For those of you still playing either season-long or daily fantasy, Week 17 brings a different set of challenges when setting lineups. To our advantage, the injury, "sit or start," sort of questions become a little easier to manage, as a great deal of teams are left with little to play for, and will make the wise, conservative decisions to sit injured players. Injuries that might've come down to a dreaded game-time decision a few weeks ago might instead land a player on injured reserve to close out the season. It's also notable that all Week 17 games are being played on Sunday. This gives us a better perspective of how players across the league are all practicing, as there are no longer any Monday games to potentially leave us hanging on. Obviously, the drawback to all this injury clarity is that we're now faced with a new, equally murky, puzzle to solve. We now must take into consideration team motivations and attempt to figure out which teams are playing for something, versus which teams are not. Because of this, my injury list this week will point out a few non-injury situation to monitor.
Ryan Tannehill, MCL and ACL sprains
Ryan Tannehill's prognosis has taken a bit of a wild ride. At first, there was pessimism that he had torn his ACL and would require surgery. Later news indicated that he might not require surgery after all, as it was an ACL sprain rather than a full tear, which led to some optimism he could potentially return this year, though likely not until the playoffs. Tannehill was later spotted in a cast, which dampened that enthusiasm a bit. But no matter how this plays out, there's no reason thus far to believe he has a shot to play this week. All expectations are that Miami will stick with Matt Moore against New England this week.
Robert Griffin III, concussion
Robert Griffin III did not practice on Wednesday after suffering a concussion in Week 16. There's a chance that Griffin could get cleared in time for Sunday's game, but it's impossible to gauge that at this point in the week. The larger question here might be whom the Browns even want to evaluate at the position, as all four available starters have seen playing time this season and looked less-than-spectacular.
Non-injury quarterback inactives:
Melvin Gordon, hip strain and knee sprain
Melvin Gordon has missed the last two games with hip and knee injuries, and it's tough to imagine a legitimate reason the Chargers would risk bringing him back for Week 17. All reports on Gordon's injuries have been optimistic, but keep in mind this had the look of a season-ending injury back in Week 14. Gordon was able to put in a limited practice on Wednesday, so he might have a chance at playing this week, even if it might be a short-sighted decision. Backup running back Kenneth Farrow was placed on injured reserve earlier this week, so Ronnie Hillman could see a lot of work if Gordon is inactive. Unfortunately, the Chargers are up against a Chiefs team that is very motivated to play their best, so they won't be getting any easy breaks.
Spencer Ware, rib injury
Spencer Ware was pulled from his Week 16 game due to a rib injury, but coach Andy Reid said that Ware could've continued to play had they needed him. So far, it looks like Reid was telling the truth, as Ware was able to return to a limited practice today. I'd like to see Ware get in at least one full practice before the end of the week, but it's looking like he'll play against the Chargers this week, though he might share snaps with Charcandrick West.
Rob Kelley, knee soreness
Rob Kelley was limited in Wednesday's practice due to soreness in his knee. Washington is a very motivated team this week, and I would expect Kelley to play this week as long as he can continue to get in limited practices.
Jay Ajayi, shoulder
Jay Ajayi was only able to put in a limited practice on Wednesday due to a shoulder injury, likely an AC sprain, suffered in Week 16. The Dolphins are expected to play to win against the Patriots this weekend, as a win (plus a Kansas City loss) would allow them to face the Texans rather than the Steelers in the Wild Card round. As of now, I would suspect that Ajayi will remain limited, get the, "questionable," tag, but ultimately play this week. Hopefully though something will change and we'll have a clearer picture soon.
Chris Ivory, hamstring
With T.J. Yeldon on injured reserve, it's fair to wonder where the backfield touches in Jacksonville might land. Chris Ivory missed two games earlier this season with a hamstring strain, and while he had been removed from the injury report and returned to the lineup, it appears he might have re-aggravated the injury in Week 16. He was limited in practice on Wednesday, which makes his Week 17 status a tough read this early in the week. Thursday and Friday reports should help to clear this up, though of course Jacksonville could still be conservative as they have nothing to play for.
