Thursday, December 12, 2013

Fantasy Football: Week 15 preview

Injuries wreak havoc on fantasy football teams

Posted by Karl Brenkert on Thu, Dec 12, 2013 at 3:00 PM

It's week 15, and if you're in the playoffs, you're likely facing some tough decisions about whom to start this week. A rash of injuries befell some of the league's top players last week, and their ability to help your team going forward is in serious doubt. Even if you were not among the less fortunate and managed to escape last week uninjured, you can't relax. You need to cock block your opponents and make sure they don't steal a win from the free agent market.

The biggest question out there right now revolves around the status of Adrian Peterson, who was knocked out of that wild game against the Ravens last week with a foot injury. It seemed all but certain that he would be out for Week 15, but we are talking about the man who returned from shattered knee in record time and then proceeded to lead the league in rushing. Now, there is talk that he may return this week. This sort of limbo with Peterson's status is the worst possible news for fantasy owners. Toby Gerhart looked good in relief, scoring a 41-yard TD and would be a credible flex play if he was guaranteed to get all the carries. Now we don't know who to start.

It's the same situation in Oakland. Marcel Reece busted out for 123 yards rushing against a very good Jets defense last week. This week, Reshard Jennings may be back from injury and who knows how the coach will decide how to split their playing time. There's even been talk of rotating Tyrell Pryor in as a special package quarterback. He could kill both running backs' value.

Not that Maurice Jones-Drew's leading anyone to fantasy championships, anymore, but his status for this week is in doubt after he pulled a hamstring last week. Backup running back Justin Forsett was placed on injured reserve this week, so if Jones-Drew can't go, the starter will be Jordan Todman. The Jags play the Bills on Sunday, who are vulnerable to say the least. Jones-Drew is claiming he'll play, but how effective he'll be is another story entirely.

There is no doubt about Rob Gronkowski. If you were counting on him to help you win a championship, you'll need to look elsewhere as he's blown out his knee and is done for the year. Hopefully, you already have a quality backup tight end, but in case you dropped him, there are quality options available.

Wes Welker has been ruled out for the Thursday night game against San Diego. He suffered his second concussion in a month last week. The Broncos may use more two tight end sets in Welker's absence, so Jacob Tamme may have value. Also, Dennis Pitta is back from a hip injury for the Ravens. Joe Flacco loves his big tight end, and he scored a TD in his first game back against the Vikings last week.

Did you see what the Bears did to the Cowboys defense on Monday night? It was hoped that Aaron Rodgers would be back from his collar bone injury in time to take advantage of this great matchup in Jerry World this weekend; however, it appears likely that he won't be able to go. This is bad news for Jordy Nelson and James Jones owners who now have to decide whether Matt Flynn can do what Josh McCown did. I think the Packers will beat the Cowboys, but I would look elsewhere for fantasy points.

This is a week that you can't afford to put a goose egg on the board because you rolled with an injured player in your lineup. You have to maximize your output. When in doubt, choose the player who is sure to see the field.

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