Stephania Bell: Willie Parker



Lots of teams are getting some rest this week, and they have to be looking forward to it. The Detroit Lions have ailing quarterbacks and receivers, the Seattle Seahawks have hurt offensive and defensive linemen, and the Tennessee Titans ... well, they just need a break.

This week six teams are on bye -- the Lions, Seahawks, Titans, Denver Broncos, Jacksonville Jaguars and Baltimore Ravens -- so fantasy owners need to hustle to fill those empty roster spots.



Here are some status updates as we look ahead to Week 7.

Quarterbacks

Trent Edwards, Buffalo Bills: I know that not many fantasy owners were looking at Edwards as a bye-week replacement anyway, given the season he's had so far. But just in case you were contemplating it, don't. Edwards suffered a concussion in Week 6 and was not at practice Wednesday. This is his second concussion in just more than a year and he will be monitored for his recovery in terms of both symptoms and cognition (brain processing). It sounds as if the Bills are preparing Ryan Fitzpatrick for a likely Sunday start against the Carolina Panthers.

Running backs

Willie Parker
Andy Lyons/Getty ImagesWillie Parker's toe is getting better, but now he's lost his starting job.
Rashard Mendenhall and Willie Parker, Pittsburgh Steelers: This week, coach Mike Tomlin indicated that Mendenhall has passed Parker on the running back depth chart. Parker has been dealing with a case of turf toe, and although he sported some supportive new shoes when he played last week, he has not done enough to maintain the starting position. As far as his toe goes, Parker did not appear to emerge from Sunday's contest any worse for wear, and he is back in practice to start the week. Meanwhile, newly anointed starter Mendenhall sustained a knee bruise in Sunday's game that relegated him to limited work Wednesday. The good news for Mendenhall fantasy owners is that this is not expected to keep him out of this week's matchup.



Marion Barber and Felix Jones, Dallas Cowboys: Barber has no doubt benefited from the bye week to further the healing of his strained quadriceps muscle. He did not, however, benefit from the hit he took against the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 6. Barber thought he had just jammed his left thumb, but upon further review, it turns out he suffered a fracture. He has been outfitted with a cast, according to the Cowboys' official Web site. However, the injury has not affected his ability to practice, nor will it affect his availability for Sunday. Barber carries the ball predominantly with his right hand, so it should not affect his ball control on the run. It may be more challenging to catch a pass out of the backfield, however, so that option may be diminished.

Jones has been on the mend from a PCL (posterior cruciate ligament) sprain and until this week has not practiced. He was back in limited work Monday and in full practice Wednesday, wearing a knee brace for support. According to the Cowboys' official Web site, Jones credited the team's athletic training staff with helping him get back to practice and reported only soreness after his return. PCL injuries can often be challenging to recover from, but the difficulty varies depending on the degree of damage to the ligament. The athlete is often left with some residual instability, which often shows up for a running back during sharp deceleration or change in direction. The brace provides additional support behind the knee to help control motion of the lower leg (tibia) relative to the thigh (femur). Jones has indicated that he likely will wear the brace if he plays Sunday (which he currently expects to do). It will be important to see how Jones' knee holds up after a full week of practice to gauge just how much action he's likely to see. After all, team owner Jerry Jones already announced on his weekly radio show that Tashard Choice is "going to get a big part of the load."

The good news for Dallas is bad news for fantasy owners. They have three backs who are likely to see playing time, but the division of labor is unclear at this point. At this point it seems to be shaping up as predominantly Barber and Choice with a sprinkling of Jones. Stay tuned for Saturday's update.

Wide receivers

Roy E. Williams, Dallas Cowboys: Williams has been back in practice this week after missing Week 5 (and resting during the bye week) because of bruised ribs. Williams also reportedly suffered cartilage damage in the area, which can be slow to heal. The good news is that it appears that Williams is responding well to practice and plans to play Sunday. The unknown factor is how he will feel absorbing contact, especially if he takes a shot to the previously injured area.

Anquan Boldin
Rick Scuteri/US PresswireAnquan Boldin has already called himself a gametime decision for Sunday, not a great sign.
Anquan Boldin, Arizona Cardinals: Boldin is already referring to himself as a game-time decision, which is not great news for fantasy owners. Boldin, who suffered an ankle sprain in Week 6, did not practice Wednesday and told the Arizona Republic that his status is "up in the air." Boldin has been limited by soft-tissue injuries in the past, and teammate Steve Breaston has shown that he is capable of stepping up. Arizona does not play until Sunday night, so barring any major turnaround by Friday, fantasy owners should make plans to have a substitute for Boldin.

Percy Harvin, Minnesota Vikings: Harvin was limited in practice Wednesday as a result of his sore shoulder, which he aggravated during Sunday's game. Last week Harvin was limited throughout the week, played, but then suffered a setback which clearly caused him a great deal of pain. His availability for this week is unclear.

Jerricho Cotchery, New York Jets: Cotchery's strained hamstring kept him out of Week 6 action and may keep him sidelined again. On Wednesday, Cotchery did not participate in practice (only individual drills) and was non-committal about his potential availability for Sunday. If he is not running full speed by the end of the week, fantasy owners should be concerned.

Donnie Avery, St. Louis Rams: Avery has a bruised hip that kept him out of Wednesday practice. According to the Belleville News-Democrat, the hip tightened up on him, so the team limited him to conditioning work on the side. The hope is that he will be able to return to practice late in the week and be available for Sunday. At this point, his status is day-to-day.

Be sure to check back on Saturday for post-Friday NFL injury-report updates on all your fantasy players heading into the weekend.

See you at the injury chats (Tuesday 11 a.m.-noon, Friday 11 a.m.-noon and Sunday pregame 10:00-10:30 a.m.). And check out "Fantasy Football Now" on Sundays at ESPN.com from 11:30 a.m. EST to kickoff for last-minute inactives, rankings and more!

In my Tuesday morning chat, one happy participant eagerly wrote in to tell me he had no injury questions because his team was completely healthy. I felt the need to post his comment during our chat because I could not imagine there was such a fortunate fantasy owner to be found, and judging by the responses to his post, it seemed the guy was utterly and completely alone on an island when it came to his injury fortunes. Actually, make that a tropical fantasy football paradise. I regret to inform you, though, Haden in Memphis, that the injury storms are a-comin' and everyone, even you, is bound to feel the effects at some point.

This week's column then is for all the other fantasy owners out there who, like me, have been challenged by injuries somewhere on their roster(s), those of you wondering about your players' collective health and whether you need to find replacements. As has been the case the past two weeks, there are four teams on bye -- Indianapolis, San Francisco, Miami and Dallas -- so be sure to plan accordingly.

Here are some status updates as we look ahead to Week 6:

Quarterbacks

Eli Manning
Jared Wickerham/Getty ImagesDon't be alarmed if Eli Manning is limited in practice.
Eli Manning, New York Giants: The treatment Manning received heading into Week 5 paid off, as he was able to quell his plantar fasciitis pain and start for the Giants against the Oakland Raiders. His team helped him out by netting such a large lead over the Raiders that he was able to sit out the entire second half and avoid aggravating his heel. Manning said after the game that he felt good, and he hoped to practice each day this week.

Manning has shown up for practice this week, but the Giants are limiting his reps, no doubt in an effort to keep the symptoms at bay. Plantar fasciitis is not a condition that disappears quickly, and Manning might well continue a routine of limited activity during the week in order to prevent flare-ups and allow him to play Sundays. There will be a lingering concern that the pain could become exacerbated during a game, as it did in Week 4, when Manning suffered an acute setback and was forced to exit early. There is also the possibility that Manning will continue to proceed week to week without a similar episode. In fact, the longer Manning goes without a setback, the more optimistic the outlook is for an uneventful remainder of the season.

Since there are no guarantees when it comes to managing chronic conditions in an in-season athlete, fantasy owners will have to decide on a weekly basis whether the potential reward with Manning is worth some risk.

Matthew Stafford, Detroit Lions: Although the Lions have not ventured into any specifics with regard to the injury Stafford suffered in Week 4, it was widely reported that he experienced a patellar subluxation, and a week ago I outlined the nature of such an injury.

Stafford was unable to practice all of last week and, as expected, did not suit up for Sunday's game. On Wednesday, Stafford participated in practice on a limited basis, according to the practice injury report, but there might be some warranted concern as to how his knee responded to even limited work, since Stafford did not practice Thursday. Coach Jim Schwartz has indicated that if Stafford is capable of playing (as in, capable of moving adequately enough to function effectively and avoid a pass rush), he will play. He will not be automatically rested in anticipation of the Week 7 bye. Nonetheless, a downward trend during the week, especially following a significant injury, is not a good sign.

Marc Bulger, St. Louis Rams: Bulger did come off the bench Sunday and showed that his arm is recovering. He reported feeling no ill effects after the game and is back in practice and off the injury report. Bulger intends to start this Sunday when the Rams travel to Jacksonville. His backup, Kyle Boller, is on the injury practice report because of a concussion but did participate on a limited basis in practice Wednesday.

Matt Hasselbeck, Seattle Seahawks: Hasselbeck had himself quite a day Sunday when he returned to the field with still-healing rib fractures. The good news is that Hasselbeck emerged relatively unscathed and was a full participant in Wednesday's practice. But the biggest health concern in Seattle (which also has the most potential for directly impacting Hasselbeck) is that of the offensive line. Due to a wave of injuries that has decimated the team up front, the Seahawks will be starting their fourth different line of the young season. They're hoping to get a few of their starters back in November following a bye week.

