Saturday, November 9, 2013

Excerpts from 4th & Long plus updated injury news

Here are a few snippets from yesterday's 4th & Long column for Sporting News' Fantasy Source, along with updated injury news.

Though Josh McCown earned his pay during Jay Cutler's absence, the starter is expected to return this week. That's great news for those left in the lurch by Aaron Rodgers' injury, as well as owners of the Bears' wideouts. Cutler (groin) has a tantalizing matchup with the Lions, so don't hesitate to roll with him if he's active. [Update: Cutler is listed as probable.]

With EJ Manuel (knee) back under center, Pittsburgh can't afford to stack the line against Buffalo's dual-threat rushers. Besides, they've coughed up three rushing TDs each to Oakland and New England in consecutive weeks. Spiller may not be 100 percent yet, but he finally looked good enough Sunday to merit a starting assignment. Fred Jackson remains an every-week play.

After adding a back injury to his hamstring woes, Arian Foster won't be ready for this weekend's tilt. That would normally be good news for Ben Tate, but he remains a very risky bet while he fights through four cracked ribs. Tate admits the pain is severe, which is not what you want to hear from your starting RB. Third-stringer Dennis Johnson looked good on Monday night and could see a heavier load against Arizona, which has been very stingy against opposing rushers. [Update: Foster has already been ruled out.  And with talk of possible back surgery on the horizon, it's entirely possible he's done for the season.  Foster owners should plan accordingly.]

Those still holding out hope for Doug Martin to return this year can give up.  He's been placed on IR.  It's Mike James or bust!

Darren Sproles looks to be on track to play against the Cowboys this weekend, after suffering a concussion last Sunday. He is practicing fully and you have to like his matchup if he does, indeed, suit up. [Update: Sproles is probable.]

Andre Brown (leg) is still widely available and he should see his first action of the season against the Raiders. The Giants are expected to ease him back slowly, but it shouldn't take long for him to supplant Peyton Hillis (and Brandon Jacobs) in the backfield pecking order. Scoop Brown up now and avoid the waiver-wire competition next week. [Update: Jacobs is listed as doubtful this week.  Chances are, he's done-ski.]

On a related note, David Wilson (neck) is still owned in nearly three out of four leagues, and most of those aren't keepers. The Giants ended the suspense this week by placing him on IR, so redrafters should press eject now.

Giovani Bernard's owners had to be thrilled with the rookie's breakout performance in Miami, but they need to temper their expectations this week due to the rib injury that knocked him out late in that game. He's still hurting and the Ravens' stingy run defense is up next. If you have a safer option, better take it.  [Update: Bernard is still listed as questionable.  If he plays, expect a limited workload.]
Putting aside the bullying controversy for just a moment, let's just say I'm glad I don't have to count on any Dolphins RBs trying to gain yardage behind that depleted offensive line.

I have a hard time getting excited about Maurice Jones-Drew's prospects against a Titans defense that he has historically torched. Remember how "everyone" thought he'd light up the Colts in Week 4? I'm not sure 23 rushing yards could light a candle. Go ahead, make his day and start him. I'll pass.

Roddy White (ankle, hamstring) may be confident that he can play on Sunday, but we have scant reason to be confident in his ability to produce. Let him sit out until he shows us something we can hang our hats on.  [Update: He still says he's going to play, but White is officially listed as questionable.]

A sore neck is limiting Victor Cruz's practice time this week, but he does not appear to be in serious jeopardy of missing Sunday's contest with the Raiders. [Update: Cruz is listed as probable.  Start him if you've got him.]

It won't be long before Nate Burleson returns to action after recovering from the auto accident in which he broke his forearm. Once he gets back in game shape, he should reclaim his role as Matthew Stafford's second-favorite receiver. That could make Burleson useful down the stretch to those needing WR help.  [Update: He has been ruled out this week.]

Julius Thomas is probable for Sunday's tilt with the Chargers.

PERSONAL NOTES (Baylor Bears edition)

TO ROBERT GRIFFIN III: It's great to see you nearly back to pre-injury form. Too bad you don't play defense.

TO TERRANCE WILLIAMS: Now that you've gotten your feet wet, you're well on your way to being the top rookie wideout in Fantasyland. Natch.

TO SOONER NATION: There's always next year. Sic 'em, Bears!