Who's in and who's out of the early games in Week 16


Who's in and who's out of the early games in Week 16

This is it. Do or die. All or nothing. Put up or shut up. For whatever's waiting for you -- bragging rights or something more tangible -- at the end, this is day you simply win. Nothing else matters.
Of course, it's just fantasy football, so maybe I'm overplaying it a little. Regardless of whether you are a die-hard looking for your first title or a casual player who is just happy to still be playing, I'll be here all morning to let you know which dinged-up fantasy stars will and won't be playing in today's early games. Adrian Peterson @AdrianPeterson, Maurice Jones-Drew @Jones_Drew32, T.Y. Hilton @TYHilton13, and Garrett Graham @gra89ham are just a few of the names worth watching. This post will be updated consistently starting at about 11:30 a.m. Eastern until the early kickoffs
-- Maurice Jones-Drew is officially active for the Jaguars. Unfortuantely, that makes both he and Jordan Todman very risky in a great matchup against the Titans. I'd avoid both if possible.
-- Dolphins RB Daniel Thomas is active. That caps the value of both he and Lamar Miller. Both are only middling flex options versus the Bills.
-- Adrian Peterson and Toby Gehart are both active for the Vikings. The only name you care about is the first one, and I think you have to roll with Peterson versus Cincy. By the way, Week 15 star Matt Asiata is inactive.
-- Browns CB Joe Haden @joehaden23 is active despite hip injury. The impact is small since you're not starting any Jets WR anyway.
-- Texans TE Garrett Graham is inactive. Ryan Griffin will start, and given Matt Schaub's propensity for check-down passes, he is another TE sleeper today versus Denver.
-- Colts WR T.Y. Hilton is active despite shoulder injury. He is only a WR3 in a tough matchup in Kansas City.
-- Titans RB Chris Johnson is active. Even against the Jaguars, he is only a so-so RB2.
-- Titans WR Kenny Britt is inactive. Remember when he was good? It was very short-lived.
-- Rams WR Tavon Austin is inactive due to ankle injury. But he's far off the fantasy radar.
-- TE Tony Moeaki is active for the first time as a member of the Bills today. Moving on ...
-- Cowboys WR Terrance Williams is active despite hamstring injury. He is only a Hail Mary option versus the Redskins.
-- Panthers WR Steve Smith is active despite a finger injury that will require him to wear a special glove. He is still a WR3 only against the Saints.
-- Colts RB Donald Brown is active. He missed most of last week's game due to a stinger. He is a low-end flex versus the Chiefs. It also means you should stay away from Trent Richardson following his decent performance in Week 15.
-- Chiefs RB Dexter McCluster is active. He is only a last-resort flex in PPR leagues.
-- Panthers RB Jonathan Stewart is inactive, as expected, due to a knee injury. DeAngelo Williams is a decent flex play versus the Saints' exploitable run defense.
-- Browns RB Willis McGahee is active. But you don't care; you aren't starting any Browns RBs against the Jets.
-- Bills RB Fred Jackson is active. He and C.J. Spiller are risky flex starts versus the Dolphins. I like Jackson a little more than Spiller.

Players who have already been officially ruled out for Week 16 include Wes Welker, Victor Cruz, Cecil Shorts, Aaron Rodgers, Ben Tate, Case Keenum, Jordan Cameron, Stevie Johnson, E.J. Manuel, Kenbrell Thompkins, and Brandon Pettigrew. 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:

-- Welker is probably not going to see the field before the NFL playoffs due to his concussion. Week 15 darling Andre Caldwell will more playing time and although he scored twice last week, I find him tough to trust versus Houston. There are still many targets to feed in this offense, and I have to believe that Caldwell is still behind the likes of Demaryius Thomas, Eric Decker, and Julius Thomas for those targets, right? He is a low-end WR3.
-- Cruz underwent arthroscopic knee surgery this week and will be out for the final two weeks. He also sustained a concussion in Week 15. Rueben Randle will step into the lineup, and while I don't really like any Giants today at the Lions, I would start Randle in fantasy over Hakeem Nicks if I had that decision to make.
-- Shorts has been played on injured reserve after undergoing sports-hernia surgery this week. Mike Brown or tight end Marcedes Lewis may be Chad Henne's "go-to receiver" now, but there isn't a strong bet in that crowd against the Titans.
-- Matt Flynn will make his fourth consecutive start in place of Rodgers, who still hasn't been cleared to play. You know the drill: Jordy Nelson is a WR2. Everyone else? Use at your own risk as a WR3. It is still Matt Flynn. But I will add that tight end Andrew Quarless has some sleeper appeal after back-to-back stellar games.
-- The rib problem Tate has been dealing with for the second half of the season has landed him on injured reserve. Running back Dennis Johnson will get the start versus the Broncos. He is small -- 5 foot 7, maybe 200 pounds -- but he should be a factor in the passing game once the Texans fall behind and see maybe 12-15 carries as well. He is a decent sleeper for the closing games.
-- Keenum hasn't been ruled out for the season, but a sprained thumb on his throwing hand will keep him sidelined today. Matt Schaub steps back in, and that's only good news for the Broncos' defense.
-- Cameron is out due to a concussion. His replacement, Gary Barnidge, is not a fantasy option. In Cleveland, it's Josh Gordon and bupkis for fantasy owners.
-- Johnson is in California with family after his mother passed away last weekend. Manuel will sit this game out due to a sprained left knee. Thad Lewis will start at quarterback against the Dolphins. Only the Bills' RBs are on the fantasy radar for Week 16, and they are mere flex options.
-- Thompkins will miss his third consecutive game due to a hip injury. However, wideout Aaron Dobson is expected to play versus the Ravens. He has minimal fantasy value. Julian Edelman is the target monster in this offense right now.
-- Pettigrew is out because of an ankle injury. Joseph Fauria, he with the 12 catches and seven touchdowns this season, is another tight-end sleeper versus the Giants.


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