Adam Levitan

Last Minute Decisions

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Week 14 Injury Questions

Saturday, December 8, 2012

At long last, the playoffs are here. It’s time to get our best lineups out there and pray.

As we get set for Week 14, we’ll have our eyes on every game. The Rotoworld News Page will be humming all day long to bring you the latest on who is in and who is out. We’ve got rankings from Chris Wesseling/Mike Clay here and Evan Silva’s ridiculously mind-blowing Matchup Column here. Inside the Season Pass, you’ll find flex rankings and exact projections for every player.

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

OK, let’s get to the hurt folks:

* Ed Dickson (knee) remains out. As we saw last week, that doesn’t necessarily mean a boost for Dennis Pitta.  
* Pierre Garcon (foot) appears to have turned a corner with his injury. Get him going.

* Top Chiefs CB Brandon Flowers (hamstring) is a game-time call. It’s something for Josh Gordon speculators to watch.

* Ben Roethlisberger (shoulder, ribs) had a solid week of practice and is ready to go. Upgrade all your Steelers skill players.
* Jerricho Cotchery (ribs) is back to take No. 4 wideout duties from Plaxico Burress.
* Eddie Royal (hamstring) remains out.

* Donald Brown (ankle) was ruled out on Wednesday. It’s major news for Vick Ballard, who was already seeing some passing-down work and is now a good bet for 18-20 touches.

* Dustin Keller (ankle) isn’t going to play. Jeff Cumberland draws the start as a “weapon” for Mark Sanchez.
* Stephen Hill (knee) is headed for a game-time call. Clyde Gates (concussion) is out. Yawn.
* Tim Tebow (ribs) is a game-time call as well. If active, Rex Ryan says he’ll be the backup even though Greg McElroy was the one that almost took Sanchez’s starting job. What a mess.
* Cecil Shorts (concussion), Rashad Jennings (concussion) and Maurice Jones-Drew (foot) are all out. Special teams ace and fullback-type Montell Owens will be the feature back. Undrafted rookie Kevin Elliot will start out wide and Jordan Shipley will man the slot.

* Alshon Jeffery (knee) is ready to go. He may be on a limited snap count, but he’s desperately needed with Earl Bennett (concussion) out. Devin Hester (concussion) is a go as well.
* Michael Bush (ribs) is expected to be available despite a questionable tag, but it could mean even more touches than usual for a 100 percent Matt Forte.
* Percy Harvin (ankle) landed on IR this week. Jarius Wright will continue to fill in, but Kyle Rudolph is the real beneficiary.

* Michael Turner (elbow) is expected to play, but the Falcons could use this injury as an excuse to reduce his workload even further.
* Brandon LaFell (toe) is not expected to play. David Gettis draws the start and Greg Olsen should see a bump in targets.
* Jonathan Stewart (ankle) remains sidelined. DeAngelo Williams is a good bet for 14-plus touches.

* Backup QB Michael Vick (concussion) is out. Trent Edwards backs up Nick Foles.
* LeSean McCoy (concussion) doesn’t appear close to getting cleared either. Even against the Bucs’ No. 1 run defense, it’s almost impossible to sit Bryce Brown.

* Danny Amendola (foot) is headed for a true game-time call. Even if he suits up, we can’t guarantee a full complement of snaps. And if he does end up active, it’s going to be harder to pull the trigger on Chris Givens.
* Stevie Johnson (hamstring) is expected to play through a questionable tag as a WR3 candidate.

 * DeMarco Murray’s foot came out of his 27-touch return feeling good. No injury concerns here.
* A.J. Green got sick on Friday, but he’ll be fine for Sunday.
* Cedric Peerman (ankle) won’t be available for backup duties. Brian Leonard will be the change-of-pace guy.
* Jermaine Gresham (hamstring) gave owners a mid-week scare, but he earned a “probable” tag after participating in Friday’s practice.
* Mike Nugent (calf) is out. Josh Brown will handle the Bengals’ kicking duties.

* Mario Manningham (shoulder) is not expected to play, leaving Randy Moss and A.J. Jenkins to pick up scraps.

* The Ryan Lindley experiment is over. John Skelton is back under center.
* Andre Roberts (ankle) is a game-time call once again. Avoid.
* Beanie Wells (knee) is fully expected to play through a questionable tag, but he’s a poor bet for production.
* Sidney Rice (head) is ready to rock despite last week’s scary fall on his game-winning catch.

* Hakeem Nicks just can’t get over the hump with his knee issues. He did get in a limited practice Friday and was spotted doing some post-practice work with Eli Manning. Good signs. Owners wishing to wait on Nicks can handcuff him with Reuben Randle, who appears to have passed Domenik Hixon for No. 3 wideout duties.
* Ahmad Bradshaw (foot) rarely practices anymore, but it’s not a real concern. Expect another heavy workload since the Giants don’t trust David Wilson.
* David Thomas (knee) is expected back to work in two-tight end sets.
* Chris Ivory was a late addition to the injury report with a hamstring issue. His absence will mean a couple more touches for Mark Ingram and Pierre Thomas.

* With Titus Young (knee, personal) banished and Ryan Broyles (knee) on IR, Mike Thomas will start opposite Calvin Johnson. Tight end Tony Scheffler is expected to man the slot.
* Jordy Nelson (hamstring) is out. Greg Jennings is set up for a full complement of snaps.
* James Starks (knee) is out. Alex Green will be the early-down workhorse, with newly re-signed Ryan Grant in mere support.

* Ron Gronkowski (forearm) hasn’t even resumed practicing yet. He’s not close.
* Even with Julian Edelman (foot) on IR, it’s hard to trust Brandon Lloyd. He hasn’t topped 45 yards since Week 6.
* Ben Tate (hamstring) has sustained health for another week. He should start to regain backup duties from Justin Forsett.

In a 10-team non-PPR league, my tight end spot came down to Vernon Davis, Martellus Bennett, Marcedes Lewis, Greg Olsen or Tony Scheffler. The fact that all these guys are available (Davis and Olsen are on my roster, rest are free agents) speaks to how muddled the position has become. Projecting outlooks for tight ends 4-20 has become a total crapshoot.

So in a spot like this, I don’t think there is a “bad” choice. All have good matchups and upside. If we played these Week 14 games 10 times, I bet each of the five would end up with the most points at least once.

In the end, I decided to roll with Bennett. He’s healthy and Hakeem Nicks (knee) is banged up. The Giants vs. Saints game figures to be a shootout. In non-PPR, touchdowns count the most and Bennett is the most likely of this group to score one.

This week, I think the most likely winner is the Seahawks. The Cardinals won’t be able to run on their front seven and we know John Skelton can’t beat them through the air. Seattle is 5-0 at home this year and that’s not a fluke.

I’d also be very comfortable using the Steelers with Ben Roethlisberger back or the Niners, who figure to be angry off another tough loss. If you’re looking to fade the chalk, the Browns are the play. At home, facing a Chiefs team that is primed for a major letdown off last week’s emotional win. Top defenders Brandon Flowers (hamstring) and Derrick Johnson (hamstring) are questionable.

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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