Injury Report Insight: Week 16

A critical look at this week's first practice injury report.

It's Week 16, and if you're playing in your fantasy finals this weekend, allow me to congratulate you. While we have the usual mix of injuries to monitor this week, there are some important new wrinkles that need to be discussed. 12 of the 16 games this week kick off on Saturday, rather than Sunday. This means that most injured players have one less day than usual to rehab and work their way back to full health (or whatever passes for, "full health," this time of year.) I have a feeling that this lost day will be particularly troublesome for the players attempting to come back from concussions suffered in Week 15, but that's more of a hunch than anything scientific. If there's a silver lining to this scheduling change, it's that road teams will travel on Friday at the latest, so we should still have plenty of insight into the status of some players.

Quarterbacks

Cam Newton, shoulder

The Panthers have not released specific details on Cam Newton's shoulder injury, but all signs thus far indicate that it is minor. After undergoing an MRI and missing some practices last week, Newton was still able to put together a good game against Washington, hitting the 300-yard mark for the first time since Week 6. While he may continue to be limited in practice this week, his Week 16 status against Atlanta doesn't appear to be in doubt.

Bryce Petty, Chest

Brice Petty took a crushing blow while being sandwiched by two Miami players in Week 15, but he has returned to full practice and coach Todd Bowles has already said that Petty will get the start this week.

Jared Goff, concussion

Jared Goff suffered a concussion in Week 15, but he had the benefit of a long week to recover, as the Rams played in Thursday night game. Goff has returned to full practices, but he has not officially been cleared from the concussion protocol. His full practice on Wednesday indicates that, barring a setback, he's almost certain to play this weekend.

Ryan Tannehill, ACL and MCL sprains

There is some dispute as to the severity of Ryan Tannehill's MCL sprain, with some sources claiming the muscle is torn completely off the bone (though Tannehill disputed that). Regardless of the exact grade of MCL sprain, there is no indication that Tannehill has any chance to play this week. He was spotted in a leg cast just last week, and hasn't returned to practice. Matt Moore will lead the team in Week 16, and likely Week 17 as well.

 

Running backs

Melvin Gordon, hip and knee

There haven't been any more details on the injury to Melvin Gordon, so we're still stuck with the vague diagnosis of, "hip and knee sprains." Without more details, I can't speculate as to how long Gordon might be out. But in this case, none of that matters. The Chargers have been eliminated from the playoffs, and Gordon was unable to practice on both Tuesday and Wednesday. In terms of fantasy football, Gordon's season is all but officially over. There is still a chance that he gets in a Thursday practice and returns this weekend, but that's looking doubtful.

Matt Forte, meniscus tear

Matt Forte is attempting to play through a meniscus tear and delay surgery until the offseason, but it looks like that plan isn't going well so far. Forte was almost invisible in Week 15, playing only 13 snaps and yielding the lion's share of the workload to Bilal Powell. In that game, Forte suffered an undisclosed shoulder injury as well. Forte was unable to practice on Wednesday, and at this point it's just ridiculous that the Jets haven't chosen to shut him down for the final two games. Frankly, I'd be surprised if Forte isn't moved to injured reserve before this weekend, but the Jets seemed to have no problem letting a clearly hobbled Forte play last week, so maybe I'm missing something.

Lamar Miller, ankle sprain

Lamar Miller has been dealing with a troublesome ankle sprain since Week 10, and it appears that he aggravated it again last week. He was unable to practice on Wednesday, so while he's been able to play through this injury up until now, his status shouldn't be taken for granted. The Texans are very much in the playoff picture, so the importance of Saturday night's game might mean that Miller plays, even if it's at far less than 100%.

Jeremy Hill, leg

Jeremy Hill suffered an undisclosed leg injury in Week 15, and was unable to practice on Wednesday. Without more details, it's impossible to know what to expect for Hill, but practice reports later this week should give us some clues.

Adrian Peterson, groin and knee

If you were looking to Adrian Peterson to save your fantasy team, you probably lost last week. In the off chance that you survived, you'll likely need to look elsewhere for help at running back, as Peterson is looking very much worse for wear after his first game back. He missed Wednesday's practice with groin and knee injuries, and declined to speculate as to whether he'd play Week 16. For now, I'd consider Peterson to be questionable at best, though even one limited practice would make me more optimistic.

Theo Riddick, wrist

Theo Riddick has missed the last two weeks with a wrist injury. Because the Lions don't play until Monday, their first practice participation report won't be released until Thursday. If Riddick can string together three practices, even in limited capacity, I would expect him to play. Because most games will be played on Saturday, however, owners might have to make their, "sit or start," decision on Riddick before all the available information is available.

 

wide receivers

Julio Jones, toe sprain

After missing the last two games with a toe sprain, most reports indicate that Julio Jones will return and play this week. Jones returned to practice for the first time since the injury, getting in a limited practice on Wednesday. If Jones can continue with even limited practices this week, he should play on Saturday against the Panthers. If Jones were attempting to push through the injury without missing any time, I'd expect that he'd be limited by it during the game. But the fact that Jones has had a full two weeks without practice or games makes me think that he'll likely come back at or near 100%.

