego Union-Tribune, Floyd tweaked his hamstring again, so stay tuned).



[+] EnlargePatrick Crayton
Stephen Dunn/Getty ImagesPatrick Crayton's left wrist was injured as he scored this touchdown.
But the Chargers couldn't get through the game without suffering yet another loss of a key player. Wide receiver Patrick Crayton landed awkwardly in the end zone while finishing off an impressive catch-and-run touchdown. He came up holding his forearm bent 90 degrees, and didn't let any of his teammates touch that left hand for congratulatory high-fives. Often when a person instinctively cradles his arm that way, it suggests a serious wrist or forearm injury. ESPN's Adam Schefter is reporting that Crayton suffered a dislocated wrist and is undergoing further testing Tuesday to determine the course of action. Since the wrist joint consists of two forearm bones (radius and ulna) interfacing with eight small wrist (carpal) bones, which in turn interface with the bones of the hand, there are many possible injury presentations. In other words, rather than speculate as to the specifics, we will wait to see what the Chargers reveal after Crayton's follow-up tests. Suffice it to say, this is not exactly good news. One might say that the timing of Vincent Jackson's return, scheduled for this week, couldn't be better. Something tells me Rivers will adjust just fine.



But how will Eli Manning adjust to the loss of another star wide receiver in the span of a week? The New York Giants, who recently saw Steve Smith go down with a partially torn pectoral muscle, have now lost Hakeem Nicks to a case of compartment syndrome in his right leg. Compartment syndrome is typically something that develops over time (chronic) but it can be brought on suddenly (acute), as was the case with Nicks, by trauma. Nicks reportedly was hit in the leg at some point during Sunday's game, according to ESPN New York, but was able to play into the fourth quarter. When Nicks arrived at the team facility on Monday, coach Tom Coughlin said the medical staff felt the need to "take immediate action." Nicks then went to the hospital and underwent a fasciotomy, a procedure whereby tissue is released surgically to alleviate pressure on blood vessels and nerves in the area.

[+] EnlargeNicks
AP Photo/Rob CarrHakeem Nicks has scored the sixth-most fantasy points among wide receivers in ESPN standard leagues.
The lower leg is divided into regional compartments, each of which contains muscles, blood vessels and nerves, and the compartments are separated by connective tissue called fascia. Each compartment functions like a container of sorts. In the presence of swelling, the contents within each compartment are subject to increased pressure, which can constrict the blood vessels and nerves and prevent normal function (picture a blood pressure cuff squeezing around the leg and cutting off circulation). The individual can feel pain and tingling as a result of the compromise to the nerves and blood vessels. More importantly, if the blood supply to muscle is compromised for any length of time, the muscle tissue will die, hence the emergency nature of the procedure. Relieving pressure on the compartment by cutting the fascia is the immediate treatment. The next steps are waiting for the wound to heal, then gradually restoring the motion and strength in the lower leg.

The Giants have indicated that Nicks will miss the next three weeks following his fasciotomy. Time to recover from such a procedure can vary from several weeks to a couple of months, depending on the extent of the procedure, how well the wound heals, and whether there are any complications along the way. It should be noted that most acute compartment syndromes are associated with significant trauma, such as fractures or crush injuries. Sometimes in sports, however, there can be a direct blow that results in a hematoma (collection of blood), which in turn creates significant localized swelling and pressure. This may be the origin of Nicks' injury. Assuming no prior history of compartment issues for Nicks, the three-week timetable would seem reasonable, assuming no setbacks. During the first week, Nicks will do very little, but as he is able to increase his activity, we should get a better idea of whether he will meet the projected timetable.

Plenty of other teams continue to adjust to injury situations and this week some have only a few days to do so. With the Thanksgiving holiday, there will be three NFL games Thursday. The Detroit Lions host the New England Patriots for the early game. Then the New Orleans Saints visit the Dallas Cowboys followed by the New York Jets welcoming the Cincinnati Bengals. Given the short week for those teams, their initial practice injury reports were issued Monday (usually they do not come out until Wednesday). For key fantasy players in Thanksgiving Day games, here's what we know about their early-week activity.

Detroit Lions: The Lions had only a walk-through Monday but still provided practice report "estimates." Among those who would not have practiced were running back Jahvid Best, quarterback Matthew Stafford, tight end Tony Scheffler and kicker Jason Hanson.



Jahvid Best
Kellen Michah/Icon SMIEven if Jahvid Best plays on Thanksgiving, remember that he hasn't had a double-digit fantasy game in ESPN standard leagues since Week 2.
Fantasy owners are probably most concerned about Best and rightfully so. Best has been limited to some degree by his toe injuries since early in the season. He reportedly suffered a setback Sunday and was seen getting one of his toes re-taped during the game. Ultimately, the toe situation was problematic enough to keep him from returning to the field. While he may continue to have some good days, the condition is going to persist and be a risk factor until he has lengthy time off.



The Lions' dire situation at running back has been compounded by the loss of Kevin Smith to injured reserve. Smith, who had just started to emerge following his ACL reconstruction of last year, is now recovering from thumb surgery. Nonetheless, it's hard to imagine Best being even close to ready for a full game Thursday when his pattern has been one of not practicing until late in the week. And as we saw last week, that schedule still was not enough to allow him to perform on Sunday. Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press reports that Best was in practice Tuesday, yet he still expects Maurice Morris to be the No.1 back this week.



As far as the other injured Lions, no one really expects to see Stafford anytime soon, if at all, this season, so his absence comes as no surprise. Scheffler injured his ribs in the second quarter of Sunday's game, according to the Detroit News, and is anything but certain to play. Hanson is recovering from an MCL sprain and his status for Thursday is still up in the air.

New England Patriots:The Patriots also conducted only a walk-through Monday but reported several players as limited, including quarterback Tom Brady and running back Fred Taylor. Brady, who is still listed on the report because of his foot along with his shoulder, will continue to play as anticipated. Based on his recent performances, it's hard to see the foot as a limitation. As far as Taylor, he returned to limited practice with his team a couple of weeks ago and is awaiting the green light to see playing time. Taylor seems to be as in the dark about when that will be as anyone else. The Patriots' running game appears to be in good hands so the team may elect to guard Taylor's use, even once he has been activated for game day.

[+] EnlargeReggie Bush
Derick E. Hingle/US PresswireReggie Bush nearly returned to action in Week 11 before becoming a late scratch, but he might finally be able to play for the first time since Week 2.
New Orleans Saints: Despite the encouraging sight of Reggie Bush in team practice last week, he was deemed not quite ready for prime time and was held out of Sunday's game. Maybe not such a bad idea given that the team's next game is coming just four days later. Bush was listed as a full participant in the Saints' Monday walk-through practice report and is expected to play Thursday, barring a setback. Of course, the team expressed optimism that he would play last Sunday and he didn't, but keep in mind that Bush was only a limited participant in practice throughout the week. According to the New Orleans Times-Picayune, that's exactly what it came down to for the coaching staff, which did not want Bush's first full test to come in a game. Coach Sean Payton told the Picayune, "[Bush's] pregame workout was good. And yet I just felt like what I didn't want to do was err on the side of bringing him, just because you're wanting to bring him up."

It will be interesting to see how the Saints utilize him in his return outing. But with Bush champing at the bit to return, and the Saints feeling as if they're getting him back in good shape, he could provide a spark to the offense. Meanwhile, Pierre Thomas is not looking as if he'll play Thursday. There are conflicting reports about the exact nature of his ankle injury but the Picayune reports that Payton maintains Thomas' injury is a sprain. Either way, it appears that his return will not come before December.

Tight end Jeremy Shockey sat out Week 11 because of a rib injury and has been a limited participant in practice so far this week. Whether he will play on Thursday or not is not yet determined.

Dallas Cowboys: It's interesting that there has been so much chatter about the recent X-rays taken of Tony Romo's left clavicle fracture, as if there were some hope of a full recovery. Most bones require six weeks for fracture healing, with actual remodeling of bone continuing well beyond that point. Add to that the fact that the clavicle is notoriously slow to heal, and four weeks -- which is how much time has passed since Romo's injury -- would not likely be enough to demonstrate full bone repair. It's certainly possible that the clavicle showed some progression in healing and that's often why X-rays are taken at an interim stage, to assess how the bone is shaping up. The bottom line is if anyone was expecting Romo to return to the lineup sooner than the original minimum six-week projection, it's not going to happen. Eight to 10 weeks has been the more reasonable healing timetable estimate all along, but it is not guaranteed, and the team may decide it is not worth risk of reinjury to have him appear again this season.

Of more immediate concern, running back Felix Jones is still dealing with a hip ailment and spent Tuesday working with the rehab staff, according to The Dallas Morning News. Jones, who injured his hip Sunday yet returned to the game, did not practice Monday but said he was "doing better," according to the Fort-Worth Star-Telegram. We'll see how the team designates him for Thursday's game, but resting early in a short week may give him the best chance to play on Thanksgiving.

Cincinnati Bengals: Running back Cedric Benson came into Week 11 with a foot injury but it did not appear to hamper him during the game. At one point, Benson was forced out with an eye injury but he was able to return. He should be available Thursday.

New York Jets: Wide receiver Jerricho Cotchery had a groin strain that kept him sidelined in Week 11. ESPN New York's Rich Cimini reports that Cotchery is doing light positional drills Tuesday but is still "iffy" for Thursday's game. As we've seen in the past, groin injuries are not only difficult to overcome, they are easy to aggravate. It would not be surprising if Cotchery is out again this week.

Here's who else we're talking about heading into the rest of the Week 12 contests:

Miami Dolphins quarterback Chad Henne, who injured his knee in Week 10, practiced Monday after serving as the emergency quarterback last Thursday. While the Dolphins have not yielded any information as to the specifics of the injury, the fact that Henne is participating in some level of practice is encouraging, but we'll have to see how the team designates him later in the week. Tyler Thigpen may still be at the helm.

• The Tennessee Titans had a bizarre weekend but we'll stick to the injuries. Vince Young has now been placed on injured reserve as he is expected to undergo thumb surgery to repair a torn flexor tendon. Kerry Collins is still recovering from a calf strain, which was initially projected to keep him out for several weeks, and is not expected to be ready for this Sunday. Thus, Rusty Smith is likely to start at quarterback in Week 12 after stepping in last week when Young was injured. The Titans have signed Chris Simms as insurance.

[+] EnlargePortis
Grant Halverson/Getty ImagesClinton Portis had a short-lived return to the Redskins' lineup after missing five games with a groin injury.
• Running back Ryan Torain of the Washington Redskins sat out Sunday with his hamstring injury, with Clinton Portis getting the start. Portis didn't last long though, aggravating his groin injury after just five plays. Considering that Portis had not been cleared to play Monday night, it's hard to imagine that he was suddenly 100 percent healthy. That said, as an athlete is recovering from a muscle strain, the only way to truly test his health once he's fully practicing is to put him in a game situation. No one ever wants or expects a setback to come so quickly, but that is the nature of this type of injury. Portis underwent a subsequent MRI and the results, according to Jason Reid of The Washington Post, "revealed nothing new. Just swelling." Unfortunately, just swelling is enough to indicate there is still some inflammatory response taking place around that healing tissue, making it less likely we will see Portis in Week 12. Meanwhile, the Redskins lost running back Chad Simpson to a foot injury and have added running back James Davis to their active roster. With Torain still recovering from his hamstring injury, it appears Keiland Williams will be the starting back for the Redskins.



Indianapolis Colts wide receiver Austin Collie left the Week 11 game early for what the Colts called "precautionary reasons." Collie, who was returning to play two weeks after suffering a concussion, took some big hits in last week's game. He is not expected to play in Week 12. Running back Joseph Addai is still considered day to day, as he has been essentially since the injury occurred. In other words, fantasy owners can't plan for a scheduled return.