Thomas Rawls, shoulder bruise
All indications thus far are that Thomas Rawls' shoulder injury is minor, and that he will play this week. Pete Carroll called the injury, "very slight," and said Rawls should be fine. He was able to put in a full practice on Wednesday, and Seattle is still playing for a possible first-round playoff bye, so there's no reason to think Rawls won't play on Sunday.
Matt Forte, shoulder and meniscus
Bilal Powell, knee
Matt Forte was inactive for Week 16 due to a meniscus tear in his knee and a nerve injury in his shoulder. Frankly, I'm amazed the Jets haven't moved him to injured reserve yet, as there is no point in risking further injury or delaying the surgery he is reported to need for his meniscus. Forte did not practice on Wednesday, so there's no reason to think he'll play this week. It's notable that Bilal Powell was also held out of practice with an unspecified knee injury. With nothing left to play for, there's a decent chance Powell misses Week 17, but look to later practice reports for a more accurate picture.
Ryan Mathews, neck
At the time of this writing, Ryan Mathews is still an active player for the Eagles. Coach Doug Pederson has said that Mathews will require surgery for a herniated disc in his neck. Mathews will obviously not play this week, and I'm surprised he hasn't been moved to injured reserve yet.
Lamar Miller, ankle sprain
Lamar Miller has battled a nagging ankle injury for weeks now, and was finally held out for Week 16. The Texans are locked into the number four seed no matter the outcome this weekend, so it's hard to see Miller playing. He did not practice on Wednesday, and the smart move here would be to rest him and try to get his ankle right before the playoffs.
Duke Johnson, ankle
Duke Johnson suffered an ankle injury in Week 16, and did not practice on Wednesday. Unless his participation improves dramatically, he can safely be ruled out for Week 17.
Jeremy Hill, knee
Jeremy Hill was active for Week 16 despite an unspecified knee injury, but it looks like he might not be so lucky this week. Hill did not practice on Wednesday, and there's no upside in pushing him to play this week. While the Bengals have been known to surprise me, I can't see Hill playing this week, at least based on what little we know thus far.
Theo Riddick, wrist
Theo Riddick has missed the last three games with an undisclosed wrist injury, and appears no closer to a return, as he was unable to practice on Wednesday. The Lions have everything to play for, as a win over the Packers on Sunday would put them at the top of the NFC North and ensure a playoff berth without needing help from a Washington loss. Zach Zenner put up an impressive performance last week, and the Lions don't play until Sunday night. This all adds up to an official mess as far as setting rosters. In cases like this, I tend to stick with inertia, as in an injured player will remain injured until proven otherwise. With that in mind, we'd need to see Riddick improve quickly to believe he has any chance to play on Sunday. Also, even if Riddick does return to the lineup, it's safe to question what sort of workload he might receive. This is obviously a situation to avoid if possible.
Adrian Peterson, knee and groin injuries
Adrian Peterson was able to return quickly from his meniscus repair surgery, but it now appears he might've come back too quickly, as he was held out of Week 16 with unspecified knee and groin injuries. The Vikings have been eliminated from the playoffs, and can't even spoil their opponent's season in Week 17, as they face the lowly Bears. Peterson did not practice on Wednesday, and it would be a surprise if he played this weekend.
Jonathan Stewart, foot
I have no idea if Jonathan Stewart is actually injured, but he didn't practice on Wednesday due to what was listed as a foot injury. If this is truly an injury rather than a rest day, it's hard to imagine the Panthers pushing Stewart to return, as they're eliminated from the playoffs.
LeSean McCoy, illness
In a typical week, illnesses rarely keep a player out of the lineup. But obviously, Week 17 is no ordinary week, and the Bills have nothing to play for. Because of this, LeSean McCoy owners need to be aware that he missed Wednesday's practice with an undisclosed illness. As of right now, I don't think there's reason for concern. But owners would be wise to pay close attention and have a back-up plan in place. Luckily, the Bills play the Jets in the early Sunday slot, so there will be time for maneuvering should it be needed.
Non-injury running back Inactives:
Doug Martin (suspended)
A.J. Green, hamstring strain
Although it seemed like A.J. Green's return was imminent last week, it appears the owners felt differently and opted to shut him down. Footballguys' Dr. Jene Bramel had a good run-down of the injury in his piece, and I would echo the same conclusions he stated, namely that while the decision should've been handled better, it was ultimately the right decision. Given how that played out last week, there is zero chance Green returns this week. Thankfully, this means that he should be at 100% for the offseason and preseason activities.
