Gameday Injury Expectations: Week 16

Breaking down the fantasy expectations of today's injured players and gametime decisions, including Carson Palmer, Adrian Peterson, and Drew Brees

NOTE: This column is a living document and will be updated throughout the morning. Major changes to the content will be in red. Check back often for additions as gameday inactives are announced and lineup / depth chart changes are reported. I'll also be immediately retweeting any breaking news with quick bits of analysis, so make sure you're following me at (@JeneBramel) and checking my timeline on Twitter on Sunday mornings.

The NFL is in full player protection mode now. Teams with no chance at a playoff berth are shutting down critical offensive talent rather than risk injury in a meaningless game. Teams that have already clinched a playoff berth are also looking for reasons to limit the workload of their critical players, especially those with minor injuries.

Danny Amendola, Julian Edelman, Tyler Eifert, LeSean McCoy, and Jonathan Stewart have already been ruled out this week. Alshon Jeffery, Dez Bryant, and T.J. Yeldon are all listed doubtful and likely won't be active either.

Unfortunately, there are a few players still in limbo this morning.

Andre Ellington (questionable - toe) is expected to play and fill a change-of pace role (7-10 touches) behind David Johnson. The news on Brandon Lafell (questionable - foot) is unfortunately scant, but the general tone from local writers is that Lafell will play.

carson palmer | finger | probable | late sunday start

Palmer was limited in practice after dislocating the index finger on his throwing hand last week. It's a painful injury that often swells quickly, but Palmer didn't appear significantly limited after the dislocation last week. Palmer has played through right thumb and elbow injuries in past seasons and been effective. There may be flashes of inaccuracy today, but Palmer is expected to play without difficulty.

Fantasy expectation: Use Palmer as you normally would.

adrian peterson | ankle | probable | sunday night

Peterson has a low grade high ankle sprain. The mechanism looked violent, but Peterson's foot wasn't planted in the turf when the mechanism occurred. That limited the torque on the ankle ligament. By Tuesday, it was clear Peterson didn't have much post-game swelling or stiffness and the full Friday practice is very reassuring. However, even low grade high ankle injuries are prone to aggravation. Peterson regularly plays through painful injuries effectively, so there's less worry here than with other players.

Fantasy expectation: It's impossible to quantify the risk of aggravation and limited workload here and it's Peterson vs a weak Giants' run defense. Consider Peterson an elite RB1 option today and use him as you normally would.

drew brees | foot | questionable | late sunday start

Brees has been adamant all week he'll play today and there have been no media reports to the contrary. Unlike Palmer, Brees was limited last week after aggravating his plantar fascia injury. The Saints' medical staff will have Brees' in an orthotic and taped tightly, but his movement will still be limited in the pocket and he may struggle to plant and push off when throwing. If he's ineffective or aggravates the injury while moving in the pocket, the Saints may choose to pull him early.

Fantasy expectation: Brees is a high risk - moderate reward play. As such, he's a better option if you're an underdog than a favorite in your playoff games today.

doug baldwin | hamstring | questionable | late sunday start

Baldwin didn't practice until Friday, but it was a full practice. Pete Carroll wouldn't commit to Baldwin as more than a game-time decision and the team undoubtedly wanted to see how Baldwin's leg responded to his work on Friday, but all indications are Baldwin will play this afternoon. Soft tissue strains can be tricky within the first 7-10 days of injury and prone to aggravation, but the full Friday practice is a reassuring sign.

Fantasy expectation: Despite a lower than usual floor today, Baldwin can be considered a boom-bust WR2. If you can, roster a late afternoon game hedge in case Baldwin has a setback during warmups.

delanie walker | hamstring | questionable | early sunday start

Walker was added to the injury report on Friday after leaving practice early with a hamstring injury. None of the local Titans' writers are showing concern for Walker and the team listed him probable. Watch the early pregame notes for any surprises, but Walker does not look likely to be limited today.

Fantasy expectation: Use Walker as you normally would.

As has been the case for weeks now, there are over 40 skill position players listed probable on this week's injury report. Palmer and Peterson were the two I monitored most carefully this week. In such a critical fantasy week, make certain there are no pregame surprises, but none of the players listed probable should be unexpectedly limited or inactive today.

Best of luck in your fantasy contests this weekend. I'll be back on Monday morning to review all the major offseason storylines and any major new injuries in the Injury Rounds column. Follow on Twitter @JeneBramel for breaking news and analysis during the games today.