Stephania Bell: Seattle Seahawks
Chicago Bears-Detroit Lions
Brandon Marshall, Chicago Bears, WR, ankle (P): Marshall has been dealing with an ankle injury for several weeks now and it hasn't kept him from playing. The Bears might have their share of challenges, but being without Marshall won't be one of them this week. After participating in limited practices earlier this week, he comes in listed as probable and will play.
Reggie Bush, Detroit Lions, RB, ankle, (Q): The only real consistency when it comes to talking about Bush's ankle is that it has caused him to appear on the injury report since Week 5. Although he returned to play in two games since suffering the original injury, he has struggled in those outings, especially late.
A desire to return to play at an improved level might be the reason his absence has been more protracted since he last aggravated the ankle in Week 10. After limited practice sessions throughout the week, the expectation is that Bush will return to the field, but until he can get through an entire game without a setback, he remains a risky play.
Calvin Johnson, Detroit Lions, WR, ankle, (P): Johnson also had an ankle injury that hampered his performance in the early stages of the season until he gave it the necessary recovery time. He returned with a bang in Week 10, and while his numbers haven't been consistent since then, there are more factors in play than just his health. Listed at probable, Johnson is expected to play.
Philadelphia Eagles-Dallas Cowboys
Jordan Matthews, Philadelphia Eagles, WR, knee, (P): Matthews was on the injury report last week with the knee issue and played through it, remaining productive in terms of receptions and yardage despite not seeing the end zone for the first time in a month. After practicing fully each day in this short week, Matthews, at probable, is expected to play.
Tony Romo, Dallas Cowboys, QB, back, (P): It’s almost hard to remember the images of the stiff and sore Romo after he suffered two transverse process fractures in his back, which was just over a month ago. Since that time he has played some very solid football, made that much more impressive knowing his bones were still healing. In fact, the fractures still are in the process of healing, but the pain diminishes with each passing week. If Romo could be effective just two weeks after the injury, he should theoretically only improve in that regard. And he has, performing at a top level in the two outings since his return from injury. He maintains his usual routine of taking one day off to rest, then returns to practice. Listed as probable, Romo is fully expected to play.
Terrance Williams, Dallas Cowboys, WR, finger, (P): Williams has been one of Romo’s key targets, making some amazing receptions that call to mind the talents of his teammate, Dez Bryant. The question this week is whether Williams’ ability to make those types of catches will be hindered at all by the broken fingertip he suffered last week. The good news is that the small fracture of his left index finger was not an injury that required surgery, and he was able to practice both Tuesday (limited) and Wednesday (full). Don’t expect Williams to let the finger be an excuse of any type, even if it’s uncomfortable. He will be on the field Thursday.
Seattle Seahawks-San Francisco 49ers
Marshawn Lynch, Seattle Seahawks, RB, back, (P): Lynch’s back has had him on the injury report intermittently throughout the season. Last week, he was listed as questionable after a flare-up in the previous week's game but still managed to play. There is little doubt that Lynch will take the field in this critical divisional matchup. The larger question is whether the back will be a factor as he faces a tough run defense in San Francisco. Not that Lynch will be vocal about it; he'll show up for work as he always does, and, if history repeats itself, he'll have success against the Niners.
Frank Gore, San Francisco 49ers, RB, knee, (P): Gore has had some struggles, including uncharacteristic fumbles in back-to-back weeks, but he is not one to miss time. He appears on the injury report again this week with a knee ailment, but he was a full participant in Tuesday and Wednesday practices after being limited Monday. At probable, he is fully expected to play.
Brandon Lloyd, San Francisco 49ers, WR, quadriceps, (P): Lloyd has played through the injury once and should do so again this week. More limiting for fantasy owners, however, are the few targets he sees. Expect him to play, but don't count on significant productivity.
Seattle SeahawksMarshawn Lynch, RB, hip (probable): Lynch popped up on last week's injury report with a hip issue. The worrisome part was that Lynch missed Friday's practice, then came into the Week 6 game listed as questionable. Coach Pete Carroll appeared to dismiss it, saying, “We did treat Marshawn for a little hip thing this week, but he's fine."
The last time a Seahawks player had “a little hip thing,” it was newly acquired wide receiver Percy Harvin in June OTAs, and we know how that ended up. Carroll’s report of Lynch being “fine” was on point, however, given that Lynch not only played last week but racked up as many receiving yards as rushing yards and netted two touchdowns, much to the delight of fantasy owners.