Julio Jones, toe sprain
While Julio Jones will play Week 17, his snaps might still be monitored. An Atlanta win over New Orleans secures the second seed and a playoff bye, so there's no doubt the Falcons will be giving it their all. Jones played about two-thirds of Atlanta's offensive snaps in Week 16, and it's fair to wonder whether that might be the case again this week.
Donte Moncrief, shoulder
Donte Moncrief has had a tough year for injuries, and it looks like he might miss Week 17 for a disappointing end to his season. He suffered a shoulder injury that required an MRI last week, and was unable to practice on Wednesday. With the Colts playing a meaningless game, it's tough to see Moncrief playing.
Jordan Matthews, ankle
Jordan Matthews did not practice on Wednesday due to an ankle injury. Matthews missed Week 13 with what was likely a high-ankle sprain, and the Eagles have held him out of a few practices since. All indications are that this is routine rest, and nothing to be concerned about, though the Eagles could still decide to sit Matthews on Sunday simply because they're not playing for anything.
Stefon Diggs, hip
Sefon Diggs played through a hip injury in Week 16, but he missed Wednesday's practice, making it fair to wonder whether he'll play Week 17. The Vikings have nothing to play for, so I would expect them to sit Diggs unless he can put in a full practice at some point.
Kenny Britt, shoulder
Kenny Britt re-aggravated an unspecified shoulder injury in Week 16, and did not practice on Wednesday. With the Rams season long over, Britt seems likely to sit out on Sunday.
Allen Hurns, hamstring strain
Allen Hurns has missed the last four games due to a hamstring strain, and his missed practice on Wednesday indicates that he's likely doubtful for Week 17 as well. While this would be a disappointing way for Hurns to end his season, it would be the right call for 2017.
Randall Cobb, ankle
Randall Cobb has been dealing with an ankle injury since his Week 14 game, and was finally forced to miss a game last week. The fact that he's still dealing with this injury, combined with the original mechanism of injury now make me fairly confident that Cobb has been dealing with a high-ankle sprain, though possibly a fairly mild case. He did not return to practice on Wednesday, so there's at least a chance he misses Sunday night's important game against the Lions.
DeSean Jackson, jaw injury
DeSean Jackson suffered a jaw injury in Week 16, but this appears to be a non-issue, as he's already returned to full practice. Washington needs a win to secure a playoff slot, so all starters are expected to play a full game.
non-injury wide receiver inactives:
Jordan Reed, AC sprain
Although Jordan Reed ultimately missed Week 16 due to an AC sprain that has bothered him since Week 12, Jason LaCanfora reported that Reed will likely play Week 17. He was able to put in a limited practice on Wednesday, which meshes with LaCanfora's optimism. This is a situation that could change quickly though, as it has in the past, so be sure to check reports later in the week.
Ladarius Green, concussion
Ladarius Green has a troubling history of concussions, so it was no surprise that he was held out last week after suffering a concussion in Week 15. He was able to return to a limited practice on Wednesday, but I think it's likely he sits out Week 17 as well. Coach Mike Tomlin has been forthcoming about his plans to rest certain starters, so perhaps he'll give us some early updates on Green before the weekend.
Greg Olsen, elbow
Greg Olsen was able to suit up for Week 16, but had to wear a ridiculously large elbow brace in order to play, and even then only saw limited snaps. Olsen did not practice on Wednesday, so there is some real concern he might not play this week. This is a case where Thursday and Friday practice reports will need to be monitored closely.
Austin Hooper, MCL sprain
Austin Hooper was unable to play last week after suffering a Week 15 MCL sprain. He was unable to practice on Wednesday, so he's probably more doubtful than questionable for Sunday.
Virgil Green, concussion
A.J. Derby, concussion
Both Denver tight ends Virgil Green and A.J. Derby missed Week 16 with concussions. Green was able to return to a limited practice on Wednesday, so there's some optimism that he might be cleared in time to play on Sunday. Derby, however, remained sidelined at practice, so it sounds like he's less likely to be active this week.
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