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As we head into Week 16 of the NFL season, many fantasy football leagues will be playing for their championship. And right on cue, there are several top players on the injury list which will undoubtedly have an impact in those championship games. The problem with injuries at this time of the season (not that injuries aren't problematic at any other time) is that NFL teams out of playoff contention are more inclined to rest their star players and avoid risking further injury in meaningless games. That makes sense from an NFL perspective, but it doesn't do fantasy GM's any favors. Without further adieu, let's delve into this week's edition of the Walking Wounded.
Aaron Rodgers (QB-GB)
In what has essentially been a fantasy football c***-tease, the Packers are still not committing either way to Aaron Rodgers’ status for Week 16. It looked at one point like he might even play in Week 15, but obviously that didn’t happen. Green Bay’s miraculous victory against Dallas has them back in the playoff hunt, so having Rodgers back is critical for them. That being said, they don’t appear ready to put their franchise player at risk until he is fully cleared. If you are waiting for Rodgers to lead to you to a fantasy football championship, you better have a contingency plan. Wait until we know more later in the week and hold your breath.
Adrian Peterson (RB-MIN)
Sorry to disappoint you Matt Asiata owners out there, but it appears that Adrian Peterson will return for Week 16. The Vikings were being extra cautious with their star player and did not want to risk any further damage or setbacks with him in a game that did not mean much. But Minnesota coach Leslie Frazier indicated that he expects Peterson to be back on the field next week which is very good news for fantasy GM’s.
Maurice Jones-Drew (RB-JAX)
After missing Week 15, it looks like Maurice Jones-Drew may miss Week 16 as well. His replacement, Jordan Todman, played fairly well and Jacksonville doesn’t have much to play for so it is plausible that they will keep MJD on the sidelines another week. As I reported last week, the timing for this hamstring injury was unfortunate because MJD was finally producing and the Jaguars were actually winning games. But if you drafted MJD and are still alive in your league, then you should be used to relying on people other than him.
Wes Welker (WR-DEN)
Don’t panic yet, but Wes Welker still has not been cleared to exercise after sustaining two concussions in a matter of four weeks. Because Denver played last Thursday, there is still time for him to get cleared and return to practice later this week. The Broncos still have a lot to play for including the AFC West title and home field advantage throughout the playoffs. But they may still want to be cautious with Welker to ensure that he is fully healed given his history with concussions. Either way, you will have to wait to find out his status later in the week. If he is active, then he is a must start.
Victor Cruz (WR-NYG)
As if the game couldn’t have been any worse for the Giants, their star wide receiver Victor Cruz was knocked out of the shutout loss with a concussion and a knee sprain. Cruz was two yards shy of his third straight 1,000 yard season when he left the game. The Giants have been abysmal and have nothing left to play for besides pride. Cruz will undoubtedly want to get back on the field and achieve his personal statistical milestone, but the Giants will be more tempted to protect their long-term investment. My money says he plays again in Week 17, but that probably won’t do you any good in fantasy playoffs.
Larry Fitzgerald (WR-ARZ)
Cardinals’ wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald sustained a concussion during Arizona’s wild victory over Tennessee this past week. Despite reports after the game that he wasn’t doing too well, Fitzgerald seemed to be in better shape on Monday. That being said, he must go through the concussion protocol before he can return to practice and be eligible to play next week. Fitzgerald has been extremely solid during the second half of the season as Arizona’s offense has elevated its game. It would be a big loss for fantasy GM’s if he is not cleared for Week 16.
Ben Tate (RB-HOU)
Ben Tate reinjured his ribs in the Texans’ blowout loss to the Colts this past week. It has obviously been a lost season for Houston so they may not want to expose Tate to any further injury. If he cannot play then Dennis Johnson would get the start. Either way, Tate and Johnson would not be ideal options next week against Denver who is likely going to pour it on Houston in frustration for last week’s loss to San Diego.
Michael A. Stein is the Chief Justice of Fantasy Judgment, the industry's premier dispute resolution service for any and all fantasy sports league issues. If you have any questions or comments, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or find him on Twitter (@FantasyJudgment).