Running backs

Willie Parker, Pittsburgh Steelers: The good news is Parker was back on the practice field this week for the first time since injuring his toe in Week 3. Parker was able to practice fully Wednesday, but the key here will be how his toe responds to the work. Parker indicated to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that he is wearing a custom shoe from Nike to accommodate his injured toe. In fact, Parker said that he has a custom pair of shoes so that they match and help him maintain even balance. It is important for an athlete to wear adaptive shoes in practice to adjust to them in advance of a game. The plates in the shoes help restrict motion at the forefoot; unfortunately, it is this very motion (particularly in the area of the painful toe) that allows an athlete to propel himself forward. A stiffer shoe requires that the player adapt to this new feeling as he pushes off. As they say, practice makes perfect. Parker expects to play this weekend, but how the workload will be divided between him and teammate Rashard Mendenhall is not yet clear.

Correll Buckhalter, Denver Broncos: Buckhalter suffered a sprained left ankle in Week 4 and did not play in Week 5. He was back in practice Wednesday for the Broncos, and the Denver Post reports that he took handoffs and caught screen passes in the portion of practice open to the media. However, Knowshon Moreno, who started in place of the injured Buckhalter in Week 4, was taking the first-team reps. The team is not required to file a formal practice injury report on Wednesday since they do not play until Monday night, but it would appear the team is preparing to have both backs available. That said, it is likely that Buckhalter's ankle is still on the mend; remember, he was on crutches just more than a week ago after the injury originally occurred. We will update Buckhalter's status as the week progresses.

Clinton Portis
Larry French/Getty ImagesClinton Portis is being bothered by a calf injury, but he has proven durable in the past.
Clinton Portis, Washington Redskins: Uh oh. Portis is again appearing on the practice injury report because of a calf ailment. Portis was limited Wednesday, and it's unclear whether this is related to his prior calf contusion. Portis hasn't missed a game yet, however, and it seems unlikely that that would happen this week, especially if he's able to participate in practice to some degree.

Mike Bell and Pierre Thomas, New Orleans Saints: Bell, who has missed two games because of a sprained MCL, was a full participant in practice Wednesday and appears to be on track to play this week. He would be expected to handle short-yardage and goal-line situations, but really there is no way to project exactly how the Saints will divide up the workload.

Or is there? Bell's teammate Pierre Thomas, who was spectacular after Bell went out with his knee injury, has reappeared on the injury report, this time with a hamstring ailment that limited his activity Wednesday. Apparently this is an ongoing injury for Thomas, but we certainly haven't seen any evidence that it has affected his performance thus far.

As usual, we'll wait to see what happens in the latter part of the week to assess just how healthy these players are. This only adds to the torment of fantasy owners who are wondering how the running backs' workload will break down Sunday. Stay tuned.

Wide receivers

Calvin Johnson, Detroit Lions: The right knee injury that forced Johnson out of the game early in Week 5 was deemed not significant by coach Jim Schwartz. But apparently it's significant enough for Johnson to have missed both Wednesday and Thursday practices. The Lions are unwilling to provide much in the way of specifics, but it's not too difficult to interpret lack of practice activity as a bad sign. Of note, the Detroit Free Press reported that the Lions signed wide receiver John Standeford earlier this week. Standeford was cut right before the start of the season but now has been brought back. You take your cues where you can get them. Fantasy owners should anticipate that Johnson might not be available Sunday.

Percy Harvin, Minnesota Vikings: Here's a little surprise. Harvin apparently suffered a shoulder injury when he landed on it awkwardly during Sunday's win against the St. Louis Rams. Although no one is saying exactly what that injury is, Harvin did not practice Wednesday, and it is unclear whether his status for this Sunday against the hard-hitting Baltimore Ravens is in doubt. Fantasy owners know the drill. Check back later in the week for more updates.

Jerricho Cotchery, New York Jets: Although Cotchery played Monday night, he was not his usual self. Cotchery, who strained a hamstring in practice last Thursday and did not practice again before Monday, felt better after going through pregame warm-ups. Once in the game, however, his hamstring reportedly began to get less comfortable. Cotchery ended up playing longer than anticipated because fellow wide receiver Brad Smith was forced out because of a foot injury. In fact, Cotchery told Newsday that he thought he "probably" suffered a setback with the hamstring. He did not practice Wednesday, and with a short week between contests, the outlook for Cotchery's availability in Week 6 is not great at this point.

Devin Hester, Chicago Bears: Hester took advantage of Chicago's bye week to get some extra rest and treatment on his neck, and he says he's feeling good. Hester suffered a neck strain, according to the Chicago Sun-Times, although it was initially reported as a shoulder injury. A neck injury can certainly result in shoulder pain, so any confusion would be understandable. The important thing at this point is that Hester does not even appear on the injury practice report this week and should be ready to go when the Bears face Atlanta.

Be sure to check back on Saturday for post-Friday NFL injury report updates on all your fantasy players heading into the weekend.

See you at the injury chats (Tuesday 11:00 a.m.-noon, Friday 11 a.m.-noon and Sunday pregame 10:00-10:30 a.m.). And check out Fantasy Football Now on Sundays at ESPN.com from 11:30 a.m. to kickoff for last-minute inactives, rankings and more!


It's time for fantasy owners to make midweek moves to boost their fantasy rosters. Injury concerns naturally factor into those decisions as we try to gauge who is going to miss time and just how long that absence will be. This week there are four teams on bye: Chicago Bears, Green Bay Packers, New Orleans Saints and San Diego Chargers, so be sure to secure your replacements. Here are some status updates as we look ahead to Week 5.

Quarterbacks

Eli Manning, New York Giants: On Tuesday, I detailed plantar fasciitis, the condition afflicting Manning. On Wednesday, Manning sat out practice and coach Tom Coughlin indicated Manning would be considered day-to-day. For his part, Manning appears intent on playing and Coughlin has said that his star quarterback could play even if he's unable to practice during the week. The bottom line at this point is that this is shaping up to be a potential game-time decision, one which will depend on whether Manning can maintain his normal throwing mechanics despite the pain.

Matt Hasselbeck
Steve Dykes/US PresswireMatt Hasselbeck wants to play this week, but will injuries elsewhere hurt his chances to get a start?
Matt Hasselbeck, Seattle Seahawks: Hasselbeck sat out Weeks 3 and 4 while recovering from a broken rib and was still having pain with deep breathing last week. Coach Jim Mora told reporters his quarterback is "without question doing everything possible to get out on the football field." Offensive coordinator Greg Knapp remarked that Hasselbeck's throwing motion looked fine but that he was not quite in football shape. However, he shared practice time with Seneca Wallace on Wednesday, according to The Seattle Times. Hasselbeck indicated that he wanted to come back, but would go with what was in the best interest of the team. A main concern for the Seahawks will be providing him enough protection up front should he be able to play Sunday. Despite the team's recent struggles, the goal is clearly to avoid any setbacks and to have him available for the long haul. On the other hand, the Seahawks have been plagued with offensive line injuries, which may also factor into the decision as to whether he gets the start in Week 5.

Donovan McNabb, Philadelphia Eagles: McNabb will start Sunday. Coach Andy Reid said it himself Wednesday and made it clear that McNabb is resuming control at the helm in Week 5. McNabb is reportedly feeling much better, but knows he is not yet 100 percent recovered. He acknowledged on the Eagles' official Web site that things like laughing and coughing still cause discomfort, but he does not expect to be restricted at all playing football. McNabb will no doubt be wearing some extra protection over his ribs this weekend, but now that he's back in practice, fantasy owners can expect to have him back in their lineups as well.

Matthew Stafford, Detroit Lions: Stafford reportedly suffered a patellar subluxation in Week 4 (although the Lions are staying mum on the topic), and on Tuesday I outlined the nature of such an injury. He did not practice Wednesday, which is not especially surprising given the nature of the injury. Although coach Jim Schwartz is not speculating as to whether Stafford is going to be available for Sunday's contest against the Pittsburgh Steelers, if the rookie misses another day, it would be hard to imagine him playing. From the physical perspective, Stafford would need to have enough resolution of pain and swelling to allow his quadriceps muscle to function normally. He needs to be able to play the position without apprehension that his patella (kneecap) will go out on him again, so quadriceps strength plays a large role. Although Stafford could (and most likely will) eventually play with some sort of support around the kneecap, it seems unlikely that he would be turned loose against the Steelers' defense if he is not fully mobile. If Stafford is on your fantasy team, it is probably best to secure another option at this point.

Marc Bulger, St. Louis Rams: Kyle Boller filled in for Bulger last week as Bulger nursed a bruised throwing shoulder. Bulger did perform some throwing in pregame warm-ups, however, and continued with light throwing Monday. On Wednesday, Bulger continued to progress with his throws, but ESPN's NFC West blogger Mike Sando reports that it is almost certain the Rams will hold Bulger out another week. With his shoulder still on the mend, some issues with the offensive line and a tough Minnesota Vikings pass rush, the decision might be to simply allow him another week of healing and avoiding hits.