Carolina Panthers quarterback Jimmy Clausen says he expects to be available in Week 12. Both he and running back Jonathan Stewart will need to receive medical clearance to return to practice, and their status will not be known until later this week.

We will continue to update these injuries and others as the week progresses. Due to the Thanksgiving holiday, there will be no chats on Friday. But check back for the latest injury updates affecting Week 12 in the Saturday morning blog! Happy and healthy Thanksgiving everyone!

Gore to play, but how much?

December, 27, 2008
12/27/08
1:32
PM ET
If you're still in the hunt, there's no doubt that this is THE week for you. Make or break. Do or die. Sink or swim. Fortunately for those of you still playing, most NFL teams have more at stake than the Indianapolis Colts, so at least some starters are worth starting. But not everyone will see a full four quarters of action. Teams are still exercising caution when it comes to injured players, and so should you. Here's how things are shaping up for the week to end all fantasy weeks, Week 17.

Marion Barber, RB, Cowboys: If Barber is one of your fantasy players, you know the drill by now. Yes, this is a must-win game for the Cowboys. But no, Barber did not do anything exceptional in practice this week to give any more confidence that he is approaching full strength. Barber was still a limited participant throughout the week and is listed as questionable. The Dallas Morning News reports that Barber actually split some reps with Tashard Choice when practicing with the first team. This is a sign of progress. Don't let that fool you, though. Coach Wade Phillips has been hinting throughout the week that Barber is clearly not at full speed and has been wondering aloud whether resting him earlier would have had him healthier sooner. The effect of Barber's still-ailing foot is undeniable; he simply has not been able to push off and cut in his normal fashion. He will be a game-time decision again this week, and will likely be in uniform, just as he has been the past couple of weeks. Choice, however, will continue to carry the bulk of the running game, whereas Barber, if he plays, likely will provide only a limited contribution.

Brandon Jacobs, RB, Giants: Sure, coach Tom Coughlin wants his starters to stay in the rhythm of the game. He certainly does not favor rhythm over long-term availability, though, and in the interest of ensuring that Jacobs does not take a step backward with his knee, he will protect him. Jacobs is listed as questionable, but he did not participate in Friday's practice and looks as if he will see extremely limited time, if any, on Sunday. Derrick Ward will probably see the majority of the action in the run game for the Giants this weekend.

Kevin Boss, TE, Giants: Boss has shaped up to be a decent fantasy tight end option, but don't count on him this week. He is nursing not one but two injuries -- an ankle sprain and a concussion -- and he is listed as doubtful after missing practice all week. Expect the Giants to allow him to sit this one out, as you should on your fantasy team.

Frank Gore, RB, 49ers: Gore has missed the past two weeks of your fantasy playoffs with his sprained ankle. This week he is listed as probable, which, as everyone knows by now, means "virtually certain to play." So you're excited if you're a Gore fantasy owner, right? Well, not so fast. Despite the encouraging status upgrade, Gore has been able to practice only on a limited basis, and according to Matt Maiocco of the Santa Rosa Press Democrat, Gore's status remains a game-time decision. Maiocco reports that 49ers coach Mike Singletary says he does not want Gore to play if he is not fully healthy, because he does not want Gore to risk reinjury. In fact, Singletary suggests that the fact Gore is near the 1,000-yard mark for the season will not be a factor. Singletary has already proved himself to be a great motivator, and while I do believe he doesn't want a gimpy Gore on the field Sunday, he also knows how much playing in this season finale means to Gore. Singletary no doubt wants to see more evidence before Sunday that Gore is ready to be on the field. I think he will see that in the pregame warm-ups, and there are already some encouraging signs. Maiocco reported that Gore looked good (not great) running Friday but was able to do some cuts in practice (cuts are one of the more challenging skills for an unstable ankle). I expect Gore will earn his opportunity to play Sunday, but there has to be some concern about how much playing time he will see. Singletary has set the stage for some time-sharing with DeShaun Foster, and assuming Gore does play, it will probably be a limited role.

Anquan Boldin, WR, Cardinals: For all the positive projections coach Ken Whisenhunt made earlier in the week about Boldin's Week 17 status, the latter part of the week has taken a different turn. Boldin is again listed as questionable with a sore shoulder, and of most concern, has not participated in practice all week. The Arizona Republic reports that Whisenhunt has said he would like Boldin to see some playing time and that he could play despite not practicing. After last week, the Cardinals need to see some positive play out of their starters heading into the playoffs. But they also need their starters to be available when the playoffs begin. The Cardinals have not issued a specific diagnosis related to Boldin's shoulder, but they have to be concerned enough about his health that he is not taking any reps in practice. Risking Boldin does not make a lot of sense, so even if he does suit up (and he is a game-time decision), he will likely be restricted to limited playing time.

Marshawn Lynch, RB, Bills: Lynch is listed as questionable again this week with his sore shoulder and practiced only on a very limited basis. Sure, the Bills are out of playoff contention, but wouldn't it be fun for them to spoil the Patriots' chances? All things considered, it seems as if Lynch, another dreaded game-time decision, will suit up in the team's final effort of the year. Teammate Fred Jackson is likely to get significant opportunities, though, especially after his performance last week. In fact, Jackson may get the heavier workload of the two.

Pierre Thomas, RB, Saints: Thomas has been an amazing find for fantasy owners this year. But the year may end a bit prematurely, as Thomas' status for this week is very much in question. Thomas, officially questionable and a game-time decision, was not able to practice all week. With the Saints out of playoff contention and Thomas nursing two injuries (back and wrist), why would the Saints place at risk the player they may view as their new feature back? According to the New Orleans Times-Picayune, the Saints will give Thomas a chance Sunday morning to see whether he is able to go, but at this point, the odds are not in his favor. Expect Deuce McAllister and Mike Bell to get the touches if Thomas is out.

Bernard Berrian, WR, Vikings: Berrian sprained his ankle in last week's contest against the Falcons, and it has limited his practice all week. He is listed as questionable to face the Giants in a game the Vikings need to win. So what should fantasy owners expect? Well, going back to last week, Berrian was able to continue to play despite the injury, which suggests it is not terribly serious. If past performance is any indicator, remember that while Berrian was recovering from a knee sprain earlier this year, he managed to put up some of his best numbers on the year. It is not surprising that the Vikings gave him some rest during the week, and it will not be surprising if he shows up ready to go Sunday.

Derrick Mason, WR, Ravens: Few performances have been gutsier than the ones Mason has put up in recent weeks. Playing with an unstable left shoulder that gets jostled every time he makes contact with another player or hits the ground, Mason has managed to make more big-time one-handed grabs than other big-name receivers with two healthy arms. The Baltimore Sun reported this week that in addition to the instability in the joint itself, Mason has been dealing with intense muscle spasms around the shoulder. This is not an uncommon side effect; the body does anything it can to try to protect an injured joint, usually in the form of muscle spasm or protective guarding. The spasm, or guarding, serves to compensate for the increased laxity or instability of the joint itself by securing the position of the arm. The problem is that not only are spasms painful, but they also don't allow for normal motion, so use of the injured limb (in this case Mason's arm) is awkward and restricted. This problem is not going to resolve itself before the Ravens' season is over. But it does not appear that it will be a problem that keeps Mason off the field, either. Mason, listed as questionable, has indicated that he expects to play against the Jaguars, and based on what he has done so far this season, he seems to be a man of his word. There is another variable to consider, though. If the Patriots lose to Buffalo in their 1 p.m. game, the Ravens, who play at 4:15, will have secured a playoff spot. Although Mason could still suit up for the game, the Ravens might be inclined to limit his playing time in order to protect him from further injury. Just a thought for fantasy owners out there who may want the insurance of a late-game alternative.

OUT: The following players have already been ruled out for Week 17.

Dominic Rhodes, RB, Colts: It's a matter of making sure he's healthy when it counts. This game doesn't count, so he'll watch from the sidelines. Expect Joseph Addai to play, but not for long. Chad Simpson and Najeh Davenport will likely divvy up the remaining running back duties.

Jeremy Shockey, TE, Saints: Yet another ankle problem sidelines Shockey. His season is over, and Billy Miller will see more playing time as a result.

Good luck in Week 17! Be sure to check out our site Sunday for the pregame chats and Fantasy Football Now at noon ET.

Can Parker play with shoulder injury?

November, 10, 2008
11/10/08
2:37
PM ET
The good news? Not too many injury additions following the weekend contests. The bad news? The status of a number of key fantasy players (Steven Jackson, Kyle Orton, Reggie Bush) remains shrouded in mystery until we get through at least the midweek practices. So we start with what we know as of our first look following Week 10.

Willie Parker, RB, Steelers:
We knew in advance of Sunday's game that Parker would sit out after suffering a shoulder injury in Monday night's game against the Redskins. All reports indicated that he was expected to return in Week 11. Then shortly before kickoff, NFL.com reported that Parker had suffered a torn labrum in his shoulder, which could further threaten his status. ESPN's Bob Holtzman later reported that Parker denied the NFL.com report and said that no one had informed him that he had a labral tear. He added that he expects to play in Week 11. Now it's Monday and the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette is confirming the original report that Parker indeed has a torn labrum, but also says that coach Mike Tomlin is hopeful that Parker will be available in Week 11.

Assuming Parker does have a labral tear, how will this affect him? It's not comfortable, and it may well be a condition that warrants offseason surgery, but it's not likely anything that will keep him off the field for an extended time, either. We have seen other non-throwing athletes play through this type of injury; Chad Johnson of the Bengals is playing with a similar condition now. If Parker were a quarterback, a torn labrum would present a much bigger challenge, as it would interfere with his ability to bring his arm overhead. Since he primarily keeps his arm at his side, mechanically the labral tear should not impact him greatly, but it can be painful if he takes a hit or lands on his shoulder. Uncomfortable? Perhaps. Season-threatening? Not likely. Enough of a reason for fantasy owners to hang on to Mewelde Moore? Absolutely.

Adalius Thomas, LB, Patriots:
Dealing with yet another injury-related blow to their lineup, this time on the defensive side of the ball, the Patriots will apparently be going without their leading pass-rusher for the remainder of the season. ESPN's Michael Smith is reporting that Thomas suffered a broken forearm Sunday and has likely played his last game in 2008. Coming on the heels of losing Rodney Harrison, this is another big defensive loss for the Patriots. If you're looking to pick up an IDP, Pierre Woods is likely next in line to replace Thomas.

Other noteworthy injuries:

The Kansas City Chiefs have lost quarterbacks and running backs, yet still managed to nearly pull off a victory over the Chargers on Sunday. This week, Jamaal Charles was the starter at running back, but had a setback with his ankle and was out of the game more than he was in it. Charles originally sprained his ankle against the Jets in late October and early reports in the Kansas City Star suggested that it was a high-ankle sprain. The very next week, however, Charles was active, and in fact replaced Kolby Smith when Smith left with a season-ending knee injury. With Larry Johnson serving a suspension, Charles was thrust into the role of feature back, but clearly his ankle was not quite up to the task. It will be interesting to see what the Chiefs' plan is going forward, and practices this week should help clarify the situation.

In Baltimore, wide receiver Derrick Mason was injured on the second drive but returned for the second half in what coach John Harbaugh termed a "courageous" effort. NFL.com is reporting that Mason suffered a shoulder dislocation. Whether Mason subluxed his shoulder (partial dislocation) or truly dislocated it is unclear, as the term dislocation is often used to indicate both. Either way, Mason's return is impressive, and the fact he returned to play in the second half suggests he should be able to play this week. That being said, the soreness and swelling is often worse in the initial few days post-injury, so we will see what Mason is able to do in practice this week.

