Commentary

Week 17 inactives

Updated: January 3, 2010, 6:59 PM ET
By Tristan H. Cockcroft | ESPN.com

Welcome to Week 17. Here we'll be posting "live" updates and analysis as NFL teams release their inactive lists. Refresh often for the latest information!

Top players we're watching

Notable names ruled out before Sunday: Nate Burleson, Nate Clements, Trent Edwards, Larry Foote, Bruce Gradkowski, Torry Holt, Brandon Jacobs, LaRon Landry, Marcedes Lewis, Brandon Marshall, Rashean Mathis, Lance Moore, Joe Nedney, Eddie Royal, Tony Scheffler, Ricky Schmitt, Bryan Scott, Clint Session, Steve Smith (Panthers), Devin Thomas, Pierre Thomas, Charles Tillman, Corey Webster.

Early games (1 p.m. ET)

Ahmad Bradshaw, RB, NYG: Active
Drew Brees, QB, NO: Inactive
Pierre Garcon, WR, IND: Active
Tony Gonzalez, TE, ATL: Active
Steven Jackson, RB, STL: Active
Mario Manningham, WR, NYG: Inactive
Laurence Maroney, RB, NE: Inactive
Matt Ryan, QB, ATL: Active
Visanthe Shiancoe, TE, MIN: Active
Jeremy Shockey, TE, NO: Active
Jonathan Stewart, RB, CAR: Active
Michael Turner, RB, ATL: Inactive
DeAngelo Williams, RB, CAR: Inactive
Ricky Williams, RB, MIA: Active

Late games (4 p.m. ET)

Justin Fargas, RB, OAK: Inactive
Vincent Jackson, WR, SD: Inactive
Julius Jones, RB, SEA: Active
Derrick Mason, WR, BAL: Active
Beanie Wells, RB, ARI: Active

Updates/analysis (most recent first)

6:58 p.m. ET -- Mark Sanchez active -- The Jets' official Web site reports that QB Mark Sanchez (knee, probable) is active. He's not an advised fantasy play, but if you waited this long specifically for him, hey, at least he'll be facing mostly Bengals second-teamers.

6:58 p.m. ET -- Shonn Greene active -- The Jets' official Web site reports that RB Shonn Greene (shoulder, probable) is active. He'll serve as Thomas Jones' backup and isn't recommended in fantasy, but could see some time late if this game is decided early.

6:56 p.m. ET -- Bernard Scott to start -- The Cincinnati Enquirer reports that Bernard Scott, not Larry Johnson, will be the Bengals' starting running back. Well, there you go. If you need to pick from this backfield, make it Scott, not that he's anything more than a flex play in deep leagues if you were waiting this long.

6:53 p.m. ET -- Cedric Benson inactive -- The Cincinnati Enquirer reports that Cedric Benson is inactive for the Bengals. This shouldn't be a huge surprise, seeing as this game isn't overly critical to the Bengals. Expect to see a lot of Larry Johnson tonight.

3:27 p.m. ET -- Julius Jones active -- RB Julius Jones (rib, questionable) is active for the Seahawks, reports the Web site of their opponent, the Titans. That's frustrating news if you're a Justin Forsett owner, as the two might divide up the carries evenly yet again, diminishing each of their fantasy appeal.

3:27 p.m. ET -- Wilson, Curry inactive -- CB Josh Wilson (hip, doubtful) and LB Aaron Curry (shoulder, doubtful) are inactive for the Seahawks, reports the Web site of their opponent, the Titans.

3:23 p.m. ET -- Weddle, Merriman inactive ESPN's John Clayton reports that RB Jacob Hester (shoulder, doubtful), LB Shawne Merriman (foot, doubtful) and S Eric Weddle (knee, doubtful) are inactive, though LB Kevin Burnett (neck, probable) is active, for the Chargers.