Running Backs

Felix Jones and Marion Barber, Dallas Cowboys: Barber was a full participant in Wednesday's practice and Felix Jones was absent. While nothing definitive has been said regarding Jones' status, at the time of his injury (PCL sprain), there were rumblings that he would miss a couple of weeks and fantasy owners should plan on his not being available. Meanwhile, Barber, whose quad tightened up in the second half of last week's game, should fare better this week. If he continues to practice fully throughout the week, he can be expected to start Sunday against the Kansas City Chiefs. By the end of the week, we should have a better idea as to how much work we can expect from Barber in the game.

Willie Parker
Rich Gabrielson/Icon SMIWillie Parker hoped he'd play last week but didn't. Now, he's far less optimistic that he'll play this week.
Willie Parker, Pittsburgh Steelers: Parker sat out Week 4 with a case of turf toe sustained during the Week 3 contest in Cincinnati. Although Parker appeared to be holding out hope during the week that he would play, as the Sunday deadline approached and he was still unable to run, it became apparent that he would need to rest the painful toe. As is often the case with turf toe, this is not a problem with a quick fix. Parker seems to be resigned to that and is not nearly as optimistic heading into Week 5. After not practicing Wednesday, Parker told reporters that although he wants to go out and compete, he is not where he needs to be right now to perform. Given Rashard Mendenhall's solid performance in Week 4 and knowing the Steelers are headed to the turf of Detroit's Ford Field, it is sounding as if Mendenhall will again take the place of Parker in Week 5.

Brian Westbrook, Philadelphia Eagles: Westbrook will join his teammate Donovan McNabb back in the lineup in Week 5. Westbrook missed Week 3 as he recovered from a sprain to the right ankle he had surgically addressed in June. It appeared that Westbrook's intended return would follow the bye week, and so far things are going according to plan. Coach Andy Reid has already indicated on the Eagles' official Web site that he expects to rotate Westbrook with LeSean McCoy. We have been saying for some time now that this was the likely evolution at the running back position so that the Eagles could make use of Westbrook's talents while not overloading his joints. Barring a setback late in the week, Westbrook should at least be in line for a portion of the action Sunday, but how much time he sees is unknown.

Frank Gore, San Francisco 49ers: Regular readers won't be surprised to learn that Frank Gore has been ruled out for this Sunday's contest with his ankle injuries, according to Matt Maiocco of the Santa Rosa Press Democrat. Gore was initially projected to miss a few weeks and was not expected to return until after the 49ers' bye week (which is in Week 6) at the earliest.

Correll Buckhalter, Denver Broncos: Buckhalter suffered a sprained left ankle in Week 4 and it looks as if the door has been opened for rookie Knowshon Moreno to get his first career start. Buckhalter missed practice Wednesday and reports suggest that the Broncos may be without his services when they face the New England Patriots in Week 5. Moreno appeared to be progressing toward a starting role for the Broncos as his workload has expanded over the first few weeks of the season. Buckhalter's injury may have just moved the timetable along. Moreno's fantasy owners have to be excited about the prospects here.

Clinton Portis, Washington Redskins: The Washington Times reports that Portis will be ready to face the Panthers in Week 5 despite aggravating an ankle injury. Earlier this year coach Jim Zorn indicated that Portis was dealing with bone spurs in both ankles and had been trying to play through pain. Just last week, Portis remarked how much better his ankles were feeling with his current treatment regimen. Despite that optimism, this situation is likely to be ongoing throughout the season. Nonetheless, Portis was not on Wednesday's injury report, which is a good sign heading into the weekend.

Fred Taylor, New England Patriots: Taylor did not practice Wednesday and was listed on the practice (injury) report as "ankle." Given the Patriots' notorious secrecy when it comes to injuries, there are no indications as to whether this is a serious injury that could result in missed time or whether they are resting Taylor's ankle in advance of this week's contest. Stay tuned for practice reports as the week progresses.

Wide Receivers

Roy E. Williams, Dallas Cowboys: Williams says he expects to play in Week 5 despite injured rib cartilage, according to The Dallas Morning News. That said, Williams did not practice Wednesday. His status could evolve heading up to game time, so stay tuned for updates.

Calvin Johnson, Detroit Lions: Johnson rested his bruised thigh Wednesday and did not practice. Although the Lions have not indicated whether or not they expect Johnson to be available, his status will remain day to day until proven otherwise.

Wes Welker, New England Patriots: Welker was finally able to get back on the field in Week 4 after being limited with a mysterious knee ailment that had kept him out since Week 2. Welker had a modest fantasy performance Sunday but showed that he was able to run at full speed and make some plays. Welker was held to a limited practice Wednesday, suggesting that the Patriots are still being cautious when it comes to his knee. However, if he continues to practice daily it's likely he will see the field again this week.



Antonio Bryant, Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Bryant was able to get in the end zone Sunday and appeared to be more Antonio Bryant-like in Week 4. He has been working his way back from post-surgical knee soreness that appeared after his Week 1 debut. Although Bryant was limited in practice Wednesday, this may well be a precautionary measure to ensure his availability for Sunday.

Be sure to check back on Saturday for post-Friday NFL injury report updates on all your fantasy players heading into the weekend.

See you at the injury chats (Tuesday 11:00 a.m.-noon, Friday 11 a.m.-noon and Sunday pregame 10:00-10:30 a.m.). And check out Fantasy Football Now on Sundays at ESPN.com from 11:30 a.m. to kickoff for last-minute inactives, rankings and more!



It's time for fantasy owners to make those midweek trades to boost their fantasy rosters. Injury concerns naturally factor into those decisions, as we try to gauge who is going to miss time and just how long that absence will be. Here are some status updates as we look ahead to Week 4.

Running backs

Felix Jones and Marion Barber, Dallas Cowboys: Jones officially suffered a sprained posterior cruciate ligament and, according to The Dallas Morning News, will sit out this week and might be out until Week 7. The Cowboys have a bye in Week 6, so this timetable would result in Jones' missing two games.



The reality is that it probably is too soon to predict just how much time Jones will miss. PCL sprains are tricky, and although we have not been given an indication as to the severity of the sprain, any PCL injury typically leaves the athlete with some measure of residual instability. In addition to overcoming the initial discomfort and any associated swelling, the athlete then has to develop compensatory strength to counter that instability, which is not as easy as it might sound. There is no doubt that football players are already strong and running backs are exceptionally strong in their legs. It goes beyond pure strength, however, and becomes a timing issue. In other words, the muscles now have to better anticipate sudden stops and starts and directional movements in an effort to minimize shearing at the knee joint. Reggie Bush suffered this injury two years ago, and although he returned to play, he was not able to perform in the same way. After he aggravated the injury, his season ultimately ended early. No two injuries are identical, so there is no guarantee Jones will suffer the same fate, but the fact that Jones has suffered two other major injuries (hamstring, toe) on the same side (left) in the past year is of concern. It is important to recognize that this is a challenging injury and the timetable for Jones might need to be extended.

Meanwhile, the Cowboys' No. 1 back still is working to make his way back into the lineup after suffering a strained quadriceps in Week 2. Barber was held out of Week 3 against his wishes but in favor of his long-term health. The Morning News reports Barber did practice Wednesday and was able to do more than last week, leading coach Wade Phillips to be optimistic about his chances for Sunday. Barber will have to continue to increase his activity in practice throughout the week and show that he does not feel worse the next day in order to play. Team owner Jerry Jones told ESPNDallas.com on Thursday that Barber should play Sunday. Jones acknowledged, however, that how Barber performs in full practice with pads ultimately will be the deciding factor. Given that Barber will be just approaching full speed even if he does play this week, fantasy owners should expect Tashard Choice to continue to play a big role in Sunday's contest.

Willie Parker
Rich Gabrielson/Icon SMIAfter struggling in weeks 1 and 2, Willie Parker looked sharp against the Bengals but suffered a new injury.
Willie Parker, Pittsburgh Steelers: A hamstring strain in the preseason resulted in a slow start for Parker, but when he finally was able to open it up in Week 3, he developed a new ailment, turf toe. Fantasy owners have seen what turf toe can do to even the best running backs (read: LaDainian Tomlinson, 2008). There is quite a degree of variability in terms of severity, however, so is not a given that this will be problematic for Parker all season.

In terms of his status for Week 4, Parker has indicated he believes he will play. Parker did not practice early in the week, which is part of the usual course of treatment for this condition. If Parker is not able to practice by Friday, however, his chances of playing Sunday will be far less certain. Teammate Rashard Mendenhall, who was benched last week by coach Mike Tomlin, is eager to prove himself. He might get plenty of opportunity to do just that. It would not be surprising for the Steelers to shift the workload in his direction, given the issue with Parker's toe. Parker's fantasy owners should make alternate plans.

LaDainian Tomlinson, San Diego Chargers: Tomlinson missed weeks 2 and 3 because of a sprained ankle. He made it clear he would not return until he could perform at 100 percent, so his full participation in Wednesday's practice could be taken as an encouraging sign. The San Diego Union-Tribune is reporting that Tomlinson says he feels pretty good, adding, "I want to play in this game." After suffering through several injuries in the past two years, even Tomlinson knows his status will depend on how his ankle responds to the increased stress of practice during the week.



If Tomlinson is ready to play, he will. Yes, the Chargers have a bye in Week 5, but that does not mean they will automatically sit him. If Tomlinson can contribute at a high level without significant concern of reinjury, expect him to suit up. There is the possibility, though, that the Chargers will opt to make his status a game-time decision, and with the game coming Sunday night, that is not a great situation for fantasy owners. Friday's injury report should provide a better clue as to which way the team is leaning.

