- Stephania Bell, Fantasy Sports
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There have been new injuries to key players (Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers is out with a broken clavicle) as well as a few previously injured players whose seasons have definitively ended with a move to IR (Buccaneers running back Doug Martin and New York Giants RB David Wilson).
But there are also some bright spots. Giants running back Andre Brown will make his regular-season debut after starting on the IR/designated for return, and 49ers wide receiver Mario Manningham is coming back a year after tearing multiple ligaments in his knee.
Who else can actually help your fantasy roster? Here’s what we know as of Saturday afternoon:
Jay Cutler, Chicago Bears, groin (P): Originally projected to miss at least four weeks, Cutler is on track to return after just three. He practiced each day this week and did enough Thursday to convince coach Marc Trestman he was ready to go. Cutler is not likely completely healed from the torn groin muscle but has made the case that he has recovered to the point where he can function effectively.
Naturally, there is a risk of aggravating the injury, but his impending return would suggest the team believes that risk is relatively low. Cutler is not especially mobile and consequently has a bit of an advantage in that he can return to play his style of play sooner. That said, if he struggles or appears to be favoring that left side as the game progresses, Josh McCown is waiting in the wings.
EJ Manuel, Buffalo Bills, knee (P): Manuel sprained his LCL in Week 5 and returned to limited practice last week. This week, he has been a full participant and showed he was able to run and throw well enough, despite the long layoff, to earn the start. He appears to be in good shape heading into Sunday’s game, but the Bills have to hope he won’t make himself vulnerable to more big hits.
Peyton Manning, Denver Broncos, ankle (P): It perhaps should read “ankles” since Manning is dealing with sprains to both ankles -- one low, one high -- per ESPN’s Chris Mortensen. The injuries happened prior to Week 8 and Manning played through, as he so often does. After a bye week and a full week of practice, Manning will play as usual.
Terrelle Pryor, Oakland Raiders, knee (P): Pryor said his removal from last week’s game with a knee sprain was precautionary, and it appears he was telling the truth. He has been a full participant in practice throughout the week and, listed as probable, is expected to start.
Michael Vick, Philadelphia Eagles, hamstring (D): Despite a full practice Friday after limited work Wednesday and Thursday, Vick is still listed as doubtful. The Eagles have traditionally done heavier workouts early in the week, so it is not clear just how much Vick has tested the hamstring. Given that he has already suffered a setback and, perhaps more importantly, given the recent performance of Nick Foles, Vick looks to be sitting this one out.
Ben Tate, Houston Texans, ribs (P): Arian Foster is out with a back injury. Tate, despite four cracked ribs, saw plenty of action last Sunday (81 yards on 22 carries) and should do so again this week as the starter. Dennis Johnson is expected to serve as backup to Tate.
Zac Stacy, St. Louis Rams, foot (P): Last week, Stacy was only days removed from the injury and came into the game as questionable. He then racked up 127 yards on the ground, 51 yards receiving and two touchdowns. It appears he has adequately recovered. His practice was controlled this week (no surprise), but he returned to a full workload Friday and, at probable, is expected to start against the Colts.
Marshawn Lynch, Seattle Seahawks, knee (P): Lynch has been listed on the injury report for a few weeks because of his knee but has played every game. This Sunday will be no different. Expect Lynch to take the field against the Falcons.
Trent Richardson, Indianapolis Colts, ankle (Q): Richardson did not practice Wednesday or Thursday due to swelling in his ankle but was listed as a full participant Friday. Despite the questionable tag, as ESPN.com’s Mike Wells reported, Richardson is expecting to play. “You see me out there running around, and you see me moving like I used to move. You know I’m ready,” Richardson said. He has a history of playing through some painful injuries, so this doesn’t come as a huge surprise.
DeMarco Murray, Dallas Cowboys, knee (P): Murray got through Week 9 without issue, so there is no real concern about his status for Sunday. He practiced fully every day this week and is expected to start.
