Adam Levitan

Last Minute Decisions

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Week 15 Injury Questions

Saturday, December 17, 2011


It’s winning time. Some people will tell you to “dance with the girl” that brought you to the playoffs. That is not optimal.

Just like we’ve been doing all year, we need to set our lineups based on the best play for this week, and this week alone. Just because Frank Gore carried you midway through the season doesn’t mean you need to play him this week. Antonio Brown is a big reason you’re in the playoffs, but he’s extremely risky if Ben Roethlisberger (ankle) doesn’t start.

As we get set for Week 15, we’ll have our eye out for the best options in a vacuum.

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 Weaseling in combination Evan Silva’s mind-blowing 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:

SATURDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL
COWBOYS at BUCS
* Laurent Robinson will play through his shoulder injury as the Cowboys’ No. 3 wideout once again.
* Arrelious Benn (concussion) is out. Dezmon Briscoe gets the start.

SUNDAY 1PM GAMES
BENGALS at RAMS
* Cedric Benson (back) is a full go for this dream matchup.
* Sam Bradford (ankle) and A.J. Feeley (thumb) are not expected to be active. Kelllen Clemens will start.

DOLPHINS at BILLS
* Anthony Fasano (ribs) is fine. So is his quarterback, Matt Moore (concussion, neck).
* Scott Chandler (ankle) is out. Blocker Lee Smith gets the nod.
 
TITANS at COLTS
* Matt Hasselbeck (calf) is expected to draw the start, leaving the intriguing Jake Locker on the bench.
* Javon Ringer (hand) is out. Jamie Harper will back up Chris Johnson.
* Nate Washington (ankle) is ready to go after returning to a full practice on Friday.
* Dallas Clark (neck) is not expected to play. Jacob Tamme is back in once again.

REDSKINS at GIANTS
* Ahmad Bradshaw (foot) is ready to go. Last week’s suspension is in the rearview mirror.  

SEAHAWKS at BEARS
* Matt Forte (knee) and Jay Cutler (thumb) remain sidelined.

SAINTS at VIKINGS
* Jimmy Graham (back) practiced in full all week. He must be in all lineups.
* Adrian Peterson (ankle) will start. Although coach Leslie Frazier says he’ll be cautious with Peterson, it’s impossible to bench him. Peterson says he’s around 85 percent.
* Mark Ingram (toe) remains out. Chris Ivory will function as the power back again.
* Christian Ponder (hip) is a full go after last week’s benching.

PANTHERS at TEXANS
* Andre Johnson (hamstring) remains out. He probably won’t be back until Week 17 at the earliest. Kevin Walter and Jacoby Jones will start as weak fantasy plays.
* Greg Olsen (back) is fine but just a TE2 in this brutal matchup.

PACKERS at CHIEFS
* Greg Jennings (knee) is out. We’re expecting James Jones to see the biggest boost in production, along with Jermichael Finley.
* James Starks (ankle) is a game-time call. He wants to play, but the 13-0 Packers may err on the side of caution. Meanwhile, Brandon Saine (concussion) is not expected to play. Ryan Grant and John Kuhn are the only healthy backs here.
* Kyle Orton (finger) will start, mercifully sending Tyler Palko back to the bench.

SUNDAY 4PM GAMES
LIONS at RAIDERS
* Kevin Smith (ankle) is expected to start. Barring another aggravation, we’d expect a workhorse role ahead of inept backups Maurice Morris and Keiland Williams.
* Darren McFadden (foot) remains out.
* Denarius Moore (ankle) returns as a WR3 option. He’s expected to start, but not return punts.
* Jacoby Ford (foot) is still out, leaving Darrius Heyward-Bey as the starter again. Chaz Schilens will be the No. 3 receiver.

JETS at EAGLES
* Joe McKnight (elbow) is expected to play as the No. 3 back and return man.
* Jeremy Maclin (hamstring) will play, but has a tough matchup and aggravated his injury last week. There’s a lot of risk here.
* Michael Vick (ribs) is fine despite some missed practice time.

BROWNS at CARDINALS
* Colt McCoy (concussion) is out. Seneca Wallace will start.
* Ben Watson (concussion) is done for the year, putting Evan Moore on the radar as a desperation tight end play.
* Montario Hardesty (calf) is expected to be available as Peyton Hillis’ backup.
* Kevin Kolb (concussion) is not expected to play. John Skelton gets the nod.

PATRIOTS at BRONCOS
* Deion Branch (groin) is looking like a game-time call. We can do better at the WR3 spot.  
* Wes Welker (knee) and Danny Woodhead (abdomen) will be fine despite questionable tags.
* Eddie Royal (concussion) will return, but it’s unclear if he’ll get his starting job back. Demaryius Thomas has at least earned a majority of the snaps.
 
SUNDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL
RAVENS at CHARGERS
* Billy Cundiff (calf) will kick, barring a setback.

MONDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL
STEELERS at 49ERS
* Ben Roethlisberger (ankle) got back in a limited practice Friday. He’s a true game-time call, with Charlie Batch at the ready. Based on history, we suspect Big Ben will play.
* Emmanuel Sanders (foot) is not expected to be active.
* Frank Gore isn’t on the injury report, but the Niners admitted he was at less than 100 percent. There’s a lot of risk here, especially given the matchup.

SURVIVOR PICK OF THE WEEK
If you’ve made it this far, you’re staring at a tough week. Despite being on the road in Kansas City, the Packers are the most likely winner.

I’d also recommend another road play in the Bengals. Kellen Clemens has little chance of moving that offense. Some spots I’d avoid include the Titans, as the Colts feel close to jumping up and biting someone. The Saints are also a risky play as they are on back-to-back road games.

MY TOUGHEST DECISION OF THE WEEK
It’s semifinal week in my 10-team, non-PPR league with bloated starting rosters. My flex spot came down to Frank Gore, Santonio Holmes or Laurent Robinson.

Normally, this would be a no-brainer for Gore. But he got just 10 touches last week as the 49ers admitted he’s playing nicked up. They are trying to preserve their best runner for the playoffs. And now he faces a red-hot Steelers defense that is giving up just 3.18 yards per carry over its last six games. I tried to sell Gore earlier a month ago, and this is why. Matchups matter.

So, the decision comes down to either Robinson or Holmes. Despite playing as the clear No. 3 receiver last week, Robinson racked up 137 yards and a touchdown. Meanwhile, Holmes continues to be an afterthought in the offense despite massive talent. He’s averaging just 6.6 targets per game, less than guys like Jabar Gaffney, Eric Decker and Brandon Pettigrew.

I’ve decided to roll with Robinson.



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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