Matt Schaub left the Broncos game with shoulder and elbow injuries, an aching head and 1.9 ears. When he takes the first snap on Sunday, can we officially put to rest any notion that he’s not tough enough to play a full 16-game season? If the guy can play, he’ll play.
Big things were expected from Daniel Thomas when Miami selected him in the second round of the 2011 draft. But injuries and Reggie Bush’s stellar play conspired to ruin his rookie season. Now, just as Thomas seemed set for at least one start in his place, Bush is back on track to play against Arizona. If Bush starts, he’d be tough to bench. But in a possible time-share, both RBs carry risk, given the stout defense being played in the desert these days.
While I was in Chicago this week for the Ryder Cup (brag, brag), all eyes were on Matt Forte, who claims he will be ready to rumble on Monday night. His timing may be impeccable, as Michael Bush has been experiencing pain in his shoulder. Dallas is a tough matchup; but if Forte starts, he belongs in your lineup.
Willis McGahee has been limited in practice this week with sore ribs, but he’s expected to play. But keep an eye out for rookie Ronnie Hillman, who just needs an opening to stake his claim to a sizeable role in the Broncos’ backfield. Likened to Darren Sproles, Hillman has the potential to flourish in a Peyton Manning-led offense.
Brace yourself for this shocking news: Beanie Wells is hurt. Ryan Williams now gets his chance to claim the job for himself, for good. We’ve seen this coming since the preseason, and there’s every reason to believe we’ve seen the last of Wells as the Cardinals’ starting back. Williams may get off to a slow start against Miami’s third-ranked run defense, but the Rams and Bills are on deck.
Kenny Britt is still having trouble with his ankle and is sounding iffy about his availability on Sunday. He’d face more trouble in the form of the Texans secondary when his team heads to Houston, so keep him stowed away on your bench until he proves he’s back to full strength.
It looks like Jeremy Maclin is fully recovered from his hip pointer and will be an excellent start against the Giants’ secondary.
Hakeem Nicks (foot) practiced Thursday and should be in your lineup on Sunday. Ramses Barden is still worth keeping around, but should only be started as a bye-week or injury replacement [UPDATE: Nicks had a set-back and is now officially out for Sunday. Barden is a good proxy, though Domenik Hixon will also be available and could steal some targets.]
Keep an eye on the game-day inactives for Jared Cook’s status. He’s dealing with a shoulder injury, and will likely be a game-time decision.
SATURDAY NEWS: Time to go kicker shopping if you own Nate Kaeding. He's out with a groin injury. Nick Novak will take his place, and is a good option. See who else is available first, but Novak is a good fall-back.
Auditions unofficially begin this week for the starting role in the Jets’ backfield. Shonn Greene’s 2.8 yards per carry aren’t cutting it, so Bilal Powell and Joe McKnight will get a chance to show what they can do. If one of them steps up, Greene’s days will be numbered. If you can trade him before Sunday’s game for anyone of value, do it.
Ahmad Bradshaw will be back in the starting lineup this week, but Andre Brown has earned a regular spot in the rotation. It’s too early to say how the carries will shake out – it could vary on a game-by-game basis – but Bradshaw owners celebrating the departure of Brandon Jacobs have a new nemesis, and his name is Andre.
Keep an eye on Jerome Simpson, who will play his first game as a Viking after serving his three-game suspension. Minnesota is counting on Simpson to be the deep threat they’ve lacked for years. He rarely made waves during his four seasons in Cincinnati, but stranger things have happened. (See Lloyd, Brandon, in his first year in Denver.)