3:20 p.m. ET -- Vincent Jackson inactive -- ESPN's John Clayton reports that WRs Legedu Naanee (foot, doubtful) and Vincent Jackson (achilles, questionable) are both inactive for the Chargers. Expect to see a lot of Buster Davis this week, as well as other Chargers backups, early in the contest. Look elsewhere for fantasy production if possible.

3:16 p.m. ET -- Justin Fargas inactive -- The Raiders' official Web site reports that RB Justin Fargas (knee, doubtful) is inactive as expected. Michael Bush benefits, though the matchup isn't a great one for him. Expect him to get the bulk of the carries, with Darren McFadden in the backup role.

3:16 p.m. ET -- Darrius Heyward-Bey inactive -- The Raiders' official Web site reports that WR Darrius Heyward-Bey (foot, questionable) is inactive. Expect Chaz Schilens, Louis Murphy and Johnnie Lee Higgins to be the team's top three receivers as usual. In other Raiders news, S Tyvon Branch (hip, questionable) is active.

3:14 p.m. ET -- Derrick Mason active -- The Baltimore Sun reports that WR Derrick Mason (knee, questionable) is active for the Ravens. He's well worth using in a must-win game.

3:14 p.m. ET -- Suggs, Reed active -- The Baltimore Sun reports that LB Terrell Suggs (thigh, questionable) and S Ed Reed (groin, questionable) are active for the Ravens. All hands on deck for this critical game.

3:12 p.m. ET -- Miles Austin active -- ESPN's John Clayton reports that WR Miles Austin (thumb, probable) is active for the Cowboys. Did you really think he'd sit such a critical game? Do you really think he should sit such a critical game for you?

3:12 p.m. ET -- Newman, Ware active -- ESPN's John Clayton reports that CB Terence Newman (knee, probable) and LB DeMarcus Ware (wrist, probable) are both active for the Cowboys.

3:02 p.m. ET -- Michael Vick inactive/No. 3 QB -- The Wilmington News Journal reports that QB Michael Vick (quadricep, probable) is the inactive/No. 3 quarterback for the Eagles. He's unlikely to see much action this week as a result, though this is a plus for Donovan McNabb.

3:02 p.m. ET -- Brown, Maclin active -- The Wilmington News Journal reports that WRs Reggie Brown (shoulder, probable) and Jeremy Maclin (foot, probable) are both active for the Eagles. Maclin will handle kickoffs along with his traditional receiving chores, so he's worth having in there as a No. 2/3.

2:58 p.m. ET -- Other Broncos inactives -- The Broncos' official Web site reports that TE Daniel Graham (knee, questionable) and S Brian Dawkins (knee, probable) are active.

2:58 p.m. ET -- Correll Buckhalter active -- The Broncos' official Web site reports that RB Correll Buckhalter (ankle, probable) is active. He should see a few more carries than usual in his backup role with the team's wide receivers especially thin this week. Still, he's only a desperation flex play in deep leagues.

2:54 p.m. ET -- Woodson, Barnett active -- The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports that CB Charles Woodson (shoulder, probable) and LB Nick Barnett (illness, probable) are active for the Packers.

2:48 p.m. ET -- Beanie Wells active -- The Cardinals' official Web site reports that RB Beanie Wells (groin, questionable) is active. He'll presumably start, but shouldn't finish. He and Tim Hightower might not play all 60 minutes.

2:48 p.m. ET -- Larry Fitzgerald active -- The Cardinals' official Web site reports that WR Larry Fitzgerald (elbow, probable) is active. He and Anquan Boldin might rest for portions of the game, so don't expect their usual elite efforts. We might see a lot of Early Doucet, and perhaps Jerheme Urban, this week.

2:48 p.m. ET -- More Cardinals inactives -- The Cardinals' official Web site reports that TE Ben Patrick (head, questionable) and S Antrel Rolle (thigh, questionable) are inactive, though K Neil Rackers (right groin, questionable) and CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie (toe, probable) are active. Rackers is the most fantasy-relevant of this bunch.

