Perhaps the biggest question for fantasy owners coming into Thursday night's game was the status of Broncos wide receiver Wes Welker. Thankfully, that question already has been answered, as the Broncos have announced Welker will be out for Week 15.
Not that his designation came as much of a surprise; after all, Welker suffered his second concussion in four games last Sunday, and with only four days between games, there was simply not adequate recovery time. There is not only the league-mandated protocol sequence to consider but, more important, the global health of an athlete who has suffered two head injuries within such close time proximity. As is usually the case with concussions, there is no predictable timetable for progression, but rest assured that Welker's status will be closely monitored. In the meantime, let's have a look at some of the other players for Denver and San Diego who have health issues heading into tonight's game.
Knowshon Moreno, RB (shoulder), Eric Decker, WR (ribs), Demaryius Thomas, WR (shoulder), Julius Thomas, TE (knee), Peyton Manning, QB (ankle); Probable: All the non-Wes Welker fantasy options for Denver come into this game listed as probable, and are expected to play after each participated in practice this week.
Manning's ankle issue is familiar to everyone, and he has proved he can be effective regardless; he's the No. 1 QB in our experts' rankings this week. Julius Thomas returned to action last week after missing two games with discomfort in his knee following a hyperextension injury. He found his way into the end zone in his first game back. Demaryius Thomas has been managing a sore shoulder for a few weeks, but it didn't seem to hamper his production last week as he also managed to score. Speaking of finding the end zone, Decker appears to be locked in the past two weeks with five touchdowns. Bruised ribs won't sideline him this week, and didn't even limit him in practice. Thomas and Decker are third and 10th, respectively, in the WR rankings.
On the ground, Moreno appeared to be in danger of missing time a couple of weeks ago because of a bone bruise in his ankle. However, he has not missed any time, and he continues to be productive (and is the No. 6 RB this week). It's his shoulder that has him on the injury report this time around, but he too is expected to play.
Keenan Allen, shoulder (P) and Eddie Royal, toe (Q), WR: Allen gave fantasy owners a scare when he exited Sunday's game because of his shoulder, although he did eventually return. Coach Mike McCoy seemed confident from the beginning of the week that Allen was in no jeopardy of missing Thursday's game. Indeed, Allen turned in full practices each day -- Monday's report of "full practice" was an estimation, because the Chargers did not conduct a formal practice that day -- and is listed as probable. He will be on the field Thursday night. Allen is the No. 13 WR in our experts' rankings.
Royal also is likely to be on the field, despite being listed as questionable. Royal has been battling a toe injury for several weeks and did sit out Week 13, but it's important to note that the likely culprit sidelining him then was a chest injury. Royal returned Sunday, but had only three catches on four targets. Interestingly, the "chest" injury is no longer listed next to his name on the injury report, and he did participate in limited practices Tuesday and Wednesday, a bit of an upgrade for him. Despite being listed as questionable, it appears Royal will play, although how involved he is remains to be seen.