Matt Stroup

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DeMarco Deleted

Monday, December 12, 2011

For a while it looked like Greg Jennings’ knee was going to be the most significant injury-related headline of Week 14, but that was before DeMarco Murray left Sunday night’s game in the first quarter with a devastating setback for Dallas, and for fantasy owners: a season-ending broken right ankle.

It’s problematic news for Dallas’ backfield, but a huge boost for the fantasy value of Felix Jones, who looked impressive Sunday night (22 touches, 137 yards, one lost fumble), and is suddenly a must-start for as long as he can stay healthy, beginning with a tremendous matchup against Tampa Bay on Saturday.

In other injury news…

Green Bay’s win blowout win over Oakland on Sunday was an absolute laugher, except for one large non-laughing matter: Greg Jennings was carted off the field with a right knee injury in the third quarter.

Jennings is headed for an MRI on Monday, but the early word on that injury (which ProFootballTalk referred to as “unconfirmed” as of Sunday night) was that Jennings suffered a torn MCL. If that prognosis proves accurate, Jennings is very much in doubt for the remainder of the regular season, which is consistent with beat writer Ty Dunne’s report that Aaron Rodgers was hoping after Sunday's game that Jennings could return for the NFL playoffs.

With the Green Bay WR1 seemingly headed for a multi-week absence, Donald Driver, James Jones, Randall Cobb (and Jordy Nelson) all stand to benefit, with Driver (4 rec, 75 yards) looking like the best play of the group for Week 15, unless you’re willing to gamble on the erratic and maddening Jones (2 rec, 29 yards on Sunday).

Meanwhile, Matt Hasselbeck (strained calf) is headed for an MRI. That sounds worrisome, but on a more optimistic note, Hasselbeck returned to the field for one play in the fourth quarter, and said (per beat writer Jim Wyatt) that he could have finished the game if necessary. It sounds like Hasselbeck may be okay, but rookie first-round pick Jake Locker was impressive (if slightly erratic) in relief (13-for-29, 282 yards, TD; 6 rush, 36 yards, TD), and would be worth adding in two-QB leagues and deeper single-QB formats if Hasselbeck is unable to go in Week 15.

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In other QB injury news, Kevin Kolb left Sunday’s game in the first quarter after taking a knee to the back of the head. John Skelton replaced Kolb, not only engineering a win over the 49ers (19-for-28, 282 yards, 3 TDs, 2 INTs), but also helping to facilitate Larry Fitzgerald’s first 100-plus yard game since a Skelton-to-Fitzgerald eruption in Week 10 (7 rec, 149 yards, TD). There’s little doubt at this point that Skelton gives Fitzgerald a higher ceiling on any given week, but as of Sunday night it was too early to say whether Kolb would be healthy enough to reclaim his starting job in Week 15.

Also leaving with a concussion: Dolphins QB Matt Moore (11-for-19, 95 yards, TD, INT), resulting in J.P. Losman’s first game action since 2009 (6-for-10, 60 yards). Losman’s continued presence would represent a downgrade for Miami’s receivers, but there is optimism on that front, with the Palm Beach Post reporting that Moore’s concussion could be of the “low grade” variety. Stay tuned for updates once practices begin this week.

Jimmy Graham (back spasms) gave fantasy owners (and the Saints) a pre-game scare when he was slow to come out of the locker room, but he was able to play through his back trouble, finishing with five catches for 55 yards. The Saints would be wise to give Graham some time off from practice, but as of now fantasy owners should be optimistic that he’ll be ready for the Vikings in Week 15. (Update: Graham is headed for an MRI, but the New Orleans Times-Picayune reports that he's planning to play on Sunday regardless.)

Deion Branch left Sunday’s win in the fourth quarter with a groin injury. No word as of Sunday night on his Week 15 outlook, but with the inconsistent WR being held catch-less on Sunday, fantasy owners won’t want to be relying on Branch even if he’s able to play against Denver next week.

Nate Washington went berserk on Sunday (6 rec, 130 yards, TD), but did so while playing through a troublesome ankle. The key issue for Washington will be how much the ankle swells up, and his status for an appealing matchup with the Colts likely won’t be clear until the middle to latter part of the week.

Maurice Morris (five touches, 16 yards) was limited by a chest injury, making Keiland Williams (14 touches, 60 yards) the featured back during much of Sunday’s win. It’s encouraging that Morris, although limited, was able to play through the injury, but a healthy Kevin Smith would be the only Lions back truly worth relying on in Week 15.

Packers RB Brandon Saine (3 touches, 21 yards) left in the second quarter with a concussion. Saine’s status for Sunday is currently unclear, but with Ryan Grant suddenly (and shockingly) looking as nimble as he has in some time (11 touches, 98 yards, two TDs), Saine wouldn’t be a high-upside Week 15 play even if healthy.

Other Injury Notes: Stevie Johnson suffered a hand injury ... Per the San Francisco Chronicle, Hue Jackson confirmed that Darren McFadden has a Lisfranc injury, but still believes the RB will return before the end of the season ... The St. Petersburg Times reports that Josh Freeman played through pain in his injured throwing shoulder on Sunday, a situation to monitor if you’re relying on Freeman in a deeper (or two-QB) format … Jaguars WR Mike Thomas saw his day end early due to a concussion … Titans beat writer Jim Wyatt reports that backup RB Javon Ringer (finger) had his hand in a cast after Sunday’s game.

Editor’s note: If you want to draft a new fantasy team, check out SnapDraft here.

Defense/Offensive Line Injuries: Dolphins LT Jake Long left with a back injury … The Broncos lost SS Brian Dawkins (neck) and CB Andre’ Goodman (concussion) … Standout Bengals’ run blocker Bobbie Williams may be done for the year due to an ankle injury … Justin Tuck played through a toe injury … DeMarcus Ware left in the fourth quarter with an apparent shoulder stinger, but only missed one series … The Cowboys lost C Phil Costa due to a concussion, forcing rookie free agent Kevin Kowalski into action … Chargers DE Jacques Cesaire was carted off with a left ankle injury … Redskins RT Jammal Brown injured his groin during pre-game warmups… Cowboys CB Mike Jenkins suffered a shoulder injury … 49ers LT Joe Staley left with a head injury … Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News reports that Jets FS Jim Leonhard (knee) is done for the season.

For a complete look at all the key happenings from Sunday, check out Chris Wesseling's The Morning After column on Monday.

Matt Stroup covers basketball, baseball and football for You can find him on Twitter here .
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