2:47 p.m. ET -- Brandon Flowers active -- The Chiefs' official Web site reports that CB Brandon Flowers (shoulder, probable) is active.

2:32 p.m. ET -- Santana Moss active -- The Redskins' official Web site reports that WR Santana Moss (knee, probable) is active. He's fine as a No. 3/flex considering the opposing Chargers will surely be resting regulars.

2:32 p.m. ET -- Albert Haynesworth inactive -- The Redskins' official Web site reports that DT Albert Haynesworth (hip, questionable) is inactive. No matter, because the Chargers might be resting a lot of their regulars.

12:27 p.m. ET -- More Patriots inactives -- The Patriots' official Web site reports that WR Julian Edelman (forearm, probable) and TE Benjamin Watson (knee, probable) are active, though CB Leigh Bodden (knee, probable) is inactive.

12:27 p.m. ET -- Laurence Maroney inactive -- The Patriots' official Web site reports that RB Laurence Maroney (knee, probable) is inactive. Sammy Morris should get a healthy amount of work this week, and warrants sleeper flex-play appeal, especially in deeper leagues.

12:26 p.m. ET -- Johnny Knox inactive -- The Chicago Sun-Times reports that WR Johnny Knox (ankle, doubtful) is inactive for the Bears. With Devin Hester returning to the starting lineup the Bears shouldn't be in bad shape passing. Having a soft matchup against the Lions sure helps.

12:26 p.m. ET -- Briggs active, Manning inactive -- The Chicago Sun-Times reports that LB Lance Briggs (back, probable) is active, though S Danieal Manning (calf, doubtful) is inactive, for the Bears.

12:24 p.m. ET -- Willie Parker active -- ESPN's John Clayton reports that RB Willie Parker (shoulder, probable) is active for the Steelers. He'll occupy his usual backup role, one that isn't fantasy-relevant.

12:24 p.m. ET -- Troy Polamalu inactive -- ESPN's John Clayton reports that S Troy Polamalu (knee, questionable) is inactive for the Steelers. This defense is considerably weaker when Polamalu sits, so bump up your Dolphins offensive players.

12:22 p.m. ET -- Hines Ward active -- ESPN's John Clayton reports that WR Hines Ward (hamstring, probable) is active for the Steelers. He's unlikely to be playing at 100 percent, but the matchup is a favorable enough one for him to be slotted as a No. 2/3.

12:20 p.m. ET -- Harrison, Jennings active -- ESPN's John Clayton reports that both RBs Jerome Harrison (hip, probable) and Chris Jennings (shoulder, probable) are active for the Browns. Harrison should start and get the vast majority of the carries, making him a useful No. 2/flex option in most formats. In other Browns news, LB David Bowens (knee, probable) is active.

12:17 p.m. ET -- Adam Vinatieri inactive -- ESPN's John Clayton reports that K Adam Vinatieri (right knee, questionable) is inactive for the Colts. Matt Stover will handle the kicking chores again.

12:17 p.m. ET -- Colts defenders inactives -- ESPN's John Clayton reports that DE Dwight Freeney (abdomen, questionable) is inactive, though CB Antoine Bethea (foot, probable), DE Robert Mathis (quadricep, questionable) and LB Gary Brackett (foot, probable) are all active, for the Colts. IDP owners should also keep in mind that the Colts aren't unwilling to relieve starters early, so these players might all be candidates to take a seat early accounting for their injuries.

12:16 p.m. ET -- Donte Whitner active -- The Bills' official Web site reports that S Donte Whitner (illness, questionable) is active.

12:14 p.m. ET -- Wayne, Garcon, Collie all active -- ESPN's John Clayton reports that WRs Reggie Wayne (foot, probable), Pierre Garcon (hand, questionable) and Austin Collie (not injury related, probable) are all active for the Colts. Wayne will probably take a seat early in the contest, as the Colts did show in Week 16 that they're more interested in resting players for the playoffs than winning more meaningless regular-season games. Collie might see a good amount of action this week, as might Hank Baskett.