A few additional items to pay attention to this week: Bears' receiver Brandon Lloyd was a surprise inactive Sunday after practicing all week and being listed as probable. Will he be ready for this week? If he does come back, will Kyle Orton be throwing to him? Orton has hinted that he wants to play in Week 11, but he will need to show in practice that he can move on his injured ankle well enough to warrant a start. ... In Oakland, the Raiders were without starting quarterback JaMarcus Russell and running back Darren McFadden. Russell had a flare-up of tendinitis that worsened late in the week. Will he need more rest or was one Sunday off enough? McFadden has been struggling with turf toe in both feet for several weeks. There are murmurs that he may be rested indefinitely to ensure that he returns to full health. ... Saints receiver Marques Colston showed he has recovered from thumb surgery and is back to game speed, as he had an outstanding performance despite the Saints' loss. Teammate Jeremy Shockey, however, had a disappointing day, despite good projections after looking very healthy in practice all week. Shockey's absence in the fourth quarter was "officially" injury-related, and his right ankle was indeed swollen after the game, according to the New Orleans Times-Picayune. Nonetheless, Billy Miller still appears to be the more favored, and more productive, tight end in the Saints' offense.

Be sure to check back here throughout the week as we update these and other injuries. No more bye weeks and always a Thursday game, so lineup adjustments have to be made a bit earlier. Also, stop by the injury chat (11 a.m. ET on Tuesday and Friday) to discuss the status of your injured players. Hope to see you there!

Steven Jackson out again

November, 8, 2008
11/08/08
1:42
PM ET


Do you need a running back replacement for your fantasy roster? Maybe now you know what it feels like to be the Broncos or Rams, who have had no choice but to bring in some new talent to replenish their depleted backfields. In the bigger picture, does this trend of injuries to starting running backs threaten the notion of a feature back? What team won't want to have a two-back system to minimize the pounding one running back has to absorb? If one succumbs to injury, another can simply increase his workload any given Sunday. With those considerations, teams may seek to expand the number of running backs on their active rosters. Either that or they will have to hope there is a surplus of available unsigned backs who have kept themselves in game-ready condition and are bright enough to absorb a new offensive playbook within a week (see: Samkon Gado, who signed with the St. Louis Rams this week).

Of course, teams like the Chiefs might argue that the entire roster size needs to be expanded to allow for complete decimation of your running back and quarterback pools.

So who will play this weekend? Here's what we know as we head into the Week 10 contests.

Steven Jackson, RB, Rams: Although Jackson is officially listed as doubtful on the injury report, coach Jim Haslett has made it clear in advance of this week's contest that Jackson will not play. Jackson is still recovering from a strain of his right quadriceps muscle and is a classic example of why these muscle strains are so challenging.

A muscle strain requires rest during the week to allow the tissue to heal, but that often means testing that muscle in the game. The demand for speed and power, especially for a running back, translates to increased force of muscle contraction, which for a healing muscle can pose a risk of further injury. In Jackson's case, he felt he was ready to go last week (as he pronounced on his Web site the night before the game), but then was forced out of the game early when he found that the muscle would not cooperate as expected. According to the Belleville News-Democrat, Jackson reported that a repeat MRI of his thigh muscle showed that the inflammation was actually worse than the previous image showed. Consequently, Jackson was unable to practice all week, and although he says the quad feels better, he has acknowledged that when he tries to do certain things to test it on the field, "it's not responding." Haslett has been clear that Jackson will need to demonstrate that he can go full speed in practice before he is eligible to play Sunday.

The question at this point is not about this week, but whether Jackson will be able to go by next week or even the following week. Unfortunately, this is a day-to-day evaluation. In the meantime, expect recently signed Ken Darby to start, with even more recently signed Samkon Gado expected to be in the rotation. The third running back is expected to be Antonio Pittman, who is also still recovering from a hamstring strain but was able to do some limited practice Friday. Pittman is listed as questionable but could see some action, albeit likely in a limited capacity. Travis Minor, who has been out following a concussion, is also listed as questionable but is not expected to play.

Willie Parker, RB, Steelers: Parker is officially listed as doubtful on the NFL injury report, but the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette has reported that Parker will not play. The good news here is that it is not Parker's knee that is keeping him out of this week's contest. Parker played Monday night after missing four games with a medial collateral ligament sprain. He ran well Monday but apparently injured his right shoulder during the third quarter. The injury wasn't severe enough to force him out of the game, and it is not likely to cause him to miss extended time. So hang in there, Parker fantasy owners -- it looks like he will be back in your lineup next week. In the meantime, hopefully you have kept Mewelde Moore available on your roster.

Jonathan Stewart, RB, Panthers: Stewart is listed as questionable because of a heel injury and will be a game-time decision. The not-so-good news is that Stewart is having lingering pain in his heel that has kept him in a protective boot, despite coming off of a bye week. Stewart's heel pain apparently began two weeks ago and it is causing him pain when he puts pressure on it, something that's impossible to avoid as a running back. The good news is that Stewart did make the trip to Oakland and was able to practice Friday, which means the team thinks there is at least a chance he could play. Either way, expect DeAngelo Williams to see the majority of the action for Carolina this weekend.

[+] EnlargeDarren McFadden
Kirby Lee/US PresswireMcFadden's turf toe is taking a long time to recover, as most turf toes do.
Darren McFadden, RB, Raiders: McFadden is listed as questionable for Sunday, but his chances of playing don't look good. McFadden's turf toe problems continue to hang around, as turf toe problems often do. The left toe seems to be the worse of the two at this point, and McFadden is still in a boot when not practicing. McFadden was limited in practice earlier in the week and then did not practice Friday, another sign that he is unlikely to suit up Sunday. McFadden is being fitted with some new, rigid footwear to help support his toes, but his mobility is compromised because of the lack of push-off with the big toe. He has said that he needs to get the "confidence" back in his foot, and it requires an adjustment when he makes a change as seemingly simple as his shoes. There is no reason to rush McFadden back to the lineup. The Raiders may be better off allowing their draft-day investment to recover fully before having him see game action again. Once again, it appears that Justin Fargas is likely to start for the Raiders this week.

Other noteworthy items


• The Bears' Brandon Lloyd looks like he'll make his return after missing a month with a sprained knee. Lloyd is listed as probable, has practiced fully all week and is expected to play.

• Ravens running backs Willis McGahee and Ray Rice are both listed as probable, and are expected to play. Although they were limited in practice earlier in the week, they practiced fully Friday, indicating they are ready to go. But who becomes the feature back? As Jamison Hensley stated in the Baltimore Sun earlier this week: "In [coach John] Harbaugh's mind, it's not about McGahee or Rice. He said he thinks of the running game as McGahee and Rice." Good luck, fantasy owners.

• Raiders quarterback JaMarcus Russell was a surprise addition to the Thursday injury report when he was unable to complete practice because of tendinitis in his knee. Tendinitis is an inflammatory condition, meaning that rest is the best medicine. Russell was resting Friday, but he could be resting through the weekend. His designation is questionable, and the Contra Costa Times is reporting that his status will not be known until just before the game.

• It appears that Patriots running backs Sammy Morris and LaMont Jordan will be sidelined again this week. Morris continues with the doubtful tag, so his unlikely playing status is clearer. Jordan is listed as questionable, but given that he did not practice Thursday or Friday, he will likely be watching the game rather than playing.

• Chargers receiver Chris Chambers is listed as probable with his ankle injury, suggesting that he will play Sunday. Nonetheless, his ankle is still not 100 percent, so Vincent Jackson may still be in for a fair number of catches against the Chiefs.

• Saints tight end Jeremy Shockey is listed as probable and is expected to play. Shockey, who has been recovering from sports hernia surgery, has no doubt benefited from the time off during the bye week, and according to the New Orleans Times-Picayune, is probably as healthy as he's been all year.

Out: This is a list of key fantasy players, not including those who have been moved to injured reserve status, who are additions to the "Out" listing for Week 10.

Matt Schaub, QB, Texans: Schaub sprained his knee (MCL) Sunday and will be sidelined this week. The Houston Chronicle has reported that Schaub could miss two to four weeks, which is consistent with the return time for quarterbacks after sustaining this injury. In the meantime, Sage Rosenfels will lead the Texans.

Matt Hasselbeck, QB, Seahawks: The good news is that Hasselbeck's strength appears to be improving. Nonetheless, he has a ways to go before he is cleared to return to play. Expect this to take at least a couple of weeks.

Dan Orlovsky, QB, Lions: Orlovsky has a significant thumb injury that could ultimately require surgery. The Detroit Free Press reports that Orlovsky has two fractures and a torn ligament, all of which apparently occurred during the first play of the game against Chicago. He is seeking several opinions about his thumb, after which more should be known. Daunte Culpepper has seen the majority of first-team snaps in practice this week, and although coach Rod Marinelli has not officially named a starter, ESPN's Chris Mortensen has reported that Culpepper will start against Jacksonville.

Josh Reed, WR, Bills: Reed remains out with an Achilles injury.

Chris McAlister, CB, Ravens: The big news here is that McAlister is out not only for this week, but also for the remainder of the season. McAlister has decided to have surgery on his knee to address a torn posterior cruciate ligament and cartilage damage, according to the Baltimore Sun. It remains to be seen whether McAlister has played his final game in a Ravens uniform.

Heath Miller, TE, Steelers: Miller injured his ankle in the Steelers' Monday night contest and will not suit up against the Colts. In fact, the Post-Gazette reports that Miller has a high ankle sprain and could miss a couple of games. Make sure you have a replacement on your roster.

Reggie Bush, RB, Saints: Bush is still recovering from meniscal surgery but is making good progress. His rehab is right on schedule, and he transitioned from pool running to outdoor running this week. According to the Times-Picayune, Bush thinks he will "definitely" be ready to play next week against Kansas City. It's possible, but he will have to prove he can run full speed, cut and pivot before he returns. Don't be shocked if his return comes in Week 12, when the Saints have a big Monday night game. In the meantime, teammate Deuce McAllister could have a big week against the Falcons.

Arnaz Battle, WR, 49ers: Battle is out with a foot sprain and will miss Monday night's game against division rival Arizona. It appears that this injury could keep him out even longer.

Good luck in Week 10! Be sure to check out our site Sunday for pregame chats and Fantasy Football Now at noon ET.

The biggest news this week revolved around a player who was a first-rounder in most fantasy-league drafts this year but isn't playing for anyone right now. New England Patriots quarterback and all-American guy Tom Brady, recovering from an ACL reconstruction (along with an MCL injury), is now also fighting an infection in his surgical knee. Infections are one of the unfortunate, uncommon risks associated with any surgical procedure and can occur for an infinite number of reasons. The good news, and the most important factor, is that Brady's medical team is treating this aggressively and proactively.

Incidentally, Brady was the beneficiary of having his surgery performed by one of the premier orthopedic surgeons in the country, if not the world: Dr. Neal ElAttrache of the Kerlan-Jobe Clinic in Los Angeles. You may have heard on ESPN's "First Take" the renowned Dr. James Andrews offering his esteemed opinion of Dr. ElAttrache, and indicating that Andrews was consulted on the Brady case at ElAttrache's request since the initial discovery of a complication. Andrews was quick to point out that the correct measures to address the infection have been and continue to be in place, and that Brady appears to be "winning" the infection battle. It is too early to know the outcome with any degree of certainty, but it is very reasonable to expect that Brady could still be on track to recover within his originally projected timetable. In other words, he could still be ready to start the 2009 season.

So do not despair, fantasy owners, at least not over Brady. Besides, there are plenty of other injuries affecting your fantasy rosters that can keep you awake at night. Here's what we know as we head into the Week 8 contests.

[+] EnlargeWillie Parker
Michael Fabus/Getty ImagesParker will miss yet another game this week.
Willie Parker, RB, Steelers: The setback Parker suffered last week to his sprained left medial collateral ligament is still affecting him enough that he will not take the field in Week 8. Parker is officially listed as doubtful, but there is no real expectation he will play.

