While we've certainly seen some devastating weeks for injuries this season, I'd say that the NFL is actually fairly healthy heading into fantasy playoffs. Obviously, there's a lot of human bias in that statement, as it ignores the many star players that landed on injured reserve earlier in the season. Disregarding those earlier injuries though, we have a pretty clear picture of the health of most of the top-tier fantasy players, and that's something to be thankful for.
Trevor Siemian, foot sprain
So far this week, the reports on Trevor Siemian have been fairly positive, and it's pretty much expected that he'll return to the lineup this weekend. It sounds as though his foot sprain isn't completely behind him, but that he's more than healthy enough to start over Paxton Lynch. The Broncos listed him as a limited practice participant on Wednesday, but I need to point out that that was an estimation only, as the Broncos didn't actually practice on Wednesday. If Siemian can put a few actual practices under his belt this week, either full or limited, he should start on Sunday. As for his effectiveness, I wouldn't expect a foot sprain to affect his throwing motion, but it could certainly limit his mobility.
Robert Griffin III, shoulder fracture
Whether or not Robert Griffin III returns to take the Cleveland quarterback job no longer revolves around his shoulder injury. By all accounts, Griffin is fully recovered from his Week 1 injury, and it shouldn't limit him in any way the rest of the season. He has been practicing with the team, and an official announcement should be made well in advance of Sunday.
Chris Ivory, hamstring strain
Chris Ivory missed last week with a hamstring strain, but it looks like he has a chance to return this week, as he was able to put in a limited practice on Wednesday. If he can continue to string together a week of practices, even limited ones, he'll likely play on Sunday.
Denard Robinson, high ankle sprain
If Chris Ivory ultimately can't play this weekend, don't look to Denard Robinson to carry any of the workload. Robinson suffered a high ankle sprain last week, and is likely out for at least Week 14, if not beyond. He did not practice at all on Wednesday, so he's already looking doubtful.
Ryan Mathews, MCL sprain
Ryan Mathews has missed the last two games with an MCL sprain, but it appears he's on track to return this week. He was able to practice in full on Wednesday, which is as optimistic of a sign as you'll ever get this early in the week. As with all injured players (but maybe especially with Ryan Mathews) you'll want to check back later in the week to ensure he didn't suffer a setback.
Dwayne Washington, ankle
Dwayne Washington suffered an ankle injury in Week 13, but it's still tough to tell how serious it is. He was able to put in a limited practice on Wednesday, which is a positive sign. But the Lions signed Joique Bell, so there might be some reason for concern here. Practice reports later in the week should help clear up some of this uncertainty.
Theo Riddick, wrist
Theo Riddick wasn't known to have suffered any injury while handling a very light workload in Week 13, but he was held out of Wednesday's practice with an unspecified wrist injury. The missed practice is a little alarming, but short of a fracture, there just aren't many wrist injuries that I would expect to sideline a running back. As is the case with Dwayne Washington, look for clearer information later in the week.
Mark Ingram, toe and knee injuries
Mark Ingram missed some practice time last week dealing with a toe injury, likely turf toe. He was seen limping to the sideline on Sunday, but no details were given and he was able to return to the game. But on Wednesday, Ingram was held out of practice with a toe injury and an undisclosed knee injury. Until we receive more information, it's tough to know if we're talking about true injuries here or just the Saints being conservative with a veteran. It's an especially ugly situation for fantasy owners, as the Saints have already proven willing to let Tim Hightower take on more workload when needed. This is certainly a tough read so early in the week, and we're left to hope for more clarity as the week progresses.