12:12 p.m. ET -- Addai, Brown active -- ESPN's John Clayton reports that RBs Joseph Addai (shoulder, probable), Donald Brown (illness, probable) and Mike Hart (ankle, probable) are all active for the Colts, while RB Chad Simpson (concussion, questionable) is inactive. The Colts might give Addai the earliest hook of this bunch, leaving Brown and Hart to handle the bulk of the rushing chores. Don't look at either of the latter two as anything more than a flex in deeper leagues.

12:11 p.m. ET -- Ricky Williams active -- ESPN's John Clayton reports that RB Ricky Williams (shoulder, questionable) is active for the Dolphins. Williams might not be able to take on a full slate of carries, as Lex Hilliard might step in to keep him fresh, but he's still productive enough to keep active in most formats.

12:08 p.m. ET -- Ryan Fitzpatrick active, will start -- The Bills' official Web site reports that QB Ryan Fitzpatrick (ankle, probable) is active and will start. He's not recommended in fantasy leagues, however.

12:07 p.m. ET -- Stanton, Delmas active -- The Chicago Sun-Times reports that QB Drew Stanton (ankle, probable) and S Louis Delmas (knee, questionable) are both active for the Lions. Delmas will start, but Stanton will serve as a backup.

12:06 p.m. ET -- Brian Cushing active -- The Texans' official Web site reports that LB Brian Cushing (foot, questionable) is active.

12:05 p.m. ET -- Daryl Smith active -- The Jaguars' official Web site reports that LB Daryl Smith (neck, probable) is active.

12:03 p.m. ET -- More 49ers inactives -- The Santa Rosa Press Democrat reports that QB Shaun Hill (back, probable) is active, though in a backup role, and RB Glen Coffee (thigh, probable) and WR Isaac Bruce (ankle, questionable) are also active. None of these players warrants fantasy consideration, but it appears Bruce is getting one last hurrah with the team this week.

12:01 p.m. ET -- Saints defenders inactives -- The Rock Hill Herald reports that DT Sedrick Ellis (knee, questionable) and S Darren Sharper (knee, questionable) are inactive, while CB Jabari Greer (groin, probable) and LB Jonathan Vilma (knee, questionable) are active, for the Saints. Here's your reason why Jonathan Stewart is such a good fantasy play this week!

12:00 p.m. ET -- Jeremy Shockey active -- The Rock Hill Herald reports that TE David Thomas (calf, doubtful) is inactive, while TE Jeremy Shockey (toe, questionable) is active, for the Saints. Thomas' absence does boost Shockey's stock, but not enough to make him a top-tier fantasy play.

11:59 a.m. ET -- More Panthers inactives -- The Rock Hill Herald reports that QB Matt Moore (rib, questionable), WR Muhsin Muhammad (ankle, questionable) and CB Richard Marshall (ankle, questionable) are all active for the Panthers. In addition, Kenny Moore will start across from Muhammad. Marshall is only advised in IDP formats (obviously) and none of the members of the passing game are advised, as the Panthers will presumably run a lot this week.

11:57 a.m. ET -- Lynell Hamilton active -- The Saints' official Web site reports that RB Lynell Hamilton (shoulder, probable) is active. He might see an unusually high number of carries this week behind Reggie Bush and Mike Bell, but isn't recommended in fantasy leagues. This backfield is too clouded this week to be trusted.

11:55 a.m. ET -- Donnie Avery active -- The Rams' official Web site reports that WR Donnie Avery (thigh, probable) is active. He's not a recommended fantasy play, though, not accounting for his propensity for injury, mediocre performance and a challenging matchup.

11:55 a.m. ET -- Little, Laurinaitis active -- The Rams' official Web site reports that DE Leonard Little (knee, questionable) and LB James Laurinaitis (knee, probable) are both active.

