by Ray Kuhn
We have made it! This is it as Championship Sunday for most of you is on the horizon. This is why we play, plan, think, dissect and obsess all season long. Let’s take a look at some injury issues to be aware of going into Week 16:
- At this point, it is looking like we will not be seeing Aaron Rodgers again for this fantasy season. On Friday the official word will come down, but I think it is safe to have an alternative plan. Again the Green Bay skill positions should be downgraded a little bit as well. Matt Flynn has proved to be a capable option for the Packers, but I don’t think we can expect to see a performance like he had in the second half against the Cowboys last week. Flynn is probably at best a middle tier QB2 this week against the Steelers.
- Staying in Green Bay, I would not be concerned that Eddie Lacy did not practice on Thursday. The rookie had 25 touches this past week and it is getting late in the season, so the Packers do need to monitor his workload. While I obviously like Lacy better if Rodgers is under center, he is an RB1 regardless this week.
- One player who is officially done for the season is Victor Cruz. The wide receiver finished season at 998 yards and had knee surgery the other day to close out his campaign. Even with the absence of Cruz in the lineup, I would still not advocate for Hakeem Nicks. He has yet to catch a touchdown, has been showing a lack of effort and had multiple drops this past week. Rueben Randle will likely be the biggest beneficiary of the targets that are now up for grabs. So far this season Randle has 6 touchdowns and 571 yards, and he will benefit for being an every down receiver. Of course there is some concern because the Giants offense is just not that good, but it is likely they will be trailing and forced to pass. Jerrel Jernigan caught seven passes for 67 yards after Cruz went down, but he would be a riskier play in deeper leagues.
- Adrian Peterson did practice on Wednesday, but it appeared he took a step back on Thursday. However, that is not something I would be worried about as it seems that he is all set to play. According to Peterson he was ready to play last week, so he should be even better upon his return. Keep Toby Gerhart on stand-by, but it appears that you don’t need to worry about your RB1 for this week.
- Reggie Bush had a touchdown and 101 yards last week, and going into this week’s matchup with the Giants he is no longer on the injury report. There are no issues at all moving forward with him as an RB1.
- With Ben Tate now going on Injured Reserve, Dennis Johnson becomes an interesting low end RB2 or FLEX option. Arian Foster is also sidelined, so Johnson will be the guy getting the touches in Houston’s backfield as Matt Schaub returns to the starting lineup. The Broncos defense is hospitable to opposing running backs, but the problem is that the Texans will likely be trailing so that may take the running game out of the equation. Regardless though, you can count on Johnson for some touches so that should put him on your radar. Against Jacksonville a few weeks Johnson had double digit carries, 13, for the only time this season and he did impress gaining 74 yards.
- Wes Welker has already been ruled out this week with a concussion, so that makes Andre Caldwell fantasy relevant. Obviously Eric Decker should be upgraded, and Caldwell is still at best the fourth option in the passing game, so don’t go too crazy. However it is Peyton Manning and Caldwell did catch six passes for 59 yards and two touchdowns in Week 15, so he should be on your radar. The problem is that there is still so much other talent in Denver, so there is some risk involved.
- Larry Fitzgerald is still battling a concussion but he has been participating this week. There doesn’t seem to be an issue with his status, but the Cardinals are facing the Seahawks so it might be best to look elsewhere at wide receiver.