Who's in and who's out of the early games in Week 15


Who's in and who's out of the early games in Week 15

Now the pressure really ratchets up as most of you reading this are one win away from playing for your league's championship. To help you get that victory, I'll be here to let you know which dinged-up fantasy stars will and won't be playing in the early games. The big story this morning is that the Vikings are expected to be without Adrian Peterson @AdrianPeterson and Toby Gerhart today. Past them, Maurice Jones-Drew @Jones_Drew32, Cecil Shorts @CecilShortsIII, and Roddy White @roddywhiteTV are just a few of the big names worth monitoring. Starting at about 11:30 a.m. Eastern on Sunday, refresh this post until the early kickoffs for all of the news and ramifications on who's in and who's out.

-- ESPN's Adam Schefter reports that Jaguars wideout Cecil Shorts will not play today due to groin injury. Schefter adds that RB Maurice Jones-Drew will test out his injured hamstring in pre-game warmups, but he's not expected to play either. We'll know the official game status for each player in about 90 minutes, but this most likely means RB Jordan Todman will start versus the Bills' poor run defense. He is worth a shot an RB2. Ace Sanders could lead the team in targets if you are really hurting for a WR3. (Update: MJD and Shorts are officially inactive).
-- Vikings RBs Adrian Peterson and Toby Gerhart are inactive, as expected. Matt Asiata and Joe Banyard will get most of the carries against the Eagles. Despite the nice matchup, Asiata is just a desperation flex option.
-- Colts WR LaVon Brazill is inactive due to a foot injury. Injuries and ineffectiveness inside the Colts' receiving corps have made Da'Rick Rogers a high-upside fantasy option. He's worth a try as a WR3 versus Houston.
-- Dolphins RB Lamar Miller is active. He was concussed last week, but he got cleared rather quickly. He and Daniel Thomas will split carries against the Patriots' poor run defense. Neither is more than a mediocre flex.
-- 49ers WRs Quinton Patton and Jon Baldwin are inactive. WR Mario Manningham is active. You don't care.
-- Texans TE Garrett Graham @gra89ham is inactive due to a hamstring injury. Sixth-round rookie Ryan Griffin is his backup. Look elsewhere.
-- Buccaneers WR Vincent Jackson is active despite hamstring injury. He is a boom-or-bust WR2 versus the 49ers' tough defense.
-- Falcons WR Roddy White and TE Tony Gonzalez @TonyGonzalez88 are active. They were both questionable on the injury report, and there's no doubt that they are operating at less than 100 percent, but Roddy is a WR2, and Gonzalez is fine as a TE1 against Redskins' hapless defense.
-- As expected Browns RB Chris Ogbonnaya will start today in place of the concussed and inactive Willis McGahee. Ogbonnaya is a low-end RB2 who has more value in PPR leagues. He should touch the ball 15+ times in a tremendous matchup. He'll also lose a few touches to Fozzy Whittaker.
-- Patriots WR Danny Amendola, RB Shane Vereen, and QB Tom Brady are all active. They were listed as probable. Vereen is a near must-start, Brady is a low-end QB1, and Amendola is a WR3 versus the Dolphins.
-- As expected, Bears QB Jay Cutler is active and will start versus the Browns. The matchup is favorable -- the Browns have allowed 20 passing touchdowns in their last eight games -- and I am not worried about re-injury or the weather in Cleveland. He is a low-end QB1.
-- Texans WR DeAndre Hopkins @Nukdabomb is active. He was listed as questionable due to an ankle injury. Even in a favorable matchup against the Colts, he is only a WR4.
-- Seahawks TE Zach Miller is active. He is a decent bet for TD today against a Giants defense that has allowed three of them to tight ends in their last three games.
-- In a late-game note, NFL Network's Ian Rapoport says, via a source, that Rams WR Tavon Austin won't play versus Saints due to an ankle injury. He was purely a boom-or-bust play anyway. Avoid St. Louis' passing game today.

Players who have already been officially ruled out for Week 15 include Robert Griffin III, Jordan Reed, Aaron Rodgers, Darren McFadden, Willis McGahee, Rob Gronkowski, Aaron Dobson, Kenbrell Thompkins, Jonathan Stewart, and Percy Harvin. The impact of their absences will be discussed in the fantasy analysis section below. For a full rundown of injuries around the league this week, click the link below to the NFL's official injury report.

Fantasy Analysis:

-- Griffin's benching is not totally injury-related -- it's rather complicated depending on whom you listen to -- but he won't play for the rest of this season. Head coach Mike Shanahan said he wouldn't consider playing RG3 even if Kirk Cousins and Rex Grossman got injured. Cousins will start versus the Falcons and is a QB2, but one with some upside facing a defense that has allowed the seventh-most fantasy points to quarterbacks.
-- Reed will miss his fourth consecutive game due to his concussion. There was a report earlier this week that the Redskins are going to shut him down for the year. That hasn't happened yet, but if this team is playing it safe with Griffin, why not Reed? Backup tight end Logan Paulsen is only for the truly desperate.
-- New week, same story for Rodgers. He is practicing, but he still hasn't been cleared to play. Matt Flynn will get another start, and even against Dallas' sad defense, Jordy Nelson is the only part of this passing game you can trust. I expect Eddie Lacy, who is probable to play after suffering an ankle injury last week, to rumble all over Dallas.
-- McFadden is still sidelined by his ankle injury, and there is talk of the Raiders putting him on injured reserve. Feel free to drop him. Meanwhile, Rashad Jennings is back from his Week 13 concussion and is a strong RB2 versus the Chiefs. Don't forget how productive he was from Weeks 9-13. Marcel Reece returns to a change-of-pace role.
-- McGahee hasn't even been cleared to practice following his Week 14 concussion. Chris Ogbonnaya and Fozzy Whittaker will handle the Browns' backfield. Ogbonnaya is worth RB2 consideration, especially in PPR leagues. He should see 15+ touches, and the Bears' run defense is an absolute sieve.
-- Gronkowski is out for the season with a torn ACL and MCL. Dobson and Thompkins were both ruled out on Saturday. Thompkins has a hip injury, and Dobson hasn't played since Week 12 due to a sprained foot. Julian Edelman and Shane Vereen will be target hoarders versus the Dolphins. Danny Amendola is back on the WR3 range.
-- Stewart has a torn MCL in his knee and is probably done for the regular season. This clears up the Panthers' backfield a little bit. DeAngelo Williams will continue to be the lead runner with Mike Tolbert taking over near the goal line and on third downs. But neither player is more than a low-end flex against the Jets' second-ranked run defense.
-- Harvin continues to be held back by his surgically repaired hip. I'd be very surprised if he plays again before the NFL playoffs. Golden Tate is a WR3 versus the Giants.


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