A sprained left MCL will make any lateral motion difficult, especially planting and cutting toward the inside (right side) as it places increased strain on that ligament. In addition to the movement, Parker's knee has to be able to withstand contact before he can confidently return to competition. Parker was able to practice Wednesday but was limited Thursday and did not practice at all Friday. It appears the team will cross their collective fingers and hope that another week will allow him to return, but this remains a day-to-day situation. In the meantime, Mewelde Moore gets the start.

Sammy Morris, RB, and LaMont Jordan, RB, Patriots: Morris and Jordan are listed as doubtful, and neither is expected to play Sunday. It's a good thing the Patriots plan ahead. They are nothing if not deep at the running back position, and that is paying off right now. Last week, the Patriots placed running back Laurence Maroney on injured reserve because of continued problems in his shoulder. "That's OK," said the Patriots. "We have Sammy Morris." Well, they had him for 138 yards in the first half of Monday night's game, but Morris did not return in the second half because of a knee injury (which may keep him out for more than one week). "That's OK," said the Patriots. "We have LaMont Jordan returning this week." Well, he was planning to return, until he apparently suffered a setback. After participating Wednesday in a walkthrough session, Jordan did not participate in practice Thursday or Friday, leading to speculation that he did not respond so well to the light workout.

So who do the Patriots have handling the work now? Heath Evans has been used primarily as a blocking fullback, but he could touch the ball more (which he did late last year when Morris was out for the season and both Maroney and Faulk were banged up). Kevin Faulk will probably see an increase in his workload also, but don't discount recently promoted BenJarvus Green-Ellis, who showed up in the second half of Monday night's game for 65 yards and a score. Unfortunately it's a bit of a fantasy gamble as to who's featured, but if Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels' comments are any indication, Green-Ellis could be the go-to guy. The Boston Herald reported that McDaniels liked what he saw from Green-Ellis on Monday night. "He knows where the hole is at, he finds it, he hits it, and he is not going to try to do much sideline-to-sideline running," McDaniels said. "Obviously, when he got his opportunities in the second half last week, he made the most of them."

Laveranues Coles, WR, and Jerricho Cotchery, WR, Jets: Brett Favre has found a couple of favorite targets in New York, but will he have either of them available to him Sunday? It appears that of the two, Coles, who is designated as probable, has a better chance of seeing the field, while Cotchery, listed as questionable, may be a game-time decision.

Coles, who has been nursing a quad strain throughout the season yet has managed to play through it and put up some great games, suffered his third concussion in less than two years last week. With the well-deserved serious attention given to head injuries, Coles was watched carefully this week and did not practice Wednesday or Thursday. Coles was cleared and returned to full practice Friday, however, which indicates he was feeling much better by the end of the week. After any head injury, it is equally important to assess the day-after response to exercise, but assuming Coles felt well Saturday morning, expect to see him suited up Sunday.

Teammate Cotchery was listed on the injury report early in the week with an "undisclosed" injury that forced him out early from Sunday's game. The Jets listed Cotchery on the injury report late this week with a "shoulder" ailment. He was only a limited participant in practice throughout the week, and the questionable designation makes him a likely game-time decision.

Other noteworthy items


&#8226 The much-anticipated return of Eagles running back Brian Westbrook should take place in Philly this week. Westbrook used the bye week to nurse his rib and ankle injuries. He managed a full week of practice, is listed as probable and is expected to start. Is he 100 percent? Probably not quite yet, but he is a guy who performs when he plays. Meanwhile, teammate Reggie Brown, who has been on the injury report with an Achilles, hamstring and now a groin strain, is listed as questionable. With the team getting wide receiver Kevin Curtis back from sports hernia surgery (he is off the injury report and listed as a starter), do not expect Brown to be pressed back into service. Expect Curtis and rookie DeSean Jackson to serve as the Eagles' primary receivers.

[+] EnlargeSteven Jackson
Scott Rovak/US PresswireExpect Jackson on the field, but just how much will he offer?
&#8226 In St. Louis, running back Steven Jackson seemed to escape major injury, suffering what the team referred to as a "mild" strain of his right quadriceps muscle. Jackson is listed as questionable. Coach Jim Haslett told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that Jackson has a 50-50 shot of playing and will be a game-time decision. Jackson did practice for the first time all week Friday but was not running at full speed. It seems likely Jackson will indeed suit up against the Patriots, but he may not be at full strength. What does that translate to in terms of his function? Maybe he's not quite as explosive, not quite as able to drive a pile without the full contribution of those extremely well-developed muscles on the front of his thigh. And there's always the risk of further injury whenever the muscle starts out a little compromised. If Jackson takes the field, though, which I suspect at this point he will, it's impossible to keep him out of your fantasy lineup, because he remains an offensive threat.

&#8226 San Diego Chargers receiver Chris Chambers was upgraded to questionable this week after being doubtful last week, but his availability will be a game-time decision. Chambers was a limited participant in practice throughout the week, but the ankle still does not appear to be fully healed. Keep in mind that the weather in London, site of this week's matchup against the Saints, is expected to be rainy and cold. A slippery field is not a great playing surface for a balky ankle, and with a bye upcoming in Week 9, don't be surprised if Chambers is held out with the long-term picture in mind.

&#8226 We already know that New Orleans will be without running back Reggie Bush, who is recovering from knee surgery. Tight end Jeremy Shockey, who expressed frustration after experiencing pain early in last week's game, is listed as probable and is expected to play Sunday. Shockey is still on the recovery path from sports hernia surgery, and all things considered, will likely be limited in the number of plays he sees. That allows Shockey to get some playing time in but reduces the risk of a setback.

&#8226 Tampa has plenty of folks on its injury report this week. Wide receiver Joey Galloway has been on the list for weeks now with a foot injury and it appeared he would make his debut last week after increasing his practice activity. But it was not to be. Will it be any different in Week 8? Galloway again is officially listed as questionable, and it will again come down to a game-time decision for him, based on how his foot feels during warm-ups. Either way, ESPN's John Clayton says Galloway will probably not start; starting duty will go to Michael Clayton and Antonio Bryant. Meanwhile Ike Hilliard, who left the field following a scary concussion last week, is also listed as questionable. Hilliard was still experiencing post-concussion symptoms during the week but was able to fully practice Friday. If he does not experience any post-practice symptoms, he could be available, but the team may opt to let him sit this one out simply as a precautionary measure. And then there's running back Warrick Dunn, who is also listed as questionable on the team injury report with a "back" injury. The Tampa Tribune described Dunn's injury as a pinched nerve. Dunn's comments in the Tribune (he said he could move around, turn his neck) suggest that the injury was not severe. If Dunn is moving well in pregame warm-ups, expect him to play Sunday.

&#8226 Once again, the Seattle Seahawks likely will be without the services of wide receiver Deion Branch, who continues to be unable to practice because of a bruised heel (to go along with his recently reconstructed ACL in the opposite leg). He is again listed as questionable, but just as was the case last week, is really not expected to play.

&#8226 Indianapolis running back Joseph Addai was upgraded to questionable this week, despite the fact that he has not really done anything in practice this week. Addai is not expected to play when the Colts face the Titans on Monday night. Although Addai is reportedly feeling better, he and the team are looking at the long-term picture and are trying to avoid rushing him back and perhaps setting up a bigger injury. Tom James of the Terre Haute Star-Tribune reported that Addai is looking at his injury in the context of what is ultimately best for the team. "You want to be out there," Addai said. "But if you go out there and get hurt again, you'll be hurting your team. It's not just about yourself; it's about the team. So you have to make the right decision." Of course, your fantasy team is hurting without him. This scenario with Addai may extend beyond this week, so plan accordingly.

&#8226 Finally, the Cardinals are excited about the prospect of seeing wide receiver Anquan Boldin back on the field Sunday. Boldin is listed as questionable but is expected to see some action, just not a full slate of snaps. Boldin is coming off a significant injury to his skull that required some impressive hardware (eight plates as well as some wiring) to stabilize. Boldin did practice on a limited basis all week and appeared no worse for wear. Expect the Cardinals to utilize him on a limited basis to allow him to test himself in a game situation without overdoing it.

Out: This is a list of key fantasy players, not including those who have been moved to Injured Reserve status, who are officially listed as additions to the "Out" listing for Week 8.

Carson Palmer, QB, Bengals: Not that this is a surprise. But the murmurs have turned to rumblings that Palmer may be headed for a full-season shutdown. No matter whether Palmer takes the field again for the Bengals this season, he should not be taking up space on your fantasy roster. It's time to move on.

Matt Hasselbeck, QB, Seahawks: Last week I thought a targeted return in Week 8 from his sciatic nerve ailment sounded optimistic. Well, it was. Hasselbeck continues to have weakness in his leg, and this should be considered a long-term rehab issue. He has yet to practice and will not be able to until he can pass specific strength tests. This could take a while.

Ladell Betts, RB, Redskins: Betts will miss another week with the knee injury that sidelined him in Week 7. Shaun Alexander remains waiting in the wings to back up teammate Clinton Portis if necessary.

Felix Jones, RB, Cowboys: This was always a two- to four-week injury. Unlike some of the other Cowboys whose status was in question until game time last week, Jones' status was never up for debate. He likely will not be close to returning until after the Cowboys' bye week.

Tony Romo, QB, Cowboys: Well, at least we're not wondering up until game time. Even though all signs pointed to Romo's sitting out last week, he was listed as the No. 2 quarterback Sunday but never saw a snap. This week we learned that Romo never felt comfortable handling the ball, and consequently he will wait until the finger is healed before he returns. Smart move. Don't expect him back until after the Week 10 bye.

Reggie Bush, RB, Saints: Bush is recovering from meniscal surgery on his knee and did not make the trip across the pond with his teammates. He will likely be sidelined for at least a month.

Be sure to check out our site Sunday for pregame chats and Fantasy Football Now at noon ET. Good luck in Week 8!

Bush, Shockey struggle with injuries

October, 20, 2008
10/20/08
2:41
PM ET
Tony Romo didn't play. Neither did Willie Parker nor Joseph Addai. Their sideline status at least ensures they did not emerge from the Sunday contests any worse for wear. So who did get banged up during another round of NFL matchups?

Here's what we know as of our first look following Week 7:

Reggie Bush
Paul Abell/US PresswireReggie Bush had finally been heating up before getting hurt Sunday and will miss at least next Sunday's game in London.
Reggie Bush, RB, New Orleans Saints: Bush is trading in a trip to London for a trip to Birmingham, Ala., to pay a visit to Dr. James Andrews and to have his left knee examined. The Saints suspect the meniscus is the culprit, and if indeed Bush has a meniscus tear, it is reasonable to expect he will miss several weeks. According to ESPN news reports, Bush will undergo arthroscopic knee surgery Monday, after which more details will be known as to the extent of his injury.

The injury was to Bush's left knee, the same knee that was giving him trouble with swelling and soreness over the past week. It is also the same knee in which Bush injured his posterior cruciate ligament (PCL) last season. Bush spent the offseason getting healthy and appeared to be off to a great start in 2008, and it is not unusual for a knee with a history of ligament trauma to swell and be sore intermittently. This is especially the case in an athlete who puts continual stress and strain on that joint simply by virtue of doing his job. Is it possible Bush had some minor meniscus damage that was causing some of the swelling in his knee this week? Perhaps. But it is equally possible that this injury is completely new. Either way, Bush was clearly well enough to start Sunday and, up until this injury, was averaging nearly seven yards per carry on the day.

The latest setback occurred during a punt return late in the second quarter. After stepping out of bounds, Bush apparently pulled up a bit and appeared to be favoring his left leg. He did not return to the game after that play. We will await reports from the team to see what Bush's future holds, but expect him to be sidelined for approximately a month.

