We have officially reached the end of Week 16 of the NFL season which means that many fantasy football league championships have now been decided. If you are a champion, then congratulations. If you are a runner-up, then mazel tov for making it this far. If you didn't make the playoffs, then better luck to you next year. If you drafted two running backs with your first two picks, how did that work out for you? Anyways, there are still many fantasy leagues that play through Week 17 so the big names on this week's Injury Report will likely have a major impact in determining who wins the championship. The good news is that there are some big games this coming week with some division titles to be decided as well as wild card berths and playoff seedings at stake in both leagues. The bad news is that most teams are not playing for anything and they are more likely to err on the side of caution and keep their banged up star players on the sidelines. So, without further adieu, here is the week's edition of the Walking Wounded.
Aaron Rodgers (QB-GB)
I must apologize to everyone for including Aaron Rodgers in the injury report practically every week. No, not because his injury wasn’t newsworthy or didn’t have a major impact on fantasy leagues. There just does not seem to be any way to confidently determine whether Rodgers will play. When he was injured, the preliminary reports were that he could miss 4-6 weeks. It has now been seven weeks and he still hasn’t been medically cleared. With the NFC North division title on the line against the Bears, one would logically surmise that THIS has to be the week Rodgers comes back. I do not work for the Green Bay Packers’ medical staff, nor am I a close personal friend of Mr. Discount Double Check. But I believe that Aaron Rodgers will play in Week 17.
Calvin Johnson (WR-DET)
About 20 minutes before the 1:00 games started this past week, rumors began circulating that Calvin Johnson may not play due to a variety of leg injuries, including his ankle and knee. In the end, Johnson did play but was barely visible as he was undoubtedly hampered by these injuries. Now that Detroit has been officially eliminated from postseason contention, do not expect Megatron to be back out on the field in Week 17. Whether he needs offseason surgery is another question. But I would expect the Lions to play it safe with their star player and keep him off the field.
Adrian Peterson (RB-MIN)
After rushing the ball ten times in the first half, the Vikings limited Adrian Peterson to one touch in the second half before pulling him from the game. Peterson has been battling foot and groin injuries, so Minnesota felt it was unnecessary to subject him to further harm in a blowout game against the Bengals. This made sense despite not being helpful for fantasy GM’s playing for a championship. If your league goes to Week 17, then don’t hold your breath waiting for Peterson to come back. Chances are Minnesota will keep their franchise player on the bench as they prepare for next season.
Tony Romo (QB-DAL)
It is mighty convenient that Tony Romo’s season is probably over before he even has an opportunity to live up to his reputation as a choke artist in a critical game. Ok that may be a bit cruel, but it doesn’t undermine the fact that Romo is probably done for the year. Cowboys’ coach Jason Garrett won’t rule him out just yet, but all signs are pointing towards Kyle Orton getting the start for the matchup against the Eagles to determine the winner of the NFC East. Orton has occasionally been a fantasy relevant quarterback, so don’t immediately dismiss the statistical contributions of Dez Bryant and Jason Witten. This will likely be a high scoring game and Orton has the ability to handle a one-game shootout. If your league championship is next week, then the predictable Nick Foles vs. Kyle Orton matchup for the division title could very well be the deciding factor on Sunday night. Put any Dallas or Philadelphia offensive players you have in your lineup.
Eddie Lacy (RB-GB)
Packers’ running back Eddie Lacy re-aggravated an ankle sprain and was taken out of this past week’s game in the third quarter. Lacy was running well and had scored two touchdowns by the time he was removed and never came back. With the division title on the line and continued uncertainty about Aaron Rodgers’ status, Lacy will probably not practice much, if at all, this week and wait until next Sunday to suit up. Lacy has been dealing with this injury for several weeks now, so he has proven he can produce in the game even without a full week of practice. Plan on having him in your lineup.
Shane Vereen (RB-NE)
It has been a frustrating year for GM’s who drafted Shane Vereen. Since coming back a few weeks ago, Vereen has been a de facto wide receiver because of his involvement in the Patriots’ passing game. Unfortunately, he was knocked out of last week’s game against Baltimore with a groin injury in the first quarter and never returned. If you are looking for more information about a New England Patriot player’s health and status for the following week, then you are barking up the wrong tree. New England is known for their vagueness and lack of information when disclosing players’ injury statuses, so don’t even bother reading into anything. Vereen will likely be a decision made over the weekend or even up to game time.
Joe Flacco (QB-BAL)
The reigning Super Bowl MVP certainly did not look like a champion in last week’s blowout loss to the Patriots. Joe Flacco was clearly hindered by his left knee injury which affected several of his pass attempts and caused him to overcompensate and form some very bad habits. Baltimore will be playing against a good Cincinnati defense next week with their playoff lives on the line, so this will be a difficult test for Flacco. We know he can win big games, but his limitations due to his injury coupled with the fact he is going against a very good defense do not make him a wise fantasy option for Week 17.
Dennis Johnson (RB-HOU)
Houston, we still have a problem. After Arian Foster and Ben Tate already went down, Dennis Johnson was given the chance to start for the depleted and disappointing Texans. But Johnson was ineffective in Week 16 and also suffered a hip injury. It looks like his fate for Week 17 has been sealed as Houston already named the obscure Jonathan Grimes as their starter. Keep Johnson parked on your bench.
Michael A. Stein, Esq. is Chief Justice of Fantasy Judgment, the industry's premier dispute resolution service for fantasy leagues. If you have any questions or comments, please email him at email@example.com or find him on Twitter (@FantasyJudgment).