Adam Levitan

Last Minute Decisions

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Week 7 Injury Questions

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Not all injured players are created equal.

Some players, like Beanie Wells and Felix Jones, do not play well through injuries. Others, like Antonio Gates and Ben Roethlisberger, can still dominate. That's why owners that have been holding Gates need to get him in lineups this week. He has elite upside even though we know he's at less than 100 percent.

As we get set for Week 7, we'll have a close eye on Gates' foot as well as all the other players battling through pain.

Of course, the Rotoworld News Page will be humming all Sunday morning to bring you official word on all your injured players ahead of kickoff. And 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.

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

OK, let's get to the hurt folks:

* Eddie Royal (groin) is ready to make his return. He'll start across from Eric Decker.
* Demaryius Thomas (finger) is healthy but a mere stash for now.
* Willis McGahee dealt with a sore back this week but is a full go. Knowshon Moreno will merely handle third downs.
* Reggie Bush (neck), Daniel Thomas (hamstring) and Brandon Marshall (quad) are all full gos on a short week.

* Antonio Gates (foot) is fully expected to be active despite a questionable tag. See above for more.
* Mike Tolbert (concussion) and Ryan Mathews (calf) both are 100 percent coming out of the bye.
* Vincent Jackson (hamstring) practiced fully on Thursday and Friday, leading to a probable tag. It's unclear if he'll be on Revis Island.

* Andre Johnson (hamstring) is out again. Jacoby Jones gets another start.
* Jacoby Jones will play through a minor groin tweak, but it's never good for a wildly inconsistent player to be at less than 100 percent.

* Julio Jones (hamstring) is still not close to being ready. Harry Douglas gets another shot on the outside.
* Jahvid Best (concussion) is out indefinitely. Maurice Morris will start, with Keiland Williams getting mixed in as well.

* Tim Hightower (shoulder) is ready to play but appears third on the totem pole in Washington's backfield.
* Chris Cooley (finger) is out at least six weeks. Fred Davis has an up arrow.
* Greg Olsen's turf toe issue is minor. He's a go.

* LeGarrette Blount (knee) is out. Earnest Graham will carry the load.  
* Earl Bennett (chest) is not expected to return despite a questionable tag. That leaves Dane Sanzenbacher in the slot one more week.
* Devin Hester (chest) is fine, but owners chasing his stats from last week will likely end up disappointed.    

* Peyton Hillis (hamstring) didn't practice all week. The Browns haven't ruled him out, but we'd be stunned to see him have a real role even if active. Montario Hardesty is a desperation play.
* Charlie Whitehurst is starting in place of Tarvaris Jackson (pectoral). Good news for slot man Doug Baldwin.
* Mike Williams (concussion) is back, but his role is unclear. Ben Obomanu has earned snaps opposite Sidney Rice. Move on.
* Zach Miller (concussion) is out.

* Mike Wallace (hamstring) and Rashard Mendenhall (knee) are both fine despite an early-week scares. Get them going.
* Todd Heap (hamstring) is headed for a game-time decision and is off the fantasy radar.

* Carson Palmer is not expected to make his Raiders debut this week. If Kyle Boller does indeed start, all Oakland's wideouts get a downgrade.
*Jackie Battle (neck) is a full go coming out of the bye.
* Sebastian Janikowski (hamstring) is banged up. Find another option.

* Sam Bradford (ankle) has been declared out, forcing the Rams to go with A.J. Feeley under center. It's a huge downgrade for the entire Rams' receiver corps. Only Brandon Lloyd is worth starting in 10-to-12 team standard leagues.   
* Felix Jones (ankle) is out. DeMarco Murray and Tashard Choice will carry the load.

* Percy Harvin (ribs) is a high-risk play as his snaps have been limited.

* Joseph Addai (hamstring) is questionable, although speculation out of Indy has him likely to play. It's impossible to trust any member of this backfield.
* Jimmy Graham (ankle) took a day off this week but is fine.

* Lee Evans' ankle just isn't healing. Torrey Smith gets another start.
* Mike Sims-Walker should step right back in as he returns to the Jags, but isn't a fantasy option.

Even though I am busted from my pool, we hit last week with the Packers, Steelers or Bears.

This week's most likely winner is the Cowboys. With Sam Bradford hobbled and the Rams secondary down to third-stringers, it's as safe as it gets. Just note that the Cowboys still have home games against the Seahawks and Dolphins remaining.

If you want to save the  Cowboys, the Saints (vs. Colts) are the only other strong option. The Ravens' defense is a strong bet to eat up Blaine Gabbert, but avioding road teams whenever possible is a long-term winning strategy.

One spot I would avoid is the Steelers. Arizona's coaching staff knows the ins and outs of their former team's system and had a bye week to get ready for them. Pittsburgh is traveling across the country and there's reason to believe they are overrated this this season. Oakland also scares me as no one realistically knows what to expect from Carson Palmer considering he hasn't practiced or played in 10 months.

In a 10-team non-PPR league with bloated starting lineups, my flex spot came down to Santonio Holmes or Maurice Morris. I know our rankings and conventional wisdom say it's an easy call for Holmes, but I've decided to roll with Morris.

Holmes hasn't had a 100-yard game since Week 11 of last season, a 15-game span (including the playoffs). During that stretch, he's averaging 47.5 yards per game. We know he has elite, top-10 kind of talent. But the Mark Sanchez and the Jets' offense holds him back. I'll gamble that this isn't the week he busts out, especially with the Chargers' pass defense ranked second in the league (179.6 yards allowed per game).

Meanwhile, Morris has had a 100-yard game in each of the previous two seasons. This Lions' regime has shown a ton of confidence in him, using the former second-round pick as the goal-line back and featured runner during their four-game winning streak to close last season. So even though Morris is 31, the Falcons' defense is solid against the run and Keiland Williams will vulture some carries, he's my guy. He's a good bet for 13-16 touches, while anything more than 3-5 for Holmes would be a shocker.

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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