Week 15: Injury Update
As we head into round 2 of the fantasy playoffs, DeMarco Murray and Greg Jennings owners will be forced to patrol the waiver wires to fill the void as both fantasy studs will be out for the remainder of the regular season.
Chicago's Matt Forte suffered a MCL sprain in week 13 that will keep him out for 2-4 weeks, but reports this week have him progressing (outside chance he returns before the end of the regular season). Forte could very well decide that a return is not in the cards (as he'll be a free agent at the end of the season) and might play it safe if the Bears fall out of the playoff hunt. Adrian Peterson's high ankle sprain has kept him sidelined for the past three weeks, but all signs point to AP suiting up for a week 15 showdown with Drew Brees and the Saints.
In this article we will profile some of the more fantasy relevant injuries that have cropped up and suggest which players are likely to benefit from increased playing time (some of the replacement players might be sitting on your waiver wire).
Hasselbeck suffered a left calf injury (non contact injury) during the week 14 loss to New Orleans and initial reports are that Jake Locker will get the start when the Titans travel to Indianapolis this week. The 36 year old Hasselbeck is averaging 207 YPG with 15 TDs and 10 INTs through 13 games. In relief of the injured Hasselbeck, Locker (8th overall pick in this year's draft) completed 13-of-29 passes for 282 yards with one touchdown, no INTs and added a 6 yard rushing TD. The Titans report that Hasselbeck's calf injury is mild but they could very well decide to put their playoff hopes on the shoulders of their impressive rookie. If Locker gets the nod, he would be a solid QB2 in week 15 against the Colts' 21st ranked pass defense (240 YPG) that has allowed 23 passing TDs through 13 games
Big Ben suffered a high ankle sprain in the first half of the week 14 win over Cleveland, but gutted out the 2nd half. His status for the Monday night game in San Francisco is in serious doubt; and if Charlie Batch ends up under center, it would be a major downgrade for Mike Wallace and Antonio Brown owners. Now in his 8th year, Roethlisberger is averaging 271 YPG with 21 TDs and 11 INTs. As of Wednesday, Big Ben was still in a walking boot, but he is one of the tougher QBs in the league and still has a chance to suit up. Over the past 5 seasons he's missed a total of 7 games, despite playing behind a sub par O-line. However, with the Steelers game on Monday night, Big Ben owners need to make alternative plans as he appears headed for the dreaded game time decision.
The rookie from Alabama missed the week 14 contest with a case of turf toe and could miss another week (missed Wednesday practice). On the season, Ingram is averaging just over 50 YPG from scrimmage in a crowded Saints backfield. In his absence, 2010 undrafted free agent Chris Ivory led the team in rushing and handled most of the short yardage carries (not Pierre Thomas). The Saints travel to the Metrodome to face a solid Vikings run defense which limits Ivory / Thomas to flex plays at best. Darren Sproles remains the best option of the Saints RBs based on his explosiveness and pass catching ability (averaging close to 6 catches per game).
AP suffered an ankle injury in the 1st quarter of the week 11 loss to Oakland and has missed the last three games (losses to Atlanta, Denver, and Detroit). An MRI confirmed that he suffered a grade 1 high ankle sprain (most mild). The Vikings will tread with caution as they have no reason to risk their $100 million investment with the playoffs out of the picture. Toby Gerhart has started the past three games and has held his own, but will likely head back to the bench for week 15. AP has resumed practicing in full and all signs point to a return to the lineup for a week 15 meeting with New Orleans' 15th ranked run defense (110 YPG).
The oft injured 24 year old RB was a waiver wire darling following his week 11 explosion against a very forgiving Carolina defense. In week 11, Kevin Smith exploded for 200 total yards and three touchdowns and got the start on Thanksgiving, but his tenure as the lead back was short lived after he suffered a sprained ankle that forced him to the sidelines in the first quarter. Smith returned in week 13 and amassed 80 yards on just 12 carries despite reinjuring the ankle, forcing him to miss the week 14 match-up with Minnesota. Smith is averaging an impressive 6.9 YPC with four touchdowns since signing back on with Detroit in Week 10. Smith returned for Wednesday's practice and appears in line to start for a critical road game against a struggling Oakland run defense that ranks 29th (141 YPG).