A.J. Green, hamstring strain

All signs thus far point to A.J. Green returning to the lineup this week for the first time since his Week 11 hamstring strain. He was able to put in a limited practice on Wednesday, which is an optimistic sign so early in the week. I'm curious to see whether the Bengals try to increase his practice workload towards a full practice, or if they're comfortable keeping him on a plateau of limited practice. Either way, barring a setback, he should be ready to face the Texans on Saturday night.

Donte Moncrief, hamstring strain

Donte Moncrief missed Week 15 with a hamstring strain, and his missed Wednesday practice indicates that he's in danger of missing Week 16 as well. It's too early in the week to rule him out for certain, but he's already looking doubtful for the Colts' Saturday game.

Terrelle Pryor, finger ligament

Terrelle Pryor is attempting to finish out the season while playing through ligament damage to a finger. He is expected to require surgery after the season, but thinks he can still offer enough upside to the team to justify delaying the surgery. With the dismal situation at quarterback, and with Pryor appearing to be noticeably bothered by his injury last week, it's fair to question whether delaying the surgery is really the right decision. Pryor was able to put in a limited practice on Wednesday, and will probably draw a, "questionable," tag before ultimately playing again on Saturday.

Allen Hurns, hamstring strain

Allen Hurns has missed the last three games with a hamstring strain, and it appears he'll likely miss Week 16 as well. He was unable to practice on Wednesday, so he'll have to turn things around on a short week if he stands any chance to play on Saturday.

Stefon Diggs, hip

After battling a groin injury for much of the season, it's a little troubling that Stefon Diggs missed Wednesday's practice with a hip injury. Hopefully, this is not related to his previous groin injury, though oftentimes the two are connected. Either way, Diggs is already looking questionable at best for Week 16.

Mike Evans, undisclosed

Mike Evans created a little bit of a scare for owners when he missed practice on Tuesday. The Buccaneers weren't required to provide details as to Evans' absence since it wasn't one of the official days of practice with stringent reporting guidelines. Everyone can settle back down though, as Evans put in a full practice on Wednesday, and wasn't listed with any injury on the official report. Tuesday was either a personal day or a rest day, and he is in no danger of missing Week 16.

 

tight ends

Austin Hooper, knee

We still don't have any details on the nature of Austin Hooper's knee injury, though we do know that he underwent an MRI on Monday. Falcons beat reporter Vaughn McClure said that Hooper was, "not too hobbled," which isn't exactly how you'd like your starting tight end to be described. Hooper did not practice on Wednesday, so he's looking questionable at best for Saturday's game.

C.J. Fiedorowitz, concussion

C.J. Fiedorowitz missed last week with a concussion, but he looks likely to return for Week 16. He was able to put in a full practice on Wednesday, though there are no specific reports as to whether he's fully cleared the concussion protocol. As long as he continues to practice in full, he should be fine for Saturday night.

A.J. Derby, concussion

Virgil Green, concussion

Denver might play on Sunday with a thin TE corps, as both A.J. Derby and Virgil Green suffered concussions in Week 15. Both were held out of practice on Wednesday, and I wouldn't expect either to return this week. For now, Denver's only other tight end is Jeff Heuerman, though I wouldn't be surprised to see a practice squad promotion or free-agent signing in the next few days. Denver doesn't play until Sunday night, so there's always a chance one of the two is cleared in time.

Ladarius Green, concussion

Ladarius Green suffered a concussion in Week 15, and was unable to practice on Wednesday. Green's concussion is especially concerning given that he has a history with this injury. He suffered one in 2014, then two in 2015. Furthermore, there were rumors that Green was still having concussion symptoms this year, and that this was tied in to the decision to place him on the physically unable to perform list to start the season. In fairness, Green denied those reports, so it's tough to know how much concussion history we're really dealing with here. Regardless, he is already looking doubtful for Week 16.

Tyler Eifert, back

Tyler Eifert wasn't known to have suffered an injury in Week 15, but he missed Wednesday's practice with a back injury. There are no details beyond that, so for now we're left to check on Thursday and Friday injury reports. Eifert dealt with a back injury earlier this season, but there's still a chance that this was simply a maintenance day for him.

Greg Olsen, elbow

Greg Olsen missed Wednesday's practice due to an elbow injury he sustained on Monday night. He was slated to visit a doctor on Tuesday, but no further reports have brought any light to the situation. As long as Olsen can get in at least one limited practice on Thursday or Friday, he should be active this weekend, but this is just my early read on a situation that is hard to read, so owners will need to stay informed.

Jordan Reed, AC sprain

Jordan Reed seems to be struggling since injuring his shoulder in Week 12, but that's hardly surprising since this is a painful injury that can limit his range of motion. While the plan is for Reed to play this weekend, it's notable that he did not practice on Wednesday. Perhaps the team is simply being conservative in his rehab, as his injury is largely one of pain management. The larger worry for fantasy owners though might be that if Reed is still so limited by the injury, it's hard to know what to expect from him as far as usage this weekend. Hopefully he'll return to practice later in the week, giving us a clearer picture of what we might expect.


For more of my NFL injury thoughts and opinions, be sure to follow me on Twitter. I will try to answer all questions and am always happy to add my two cents to any injury conversation.