Week 17: Game Time Decisions - Injury Updates
As we enter the final week of the regular season, many leagues have already awarded their Lombardi trophy, but for those that carry things to the end you will need to not only be aware of injuries, but also fantasy scenarios as a few teams might rest their starters. Kansas City is locked into the #5 seed in the AFC, which could result in an uptick in carries for backup RB Knile Davis.
There are two matchups that hold a win and get in scenario as the NFC East will be decided on Sunday night when the Eagles travel to Dallas to face an injury riddled Cowboy team likely to be without QB Tony Romo and LB Sean Lee. The NFC North will also be decided in week 17 as Green Bay hopes to have Aaron Rodgers back from his collarbone injury. The Packers will likely have to outscore the explosive Bears in Lambeau (especially with Clay Mathews ruled out after reinjuring his finger in the week 16 loss to Pittsburgh). Green Bay WR Randall Cobb also has returned to practice and could suit up. He's been out of action since suffering a leg injury in week six against Baltimore.
Wes Welker (concussion) returned to practice this week, but Denver is expected to keep him out of action for the week 17 finale in Oakland. Those in fantasy playoff leagues might be able to steal the PPR monster at a discount.
The king of the discount double check suffered a broken collarbone in the week 9 loss to Chicago and has missed the past seven games. In the loss to Chicago, Seneca Wallace filled in for an injured Rodgers and struggled, finishing with just 114 passing yards and one interception (he's no longer on the roster). Rodgers took first team reps in Thursday's practice and appears to be trending towards a return for the must win game against Chicago. Through eight games, Rodgers is averaging 277 yards passing with 15 touchdowns and just three interceptions. His absence has been a major downgrade for all three WRs (Jordy Nelson, James Jones, and Jarrett Boykin). Matt Flynn remains nothing more than a game manager despite his impressive week 15 performance against Dallas when he total four touchdowns (only time he's had more than one TD in his five starts this season). In week 17, the Packers face a Bears defense allowing the 12th fewest fantasy PPG to opposing signal callers (240 passing yards per game).
With the Cowboys' playoff hopes (and likely Jason Garrett's job) hanging in the balance, Dallas will likely be forced to start veteran Kyle Orton in the win or go home matchup with Philadelphia on Sunday night. Tony Romo reportedly has a herniated disc that will require surgery and an epidural administered earlier this week has not enabled him to practice. Dallas has yet to rule Romo out, but the fact that they signed Jon Kitna to serve as an emergency quarterback is a sign that Romo will likely be in street clothes for the remainder of the season. The Dallas signal caller is averaging 255 yards per game with an impressive 31 TDs and just 10 interceptions in his 10th NFL season. Orton has proven to be serviceable as he averaged 280 yards per game with 20 touchdowns and nine interceptions with Denver in 2010. The 31-year-old has attempted just 15 regular season passes since arriving in Dallas before the 2012 season, but benefits from a favorable matchup with a Philadelphia defense allowing the fourth most fantasy PPG to opposing quarterbacks.
Vereen suffered a groin injury during the week 16 win over Baltimore and missed the second half of the game. He was able to reach the end zone, but finished with just two carries for six yards and one catch. Vereen was able to practice on Thursday and should be able to play in the week 17 contest against a mediocre Buffalo run defense. In week 11, Vereen returned to action after suffering a broken wrist in week one. He averaged eight catches per game from weeks 11 through 14. In week 15, the Dolphins double teamed him on most snaps limiting him to two carries and three catches. Even if he suits up, Vereen will remain more of a PPR play as he's in a crowded Patriots backfield that includes Legarrette Blount and Stevan Ridley.
The rookie of the year candidate is battling an ankle injury that kept him out of Thursday's practice. Green Bay expects Lacy to start in a dream matchup with an injury riddled Chicago run defense, but James Starks is a must stash. In his first season, Lacy is averaging 79 yards per game on the ground with 10 touchdowns. In the week nine meeting with the Bears, the Alabama alum had his best game to date finishing with 22 carries for 150 yards and a touchdown. Chicago is allowing the most fantasy PPG to opposing running backs -- including an average of 140 yards per game on the ground.
Purple Jesus struggled to produce in the all important week 16, finishing with just 11 carries for 45 yards and no touchdowns as the Vikings were blown out in Cincinnati. The week 14 foot sprain kept him sidelined in week 15 and the Vikings could decide to shut their franchise RB down in a meaningless week 17 meeting with Detroit. Both Toby Gerhart (hamstring) and AP missed Tuesday practice, which could result in week 15 starter Matt Asiata or recently signed Joe Banyard getting a spot start in the season finale. Asiata had 30 carries for just 50 yards, but did reach the endzone three times during the week 15 win over Philadelphia. Avoid the Vikings backfield for fantasy purposes this week. The Detroit run defense has been solid this season as they are allowing the seventh fewest fantasy PPG to the running back position (just 76 yards per game allowed to RBs this season).