Adam Levitan

Last Minute Decisions

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Weeks 14's Injury Questions

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Using receivers in their first week back after a long layoff is a risky proposition. We all painfully saw what happened to Vincent Jackson when he tried to make his debut in Week 12. Sidney Rice needed two weeks to get his timing back and trust his hip fully. Austin Collie rushed back from his concussion and lasted just a few series.

This week, Giants wideouts Steve Smith (pectoral) and Hakeem Nicks (leg) are tentatively expected to make their returns. Both are high-end talents in a favorable situation, but both come with extreme risk. Smith has admitted that he likely will not be able to go full speed, may not be able to push off bump-and-run coverage and could have trouble reaching for high balls. Nicks is coming off a major procedure which required a serious incision in his leg. A wait-and-see approach is the best way to handle these situations, but with the Giants - Vikings matchup moved to Monday night, it won't be so easy.

Don't wait with your squad in Week 14. Check out the Rotoworld News Page all morning for the latest information on all the game-time decisions. Also, be sure to use the rankings from Gregg Rosenthal/Chris Wesseling in combination with Evan Silva's matchup column and you'll be good to go.

If you're looking to start over, you can get a new team via SnapDraft right now.

I've got you covered with the latest injury news right here.

* Chester Taylor (knee) was removed from the injury report Friday. He is good to go as support behind Matt Forte.

* Evan Moore (hip) is listed as doubtful. It is a small boost for Ben Watson.
* Josh Cribbs (toes) will likely play, but is unlikely to have a real offensive role.
* Colt McCoy (ankle) remains sidelined. Jake Delhomme gets another start.

* Jermaine Gresham missed practice all week due to his grandmother's death. He is a weak TE2 option.
* Terrell Owens (knee) is fine. His production has tailed off lately, but he is not injured.
* Heath Miller (concussion) is out. Matt Spaeth gets the nod.

* Zach Miller (foot) practiced in full Friday, but can not be trusted. Miller has not topped nine receiving yards since Week 7.
* Mike Sims-Walker (ankle) will be back, but he is a weak fantasy play against Nnamdi Asomugha.

* Mike Williams (knee) got a scare in mid-week, but is fine. He practiced in full on Friday and should be used as he normally would.
* Ryan Torain (hamstring) is expected to get some work, but coach Mike Shanahan is refusing to name a starter. Expect a full-blown committee.
* Santana Moss (knee) will play, but has been really struggling lately at less than 100 percent.

* Jahvid Best (toe) still is not practicing fully, but will play once again.

* Jason Snelling (hamstring) is not expected to play. His absence did not result in more catches for Michael Turner last week.
* Tony Gonzalez (ankle) is fine.
* Mike Goodson (shoulder) is not on the injury report, but is now way behind Jonathan Stewart.

* Pierre Thomas (ankle) is back practicing fully and will play. However, we are fully expecting Thomas to be eased in very slowly. Chris Ivory has earned the right to keep the majority of carries.
* Kenneth Darby (ribs) is doubtful. Look for another monster workload out of Steven Jackson.

* Mike Williams (ankle) is a true game-time decision, but it is not looking good. Owners should not be waiting on this.
* Ben Obomanu (hand) has a much better chance of playing, but would be a high-risk fantasy play regardless. His stitches could pop out at any time.

* Brandon Marshall (hamstring) was very close to playing last week and should be close to 100 percent this week. He will be squaring off with Darrelle Revis.
* Brian Hartline (finger) is out.

* Demaryius Thomas (ankle) remains out. Brandon Lloyd, Eddie Royal and Jabar Gaffney will continue to get all the wideout targets.
* Derek Anderson (concussion) and Max Hall (shoulder) are both out. Rookie John Skelton gets his big chance.

* Antonio Gates (feet) is once again a true game-time decision. He has dropped hints that he is in a ton of pain this week, but this game is for all the marbles in the AFC West. We would expect Gates to gut it out.
* Matt Cassel (appendectomy) is not going to play. Brodie Croyle gets the start and is a high-end backup. He has enough skills that we are not downgrading any Chiefs offensive player significantly.
* Vincent Jackson (calf) is expected to be active. We all saw him aggravate his injury quickly last time back, so there is a ton of risk here. But we all know about Jackson's upside.
* Darren Sproles (concussion) should be fine to play in the return game.
* Legedu Naanee (hamstring) is doubtful once again. Jackson and Malcom Floyd will be the starting wideouts.

* Marion Barber (calf) remains out. Tashard Choice will share the workload once again with Felix Jones.

* Todd Heap (hamstring) is tentatively not expected to play. Ed Dickson will start as a very intriguing spot start assuming Heap cannot go.
* Owen Daniels (hamstring) is expected to make his return, canceling out Joel Dreessen. Daniels is a nice stash while we see if he can sustain health.

* Brett Favre (shoulder) is tentatively expected to start, but barely threw this week. This sprain may be more serious than the ones Favre has played through in the past. Tarvaris Jackson will be at the ready.
* Percy Harvin (migraines) is listed as doubtful and the Vikings are admittedly not optimistic. Look for Sidney Rice to dominate targets again.
* Adrian Peterson (ankle) came out of last week feeling good.
* Steve Smith (pectoral) is expected to play, but may very well be on a snap count. See above.
* Hakeem Nicks (leg) is also tentatively expected to make his return. See above.
* Despite a midweek scare, Ahmad Bradshaw (wrist) is ready to go.

If you still have the Steelers, this is the week to use them. The Bengals are crumbling before our eyes and going on the road to Pittsburgh is no time to get healthy.

The Jets are also a strong play. When teams get beat as badly as the Jets did on Monday Night Football, there is almost always a sense of urgency next time out. Playing at home against a shaky Chad Henne is a good recipe for a win.

In three of my leagues, I have been riding a combination of Zach Miller and Dustin Keller at tight end all season. Early on, it worked out well. But Santonio Holmes' return, Mark Sanchez's declining play, Miller's troublesome foot and Oakland's quarterback woes have made this a weak spot in my lineups.

So now, with everything on the line in the fantasy playoffs, I have decided to make a move. After much deliberation, I am going out on a limb and starting Ed Dickson in all leagues where I have Keller/Miller. I have also added Owen Daniels in all those leagues, hoping he can sustain some health.

I did not make this decision lightly. I rarely go for plug-and-play guys over someone that I know will play every down like Keller. But I can not ignore the fact that Keller has not scored a touchdown since Holmes came off suspension in Week 5. Keller has topped 59 yards just once over that span.

In Dickson, I get a starting tight end in the best possible matchup, vs. the Texans. Even fossil Randy McMichael picked up two touchdowns against the Texans when Antonio Gates (feet) sat out in Week 9. Dickson piled up seven targets last week after Todd Heap (hamstring) went down and I'd expect somewhere around the same number this week. It's a huge risk, but one I'm willing to take at this point.

Editor's Note: For early rankings every Tuesday morning, tons of exclusive columns, subscriber-only chats, full projections updated all week and much more, get our award-winning Season Pass.

Adam Levitan is in his seventh season covering football and basketball for Rotoworld. He won the Fantasy Sports Writers Association award for Best Series in 2011 and 2009, and ESPN's overall fantasy football title in 2000. Find him on Twitter.
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