Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) -
Just as it is premature for Philadelphia Phillies fans to be scheduling a parade, it's also too early for you to be sitting back and resting on your laurels with two rounds of playoffs in front of you.
Week 15 looks like it will be all about whether you can put a healthy lineup on the field, because a number of high-profile starters took a beating last weekend.
We start in the NFC where No.1 fantasy selection at quarterback, Aaron Rodgers (RapidDraft ADP 17.9), hit the ground hard on a run up the middle and suffered a concussion. Most importantly, it was the second concussion he sustained in 2010, leaving the likelihood that he returns for Week 15 in doubt. The Packers need him, as do fantasy owners, because picking up his backup Matt Flynn is not a viable option. Flynn went 15-for-26 for 177 yards and an interception against a mediocre Detroit Lions defense and the Green Bay schedule has three tough games lined up down the stretch (New England, New York Giants, Chicago).
The injuries to Brett Favre and Tarvaris Jackson leave the ability to start anyone on the Minnesota Vikings roster in doubt. Certainly, if Joe Webb (who?) is under center, then starting receivers Sidney Rice, Percy Harvin or Bernard Berrian is no longer an option. In addition, if the Vikings are forced to start their third-string quarterback, then the value of Adrian Peterson falls significantly because he'd be facing eight and nine-man fronts.
In New Orleans, Chris Ivory had filled the void left by injuries to Pierre Thomas and Reggie Bush very well. In fact, from Week 11 through Week 13 he scored five times and ran for 254 yards. Last Sunday, Ivory fell to the injury bug (hamstring) and managed to score just four points before leaving the game. He is expected back for Week 15, but now that Thomas and Bush are back and healthy, none of the three can be started in this RBBC situation.
The Giants offense has been beset by injuries this season and Week 15 will be no different. While there was good news last Monday when wide receiver Hakeem Nicks played well, the offense suffered three injuries which could be huge heading into their showdown with Philadelphia.
The starter opposite Nicks, Steve Smith, suffered a knee injury that will require season-ending surgery. Fortunately, most fantasy owners have learned to cope without Smith who already had missed four games this season. But many of those used Mario Manningham to pick up the slack and Manningham is doubtful for Week 15 with a hip flexor injury.
The biggest Giants concern could be for running back Ahmad Bradshaw who injured his wrist. Bradshaw is listed as questionable, though reports are that it isn't that serious. Should he not play, it would be a disaster for Bradshaw owners who have come to depend on his production (1,116 rushing, 251 receiving, 8 TDs) and wouldn't have the option to pickup his "backup", Brandon Jacobs, who is undoubtedly already on a roster.
The Seattle receiving corps might be even thinner than in New York. Mike Williams and Ben Obomanu both missed Week 14 and their backup Deon Butler broke his leg in the game. Both Williams and Obomanu are expected to practice this week and the situation will bear watching because each is a viable option if healthy.
Heading to the AFC, Colt McCoy is questionable with a sprained ankle which reduces the possibility that you could start him in Week 15 against the weak Cincinnati Bengals defense.
In Indianapolis, fantasy owners have been waiting for Austin Collie's return for quite a while. Collie was your fantasy league's leading receiver after three weeks, but has done little since and has been inactive since Week 12 with concussion problems. There is little to do but wait for his owners as all the other Colts' receivers have been picked up long ago.
Matt Cassel is preparing to play in Week 15 (appendectomy) which is great news for the Chiefs offense and fantasy owners. While Cassel himself is a borderline fantasy starter, he makes the other Kansas City players better options. Jamaal Charles, Thomas Jones and Dwayne Bowe disappeared with Brodie Croyle at starting quarterback last Sunday and if Cassel is inactive in Week 15, you will have to sit your Chiefs on the bench.
Out west in San Diego, fantasy owners should be used to the active/inactive status of Chargers tight end Antonio Gates. He's been a game-time decision since late October with foot and toe problems. At least with San Diego in the Thursday night game, you will have plenty of options available to you if he doesn't play. It's a much tougher situation when he plays late on Sunday or Monday night. The league's best tight end would be nice to have in your lineup for the fantasy semi-finals.
The bottom line is you must stay on top of things over the final weeks, even if you think you have the best lineup. They have to play for you to win.
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