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Saturday, November 26, 2011
Updated: November 27, 4:13 AM ET
Key fantasy injuries for Week 12


Matt Hasselbeck
Matt Hasselbeck is expected to play this week.

There are a lot of key injuries to sift through this week, so we'll right to it. Good luck in Week 12, everyone! May your players stay healthy and win for you.

Quarterbacks

Michael Vick, Philadelphia Eagles, ribs (Q): While the Eagles have not officially ruled Vick out for Week 12, there is little reason to suggest he will be ready to play. Vick still has not returned to practice and Vince Young has taken all the reps with the first team this week. Last week we outlined the challenges for Vick in trying to play through this injury. If the pain renders him ineffective there is really no reason for the Eagles to have him on the field. Expect Young to start again.

Matt Hasselbeck, Tennessee Titans, elbow (P): Hasselbeck injured his throwing arm in Week 11 and was forced from the game early. Much to the relief of the Titans, test results revealed no significant injury, but there were differing reports as to the exact nature of the injury. Initially it was referred to as a sprained elbow, suggesting the ligaments of the elbow joint itself were involved. Later it was termed a strained forearm, and coach Mike Munchak confirmed an injury to a flexor muscle, according to the Tennessean.

In baseball these injuries are commonly associated with pitchers. The flexors are literally responsible for flexing the wrist but also for contributing to overall grip and ball-control attach on the inner aspect of the elbow region, in close proximity to the stabilizing ligament on the medial (inner) side of the joint. That ligament, the ulnar collateral ligament (or UCL, often referred to as the Tommy John ligament in baseball), is injured far less frequently in football than baseball, but can be equally serious when it is. Jake Delhomme tore his UCL and required reconstructive surgery. Carson Palmer had a significant sprain which did not require surgery, but he did undergo lengthy rehabilitation and took a long time to return to form (some might say up through his time away from football before signing with the Oakland Raiders).

For Hasselbeck, a forearm strain would clearly be the preferred diagnosis. Judging from his quick return to practice (limited Wednesday, then full Thursday and Friday) and the expectation that he will start Sunday, the injury does indeed appear to have been minor. The key will be whether he can make the deep throws and maintain velocity (which is what he could not do last Sunday and which ultimately forced him out of the game). In any event, it appears the Titans plan on him starting Sunday.

Kevin Kolb, Arizona Cardinals, toe (Q): Kolb has missed several weeks with a turf toe injury along with a foot sprain. The injury was to his plant foot, making it difficult for him to use the foot to stabilize and deliver the ball, not to mention limiting his overall mobility. Kolb has been gradually increasing his involvement in practice and this week was able to make significant strides, although he remains listed as a limited participant. John Skelton has had some success in his place, but the sense is that Kolb could be ready to take the reins again this weekend.

Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh Steelers, right thumb (P): Roethlisberger has downplayed his fractured right thumb but admits it's painful. According to ESPN.com, Roethlisberger is wearing a splint under his glove and is working on adjusting to the feel. "It's definitely different," Roethlisberger said. "It hurts, first off, just to grip the ball. It's something you have to get used to."

While the focus is often on accuracy with throwing and handing off the ball, every quarterback knows one of the most difficult things to handle with a painful thumb is a hard snap from center. Consequently, the Steelers are making adjustments and Roethlisberger is expected to operate largely out of the shotgun Sunday. One thing Roethlisberger has shown in the past is his ability to play through various injuries and still seemingly manage to be effective. Full practice both Thursday and Friday along with the probable tag virtually ensures he will start Sunday night against the Chiefs.

Running backs

Peyton Hillis, hamstring and Montario Hardesty, calf, Cleveland Browns (Q): The Browns' running back situation went from fairly straightforward at the start of the week to anything but by Friday. Hillis, who has missed the last five games with a hamstring injury (between the initial injury in October and a major setback the first week in November), was originally ruled out for Week 12 by head coach Pat Shurmur. On Friday, after Hillis participated in team practice on the heels of a workout the previous day, Shurmur declared Hillis a game-time decision. According to the Cleveland Plain Dealer, Hillis went through a "rigorous workout" Thursday, then went through team drills Friday, including taking handoffs, and the Browns seem pleased with how Hillis tolerated the increased activity.

Teammate Hardesty, recovering from a calf injury sustained in Week 8, returned to some limited practice late last week but wasn't quite ready for game action in Week 11. This week Hardesty has been involved in limited practice daily, but the Browns seem more encouraged about his readiness to take the field.

One interesting note is Shurmur's emphasis that the depth chart at running back has not changed despite the injury situation. Hillis remains the top back, followed by Hardesty with Chris Ogbonnaya (who has started the last three games) in third. While this doesn't translate to Hillis seeing the bulk of the action Sunday if he plays, it does mean Ogbonnaya isn't likely to get nearly as much opportunity. In fact, Shurmur has already hinted at a rotation among the three backs, at least this week as he works his two previously injured players back into game shape. According to Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer, Shurmur says neither Hillis nor Hardesty will carry a full load.

