Welcome to the best weekend of football all season as we approach the Divisional Round of the playoffs. There are eight teams left vying for an opportunity to win the Super Bowl and of course injuries could play a major factor in the outcomes of these games. If you are involved in fantasy postseason leagues or games, then be sure to closely follow the injury reports because there are some key players on this list which could directly or indirectly affect the results of your games. So, without further ado, here is the next edition of the fantasy football emergency room for the Divisional Round.
Antonio Brown (WR-PIT) – To the surprise of no one, Brown is back to practicing in a full capacity and will absolutely be on the field against the Jaguars this Sunday afternoon. He has worked his way back from a calf injury and returns at the most important time for the Steelers as they seek another appearance in the AFC Championship. Brown is clearly a difference-maker but will be lined up against the great Jalen Ramsey so it should be a fascinating matchup to follow all game. Look for Brown to still put up his typically impressive stat line no matter how well Ramsey plays against him.
Julio Jones (WR-ATL) – Jones missed a few days of practice earlier this week before returning on Thursday and will be ready to go against the Eagles on Saturday. There was never really any doubt he would be on the field but the ankle injury has been lingering for a while now. Atlanta is the rare road favorite in this NFC Division matchup and should be able to throw against the Eagles defense which is better against the run. Many fantasy GMs were disappointed with the lack of scoring Jones had during the season, but he did find the end zone in last week’s Wild Card win over the Rams and is a good candidate to do it again this weekend.
Devonta Freeman (RB-ATL) – Freeman has been dealing with a knee injury which limited him in practice this week. However, he is fully expected to play and look to build off his performance last week against the Rams when he scored a touchdown helping the Falcons advance to the NFC Divisional Round. Freeman will face a tough Eagles defense which only surrendered one 100-yard game against an opposing running back all season.
DeMarco Murray (RB-TEN) – The Titans have already ruled Murray out for this weekend’s AFC Divisional Round showdown with the Patriots. Murray has a torn MCL and will miss his second straight playoff game. If Tennessee can pull off one of the biggest upsets in NFL history and defeat the reigning champions, then we can start speculating whether Murray can play again. For now, the job is Derrick Henry’s and he will once again be the featured running back for the Titans. You can expect Bill Belichick and Matt Patricia to focus their defense on stopping Henry and forcing Marcus Mariota to try and make plays.
Rex Burkhead (RB-NE) – Burkhead is working his way back from a knee injury which cost him the final two games of the regular season. Reports out of New England indicated that Burkhead is progressing well in practice and has a good chance of playing this weekend against Tennessee. He had a very productive season in fantasy leagues with five rushing touchdowns and three receiving scores, and if he plays he will be a significant factor near the goal line. Burkhead is the best candidate to spell Dion Lewis and all signs point to his return in the AFC Divisional Round.
Mike Gillislee (RB-NE) – If you had Mike Gillislee on your fantasy team beyond Week 2 of the season, then you wasted a roster spot. After scoring four touchdowns in the first two weeks, he descended into obscurity and only played once over the last nine weeks of the regular season. He is still dealing with a knee injury and his status for this weekend’s game against the Titans is very questionable. Even if he was healthy enough to play, he likely wouldn’t see much action behind Dion Lewis and a returning Rex Burkhead.
Mohamed Sanu (WR-ATL) – Atlanta heads into Philadelphia as the favorite to unseat the number one seed in the NFC and Mohamed Sanu could be a big factor in that outcome. He has been limited in practice this week with a knee injury but will certainly be ready to go this weekend. Sanu had 75 yards receiving against the Rams in the Wild Card game last week and could be a popular target for Matt Ryan as the Eagles focus on shutting down Julio Jones. The Falcons could have a difficult time running the ball against Philadelphia’s stingy defense so look for the aerial attack to take precedence.
Ryan Shazier (LB-PIT) – We all remember the scary sight of seeing Ryan Shazier laying on the field in Cincinnati unable to move his legs. Fortunately, he has made great progress in the past couple weeks as he regains feelings in his lower extremities. He has managed to show up at the Steelers’ practice facility this week in a wheelchair and inspire the entire team. His playing career is very much in jeopardy, but the inspiration he is giving to his teammates is invaluable and will serve Pittsburgh well as they look to exact revenge against a Jacksonville team that decimated them earlier in the season.
Andrus Peat (T-NO) – The Saints placed Peat on season-ending injured reserve due to the broken fibula and high-ankle sprain he suffered last week against Carolina. Peat is expected to fully recover and be ready for training camp next summer. However, his loss weakens the offensive line which is so important for the Saints to be able to run the ball and protect Drew Brees from the Vikings tenacious defense. New Orleans has achieved great success this season with the backfield combination of Mark Ingram and Alvin Kamara, but that success is also hinged on solid offensive line work. You can expect the Vikings to try and exploit the left side of the Saints’ offensive line which will be without Peat the rest of the year.
Michael A. Stein, Esq. is the Chief Justice of Fantasy Judgment, the industry's premier dispute resolution service. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Facebook and Twitter (@FantasyJudgment).