This cannot be the fantasy football week where you play someone who sits out and get a Refrigerator Perry-sized zero out of the guy.
At this point of the season these games are too crucial for boneheaded blunders. You have to pay attention to NFL injury reports and news as often as you paid attention to your turkey this week—unless you do not mind losing and finishing out of the fantasy playoffs.
So if you are out of the injury loop thanks to overdosing on tryptophan, let me help out by offering what I know about the fantasy superstars who are questionable heading into this week’s games. One caveat, though: The status of a couple of players will not be determined until late Saturday or early Sunday morning.
Here is who will play and who will sit for Week 12:
Jay Cutler, Chicago Bears (QB)
Cutler had a week off to recover from what might have been the 900th concussion of his career. He got some practice in and reacquainted himself with Brandon Marshall and Matt Forte, but he still has to pass one final neurological test on Saturday before he will be cleared to play against the Minnesota Vikings.
Even if Cutler does play it may only be for another week or two; between his hurting head and Chicago’s porous offensive line, Cutler will be more prone than ever to another concussion. If any organized crime member needed someone bumped off, the easiest way to do it would be to make sure the target was “protected” by Chicago’s offensive line.
Keep your ears and eyes open all day Saturday for Cutler’s test results. 220 passing yards and two touchdown tosses sounds about right for him if he is allowed to start, but you better have backup Jason Campbell handy as a handcuff in case Cutler needs another week.
Alex Smith, San Francisco 49ers (QB)
Smith suffered a concussion in Week 10, but unlike other players mentioned in this column, it is not his injury that is preventing him from playing this week but rather the backup who may have stolen his job while he was hurt. (via csnbayarea.com)
The problem is that Colin Kaepernick, the understudy who runs the Wildcat package with Mach-1 speed, picked apart the stingy Chicago Bears defense last Monday night like he was Steve Young and has his teammates and head coach Jim Harbaugh rallying around him.
Harbaugh, who cares about fantasy owners about as much as Ndamukong Suh cares about quarterbacks, has not named San Francisco’s starting signal-caller yet for Sunday. ESPN is reporting that sources say the 49ers are proceeding as if Kaepernick will start, which bodes badly for Smith.
Smith not starting could be a boon to the fantasy values of San Francisco tight end Vernon Davis and wide receiver Michael Crabtree, among others. All signs point to Kaepernick getting the nod this week, but both Kaepernick and Smith owners should monitor the situation throughout the weekend.
Percy Harvin, Minnesota Vikings (WR)
While it is refreshing for fantasy owners that Harvin has not been hampered by the vicious migraine headaches that have sidelined him in the past, his sprained ankle has wreaked just as much fantasy havoc.
Harvin is listed as doubtful to play again this weekend against the Chicago Bears, though almost every outlet is in agreement that he is not going to suit up. I would not consider using Harvin, even if he made some miraculous recovery over the next 24 hours and proclaimed himself 100 percent healthy.
A gimpy Harvin playing in Chicago against an ornery Bears defense that is coming off its worst performance of the season is not a recipe for 120 yards and two touchdowns.
Michael Vick, Philadelphia Eagles (QB)
I should have had this column sponsored by a neurologist with how head injuries are dominating the NFL and fantasy football at the moment. The word “concussion” might get used more often in this piece than the word “brother” used to be said by Hulk Hogan.
Vick, like his backfield mate LeSean McCoy, is dealing with concussion symptoms, and a report from the Philadelphia Inquirer already has rookie Nick Foles slated to make his second NFL start on Monday against the Carolina Panthers in what I like to call “The Bummer Bowl.”
Vick has a decent chance of being back by next week, so no reason to drop him in fantasy leagues, but it does not look like there is any reason to start him this week.