Julio Jones, Turf toe
For now, there's no reason to be concerned about Julio Jones' turf toe injury. Jones has battled through multiple minor, nagging injuries this season, and has been mostly effective while doing so. Turf toe can be a troublesome and lingering injury if not treated conservatively, so I wouldn't be surprised to see Jones miss a lot of practice for the next few weeks. This week, Jones has already missed Wednesday's practice, a trend that might continue. Jones is obviously a player who can still play on Sunday even if he misses practices all week, so this is a situation where owners will want to pay more attention to credible reports than to practice participation alone. If I had a fear with Jones' injury, it would be that perhaps the Falcons will choose to limit his snaps and playing time, especially when the team is nearing garbage-time. But even with limited snaps, Julio Jones is not a player you bench. Owners will obviously need to make sure he's active on Sunday afternoon though.
Mohamed Sanu, groin
With Julio Jones battling a toe injury, it's notable that Mohamed Sanu might be dealing with an injury of his own. Sanu was held out of Wednesday's practice with a groin injury. It's too early in the week to know if this is a serious injury or not, so be sure to check later practice reports.
Jordan Matthews, ankle sprain
Jordan Matthews missed last week with what was either a significant low ankle sprain or a mild high ankle sprain. Whatever the details though, Matthews returned to a full practice on Wednesday, and he appears to be on-track to play Week 14.
Michael Thomas, foot
I really hate writing up surprise injury report additions, as there's usually very little to say until we receive updates. Such is the case this week with Michael Thomas. Thomas was not known to have suffered any injury in Week 13, but he missed Wednesday's practice with what was listed as a foot injury. Although the Saints are tight-lipped on injuries, Thomas is enough of a breakout star that I expect we will hear details pretty quickly. Hopefully this is not a serious injury, but that's impossible to call right now.
Sammy Watkins, foot
If you're confused about Sammy Watkins' foot injury, you're not alone. We heard a case of dueling sound bites last week, each painting a much different outlook for Watkins. Rex Ryan was largely optimistic about Watkins, though that's not an unusual bias for Ryan. On the other hand, offensive coordinator Anthony Lynn sounded pessimistic when he stated that Watkins, "has a broken bone in his foot." Who are we to believe here? Watkins himself weighed in on the subject, and basically wasted all of our time by saying, in reference to the report of a broken bone, "Not necessarily. You hear a lot of things." Thanks Sammy, that was enlightening.
In situations like this, the truth is usually a blend of all the information we've been given. What is certain is that Watkins' foot hasn't healed as well as everyone would've liked, and that there's a good chance it will need to be addressed surgically. That's not as bad as it sounds, as players such as Dez Bryant, Julio Jones, and Julian Edelman have all needed later surgeries to fix foot fractures that did not heal properly. If Watkins does indeed need another surgery, it's not something that should cloud Watkins' future in any long-term way. The concern here is simply on the short-term outlook as far as the rest of the season. Perhaps Watkins can play through the injury and delay surgery, perhaps not. Owners will need to be vigilant in keeping up on reports about Watkins, and should have a backup plan in case he's ultimately shut down for the season.
Sammy Watkins did not practice on Wednesday, which isn't necessarily surprising, though it's obviously not good news either. Thursday and Friday practice reports should give us a better idea of his short-term outlook.
Robert Woods, knee sprain
If Sammy Watkins is a question mark, at least it looks like the Bills might be getting Robert Woods back soon. Woods has missed the last two games with a knee sprain, which is usually NFL code for MCL sprain. He was able to return to a limited practice on Wednesday. That's a promising development, but it remains to be seen whether Woods will make it back for Week 14. Hopefully, practice reports on Thursday or Friday will give us some clarity, such as even one full practice.
Jeremy Maclin, groin
While Jeremy Maclin's four-game absence with a groin strain was a little longer than I would've expected, all signs are that he's back to full health. The Chiefs play on Thursday, so we have a bit more visibility on how Maclin has practiced already this week. While he was limited on Monday, he put in full practices on both Tuesday and Wednesday. He's been removed entirely from the Chiefs injury report, so he'll be in the starting lineup on Thursday.
Allen Hurns, hamstring strain
It appears Allen Hurns is going to miss his second game due to a hamstring strain. He did not practice on Wednesday, and hamstring strains are typically multi-week injuries.