11:53 a.m. ET -- Antonio Bryant active -- The Buccaneers' official Web site reports that WR Antonio Bryant (groin, probable) is active. He's worth having in there as a No. 3/flex, but don't make the mistake of assuming he's a top-shelf fantasy play. Not in this offense he's not.

11:53 a.m. ET -- Kellen Winslow active -- The Buccaneers' official Web site reports that TE Kellen Winslow (knee, probable) is active. Keep him active in all formats.

11:51 a.m. ET -- Arian Foster to start -- The Texans' official Web site reports that Arian Foster will get the start at running back. He's a flex consideration in deeper leagues.

11:49 a.m. ET -- Andre Johnson active -- The Texans' official Web site reports that WRs Andre Johnson (ankle, probable) and Jacoby Jones (shoulder, probable) are both active. Johnson is a must-start every week, but it's good to know he (and the Texans) have the motivation of a must-win game to have any chance at the playoffs.

11:47 a.m. ET -- More Falcons inactives -- The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that WR Eric Weems (head, questionable), K Matt Bryant (right hamstring, questionable), DT Jonathan Babineaux (shoulder, questionable) and LB Curtis Lofton (shoulder, questionable) are all active for the Falcons. Other than the IDPs, Bryant is the most relevant fantasy name of the bunch, and he's a lower-tier kicker.

11:45 a.m. ET -- Daunte Culpepper to start -- The Lions' official Web site reports that Daunte Culpepper will start at quarterback. He replaces QB Drew Stanton (ankle, probable) in the lineup, but this is a huge hit to Lions offensive players.

11:44 a.m. ET -- Derrick Ward inactive -- The Buccaneers' official Web site reports that RB Derrick Ward (knee, questionable) is inactive. This is good news for Cadillac Williams, who is a useful No. 2/flex now that he'll get the bulk of the rushing work.

11:43 a.m. ET -- Visanthe Shiancoe active -- The Vikings' official Web site reports that TE Visanthe Shiancoe (thigh, questionable) is active for the Vikings. Facing the Giants, he's a must-start in all fantasy leagues. In addition, CB Antoine Winfield (foot, probable) is active, updating our earlier report.

11:42 a.m. ET -- Brady, Moss and Welker active -- The Patriots' official Web site reports that QB Tom Brady (right shoulder, probable) and WRs Wes Welker (not injury related, probable) and Randy Moss (not injury related, probable) are all active. Big shock, but at least it's nice to see that the No. 3 seed in the AFC does seem to matter to the Patriots. These three look safe enough to play in fantasy leagues.

11:40 a.m. ET -- Steven Jackson active -- The Santa Rosa Press Democrat reports that RB Steven Jackson (back, questionable) is active for the Rams. He's gritting it out despite his Week 16 absence, so keep him in there if you typically would.

11:37 a.m. ET -- Matt Ryan active -- The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that QB Matt Ryan (toe, questionable) is active for the Falcons. The Falcons have the motivation of playing for back-to-back winning seasons, and they face a weak Bucs secondary. Keep Ryan in there.

11:36 a.m. ET -- Michael Turner inactive -- The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that RB Michael Turner (ankle, questionable) is inactive. As has been the case in recent weeks, expect Jason Snelling and Jerious Norwood to share the rushing chores. Snelling is the slightly better fantasy play, but only as a flex option in deeper leagues.

11:36 a.m. ET -- Tony Gonzalez active -- The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that TE Tony Gonzalez (calf, questionable) is active. The paper reports he looked fine running routes during pregame workouts, so he's worth using in all fantasy formats.

11:34 a.m. ET -- Drew Brees inactive No. 3 QB -- The Rock Hill Herald reports that Drew Brees is the inactive No. 3 quarterback for the Saints, as expected. Mark Brunell will get the start with Chase Daniel backing him up. Brunell isn't an advised fantasy play facing a Panthers defense stronger against the pass than the run.

