NFL Week 16 Injury Report: Forecasting Impact on Fantasy Football

Daniel StackContributor IIDecember 20, 2012

NFL Week 16 Injury Report: Forecasting Impact on Fantasy Football

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    With the fantasy season winding down for most—as this week is usually the Super Bowl for most fantasy leagues—injuries at this time of year prove to be burdensome to deal with.

    It is imperative that you set the most optimal lineup for your championship (or consolation bracket) quest. Handicapping injuries is an essential part of putting together the best possible lineup and winning that elusive fantasy title.

    In Week 15 only a few players suffered significant injuries with Ryan Mathews, Malcom Floyd and Torrey Smith at the top of the list. However, many other players heading into Week 16 still have some nagging injuries ailing them.

    In this slideshow I will highlight 10 players who are nursing injuries (excluding players who have already been ruled out with debilitating injuries, i.e. Mathews and Floyd—who are both out for the season) and whether you can trust them this week.

Ahmad Bradshaw, New York Giants

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    Although Ahmad Bradshaw is insisting he will play on Sunday, New York Giants head coach Tom Coughlin is saying he must get clearance from doctors first.

    For a team with its backs against the wall, the Giants need all the manpower they can find. With so much riding on the line, expect Bradshaw to give it a go on Sunday—if indeed he has been cleared by the medical staff.  

    While his backup, David Wilson, is a gifted runner and an adequate fill-in, Bradshaw’s experience and toughness is exactly what the Giants need at the moment. With all that on the line and with the Giants facing a mediocre rushing defense in the Baltimore Ravens, who are allowing 132.2 rushing yards per game (26th in the NFL), it would be wise to insert Bradshaw back into your lineups.

Robert Griffin III, Washington Redskins

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    For the first time since suffering a sprained knee two weeks ago, Robert Griffin III finally returned to practice on Wednesday. In the process, he brings hope to his gleeful fantasy owners.

    As you all know, RGIII has been a beast this year and has been all that and then some at quarterback. So, if he is healthy and ready to go this weekend in Philadelphia, you roll along with him by inserting him back into your lineups.

    The Philadelphia Eagles are a wounded and beaten-down club, and with this game of paramount importance to the Washington Redskins, expect Griffin III to come out fired up. Stay tuned on Sunday for the latest news, but with RGIII now participating in practice, there is a good chance he will play come Sunday.

Torrey Smith, Baltimore Ravens

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    Torrey Smith was the latest in a long line of players who have suffered from the effects of a concussion this year. Smith hit his head rather hard during a play in the Ravens’ loss to the Denver Broncos last Sunday.

    As of Wednesday afternoon, Smith has not been cleared for practice. Since the Ravens have clinched a playoff spot (although not the division), there is a chance that Baltimore may sit out Smith this week as a precaution, even if he does pass the necessary tests.

    Besides, Smith has been too erratic for you to trust. Smith has not scored in five weeks and hasn’t had more than 33 yards receiving in his last three games. When you combine his lackluster play and his injury, he is looking like a must-sit this week. Via Jeff Zrebiec, the Baltimore Sun:

    Dannell Ellerbe and Ed Dickson both practicing. Torrey Smith (concussion) and Tandon Doss (ankle) watching practice but not participating.

Rob Gronkowski, New England Patriots

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    There is a chance that that “Gronk” will make his triumphant return to the field this weekend when the Patriots travel to Jacksonville this Sunday.

    Rob Gronkowski returned to practice on a limited basis on Wednesday, bringing hope to both New England Patriot fans and fantasy players alike. Gronkowski is one of the most transcendent players in fantasy and a must-start if healthy, as he is clearly head and shoulders above other tight ends.

    There is a chance here, and if that chance leads to activation, it would a tremendous boost to the players that own Gronkowski and for whom made it to the championship round. Suffice to say, wait until Sunday for the final word. Quite simply, if he plays for the Patriots, he plays for you.

Maurice Jones-Drew, Jacksonville Jaguars

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    It seems like eons ago when we last saw Maurice Jones-Drew on a football field (when in actuality it was in Week 7). However, Jones-Drew may try to make it back for the Jacksonville Jaguars game against the Patriots this weekend, as he is currently being listed as questionable.