Clinton Portis, Washington Redskins: Despite bone spurs in both ankles that limited his practice last week, Portis did manage to play Sunday but left the game early with a calf injury. All indications are that this latest setback is minor, and although Portis did not practice Wednesday, he reminded The Washington Post that he knows how to play without practicing. Portis also told the Post that although his ankle pain bothered him in the first two weeks of the season, the "new program" he's been on is great, adding, "Right now, my ankles don't have any pain." Good news for Portis owners, as he expects to play this week.

Mike Bell, New Orleans Saints: Bell did not practice Wednesday, and his status for Sunday appears to be in doubt. After all, we saw how challenging it was for Thomas to get back. We also saw how the wait for Thomas paid off. He racked up 126 yards and two scores in his first appearance following a similar injury. If Bell manages to practice late in the week, there might still be a chance for him to play. But if he is limited, the Saints will not take any chances and will allow him to rest for two more weeks (the Saints have a bye in Week 5) before returning to action.

Quarterbacks

Matt Hasselbeck, Seattle Seahawks: Hasselbeck suffered a broken rib in the Seahawks' Week 2 loss to the San Francisco 49ers and sat out Week 3. Hasselbeck is still having pain when taking a deep breath, meaning he can't run, as in away from the opponent. The Seahawks' Web site reports coach Jim Mora already has indicated he does not expect Hasselbeck to play in Week 4. Even though Mora previously has said Hasselbeck does not need to practice fully in order to play Sunday, he does need to be able to perform some basics to ensure he's not at risk by playing. Once Hasselbeck is able to do some running, it will provide a clue that he could be returning soon.

Wide receivers

Wes Welker, New England Patriots: Welker has sat on the sidelines for the past two weeks with a "knee" ailment (according to the official injury report) that no one is discussing. We know Welker suffered an injury in the preseason but was able to play -- and play well -- in the season opener. Clearly, he suffered a setback, because he has not been able to do much of anything in the past two weeks. Welker did do some limited work Wednesday, but his status for Sunday is iffy at this point. Welker relies on speed, so there is likely some impairment that is affecting his ability to go full out. Fantasy owners might be disappointed that he has not been available, but the good news is that given that he already has suffered a setback, he is not likely to return to action before he can effectively contribute. Stay tuned for practice updates before Sunday.

Individual defensive players

Dwight Freeney, DE, Indianapolis Colts: Freeney suffered a strained quadriceps muscle, and although he's on the other side of the ball, his injury is not unlike the one Cowboys running back Marion Barber is dealing with. Freeney has not ruled himself out for Week 4, although reports suggest he will miss two to three weeks. Like Barber, Freeney needs the strength of his quadriceps not only to be explosive in the rush, but also to dig in and counter the block of an offensive lineman. His optimism is admirable, but fantasy owners should proactively make alternate plans for this week.

Troy Polamalu, S, Pittsburgh Steelers: Polamalu has been sidelined since the season opener with a sprained medial collateral ligament. The Steelers' defense clearly has missed him, as have his fantasy owners. Polamalu took a big step this week by adding running back into his workouts and told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review that he "felt well" and would like to play this week if he's able. Polamalu still has some significant tests to pass to prove he is ready to go, and it might well be another week, but fantasy owners should be aware that his return does not appear to be far off.

Be sure to check back Saturday for post-Friday NFL injury report updates on all your fantasy players heading into the weekend.

See you on the injury chats (Tuesday and Friday 11 a.m.-noon ET, and Sunday 10-10:30 a.m. ET). And check out "Fantasy Football Now" on Sundays on ESPN.com from 11:30 a.m. ET to kickoff for last-minute inactives, rankings and more!

Things are heating up for most fantasy league playoffs. Every player counts, as each week could be your last if you do not set your lineup wisely. Naturally, injuries play a big role. Just how banged up does a player have to be before he becomes a risk to your fantasy team? There are new faces on the "done for the year" list, and not all of them are there because of injury. At least you know you need to replace these guys. But other players are on the fringe as to whether they will be available for you this weekend.

So what do we know about Week 14? Based on early practice reports, here's what we're hearing on the injury front so far.

Ryan Grant, RB, Packers:
Grant sprained his thumb Sunday and was kept out of the second half of the game. Grant and his coaches were concerned about his ability to protect the football with pain, inflammation and stiffness in the thumb. So will that thumb be ready to guard the ball safely in Week 14?

According to the Packers' official Web site, Grant may need to wear a protective splint on his thumb, and the decision as to whether he'll play may hinge on how well he can handle the ball with extra hand gear. Brandon Jackson played well on Sunday in Grant's absence, and that may make it easier for coach Mike McCarthy to play him this week. McCarthy indicated that he had "no qualms about playing with Brandon in all of the situations." If Jackson is available in your league, you may want to pick him up in the event that Grant can't go.

Matt Schaub
Bruce Kluckhohn/US PresswireMatt Schaub is set to return to his starting role Sunday in Green Bay.
Matt Schaub, QB, Texans:
Although Sage Rosenfels has led the Texans to victory in their past two games, it looks as if Schaub will resume his starting role this weekend, barring any setbacks in practice. Schaub has missed the past four games with a sprained left medial collateral ligament, an injury that early on in his recovery had seemed as if it might sideline him for the remainder of the season. But Schaub is nothing if not determined, and his efforts in rehab and practice have convinced the medical staff and the coaches that he is prepared to return to play.

Schaub was active as the second quarterback for Monday night's game, but Rosenfels played the entire game. According to ESPN.com reports, coach Gary Kubiak said that although everyone felt Schaub could play and play well if needed, they were "very fortunate" that he did not have to play Monday. This allows Schaub another week of practice under his belt before returning to a game situation, and Kubiak added that "the extra rest will help him." Schaub is tough. His perseverance showed just that last season, as he was knocked around and banged up regularly. He likely will wear a protective brace on his knee to help minimize stress on the MCL should he take a hit on the outer part of his leg. His mobility may be hampered a bit, but he is not one to play tentatively. The Texans will play in unfamiliar cold when they travel to Green Bay, but that won't stop Schaub from looking for his favorite receiving target, Andre Johnson. Be sure to check after Friday practice reports, but as of now, it looks as if Schaub will get the nod.

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

&#8226 According to a report on the Cowboys' official Web site, coach Wade Phillips announced during his Wednesday morning radio segment that Marion Barber would play Sunday. All along, it has looked as if Barber would give it a go, even though he dislocated his toe on Thanksgiving. Barber may not practice much and may require some adaptive footwear, but it is looking more and more like the Cowboys expect him in their lineup.

Wes Welker
Stew Milne/US PresswireThis hit from the Steelers' Ryan Clark has placed Wes Welker's status for Week 14 in doubt.
&#8226 Patriots receiver and resident tough guy Wes Welker took a big hit in last week's game from Steelers safety Ryan Clark, which forced him out of the game. From the looks of the hit, it could have been Welker's chest, neck or head (or some combination of the three) that suffered the most. Because the Patriots are the Patriots, no specific information was provided as to a possible injury to Welker, but there are some good early signs. The Boston Globe reports that Welker was present for at least the early portion of practice Wednesday. Stay tuned as the week progresses to see what the Patriots report.

&#8226 Fast Willie Parker looks as if he'll play this weekend, but don't be surprised if a time-share between him and teammate Mewelde Moore continues. Parker's knee has proven to be easily inflamed, and sharing time may be a way of helping off-load some of the strain.

&#8226 Whether Bills quarterback Trent Edwards plays may well come down to a game-time decision Sunday. Edwards injured his groin last week, and it looks to be a fairly significant injury. Coach Dick Jauron told the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle that he hoped Edwards would be well enough to return to practice Wednesday. Despite Edwards' declarations that he wants to play, if he is unable to practice much this week, it is likely that J.P. Losman would get the start against the Dolphins.

Players you need to replace

Plaxico Burress, WR, Giants: OK, hopefully you already had an idea this was coming. But now it's official: Burress has been suspended for the remainder of the season, so he will not be available for any of your fantasy playoffs. Look for Domenik Hixon or Amani Toomer.

Derek Anderson, QB, Browns: He probably wasn't on your roster, but if he was, you have a chance to replace him with someone who can help you down the stretch. And I don't mean Ken Dorsey, who becomes the starter in Cleveland. Consider Jeff Garcia, Shaun Hill or Joe Flacco, all still available in a number of leagues.

Deuce McAllister, RB, Saints: The terms of the suspension have been issued, and McAllister, along with five others, has been suspended for four games without pay. Translation: McAllister is not available for your fantasy playoffs. Consider Fred Jackson, who has quietly made some nice contributions in Buffalo, or, dare I say it, Cedric Benson, who faces a decent matchup against a weak Colts run defense this weekend.

Don't forget that the Raiders face the Chargers on Thursday, so get your lineups in early! We'll have the latest injury updates affecting the remaining Week 14 contests and any postmortem on Thursday injuries in the Saturday blog.

Plaxico Burress' return now likely delayed

November, 29, 2008
11/29/08
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Plaxico Burress, WR, Giants: It wasn't enough to be sidelined with a hamstring strain. Burress, who attempted to play last week despite the injury but had to exit the game after only one series, had already been ruled out for this week. Apparently his right hamstring would need a little more time before he would be able to return to action. It is not unusual for muscle strains to sideline a player for more than a week, especially when the risk of taking the field is that the injury could worsen and thus forcibly extend the player's time off. Just ask Steven Jackson.

