News and Notes 12-13-11


*-Ben Roethlisberger's status for Monday night is uncertain. Big Ben suffered a high ankle sprain last Thursday and while that usually costs a player a couple of games, it's expected that Roethlisberger will likely start. If he can't, Charlie Batch would start in his place.

*-Matt Hasselbeck's status for this week is uncertain because of a calf injury. While it's believed to not be serious, it could be just the excuse the Titans need to get exciting rookie Jake Locker a start against woeful Indianapolis this week. I have a sneaky suspicion it's going to be Locker, but the Titans say Hasselbeck is still their starting QB if he's healthy.

*-Miami's Matt Moore is expected to be okay to start week 15 after not being able to finish week 14 because of neck and head injuries suffered during the game. J.P. Losman would get the start if that changes.

*-Colt McCoy's status for this week is also unknown. McCoy suffered a concussion last Thursday night and while it's believed the extra time since will be enough for him to pass concussion tests and play this week, nothing has been announced yet. Seneca Wallace would start if McCoy can't.

*-Kevin Kolb's status is also uncertain for this week. Kolb suffered a concussion this past week and he needs medical clearance to be able to play. If he can't, John Skelton would start in his place.

*-Sam Bradford toughed out his own high ankle sprain to play last night but it was clearly bothering him and his status for week 15 is uncertain. I think he'll play, but it's not a given. If he can't, it's expected Kellen Clemens would start for the Rams as A.J. Feeley isn't over his broken thumb on his throwing hand and the Rams clearly don't want to start Tom Brandstater.  

*-No word yet on who Kansas City will start this week. Now that Todd Haley is out as head coach, it's believed that interim head coach Romeo Crennel will bench ineffective Tyler Palko and either start Kyle Orton or rookie Ricky Stanzi. It all depends on Orton's finger injury on his throwing hand. If Orton can grip the ball and throw without issue, he's likely to start. If he can't, Stanzi likely will make his first career start.

Running Backs

*-DeMarco Murray broke his ankle week 14 and he was placed on injured reserve. His season is done. Felix Jones steps back in as the feature RB for Dallas. Dallas placed preseason darling Phillip Tanner on injured reserve last week so they went out and signed free agent Sammy Morris to provide depth. It's also believed they will call up Chauncey Washington from their practice squad.

*-After almost playing this past week it's expected that Adrian Peterson will return and start week 15 for the Vikings. He may be spelled a little more often than normal by Toby Gerhart but Peterson should be the primary and good to go for close to his normal amount of snaps.

*-Still no word on whether Darren McFadden will be able to play this week or not. It's been suggested that McFadden's foot injury is worse than we've been told about and with McFadden missing nearly 2 months now, I have to wonder if the reports are right. Bay area writers thought he stood a good chance to play this week last week, but so far it's looking like he may be another week away. I currently expect Michael Bush to again be the feature RB for Oakland this week.

*-Michael Turner will likely practice very little this week. Atlanta plays Thursday night and Turner has been bothered some by a minor groin injury. He'll be fine to start though.

*-Even though there is no injury listed for Frank Gore, the 49ers certainly played him this past week like something was wrong, giving a lot of playing time to Kendall Hunter. Maybe with the division locked up San Francisco is going to take it easy on the feature RB the rest of the way.

*-Maurice Morris is expected to be okay for this week despite suffering a chest injury this past week. But coupled with the expected return of Kevin Smith this week for the Lions and Morris is not much of a fantasy play.

*-James Starks status for week 15 is uncertain. He'll need to practice before the end of the week or he won't be active. I think the Packers will do the smart thing and not rush him back as he is their top RB and they need him healthy for the playoffs. Ryan Grant will likely again be the primary RB with John Kuhn spelling him. After all the hype about rookie Brandon Saine last week, he wasn't be used much before suffering a concussion week 14. He'll need to get medical clearance to practice and play and shouldn't be relied on.

*-Tennessee lost Javon Ringer for the rest of the season to a broken hand injury. Jamie Harper steps in as the top backup and handcuff to Chris Johnson the last 3 weeks of the season.

*-Ryan Torain was inactive this past week. This is a clear indication that he has fallen completely out of favor and would need an injury to Roy Helu or Evan Royster to have any potential value.

Wide Receivers

*-Greg Jennings suffered a sprain MCL week 14 and he is expected to be held out the rest of the regular season. The timetable for his return is 2-3 weeks, so it's likely the Packers just shut him down and let him have the full 5 weeks to heal up before they host their first playoff game. James Jones is the likeliest of the other Packers WR's to step in and have immediate fantasy relevance opposite Jordy Nelson. Jones is a priority free agent add with Randall Cobb next in line due to his exceptional big play capabilities. Even Donald Driver is worth a shot for the WR desperate as he will get more playing time and although he lacks playmaking ability anymore, he is still a steady veteran.

*-Too early in the week to know if Houston will have Andre Johnson back this week. Now that they've wrapped up their division, I'd be surprised if they hurried him back even though they are still in the hunt for a first round bye. I expect Johnson not to play week 15. Speaking of Houston they released Derrick Mason and promoted WR undrafted rookie Jeff Maehl to be their 4th WR.

*-Deion Branch suffered a groin injury week 14 and was unable to finish the game. His status for this week is uncertain at this point. It would likely be a platoon opposite Wes Welker of Chad Ochocinco, Julian Edelman, and Tiquan Underwood if Branch were to miss the game.

*-Nate Washington had a gutsy and productive week 14 despite playing on an ankle injury reportedly to be a high ankle sprain. While he'll likely miss practice time again this week he is likely to play.

*-Steve Johnson suffered a hand injury this past week but it's considered minor and he should be just fine for week 15.

*-Pittsburgh will likely be without Emmanuel Sanders week 15 and maybe longer. He's reportedly suffered an aggravation to the foot injury that required preseason surgery and Pittsburgh may shut him down the rest of the regular season in hopes he can have it healed up by the playoffs.

*-Jacksonville may be without 2 WR's Thursday night. Mike Thomas suffered a concussion week 14 while Cecil Shorts suffered a hamstring injury. Neither is likely to play. Jarret Dillard and Chastin West would start if neither of those two can go.

*-Philadelphia placed their WR named Steve Smith on injured reserve with a knee injury. It's not serious, but it does spell the end of one of the most overhyped moves of the preseason.

*-Tampa Bay's Arrelious Benn suffered a concussion week 14 and his status for week 15 is uncertain. Dezmon Briscoe would start if Benn can't play.

Tight Ends

*-Jimmy Graham is suffering from a back injury and had an MRI Monday. Results haven't been released but he is expected to be fine to start week 15 without issue.

*-Buffalo's Scott Chandler is expected to miss week 15 because of the ankle injury that caused him to miss week 14.

*-Jake Ballard is expected to be fine for the Giants despite suffering a minor wrist injury week 14.

*-After a zero catch performance week 14, it's expected that Jermichael Finley will get more targets going forward with Greg Jennings out.


*-Josh Scobee kicked thru a minor groin injury week 14 but with it being a short week with Jacksonville playing Thursday night, the Jaguars signed Brandon Coutu to their practice squad as insurance in case they need to call him up before Thursday night's game.

*-After missing another FG this past week, Olindo Mare is on thin ice in Carolina. The Panthers signed an undrafted rookie kicker they had with them in training camp named Adi Kunalic this week to provide some motivation for Mare. At the present time, the Panthers aren't expected to release Mare.