Giovani Bernard, Cincinnati Bengals, ribs (Q): Bernard bruised his ribs in the Bengals’ last game. Despite the 10 days between games, Bernard is still dealing with the lingering effects of the injury and is listed as questionable. He practiced each day on a limited basis and is expected to play, but his status will not be confirmed until game time. If he does play, how he responds to contact as the game progresses could influence his usage.
Darren Sproles, New Orleans Saints, concussion (P): Sproles has progressed swiftly through the team’s concussion protocol and has practiced fully every day this week. Barring a setback, he is expected to play.
Knowshon Moreno, Denver Broncos, ankle (P): There are a lot of sore ankles on the Broncos squad and Moreno is associated with one of them. It hasn’t kept him from practicing in full every day, however, and it won’t keep him off the field Sunday.
Frank Gore, San Francisco 49ers, ankle (P): The veteran has been running up a storm this year, so it shouldn’t come as a great surprise that he has a few aches and pains. Gore has been on the injury report because of his ankle since the week leading up to the London game against the Jaguars. It didn’t keep him from playing then and can only have been helped by the team’s bye last week. He practiced in full each day and will play.
Rashard Mendenhall, Arizona Cardinals, toe (P): The toe problem has been a chronic issue for Mendenhall, too chronic for two weeks off (missed Week 8, bye Week 9) to completely cure. He remained limited in practice early in the week, but after a full practice Friday, it appears Mendenhall will be available come Sunday.
Brandon Jacobs, New York Giants, hamstring (D): Jacobs continues to slowly recover from his hamstring injury. Although he did participate in limited practices Wednesday and Thursday, he was not in practice Friday. The doubtful tag indicates the Giants do not plan on having him available Sunday.
Roddy White, Atlanta Falcons, hamstring/ankle (Q): Despite the questionable tag, it appears White is likely to take the field for the first time in over a month Sunday. He got in a full week of limited practices, something he acknowledged he wanted to do before taking the field in a game situation.
This may be the healthiest White has been all year since he came into the season with the ankle injury. It will be a tough first outing with the Seahawks coming to town, and as ever, there are no guarantees as to how an athlete coming off a hamstring injury will fare in his first competitive outing. However, this is the most positive news on White in weeks.
Calvin Johnson, Detroit Lions, knee (P): We’re somewhat back to the routine Johnson has established in recent years at Detroit: limited practice throughout the week, probable designation Friday and (presumably) playing Sunday. The probable tag gives us confidence.
Victor Cruz, New York Giants, neck (P): As noted Thursday, Cruz’s ability to ramp up his practice level Friday was a positive toward the likelihood of him playing this weekend. Listing him at probable, it appears the Giants are comfortable with the recovery of Cruz’s neck injury to the point of having him suit up for a game. Cruz had rated himself at a “cool nine and a half” out of 10 earlier in the week as he anticipated his return to full practice. Barring a setback, expect him to play.
Dez Bryant, back (P), and Miles Austin, hamstring (D), Dallas Cowboys: Bryant has had back problems intermittently throughout his career and appears to be experiencing another such episode. The team does not appear overly concerned. In fact, the Cowboys indicated a recent MRI showed no changes from one taken last year when Bryant’s back was behaving similarly. As far as his activity, after not practicing Wednesday, Bryant was back at it Thursday and Friday. He is expected to play against the Saints. Austin, however, is still not practicing with the team as the hamstring issue continues to nag at him. He is virtually invisible on the fantasy radar with Bryant and Terrance Williams holding down the receiving fort.
Darrius Heyward-Bey, Indianapolis Colts, shoulder (P): Heyward-Bey played last week after showing up on the report with a hamstring injury and being listed as questionable. This time it’s a shoulder ailment, but he practiced fully every day and there is less uncertainty about his status. Listed as probable, he is expected to play as the Colts host the Rams.
Cecil Shorts, Jacksonville Jaguars, groin (P): After suiting up the week following an extremely painful sternoclavicular joint injury, it’s clear it will take something exceptional to keep Shorts out of the lineup. With Justin Blackmon suspended, Shorts is even more important for the Jaguars’ passing game. After returning to limited practice Friday and garnering a probable tag, expect Shorts to be on the field against the Titans.
