If you've made it this far, to the Championship Week for most of you, it would really blow if you're left out in the cold because of injuries. However, there are a ton of health issues at the quarterback position that we need to discuss. There is also the situation of a certain tailback in Dallas that simply cannot be counted on. Unfortunately, there are even more pertinent injuries that need to be discussed in Week 16. In order for you not to consider blowing your brains out, after all depression is rampant during the holiday season, I'll also point out a few outstanding NFL players and the numbers that they've been producing that you need to know about.
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The Steelers, after watching Ben Roethlisberger simply look incapable of making the physical moves needed to play quarterback in the NFL at an elite level on Monday Night Football, are apparently strongly considering resting Big Ben in Week 16. According to Jason LaConfora Steelers' officials would be “shocked” if Roethlisberger played in Week 16. At this point of the season the decision to rest Roethlisberger would make a lot of sense. First off, the Steelers aren't going to win anything if Roethlisberger isn't capable of playing like Roethlisberger, so they have to make sure he is as close to 100 percent as they can get him before the playoffs start. Second, the Steelers play the Rams this week, you know the team that is 2-12 on the year, the one that has lost 5-straight games. It only makes sense for the team to lean on Charlie Batch in a battle that they should easily win regardless. If you are a Big Ben owner you better be working that waiver-wire hard if you don't have a solid QB on the bench because it legitimately seems like we may not see Ben in Week 16.
Sam Bradford (ankle) looked almost as bad as Roethlisberger in his last outing. With nothing to play for, you did just read how the Rams are 2-12 right, there is not one conceivable reason for the Rams to have their franchise quarterback on the field when he is so clearly diminished physically. In fact, it's borderline criminal that the team would allow Bradford to take the field at this point of the season. Is he learning anything through this process? No. Is he physically capable of playing at the level the team needs from him to compete? No. Is the team going to save face by winning their last two games and finishing 4-12? No. It appears that the team finally realizes all of this so even though Bradford is no longer in a walking boot, he's not going to play in Week 16 (he's likely to be shut down for the season if you believe some reports). Unfortunately for the Rams, A.J. Feeley (thumb) likely won't be able to play in Week 16 either meaning that Kellen Clemens will be under center. In Week 15 against the Bengals he actually looked decent with 25 completions, 229 yards and one score. Too bad he has to face the Steelers this week.
After watching Caleb Hanie take over for an injured Jay Cutler and throw nine interceptions in four loses, the Bears will move on to third stringer Josh McCown as the team officially announced that he will start against an angry Packers club in Week 16. It could be a bloodbath. Out to reassert their dominance as the elite team in the league after last week's embarrassing loss to the Chiefs, the Packers will be out for blood and McCown will be the human being out in the middle of the ocean surrounded by black tip sharks. McCown has completed 57.6 percent of his passes over his 48 game NFL career that stretches back to 2002, and he was only signed off the street by the Bears a month ago. Given that the last time he threw more than 10 passes in a season was 2007, and that he's thrown 35 scores against 41 interceptions and 14 fumbles in his career, you can see why there should be concern if you are a Bears fan. I'm predicting a massacre akin to what happened with Maniac Cop in 1988.
Matt Hasselbeck (calf) is set to start in Week 16 for the Titans against the Jaguars. However, that doesn't mean (a) that he's 100 percent healthy or (b) that he will perform well enough to take all the snaps this week. With Jake Locker looking more spry and performing at a better level at this point, it's a mystery why the Titans continue to turn to the veteran here. Maybe I just hit on it. Coaching staffs often times love to play the veteran in pressure packed situations, and maybe that's the only reason that Hasselbeck is still out there.
Kevin Kolb (concussion) says he is feeling much better and it appears likely that he will gain medical clearance to return to action this week. The question is, will the Cardinals turn back to their “starter” or leave things in the hands of John Skelton who has won five of his last six appearances for the club?
Colt McCoy (concussion) still hasn't been cleared to play which means he won't be taking the field in Week 16 against the Cardinals. At this point it looks like Senaca Wallace could end up making the last three starts of the year for the beleaguered club. Wallace looked McCoy-like in Week 15 throwing for 226 yards and one score.
The Softest Player in the NFL
Felix Jones is an elite talent. After dominating in college for Arkansas, he was a first round pick of the Cowboys in 2008. In his four year career he has averaged a dominating 5.1 yards a carry while he's been even more impressive, if that's possible, in the passing game with an average of 16.4 yards per catch. Those are elite, RB1 type numbers. However, as we all are far too familiar with at this point, Jones is nothing more than a low level RB2 on draft day because the guy is as brittle as a fence made of paper mache in a hurricane.
