|Jason O. Watson/US Presswire|
|Frank Gore is in danger of not playing this Sunday. He's in greater danger of losing his job in the long term.|
Who's in? Who's out? Who do you have to wait and keep checking back on? Let's head inside The Hurt Locker for this weekend's injury concerns.
Michael Vick: Vick says he's playing, and he's expected to start. If he plays, I sit him. I'm not convinced he can stay upright for four quarters because of his offensive line. And if he's had two injuries in two weeks that have limited his playing time, I have to see it for a game before I play him. Now, if I have Tarvaris Jackson on my bench, I'm playing Vick.
But, if you have any of the Top 12 QB's in fantasy points on your bench, you have an alternative. You can also go grab Mark Sanchez, Kyle Orton or Chad Henne and likely see a ton of points as a result. I'm just too skittish on possibly seeing Vick for just one half of football. And there are too many good options out there that might give you Vick's production anyway. Look, Philadelphia is 1-2 so they have to put him out there ... which probably isn't the best thing for his health. But you don't have to do the same in fantasy.
Jeremy Maclin: Hamstrings are tricky. Andy Reid said Maclin "looked good" at practice Friday. If he goes, you play him. Hedge your bets here and be ready to pick up someone like Davone Bess just in case he can't play. Bess got a ton of targets last week, including a couple in the red zone. Miami is becoming a pass-first team and Henne has shown trust in Bess.
Frank Gore: His ankle injury left him listed as questionable, and his status is up in the air for Sunday. Grab Kendall Hunter as insurance, and hold onto him because I think he wins the job -- ankle or no ankle -- in a couple of weeks. Gore's been ineffective, and now his injury will open the door for Hunter.
Percy Harvin: He missed time against the Lions when he threw up on the sidelines, but this stomach illness is not related to migraines, and there are no issues with his status for Sunday. He's still a decent flex play but if he doesn't find the end zone against the Chiefs, you'll want to look elsewhere.
Steven Jackson: He took part in practice this week for the first time since his Week 1 injury and is probable. As long as he doesn't suffer any setbacks, the team is ready to give him a bigger workload Sunday against the Redskins. If Jackson goes, put him back in your lineup as a No. 2 or a flex. This means Cadillac Williams isn't worth playing this week.
Kerry Collins: OK, so you're not starting Collins, but you want to start Reggie Wayne, Dallas Clark, Pierre Garcon and even Austin Collie. This is pretty simple. Collins is recovering from a concussion. Curtis Painter will start, so put Wayne back in your lineup. Painter has had more time in the offense and has at least a degree of comfort with his weapons. And, he also didn't look awful Sunday against Pittsburgh. So Wayne and Joseph Addai are really the only safe plays at this point.
Arian Foster: Yes, he's starting against the Steelers. Yes, put him in your lineup. He wouldn't be playing at this point if he wasn't healed. But with Gary Kubiak saying he's not sure how much of a workload Foster can handle, Ben Tate is going to get plenty of playing time as well. I think this week they're both worth flex plays. If Foster stays healthy, it means sit Tate going forward, but this week they're both worthy to get in.
Daniel Thomas: Thomas was less involved in practice as the week went on, did not practice Friday and didn't even travel with the team. Without him in the lineup, Reggie Bush will be Miami's starter and becomes a better play in your fantasy lineup. Just keep in mind that Bush hasn't done much with the touches he has gotten and the Chargers' defense isn't particularly kind to running backs.
Dez Bryant: It's not looking good for Bryant to be in the lineup on Sunday, as he's a game-time decision. But with Miles Austin out of the lineup, there isn't much else on the Cowboys roster worthy of a fantasy look. Your best play is a trip to the waiver wire for a guy like Bess.
Felix Jones: He's shown no ill effects stemming from that huge hit from Brian Orakpo on Monday night and finally seemed to break through with his 115 yards. I know he's been frustrating, but if you're ever going to play him, now is the time. He's a strong No. 2 RB play this week.
Ryan Grant: Grant will be held out because of his bruised kidney, which means you play James Starks as a strong No. 2 RB. If you need a RB, try Hunter or Alfonso Smith. They still may be a couple of weeks from playing a lot but be ahead of the curve. After this week, unless Starks lights it up, Grant might be the better play since Mike McCarthy said Grant needs the ball more in the offense.
Peyton Hillis: He's been improving all week from the strep throat that sidelined him last week and he's on track to play, so no issues getting him back in your lineup (Author's note: I once missed an entire week of school and my JV football game against Port Richmond due to strep throat).
Marques Colston: Medically cleared from his broken collarbone, Colston is officially questionable, although coach Sean Payton said his No. 1 WR would "be up this week." This means get Colston back into your lineup -- he's a decent No. 2 or a good flex option. This turns Lance Moore and Devery Henderson into weaker flex options.
Antonio Gates: Seeing a foot specialist isn't good news. Gates is not optimistic he'll play this weekend and was listed as doubtful after missing practice for a third consecutive day. Backup TE Randy McMichael is a good option if you need a TE, and I suggest Jermaine Gresham of the Bengals, who's widely available. If not, then Cardinals TE Jeff King.
Ryan Mathews: Mathews has been less of a sure thing as the week has gone along because of a foot injury, although his appearance at Friday's practice is reassuring. He's now listed as probable. If he's not able to go, Mike Tolbert becomes an even stronger flex play against the Dolphins.
Also: LaRod Stephens-Howling could return this weekend for the Cardinals, but that won't affect Alfonso Smith's fantasy value -- he's still the RB-in-waiting in Arizona. Beanie Wells is a game-time decision, and if he's out again then start Smith. If Beanie plays, sit him this week. ... Knowshon Moreno is still limited with his hamstring, I'd stay away from him this week if you have a better option. Sit him until he comes back and shows he can carry somewhat of a load. ... Patriots TE Aaron Hernandez has been ruled out.
Jacoby Ford was back at practice this week and I think he can have a DeSean Jackson-type effect on the Raiders offense, but let him get back into the swing before you activate him. ... Mario Manningham was cleared to return to practice but playing him is hard. Manningham and Hakeem Nicks are both probable. If Nicks can't play, Victor Cruz could be set up for another big week.