Adam Levitan

Last Minute Decisions

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Week 4 key decisions

Saturday, October 01, 2011


Run for cover, the hamstrings are coming.

It’s almost frightening to think about all the players that have been affected by hamstring injuries already this season. Arian Foster, Beanie Wells, Miles Austin, Daniel Thomas and Knowshon Moreno are just a handful of the names that have missed games this season due to hammys.

Is it a result of the lockout? Maybe. Perhaps the players entered the season cold and tried to push themselves too fast, resulting in these muscle strains. Is it a reminder that we need to pay special attention in the preseason to “minor” hamstring injuries. Definitely.

As we get set for Week 4, Wells is among the true game-time decisions. We’ll know his official status around 3pm ET.

Each week in this space, we’ll bring you the latest line on all the hurt folks. Of course, the Rotoworld News Page will be humming all Sunday morning to bring you official word on all your players ahead of kickoff. To make sure you’re prepared, read every word of these rankings from Gregg Rosenthal/Chris Wesseling in combination with Evan Silva’s unprecedented Matchup Column.

And if you want to draft a new team just for this week, check out SnapDraft here.

OK, let’s get to the hurt folks:

1 P.M. GAMES
BILLS at BENGALS
* Stevie Johnson (groin) is a full go.

TITANS at BROWNS
* Peyton Hillis (strep throat) is a full go, but Montario Hardesty earned a larger role last week.
* Mohamed Massaquoi (ankle) should be ready to take on the Titans’ No. 2 pass defense.

STEELERS at TEXANS
* Arian Foster (hamstring) is ready to go and coach Gary Kubiak said his feature back will have a full, heavy workload. Ben Tate is the strict backup and Derrick Ward (ankle) is out.
* Kevin Walter (shoulder) is healthy, leaving Jacoby Jones off the radar.
* Mike Wallace’s rib soreness is not a concern at all.

LIONS at COWBOYS
* Dez Bryant (thigh) is headed for a true game-time decision. Miles Austin (hamstring) remains out. Still, we can’t recommend any other Cowboys’ receiver -- they don’t even know the plays.
* Tony Romo (ribs) is a go despite another questionable tag.
* Felix Jones’ shoulder aggravation was not an issue. He’ll start.
* Brandon Pettigrew (shoulder) and Calvin Johnson (ankle) are close to 100 percent.

49ERS at EAGLES
* Frank Gore (ankle) will likely be active, but is expected to share the load with Kendall Hunter. Gore is a poor fantasy bet.
* Despite early-week skepticism, Jeremy Maclin (hamstring) is ready. The same can be said for Michael Vick’s non-throwing hand.
* Braylon Edwards (knee) remains sidelined.
* Michael Crabtree (foot) will be active as a desperation fantasy play in a brutal matchup.

PANTHERS at BEARS
* Earl Bennett (chest) remains out, making Dane Sanzenbacher a sneaky play once again. Note that the Panthers won’t have top corner Chris Gamble (concussion).

REDSKINS at RAMS
* Danny Amendola (elbow) won’t be back this week, but is close. Consider an add.
* Steven Jackson (quad) will resume his feature back role this week.
* Anthony Armstrong (hamstring) is a game-time call and waiver wire fodder.  

SAINTS at JAGUARS
* Marques Colston (collarbone) will likely be active. However, the Saints love to ease players in with limited snap counts. Take a wait-and-see approach if you can.

VIKINGS at CHIEFS
* Adrian Peterson (calf) is more than healthy enough to put one on the Chiefs.

4 P.M. GAMES
GIANTS at CARDINALS
* Hakeem Nicks (knee) and Mario Manningham (concussion) are strong plays against the Cardinals’ leaky pass defense.
* Brandon Stokley (quad) is sidelined already.
* Beanie Wells (hamstring) is headed for a game-time call. Owners can protect themselves somewhat by adding LaRod Stephens-Howling, who is ready to return from a hand injury.

FALCONS AT SEAHAWKS
Jason Snelling (concussion) is out. Jacquizz Rodgers will back up Michael Turner.
* Roddy White (thigh) is not a concern despite a questionable tag.  

BRONCOS at PACKERS
* Ryan Grant (kidney) could not gain medical clearance. This is James Starks’ big chance in a favorable matchup.
* Even though Knowshon Moreno (hamstring) is healthy, Willis McGahee will start. Avoid.
* Eddie Royal (groin) remains out, leaving Eric Decker as the starter.

PATRIOTS at RAIDERS
* Darren McFadden (groin) is a full go as fantasy’s best running back.
* Jacoby Ford (hamstring) will likely be eased in on offense.
* Aaron Hernandez (knee) remains out.

DOLPHINS at CHARGERS
* Daniel Thomas (hamstring) is almost certainly out. Reggie Bush gets another shot at the feature back job.
* Antonio Gates (foot) is sitting this one out. Randy McMichael gets the nod.
* Ryan Mathews (foot) may get his emerging workload scaled back. Mike Tolbert is still on the radar.
* Vincent Jackson (abdomen) will play and must be in all lineups.

SUNDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL
JETS at RAVENS
* Lee Evans (ankle) remains sidelined. Torrey Smith gets the nod in an extremely difficult spot.
* Santonio Holmes (shoulder) and Plaxico Burress (hamstring) are fine.

MONDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL
COLTS at BUCS
* Kerry Collins (concussion) is out. Curtis Painter gets the nod.
* Kellen Winslow (knee) should be fine despite some missed practice.


SURVIVOR PICK OF THE WEEK
It wasn’t pretty, but we survived with the Chiefs last week. I have now used Houston, Detroit and Kansas City.

Keeping with our strategy of only taking home teams, there are three strong options to choose from this week. The Eagles are in desperation mode against a 49ers team that can’t move the ball. The Packers are unlikely to be tested by the Broncos in Lambeau. And on Monday night, the Bucs get Curtis Painter for his first career start.

I am rolling with the Bucs as they have no more great spots the rest of the way. If we are going to win this thing, we are going to need the Packers and Eagles down the line.

Some teams I would stay away from this week include the Bills and Giants, who both have to go on the road after monstrous home wins. The Bears also scare me -- Carolina is going to pop up and stun some people.

MY TOUGHEST DECISION OF THE WEEK
I enjoy deep leagues because it tests knowledge beyond the front-line players. It also makes for some strange-looking decisions. In a 16-team full-PPR league, my WR3 decision came down to Austin Collie versus Emmanuel Sanders versus Dane Sanzenbacher.

I immediately threw out Sanders as he has fallen behind Antonio Brown for the majority of No. 3 wideout reps. Collie was intriguing after his five catches last week and 10 targets the week before. But Curtis Painter projects to be even worse than Kerry Collins, if that’s possible. The Colts figure to try to protect Painter by running the ball a ton and using two-wide, two-tight sets.

That left Sanzenbacher, an undrafted free agent that was on exactly no one’s radar before the season. But with Earl Bennett (chest) sidelined, Sanzenbacher has the slot job all to himself. And in Mike Martz’s offense, that’s a productive role. Dane is also the best bet of the three to score a touchdown, so he’s my choice.



Adam Levitan is in his sixth 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.
Email :Adam Levitan



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