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|It is clear that Danny Amendola isn't fully recovered from his foot injury.|
Here come the fantasy playoffs!
If you lost Percy Harvin to the injured reserve this week, you want to have a replacement you can start with confidence Sunday (or Monday). If you started Brandon Myers at tight end Thursday night, you have some ground to make up.
While no one can be sure a team's play calling will feature your running back or that the quarterback will actually get the ball to your receiver, you're certainly hoping to avoid the game-time decision blues or, worse yet, the starter who leaves the game with an injury setback. With that in mind, these are some of the key names on the injury watch list heading into Week 14.
Ben Roethlisberger, right shoulder (P) and Byron Leftwich, ribs (Q), Pittsburgh Steelers: On Thursday, I noted Roethlisberger had been named the starter after he demonstrated he could throw the ball effectively. His recovery has been impressive but not altogether surprising. Everyone will be a little uneasy when he absorbs his first big hit, as there is no fully testing that prior to a game. As for Leftwich, his recovery from broken ribs continues, but given that he has not been able to practice, the expectation is that Charlie Batch will serve as Big Ben's backup.
Michael Bush, Chicago Bears, ribs (Q): Last week it was Matt Forte who was questionable with an ankle injury. This week it's Bush whose first appearance in practice did not come until Friday (limited). Then again, the best medicine for sore ribs is rest. Bush's status remains iffy heading into the weekend, but with Forte off the injury report, this scenario could be a bump up for him.
DeMarco Murray, foot and Felix Jones, knee, Dallas Cowboys (P): This might be the most optimistic injury report for these two backs in months. Murray had a strong showing in his first game back after spraining his foot. Most importantly, he said the foot felt good afterward despite being surprised by how much work he got. After a day off Wednesday, he practiced on a limited basis the next two days. Jones has been a regular presence on the injury report because of his knees but practiced in full each day. Both are expected to play Sunday.
Michael Turner, Atlanta Falcons, elbow (Q): Turner was limited in practice the entire week because of an elbow injury, but no one in Atlanta seemed to express overwhelming concern. ESPN's Adam Schefter reports Turner will play Sunday, so the lack of concern appears justified.
Beanie Wells, Arizona Cardinals, knee (Q): Wells remains questionable because of his knee, but if last week is an indication, he should be available to play. He was a limited participant in practice throughout the week, just as he was last week, when he managed only 22 yards on the ground. This week, well, the Cardinals travel to Seattle.
Steven Jackson, St. Louis Rams, foot (P): Jackson remains on the injury report because of his foot but has played through the injury weekly. He will do so again.
Trent Richardson, Cleveland Browns, chest/rib/finger (P): Richardson is still on the injury report, but he is going to play.
Marshawn Lynch, Seattle Seahawks, back (P): Lynch will play as usual against the Cardinals barring a late surprise.
Frank Gore, San Francisco 49ers, wrist (P): The only difference in Gore's listing on the injury report this week is that his wrist is the only body part noted. Apparently his ribs have improved. Gore will continue to play.
Ahmad Bradshaw, New York Giants, foot (P): Bradshaw maintains his weekly regimen of not doing much during the week. With the Giants having played Monday night, it's no surprise Bradshaw had Wednesday and Thursday off then returned for a limited practice Friday. He will continue to be the primary running back with Andre Brown on IR.
Jonathan Stewart, Carolina Panthers, ankle (D): Stewart was out last week with the ankle injury and is expected out again. DeAngelo Williams gets the start.
Danny Amendola, St. Louis Rams, foot (Q): Amendola was listed as doubtful two weeks ago but played -- for a few minutes. Last week, he was listed as doubtful and sat out. This week, he returned to limited practice for the first time since injuring his foot/heel and did so on back-to-back days (Thursday and Friday). His questionable designation is precisely that, and coach Jeff Fisher has said it will come down to game time. Given past experience, it would not be surprising if Amendola is active, but it is clear he is not fully recovered from the injury and the amount of playing time he will see is unpredictable.
Hakeem Nicks, New York Giants, knee (Q): On Thursday, I registered concerns about Nicks' recurring knee swelling. Tom Coughlin expressed hope earlier in the week that the soreness would resolve to the point Nicks could play, but it may come down to a game-time call -- again.
Stevie Johnson, Buffalo Bills, hamstring (Q): After straining his hamstring last week, Johnson said he thought he would miss some practice time but expected to play. Well, he missed Wednesday then returned to limited practice Thursday and Friday. If his prediction is correct, Johnson should play Sunday, even if he is not quite 100 percent. As noted Thursday, Johnson has played through soft tissue injuries in the past. Still, expect the team to evaluate him before the game to make a final determination. As fantasy owners already know, any player entering a game with a recent hamstring injury carries risk for decreased production or an in-game setback. (We're talking to you, Jordy Nelson.)
Antonio Brown, ankle; Mike Wallace, knee; Emmanuel Sanders, shoulder; Jerricho Cotchery, ribs, Pittsburgh Steelers (P): It used to be all the Steelers running backs that made the injury report; now it's the entire wide receiver corps. On the positive side, all are probable and all should be available. Brown returned to action in Week 13 after missing several weeks with a high ankle sprain. He was given Wednesday off but returned to full practice the remainder of the week. Wallace rested his knee Wednesday but was back in full swing Thursday and Friday. Sanders' shoulder had him out Wednesday and doing only limited work Thursday, but he was able to put in a full practice Friday. Cotchery has missed two games due to rib fractures but practiced in full each day this week. While his designation indicates he is expected to be available, he may have little opportunity with all receivers relatively healthy.