Now it seems Burress has some additional issues, after ESPN's Sal Paolantonio reported that a league official confirmed Burress accidentally shot himself in his right thigh Friday night. The official indicated that the bullet went through skin and muscle in Burress' thigh (no word on whether that muscle was the ailing hamstring or not), but it did not hit any major arteries and no bones were broken. As of Saturday afternoon, he had been released from the hospital, but there has been no official word as to his roster status or expected recovery time. It doesn't take a medical background to appreciate that this does not help his healing time for his hamstring. We just don't know yet if it has been significantly set back. It sounds as if there will be several issues for the Giants to sort out here, along with the adjusted rehab plan, and we will certainly keep you posted. Best bet for your fantasy playoffs: Find another receiver, and fast.

Other noteworthy items


&#8226 Steven Jackson just might see his first action in six weeks. Actually, he did suit up once during the past five games, but played minimally, so we won't really count that one. Jackson is listed as questionable and will be a game-time decision. The rest apparently did him some good and he told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that he was "light years" ahead of where he was in early November. Nonetheless, he remained limited in practice throughout the week and never really ran at full speed, something coach Jim Haslett said he wanted to see before he would activate Jackson again. That aside, Haslett did acknowledge that Jackson appeared to improve as the week went on and even sounded as if a good pregame warm-up by Jackson could influence his decision. Fantasy owners take a gamble, even if he does play, as to how much the Rams will actually use him his first time out of the gate.

&#8226 Reggie Bush really thinks this is the week. There's no doubting his desire to come back from knee surgery, but everyone involved with the Saints wants to play this one cautiously to make sure he does not suffer a setback his first time on the field. An extra week allowed Bush to practice and eliminate some of the post-practice soreness and swelling that kept him out of action Monday. Plan to see the Saints spread their weapons around, but this week, Bush will be in the arsenal.

&#8226 Brandon Jacobs is listed as questionable this week. Jacobs participated in full practices Thursday and Friday, however, and seems likely to play. The tag no doubt reflects caution by the Giants, who listed Jacobs as probable last week and then felt the ire of some when Jacobs was declared inactive before the game. Apparently after the long flight west, Jacobs did not feel he could play up to the level of expectation, and after sharing that with his coaches, the team opted to rest him another week. The idea that they might rest him was not a surprise, given the importance of having a healthy Jacobs down the stretch. It's just that after practicing most of the week and declaring himself ready to go, along with the team listing him as probable, it came as a surprise (or shock, if he was on your fantasy team). This week, his designation suggests that he is less likely to play, but I think he is more likely to play. Not only did the additional week help, teammate Ahmad Bradshaw has been out of practice all week with a sore neck. He too is listed as questionable, although he looks far less likely to see the field. Hmmm. It could be a big day for Derrick Ward.

&#8226 Willie Parker is again listed as questionable because of his problematic knee. Parker continues to deal with inflammation in the knee, and it seems to get aggravated every time he takes the field. This is not unusual with knee ligament injuries, but it is enough to set Parker back in practice each week and put his status in doubt and it's not likely to resolve before the season ends. Parker was able to fully practice for two consecutive days, always a good sign that he'll be able to play, but expect the Steelers to continue to make use of Mewelde Moore.

&#8226 Add "oblique strain" to Clinton Portis' list of ailments. He remains questionable, and did not practice all week, but he hasn't missed a game yet. Assuming he gets up and runs for coach Jim Zorn on Sunday morning to his satisfaction, he will be in the lineup once again this weekend.

&#8226 Kellen Winslow is listed as questionable for the Browns again this weekend because of his shoulder sprain. Knowing that Winslow played last week, and knowing how tough he is, this might not seem like such a big deal. But the concern here is that Winslow put in a full practice Thursday and then was limited Friday, calling into question whether he suffered a bit of a setback or whether the team was just giving him less work heading into the game. He will likely play. He generally does, but it's worth checking the inactive lists just in case.

&#8226 Broncos' receiver Eddie Royal is questionable with a toe injury. He could perform only limited practice late in the week. Teammate Brandon Marshall is listed on the injury report because of his nagging hip, but he went through full practices, is listed as probable and is expected to play. Meanwhile, running back Selvin Young, who the Broncos thought might be able to return this week, is listed as questionable but does not look like he'll take the field. The groin injury is still problematic and he has been very limited all week in practice. Peyton Hillis will continue to dominate the workload for the Broncos' backs.

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 13.

Greg Camarillo, WR, Dolphins: Camarillo suffered a knee injury that will keep him out the remainder of the season.

Brady Quinn, QB, Browns: Quinn's fractured finger appeared to worsen and there was concern about tendon damage as well. He is currently evaluating whether or not to have corrective surgery. Either way, he won't be back for the Browns this season. Derek Anderson, barring injury, will finish out 2008.

Jeff Saturday, C, Colts: Saturday has a calf strain that could sideline him even beyond this week. Uh-oh. We saw what happened to the Colts' offense when Saturday was out earlier this season. They have to hope this will not be a long absence.

Good luck in Week 13! Be sure to check out our site Sunday for pregame chats and Fantasy Football Now at noon ET.

Things look promising for Bush

November, 26, 2008
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No more Brady Quinn. No more Ahman Green. And no more Shaun Alexander. Quinn (finger) and Green (knee) both have injuries that will preclude them from making a return in 2008. As for Alexander, well, let's just say there's a reason the Seahawks decided to turn him loose at the end of last season (just like the Redskins did this week). Not that any of these guys were fantasy stars, mind you, but if they were on your roster, you have a hole to plug this week.

So who is still standing and healthy enough to count on in Week 13? Based on early practice reports, here's what we're hearing on the injury front so far:

Brian Westbrook
Scott Boehm/Getty ImagesThe Eagles need Brian Westbrook to play Thursday, and he knows it.
Brian Westbrook, RB, Eagles: Westbrook's status looks to be a repeat of last week. He likely will not practice leading up to Thursday's game, and his injury label as of this post is questionable. Nonetheless, with the injury to backup Correll Buckhalter (MCL sprain), Westbrook is likely to be called upon more than the Eagles would have preferred. Lorenzo Booker now becomes Westbrook's backup, but he just hasn't seen enough playing time to provide the same offensive threat.

Expect Westbrook to be active for Thursday's game, but the knee and ankle troubles that have been plaguing him will not have gone away. On the Eagles' official Web site, Westbrook even said, "I don't think we're at the point where he would take me completely out, especially with our injury situation. I still think I can help out this team, whether it's picking up the blitz or running and catching the ball." His productivity, however, is likely to be limited again this week.

Reggie Bush, RB, Saints: As Bush says, "This could be the week." And Mike Triplett of the New Orleans Times-Picayune, who has been tracking Bush's every move since his surgery more than a month ago, seconds that. It looked like Bush would return on the big Monday night stage until late last week, but credit the Saints with holding him back until they were satisfied that he was approaching full health. Apparently, they did not see enough in practice to give them the confidence that Bush was ready to take the field and absorb the unavoidable contact that comes along with playing his position.

Bush might not see a full workload in his first game back, and it would not be a surprise to me if he is held out of special-teams play. Expect him to see some offensive action, though, including catching passes out of the backfield, and if all goes well, his action should continue to increase.

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

Jason Witten
AP Photo/Matt SlocumJason Witten is pretty sore right now, but he'll play Thursday.

&#8226 Jason Witten absorbed another huge body blow this week and had to get another set of X-rays. In addition to taking more hard shots to the chest, Witten also ended up with a sore jaw. Witten has played with a broken jaw before, so he knows what that pain is like. Luckily, there were no new fractures, and Witten, although no doubt very sore, practiced fully Monday and Tuesday and plans to play Thursday. Even though his broken ribs are still healing and his receptions are down, the team loves his presence on the field. But fantasy owners should keep in mind that he is at less than full health.

&#8226 Lions running back Kevin Smith banged up his shoulder last week and was held out of practice Monday. He returned to a limited practice Tuesday and is expected to play in the Lions' annual Thanksgiving day contest, but he might be less than 100 percent.

&#8226 Broncos running back Selvin Young is expected to return from his groin injury this week, assuming he is able to get in some full practices. That should serve only to cut into Peyton Hillis' workload. Broncos tight end Tony Scheffler is quietly getting healthier, and although he hasn't been very productive lately, he has a potentially good matchup Sunday versus the Jets.

&#8226 "Fast" Willie Parker might not be so fast getting back on the field after aggravating his knee again last week. Parker reportedly has inflammation in his recently sprained knee, and he's listed as questionable for Sunday's game. The word is that Parker will have more evaluative tests done this week, but it is reasonable to think that Mewelde Moore will again start in his place at New England. Receiver Santonio Holmes suffered a concussion last week, but coach Mike Tomlin said on the Steelers' official Web site that he expects Holmes to be ready to play Sunday.

&#8226 Plaxico Burress was scheduled to have his hamstring further evaluated this week. Burress had a disappointing early exit from Sunday's game once he figured out that he could not run fast with the hamstring ailing, but the Giants are hopeful that he will not miss much more time. We should have a better idea as to his status later in the week, but you know how it goes with these delicate hamstring injuries. Have a backup plan in place. Meanwhile, teammate Brandon Jacobs should be able to play Sunday at Washington after he was a surprise late scratch just before this past Sunday's game. Jacobs, who had appeared to be healthy after full practices late last week, reportedly had stiffness in his knee following the team's flight to Arizona, according to the New York Daily News. In any event, the extra week should have helped him, and it would be a surprise if he is not on the field this Sunday.