Jamison Crowder, hip pointer
Jamison Crowder suffered a hip pointer in Week 13, but it looks like it won't affect his Week 14 status, as he was able to practice in full on Wednesday. I would typically say that a hip pointer can limit the effectiveness of a wide receiver, but Crowder's full practice so early in the week makes me think that this was a mild injury.
John Brown, sickle-cell trait complication
John Brown has been dealing with a somewhat mysterious condition for a few weeks now, and it's now expected to eat into his snap counts. Brown carries a sickle-cell trait, which is a genetic abnormality that can lead to rare complications. It's notable that Brown does not have sickle-cell disease itself. Since Week 6, Brown has been dealing with leg pains that the Cardinals originally thought was a hamstring strain. Bruce Arians has been pretty open about how frustrating and elusive the situation has been, and he has recently said that Brown will be limited to about 20 offensive snaps to protect him from over-exertion until the medical staff can get some better answers. This is a scary situation, and I wouldn't be surprised to see Brown miss a few games or even the rest of the season, if some answers don't present themselves soon.
Marquess Wilson, groin
Is anyone else sick of trying to figure out which Chicago Bears wide receiver will fill the talent vacuum each and every week? After a monster Week 12 game, it looked like Marquess Wilson was going to emerge as the clear-cut WR1 in the absence of Alshon Jeffery. But Wilson suffered a groin injury early on Sunday, and did not practice on Wednesday. This being the Bears, we're unlikely to hear any details, but the missed practice is enough to tell us that this is a situation we will need to monitor. If Wilson can't play this week, think twice before looking to Eddie Royal, as he missed practice as well with an ongoing toe injury.
Marvin Jones, quad
Marvin Jones missed Week 13 with what the Lions called a thigh injury. He was limited in Wednesday's practice with a quad injury, so if nothing else, we at least have a little more clarity than the vague term, "thigh." The quad designation is actually a little helpful for us here, as it indicates that it's not a hamstring strain, which is an injury Jones has had a some minor history with. As with all limited practice participants, future practices will probably be our best guide as to his Sunday status.
A.J. Green, hamstring strain
It's rare to hear a player go into as much detail as A.J. Green did about his hamstring injury, as reported here by ESPN's Katherine Terrell. Green outlines the injury well, saying it is a Grade 2 (moderate, or mid-grade) hamstring strain. No muscle was torn from the bone, and no surgery was required. He has even returned to a bit of jogging. While this is all good news, it doesn't really do anything to change my original estimate, which is that Week 16 is likely his earliest return. I'll be the first to admit that I could be wrong on this and that Green could possibly rehab very quickly and return for Week 15, but I'm pretty confident about that Week 16 call.
If you read that piece I linked to, you might notice that Green really hammers on two main points. The first point is that Green is a competitor that will get out there and play no matter whether the Bengals are still in a playoff race or not. That's a nice soundbite, and I saw that repeated often. The second point though is that Green is going to be cautious and not take any health risks by attempting to return too early. That's good, and I applaud him for that. Frankly, I wish more players and teams would look at the larger picture like that. But it certainly makes me think that we won't be seeing Green take the field at anything less than 100%, and that's unlikely to happen with anything less than four weeks off.
Jordan Reed, AC sprain
Jordan Reed is dealing with a Grade 3 AC sprain, a painful injury that will likely affect the range of motion of his shoulder. Although Reed was able to finish the game after the injury, he ended up not even traveling with the team last week, indicating that he was nowhere close to playing. He was able to put in a limited practice on Wednesday, but it remains to be seen if he's really on track to play or not. During practice, he was seen catching balls, but did not participate beyond that. For what it's worth, Reed is probably just as in-the-dark on his playing status as we are, as this is an injury that could come down to a game-time decision.
Julius Thomas, back
Julius Thomas has missed the last two games with a back injury, and his missed practice on Wednesday indicates that he's likely going to miss Week 14 as well. Be sure to check back before gametime, but Thomas looks to be on the doubtful side already this week.
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