With this week’s game coming only four days later, it’s no surprise he saw some rest early in the week, including an off day Tuesday. He comes into this game as probable, however, not questionable like last week, leaving no doubt he will be taking the field in this divisional matchup.
Zach Miller, TE, hamstring, (probable): The Seahawks have been without their starting tight end the past two games as he has been nursing a hamstring injury. This week, Miller makes his return to the playing field after putting in back-to-back full practices Tuesday and Wednesday.
Although there are never any guarantees that an athlete is completely past a hamstring injury before he returns to competition, the fact that Miller was close to being cleared for last week’s game -- Carroll had called him a game-time decision in advance of Week 6 -- is encouraging. The bigger question might be whether Miller will see meaningful targets the way he did in Week 3, when he scored two touchdowns. At least fantasy owners can have confidence in the expectation that he will indeed be active for this game.
Arizona CardinalsLarry Fitzgerald, WR, hamstring, (probable): Fitzgerald is going to play, just as he has since originally injuring his left hamstring in Week 2. The question fantasy owners have is what to expect from him on the field, a question made a little more challenging considering the matchup with Seattle’s outstanding secondary.
Fitzgerald seemed to have made improvements in his recovery until last week, when he suffered a second injury. Up until game time, there was much rumbling not only about whether Fitzgerald, listed as questionable, would be able to play, but also whether he would serve as much more than a decoy. The assumption was that he would not be able to stride fully, which would make it difficult to gain separation. Fitzgerald ended up starting that game, and, when it was over, he had proved he was more than a decoy. On one play in particular, a 75-yard touchdown reception, Fitzgerald looked to be running just fine.
But that’s not the entire story. Fitzgerald is dealing with a right hamstring injury to go along with his previously injured left side. After Sunday’s game, he was in enough discomfort that he was having trouble bending down in the locker room, according to The Arizona Republic. Still, Fitzgerald was listed as a limited practice participant Monday and Tuesday, followed by an upgrade to full participation Wednesday.
It’s worth noting that these practices are significantly scaled back on a short week, with walk-throughs and light drills largely constituting the bulk of the activity. Light work is perhaps the best thing for Fitzgerald, as rest might be his best friend while he tries to manage these bilateral hamstring issues. It’s hard to know what to expect as far as productivity from Fitzgerald on Thursday night, given that he is not truly 100 percent healthy and faces a tough matchup. But everyone knows what to expect from him as far as effort, and he has made it clear he plans to play.
It's an NFC West matchup tonight as the Seattle Seahawks travel south to visit the San Francisco 49ers. Here is the status of key fantasy players on the injury report for tonight's game, and they're all members of the home team.
Mario Manningham, WR, San Francisco 49ers, shoulder (Q): Manningham saw a season-high number of targets in last week's outing against his former team, but it came at a price. He suffered a shoulder injury, the specifics of which have not been disclosed, which was enough to keep him a limited participant in practice all week. For what it's worth, Manningham did play the entire game Sunday and it sounds as if he will be available. Best to check the pregame inactives in advance.
Brandon Jacobs, RB San Francisco 49ers, knee (Q): This seems to have been Jacobs' status for multiple weeks, and he made his frustration with not playing known recently. That led to a conversation with coach Jim Harbaugh, and Jacobs appears to have backed down somewhat since, acknowledging the importance of the bigger picture. This week, Jacobs has been a full participant in practice and, as Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea noted, Jacobs is likely to be available "if coaches decide to use him." In other words, his knee seems to have recovered to the point that it is no longer an issue. His playing status is.
Alex Smith, San Francisco 49ers, right finger (P): The injury was present last week and Smith played through it, so there's no doubt that he will play again, especially after practicing in full daily. Some wondered whether the finger factored into last Sunday's performance when Smith, not known for committing turnovers, threw three interceptions. Of all the fingers to injure, the third is one of the "best" in the sense that it is not nearly as critical to ball control as the thumb, index or pinkie finger, as noted by ESPN's Tim Hasselbeck. Credit the New York Giants defense with creating difficulties for Smith, who also lost tackle Joe Staley in the third quarter to a concussion. Staley (questionable) is uncertain for tonight after going through limited practice Tuesday and Wednesday.
Also, the 49ers' all-pro kicking squad is on the injury report this week. Place-kicker David Akers has been battling illness this week and did not practice Tuesday. He did return Wednesday to a full practice and is listed as probable. He is expected to play. Punter Andy Lee has a hand injury, but luckily that shouldn't impact his role. He practiced fully every day and is also, at probable, expected to play.