NFL Week 17 Injury Report: Forecasting Impact on Fantasy Football

Craig RondinoneCorrespondent IDecember 27, 2012

Richardson could be in street clothes instead of fantasy lineups.
Richardson could be in street clothes instead of fantasy lineups.Ron Schwane-USA TODAY Sports

If you are in a fantasy football league that uses Week 17 of the NFL season as its Super Bowl, then this injury report is for you.  

The final week of the regular season wreaks havoc on fantasy leagues. Stars on playoff-bound teams get rested, guys with minor injuries are told to start their offseasons early and head coaches with nothing to lose plug players into starting lineups and give them playing time they have never received before. This is why many if not most fantasy leagues ignore the final week of the NFL season and stage their Super Bowls during Week 16.    

But for those of you who still care about the touchdowns and yards that certain players will rack up this week, here is the latest injury report for several superstars and what their impacts on fantasy football could be this weekend. 

Rob Gronkowski, New England Patriots (TE)

Fantasy owners have not had “Gronk” for several weeks because of the broken arm he suffered while blocking for an extra point in a blowout (thanks, Bill Belichick!), but they were hopeful he would return this week after his long layoff. But his return this week is by no means as certain as a Stephen Gostkowski extra-point attempt.   

Rob Gronkowski is questionable to play in New England’s final game, although you would think he would try his hardest to get a game under his belt before the postseason begins.   

New England has a history of playing its stars at meaningless times in meaningless games, so it would be no surprise if Gronkowski dusts himself off and dresses this Sunday. But he has been limited in practice so far this week, according to, so this will be something Gronk owners will have to probably monitor right up until Sunday morning.  

Trent Richardson, Cleveland Browns (RB)

The injury-prone Trent Richardson seems to run harder than his body will allow. He has been hampered by numerous injuries during his rookie campaign, and his latest could prematurely end what has been a fantastic first season.

Richardson has a bad ankle, and although it is not broken, it appears it could keep him out of Cleveland’s 16th game, according to the Cleveland Plain Dealer. If Richardson cannot suit up, then Cleveland’s top tailback would be Montario Hardesty, who I still believe has a name better suited for a boy-band member than a football player. 

Nothing is set in stone with Richardson yet, so do not drop him in year-to-year leagues. There is an outside chance he could play. But since the game is of no consequence to the Browns, I think they will err on the side of caution and sit their franchise running back.   

Matt Forte, Chicago Bears (RB)

Matt Forte has had more problems with his ankles this season than Beanie Wells has had averaging three yards per carry. Forte pulled another Dirk Nowitzki and rolled his ankle again last week and is listed as questionable for Chicago’s crucial season-ending game against the Detroit Lions.  

Forte has been a little underwhelming thanks to his ankle injuries, and it is hard to believe that he will run like Walter Payton if he does indeed play.

If Forte cannot go, do not pick up Michael Bush thinking he will solve your fantasy problems. Bush is on injured reserve. Forte’s touches would go to third- and fourth-stringers Armando Allen and Kahlil Bell, who should not be used in any fantasy Super Bowl unless your only other options are Lex Hilliard and Jorvorskie Lane.  

Carson Palmer, Oakland Raiders (QB)

Carson Palmer has probably helped many fantasy owners reach their Super Bowls in two-QB leagues thanks to his 4,018 passing yards and 22 touchdown tosses. But Palmer will not be around to assist his owners in their title tilts this weekend.

Palmer will miss Sunday’s game with cracked ribs and a bruised lung that he suffered after a hellacious hit he took against the Carolina Panthers. 

Matt Leinart will start in Palmer’s place and has absolutely no fantasy value or redeeming qualities. He was as accurate as the Mayan calendar when he relieved Palmer last week. Hopefully, you have another QB on your roster to put in for Palmer. 

Jordy Nelson, Green Bay Packers (WR)

Jordy Nelson has been battling leg injuries throughout the season, and his latest has ruined fantasy owners’ lineups at the most inopportune time. He has missed the last three contests with a hamstring injury but was upgraded to probable for this Sunday’s game versus the Minnesota Vikings. 

The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel  reports Green Bay head coach Mike McCarthy says Nelson is very close to being ready for the season finale, and things look promising considering Nelson practiced Wednesday. But this is another situation where fantasy owners will have to keep their eyes and ears open for any Nelson news between now and game time.

Randall Cobb, Green Bay Packers (WR)

Randall Cobb had sidestepped the injury bug that had stung Nelson and Greg Jennings all season long until last week when he injured his ankle during a punt return. Now his status for Sunday is in serious doubt.  

Cobb will not test his ankle until Friday, according to the Journal-Sentinel, and looks like he will be a game-time decision unless doctors rule him out before that. It might actually be better for fantasy owners if Cobb was just scratched by Friday so they could pick up someone rather than wait until Sunday morning to find out the bad news. I would rate Cobb’s chances of playing as 30-70 from what has been reported. 

Heath Miller, Pittsburgh Steelers (TE)

Unfortunately, Heath Miller’s career year, highlighted by the tight end posting personal bests with 816 receiving yards and eight touchdowns, has come to an abrupt end.

Miller tore an ACL in Pittsburgh’s loss to the Cincinnati Bengals last weekend, so not only will he be unavailable for his fantasy owners this week, he may not be available for the start of the 2013 season. 

While Miller was not worth holding onto in your run-of-the-mill keeper leagues, he would have definitely been someone to bring back next year in dynasty leagues. We can only pray that his comeback from ACL surgery goes better than it did for teammate Rashard Mendenhall.