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News-Herald Assistant Sports Editor Kevin Kleps doesn’t just write headlines and stories. He also checks on his fantasy sports teams. A lot. See if the moves and news from the world of sports affect your fantasy teams.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Fantasy football: Injury updates, start-and-sit advice and expanded playlist for Week 13

This week's injury roll call is more extensive -- and slightly more optimistic -- than the list of Eric Mangini complaints in the NFL players' association database.

-- Ben Roethlisberger is expected to return from a concussion to start against the Raiders. Kurt Warner is also expected to start, but the Cardinals QB is a much more questionable play than his Steelers counterpart. Warner split practice reps with Matt Leinart all week and could be a game-time decision, which leaves owners in a quandary because the Cards face the Vikings in the Sunday night game. If you have a productive backup, playing him is the safe route, or you can pick up Leinart and have him as insurance in case Warner is inactive.

-- Falcons QB Matt Ryan is out, as are running backs Clinton Portis (Redskins) and Brian Westbrook (Eagles), along with Eagles receiver DeSean Jackson.

-- At running back, the Bengals' Cedric Benson is expected to return from a hip injury, and backup Bernard Scott is out because of turf toe, which leaves Benson to get the majority of the carries and Larry Johnson available for a handful of opportunities against the woeful Lions.

-- Falcons running back Michael Turner is expected to be a game-time decision, but he's likely to sit Sunday's home game vs. the Eagles. Jason Snelling should start, but the electric Jerious Norwood might be the more effective play -- although neither is better than a No. 3 back against Philly's eighth-ranked run defense.

-- The Panthers' DeAngelo Williams (ankle injury) is also a game-time decision, which could be good news for Jonathan Stewart owners vs. the Bucs (more on that later).

-- The Rams' Steven Jackson missed practice all week because of a back injury, but he did the same the week before, then ran for 89 yards and a touchdown on 23 carries. He should start.

-- The Seahawks' Julius Jones will return from a bruised lung, and backup Justin Forsett, who has rushed for 262 yards, scored four TDs and caught 13 passes for 106 yards the last three weeks, is questionable after injuring his quadriceps Friday in practice. Jones should get the majority of the carries but isn't a very good play vs. the 49ers (No. 5 vs. the run).

-- The Texans' Steve Slaton is questionable with a shoulder injury. He, too, will be a game-time decision. If he sits, Chris Brown should start against the Jaguars (No. 10 vs. the run).

-- Falcons wide receiver Roddy White has been limited this week by a knee ailment, but he should play and be considered a No. 2 receiver against Philly.

On to the start-and-sit advice for what likely is the final week of your league's regular season:

Five to start

This week’s look at part-time starters and fantasy backups who should benefit from a favorable matchup:

-- Kyle Orton, QB, Broncos, at Chiefs: He's been dreadful in the last five games, during which the Broncos are 1-4, throwing three touchdown passes and five interceptions. But here's a gut feeling: That will change as Orton accounts for a couple of touchdowns vs. the Chiefs, who rank 30th defending the pass.

-- Matt Forte, RB, Bears, vs. Rams:
He's been one of the season's biggest busts (nice to have you aboard, Jay Cutler). Forte has rushed for only 135 yards and has been a much more productive receiver (22 catches for 248 yards) in his last four games, a span in which he has zero TDs. Forte should end that run of futility vs. the Rams, who rank 28th vs. the run and have given up 16 rushing touchdowns.

-- Pierre Thomas, RB, Saints, at Redskins: With 11 rushing attempts in each of the last three games, this is another hunch play. Thomas has been very effective when he's gotten the chance (5.6 yards per carry and seven touchdowns on 136 touches this season). He should reach the end zone against the Redskins (No. 25 vs. the run).

-- Jonathan Stewart, RB, Panthers, vs. Buccaneers: Whether Williams sits or not (although I'm guessing he will), Stewart should be a quality play vs. the Bucs, against whom he rushed for 110 yards and a TD in Week 6. Tampa ranks 30th stopping (not stopping?) the run and has allowed 12 rushing TDs.

