Adam Levitan

Last Minute Decisions

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Week 14 Injury Questions

Saturday, December 10, 2011

The NFL isn't like other sports when it comes to "shutdowns." In hoops and baseball, if a star isn't at 100 percent late in the year and his team is out of it, there's no sense of urgency. That star will likely just shut it down and rest up for next season.

But when it comes to the NFL, there's only 16 games a year. So even though Adrian Peterson's ankle is at 80 percent and the Vikings are 2-10, he has no intention of mailing it in. The problem for Peterson's owners is that the team's medical staff will have the final say, making this a true game-time call.

As we get set for Week 14, we'll have an eye on Peterson's status as well as the rest of the stars playing out the string.

Of course, the Rotoworld News Page will be humming all Sunday morning to bring you the latest. And be sure to read every word of these rankings from Gregg Rosenthal/Chris Wesseling in combination with Evan Silva's unprecedented Matchup Column as you set your lineups.

If you want to draft a new team just for this week, check out SnapDraft here. And if you don't have it already, you need the Rotoworld App for your iPhone/iPod. Badly.

OK, let's get to the hurt folks:

* Wes Welker (knee, wrist) is a full go.
* Danny Woodhead (abdomen) is headed for a game-time call and can't be trusted. The only Patriots back we'd consider this week is BenJarvus Green-Ellis.  

* Kyle Orton (finger) isn't going to play. It's the Tyler Palko show again.
* LaDainian Tomlinson (knee) is ready to go despite last week's aggravation. Meanwhile, Joe McKnight (elbow) is a game-time call. Look for Tomlinson to handle the vast majority of backup chores either way.  

* Andre Johnson (hamstring) is out and Kevin Walter (illness) is questionable. Desperate owners can give Jacoby Jones a look, but we're expecting a run-heavy approach from the Texans.
* Cedric Benson (foot) was just resting again this week. He's ready to go as a weak RB2 in this brutal matchup.

* Joseph Addai isn't even listed on the injury report. An even load with Donald Brown can be expected.
* Dallas Clark (leg) will make his return, but his exact role is unclear after not playing in a month. This is only for the most desperate of owners.
* Billy Cundiff (calf) is in doubt. Owners should be able to find safer options.

* Adrian Peterson (ankle) is a true game-time decision as he says he's around 80 percent. See above for more. Toby Gerhart will start if Peterson sits again.
* Christian Ponder (hip) believes he'll be able to play, but is also a true game-time call. If Joe Webb ends up getting the nod, all the Vikes' pass-catchers need to be downgraded.
* Kevin Smith (ankle) hasn't been ruled out, but beat writers are not expecting him to play. Look for Maurice Morris to get the start.  

* Julio Jones (hamstring), Michael Turner (groin) and Roddy White (shoulder) are all fine despite some taking some rest this week.
* Greg Olsen (knee) missed practice Wednesday, but is a full go as well.

* Jeremy Maclin (hamstring) was downgraded from "probable" to "questionable" on Saturday. He made the trip to Miami, but this is scary. He now looks like a risky game-time call, with Riley Cooper waiting in the wings.
* Michael Vick (ribs) will make his return.  

* Josh Freeman (shoulder) is tentatively expected to start, sending Josh Johnson back to the bench.

* Mark Ingram (turf toe) is out. Chris Ivory will be active as the Saints stick with their three-headed monster at running back.
* Nate Washington (ankle) is questionable, but is calling his injury a high-ankle sprain. Damian Williams is a stronger play.  

* Darren McFadden (foot) remains out with no timetable to return. It's getting to the point where his regular season is in jeopardy. Michael Bush gets the nod again.
* Jacoby Ford (foot), Denarius Moore (foot) and Taiwan Jones (hamstring) are all out. The Raiders starting wideouts will be Darrius Heyward-Bey and Chaz Schilens.
* James Starks (ankle) is out. Ryan Grant and Brandon Saine will share the load, with John Kuhn playing his usual vulture role at the goal line.

* Braylon Edwards (knee) should return to a limited role this week.
* Todd Heap (hamstring) thinks he's turned the corner, but isn't an option until he makes it through a game.
* Beanie Wells (knee, hamstring, thumb) will play but is facing the league's top run defense.  

* Matt Forte (knee) is out. Marion Barber will get the majority of work, with Kahlil Bell backing him up.
* Willis McGahee (knee) is fully expected to play. Get him going.
* Eddie Royal (concussion) is questionable, but appears unlikely to play. Demaryius Thomas would start if Royal can't.  

* Scott Chandler (ankle) is out. David Nelson and Stevie Johnson get a little boost.
* Rian Lindell (shoulder) is done for the year. Dave Rayner is the Bills' kicker.  

* Ahmad Bradshaw (foot) and Brandon Jacobs (hamstring) rested on Wednesday and Thursday, but are good to go. Bradshaw came out of last week's game feeling good.
* Mario Manningham (knee) will make his return, but is clearly behind Hakeem Nicks and Victor Cruz in the pecking order.
* Miles Austin (hamstring) makes his return. Meanwhile, Laurent Robinson is dealing with a little shoulder injury. Look for Robinson to act as the No. 3 receiver.  

* Sam Bradford (ankle) is on the doubtful side of questionable and A.J. Feeley (thumb) is not expected to play. Tom Brandstater will likely get the start, with Kellen Clemens at the ready.

If you're still in your Survivor pool, you don't need me. You should consider applying for a MENSA membership.

The most likely winner this week is obviously the Ravens against the lowly Colts. But the smart play is the Seahawks, who will likely be facing third-stringer Tom Brandstater at home on Monday Night Football. Seattle remains one of the most difficult places to play in the league.   

In a 16-team full-PPR league, I made the playoffs. However, my RB2 decision came down to Kahlil Bell or Brandon Saine. There's no reason to whine or complain about how I got into this decision in the biggest game of the year, there's nothing we can do now. Frankly, I feel sick about it. All I can do is make the best call.

Let's look at Week 13 usage. After Matt Forte (knee) went down last week, Marion Barber got 14 touches and Bell got four. After James Starks (ankle) went down last week, Ryan Grant got 11 touches and Brandon Saine got 10.

The only way that usage for Bell is going to rise is if the Bears are trailing big against the Broncos Sunday. I don't see that happening. Vegas has set the over/under for that game at 35.5, the lowest total of the week and one of the lower totals of the year. Bell's pass-catching role isn't a good bet to be highlighted.

So I'll roll with Saine, who figures to share snaps pretty evenly with the washed-up Grant. It's the lesser of two evils.

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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