The official final week of the fantasy football season is upon us for the folks whose championship game falls in Week 17. And not surprisingly, the season of injuries has continued to march on, with a ton of big names continuing to go down left and right. It’s been a pretty exciting fantasy season this year and I’m glad to have been able to be a small part of your huge successes (and hopefully only a few losses). FFLockerRoom continues to grow on a week to week basis and I’m happy to say that our game planning for 2014 has already started and we’re excited to come back next year bigger and better than ever.
Now, on to Week 17.
Tony Romo (herniated disc, OUT): Tough break for the Cowboys and Romo fantasy owners as this week is a win or go home game on both sides of the coin. This story has been talked about all week, so I won’t bore you with any more details. Essentially, he has a herniated disc in his low back, which seems to have caused both back pain and/or leg pain/weakness. Romo had an epidural injection earlier this week, which seems to have been of minimal benefit to him this week. The fact that he had an epidural injection means that inflammation is definitely a component of his condition, meaning a calming down of the inflammation surrounding the disc herniation is a key factor in his ability to function at a high level. Apparently, they weren’t able to calm things down enough, as he wasn’t even taking part in team meetings mid week.
Romo will most likely have surgery done in the offseason to repair/remove the herniated portion of the disc and allow the nerve root (which supplies strength and sensation to specified areas of the legs) to breathe again without impingement on it’s joint space. Romo will have more than enough time to get himself ready for next season, but this obviously is not how we imagined his 2013 ending. Kyle Orton steps in as the Cowboys’ starter this week and should do a solid enough job in keeping the other offensive stars of the Cowboys happy. But Orton is definitely not Romo, so adjust those lineups accordingly.
Aaron Rodgers (fractured collarbone, will start): Another story we’ve heard more than enough about, Rodgers has finally been medically cleared to play this week as Sunday will mark 8 weeks since the Packers’ QB originally fractured his clavicle…against the Bears. There has been soap opera type drama surrounding Rodgers since he first returned to practice and it appears that the medical staff and team are happy enough with his current status to let him back on the playing field. Rodgers will absolutely be able to go out and compete at a high level again, as the fracture was to his left (non-throwing) side anyways. The main (and really only) serious risk that remains for Rodgers is him being slammed into the ground or taking a direct shot to the fractured bone. If the Packers’ O-line can keep him upright and not allow him to hit the ground every other possession, he should be the same Rodgers that we’ve come to expect. There’s some risk, but with full clearance and a return to practice, you’re playing him this week.
Eddie Lacy (ankle, probable): Another situation where he’s been managing a pre-existing injury for weeks, Lacy reportedly re-aggravated his sprained ankle this past week. He was limited in practice for a reason, the team choosing to rest and rehab instead of risking further aggravation in practice. He’s done this for a few weeks now and has looked fantastic in the process, so there’s no reason to believe otherwise this week.
Joique Bell (knee, probable): He’s been dealing with a sore knee all week, but was able to return to limited participation in practice on Thursday and Friday, he appears to be in line to play. Keep in mind that Reggie Bush isn’t on the injury report anymore and this game doesn’t matter, so the team may try to get Bush more touches to end their 2013 on a positive note for their starting RB.
Adrian Peterson (groin strain, doubtful): Don’t count of AP being out there Sunday, with no practice all week and a lingering groin issue. My guess is he’ll not play, but even if he does play, he shouldn’t be in your lineup at this point. He’s dealing with a midfoot sprain and a groin strain, two lower extremity injuries that can be problematic independent of each other, so imagine how limited he’s going to be with both. Matt Asiata looks to get some touches out of the backfield this week, but regardless of the person, you should fine someone else to fill in for AP this week.
Shane Vereen (strained groin, questionable): This is one guy I don’t expect to play tomorrow. The Pats have been killed by injuries all season, especially with their skills players, so Vereen’s importance to the team goes beyond winning tomorrow’s game. If he forces the issue and makes this injury worse (which is a distinct possibility), causing him to miss playoff time, this offense is going to struggle even more so than it already has. His availability this week won’t make or break their chances of beating the Bills on Sunday, so a first round bye could still be had. If he can miss this week and also have the bye week to rest and receive treatment, then he’ll almost assure himself of being close to 100% for their second round game. I expect him to sit, and if he does start, I don’t expect him to play a ton, so you may want to look elsewhere.
Dez Bryant (back, probable): He’s been dealing with back spasms and stiffness this week, which seems to suggest a slight flare up with his ongoing back issue. Bryant left Thursday’s practice to do work on the side instead, as the team chose to allow him to work on his rehab instead. Bryant is probable and will play and he carries the same risk that he always has, so if you’ve been counting on him for this long, you can’t stop now. Unless he has a pre-game setback or you have a stud on the bench, keep Dez in your lineup.
Randall Cobb (fractured tibia, questionable): Cobb was activated from the injured reserve today and appears to be on track to make his return to the lineup this week. Cobb has been out since October 13th after fracturing his tibia against the Ravens. This is a tricky one to call because he just got added to the injury report today after practicing in full pads for the first time on Thursday. With a questionable tag, there still is some ambiguity on whether he truly will play or not, but all signs point to him making his return to the field. He’ll probably be eased back into things in terms of snap count as his endurance is surely to be limited and he’ll need some time to adjust to game speed conditions. This is too risky for my liking, but double check the inactive list tomorrow morning and if he’s active, at least you know he’ll be there for you.
Steve Smith (sprained PCL, OUT): Smith will sit in the final game of the season after an MRI confirmed that he has a sprained posterior cruciate ligament (PCL), which can cause instability with planting his foot with route running, cutting, and deceleration. He’s no help to you this week, but has a good chance to play in the NFL playoffs.
Calvin Johnson (ankle/knee, questionable): He didn’t practice all week as he deals with a lingering knee issue and a more recent ankle sprain. Megatron clearly wasn’t himself last week, and with nothing to play for playoff wise on Sunday, the Lions may just decide that the smart play is to sit their star and not risk further injury. This one will come down to Sunday morning, as nothing official has been announced at this time. Double check the inactive list tomorrow morning, but my guess is he sits after not participating in practice at all this week.
Torrey Smith (thigh, questionable): He popped up on the injury report on Wednesday and was limited in practice for the rest of the week. There haven’t been any indications that he’s in danger of missing this week and with tomorrow’s game being a must win, you better believe he’ll be out there on Sunday.
Tony Gonzalez (toe, probable): He’s been playing with this for weeks. He’s playing his final game of his storied career. The toe won’t be a problem, and I expect the Falcons to find ways to get him the ball so that he ends his career on a very high note.
Good luck this week to everyone out there and we’ll see you in the off-season!
For more information or other injury-related questions, you can find me on Twitter at @z_dahdul or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
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