Rookies at rest (USAT)
There's nothing major on the line when the Browns and Steelers meet up in Week 17, and Cleveland certainly isn't making the game a priority. Make sure you buy a scorecard on the way to Heinz Field; you might not recognize some of the visitors.
For starters, the Browns will have third-string quarterback Thaddeus Lewis under center. Brandon Weeden and Colt McCoy are both battling shoulder injuries and won't be available. Lewis, a 25-year-old who piloted Duke from 2006-2009, has yet to throw a pass in the NFL. And don't look for Trent Richardson (ankle) to smooth things over; the rookie tailback is out of action, too. Montario Hardesty moves up to the first string.
If this news won't talk you into the Pittsburgh defense, nothing will. I've moved the Steelers D/ST to the No. 4 position for the week, only trailing the three slam dunks (Niners, Broncos, Seahawks).
• Mike Wallace (hip) won't go against Cleveland, which means Antonio Brown and Emmanuel Sanders will be the primary Pittsburgh receivers. The Steelers also won't have tight end Heath Miller, who tore his ACL and MCL in the Week 16 loss to the Bengals.
• Roddy White (knee) missed the full workout week and carries the questionable tag into Week 17. With the Falcons set as the NFC's top seed, there's no reason to risk a thing with White against Tampa Bay. As for Matt Ryan and Company, no one really knows how long Mike Smith will play his primary guys. I'd look for safer fantasy options, players with incentive-driven games.
• Matt Forte (ankle) had a complete workout Friday, and while no one sees him as fully healthy at the moment, the Bears are calling him probable for the must-have game at Detroit.
• Randall Cobb (ankle) did some work Friday after sitting out the entire Thursday session. The Packers are calling him questionable for the game at Minnesota. Figure on a game-time decision, and unfortunately this game is a late start, in the second wave of the slate.
• Michael Vick steps back into the saddle for the Eagles, with Nick Foles (broken hand) down for the season. Vick gets an interesting Week 17 matchup against the sputtering Giants; there's a wide range of outcomes here.
• The Raiders are going to start Terrelle Pryor in the season finale at San Diego. Sounds like another good reason to spot-play the Chargers defense (unless you already had a slam-dunk at the position; I'm currently listing San Diego at No. 5). It also sounds like a good reason to ignore all Oakland receivers.
• The Patriots listed their team photo on the injury report again, with a whopping 20 players tagged as questionable. Among the Belichickian Mysteries (wink, wink) are Wes Welker (ankle), Aaron Hernandez (ankle) and Brandon Lloyd (knee). You should be able to read between the lines with those guys, though it is a late start and caddy rules apply. Rob Gronkowski (forearm) is also listed as questionable, and he might be the only name player in this mix that you can't count on for Week 17.
• Vernon Davis (post concussion) finished the week with two limited workouts and is questionable for Sunday's game with Arizona. Given how Davis has disappeared from the Niners game plan for a solid two months, I can't see why fantasy owners would trust him in Week 17.
• Not that anyone was expecting Maurice Jones-Drew (foot) to come back in 2012, but the final word was written on Friday. He had surgery on the troublesome foot and will be out four months. It's puzzling MJD didn't have the procedure earlier, given where the Jags are in the standings.
• Brandon Pettigrew (ankle) did some work Friday, not that he's a sure thing to play Sunday against Chicago. Calvin Johnson (knee) is expected to go as usual; he's listed as probable.
• Bradley Evans is not listed on the injury report, but he's here to help you, gamers. Click the informative video, below. There may be a quiz later.