-- Jason Avant, WR, Eagles, at Falcons: He has 17 catches for 276 yards and a TD in his last three games, and his role should expand with DeSean Jackson out. The Falcons rank 27th vs. the pass.

More matchups I like:

Jay Cutler, QB, Bears, vs. Rams; Cadillac Williams, RB, Buccaneers, at Panthers; Knowshon Moreno, RB, Broncos, at Chiefs; Percy Harvin and Sidney Rice, WRs, Vikings, at Cardinals; Pierre Garcon, WR, Colts, vs. Titans; Michael Crabtree, WR, 49ers, at Seahawks

Three to sit

If you have a decent backup, these starters should take a seat for a week:

-- Tony Romo, QB, Cowboys, at Giants:
Two reasons: 1. It's December (let's just say it's not a good month for Romo). 2. Romo threw for 127 yards, one TD and three picks in Week 2 against the Giants. I know New York is a different team now, but it's a must-win for the hosts, and Romo never seems to play well in these moments.

-- Beanie Wells and Tim Hightower, RBs, Cardinals, vs. Vikings: One week, Wells is productive (the rookie had three touchdowns in a two-game span prior to his dud of a Week 12). The next, it's Hightower, who scored his first TD in four games last week. The latter has been bothered by a thumb injury, and the Vikings are always strong against the run (No. 2, only three rushing TDs allowed).

More matchups I don’t like:

Kevin Smith, RB, Lions, at Bengals; Brandon Jacobs, RB, Giants, vs. Cowboys

Last week

The start list had a pair of hits in LaDainian Tomlinson (39 yards rushing, two TDs) and Jamaal Charles (93 yards rushing, one TD, three catches for 54 yards). Carson Palmer threw for 110 yards and a TD (not as well as we expected vs. the Browns), Marion Barber (61 yards rushing, two catches for 41 yards) was effective in limited opportunites (but still not a productive fantasy play), and Michael Crabtree (four catches for 54 yards) was a dud.

The sit list was right on Brandon Jacobs (27 yards rushing, three catches for 30 yards), correct on Steve Slaton in non-PPR formats (57 yards rushing, four catches for 49 yards) and way off on Knowshon Moreno (88 yards rushing, one TD, two catches for 19 yards).


1. Peyton Manning, Colts, vs. Titans (No. 31 vs. the pass)
2. Tom Brady, Patriots, at Dolphins (No. 23)
3. Philip Rivers, Chargers, at Browns (No. 24)
4. Drew Brees, Saints, at Redskins (No. 1)
5. Brett Favre, Vikings, at Cardinals (No. 29)
6. Matt Schaub, Texans, at Jaguars (No. 26)
7. Donovan McNabb, Eagles, at Falcons (No. 27)
8. Aaron Rodgers, Packers, vs. Ravens (No. 12)
9. Carson Palmer, Bengals, vs. Lions (No. 32)
10. x-Ben Roethlisberger, Steelers, vs. Raiders (No. 17)
11. Kyle Orton, Broncos, at Chiefs (No. 30)
12. x-Kurt Warner, Cardinals, vs. Vikings (No. 19)
13. Jay Cutler, Bears, vs. Rams (No. 22)
14. Matt Hasselbeck, Seahawks, vs. 49ers (No. 28)
15. Tony Romo, Cowboys, at Giants (No. 4)
16. Alex Smith, 49ers, at Seahawks (No. 25)
17. Eli Manning, Giants, vs. Cowboys (No. 21)
18. Joe Flacco, Ravens, at Packers (No. 6)
19. David Garrard, Jaguars, vs. Texans (tied for No. 14)
20. Vince Young, Titans, at Colts (No. 20)
x-Make sure Warner and Roethlisberger aren’t last-minute scratches.


