December 23, 2011
We'll start with the big-name items, then shift into position-by-position mode.
• Ben Roethlisberger (ankle) will not play against the Rams, a prudent move for the Steelers. Veteran Charlie Batch picks up the relief start. The news is no big shock to Big Ben owners — surely they've been scouting and adding alternate options all week — but it's a notable hit to Mike Wallace and Antonio Brown. I now consider Wallace a low WR2 for the week, with Brown a WR3 option. The Steelers should be able to control this game on the ground, and the St. Louis pass defense hasn't been that bad anyway, by the numbers (part of it is volume: why bother passing on this Rams defense when you can run all over them?).
• Vincent Jackson (groin) missed the full practice week and is a game-time decision for Saturday's 4:05 pm start at Detroit. The kickoff time is a gigantic pain for fake-football purposes; make sure you have a sufficient caddy if you're going to wait around for Jackson's status. Vincent Brown and Patrick Crayton are reasonable fill-ins for the Chargers, but fantasy owners need to shoot higher.
• Roy Helu (toe/ankle) has limited workouts the last two days and is listed as questionable, though that could be a Mike Shanahan thing. We expect Helu to play against Minnesota, though it's nice to note that it's one of the early games.
Saturday AM Update: Forget all the early-week Helu notes, he is OUT for the Minnesota game. Evan Royster will start, and if I were re-ranking running backs, I'd have him in the mid-20s.
• Felix Jones (hamstring) hasn't been practicing and looks like a spotty play for the Saturday afternoon game against Philadelphia. If the Giants win their early match against the Jets, the Dallas game becomes next-to-meaningless for the Cowboys (a New York win insures that the NFC East will come down to Week 17, and it's almost impossible for the Cowboys to qualify as a wild card team; it's essentially division-or-bust for them). Retread Sammy Morris is the fallback option for the Pokes.
Early AM Update: There are reports circulating that the Cowboys won't use Jones at all if the Giants win; Matt Moseley is a credible source. I'm not guaranteeing anything or promising anything here, just be very careful with Felix the Cat, gamers. I can tell you this: I wouldn't use Jones this weekend unless I had no other options.
• Marion Barber (calf) isn't expected to play at Green Bay and the Bears have already confirmed that Kahlil Bell will start. The Chicago offense might be shaky at times — Josh McCown is starting at quarterback and Johnny Knox is out — but Bell should get you something of value here, through volume if nothing else. He's also proven to be a handy pass receiver.
• Anthony Fasano (post concussion) won't be around for the game at New England; he's officially out for Week 16. A shame, as he's been effective in the second half.
I hope you enjoyed the injury appetizer. Here's the rest of the report, ordered by position.
• Although the Cardinals are listing Kevin Kolb (post concussion) as questionable, every logical observer expects John Skelton to get the call at Cincinnati. The Cardinals still have a Hail Mary playoff chance at 7-7.
• Matt Hasselbeck isn't even on the Tennessee injury report this week, so he's your starter against Jacksonville. Sorry, Locker Youth.
• With Sam Bradford (ankle) doubtful and A.J. Feeley (thumb) out, the Rams will use Kellen Clemens at Pittsburgh. Clemens showed decent poise in last week's loss to the Bengals, but a road game against the Steelers is a completely different animal.
• Kevin Smith (ankle) had a good week of practice and the Lions are calling him probable for Week 16. You never know if this guy will finish a game, of course — and surprisingly he did little in Oakland last week — but at least there were no setbacks over the last few days.
• Chris Johnson (ankle) had two partial days of practice to finish the week, after sitting out the first session completely. Head coach Mike Munchak expects Johnson to play against Jacksonville, barring a last-second setback.
• Michael Turner (groin) was at Friday's workout and should start Monday at New Orleans.
• Although Beanie Wells (knee) missed some time this week and is listed as probable, all the context clues point to him playing at Cincinnati. The Cardinals generally let Wells skip some weekday work to keep him fresh for game day.
• Darren McFadden (foot) is out again, as expected. Michael Bush (shoulder) had a limited practice week and is listed as questionable, but it's an early start and it looks like he'll go. Double-check Saturday.
• Maurice Jones-Drew (ankle), Willis McGahee (hamstring), Ahmad Bradshaw (foot), and Shonn Greene (rib/shoulder) are all listed as probable and should play for their respective clubs. Use them as you normally would
• The Patriots are listing 15 players as questionable, including BenJarvus Green-Ellis (illness), Shane Vereen (hamstring), Deion Branch (groin) and Wes Welker (knee). Vereen hasn't logged a carry since Week 12, and Branch was a late scratch at Denver.
• The Bengals are listing A.J. Green (shoulder) as probable, though he had partial practices Wednesday and Thursday. Dial him up against Arizona.
• Stevie Johnson has been playing through a groin injury for most of the year, and he's expected to do so again Saturday. He's probable. The Broncos might use Champ Bailey on Johnson in a dedicated matchup.
• Nate Washington (ankle) didn't miss any reps this week and should be fine against Jacksonville.
• Jeremy Maclin (hamstring/shoulder) didn't miss any practice time, so full-speed ahead. He's listed as probable.
• Laurent Robinson (shoulder) had three days of partial practice. Although he's listed as questionable, I expect him to play against Philadelphia.
• Lance Moore (hamstring) had a partial workout Friday after practicing the previous day. We'll try to keep an eye on their Saturday session in advance of the Monday game.
• Although Devin Hester (ankle) is listed as questionable, he's probably closer to doubtful at this point. Don't expect him to play at Green Bay on Christmas night.
• Jacoby Ford (foot) isn't ready yet. He won't play at Kansas City.
• Scott Chandler (ankle) had a limited week but he's considered probable.
• Billy Cundiff (calf) is listed as doubtful, lining things up for Shayne Graham. The Ravens are a drive-and-stall offense and Cundiff is second in the league in field goals attempted, so Graham isn't a bad play in a pinch.
• Patriots DE Andre Carter (leg) is out for the year.
• Giants DE Osi Umenyiora (ankle/knee) won't play against the Jets.
• DeMarcus Ware should go despite a sore neck. He's questionable.
• Buccaneers corner Aqib Talib (hamstring) is out for the the year, the latest hit for this shipwrecked team.
• Eagles corner Asante Samuel won't play at Dallas
Images courtesy of US Presswire