Well, here we are. Championship week is officially upon us and this is what we’ve been working towards all season. All the blood, sweat, tears and hours of research….just kidding, I won’t get all dramatic on you. Basically, this week is super important, and we better make sure we have the most up to date injury information available to us. Here we go.
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!
A.J. Green, WR, Cincinnati Bengals (hamstring tear, Q): It appears that Green has lobbied hard enough that he has a great chance of playing this Saturday night. What’s not so clear is how limited he is at this point in time, as he has yet to return to a full practice since suffering a grade two hamstring tear. Hamstring injuries, as we’ve all been burned by at some point this season, have high recurrence rates and have a tendency to be most limiting for runners of any sort. Green is a huge red zone target, and you combine that with Tyler Eifert being officially ruled out for this week, you can make the argument that he may be a red zone package guy this week. My expectation for Green is that, in a game that essentially means nothing, the medical staff won’t allow him to be fully released if he shows any signs of limitation or compensation, so there is the possibility of being on a snap count, although this has not been confirmed. Play Green at your own risk, as he may be the definition of boom or bust this week.
Lamar Miller, RB, Houston Texans (ankle injury, Q): Miller has been dealing with an ankle sprain for a few weeks, which resulted in a re-injury this past week that cost him time on the field. This week, he missed practice each day and is not looking great to be out there on Saturday night. The thing to consider is that he has played through this injury, so him suiting up wouldn’t be a huge surprise. But you’ll have to decide if you want to start a guy who a) plays at night, decreasing the potential substitute options, and b) who may play when he is clearly not 100%. We’ll have to check the inactive report prior to kickoff as this appears to be a game time decision.
Julio Jones, WR, Atlanta Falcons (turf toe, not on injury report): He probably could have played last week if the season depended on it, but it appears that the extra waiting has paid off as Jones is no longer on the injury report after testing the toe all week in practice. Expect him to be all systems go this week, just in time for the biggest week of the fantasy season.
Jordan Reed, TE, Washington Redskins (grade 3 AC joint sprain, Q): He was able to return this past week, but if you watched Monday night’s game, he just didn’t look right, despite a significant amount of optimism during the week leading up to the game. On multiple occasions, he was tackled, landed on the shoulder, and took a little extra time getting back up. He was seen grabbing the shoulder from time to time, sometimes as he was taking himself out of the game walking off the field. Reed still has a chance of playing this week, and while he’s not necessarily going to make this injury worse (quick description: he fully tore the ligament that holds the tip of the collar bone to the tip of the scapula, which sits over the ball-and-socket shoulder joint like a roof), but pain tolerance is of utmost importance. He’ll likely need intervention after the season is over, but he and team likely won’t want a ton of inflammation and tissue irritation to deal with on top of the torn ligament. Whether he plays of not, he poses a bit too much risk due to the high likelihood of re-injury or significant irritation.
Stefon Diggs, WR, Minnesota Vikings (hip, Q): Diggs has routinely done the questionable song and dance over the last few weeks and has managed to play each time. This week, he is listed with a hip injury, but was still able to return to practice in full by Friday, which indicates he’s likely to play tomorrow. He had previously been listed with a knee sprain, so two lower extremity injuries at the same time can be limiting, so expect him to not be quite 100% this week. He gets a pretty solid matchup in a game where they can play spoiler and still have a shot of sneaking into the playoffs, which means he will likely play this week in a must win game.
Jeremy Hill, RB, Cincinnati Bengals (knee injury, Q): Despite being in and out of the lineup during their week 15 contest, he was able to post a No practice-Limited practice-Full practice this week. Expect Hill to show some mild signs of limitation as he deals with a minor knee sprain, but expect him to play and shoulder most of the load in a tough matchup against the Texans.
Theo Riddick, RB, Detroit Lions (wrist, no designation): Not playing since week 13 with an undisclosed wrist injury, Riddick has not practiced all week, only able to do running and treatment on the side. We’ll likely learn about his status on Saturday in preparation for their Monday night game against the Cowboys, so unless you have a worthy backup that plays Monday night, you may have to roll the dice on someone else who is more of a given to suit up this week. I’d avoid using Riddick this week, whether he plays or not, as three missed weeks in a row for a guy who needs his hands is a pretty considerable risk to take in championship week.
Brandon Marshall, WR, New York Jets (shoulder, Q): He will likely play after being limited all week, which is typical rep-management for a veteran player towards the end of the season. The shoulder designation is new, as he has been listed with other impairments all season. He enters this week’s game against the Patriots with his team being a heavy underdog in bad weather in a game that has no bearing on their season. While the shoulder may limit some overhead mobility or his ability to block effectively, there should be more to worry about than just the shoulder. He’s a risky play this week.
Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree, WR, Oakland Raiders (shoulder and finger, Q): They enter this week the same way they entered last week: questionable and limited in practice, but still played. There seems to be enough confidence that both guys will suit up this week, but with the Raiders offense not humming along like it had been and QB Derek Carr being limited by his own finger issue, it’s hard to tell who the more effective guy will be. We know both should be involved and the matchup is top notch, so you’d be hard pressed to have players in better positions, but you may want to proceed with caution and temper expectations just a bit.
Sammy Watkins, WR, Buffalo Bills (foot, Q): He’ll definitely play, barring an unforeseen setback. His playing time has been fantastic, more than I think a lot of people expected. However, he has not been involved in the offense a ton, part of which could be related to his injury, but it seems more a product of the Bills having the best rushing game in football and the weather not being entirely pass-friendly. Expect to have Watkins out there, but how productive or involved he’ll be will be more related to weather and game script than the actual injury itself.
Matt Forte, RB, New York Jets (meniscus tear/shoulder injury, D): Despite trying to give it a go last week, Forte just didn’t look right from the get go and came out of his limited appearance with a shoulder injury that’s also been described as “nerve related”. Forte has been pretty up front, saying that he won’t rush back if he doesn’t feel like he can protect himself. The doubtful tag indicates that his chances of playing are minimal, so regardless of the outcome, you’re not playing him this week. This means another week of Bilal Powell as the featured back as Forte likely won’t play.
Ladarius Green, TE, Pittsburgh Steelers (concussion, D): Not officially clear protocol, no practice all week, significant history of head injuries, and a doubtful tag? Yeah, he’s not playing this week. Jesse James is the guy this week for the Steelers.
Good luck this week and thanks again for another amazing season. Find me on Twitter at z_dahdul if you have any week 16 or dynasty questions heading into the offseason!