Andre Roberts, Arizona Cardinals, ankle (Q): Roberts sat out Week 13 because of his ankle injury. He did not practice this week until Friday, when he put in limited work. His status will potentially come down to game time in a late matchup against the Seahawks. If Roberts can't go, Michael Floyd will likely start in his place, as he did against the Jets.
Pierre Garcon, Washington Redskins, foot (P): Garcon has certainly turned a corner since taking the extended break to rest the injured plantar plate of his second toe. This week, he was a full participant in practice every day despite coming off a big Monday night game. There is no doubt about his status this week.
Vincent Jackson, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, calf (P): Jackson has played through the calf ailment before, and it appears he will do so again this week. Mmm, Philadelphia defense.
Miles Austin, Dallas Cowboys, hip (P): Austin played last week coming off a hip injury the prior Sunday. Given that he was out on the practice field daily without limitation, there is more confidence in him this week.
A.J. Green, Cincinnati Bengals, illness (P): Green did not appear on the injury report until Friday. Since the team has tagged him as probable, it must not be too concerned about his illness. Double-check his pregame status just to be sure.
Sidney Rice, Seattle Seahawks, head (P): Despite absorbing a big hit late in Week 13, Rice made rapid progress and was practicing on a limited basis Wednesday. He was able to do so daily and is expected to play Sunday.
Alshon Jeffery, Chicago Bears, knee (P): Jeffery has been out since Week 11 after undergoing arthroscopic knee surgery. He returned to practice Wednesday and upgraded to full practice Friday. Coach Lovie Smith said he expected Jeffery to play Sunday, and with Earl Bennett out with a concussion, it provides more opportunity. Be forewarned, though, that some players experience increased swelling and soreness in their first game back following surgery (see: Donald Brown).
Jeremy Kerley, New York Jets, hamstring/heel (P): Kerley was a full participant throughout the week and is expected to play.
Mario Manningham, San Francisco 49ers, shoulder (D): Manningham left last week's game early after aggravating his already ailing shoulder and has not practiced since. He is not expected to play.
Brandon LaFell, Carolina Panthers, toe (Q): It's interesting that LaFell is designated questionable, as his turf toe kept him out of practice all week. Joe Person of the Charlotte Observer reported LaFell was "limping noticeably" Thursday. It's hard to imagine him playing, but it appears the door is still open. Not exactly a sure-thing during fantasy playoff week.
Greg Olsen, Carolina Panthers, back (P): Olsen made some folks nervous when he popped up on the injury report this week. Although he didn't practice Wednesday, he put in back-to-back full practices Thursday and Friday. The probable designation indicates he is expected to play.
Jermaine Gresham, Cincinnati Bengals, hamstring (P): This has been a two-day roller coaster. Gresham was limited Wednesday by the hamstring and sat out Thursday completely. On Friday, he was back doing limited work, but it's unknown just how much he truly tested the hamstring. A word of caution: Joe Reedy of the Cincinnati Enquirer reminds us that Gresham was listed as probable before a game last season but did not play. Fantasy owners would be wise to make alternate plans in case Gresham is inactive. Even if he is active, the balky hamstring may end up being a factor.
Jared Cook, Tennessee Titans, neck (P): Despite being listed on the report, Cook practiced fully each day and is expected to play.
Dustin Keller, New York Jets, ankle (D): Keller's sprained ankle kept him out of practice all week. Plan on him being out of the game as well.
Kyle Rudolph, Minnesota Vikings, shoulder (P): Rudolph was able to get back to full practice Friday after limited work Wednesday and Thursday. At probable, he is expected to play.
Aaron Hernandez, New England Patriots, ankle (no designation): Hernandez remains on the injury report as he continues to receive treatment on his ankle and perform limited practice reps. The expectation is that he will play Monday night when the Patriots host the Texans.
Owen Daniels, Houston Texans, back (P): Daniels has been on the report for a few weeks because of his back, but he hasn't missed a game since Week 10. Expect him to play Monday night after fully practicing all week.
This space is intended for a list of key players, not including those who have been moved to injured reserve status previously, who are officially listed as Out for the upcoming game.
Percy Harvin, WR, Minnesota Vikings (ankle): By now, most are aware the Vikings have placed Harvin on injured reserve because of his ankle. He will not return this season.
Jordy Nelson, WR, Green Bay Packers (hamstring): At least there will be no agonizing on game day over Nelson's status. Coach Mike McCarthy suggested early in the week that Nelson would sit out, and indeed he is.
Michael Vick, QB, Philadelphia Eagles (concussion): Nick Foles has been named the starter for the Eagles, but that doesn't change the fact that Vick is still working on his recovery. He is making progress but has not been able to return to practice yet.
LeSean McCoy, RB, Philadelphia Eagles (concussion): McCoy is making progress, but not enough to see the practice field. There will be more Bryce Brown for the Eagles.
Rashad Jennings, RB and Cecil Shorts, WR, Jacksonville Jaguars (concussion): Both players suffered concussions in Week 13, and neither is ready to return to action just yet.
Donald Brown, RB, Indianapolis Colts (ankle): The Colts indicated early in the week that Brown would miss this game because of an ankle injury suffered last Sunday. Vick Ballard is the starter.
Rob Gronkowski, TE, New England Patriots (forearm/hip): As of this writing, the Patriots have not officially ruled Gronkowski out for Monday night. He has not practiced, however, and it appears highly unlikely there will be a status change.
Eddie Royal, WR, San Diego Chargers (hamstring): Royal will miss another week with his lingering hamstring injury.
Maurice Jones-Drew, RB, Jacksonville Jaguars (foot): Jones-Drew is still not involved in team practice. The team has not indicated that shutting him down is a consideration. We will see what next week holds.
Be sure to check out "Fantasy Football Now" on Sunday airing on ESPN2 at 11 a.m. for last-minute inactives, rankings, injury impact and more!