There are three Thursday games this week, so don't forget to set your lineups early! We'll have the latest injury updates affecting the Week 13 weekend contests and any postmortem on Thursday injuries in the Saturday blog.

Orton looking like a go

November, 15, 2008
11/15/08
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Uh-oh, it's fantasy crunch time. Playoff scenarios are starting to shape up, and victories in the next couple weeks are critical if you're on the bubble. Every player in your lineup has a crucial contribution to make to help you jockey for position in those divisional playoffs. You certainly don't want to accidentally leave in somebody who is going to be a gameday scratch, but there are a lot of question marks on the Friday NFL injury report.

So who will play this weekend? Here's what we know as we head into the Week 11 contests.

Kyle Orton, QB, Bears: What a difference a week makes. Orton has all of a sudden risen to a "probable" designation and by all accounts appears ready to take the field as the starter for the Bears on Sunday. Orton's injured right ankle has been faring better, and although it is still wrapped for support and he is not yet 100 percent recovered, he is doing just about everything in practice to convince his teammates and coaches that he is ready to play.

Initially, Orton's injury was reported as a high ankle sprain, and it certainly appeared at first that he would miss more time. But all sprains are not created equal, and Orton is certainly proving that with his speedy recovery. Coach Lovie Smith told the Chicago Sun-Times that Orton has "gotten better each day [and] there's no reason to think that won't continue [through] Sunday." His biggest challenges will be rolling right on the still-tender right ankle, and the unavoidable tangles that he is destined to be a part of during a game. If he can handle those obstacles, there's no reason to think that he cannot be essentially healthy going forward.

[+] EnlargeClinton Portis
Drew Hallowell/Getty ImagesFantasy owners need to look for someone other than Portis to help them this week.
Clinton Portis, RB, Redskins:

Portis is listed as questionable, and his status remains a game-time decision for Sunday night. It's really not looking good for Portis, especially when you consider the nature and severity of the injury (grade 2 MCL sprain), his limitations this week (he could not fully bend or extend his knee at the start of the week), and his inability to practice through Friday. That being said, Portis was earnestly doing everything he could from a treatment perspective, and coach Jim Zorn wanted to see how he would fare in the Saturday walkthrough.

From a fantasy perspective, despite how outstanding Portis has been this year, look elsewhere for your running back this week. Even if he does play, which would come as a surprise, Zorn has already indicated that he would only use Portis in a limited capacity. Ladell Betts (probable) is hopeful to return after missing several weeks himself with a knee sprain, and beyond Betts, Shaun Alexander and Rock Cartwright are available for the Redskins to sprinkle into their running back mix. Assume that Portis will take a while longer to get his knee fully healthy before he can perform up to the high standard he has set this year.

Other noteworthy items


Tony Romo (probable) is expected to start for the Cowboys. Romo is returning after a four-week absence due to a broken pinkie in his throwing hand. His only discomfort remains with taking snaps under center, but according to coach Wade Phillips, Romo has been throwing well in practice. The Cowboys have to be excited about their deep-ball option returning to the game plan this week. And Romo has to be excited that he will be able to throw to his buddy Jason Witten, who is expected to return to the field this week despite a still-healing broken rib. Witten may not feel quite 100 percent, but he has been able to practice on a limited basis, and with some extra rib padding for insurance, along with his rep as the toughest guy on the field, he provides a boost for his team.

• Wide receiver Matt Jones has a potential suspension looming over him, but that won't be what keeps him off the field this week. If Jones can't suit up for the Jaguars on Sunday, it will be because of a thigh injury that has kept him out of practice most of this week. If Jones is on your team, it's probably best to secure a backup given that the Jags have a late game, and even if Jones plays, he is not expected to be at full strength.

• "Fast" Willie Parker is off the injury report and will be on the field for the Steelers on Sunday. Sure, he may be in a harness to protect his shoulder, but that should not interfere with his function as a running back. He is bound to experience some soreness if he takes hits to the shoulder, from a defender or the ground, but more important for Parker is that his knee appears healthy and he's running well. Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is also off the injury report, so expect him at least to start for the Steelers. If he experiences another late game decline however, don't expect Tomlin to hesitate to pull the switch and insert Byron Leftwich.

• Ravens receiver Derrick Mason injured his shoulder during last Sunday's game. On Monday we talked about how soreness and swelling is often worse in the first few days post-injury and how Mason's practice activity would go a long way to indicate what his chances of playing this week really are. Well, Mason did not practice Wednesday or Thursday and did only a limited amount Friday. He is wearing a harness to protect his left shoulder but coach John Harbaugh was noncommittal regarding Mason's availability, telling the Carroll County Times, "We'll see how he is on Sunday." Hmmm. A less than fully healthy Mason who is a game-time decision versus a tough opponent? You may want to consider another fantasy option.

• Raiders' quarterback JaMarcus Russell was able to move around much better in practice this week. Russell has been contending with a bone bruise in his knee along with tendinitis. Although listed as questionable, he is expected to play. Meanwhile, running back Darren McFadden had quite an improvement in his status this week. His tag remains "questionable," but if you take into account that McFadden was able to practice all week -- albeit on a limited basis -- and that he is feeling more comfortable and confident in his new shoes, his chances of playing Sunday look much better. According to the Contra Costa Times, McFadden has been running and cutting without pain and has tossed his protective boot. McFadden even went so far as to say that he had "a different pep" in practice. It's unclear how much playing time he'll see, but expect him to be out there.

• The Seahawks will enjoy the return of their signal-caller, Matt Hasselbeck, who has been disabled by weakness in his leg as a result of sciatic nerve compression linked to a bulging disc. Pain was never the issue for Hasselbeck, weakness was, but gradually the nerve function, and thus his muscle strength, has improved. Hasselbeck was able to practice all week, is listed as probable, and is expected to start. Joining him on the field will be Deion Branch, who after making an impressive return from ACL reconstruction was almost immediately sidelined again, this time with a bruised heel on his opposite leg. Branch has finally been able to get back on the practice field. He, too, is listed as probable but is expected to play. Expect both to be a little rusty, but nonetheless welcome additions to an otherwise anemic offense.

• In Tampa, there is much excitement about the return of Carnell Williams to the roster after missing nearly a year with a torn patellar tendon, but don't expect him to see much, if any, playing time just yet. The Bucs will be cautious with Williams after such a severe injury; his first contact drills took place just this week. But Earnest Graham is still ailing with a sprained knee suffered before the bye week, and Warrick Dunn, although able to practice all week, is just returning from a pinched nerve in his upper back. Graham is listed as questionable and may play, but in a limited capacity. Dun is listed as questionable but based on his ability to practice, looks to be the more sure bet to go. The idea that Williams can contribute soon has to make coach Jon Gruden happy. For fantasy purposes though, don't count on Williams or Graham this week, but do expect Dunn to get the start and get the bulk of the work.

• Ten players listed as questionable this week? The Colts made liberal use of the designation in Friday's injury report but have strongly hinted that two of the key fantasy players on that list, Anthony Gonzalez and Reggie Wayne, are likely to suit up Sunday. Gonzalez had a hamstring strain that kept him limited in practice this week, but it is reportedly minor. Wayne had an ankle ailment that was bothering him, and after recently tweaking his knee, the Colts were no doubt trying to preserve his overall health by limiting his practice reps early on. Both Gonzalez and Wayne went through full practice Friday, so it does appear that they will be available for Sunday's matchup against the Texans.

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 11.

Steven Jackson, RB, Rams: Jackson's thigh is not healing as fast as anyone would like, including Jackson himself, who stayed behind while his teammates traveled to San Francisco so that he can confer with a specialist. Jackson ran fairly well in practice Wednesday but was then unable to do anything the remainder of the week because of persistent stiffness and soreness in his thigh. Antonio Pittman gets the start again for the Rams.

Matt Schaub, QB, Texans: Schaub will miss another week, at least, with his sprained knee (MCL), and Rosenfels will again start in his place.

Felix Jones, RB, Cowboys: The Cowboys were hoping to get Jones back from a hamstring injury after the bye week along with teammates Romo and Witten. The nature of Jones' particular injury, though (distal hamstring, near the knee), makes it a tough one to heal, and a little extra recovery time is not unexpected.

Heath Miller, TE, Steelers: Miller is still sidelined with a high ankle sprain. Matt Spaeth continues to start in his place.

Reggie Bush, RB, Saints: Despite doing some limited work in practice Wednesday, Bush did not practice later in the week, and coach Sean Payton decided to hold him back. No reason to hurry back from meniscal surgery, especially given that this is the same knee in which Bush suffered a sprained posterior cruciate ligament just last year. His return will likely take place when the Saints host Monday Night Football in Week 12.

Arnaz Battle, WR, and Josh Morgan, WR, 49ers: Battle remains out with a foot sprain and is joined this week by Morgan, who has a groin injury. Jason Hill, who showed that he could connect with Shaun Hill, is an interesting receiver option.

Javon Walker, WR, Raiders: Yet another injury ends Walker's season early. This time it's his ankle, and he's already undergone surgery to implant some hardware in his injured leg. What will his future hold? That has yet to be determined, but this latest setback doesn't help.