Jeremy Shockey, TE, New Orleans Saints: More bad news for the Saints in the injury department. Shockey, just four weeks out from sports hernia surgery, returned to play this Sunday but had a setback. According to ESPN news reports, Shockey "did the splits" on the first play of the game against Carolina and felt pain in a spot in his leg "that wasn't there before." He expressed hope he had just affected scar tissue and that it was not more serious.

That setback, however, led Shockey to air some complaints related to his physical health. He expressed concerns that he had been misdiagnosed in camp, and that he may have returned too soon from surgery. "It's not a three-to-six-week recovery time," said Shockey. "It's really a five-to-seven-week." Shockey apparently was referring to Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Kevin Curtis who underwent sports hernia surgery in August but who has not yet returned to the playing field.



Shockey is expected to undergo further examination to determine his status. It is worth noting that according to Pat Yasinskas of ESPN.com, Shockey did make the trip with the team to London. Yasinskas added that Shockey appeared to be in much better spirits and was moving well when spotted at the resort where the Saints are staying. Coach Sean Payton said he spoke with Shockey during the team's trip across the Atlantic and that he understood some of Shockey's frustration. He said Shockey is following the medical protocol laid out for him and they will just have to continue to monitor his activity and make sure there are no steps backwards. Payton sounds entirely reasonable in his description of the Shockey scenario, and it sounds as if Shockey may indeed be suiting up again this Sunday. Nonetheless, it will likely continue to be a controlled amount of time as he continues in his recovery process.



Steven Jackson
Scott Rovak/US PresswireSteven Jackson had a big game against the Cowboys, but will he be around to follow it up next week?
Steven Jackson, RB, St. Louis Rams: Jackson had a phenomenal outing Sunday, racking up 160 yards and three touchdowns before leaving in the fourth quarter with a quadriceps injury. Jackson was expected to undergo an MRI on Monday. According to NFL.com, Jackson referred to the injury as "just a little bruise." Little bruises rarely warrant an MRI, though. Meanwhile, coach Jim Haslett was on ESPN's "First Take" on Monday and spoke as if he was making plans in the event Jackson might not be available this week. Stay tuned for updates.

Brodie Croyle, QB, Kansas City Chiefs: Croyle returned after being sidelined for a month with a separated shoulder, only to leave with another injury that put a definitive end to his season. The Kansas City Star is reporting Croyle has a knee injury that will prevent him from returning to the field this year. Naturally, Damon Huard stepped in to replace him. By the fourth quarter, Tyler Thigpen had replaced Huard, who injured his throwing hand. No word yet on who will be starting under center for the Chiefs next week.

Other noteworthy injuries:

In Dallas, Romo remained on the sidelines with his broken pinkie, which was probably for the best. Unfortunately, the return of safety Roy L. Williams following forearm surgery was marred by a season-ending injury to the same area. Following the game, team owner Jerry Jones told reporters Williams broke his right forearm for the second time, ending his season. All is not well in Dallas.

Chicago Bears star kick returner and wide receiver Devin Hester left the game in the third quarter with a strained quadriceps muscle. No word yet on the severity of the injury, but it can only help that the Bears have a bye next week.

Be sure to check back here throughout the week as we update these and other injuries. Also, stop by the injury chat (11 a.m. ET Tuesday and Friday) to discuss the status of your injured players. Hope to see you there!

Here's what we know as we head into Week 6 contests.

[+] EnlargeCarson Palmer
G. Newman Lowrance/Getty ImagesCarson Palmer gets another week off this week. Ryan Fitzpatrick should be just as good, right?
Carson Palmer, QB, Cincinnati Bengals: Palmer is listed as doubtful this week but the Bengals have already indicated that backup Ryan Fitzpatrick will start. Palmer still has soreness in his throwing elbow, and after not practicing all week, was relegated to non-starter this week. Whether Palmer is completely sidelined or whether he suits up as the No. 2 quarterback remains to be seen. It appears that the team is being protective of Palmer's elbow in the interest of his long-term health. With Fitzpatrick having an extra week of snaps with the first team, and Palmer being so critical to the franchise, it is not surprising that the team would opt to rest him. What is a bit surprising is they have not completely ruled him out of the game. It seems that if the Bengals wanted him to rest his elbow, the safest play would be to make him unavailable. After all, the No. 2 quarterback would then be Carson's younger brother, Jordan. Surely he's picked up a tip or two from his older sibling. In any event, fantasy owners want to find a replacement for Week 6 and it wouldn't be a bad idea to keep a second quarterback on your reserve list. This could be a week-to-week situation.

Matt Hasselbeck, QB and Deion Branch WR, Seattle Seahawks: What is in the drinking water in Seattle? There has to be a big reward waiting for whoever can discover the antidote to the injury plague attacking the Seattle quarterback and receiving crew.

Seattle will be starting its No. 3 quarterback Sunday if Charlie Frye takes the field at 4:15 p.m. EST. I say "if" because although Hasselbeck has not yet been cleared for contact, there is an outside chance that could happen by Sunday -- a very teeny, tiny outside chance. Hasselbeck hyperextended his knee last week and although a subsequent MRI revealed no ligament or meniscal damage, he did sustain a painful bone bruise and has been unable to practice all week. Early in the week, coach Mike Holmgren indicated that he expected Hasselbeck to be ready by game time, a point that was reiterated as late as Thursday by offensive coordinator Gil Haskell. But Hasselbeck was still not practicing Friday and, according to ESPN reports, Holmgren offered this explanation: "The thing just has not responded. He can't do much with his leg. It's not ligaments, it's not anything like that. It's just sore." Holmgren does not want to put a potentially vulnerable Hasselbeck on the field when his inability to move well could result in more hits and further injury. So, enter backup quarterback Seneca Wallace. Oops! He's not available because of a calf strain that has had him sidelined since he was prepping for filling in as the fifth or sixth wide receiver. Fortunately for Frye, he has been taking the first team snaps all week, and he did some filling in for Hasselbeck in preseason games while Hasselbeck nursed a sore lower back.

But the injuries don't stop there. Branch, who was so excited about making his regular-season NFL return last week from anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) surgery, was forced out early Sunday with a new injury. Branch is listed as questionable but is not expected to play.

Branch suffered a heel bruise on his left side. Sure, a bruise doesn't sound major, but if you were to take a hammer and slam it against your heel, then walk around on it, you might be able to appreciate just how limiting this type of thing can be. Now attempt to run, where your heel has to hit the ground harder. Even better, try jumping and landing on that foot alone. That's right. You really can't. (Hopefully no one actually tried this, but you get the picture.) Now complicate that picture by having a newly reconstructed knee on the other side. Although Branch was doing well from a healing perspective on his surgically reconstructed right knee, he was just getting his confidence back in that leg. Part of that help is having another "sound" leg. With his left leg now compromised, it potentially alters the way he moves on his right leg, and that is not something you want to see from a rehab perspective, as you're just getting an athlete back to competition.

If you want to take the glass-half-full approach, there is a bit of good news in Seattle. Last week the Seahawks saw receiver Bobby Engram enter the lineup for the first time in 2008 after being out with a fractured shoulder. He played well and is expected to see increased activity this week. Recently re-signed receiver Koren Robinson appears to be on the mend from the knee soreness that kept him out of the lineup thus far. After practicing all week, he is expected to start Sunday also.

Justin Fargas, RB and Darren McFadden, RB, Oakland Raiders: The bye week helped both Oakland running backs, but one is clearly healthier than the other at this point. Fargas, who suffered a groin injury in Week 3 that caused him to miss Week 4, took advantage of the bye to get healthy. He practiced fully all week, is listed as probable and is expected to start.

McFadden has been dealing with a turf toe injury for several weeks that clearly limited him in Week 4. The bye week also afforded him some much-needed rest, but the fact that McFadden was still wearing a protective boot early this week let on that the toe was not 100 percent. Jason Jones of the Sacramento Bee reports that McFadden feels much better but is still stiff and still requires protection in his shoe. McFadden is listed as questionable but is expected to play Sunday. Given their relative health, expect Fargas to get the bulk of the work this week.

Brian Griese, QB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers: In a move that surprises no one, Jeff Garcia has been announced as this week's starting quarterback in Tampa Bay. Griese took a hit last week that left him with a bruised elbow and a shoulder strain in his throwing arm, and although he is listed as questionable, it is more likely that Luke McCown will serve as Garcia's backup. Rick Stroud of the St. Petersburg Times reported that inflammation in Griese's elbow has essentially kept him from being able to throw at all this week, and unless that changes Sunday morning, which appears unlikely at this point, he will be in street clothes. Griese's timeline for return really depends on how the inflammation resolves and how functional his arm is, something that will be evaluated on a day-to-day basis next week.

[+] EnlargeMarques Colston
Scott Boehm/Getty ImagesDrew Brees is probably counting down the days until Marques Colston is available to throw to.
Marques Colston, WR and Jeremy Shockey, TE, New Orleans Saints: The injury-plagued Saints appear to have been sharing tainted drinking water with the Seahawks. It now appears the Saints will be without the services of defensive tackle Antwan Lake as a result of a groin injury. Lake was filling in for the injured Sedrick Ellis, who is still recovering from knee surgery to address a torn meniscus. Wide receiver David Patten (doubtful) will likely miss another week because of his groin injury.

Everyone is looking for some good news on the injury front in New Orleans and Colston may be just the spark. But don't get too excited yet. Colston, coming off ligament-repair surgery in his thumb, is listed as questionable and may not see the field just yet. Colston came out of his cast last week and was able to participate in practice to some degree this week, wearing only limited padding on his thumb. In fact, Colston told the New Orleans Times-Picayune how surprisingly good his thumb felt when catching the ball: "I really don't feel it out there and I'm catching the ball well. It really doesn't feel like I'm trying to catch the ball any different."

Nevertheless, he is still on the early side of recovery and the medical staff needs to feel confident that no matter what Colston might encounter on the field, he will not be at risk for a setback. It's not just catching the ball and holding onto it, which certainly requires a great deal of thumb control and an ability to absorb impact. He has to be able to hit that thumb against a helmet or the ground and have that repair hold up. As much as they would like to see him active, the Saints may just have him sit tight another week. In fact, if he does suit up, expect him to see limited action.

Meanwhile, much was made of Shockey's return to practice Wednesday following sports hernia surgery a few weeks ago. Shockey did not practice Thursday or Friday, however, suggesting, as does his doubtful tag, that he will not see action for at least another week.

Other noteworthy items


&#8226 Cleveland Browns star tight end Kellen Winslow has spent the past two nights in a local hospital after not feeling well earlier in the week. There has been no word thus far as to the nature of the injury, but certainly hospitalization affords Winslow the chance to be observed and to ensure that he is receiving appropriate fluids and any necessary medications. The Browns have him listed as questionable for Monday night, but in addition to recovering from the illness itself, one concern has to be weakness after being in this state for a few days. Stay tuned.

&#8226 Chicago Bears receiver Brandon Lloyd is listed as doubtful with his sprained knee. Lloyd has yet to practice and the doubtful tag makes it virtually certain that he will not play. Expect his status to be shaky at best for the next couple of weeks.

&#8226 Atlanta Falcons receiver Roddy White dismissed his collision with Lawyer Milloy on Wednesday as minor, and it appears the team held him out of practice Thursday as a precautionary measure. But White did not practice Friday either and is now listed as a game-time decision. Head injuries are nothing to sneeze at, but White's injury was not seen as serious enough to require any formal testing. The rest may have been a means of ensuring he would be available for Sunday and it sounds as if he will play. The game is early, so fantasy owners should check inactive lists before game time, but there is reason to be optimistic.