1. Maurice Jones-Drew, Jaguars, vs. Texans (No. 22 vs. the run)
2. Chris Johnson, Titans, at Colts (No. 15)
3. Adrian Peterson, Vikings, at Cardinals (No. 14)
4. Rashard Mendenhall, Steelers, vs. Raiders (No. 31)
5. x-Steven Jackson, Rams, at Bears (No. 24)
6. Frank Gore, 49ers, at Seahawks (No. 18)
7. Cedric Benson, Bengals, vs. Lions (No. 19)
8. Ray Rice, Ravens, at Packers (No. 4)
9. LaDainian Tomlinson, Chargers, at Browns (No. 29)
10. Jonathan Stewart, Panthers, vs. Buccaneers (No. 30)
11. Joseph Addai, Colts, vs. Titans (No. 7)
12. Ricky Williams, Dolphins, vs. Patriots (No. 16)
13. Matt Forte, Bears, vs. Rams (No. 28)
14. LeSean McCoy, Eagles, at Falcons (No. 23)
15. Laurence Maroney, Patriots, at Dolphins (No. 12)
16. Knowshon Moreno, Broncos, at Chiefs (No. 27)
17. Jamaal Charles, Chiefs, vs. Broncos (No. 17)
18. Ryan Grant, Packers, vs. Ravens (No. 6)
19. Pierre Thomas, Saints, at Redskins (No. 25)
20. Marion Barber, Cowboys, at Giants (No. 11)
21. Jerious Norwood, Falcons, vs. Eagles (No. 8)
22. Cadillac Williams, Buccaneers, at Panthers (No. 26)
23. Brandon Jacobs, Giants, vs. Cowboys (No. 9)
24. Rock Cartwright, Redskins, vs. Saints (No. 20)
x-Make sure Jackson (back injury) is active.

1. Randy Moss, Patriots, at Dolphins (No. 23 vs. the pass)
2. Reggie Wayne, Colts, vs. Titans (No. 31)
3. Andre Johnson, Texans, at Jaguars (No. 26)
4. Chad Ochocinco, Bengals, vs. Lions (No. 32)
5. Wes Welker, Patriots, at Dolphins (No. 23)
6. Brandon Marshall, Broncos, at Chiefs (No. 30)
7. Larry Fitzgerald, Cardinals, vs. Vikings (No. 19)
8. Marques Colston, Saints, at Redskins (No. 1)
9. Hines Ward, Steelers, vs. Raiders (No. 17)
10. Vincent Jackson, Chargers, at Browns (No. 24)
11. Donald Driver, Packers, vs. Ravens (No. 12)
12. Jason Avant, Eagles, at Falcons (No. 27)
13. Mike Sims-Walker, Jaguars, vs. Texans (tied for No. 14)
14. Calvin Johnson, Lions, at Bengals (No. 16)
15. Percy Harvin, Vikings, at Cardinals (No. 29)
16. Steve Smith, Giants, vs. Cowboys (No. 21)
17. x-Roddy White, Falcons, vs. Eagles (No. 9)
18. Miles Austin, Cowboys, at Giants (No. 4)
19. Anquan Boldin, Cardinals, vs. Vikings (No. 19)
20. Steve Smith, Panthers, vs. Buccaneers (No. 11)
21. Derrick Mason, Ravens, at Packers
22. Sidney Rice, Vikings, at Cardinals (No. 29)
23. T.J. Houshmandzadeh, Seahawks, vs. 49ers (No. 28)
24. Greg Jennings, Packers, vs. Ravens (No. 12)
25. Nate Burleson, Seahawks, vs. 49ers (No. 28)
26. Santonio Holmes, Steelers, vs. Raiders (No. 17)
27. Chris Chambers, Chiefs, vs. Broncos (No. 5)
28. Pierre Garcon, Colts, vs. Titans (No. 31)
29. Michael Crabtree, 49ers, at Seahawks (No. 25)
30. Jeremy Maclin, Eagles, at Falcons (No. 27)
31. Devin Hester, Bears, vs. Rams (No. 22)
32. Antonio Bryant, Buccaneers, at Panthers (No. 3)
33. Mario Manningham, Giants, vs. Cowboys (No. 21)
34. Donnie Avery, Rams, at Bears (tied for No. 14)
35. Kenny Britt, Titans, at Colts (No. 20)
36. Santana Moss, Redskins, vs. Saints (No. 18)
x-Make sure White (knee injury) is active.

In this week’s column, we break down five things to watch, along with five waiver-wire acquisitions, heading into the final week of the regular season in fantasy. The link also includes this week’s audiocast with Kleps and Sports Editor Mark Podolski.

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