Injuries make many big-name players risky in season finales

Quarterbacks

  • Matt Ryan (toe) was able to return to practice on a limited basis by Thursday. Ryan is expected to start this week, and with other QBs being risky picks in Week 17, he is an adequate starting option.
  • Tom Brady (shoulder, finger, rib) was able to practice on a limited basis by Thursday. It is possible the Patriots may not put a major emphasis on nailing down the third seed over the fourth, so Brady is a risk to not play a full game. Do not consider him one of the prime starting choices for Week 17.
  • Matt Moore (rib) was able to fully practice by Thursday. He becomes a much lesser choice in Week 17 without his top WR, Steve Smith.
  • Ryan Fitzpatrick (ankle) was able to fully practice by Thursday. Still, he is not recommended for fantasy use, even with Indianapolis expected to rest their regulars for much of the game.
  • Drew Stanton (ankle) was able to practice on a limited basis by Thursday. Daunte Culpepper may still start over him, but neither QB is useful in fantasy leagues.

Running backs

  • Ricky Williams (shoulder) is listed as questionable. How much he will be used is uncertain, and with a matchup against Pittsburgh, Williams is not an optimum starter. Lex Hilliard may see an increased workload this week and deserves flex consideration.
  • Steven Jackson (back) did not practice again this week and is listed as questionable. Jackson will likely be a game-time decision, and it would not be surprising to see him deactivated again. Prepare to use another RB in Week 17.
  • Pierre Thomas (rib) has been ruled out for Week 17. Reggie Bush and Mike Bell may see a lot of early action in his place, but Lynell Hamilton (shoulder) is probable and may also figure in the mix. It is best to avoid the Saints ball carriers in Week 17, as it is uncertain how much each active RB will be used.
  • Michael Turner (ankle) was not able to practice. Expect Jason Snelling and Jerious Norwood to share carries in his place again, with Snelling being the better TD option and fantasy play of the two.
  • Beanie Wells (groin) is questionable. Arizona may choose to rest many regulars in Week 17, so do not consider using Wells. Tim Hightower will be in line to start, but how much he will be used is guesswork also.
  • Shonn Greene (shoulder) was able to fully practice this week. Greene may continue to get a decent amount of carries in the season finale, so he can be considered for flex usage.
  • Jerome Harrison (hip) was limited in practices beginning on Thursday. He should still be used as a starter against Jacksonville, unless game day reports indicate any downgrades in status.
  • Brandon Jacobs (knee) is out. Ahmad Bradshaw (ankle, foot) missed practices and is listed as questionable. Bradshaw is a good flex starter if he is active, but if he cannot play, Gartrell Johnson and Danny Ware may have to share carries against Minnesota.
  • Derrick Ward (knee, thigh) was able to return to practice on a limited basis by Thursday. Cadillac Williams is the main ball carrier for Tampa Bay right now, and Ward should not be used in Week 17.
  • Julius Jones (rib) is questionable, but is expected to play. He may share carries with Justin Forsett again, and neither Seattle RB looks like an appealing fantasy starter.
  • Correll Buckhalter (ankle) was a full participant in practices. He may get a decent number of touches and is worth flex consideration in a friendly fantasy matchup with Kansas City.
  • Justin Fargas (knee) is doubtful. Michael Bush and Darren McFadden could share carries against Baltimore, but neither is a recommended option in a tough matchup.
  • Joseph Addai (shoulder) was a full participant in practices, but might be rested extensively this week, so keep him reserved. Donald Brown could see a lot of work in his place.

Wide receivers

  • Brandon Marshall (hamstring) has been ruled out for Week 17. Marshall is not easy to replace, and none of the Denver WRs have been reliable enough this year to recommend them as effective subs if you are playing for a fantasy championship. Simply look to replace Marshall with an acceptable fill-in. There may not be much competition for free agents at this point if you must go that route.
  • Derrick Mason (knee) is questionable. Mason might be a game-time decision, and he does not play in an early game Sunday, so consider other viable alternatives if you can. If your choices are limited, keep in mind you may have to go with a WR from another game to minimize your risk.
  • Larry Fitzgerald (elbow) was a full participant in practices. The top Cardinals players, though, could see extensive sideline time in Week 17, so you should strongly consider reserving Fitzgerald.
  • Hines Ward (hamstrings) is listed as probable. Ward still may not be very productive, so keep him reserved this week if you have a quality alternative. Mike Wallace will continue to play a prominent role in the passing game in an important game against Miami.
  • Vincent Jackson (Achilles) is not expected to play in Week 17. He was limited in practices, and the Chargers have already wrapped up their playoff seeding, so he will apparently not be useful this week.
  • Hakeem Nicks (hamstring) is probable, and Mario Manningham (shoulder) is questionable. Nicks is the more dependable fantasy player and should be started as a WR3 in Week 17. Consider keeping Manningham reserved.
  • Santana Moss (knee) was able to fully practice by Thursday. He is a respectable starting choice against the Chargers, who may rest a lot of regulars.
  • Devin Hester (calf) was able to practice fully by Friday. Johnny Knox (ankle) will not play. Hester is a decent choice in a week when it becomes more challenging to find quality starters. Devin Aromashodu is also worth starting consideration as the Bears face Detroit.
  • Pierre Garcon (hand) was limited in practices. With the injury, plus the Colts likely to rest many top players, Garcon becomes a fantasy bench player this week.
  • Wes Welker (non-injury-related) was a limited participant in practices. Welker could be rested for a good portion of this week's game against the Texans, and he is a risky starting option.
  • Mushin Muhammad (ankle) is questionable, but is expected to play. He is not a useful fantasy player as the No. 1 WR for Carolina now that Steve Smith is out. Muhammad will not have enough help in the passing game and is no longer capable of playing a major role in the offense.
  • Miles Austin (thumb) was a full participant in practices. He is a must-start player if you are gunning for your fantasy championship this week.
  • Jeremy Maclin (foot) was a full participant in practices. He is a good WR3 start as the Eagles square off with the Cowboys in a game of major importance. Maclin will be one of Donovan McNabb's prime targets.
  • Jacoby Jones (shoulder) returned to full practices on Thursday. Jones is not a dependable fantasy player, and you can find better choices, even in Week 17.
  • Donnie Avery (thigh) is probable, but certainly is not recommended for fantasy use in your playoff finale.

Tight ends

  • Visanthe Shiancoe (thigh) is questionable and might be a game-time decision. If he can play, expect him to perform at least adequately against his former team, the Giants.
  • Tony Gonzalez (calf) was unable to practice. It looks like fantasy players may have to replace him in Week 17, and available options on the free agent list may be slim. Be sure to target a player who is not on a team that will rest many of its starters.
  • David Thomas (calf) is doubtful, and Jeremy Shockey (toe) is questionable. With the Saints having wrapped up the No. 1 seed in the NFC, Shockey may not play much, if at all.
  • Marcedes Lewis (cheek, head) is not expected to play. Lewis was a mediocre fantasy TE this season, and there should be a comparable player available in free agency if you were using him as a starter.

Scott Engel is Managing Director at www.rotoexperts.com. Join Scott for in-depth fantasy discussions every Sunday at 11 a.m. ET and Thursday at 8 p.m. onRotoRadio.

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