Even though the regular season is over and we are just a few weeks away from the Super Bowl, fantasy football GM's are still plugging along in postseason leagues and daily contests. So it is still important to continue checking the injury reports and analyze whether certain players will be worthwhile selections in your short-term lineups. So without further adieu, here is the NFL Divisional Round edition of the Walking Wounded.
Steve Smith (WR-CAR)
Unfortunately Panthers’ wide receiver Steve Smith had a setback at practice late this week and downgraded himself from 71% to 57%. After injuring his PCL in his knee, Smith missed the last game of the regular season but has been determined to be on the field in the playoffs. I don’t think there is much doubt that the most underrated receiver in the league will suit up. However, it is quite possible that Smith will be nothing more than a decoy for Cam Newton.
Ryan Mathews (RB-SD)
It wouldn’t be a fantasy football injury article if it didn’t include Chargers’ running back Ryan Mathews. While he did play in all 16 games and had a productive season (1,255 yards and six touchdowns), he was always banged up and never seemed to last the entire 60 minutes. He has been dealing with an ankle injury over the past several weeks. The fact he has missed practice this week should not alarm anyone at this point because he will be on the field against Denver. However, it is debatable how long he can stay on the field given how fragile he is and how productive Danny Woodhead and Ronnie Brown were last week.
Wes Welker (WR-DEN)
It has been over a week since Wes Welker was medically cleared and has been practicing fully since coming back from his concussion. He will be a welcome addition for Peyton Manning and the Broncos offense which was held in check by San Diego earlier this season. Welker will be a solid option if you are playing in a PPR postseason league.
Percy Harvin (WR-SEA)
It has been a difficult year for Percy Harvin who required hip surgery soon after being traded to Seattle. He made it back for one game this year only to be shut down again. Now all signs are pointing towards him being active for the big showdown against New Orleans. Harvin should be returning kicks and should also see some time running routes. It hasn’t been determined whether he will be on a snap count or not. While he will provide a boost to Seattle’s offense, don’t expect him to be overly involved in terms of targets or receptions.
Shane Vereen (RB-NE)
Besides Week 1, Shane Vereen has not done much in terms of running the football. He missed most of the first half of the year after suffering an injury on Opening Day and came back as a bigger threat catching the ball out of the backfield. His groin injury appears healed and he will be in the Patriots’ lineup when they play Indianapolis this weekend. His value is in PPR postseason leagues and should be one of Tom Brady’s favorite targets.
Jonathan Stewart (RB-CAR)
From an NFL perspective, having three solid running backs is a good recipe for success. From a fantasy football perspective, you want to avoid that three-headed monster. Jonathan Stewart will be coming back from a torn MCL in his knee which forced him to miss the last three weeks of the season. However, he will be part of a committee that also includes DeAngelo Williams and Mike Tolbert. Don’t forget that Cam Newton is quite capable of running the ball effectively as well. The point is that there are so many players to share carries with that it makes Stewart essentially a non-factor for fantasy GM’s in postseason leagues.
Kenbrell Thompkins (WR-NE)
After missing a few weeks towards the end of the regular season with a hip injury, Patriots’ wide receiver Kenbrell Thompkins was able to return during Week 17 in a limited capacity. Now after another week of rest and continued limitations in practice, he should be ready to go full speed against the Colts. As of now it appears Aaron Dobson will be out so Thompkins could see a lot of targets.
Michael A. Stein, Esq. is the Chief Justice of Fantasy Judgment, the industry's premier dispute resolution service. if you have any questions or comments, please email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or find him on Facebook and Twitter (@FantasyJudgment).