Marlon Brown, Baltimore Ravens, finger (P): After being listed as limited at Wednesday’s practice with a finger injury, Brown was upgraded to full participation for Thursday and Friday. At probable, he is expected to play.
Marques Colston, New Orleans Saints, knee (Q): After sitting out Week 9, there seem to be more encouraging signs for Colston this week, namely that he practiced on a limited basis each day. While the knee may still be giving him some trouble, the rest appears to have had some beneficial effect given his uptick in activity. Despite the questionable tag, it appears he is on track to play as long as there are no pregame setbacks.
Eric Decker, toe, and Wes Welker, ankle, Denver Broncos (P): Decker was listed on the injury report because of his toe when the Broncos headed into Week 8. He’s had a bye in between now and then and practiced fully all week. Welker’s practice time is being managed this season to protect his ankle for when it counts. A day off Wednesday followed by Thursday and Friday practices confirms his readiness for Week 10. Both players are expected to play.
Jimmy Graham, New Orleans Saints, foot (Q): He wanted more snaps in Week 9 and got them. Graham continues to be productive despite the partially torn plantar fascia. He added an elbow injury to the list in last week’s game, but he was able to return to action. After taking Wednesday off, Graham practiced on a limited basis Thursday and Friday and is expected to play Sunday night against the Cowboys.
Julius Thomas, Denver Broncos, ankle (P): The probable designation for Thomas should put fantasy owners at ease as he appears poised to play. Thomas injured his ankle in the Broncos’ Week 8 game, but he tweeted optimism after an MRI confirmed it was not a high ankle sprain. The bye could only have helped, and Thomas returned to full practice Friday after limited work Wednesday and Thursday. There are no hints that Thomas expects to be limited. His performance Sunday will be the indicator of where he stands in his recovery.
Jermaine Gresham, Cincinnati Bengals, groin (Q): Gresham went from limited in practice Wednesday to no practice at all Thursday or Friday, a negative sign heading into the weekend. Coach Marvin Lewis sounded positive, however, when discussing Gresham’s outlook with reporters Friday. Lewis said Gresham “should be fine” for Sunday, calling his outlook “partly sunny.”
According to ESPN.com’s Coley Harvey, Gresham suffered the injury in last week’s game against the Dolphins. He did some work with the team Wednesday in its first full practice then was absent in what may have been at least a partially proactive measure. Gresham has missed only three games in the past three seasons, so one would imagine he will do his best to play. If Gresham passes the pregame warm-up tests, the concern will be whether he will be limited by the recent injury.
Aaron Rodgers, QB, Green Bay Packers, collarbone: Rodgers fractured his left clavicle (collarbone) Monday night and is expected to miss at least four weeks. Beyond being satisfied with the healing progression of the bone itself, the team will have to be comfortable that Rodgers is at minimal risk of re-injury with exposure to contact.
Arian Foster, RB, Houston Texans, back: Foster left last week’s game early with a back injury and has not returned to practice. After consulting with specialists throughout the week, the big question is what comes next. The Houston Chronicle reports Foster is dealing with a disk issue in his back. I shared some thoughts earlier in the week on the likely relationship between Foster’s recent ailments.
Darren McFadden, RB, Oakland Raiders, hamstring: McFadden tweaked the same hamstring he strained earlier in the season and is still not practicing this week. There is no timetable for his return, but he’s been ruled out in advance of Sunday’s game.
Nate Burleson, WR, Detroit Lions, forearm: Burleson is back in practice on a limited basis, running routes and catching passes. He’s not quite ready for the full-blown contact of a game, but it appears he’s not far off either. In the meantime, Burleson is out for Week 10.
David Wilson, RB, New York Giants, neck: While the hope and expectation is that Wilson will not require surgery, he will not return to football this season. The Giants have placed him on IR.
Jermichael Finley, TE, Green Bay Packers, neck: Finley has been placed on IR after suffering a spinal cord contusion earlier this season.