While the return of a healthy Hillis may be good news for fantasy owners who were hanging on to him for playoffs, in the immediate sense this looks like a running back situation to avoid, as there's no telling how much action any one of the three backs will see.

Ryan Mathews, San Diego Chargers, knee (P): Mathews went from limited practice Wednesday to missing practice Thursday because of soreness in his knee, causing concern about his status for Sunday. He was able to return to full practice Friday, however, and is listed as probable, indicating that the Chargers fully expect him to be active. This may hint, however, at a decent amount of work for teammate Mike Tolbert.

Joseph Addai, Indianapolis Colts, hamstring (Q): Addai is finally back in practice mode, participating fully every day this week. He's not quite 100 percent yet, though, telling the Terre Haute Tribune-Star the hamstring still "feels a little sore." It does look as if the Colts will have him active, but how much they lean on him is questionable.

Beanie Wells, Arizona Cardinals, knee (P): The story is familiar by now. Knee expected to be an issue all season. Limited practice Wednesday and Thursday, full practice Friday. Probable? Wells will play through it. Productivity? Questionable from week to week.

LaDainian Tomlinson, knee, (Q) and Shonn Greene, ribs (P), New York Jets: Tomlinson is still experiencing soreness in his knee and did not practice at all this week. He is not expected to play. Greene was fortunate to get 10 days to recover after bruising his ribs against Denver. Greene practiced in full Wednesday through Friday and is expected to start this weekend when the Jets host the Bills.

Willis McGahee, Denver Broncos, hand (P): It's not surprising that McGahee would appear on the injury report following his hamstring strain against the Jets, but it is a bit unexpected that he is listed because of his hand. McGahee already showed us he could be effective (quickly!) following hand surgery, so no one is really anticipating any limitations there. McGahee practiced in full each day and is expected to see his normal workload.

Wide receivers

Andre Johnson
Andre Johnson is set to return to the field this week.

Andre Johnson, Houston Texans, hamstring (P): Oh yeah. He's back. Those who have been patiently waiting for Johnson to return can plug him in now. After a solid week of practice and everyone feeling confident, Johnson will return to the lineup Sunday. And hopefully Matt Leinart will be looking to him early and often.

Denarius Moore, foot and Darrius Heyward-Bey, neck, Oakland Raiders (Q): In what would seem an unlikely scenario given how things looked during last week's game, it now appears Heyward-Bey has a better chance of suiting up in Week 12 than Moore. Heyward-Bey has made great progress from a scary neck injury and was able to participate in limited practice Thursday and Friday. Meanwhile, Moore was in a protective boot early in the week and never did manage to get into practice. He did some work with the rehab staff out of the boot but that was about it. His status is very shaky heading into Sunday.

Jeremy Maclin, Philadelphia Eagles, shoulder/hamstring (D): While there has been some question as to whether the hamstring or the shoulder is limiting Maclin to a greater degree, there is no question about the fact he is not able to play. According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, Maclin's hamstring tightened up during Wednesday's practice, as hamstrings are wont to do, leaving his status going forward in limbo. Riley Cooper will likely start alongside DeSean Jackson, who, despite a foot injury in Week 11, is listed as probable and is expected to play.

Santana Moss, Washington Redskins, hand (P): Moss may be sneaking back into the lineup somewhat unexpectedly, but his practice sessions this week suggest he's ready to go. Moss underwent hand surgery about a month ago after injuring it against the Carolina Panthers. He has been practicing fully all week, most notably catching the balls thrown at him in practice without incident. Clearance from the medical staff and proof he can function normally are all you need to know. This is not like the shaky status of a player returning from a hamstring injury. Expect Moss to start Sunday.

A.J. Green, Cincinnati Bengals, knee (P): Green was held out in Week 11 after hyperextending his knee the week before. This was a wise move to help protect the rookie's knee health going forward, but he has shown this week that he is ready to return. Green put in full practice Thursday and Friday and should see regular game action on Sunday.

Julio Jones, Atlanta Falcons, hamstring (P): Jones is another rookie who has made an impact at the receiver position. His second hamstring injury this season had the Falcons concerned, but he eased back into practice this week and everyone is feeling confident. Well, as confident as can be expected when talking about a player returning from a hamstring strain. At probable, the Falcons plan on having him available Sunday. Everyone will have their fingers crossed that his thighs will be up to the task.

Sidney Rice, Seattle Seahawks, knee (P): Rice did not practice Wednesday or Thursday because of soreness in his knee, but did return to a full workout Friday. Rice has become a favorite target of quarterback Tarvaris Jackson, so expect him to be looking for him Sunday when the Seahawks host the Redskins.

Devin Hester, Chicago Bears, shin (P): Hester did not practice Thursday or Friday, but at probable is expected to play.