Good luck in Week 11! Be sure to check out our site Sunday for pregame chats and Fantasy Football Now at noon ET.

Can Parker play with shoulder injury?

November, 10, 2008
11/10/08
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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.

Steven Jackson looking to play

November, 1, 2008
11/01/08
10:10
PM ET
Bad weather and airport delays during my West Coast travels have me hustling to get the news out to you. So without further ado, here's what we know as we head into the Week 9 contests.

Willie Parker, RB, Steelers: After a successful week of practice, including Saturday, it appears (fingers crossed) that Parker, labeled as probable, will play Monday. Parker has been working his way back from a sprained medial collateral ligament (MCL) in his left knee which he originally injured in Week 3. Then, just when it looked as if he was ready to return, a misstep set him back and he has missed two additional weeks.

Parker and his fantasy owners have been eagerly anticipating his return, but don't get too excited just yet. Given the fact that he has already suffered one setback, no one wants to set him up for another, so the team plans to bring him back gradually. In other words, expect Mewelde Moore to continue to see a fair amount of action this week.

Steven Jackson, RB, Rams: The quad strain that kept Jackson out of last week's game continued to limit him in practice throughout the week, although he was able to do a bit more Friday. Nonetheless, his official designation remains questionable and again this week coach Jim Haslett stated that Jackson would be a game-time decision. Last week it was tightness in the muscle that Jackson felt during warm-ups that kept him from going, so it did literally come down to how he felt minutes before the game.

But wait! Perhaps you won't have to wait until just before kickoff to find out about Jackson's status. In a late post on his official Web site Saturday, SJ39.com, Jackson announced to all his fans that the leg is feeling good enough for him to play against the Cardinals on Sunday. He notes that it is a big game and he is going to "give everything [he's] got" to get the Rams a win. In case you still don't believe? Jackson's words: "So to be clear. I am playing. Be ready." Don't know if that's directed at fantasy owners or the Cardinals, but it sounds convincing. Although he was limited this week, and perhaps a little more so than expected given that he was considering suiting up last week, he may have been protecting his leg to save up for the weekend. It's looking promising.

Joseph Addai, RB, Dominic Rhodes, RB, and Reggie Wayne, WR, Colts: Addai has been absent for a few weeks because of a hamstring strain but there is reason to get (a little) excited. Addai, although listed as questionable, is expected to play, and possibly start when the Colts face the Patriots on Sunday night. Addai has been practicing all week without a setback, a positive sign of his progress.

The reason we can get only a little excited is because the Colts plan to have Addai share time with Rhodes, who has been filling in ably during his absence. According to Tom James of the Terre Haute Tribune-Star, Tony Dungy was very clear on that point even as Addai improved in practice throughout the week. "Joseph will start if he's ready to go and 100 percent. But Dom is going to get a lot of carries and continue to do a good job for us either way. If Joe's not 100 percent, then we'll start Dom," the Colts coach said. There's a twist, though. Rhodes himself was added to the injury report this week with an ankle ailment and is listed as questionable. Despite that, he was fully practicing Thursday and Friday, so he should be on the field. Addai and Rhodes are likely to split the work to ensure that neither is overburdened.

Meanwhile, Wayne has been limited by a sore knee all week. The Colts have not issued any specifics related to his injury, indicating only that he tweaked the knee against the Titans. Early in the week, Dungy sounded optimistic that this apparently minor ailment wouldn't hold Wayne back. But as the week went on, and Wayne did not practice Thursday as originally expected, it appeared the situation was a bit more serious. On Friday, Wayne did only limited work and has been tagged as questionable. Here's why we're concerned. This is a guy who, until this week, has not missed practice since his rookie year in 2001. The knee is bothering him. That being said, Wayne did tell the Indianapolis Star that he is "ready to go." Look for Wayne to be a game-time decision, but consider that he may not be in tip-top form.

Other noteworthy items


&#8226 Clinton Portis ended the week with a probable designation, so you can feel safe that he will play Monday. His hip is still sore and he sprained an ankle last week, so the team kept his practice to a minimum, but he is good to go. Teammate Santana Moss is less of a sure thing, however; his hamstring strain kept him out of practice the entire week. He is listed as questionable and even coach Jim Zorn made it clear in comments to the Washington Post that he did not want Moss to start, only to find out minutes into the game that he couldn't continue: "I want him to go out and, if he's going to play, participate fully in the game." Given Moss' extensive hamstring injury history (2004, 2006 and 2007) and his reliance on speed and explosiveness, I would be leery of counting on his availability.

&#8226 Jason Witten remains a game-time decision with his fractured rib. Witten, known for his pain tolerance, is feeling enough pain that his daily activities are limited, and he has not practiced all week. He is very Brian Westbrook-esque in his ability to show up Sunday and play well, even if he does not practice during the week, but even Westbrook sat out a week with a rib fracture. Witten may very well follow suit.

&#8226 Speaking of Westbrook, the Eagles now have him and Kevin Curtis back in the mix. It also appears that they will add Reggie Brown to the list of players returning to the lineup from injury. Brown has missed multiple games this year because of various muscle strains, the latest being a groin injury. Brown did practice all week, is listed as probable and is expected to play. Teammate DeSean Jackson also showed up on the injury report with a shoulder ailment but it appears minor because he did not miss any practice time. He too is listed as probable and is expected to play.

&#8226 Buccaneers coach Jon Gruden acknowledged earlier in the week that Dunn should not have played last week. Although Dunn seemed to downplay the symptoms of his pinched nerve last week, it clearly was more problematic than he expected. Dunn did not practice all week and is unlikely to play Sunday. More work for Earnest Graham.

&#8226 The Bears have to be happy that Devin Hester was completely off the injury report this week. Teammate Brandon Lloyd, however, was not. Lloyd is still listed as questionable with a sprained knee and has not been a full participant in practice all week. Do not be surprised if he is held out again Sunday.

&#8226 What to make of the Broncos' injury report? It looks as if the entire running back corps is questionable, along with a receiver and a tight end. Running backs Selvin Young (groin) and Ryan Torain (elbow) are the more questionable of the backs on the list. Young is still limited in practice. Torain, although he is doing well in practice, has never played a down of professional ball and coach Mike Shanahan has hinted that he wants to give him just a little more healing time before subjecting him to the big boy hits. Pittman (bruised ribs) was able to practice all week, suggesting that he will indeed be ready to play. Meanwhile, tight end Tony Scheffler continues to be limited by his groin injury and receiver Brandon Stokley is still recovering from his concussion. They both practiced on a limited basis and could play, but their status is not exactly confidence inspiring.

&#8226 Willis McGahee has been listed as questionable because of an ankle injury. There has been nothing out of Baltimore to suggest that this is serious, and the fact that he was limited in practice this week can probably be interpreted as a protective maneuver. Check game day inactives, but expect him to play.

&#8226 Raiders rookie Darren McFadden is nursing two bad toes. When you have two ailing feet, your designation is doubtful, as McFadden's is, and when you haven't practiced all week, you can expect that you'll be watching from the sidelines in your street clothes. And maybe a boot. More work for Justin Fargas.

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 9.

Carson Palmer, QB, Bengals: Palmer's elbow problems are not news, but his status is worth repeating. The Bengals have a bye next week, and after that we should learn whether Palmer will attempt to return at all this season.

Matt Hasselbeck, QB, Seahawks: Hasselbeck continues to have weakness in his leg related to sciatic nerve compromise. This is a waiting game and is not likely to be over quickly.

Tony Romo, QB, Cowboys: Out again this week with the broken pinkie, as expected. Bye next week. Likely return to start in Week 11.

LaMont Jordan, RB, and Sammy Morris, RB, Patriots: Well, Morris' downgrade posted in the Boston Globe Saturday was no surprise. Why the Patriots didn't list him as out on Friday is a mystery since it seemed as if everyone knew his knee would keep him out again this week. But Jordan was downgraded to out (from questionable) on Saturday along with Morris, apparently as a result of the nagging calf problem. BenJarvus Green-Ellis and Kevin Faulk are the Sunday tandem.

Champ Bailey, CB, Broncos: If you were watching Denver's last game two Mondays ago, you saw Bailey reach down to his inner thigh in the middle of a play, a sure sign of a groin injury. Unfortunately for Denver, it sounds as if it was a significant strain. Bailey is out this week and is expected to miss several more.

Josh Reed, WR, Bills: Reed has an Achilles injury that will sideline him this week.

L.J. Smith, TE, Eagles: Smith suffered a concussion last week and it was not pretty. He was unable to practice all week and will watch from the sidelines while he continues to recover.

Deion Branch, WR, Seahawks: Branch continues to be plagued by the heel injury he sustained a few weeks ago. The Seahawks recognized that he would not go early in the week and made the announcement that he would sit out alongside his quarterback.

Ladell Betts, RB, Redskins: Betts' knee injury from Week 7 will keep him out for the big Monday night contest against the Steelers. The Redskins have a bye in Week 10, so look for Betts to increase his activity in Week 11.

Shawn Springs, CB, Redskins: Springs has a calf injury that has been problematic and will sideline him Monday night. All the more important that teammate Carlos Rogers' calf injury does not appear quite so serious, and his return to practice late in the week suggests that he will be available against the Steelers.

Be sure to check out our site Sunday for pregame chats and Fantasy Football Now at noon ET. Good luck in Week 9!

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!

