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Fantasy football playoffs are here. I was lucky enough to have a playoff bye last week in my first ever fantasy league (Scott Fish Bowl). I hope my beginner’s luck doesn’t run out as my team has to prove it this week, and the season 10-2 record is now meaningless.
Here are the top 10 fantasy injury concerns and unknowns for Week 14. Keep in mind that this article is penned prior to the final Friday injury and game status reports. For the latest updates, go to www.profootballdoc.com.
1. Christian McCaffrey – Most fantasy drafts started with CMC at No. 1, and we will do so here too. We wrote previously that his shoulder would be fine but that he would miss at least this week due to a “tweaked” quad. Late yesterday, the Panthers head coach confirmed that McCaffrey would be unlikely to play. If you have carried him this long (and you had to), you are likely “pot committed” and have no choice but to hang on and hope you win this week and get CMC back next week, but my feeling is that it is probably a lost season.
2. Tyreek Hill – The Chiefs WR is listed here at No. 2 as he was my second round pick (stacked with Patrick Mahomes from my round 1) and has helped carry me. He was listed with an illness and missed the first practice, which is cause for concern. Teammate Clyde Edwards-Helaire never touched last week after his illness. Fortunately, Hill has passed his COVID tests and returned to practice. I am expecting (and hoping and praying) that he will be 100% for this week versus the Dolphins.
3. Josh Jacobs – By video analysis, I have felt all along that the Raiders star running back ankle injury is a minor typical inversion sprain and not the high ankle variety. After he missed last week and started this week with DNP and his team brought in Spencer Ware for a visit, even I began to wonder. Jacobs is now back at limited practice. Undoubtedly, he will be listed as questionable versus the Colts. Although I have less confidence than before, I still believe he plays this week, and unless you are absolutely stacked at RB, you have to start the guy that helped get you here.
4. Ezekiel Elliot – I have new-found optimism that the Cowboys running back will play this week. A calf strain always worries me, as it lingers and is easy to aggravate. However, Elliot clarified that the issue is more of a contusion with bruising than a strain. This makes him more hurt than injured and thus makes me believe he will play, albeit behind a depleted offensive line.
5. Antonio Gibson – I don’t see how the star Washington running back can play this week, and fantasy managers should prepare to be without him for the duration. There are different severities of a turf toe injury, but all are debilitating for explosive players. Over 50% of one’s ability to push off to run and jump is transferred through the big toe, thus this injury to the ‘bunion” joint is concerning. Washington must either go with J.D. McKissic or Peyton Barber or look elsewhere.
6. A.J. Brown – There was a lot of initial worry after the Titans WR left the Week 13 game with a “non-contact” injury, and social media feared the worst. By in-game video analysis, we felt he suffered a standard inversion right ankle sprain and that he would return after tape/spatting, and indeed he finished the game. Now Brown has missed two straight practices, elevating our concern. However, I still believe he will play this week. It has been his pattern to rest his knee a few days and play through. The feeling is he will return to practice in some fashion today, be listed as questionable but suit up to play and be very effective versus the Jaguars, who have multiple injuries at the cornerback position as evidenced by their Field View and Injury Index.
7. Kenyan Drake – The Cardinals running back seemed fine coming out of Week 13 and was full practice, but then he was listed with a hip issue and was limited on Thursday. It is unclear what the specific injury is or how or when it happened, as there is no video. We can only hope and wait for more information today. With nothing to work with other than the injury report, any opinion, at this point, would be just a guess. To me, this is the biggest Friday injury report to watch this season.
8. D’Andre Swift – The Lions running back has not played since Week 10. He missed two games, was then cleared from concussion protocol, yet was held out last week with headaches. His is practicing in limited fashion this week, giving some hope that he will play, but I am dubious. First off, he needs a full practice prior to being cleared. Secondly, the independent doctor has to sign off, and given that he had renewed symptoms after being cleared, it seems likely that this physician will be very cautious the second time around. It remains possible for Swift to play, but I wouldn’t count on it.
9. Drew Brees – The Saints QB is eligible to come off IR after his rib fractures and lung injury this week, but given that the Saints are 3-0 (8-0 the last two seasons) without him, there is no pressure to rush his return. It seems that Brees is headed for a return next week versus the Chiefs.
10. Daniel Jones – The Giants have indicated that Jones could return this week. Initially, he couldn’t even throw because of a hamstring injury. He can undoubtedly throw now, but I doubt he can run effectively. If Jones can move enough to protect himself, he will play. However, even if he does, don’t expect him to run the ball, as he has done very effectively this season.
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