With a number of playoff spots – and many fantasy championships – on the line, here’s the scoop on the players whose statuses are in question, and the impacts of their injuries, for today’s games:
After sitting out the Redskins’ win over the Cleveland Browns with a sprained lateral collateral ligament (LCL) in his right knee sustained in Week 14, Griffin took Washington’s first-team reps at QB in practice this week and is set to start today against the Eagles. For the past two weeks, Redskins coaches have emphasized that their greatest fear isn’t whether Griffin can play at his usual tempo, but whether he will be able to sufficiently protect the vulnerable knee from further damage. Any right-handed QB with an LCL sprain is likely to face some discomfort when planting to throw, but where such an injury could affect Griffin’s effectiveness more than most QBs is when escaping the pocket and making hard cuts in the running game. Redskins fans and Griffin’s fantasy owners should feel comfortable that their man should be as effective as ever today, but if needed, backup Kirk Cousins has proven more than capable as a replacement in his stints on the field this season.
McCoy is set to return after a four-week absence against the Redskins, the team that knocked him out of action in Week 11. McCoy suffered the concussion on a helmet-to-helmet hit late in the fourth quarter of the Redskins’ 31-6 win, passing neurological tests this week. The question for Eagles fans and McCoy fantasy owners alike is: how much playing time will the star RB get today? The emergence of rookie Bryce Brown, along with head coach Andy Reid’s likely desire to ease McCoy back into action, means he may be limited to 10-15 touches today which, although likely to be productive ones, may diminish his fantasy value.
Hartline was a surprise addition to the team’s injury list this week with a back injury that kept him out of practice on Wednesday and Thursday. Although he returned at the end of the week on a limited basis, he has officially been listed as questionable on the team’s injury report and is a game-time decision for today’s contest with the Bills. With WR Davone Bess already ruled out for today’s game, also due to a back injury, the Dolphins may be thin on the receiving front today. Marlon Moore and Armon Binns are likely to see more throws come their way if Hartline is unable to suit up this afternoon.
Brandon Marshall, Chicago Bears (hamstring)
CHI (8-6) @ ARI (5-9), 4:25 p.m.
Marshall was added to the Bears’ injury list on Thursday with a hamstring injury, but there is no indication that he is a threat to miss today’s crucial game at Arizona. With the Bears in a tie for the last NFC Wild Card playoff spot, it is a virtual certainty he will suit up today, although hamstring injuries are notoriously prone to aggravation and slow to heal. Not a reason for Bears fans or Marshall fantasy owners to worry about, but something to keep an eye on.
Sidney Rice, Seattle Seahawks (knee)
SEA (9-5) vs. SF (10-3-1), 8:20 p.m.
Rice has been an on-again, off-again participant on the team’s injury report all season, this week due to lingering knee issues that have kept him out of practice. Although head coach Pete Carroll believes Rice should be able to play tonight against the 49ers, Rice’s status will not be determined until pregame warmups, making him a dicey fantasy play –- not only because of his questionable injury status, but also because of the late start time.
Smith suffered a concussion in the third quarter of Baltimore’s blowout loss to the Denver Broncos last week when he hit the back of his head on the turf while attempting to haul in a sideline pass from Joe Flacco. Smith was notably dazed after the play, taking some time to clear the field, and retreated to the locker room for a neurological evaluation before being ruled out. Although he is officially listed as questionable on the Ravens’ injury report this week, Smith reportedly has cleared concussion testing and is expected to play as Baltimore attempts to clinch the AFC North division title today against the Giants.