    At this point it may not be worth the while for Jones-Drew to come back, as the Jaguars have absolutely nothing to play for—save pride. However, Jones-Drew is a prideful man and wants to be there for his team, and this is a situation worth monitoring.

    On the flip side, even if he was to be declared active, Jones-Drew will have a lot of rust to shake after missing eight weeks of action. So, unless you are relying on guys like Beanie Wells, Alex Green or Jones-Drew’s backup Montell Owens as your No. 2 RB or flex play, it may be wise to pass on activating Jones-Drew this weekend.

Cecil Shorts, Jacksonville Jaguars

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    Another Jaguar on the mend is Cecil Shorts. Although he played in last week’s game against the Miami Dolphins and had a solid day (six catches for 101 yards), Shorts is back on the injury report, according to Ryan O'Halloran of the Florida Times-Union.

    This could be posturing, as the Jaguars are likely playing it safe. Considering he played last week with no issues, the chances that Shorts plays this week against the Patriots are probably high.

    Shorts would make for an excellent No. 2 WR or flex play this weekend, as he will be up against the Patriots and their 29th-ranked passing defense (allowing 270.4 passing yards per game).

    Limited for #jaguars were Alualu, Cox, Mathis, Ross and Selvie ... They list Shorts on injury report as concussion.

    — Ryan O'Halloran (@ryanohalloran)

Roddy White, Atlanta Falcons

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    Roddy White also finds himself back on the injury report after he missed Wednesday’s practice with a lingering knee injury.

    It’s the same injury he was dealing with last week, and although he played in last Sunday’s game against the Giants, he was vastly ineffective, as he recorded only two measly receptions for 16 yards.

    This is a difficult injury to gauge. It’s likely White will play, as White has proved to be an iron man in this league having not missed a game in his career. But given how he performed last week, no one would blame you if you sat him.

    That said, unless he is ruled inactive prior to Saturday night’s contest with the Detroit Lions, I’d still roll with White considering his track record.

Jordy Nelson, Green Bay Packers

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    As of Wednesday afternoon Jordy Nelson has not returned to practice; although Nelson did do some work on Tuesday in an effort to get back on the field for Sunday when the Green Bay Packers host the Tennessee Titans.

    The Packers want to see how his ailing hamstring responds to the work he did on Tuesday before making a decision on his availability for Sunday. If somehow he gets cleared, Nelson would make for an excellent play this weekend, as he would be taking on a pedestrian Titans pass defense. The Titans allow 240.6 passing yards per game (19th in the league), so you know Aaron Rodgers will like to sling it.

    As usual, wait until game time to make a decision. But if Nelson is activated, he should be put back into lineups with confidence.

Jonathan Stewart, Carolina Panthers

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    Once again, Jonathan Stewart was held out of practice on Wednesday with his high-ankle sprain.

    By now, most Stewart owners have moved on from this injury and it seems like his return to the field is not imminent. If by chance, though, you have DeAngelo Williams in Stewart’s stead, Williams could make for a solid flex play this week.

    You see, the Panthers will be taking on a New Orleans Saints’ squad that is allowing the second-most rushing yards in the league (146.3 rushing yards per game). Williams has also scored in his last two games while rushing for a respectable 216 yards in his last three games.

    The bottom line here is don’t hold your breath waiting for Stewart.

    DT Dwan Edwards (wrist), C/G Geoff Hangartner (foot), WR Brandon LaFell (toe) and RB Jonathan Stewart (ankle) did not practice today.

    — Carolina Panthers (@Panthers)

LeSean McCoy, Philadelphia Eagles

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    After a couple of weeks sitting on the sidelines, LeSean McCoy will make his return as the Eagles’ main back in Sunday’s affair with the Redskins. While McCoy’s replacement, Bryce Brown, was great in his first two games, Brown has been abysmal in the last two weeks while also having issues fumbling the ball.

    After sitting out four weeks with a concussion, McCoy will look to invigorate a slumping Eagles offense. Although the Redskins are pretty stout again the run, allowing 95.9 rushing yards per game (sixth in the league), they can be run on as most teams usually try to beat them through the air. With McCoy being an integral part of what the Eagles like to do, McCoy could be in line for a solid outing.

    So, trust McCoy and give him a shot this week. After all, in most cases McCoy was your first-round pick, and as long as he is healthy to start, he should be in your lineups.