While we have some good news regarding banged-up and injured players, let’s start off with bad news.
According to Pro Football Talk’s Darin Gantt, Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers isn’t cleared to play yet and is pretty disappointed about it.
As he told ESPN’s Jason Wilde on his regular Tuesday appearance on Wilde’s show, he wants to be out there whether his team is still in the playoff hunt or not.
This isn’t much help to his fantasy owners, though. While we have been holding on and hoping Rodgers would make an appearance in the fantasy playoffs, here we are in the first round and it sounds like that’s just not going to be the case.
In fact, it sounds as though he may not even play the rest of the year. Maybe that’s just Rodgers sounding down because, well, he really wants to be playing.
It’s important to note, though, that time is running short for fantasy owners. Even if he emerges in Week 16 (championship week for most fantasy leagues) against a decent Pittsburgh Steelers team, how much rust will he have? Will he be worth starting?
This also tough for owners who have other Packers offensive players, particularly if the team keeps quarterback Matt Flynn under center. As bad as quarterback Scott Tolzien was against the Minnesota Vikings, Flynn was a magnitude worse against the Detroit Lions the next week.
Flynn obliterated the relative value of virtually every other offensive player—Eddie Lacy found no running room, Jordy Nelson saw just four targets and Jarrett Boykin saw three.
James Jones performed well, but a lot of that was despite Flynn.
At least this week they face a poor Atlanta Falcons team, but you definitely have to worry about having Packers in your lineup. As long as Rodgers is out, Nelson, Lacy, Boykin and even Jones need to be downgraded by at least one spot in your starting lineup.
Meanwhile, Percy Harvin owners must be about to throw their hands up in exasperation.
After supposedly being ready to go a few weeks back and appearing in Week 11, Harvin has been absent since and continues to deal with lingering issues with his hip.
Ian Rapoport of NFL Network said the team is waiting to see how he responds to a cortisone injection and could hold him out until the playoffs.
If that didn’t make his fantasy GMs flinch, this will: Liz Mathews of 710 ESPN in Seattle reports that head coach Pete Carroll told the station that Harvin “had a little procedure last week.” Mike Garafolo of FOX Sports 1 cautioned that he could still play this Sunday—in other words, don’t panic yet.
That could mean the “procedure” Carroll mentioned was Harvin having his hip drained, but with the Seahawks playing it close to the vest, we don’t know.
As with Rodgers, you shouldn’t drop Harvin right now, but we’re getting to the point where his ability to help your team is gone. Furthermore, if Harvin plays this weekend and the team says his snaps will be limited, you might not be safe to start him given that last time they said that, they weren’t kidding.
You can ill-afford another one-catch, 17-yard performance.
Our last piece of frustrating injury news comes in regard to Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler.
According to ESPN Chicago’s Michael C. Wright, Cutler still doesn’t have full medical clearance to practice and may not be ready for Monday night’s game against the Dallas Cowboys.
Unlike the situation with Rodgers and Flynn in Green Bay, Josh McCown has been playing well enough that he’s not hurting the fantasy output for the rest of the offense.
However, if you were holding Cutler in the hopes he might give you a burst through the playoffs, the lingering ankle injury is disappointing and his upside isn’t nearly as high as Rodgers'.
Which means you might be more prone to pull the trigger and dump him if your quarterback situation is stable.
Now, here’s the good news.
While Houston Texans running back Ben Tate is still dealing with a rib injury and was limited in Tuesday’s practice per HoustonTexans.com, his 102 yards and three touchdowns against the New England Patriots is a sign that he can still be productive despite it.
He’ll continue to be a solid No. 2 running back play most weeks, one of several players in this offense who have value despite the terrible season the Texans are suffering through as a whole.
It sounds very much like Steelers rookie running back Le’Veon Bell will be good to go this Sunday, though according to Post-Gazette writer Ed Bouchette, he still needs to go through all the concussion tests. He has a solid matchup against the Miami Dolphins this week.
While he didn’t do a ton, San Francisco 49ers receiver Michael Crabtree looked just fine Sunday, and it appears as though he isn’t going to struggle with any setbacks post-Achilles injury.
He will gradually see his snaps and targets increase, and while this week against Seattle may hamper his value (consider him a No. 3 or 4 receiver), circle Week 16 against the Atlanta Falcons for a big game.
Just in time for a fantasy championship.
File this under “hopeful.”
Denver Broncos tight end Julius Thomas missed the last two games but did practice Wednesday, though he was officially “limited.”
Prior to the knee injury which has sidelined him, Thomas had scored touchdowns in seven of nine games this season, only being shut out Week 4 and Week 8.
We’ll know more Thursday and Friday, but hopefully he’ll feel up enough to play against the Tennessee Titans.
On the downside, if the Broncos lock up the No. 1 seed before the end of the season, he could get shut down so he is 100 percent by the playoffs.
Finally, Oakland Raiders running back Rashad Jennings has passed the NFL’s concussion protocol and practiced fully on Wednesday. This week is a so-so matchup against a strong Jets run defense, but he’s worth a start as a No. 2 running back based on his previous work.