Jones is injured yet again. This time he tweaked his hamstring, and though the team expects him to play in Week 16, he's missing practice time this week and can't be looked at as the RB1 option he should be in a matchup against the Eagles. The sad part about this is that Kyle Elfrink an I, on our SiriusXM Fantasy Sports Radio show, debated whether or not we thought Jones could finish the season healthy last week. Turns out Kyle was 100 percent right when he said something akin to 'there's no way Jones will be able to handle 20 touches a week for even three weeks.' Jones touched the ball 22 times in Week 14 and then 25 times last week, an it appears that was enough to wear downhis body out yet again. At this point you know the deal – you cannot trust Jones, ever. With DeMarco Murray out, and Jones likely to be limited, it's quite possible that Sammy Morris, who was recently signed off the street and has 32 carries since the start of the 2010 season, will be the lead back for the Cowboys this week or at worst in a timeshare. Morris looked good last week with 12 carries for 53 yards, but are you really going to trust him as a starter in Championship Week?
Numbers to Know
BenJarvus Green-Ellis has an impressive nine rushing scores including four in his last four games. However, the guy has failed to run for 20-yards in any of his last three games. Remember that before you put him in your starting lineup.
Aaron Rodgers is fourth in the NFL in passing yards with 4,360 yards behind Drew Brees (4,780), Tom Brady (4,593) and Eli Manning (4,362). The next time you down Eli make sure you first look at the numbers. On pace for nearly 5,000 yards passing and 30 touchdowns, Eli is averaging 311.6 yards a game passing, a mark that Peyton Manning has never exceeded. In fact, Eli needs 339 yards to throw for more yards than any Manning ever has in a single season. And talk about consistency. Eli has thrown for at least 250-yards in every game he has played this season except for one – he threw for 223 yards in Week 2 against the Rams.
The last three weeks this back has more points, in a PPR setup, than Arian Foster, Chris Johnson, Steven Jackson, Michael Bush, Rashard Mendenhall, Frank Gore, Beanie Wells and Cedric Benson to name just a few. However, he isn't a strong play in Week 16 as his teams' “starter” appears to be close to full strength. Who am I talking about? Toby Gerhart of the Vikings.
Wes Welker leads the NFL with 104 receptions and 1,380 yards, but he's also seen his production slow appreciably in the second half of the season. In the first half of the year Welker averaged eight receptions, 120 yards and 0.75 scores a game. In his last six outings those numbers have dipped to six receptions, 70 yards and 0.50 scores per game.
The last five weeks the #1 wide receiver in fantasy football (PPR leagues) is...? It's not Wes Welker. It's not Calvin Johnson, nor is it Victor Cruz, Percy Harvin or Hakeem Nicks. The answer is Roddy White of the Falcons. Remember when you were bemoaning White for his “struggles?” Well lookie at what we see now. With four more receptions in the last two weeks of the season White will post the second most receptions of his career (he currently has 85). He's also hit 1,100 yards for the 5th straight season, an if he maintains his current pace of 78.6 yards a game he'll finish with 1,257 yards which would be be 25 yards off his previous four year average of 1,282 yards. Oh yeah, he also has eight scores, the third highest mark of his career an a perfect match for his previous four season average of eight scores a year. So for all of you out there that doubted White, you've got a heaping helping of egg on your face right now, don't you?
Owen Daniels (knee) is expected to play this week when the Texans take on the Colts. However, this is not a certainty as he's likely to be a game time decision in a matchup with a Colts squad that has allowed the 9th most fantasy points to tight ends this season. With Tyler Yates under center Daniels has averaged four catches for 55 yards, though he hasn't gotten into the end zone as TD vulture Joel Dreessen is always hanging around.
A.J. Green (shoulder) said he will play in Week 16. The team has said he will play in Week 16. He will play in Week 16. Further evidence of this is that he practiced on Wednesday. He should be looked at as a top-15 WR option this week against a Cardinals' secondary that has been prone to giving up the big play – Green's specialty.
Shonn Greene (ribs, finger) plans on practicing in full all week and being ready to take on the Giants on Saturday. Considering him an RB2 as you have all season.
Packers' running backs are healing up in all directions. Brandon Saine (concussion) returned to practice on Wednesday obviously signaling that he has been medically cleared to play. James Starks (ankle), who insisted he was capable of playing last week, also returned to practice. If you own Ryan Grant, it's time to make other plans in Championship Week.
Adrian Peterson (ankle) played just 23 snaps in Week 15 in a disappointing fantasy performance (10 carries, 60 yards). After the game A.D. expressed displeasure that he was limited to only 10 touches. Look for him to come out hungry in Week 16, and look for the Redskins to pay the price of having to tackle an angry Peterson. If I'm a Redskins' defender I might take out some extra life insurance because at some point in the game, possibly multiple times, I look for Peterson to lower his shoulder and to make a statement all over the Redskins' faces as he rumbles for yardage.
Kevin Smith (ankle) practiced on Wednesday and looks like he should be good to go against the Chargers. At the same time, he's only carried the ball 28 times in his last three games as he just can't seem to get right physically.
Ray Flowers can he heard daily on SiriusXM Radio (Sirius 210, XM 87) on The Fantasy Drive. You can also read more of Ray's analysis at BaseballGuys.com and you can follow him on Twitter on the BaseballGuys' Twitter Page.