&#8226 It looks as if there will be another backup quarterback starting Sunday, this time in Detroit. Jon Kitna has been dealing with lower back spasms that began during last week's game, and he is listed as doubtful. Backup Dan Orlovsky reportedly injured his ankle last week, yet he is listed as probable and it sounds as if he will get the start ahead of Drew Stanton. Receivers Roy Williams and Calvin Johnson were both listed as questionable this week; Johnson has a minor knee ailment, the result of banging it in practice earlier in the week, and Williams has been bothered by his hip. Both were held out of practice Friday but are expected to play Sunday.

&#8226 New England has listed running back LaMont Jordan as doubtful with a calf injury and running back Laurence Maroney as questionable with his shoulder injury. While Jordan did not practice all week and is almost certain to sit, Maroney practiced fully Wednesday but then saw limited action Thursday and Friday. He has not divulged even the slightest bit of information relative to his shoulder but acknowledges that he has "issues" he is trying to address, and sounds less than 100 percent. Sammy Morris and Kevin Faulk may be your guys this week.

&#8226 San Diego Chargers receiver Chris Chambers managed to injure his ankle on the last play of the team's loss to Miami on Sunday. He was unable to practice all week, is listed as doubtful and is unlikely to play. Teammate Vincent Jackson is listed as probable after missing a day of practice Thursday with a sore knee. Jackson was back full-bore Friday and is expected to start, especially in light of Chambers' situation.

&#8226 Denver Broncos receiver Eddie Royal is listed as questionable because of an ankle bruise that kept him out of practice Wednesday and limited him the remainder of the week. ESPN's John Clayton said Royal will be a game-time decision. With Tony Scheffler and Selvin Young out this week, Denver's offense could be in a bit of trouble.

Out: This is a list of key fantasy players, not including those who have been moved to Injured Reserve status, who are officially added to the "out" listing for Week 6.

Brian Westbrook, RB and Reggie Brown, WR, Philadelphia Eagles: Westbrook's absence this week is not a huge surprise although it is a huge disappointment for fantasy owners. Westbrook has two broken ribs along with a still-recovering right ankle and, with a bye in Week 7, the Eagles have to be hoping that this will get him to a healthy place for the remainder of the season. Brown is dealing with his third soft tissue injury of the season (Achilles, hamstring, now groin) and will sit this one out.

Anquan Boldin, WR, Arizona Cardinals: Despite the fact Boldin was not officially ruled out until Friday, his absence does not come as a major surprise. Boldin is still recuperating from a procedure to address a sinus fracture. The Cardinals have a week off in Week 7, but you can expect him back in action in Week 8.

Joey Galloway, WR, Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Galloway is out again. The difference this week is that Galloway did some limited practice. Very limited in fact, as in just one day of light work. Apparently his foot is still healing. But at least that is some progress to report and with any hope, he'll be steadily increasing his activity from here.

Terence Newman, CB, Dallas Cowboys: Officially listed as out because of an abdominal injury, there have been murmurings that Newman has a sports hernia that could require surgery and cause him to miss more than a month. Whenever an athlete has a groin injury followed by an abdominal injury, it begins to sound like a sports hernia. This is not good news for the Cowboys' secondary, because they have their fair share of challenges all around.

Tony Scheffler, TE and Selvin Young, RB, Denver Broncos: Groin injuries for everyone. Scheffler was on crutches after injuring himself in Week 5, so his absence from the lineup this week is not much of a surprise. Early on, it sounded as if this could be a more serious injury, but coach Mike Shanahan told the Denver Post he expects Scheffler to return for next week's Monday night game in New England. Shanahan offered essentially the same prognosis for Young, who has the same injury and did not practice all week either.

Be sure to check out our site Sunday for pregame chats and Fantasy Football Now at noon ET. Good luck in Week 6!

No matter how many injuries you have on your fantasy team, you can't be harder hit by the injury bug than the New Orleans Saints. Sure, the Seattle Seahawks have gone through six wide receivers, but at least they got Bobby Engram back. But the Saints have lost key players at almost position, including at wide receiver, and the list just got longer on Monday night. Rookie cornerback Tracy Porter suffered a dislocated wrist and had surgery Tuesday. He has been placed on injured reserve and is done for the season. Will the Saints have any good news this week? How about your fantasy team?

Let's take a look at how things are shaping up in preparation for Week 6.

Brian Westbrook
Eric Hartline/US PresswireBrian Westbrook now has a rib injury to go with his injured ankle.
Brian Westbrook, RB, Philadelphia Eagles: Westbrook's availability for Sunday's game against the 49ers is still uncertain. We now know he has two fractured ribs on his right side. We also know, even if we've never had broken ribs, that this is a painful injury. (As a friend of mine says, "I don't have to travel to the North Pole to know it's cold.") Whether the pain will have subsided enough to allow Westbrook to perform is still unknown. Westbrook knows his body well and will not put himself in the lineup if he cannot contribute, as seen in Week 4 when he sat out with an ankle injury.



The other issue is where the fractures are and how significant the crack or break is in each rib. The ribs provide a protective cage around the lungs. One of the risks of playing a contact sport with a rib fracture is taking a hit that forces a splintered piece into a lung, which could lead to lung collapse. However, this a relatively rare occurrence, and not every rib poses such a risk, so whether this is a factor in Westbrook's case depends on where his injuries are, a detail that the team has not provided.



The Philadelphia Inquirer reports that Westbrook was unable to sleep earlier in the week because of pain, a not uncommon side effect. However, Westbrook said that this episode was less painful than the rib fractures he suffered in 2004. (Incidentally, he missed a game as a result of that injury.) When healthy, Westbrook changes the Eagles' offense. He changes your fantasy team, too. Like the Eagles, be prepared to insert Correll Buckhalter into your lineup, as Westbrook will probably be limited, even if he does suit up.



Brian Griese, QB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Griese is apparently still suffering the ill effects of last Sunday's monster hit from Champ Bailey that left him with what was initially referred to as a bruised elbow. Rick Stroud of the St. Petersburg Times noted that Jeff Garcia took all the reps in practice Wednesday morning and it appears as if he will start. There have been no other specifics given by the team as to the severity of Griese's injury, so we will watch to see when he returns to practice.

Jeremy Shockey
AP Photo/Jack DempseyJeremy Shockey is hoping to come back this week but likely won't return until Week 7.
Marques Colston, WR, and Jeremy Shockey, TE, New Orleans Saints: Might the Saints have good news on the horizon? Perhaps, but the horizon is off in the distance. Colston is expected to be out of his cast this week, and then it will be a matter of getting both his range of motion and his strength back in his thumb before he can return. Remember, the thumb is critical for the wide receiver in terms of both catching the ball and controlling it. It is no small task to regain normal function after being in a cast. The joint gets very stiff, and the muscles atrophy and shorten. They don't just snap back to attention automatically when the cast comes off. According to Jeff Duncan of the New Orleans Times-Picayune, Colston would like to return when the Saints face the San Diego Chargers on Oct. 26 in London. Although that's not out of the question, consider that the Saints have a bye in Week 9. If Colston's readiness is at all questionable headed into Week 8, the team will wait.

Although Shockey's recovery from sports hernia surgery has reportedly gone well, the Times-Picayune reports that coach Sean Payton is still hinting at a Week 7 return date. It's possible he could be activated for this week's contest against the Oakland Raiders, but Shockey would have to practice with the team. Prior to this week, he has done only individual running on the side. As sports hernia surgeries go, this would still be an early return for Shockey, so the Oct. 19 date seems more likely. Nonetheless, keep an eye on the practice reports this week to see if his status changes.

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

Laurence Maroney did come back for the Patriots this past Sunday after missing Week 3 with a shoulder injury, but he didn't do much. There's no indication that it's an injury issue that's limiting him, and coach Bill Belichick consequently found himself coming to Maroney's defense. When prodded about Maroney's performance, Belichick told the Boston Herald, "I think he's a good back. He's played well, and I think he'll continue to play well." Not a lot of insight for fantasy owners, but you can't expect much from the notoriously evasive coach. Running backs Kevin Faulk and Sammy Morris will remain in the mix for this week's contest against the San Diego Chargers. Lamont Jordan, who left Sunday's game with a leg injury, is questionable at this point, but we will see if he can get back to practice.

Seattle Seahawks quarterback Matt Hasselbeck underwent an MRI earlier in the week and according to the Seattle Times, tests confirmed coach Mike Holmgren's diagnosis of a "tweak" in his knee. I'm not sure what that means medically speaking, but I do know that the team expects Hasselbeck will practice this week, which means he escaped any serious injury. The news is not as good for receiver Deion Branch, who suffered a bruised heel. The Seahawks likely will be more conservative in Branch's case because this injury was on his "good" side, as in the side that did not undergo ACL reconstruction eight months ago. Compromised status of his nonsurgical leg could potentially put his surgical leg at more risk. The newly injured heel will be required to absorb impact on landing while not forcing him to overload the surgical knee. If his heel is too painful to permit that, don't be surprised if Branch is absent this weekend. More catches for Bobby Engram.

Darren McFadden
Julie Scheidegger/US PresswireDarren McFadden has something he'd rather not have in common with LaDainian Tomlinson.
Oakland Raiders running back Justin Fargas returned to practice this week after missing time with a groin injury, making it look as if he will be ready to play Sunday. Meanwhile, teammate Darren McFadden did not practice and is still wearing a protective boot on his toe. The fact that he was not practicing following the bye suggests the toe is still bothering him, and with Fargas looking as though he will return, the Raiders may be more interested in protecting their rookie investment for the long haul. We have seen not only how hard it is for these turf toe injuries to heal, but how easy it is to suffer a setback. If McFadden can't perform well and is still having pain, why not hold him back? Much better to have him return when he can be productive. We've seen how limiting an injured big toe can be for a running back (ahem, LaDainian Tomlinson).

As usual, practice throughout the week will give us a better hint as to what the final status of these players will be heading into Week 6. Remember there are bye weeks for Buffalo, Tennessee, Kansas City and Pittsburgh, so we will not get much information on player injury updates for those teams until next week (but I do expect Willie Parker back next Sunday).



See you Friday at the injury chat and we'll have the latest injury updates affecting Week 6 in the Saturday morning blog!

News on Westbrook very promising

October, 4, 2008
10/04/08
3:06
PM ET
Here's what we know as we head into the Week 5 contests.

Brian Westbrook, RB, Philadelphia Eagles: Westbrook is listed as questionable again this week, but there is more optimism he will indeed play. Westbrook practiced with the team on a limited basis throughout the week but was a full participant in Friday's practice, lending credence to the idea that he will be ready to go Sunday.

Westbrook injured his ankle in Week 3 as he tried to hurdle teammate Tra Thomas and ended up catching his right foot awkwardly in the turf. Although reportedly imaging tests came back negative, Westbrook described his injury as closer to a high ankle sprain than anything else. It is fortunate for Westbrook and the Eagles that it was a mild version, as high ankle sprains can be particularly difficult to recover from, especially for running backs.

Last week, Westbrook tested the ankle in pregame warm-ups but, after discussion with the medical staff, determined he was not ready to go. During his weekly radio show Monday evening, Westbrook explained that even though straight-ahead running felt OK, he could not cut or weave Sunday. Show me a running back who can be effective without cutting or weaving, and I'll show you one who isn't a top draft pick on fantasy football teams worldwide. The decision to rest Westbrook was a wise one, as it improved his chances of performing well in this outing and, more importantly, helped decrease the risk of re-injury. Bear in mind that Westbrook's ankle is not 100 percent and there always is the possibility he will tweak it during the game. It's not enough of a concern to worry fantasy owners; after all, anyone can get injured on any given Sunday. Check pregame inactive lists to be sure, but as of now, expect Westbrook to start.