11:32 a.m. ET -- Williams, Sutton inactive; Stewart starts -- The Rock Hill Herald reports that RBs Tyrell Sutton (calf, doubtful) and RB DeAngelo Williams (ankle, doubtful) are inactive for the Panthers, as expected. RB Jonathan Stewart (achilles, questionable) is active and will start, and will almost assuredly get the bulk of the touches in the offense. He's a solid fantasy starter.

11:21 a.m. ET -- Eli Manning active -- The Giants' official Web site reports that QB Eli Manning (foot, probable) is active. His matchup versus the Vikings is a decent one, so keep him active if you're thin at quarterback.

11:20 a.m. ET -- Manningham inactive, Nicks active -- The Giants' official Web site reports that WR Mario Manningham (shoulder, questionable) is inactive, though WR Hakeem Nicks (hamstring, probable) is active. Expect Nicks to start, making him a solid No. 3/flex type in deeper leagues.

11:20 a.m. ET -- Justin Tuck active -- The Giants' official Web site reports that DE Justin Tuck (knee, questionable) is active.

11:18 a.m. ET -- Ahmad Bradshaw active -- The Giants' official Web site reports that RB Ahmad Bradshaw (ankle, questionable) is active. He might start the game, yet finish with fewer carries than Gartrell Johnson or Danny Ware.

10:53 a.m. ET -- Antoine Winfield used situationally -- ESPN's Rachel Nichols reports that CB Antoine Winfield (foot, probable) will play for the Vikings, but only in nickel, short-yardage situations. If you play in an IDP league, keep this in mind, and owners of Giants wide receivers should be less troubled by the matchup as a result.

10:51 a.m. ET -- Ahmad Bradshaw expected to play -- ESPN's Rachel Nichols reports that RB Ahmad Bradshaw (ankle, questionable) is expected to play for the Giants. However, the team is still likely to heavily use Gartrell Johnson and Danny Ware, and the matchup versus the Vikings couldn't look worse. The smart play: Avoid the lot in fantasy.

Ruled out before Sunday -- Bills QB Trent Edwards (ankle, out); QB Ryan Fitzpatrick (ankle, probable), not Brian Brohm, is expected to start. ... Saints RB Pierre Thomas (rib, out); the Saints are already locked into the NFC's No. 1 seed, so while Reggie Bush and Mike Bell benefit most, either or both might sit a decent share while RB Lynell Hamilton (shoulder, probable) gets a good amount of work. ... Saints WR Lance Moore (ankle, out); this is good news for Robert Meachem, but again, the Saints might be resting regulars this week. ... Panthers WR Steve Smith (forearm, IR); expect a heavy run-based approach for the team this week. ... Jaguars WR Torry Holt (hand, out) and TE Marcedes Lewis (cheek, out); this will not at all be an easy week for David Garrard. ... Giants RB Brandon Jacobs (knee, out); with RB Ahmad Bradshaw (ankle, questionable) also looking iffy to play, the Giants might be relying on Gartrell Johnson and Danny Ware to handle the bulk of their rushing chores. ... 49ers Ks Joe Nedney (left hamstring, out) and Ricky Schmitt (left groin, IR); Shane Andrus will be the team's placekicker. ... Broncos WRs Brandon Marshall (hamstring, out) and Eddie Royal (head, out) and TE Tony Scheffler (coach's decision); that leaves the team with only four wide receivers: Jabar Gaffney, Brandon Stokley, Brandon Lloyd and Matt Willis. Only Stokley warrants No. 3/flex consideration in deep leagues. ... Raiders QB Bruce Gradkowski (knees, out); Charlie Frye will get the start again. ... Seahawks WR Nate Burleson (ankle, out); Deion Branch should start in his place again. ... Redskins WR Devin Thomas (ankle, out); Malcolm Kelly gets another start but doesn't warrant fantasy consideration.

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