Round two of the fantasy playoffs are well underway (I hope you played Bilal Powell, I sure didn’t). Let’s dive in a take a look at who’s in and who’s out and whether you should trust them this week or not!
As always, the injury designations are as follows:
Questionable (Q): The most ambiguous of all the designations, this essentially means that a player is uncertain to play in the coming week. This can be interpreted in a multitude of ways, but there is no scale or percentage likelihood that a guy will suit up. Because the league decided to get rid of the Probable tag, any player who has uncertainty about their availability will fall into this category, which muddies the waters a bit for us.
Doubtful (D): This means that the player is unlikely to play. This should not change much from how it was used in the past, as players who were listed her typically did not end up playing on Sunday or Monday.
Out (O): Pretty straightforward: he’s not playing.
One last note: if I haven’t included a guy on this list, it likely means he’s already out or I don’t feel there’s much to worry about in regards to his injury. Or, he’s just not that good anyways.
Good luck this week!
Adrian Peterson, RB, Minnesota Vikings (post meniscus repair): There doesn’t appear to be much doubt that AP will be back in the lineup for the first time in three months. What’s in question is just how involved he’s actually going to be. Peterson is back a full month ahead of the typical recovery time following meniscal repair, which is in the 4-6 month window. We’ve seen this before from AP, who was back on the field 6-7 months following ACL repair just a couple seasons ago. This situation is dicey because we know the motivation for this return has to be tied to getting him ready for a possible playoff run, which would be hard for him to do if he sat on the sideline waiting to see if they made it in the first place. And to be quite honest, heading into his 32 year old season next year, this could be his last hurrah as an every down type back and that could be a big part of the motivation from his standpoint.
My take has been pretty clear throughout this entire process, as I don’t think this fast of a return is good for his short or long term health. Coming back before he’s ready increases the likelihood of re-injuring the repaired tissue, lends itself to possible compensatory injury, and increases the chances of instability and early joint degradation in the knee over the course of his post-football life.
The guess is that the team is aware of everything in the above paragraph and will ease him back into action, but the temptation will be there with Matt Asiata expected to miss this game, leaving Jerick McKinnon as the the only healthy back left. It’s best to avoid AP this week, and while I’m skeptical about how effective he’ll be over the last two weeks, it’s hard to doubt a man who has overcome odds every step of his illustrious career. I’m rooting for him, and we’ll see what he’s got left in the tank.
Aaron Rodgers, QB, Green Bay Packers (calf strain, Q): First things first, he’s going to play. He’s going to be limited mobility-wise. And he’s going to have a tough time getting loose and staying loose with record low temperatures expected in Chicago. Ok, so now that we got that out of the way, he’s going to throw the ball a ton despite the weather because the Packers running back situation is an absolute mess (James Starks is doubtful, Christine Michael is dealing with an illness, and Ty Montgomery is the only healthy back). His numbers could potentially take a hit and he likely won’t be running very much, but it’s hard to imagine anyone has an alternative available with as much upside as Rodgers. You should start him this week, you may just have to slightly temper expectations.
Jordan Reed, TE, Washington Redskins (grade 3 AC joint sprain, Q): He was active last week, but was quite disappointing after only playing 10 snaps. He was reportedly doing much better this week and seems to be maintaining his range of motion and managing his pain more effectively. While he is questionable, all signs point to him playing and being more involved this week than last. With this being the Monday night game, it’s looking like Reed will be a major factor in deciding whether some advance or not. He does carry some minor risk, but this matchup and his importance lends itself to inserting him into your lineup this week.
A.J. Green, WR, Cincinnati Bengals (hamstring tear, D): I wanted to include him in the out portion because he is definitely not playing this week. And to be honest, if he miraculously manages to play, he shouldn’t be in your lineup this week. He must show, in a full practice, that he can run with normal, symmetric strides and show the burst and explosion that makes him one of the best WRs in the league. Until he does that, I just can’t see a scenario where he plays. While I do think he has an outside chance of playing in Week 16, keep this in mind as we’re smack into the poor weather portion of the season: the colder it is, the harder it’s going to be to get loose pre-game. It’ll most definitely be an uphill battle for Green to make it back this season, that glimmer of hope still remains. Stay tuned.
Theo Riddick, RB, Detroit Lions (wrist, D): Not a great sign when a player misses one week after being questionable, then follows it up with a doubtful tag. Riddick likely will not play, so expect Dwayne Washington to get a lot of touches, especially since Zach Zenner is still trying to pass the concussion protocol after being limited at the end of the week. Either way, Riddick is likely a no go.
Cam Newton, QB, Carolina Panthers (shoulder, Q): Limited practice all week, full participation on Saturday, it’d be a huge surprise if he didn’t play. He had an early week MRI due to shoulder soreness, but we still do not know the extent of the injury, which makes it hard to predict how limited he’ll be. He has a nice matchup on Monday against a Redskins defense that doesn’t scare anyone, so expect him to play this Monday. However, he’s clearly not 100%, so it’s down to the medical staff being able to manage this moving forward, with pain tolerance likely playing a large role.
Sammy Watkins, WR, Buffalo Bills (foot, Q): He continues to go out each week, managing symptoms, and doing what he can to be effective on a week in, week out basis. He has a juicy matchup against the Browns this week, so expect a very good day from him this Sunday.
Julio Jones, WR, Atlanta Falcons (turf toe, O): Despite missing this week, he is expected to be back in the lineup just in time for the fantasy championship. Expect him to be all systems go for Week 16.