[+] EnlargeAaron Rodgers
Ronald C. Modra/Sports Imagery/Getty ImagesRodgers will need to have full arm strength if he wants to be effective Sunday.
Aaron Rodgers, QB, Green Bay Packers: Rodgers sprained his shoulder last Sunday. This much we know to be true. And that's about where it ends. Rodgers, who was held to very limited practice Wednesday and Friday (and no practice Thursday), will be a game-time decision for the Packers. His questionable status implies there is a 50-50 chance he will play. And that estimate seems to reflect exactly what Packers coach Mike McCarthy is saying.

McCarthy said in his Friday news conference that he is "preparing to go either way," meaning he will insert either Rodgers or rookie Matt Flynn into the lineup as quarterback once he sees how Rodgers looks during warm-ups. It really does come down to how Rodgers "looks," because Rodgers himself said the pain is "potentially tolerable." The big issue is arm strength, which, as of Friday, he still did not have. Rodgers, who is known for having a very strong arm, was able to throw only lightly Friday. McCarthy wants to give Rodgers every opportunity to start Sunday, hence the decision to allow his shoulder an additional 48 hours of rest and recovery. If Rodgers can go on the field and prove to himself and his coaching staff he can make the necessary throws, he will start.

The Packers have not been more specific in discussing Rodgers' ailment, calling it only a "shoulder sprain." Since there is more than one joint at the shoulder -- the glenohumeral joint (the ball and the socket of the shoulder) and the acromioclavicular (AC) joint (the point of the shoulder that, when injured, often is referred to as a separated shoulder) -- it is unclear where the problem lies. Either way, there is little chance playing could make Rodgers' injury worse. That is why it really comes down to function. Can he bring his arm over the top and put enough on the ball to deliver it as needed, not only with adequate distance, but also with accuracy?

Although Rodgers suggests pain will not keep him out of the game, pain does have a potential role in his ability to perform. Pain inhibits muscular contraction; it is part of the body's way of protecting you from yourself. When there is an injured part, forceful muscular contraction could result in increased damage to that injured part. Through complex neurological mechanisms, the body comes to a simple solution: Don't allow the muscles to contract at 100 percent strength, therefore prevent something worse from happening. As the tissue heals itself, the pain and the inflammation diminish, and this mechanism becomes less and less of a factor. For that reason, allowing Rodgers a couple of extra days of recovery and treatment might make the difference in allowing him to function well enough to play.

That said, even if Rodgers is well enough to play, he will not be at 100 percent. This could show up as fatigue in the arm as the game goes on or as ineffectiveness if he absorbs a lot of contact and finds himself hitting the ground with that sore shoulder. His offensive line will have to make an extra effort to protect him in order to keep him in the game, and his best chance of lasting will come if the Packers can balance their running and passing games.

Fantasy owners and Packers fans will just have to wait and see whether 48 hours are enough.

Carson Palmer, QB, Cincinnati Bengals: Palmer is listed as questionable, but all signs after Friday's practice point to him starting in Dallas. Palmer is recovering from an inflamed right (throwing) elbow and was held to very limited activity and lots of treatment early in the week. Friday, however, was a different matter, as Palmer was a full participant in practice, making short, intermediate and long throws, according to the Bengals' Web site.

Coach Marvin Lewis said that if Palmer had no setbacks Saturday, "all systems are go." No news appears to be good news, and Palmer looks as if he will start Sunday. Even if he does start, Palmer's elbow likely is not 100 percent recovered. If he takes a lot of hits, as has been the case so far this year, or if he is forced to throw hard and throw often, he could start to feel the elbow acting up. If the pain returns or if his throwing becomes ineffective, Palmer will be forced to make an early exit. Palmer wants to play, but all along, the concern he's expressed after discussions with the medical staff is ensuring that this does not turn into a more serious, lingering problem. Palmer might start, but he might not finish.

Willis McGahee, RB, Baltimore Ravens: McGahee is listed as questionable and will be a game-time decision Sunday. The consolation for fantasy owners is that the Ravens play a 1 p.m. ET game. The downside is that a running-back-by-committee situation might be only enhanced by McGahee's latest setback. He wants to play, but given that he still is recovering from a shot to the ribs on a short week, the bulk of the carries might shift to the Le'Ron McClain-Ray Rice tandem.

McGahee has demonstrated his toughness, suiting up for Monday night's game despite suffering a lacerated eyelid and a poke in the eye in Week 3. His eye was not completely healed, as was evident if you saw him standing on the sidelines late in the game, helmet off, blood still visible in his eye. He was on the sidelines because he was forced out early after taking a bruising hit to the chest. In the absence of a fracture, the primary limitation from bruised ribs is pain, hence the team's choice to wait to make a decision until Sunday, allowing for maximum recovery. For his part, McGahee told The Baltimore Sun he just wants to finish a game, something he has not been able to do yet this year with all the physical abuse he has endured. Let's see. The Ravens play the tough Tennessee Titans defense Sunday. Sorry, Willis, this might not be the week.

Ben Roethlisberger, QB, Pittsburgh Steelers: Despite his questionable tag, various reports suggest Roethlisberger is likely to start Sunday night's game against the Jaguars. The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review is reporting that coach Mike Tomlin said Thursday, "I think he's going to be fine." Roethlisberger still is dealing with soreness in his throwing shoulder since spraining his AC joint in Week 1. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports that Roethlisberger received an injection in his shoulder Thursday, which probably is what allowed him to practice for the first time all week on Friday.

Of course Big Ben is still sore! He keeps getting hit, knocked down and otherwise buried by opposing defenses. The more he lands on a joint in which the ligaments are trying to heal, the harder it is for them to do so. I know, I know, it does not take a medical degree to figure this out. But it's worth highlighting why it is so difficult for Roethlisberger to truly improve from week to week; he's lucky to just maintain. Something tells me it won't get much easier against the Jags, despite some of their own defensive injury woes. If Roethlisberger is struggling, don't be surprised if Tomlin trots out Byron Leftwich to face his former team. Tomlin has been expressing confidence in Leftwich and his ability to step up if needed all week. Makes you wonder whether he has a plan.

Other noteworthy items

&#8226 Philadelphia Eagles tight end L.J. Smith is listed as questionable but is expected to play. Smith sat out this past Sunday with a back injury but was able to fully participate in practice throughout the week. Teammate Donovan McNabb still is sore from the chest bruise he sustained in Week 3, which is why the team limited him in practice early in the week. McNabb practiced fully Thursday and Friday and is listed as probable, indicating the Eagles expect to see him on the field.

&#8226 Tennessee Titans running back LenDale White is listed as probable with a sore shoulder. This shoulder ailment is the one that caused him to exit practice early Sept. 25, but he proved this past Sunday that he could play through it. The team held him out of practice Wednesday and Thursday, no doubt raising some concerned eyebrows among fantasy owners, but White practiced fully Friday, confirming his readiness to play. Meanwhile, the news is not so good for one of his teammates, wide receiver Justin Gage. Gage missed a game earlier in the season due to a groin injury and apparently now will be sidelined with a right knee injury. He is listed as doubtful and did not practice all week, never a good combination heading into the weekend. The Nashville City paper reported that Gage was wearing a brace early in the week, suggesting a sprain of some sort. Although there have been no specifics as to the nature of Gage's injury, the Titans' bye in Week 6 will come at a good time, hopefully allowing him to return by Week 7.

&#8226 Cincinnati Bengals running back Chris Perry made some fantasy owners nervous when he showed up on the injury report with a hamstring ailment this week. The probable designation should put minds at ease, though, as Perry practiced fully Thursday and Friday with no reported setbacks. It appears the decision to rest him somewhat Wednesday was largely precautionary, especially with backup Kenny Watson recovering from a more significant hamstring strain of his own. Watson is listed as questionable, and his availability is far less certain.

&#8226 Good news for Seattle's receiving corps! Welcome back Bobby Engram and Deion Branch. Both receivers are listed as probable, and both are expected to play. Branch is about eight months post-ACL reconstruction and has been working on the confidence aspect of recovery. He has strength and stamina, but the biggest hurdle for many players following this type of injury is having confidence that the knee will hold up when they return to the playing field. As Branch told The Seattle Times earlier in the week, "My leg was healed a long time ago. It's the mental part I had to break through." Expect him to start Sunday but perhaps see less playing time, as the Seahawks might ease him back into the position. Engram returns from a shoulder fracture sustained during the preseason. He practiced fully all week and is expected to play. It is unclear how much time he will see on the field, but the fact that he did so well in practice, despite it being the first week he had practiced with the team since the injury, bodes well for him.

[+] EnlargeBernard Berrian
Joe Robbins/Getty ImagesGus Frerrote is really hoping Berrian can play given the state of Viking receivers.
&#8226 The Minnesota Vikings had a surprise addition to the injury report that will affect fantasy owners. Wide receiver Bernard Berrian, who has been hampered by a toe injury for much of the season, now has a knee injury that has downgraded him to questionable for Monday night. According to the Minneapolis Star Tribune, Berrian was "clearly hobbled" during the limited portion of practice available to the media Friday. The late addition to the injury report implies the injury is recent, and in the absence of any further details about the injury itself, it is unclear whether this is a short-term or long-term problem. Either way, Berrian does get an extra day to rest his knee, but it might not be enough to allow him to go Monday night. Meanwhile, teammate Sidney Rice still is struggling with his posterior cruciate ligament (PCL) sprain. Although he was active this past Sunday, he played only a limited amount and was held to one catch for 6 yards. After he was limited in practice every day this week, it does not appear he has made great strides. He is listed as questionable for Monday night. The knee instability associated with this injury makes it tough for a receiver to jump, land and pivot normally. Remember that last season, it took Houston Texans wide receiver Andre Johnson several weeks to return to the field after a similar injury.

&#8226 While the Vikings' receivers might be in trouble, at least their star running back feels like he is back to his old, er, young self. Adrian Peterson told the Minneapolis Star Tribune that he feels his hamstring now is 100 percent healthy. "I really feel like me being out there 90 percent, 95 percent, I can go out there and run full speed. As far as opening it up and really shifting to another gear, I haven't been there. But I've been able to go out and get away from guys still, so it hasn't affected my game. But me just being 100 percent, no tweaks, just feeling good, feeling fresh, like I felt when we started the season, it's a good feeling inside." Good news for Vikings fan and Peterson fantasy owners alike.

And a couple of IDP tidbits

Charles Woodson, CB, Green Bay Packers: Despite his toe injury, he is performing and will continue to do so. He is listed as probable and is expected to play.

Derrick Brooks, LB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Brooks is listed as questionable with the hamstring injury that bothered him throughout Week 4. Well, it bothered him in practice, but it certainly didn't affect his monster productivity. He again is expected to play Sunday, according to the St. Petersburg Times. Brooks practiced on a limited basis throughout the week, and his presence as a team leader on defense is incredibly valuable.

Out: This is a list of key fantasy players, not including those who have been moved to injured reserve status, who are officially listed as additions to the "out" list for Week 5.

Anquan Boldin, WR, Arizona Cardinals: Did anyone who saw the hit that leveled Boldin this past Sunday really think he would be back in uniform this week? Probably not, but the team did not officially rule him out until Friday. Boldin underwent a corrective procedure to address a fractured sinus and will continue to recuperate from that and his split lip. I would not be surprised to see Boldin out Week 6 as well, especially given the fact that the Cardinals have a bye in Week 7. Fantasy owners should make alternate plans.

Brandon Lloyd, WR, Chicago Bears: Lloyd had a hip problem earlier in the year, and now he has added a knee injury to the list. Although the team has called it only a knee sprain, Lloyd was wearing a brace and did not practice all week. This appears to be more than a one-week injury.

Joey Galloway, WR, Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Same story as the past two weeks. While no details have been given as to the nature of his foot injury, we know such injuries tend to take a while to improve. Galloway's continued absence from practice and presence on the "out" list only serve to confirm that.