Percy Harvin, Minnesota Vikings, ribs (Q): Uh-oh. Wasn't Harvin off the injury report after the bye week? Harvin looked to be back in form, getting extra attention after teammate Adrian Peterson left the game in Week 11 with a high-ankle sprain. Even with Toby Gerhart starting at RB in Peterson's absence this weekend, it is largely expected that Harvin will be the prime beneficiary.

How will this rib issue affect him? Harvin was at least participating in practice every day this week, albeit on a limited basis, so it is expected he will play. Perhaps this was as much of a proactive move as anything, but it does make a fantasy owner a bit nervous. The hope is that Harvin will be able to play, as anticipated.

Mario Manningham, New York Giants, knee (Q): Manningham did not practice Thursday, Friday or Saturday, but the Giants must believe he has a shot to play by listing him at questionable. Given that it's a Monday night, there's risk involved in waiting on his status, unless you have another Saints or Giants player to plug in at the last minute.

Tight ends

Visanthe Shiancoe, Minnesota Vikings, hamstring (Q): Shiancoe did not practice until Friday and then did a limited workout. The team has not seemed overly concerned about his availability, but his status suggests he's not quite 100 percent.

Out

This space is intended for a list of key fantasy players, not including those who have been moved to injured reserve status, who are officially listed as "Out" for the upcoming game.

Ahmad Bradshaw, New York Giants, foot: At least the Giants were thoughtful enough to announce Bradshaw as out for Monday night football on Saturday. Bradshaw still has not returned to practice, but coach Tom Coughlin would not rule him out Friday, saying Bradshaw was "moving around well." But it was Coughlin himself who a week ago said he'd like to see Bradshaw back in practice before putting him in a game situation, so this move is not surprising. With the team going on the road to New Orleans and the game coming on a Monday night, fantasy owners would have been stuck with a very iffy situation. Consider the news of Bradshaw's progress a positive sign for Week 13, but plan on a substitution this week.

Adrian Peterson, RB, Minnesota Vikings, ankle: With regard to Peterson's high ankle sprain, the big-picture news is very encouraging. It was reported by coach Leslie Frazier to be a Grade 1, the least severe, with only minor ligament damage. Even Peterson projected optimism early in the week, saying he planned on playing Sunday. But by now we all have seen that even the non-severe high ankle sprains tend to sideline athletes for at least some period of time (remember the case of Rams quarterback Sam Bradford, whom the team suggested might return the week following his injury, yet he missed two games, and the physical demands on his ankle are less than Peterson's).

Peterson rested the leg in a walking boot for much of the week, but when it came time to test it Friday, the reality of the injury was apparent. Frazier then declared Peterson to be "very, very doubtful." In other words, it was just a matter of hours before he was declared inactive. Expect Toby Gerhart to get the start in his place.

Darren McFadden, RB, Oakland Raiders, foot: McFadden continues to move slowly in his return from a foot sprain. With Michael Bush running so well, the Raiders' running game has not suffered. But fantasy owners everywhere are feeling the strain, wondering when McFadden will return from what was supposedly a minor injury.

Jahvid Best, RB, Detroit Lions, concussion: Best has not played since suffering a concussion in Week 6. On Friday, the Lions announced that they plan to place Best on IR. Coach Jim Schwartz said Best had made progress but not enough to return to football, and making this move was the prudent decision.

Fred Jackson, RB, Buffalo Bills, fibula: Jackson went from a calf bruise to a broken leg … and now he is heading to injured reserve. It's unfortunate, after he was enjoying such a stellar season. Jackson should have plenty of time to recover and prepare for next season, but for now C.J. Spiller has an opportunity to step up. The Bills also signed Tashard Choice to add depth to their running back roster.

Dallas Clark, TE, Indianapolis Colts, fibula: The Colts still have not let on much about the nature of Clark's injury, but we know he has yet to return to practice. There's nothing yet to suggest he's around the corner from returning.

Peyton Manning, QB, Indianapolis Colts, neck: Manning has been out since the start of the season but as the Indianapolis Star reported, Manning is due for a re-check with doctors on Dec. 1, three months post-surgery. How well the fusion has progressed could dictate his next steps. No one really expects Manning to return to play this season, but any progress will be worth monitoring.

Jay Cutler, QB, Chicago Bears, thumb: Cutler underwent surgery this week to repair a Bennett's fracture in his right (throwing) thumb. The door is being kept open for Cutler to return before the end of the regular season, but all will have to go extremely well.

Jacoby Ford, WR, Oakland Raiders, foot: Like his teammate McFadden, Ford is sidelined with a mid-foot injury. Ford is not practicing yet and there is no timetable for his return.

Malcom Floyd, WR, San Diego Chargers, hip: Floyd has been knocked out of multiple games because of the hip, but he seems to think his return is not far off. We'll need to see Floyd get back into practice first before getting too excited about his potential for rejoining the lineup.

Be sure to check out "Fantasy Football Now," Sundays at 11:30 a.m. ET on ESPN2, and Fantasy Surround on ESPN.com starting at 10 a.m. ET Sunday for last-minute inactives, rankings, injury impact and more!