Adam Levitan

Last Minute Decisions

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Week 8 Injury Questions

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Older receivers have plenty going against them. Their ability to separate is severely compromised. They can’t make people miss or outrun defenders after the catch. And, of course, they are more susceptible to injuries.

The Hines Ward situation is similar to what went on with Donald Driver in Green Bay. Both are among the greatest players in their respective franchises’ histories, but both are nearing the end of the line. And both are getting outplayed by younger, faster, healthier receivers.

With Ward nursing an ankle injury this week, it’s time for the Steelers to put their explosive passing game on full display. Antonio Brown and Emmanuel Sanders are better options for both Pittsburgh and fantasy owners. Their coming-out party is here, kind of like the fiesta Jordy Nelson and James Jones threw last season.

As we get set for Week 8, we’ll have our eye on how these receivers are handling their chance.  

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 -- after all, they had the most accurate ranks on the internet last week according to And make sure you take the time to read Evan Silva’s mind-blowing Matchup Column for help with close calls.

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:

* Brandon Jacobs (knee) is back, knocking Ahmad Bradshaw down a peg or two.  
* Daniel Thomas (hamstring) is set to play through a questionable tag as a weak RB2 option again. UPDATE: Thomas was downgraded on Saturday to out. Reggie Bush and Lex Hilliard will carry the load.

* Andre Johnson (hamstring) still isn’t ready. Jacoby Jones gets another start at split end.

* Joseph Addai (hamstring) is a true game-time call. At 0-7, it wouldn’t be a surprise if the Colts err on the side of caution. Delone Carter will start if Addai can’t.  
* Matt Hasselbeck’s thumb isn’t a concern. He’s ready to go in this plus matchup.

* Percy Harvin (ribs) will likely be active, but the Vikings are handling him with kid gloves. He’s just not playing enough snaps to be a reliable fantasy option.
* Adrian Peterson (ankle) gave owners a mid-week scare, but he’s fine. Expect a full workload.

* Mark Ingram (heel) is out. Look for Darren Sproles and Pierre Thomas to share the load evenly, with Chris Ivory possibly getting a couple short-yardage/goal-line carries.  
* Jimmy Graham (ankle) practiced in full on both Thursday and Friday. He’s fine.
* Danario Alexander (hamstring) is not expected to play. Look for Brandon Gibson to be active, but he may rotate with Greg Salas at flanker. Regardless, none are an option because…
* Sam Bradford (ankle) is out again. A.J. Feeley, who targeted Brandon Lloyd heavily last week, will start once again.

* Beanie Wells (knee) is at far less than 100 percent and a game-time call in a brutal matchup. If you have other options, go to them. If Wells sits, Alfonso Smith, LaRod Stephens-Howling and Chester Taylor will form some kind of ugly committee.
* Early Doucet (quad) is tentatively expected to play as a risky WR3 option.
* Todd Heap (hamstring) is a game-time call as well. Rookie pass-catcher Rob Housler will draw the start if Heap can’t go.
* Lee Evans (ankle) remains sidelined. Torrey Smith will try to get going in this dream matchup.
* Matthew Stafford (ankle) practiced in full Friday, making him a quality QB1 play.
* Jahvid Best (concussion) is still out. Maurice Morris and Keiland Williams will share the load once again.
* Willis McGahee (hand) is out. Knowshon Moreno will lead a backfield that also figures to use Lance Ball in certain situations. Tim Tebow is the likely goal-line back.

* Santana Moss (hand) is out. Look for Anthony Armstrong and Niles Paul to rotate on the outside and Terrence Austin to get some slot work. Fred Davis and Jabar Gaffney will be John Beck’s favorite targets.

* BenJarvus Green-Ellis (toe) is fully expected to play through a questionable tag.
* Hines Ward (ankle) is not expected to play. See above for more.

* Peyton Hillis (hamstring) is not expected to play. Look for another ugly, sloppy day at the office for Montario Hardesty.
* Mohamed Massaquoi (concussion) is out. Josh Cribbs will start opposite Greg Little.  
* Ben Watson (concussion) appears likely to play now. Evan Moore’s snaps will take a hit.
* Braylon Edwards (knee) is headed for a game-time call. Avoid.
* Tarvaris Jackson  (pectoral) is tentatively expected to play, but he’s far from 100 percent. Regardless, there’s not a single quality fantasy play in the entire Seahawks lineup this week.
* Marshawn Lynch (back) is ready to go after last week’s late scratch. Yawn.

* Felix Jones (ankle) remains sidelined and Tashard Choice has been waived. It’s the DeMarco Murray show again, although he’ll find the sledding much tougher this week. Phillip Tanner is Murray’s backup.

* Antonio Gates (foot) is ready to go for the second straight week. At least 40 snaps is a good bet.
* Mike Tolbert (hamstring, hand) is not expected to play. If Ryan Mathews can make it through four quarters, he’ll have a monster effort.
* Malcom Floyd (hip) is tentatively expected to play, but he’s not a great fantasy option at less than 100 percent. A fully healthy Vincent Jackson and Gates figure to dominate targets.

We hit last week with the Cowboys or Saints in laughers. Also recommended staying away from the Ravens and Raiders, so we’re hot.

This week’s most likely winner is the Ravens. The Cardinals are off a home loss and now have to travel across the country to face a Ravens team that was humiliated on Monday Night Football. If you want to save the Ravens for later home games with the Colts or Browns, the Titans should be safe in a desperation spot. Also, the Rams have no shot against the Saints without Sam Bradford.

One spot I’d stay away from is the Lions. The fighting Tebows in their home debut will make for a very tough game.

In a 10-team non-PPR league with bloated starting lineups, my flex spot came down to Pierre Thomas vs. Jackie Battle.

Injuries have placed both in ideal scenarios. With Mark Ingram (heel) sidelined, Thomas is in line for a bump in touches. And with Jamaal Charles (knee) done, Battle has slowly ascended to the clear feature back role.

I like both, but I decided to roll with Thomas this week. He gets the dream matchup against the Rams’ historically bad run defense and is coming off a game in which he averaged 8.3 yards per touch. Although Chris Ivory may vulture a goal-line carry, Thomas is always a threat to take a screen pass to the house.

Battle has a plus matchup as well, but isn’t a factor in the passing game. If the Chiefs do happen to get behind by a couple scores early, he could be rendered a non-factor. Put simply, Thomas’ ceiling is higher this week.

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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