Bell: Not Fast Enough, Parker Out

October, 18, 2008
10/18/08
2:04
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There has been a lot of quarterback drama this week. We know that Carson Palmer is sitting this one out for the Bengals. We also know that Seneca Wallace will start in place of Matt Hasselbeck for the Seahawks. And finally we are getting the strong impression out of Dallas that Brad Johnson will indeed start, although Tony Romo and his broken pinkie finger are listed as questionable and he could serve as a backup.

There are a few other injuries to report that will certainly impact fantasy owners everywhere. Here's what we know as we head into the Week 7 contests.

Willie Parker, RB, Steelers: What happened? We were so sure we would see "Fast" Willie Parker back on the field after the bye. He wanted to come back in Week 5 because he felt so good, remember? Well, that was then, this is now. Parker is now listed as doubtful and the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette has reported that Parker did not practice Friday and will not play. Teammate Mewelde Moore continues to start in Parker's place.

Parker had been recovering from a sprained knee; specifically he had a sprain of his left medial collateral ligament (MCL) which supports the inner aspect of the knee joint and provides critical stability for lateral motion and cutting. Parker had resumed all activities and reportedly felt good with his cutting maneuvers, one of the final "tests" for readiness to return to play following this type of injury. But then he suffered a setback earlier in the week after reportedly stepping in a hole at the Steelers' practice facility, aggravating the still-healing ligament. The big question becomes whether Parker will be ready to go by next week. It is far from a sure thing at this point.

Clinton Portis, RB, Redskins: Portis has a strained hip flexor which kept him out of practice Wednesday and Thursday. The good news for the Redskins is that Portis was able to practice on Friday and although listed as questionable, is expected to play Sunday.

The hip flexor muscles are very strong in runners and are responsible, just as the name implies, for flexing the hip. The hip flexor generates a good deal of power in helping drive the runner forward, so with Portis likely at less than 100 percent, his explosiveness may be diminished this week. Portis has had an amazingly solid start to his season, so this has to be a great disappointment. Coach Jim Zorn said all week that he expected Portis to be available Sunday but after practice Friday, Zorn acknowledged there were deficits. "Nothing for him was absolute burst full-speed, but I saw him make some cuts both left and right."

Newly signed running back Shaun Alexander will be waiting in the wings to help out if needed. With Portis less than fully healthy and Ladell Betts out with a knee injury, Alexander could very well see some time on the field.

Other noteworthy items


&#8226 Cleveland Browns tight end Kellen Winslow returned to team practice Friday after missing last week with an undisclosed illness and says he is hopeful to play. Although Winslow kept quiet as to the exact nature of the illness, the Cleveland Plain-Dealer reports that he answered "no" when asked if he could confirm that it was an infection, and added that he did not lose any weight. Both of those answers would support the idea that he is strong enough to play, but he remains listed as questionable and looks to be a game-time decision.

&#8226 After sitting out practice Wednesday following a concussion last week, Detroit Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson returned to full practice Thursday and is off the injury report now. Teammate Kevin Smith still has a sore shoulder but is listed as probable and is expected to play.

&#8226 Hard as it is to believe, the Patriots' injury report actually adds more clarity to their running back situation this week. Both Laurence Maroney and LaMont Jordan are listed as doubtful and neither is expected to play Monday night. Neither Jordan (calf) nor Maroney (shoulder) practiced all week so there is really nothing encouraging about their chances of making an appearance. Sammy Morris and Kevin Faulk will continue to handle the bulk of the work.

&#8226 San Diego Chargers receiver Chris Chambers remains doubtful and is not expected to play. Earlier reports out of San Diego were optimistic about Chambers' prospects this week, but ankle sprains can be tricky, and Chambers himself has been vocal about making sure he does not return too soon and risk further injury. Running backs Darren Sproles (ankle) and LaDainian Tomlinson (toe) are both probable and will play.

&#8226 Denver Broncos receiver Eddie Royal is the lone bright spot on a very full Denver injury report. He is listed as probable and after fully practicing all week, his ankle appears to be much improved and he is expected to play. Meanwhile, tight end Tony Scheffler and running back Selvin Young, both of whom sat out last week, are still limited in terms of what they can do since suffering left-sided groin injuries. They are both listed as questionable, and with the extra day afforded them given that the team plays Monday night, there is some hope that they will be able to go. If they do play however, they will not be at 100 percent. Then there is wide receiver Brandon Stokley who sustained yet another concussion last Sunday. He too is questionable -- very questionable -- since he did not practice at all this week. It would not be surprising if he sits this one out. That means Brandon Marshall will remain a hot target for Cutler along with Royal. Don't worry about Marshall's surprise presence on the injury report. He had a mild groin strain but was able to fully practice Friday, is listed as probable and is expected to play Monday night.

&#8226 New Orleans finally gets some good news in the injury department. Wide receiver David Patten is no longer on the injury report and therefore should be expected in the Sunday lineup. Wide receiver Marques Colston and tight end Jeremy Shockey, whose joint progress from surgery we have been tracking for some time, are both listed as probable and expected to take the field Sunday. Colston and Shockey both saw limited reps in practice throughout the week. It appears Colston will get the green light while Shockey may very well be limited in his first action back Sunday as he is still on a relatively early timeframe following his sports hernia repair. The surprise name added to the Saints' list this week was Reggie Bush, who had soreness and swelling in his left knee according to the New Orleans Times-Picayune. This is the same knee in which Bush partially tore the posterior cruciate ligament (PCL) last year, and it is not unusual to have some intermittent swelling in a knee with an injury history. The Saints allowed him to rest the knee during the week with the idea that he would be ready to go Sunday, and coach Sean Payton told the Times-Picayune that he expects Bush, listed as probable, to "play his normal role." Bush said earlier in the week that he has been dealing with intermittent swelling since training camp. Clearly he has managed to perform just fine so far this year, so at this point there does not appear to be any major cause for concern.

&#8226 The Buccaneers are hoping that wide receiver Joey Galloway will be able to take the field this Sunday after missing several weeks with a foot sprain. This is the first week that Galloway has really been able to practice with the team and he appears eager to return. He is officially listed as questionable and it will come down to a game-time decision for him, based on how his foot feels during warmups.

&#8226 The Seattle Seahawks will likely be without the services of wide receiver Deion Brnach 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 listed as questionable, but is really not expected to play.

&#8226 In Indianapolis, running back Joseph Addai will probably be watching from the sidelines this week. He is listed as doubtful, and in fact was initially rumored to have a hamstring injury that could sideline him for a couple weeks, but the team still did not officially rule him out. It appears that the team is approaching his progress day-to-day, but given that Addai could not run all week, don't expect any miracles before Sunday.

&#8226 Good news in Tennessee as wide receiver Justin Gage appeared to be able to run more this week. He remains listed as questionable though as he has not practiced with the team and his status will come down to pregame warmups.

&#8226 In Minnesota the news on wide receivers Bernard Berrian and Sidney Rice is better this week. Berrian has been managing to play and play well the past two weeks despite a mild knee injury so it would be no surprise if he shows up in uniform ready to go. But Rice, who has struggled with a sprained posterior cruciate ligament, told the Minneapolis Star-Tribune that he is better now and "definitely" plans to play. Both players are listed as questionable, but it appears that both will be active. Keep in mind that if Rice does play, he may be limited in his first action in nearly a month.

&#8226 We saved a spot for a kicker mention. Bengals kicker Shayne Graham has a groin strain, very disabling for a kicker since the position requires both extreme flexibility and power from the groin area. Graham is questionable but will likely be on the sidelines with tight end Ben Utecht, who is doubtful with a chest injury. Wide receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh was also listed as questionable after being restricted in practice this week because of his ankle, but he did fully practice Friday and should play.

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 7.

Carson Palmer, QB, Bengals: We have been talking about the inflammation in his throwing elbow for a while now and after he sought a second opinion, it came as no surprise that he was encouraged to rest. Now we are hearing that he may be resting for at least another week. At least.

Matt Hasselbeck, QB, Seahawks: The problem in his back turned out to be responsible for much of what Hasselbeck was feeling in his leg. He is undergoing aggressive rehab and the team hopes to have him back for Week 8. That may be optimistic.

Ladell Betts, RB, Redskins: Betts has a knee injury that will sideline him this week. With teammate Clinton Portis banged up, will we see the 2008 debut of new team member Shaun Alexander?

Felix Jones, RB, Cowboys: His status was never in question like that of his quarterback teammate. Jones has a hamstring injury, reportedly located close to where the tendon attaches at the knee, that is projected to keep him out anywhere from two to four weeks.

Brandon Lloyd, WR, Bears: This should not be a surprise. We've been warning you for a while now that this injury looked as if it would cost Lloyd a few weeks of playing time. So far that's the case.

B.J. Askew, RB, Buccaneers: Askew hurt his hamstring last week and Earnest Graham shifted to the fullback position to help out his team and watched Warrick Dunn get all the glory. Great for his team, bad for his fantasy owners. Well, Askew sits out this one as well, but not to worry fantasy owners, Graham resumes his normal role this week.

Samari Rolle, CB, Ravens: Rolle is recovering nicely from his neck surgery and is reportedly out of his protective cervical collar, moving freely. He's still too soon out from surgery to be back on the field though. Plan on at least a couple more weeks.

Be sure to check out our site Sunday for pregame chats and Fantasy Football Now at 12 p.m. EST. Good luck in Week 7!

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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