Jeremy Shockey, TE, New Orleans Saints: Shockey is doing some more activity but still is only two weeks removed from surgery. He's not yet ready to return to the field. The Saints have hinted his return could come soon. We'll know more next week.

Willie Parker, RB, Pittsburgh Steelers: Parker apparently wanted to play Sunday, but the coaches are holding him out as a precaution, the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reports. Parker's sprained left knee is nearing 100 percent, but with a bye next week, the team chose to give him the extra rest. Fantasy owners, mark your calendars for Oct. 19, when Parker should be back in the lineup.

Samari Rolle, CB, Baltimore Ravens: Rolle is expected to be out at least a month following surgery to address a bulging disc in his neck. The Baltimore Sun reports that the injury, initially thought to be a shoulder problem, occurred Sept. 21 when Rolle intercepted a Derek Anderson pass, but further testing revealed the problem actually was coming from his neck (a common occurrence). Poor Rolle has had his share of challenging ailments during his NFL career. Last season, he was diagnosed with epilepsy and missed six games as a result. He later missed four others due to a shoulder injury that required surgery. Now this. He hopes to be back on the field this season, but some intensive rehab awaits him between now and then. We will keep an eye on his progress.

Sedrick Ellis, DT, New Orleans Saints: Ellis will miss two to four weeks after undergoing surgery to address a meniscus tear in his right knee. The good news is that the injury is less serious than it could have been. The Saints have gotten great production out of their first-round pick and hope to again when he returns.

Be sure to check out our site Sunday for pregame chats and Fantasy Football Now at noon ET. Good luck in Week 5!

First bye week, first major substitutions for fantasy owners whose top draft picks are resting. And then there are those pesky injuries that complicate matters. This week, the injury picture actually looks much clearer in terms of who will sit and who will start, with a couple of notable exceptions. But even when they start, the big question for fantasy owners is, will those semi-healthy players be productive?



Here's what we know as we head into the Week 4 contests:

Brian Westbrook, RB, Eagles:
The answer to the question, "Will he or won't he suit up Sunday night?" remains the same as it was Wednesday when we last discussed Westbrook's injury status. We don't know. What we do know is that through a complete week, Westbrook has not practiced because of his sore ankle. We also know that the game is Sunday night. And if past performance is an indication of projection, we know that Westbrook is entirely capable of showing up big in a game without practicing at all during the week. He's done it before.

That being said, his latest injury appears to be consistent with a high ankle sprain. Even in the mildest of cases, this is a tough injury to recover from and move effectively as a running back in just one week. Westbrook seems to know his body well and knows when he can and cannot push through something. I believe that when he is a game-time decision, as he will be this week, it truly will be a matter of him warming up pregame to assess how effective he can be before a decision is made. The problem for fantasy owners is the timing of the game. Unless Correll Buckhalter, who will start in Westbrook's place if he cannot go, is on your bench, you may not have the luxury of waiting. At this point, his questionable designation, which literally is intended to translate to an athlete having a 50-50 chance of playing, appears right on point.

Brett Favre, QB, Jets:
Although Favre appeared noticeably hobbled by his ankle early in the week, per ESPN reports he seemed to move better in practice each day. Most importantly, he did, in fact, practice every day, albeit on a limited basis. He is listed as questionable, but there seems to be no danger of his consecutive start streak being broken. Favre has played with injuries far more serious than this. Nonetheless, he is a quarterback who makes plays with his feet. Stiffness and pain in the ankle could hamper his mobility and render him less effective in that area of his game. Expect him to play, but know that he may have to unload the ball more quickly if he can't escape the rush as easily.

Carson Palmer, QB, Bengals:
Palmer was a late addition to the injury reports this week, showing up Friday as limited in practice with soreness in his right (throwing) elbow. Coach Marvin Lewis pointed out that Palmer had been hit "quite a bit" in last week's matchup against the New York Giants, but in reality he has been getting hit quite a bit all season. The evidence? A broken nose in the preseason, a sprained ankle in Week 2, and now an elbow ailment.

But Palmer, according to the Bengals' official Web site, seemed to attribute his elbow issues to overuse. It is worth noting that soreness that typically occurs at the elbow associated with overuse is related to the muscles that control grip. Wide grip, such as is necessary to grip a football, is particularly taxing. If indeed this is an overuse issue, it could potentially hang around for a while, as in weeks. A mild case may not be of much concern, but if it continues to become aggravated as Palmer plays, it could be a bigger concern down the line.



Both Lewis and Palmer have suggested that the rest Friday means he will be ready to go Sunday, despite the questionable tag next to his name. If the elbow is still sore, it could affect his grip on the ball and his ability to throw hard. It will be interesting to see how he fares during the game and how his elbow responds afterward. At the moment, it does not appear that it will limit him terribly this Sunday, but it wouldn't hurt for him to get some better protection. I'm sure he wouldn't disagree.

LaDainian Tomlinson, RB, Chargers:
Tomlinson's performance Monday night was a welcome sight for Chargers fans and his fantasy owners. Although he is not 100 percent recovered from the injury to his big toe, LT certainly showed familiar sparks, especially when driving straight ahead. Cutting is still somewhat problematic, which is to be expected with this type of injury.

Tomlinson was able to practice more this week, also a good sign that his toe is improving. He is listed as probable and is expected to play. Tomlinson has enjoyed great success against the Raiders in the past and no doubt intends to try to maintain that trend.

Willis McGahee, RB, Ravens:
Finally, McGahee gets into the game to contribute, and we can breathe easier that he is past the recovery mode for his recent knee scope. Except then he gets poked in the eye. In fact, McGahee suffered enough of a cut on his eyelid that it caused a fair amount of swelling around his eye. He was limited in practice Wednesday and Thursday because he was literally having difficulty seeing becuase of the swelling. Coach John Harbaugh told the Baltimore Sun that he would play Monday night "as long as he could see." Things seem to be going in the right direction, since McGahee was a full participant in Friday's practice. With a couple more days to further treat the eyelid, McGahee, listed as probable, should be good to go. Keep in mind that the running back committee of McGahee, Le'Ron McClain (also listed as probable on the injury report because of his ankle and back) and Ray Rice will likely be in play.

Adrian Peterson and Chester Taylor, RB, Vikings:
Peterson was limited in Week 3 by a hamstring strain sustained in Week 2. The best news coming out of last week's game was that Peterson said his hamstring felt good. Peterson was restricted in practice throughout the week, which makes good sense with a still-recovering muscle strain. Another week removed from injury means another week closer to healing, especially given that there appear to have been no setbacks. Although he is listed as questionable, expect Peterson to play.

Peterson's teammate Taylor has been added to the injury report because of his foot. Although specifics have been hard to come by, Taylor, too, was limited in practice. With his injury being more recent and Peterson on the upswing, expect Taylor, also listed as questionable, to play but Peterson is likely to resume the primary role.

Sidney Rice, WR, Vikings:
Rice sprained his knee (posterior cruciate ligament or PCL) in Week 2 and sat out Week 3 as a result. He remained limited in practice this week and is listed as questionable. Rice hopes to get in the game, but with a PCL injury, he has some instability in the knee. The key for him is whether he has adequate muscular strength to compensate for the stability deficit so that he can run, jump and land effectively enough to play the position and not risk further injury. He is also likely to be a game-time decision but could see some action.



Darren McFadden, RB, Raiders:
McFadden played in Week 3 despite suffering a turf toe injury the week before. He was not at his best, and appeared to have trouble with his footing on the turf. Whether that was attributable to his toe at all is uncertain, but he did wear a stiffer shoe to help support the toe, which does alter the ability to push off.

This week, McFadden was rested on Wednesday, then returned to practice on a limited basis Thursday; he is still not fully healed. But Justin Fargas is out with his still-healing groin injury (look for him to potentially return following the Raiders' Week 5 bye) and McFadden is again expected to start, despite the questionable designation. Michael Bush will no doubt get some work to spell McFadden, and given that he is not at full health, there is risk that McFadden exits early. Nonetheless, he is lined up to get the bulk of the work as of now.

Devin Hester, WR, Bears:
Hester is still experiencing enough pain to significantly restrict his practice activity. Hester, who sat out last week's game with torn cartilage in his ribs, does not appear ready to go just yet. He is listed as questionable for this week's game against the Eagles, but the relevance of his position cannot be underestimated. Yes, he is seeing time at wide receiver. But his most important role is as a kick returner and, as such, he is the target of an entire squad whose sole goal is to hit him and bring him down. He knows he will have to absorb impact and potentially a lot of it. His chances for playing do not appear great at this point, but he will be a game-time decision.

Ben Roethlisberger, QB, Steelers:
Despite an injured hand at the end of last week's contest and a shoulder sprain the week before that, Roethlisberger has practiced all week and is off the injury report. Ah, the allure of Monday Night Football at home when you're a Steeler.



Braylon Edwards, WR, Browns:
Edwards was limited early in the week in practice with a shoulder injury, but was able to practice fully on Friday and is listed as probable for Sunday. Edwards played last week despite a listing as questionable, so his status has only improved. He did not do much last week, but he did catch the balls thrown his way, which was an improvement over the first two weeks. The Browns are likely to throw more his way this week, so expect his performance to go up again Sunday.

LenDale White, RB, Titans:
White made an early exit from practice Thursday with what the Titans called a shoulder problem, but it did not appear serious at the time. That appeared to be confirmed by the fact that White was a full participant in Friday's practice. He is listed as probable and is expected to play Sunday. White's physical style of running is likely to make him susceptible to bumps and bruises along the way. He showed last year that he could play through some discomfort, so this episode is not of great concern.

Ryan Grant, RB, Packers:
Grant's hamstring has been the source of much concern for Packer fans and Grant's fantasy owners. His condition has steadily improved and this week he is off the injury report. Expect Grant to start Sunday. His hamstring should not hold him back, but the Tampa Bay defense might.

And a couple of IDP updates


Charles Woodson, CB, Packers:
Despite the toe injury, he is performing and will continue to do so. He is listed as probable and is expected to play.

Tommie Harris, DT, Bears:
Ongoing problems with his knee are the challenge for Harris. He is listed as questionable after not practicing at all this week. Very questionable indeed.

Out


This is a list of key fantasy players, not including those who have been moved to injured reserve status, who are officially listed as additions to the "Out" listing for Week 4.

Joey Galloway, WR, Buccaneers: Same story as last week: foot injury and 37 years old now. Bad combination. Galloway did not practice at all this week, so this is looking as if it could last a while.

Roscoe Parrish, WR, Bills: Parrish is expected to miss 4-6 weeks with a thumb injury, a la Marques Colston. Better replace him on your roster.

Justin Fargas, RB, Raiders: The groin injury that caused him to miss last week forces him to sit again. Look for him to possibly return in Week 6 after the Raiders' bye week. Meanwhile, McFadden and Bush pick up the load in Oakland.

Jeremy Shockey, TE, Saints: Shockey had surgery this week to repair a sports hernia. Reports of his timetable vary widely, but based on the average recovery time for this procedure, plan on at least a four-week absence.

Jason Taylor, DE, Redskins: Taylor took a blow to the leg and had to undergo a procedure to drain the resulting blood and relieve the pressure on the nerves and blood vessels to his foot. Sounds bad, but the procedure is not complicated. The important thing is getting to it in time. Thankfully, that was the case for Taylor, but it will take him some time to recover. If he's on your IDP list, seek out a replacement.

Willie Parker, RB, Steelers: We have not been given the specifics of the injury that is forcing Parker to the sidelines, but when a coach says a player is "week-to-week" as Mike Tomlin did in his news conference this week, it does not sound good. Best to ensure that you have a 2-4 week replacement.

Be sure to check out our site Sunday for pregame chats and Fantasy Football Now at 12 p.m. ET. Good luck in Week 4!

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