Week 15: Game Time Decisions - Injury Updates
In this article we profile players that are battling injuries, leaving their playing status in jeopardy for the upcoming week. Owners will need to stay on top of practice reports and inactive lists that are released any hour before kickoff to ensure that you don't have a dreaded goose egg in your starting lineup. Week 14 saw multiple fantasy studs succumb to the injury bug. The Gronk will be miss the remainder of the season following an ACL/MCL injury and his owners would be wise to target Dennis Pitta if he's available as Flacco's security blanket scored and had 11 targets in his season debut. Multiple starting caliber fantasy running backs suffered week 14 injuries leaving their status for week 15 in doubt so be sure to check waiver wires as this could be a week that multiple running back handcuffs finish among the top 20 at the position.
On Wednesday Cutler was cleared to practice at full speed and appears to be nearing a return to the Bears' lineup. The free agent to be suffered a high ankle sprain in week 10 and his absence has opened the door for Josh McCown to emerge as a waiver wire savior. The 34 year-old vet's performance on Monday night was one for the ages as he completed 27-of-36 passes for 348 yards and four touchdowns. His fantasy day was made even more insane due to a rushing touchdown. McCown is averaging 258 yards per game with an incredible 13 touchdowns and just one interception over seven games, but could be holding a clipboard when the Bears travel to Cleveland in week 15. The Browns' defense is allowing the 12th fewest fantasy points per game to opposing signal callers. Joe Haden will likely matchup with Brandon Marshall, but Cleveland likely won't have an answer for Alshon Jeffery. Whichever player ends up under center should produce top 10 quarterback numbers against a mediocre Cleveland pass defense.
The king of the discount double check suffered a broken collarbone in the week 9 loss to Chicago and has missed the past five games. He did participate in individual drills on Wednesday, leaving some hope that he'll return for the dream matchup in Dallas. Through eight games, Rodgers was averaging 277 yards passing with 15 touchdowns and just three interceptions. His absence has been a major downgrade for all three WRs (Jordy Nelson, James Jones, and Jarrett Boykin). Nelson has been held without a touchdown since Rodgers left the lineup. Matt Flynn continued to work with the starters in practice on Wednesday and would start if the Packers decide to play it safe with their franchise quarterback. Flynn remains nothing more than a game manager as he's averaging just 172 passing yards over five games this season. He has tossed just three touchdowns and three interceptions and would be just a desperation play at best despite the favorable matchup against a Cowboys defense that was abused on Monday night by Josh McCown. Dallas is yielding the most fantasy PPG to opposing quarterbacks, including 314 yards per game through the air.
Miller sustained a concussion in the third quarter of the Week 14 win at Pittsburgh and did not return, opening the door for Daniel Thomas to top 100 yards. Miller had just six carries for 20 yards and two catches for 13 yards, disappointing fantasy owners that rolled the dice on the rookie. He's had a rather pedestrian first season, averaging just 44 yards per game behind an injury ravaged Dolphin O-line. Miller was cleared to practice Tuesday and appears on track to get cleared for game action, barring any setbacks. If Miller does play, a committee with Daniel Thomas is expected against New England -- limiting both players to flex plays at best, despite a favorable matchup. The Patriots' run defense has dealt with multiple injuries (namely DT Vince Wilfork and LB Jerod Mayo) and has struggled, allowing the third most rushing yards per game and 12th most fantasy points per game to the running back position.
Adrian Peterson escaped a major injury during the week 14 loss to Baltimore as he was diagnosed with a foot sprain. Free agent to be Toby Gerhart dominated the workload once AP left and finished with 15 carries for 89 yards and a touchdown. Peterson expects to return before the end of the season, but the Vikings are eliminated from playoff contention and might have other ideas. In 2013, AP has failed to match his 2012 season for the ages as he's seen his average rushing yards per game drop to 93 (averaged 131 YPG last year). For now we expect Minnesota to play it safe with Peterson and keep him out at least one week. Gerhart is also dealing with a hamstring injury that is expected to keep him out of practice until Friday. If the Stanford alum is able to start, he'd be a borderline RB2 start against a mediocre Philadelphia run defense allowing the 18th most fantasy PPG to the running backs position.
The rookie from Alabama was forced from the narrow week 14 win over Atlanta with a second-quarter ankle injury. He did return in the third quarter but struggled in the second half. Head coach Mike McCarthy stated that Lacy will not practice until Friday at the earliest, leaving his week 15 status in doubt for a dream matchup with a floundering Dallas defense. The Cowboys are allowing the most fantasy points per game to running backs including a league high 94 receptions to running backs. On the season, Lacy is averaging 90 total yards per game with 27 receptions and seven touchdowns. If he's unable to suit up, James Starks would vault into RB2 status in a very favorable matchup. In week two (filling for Lacy after he suffered a concussion), Starks finished with 20 carries for 132 yards and added four catches for 36 yards against Washington. This was the only time this season that the Packer backup has topped 60 yards.