Here are some excerpts from my 4th & Long column for Sporting News, along with other news and injury updates from around the league:
Matt Forte (knee) appears on track to play against
the Vikings. The injury knocked him out of Sunday’s game briefly, but he
returned. So unless he has a setback in practice, he should be good to
go. [Update: Forte is listed as probable.]
Zac Stacy has satisfied all the NFL's concussion protocols and has been cleared to play this week. It's safe to put him back in your lineup against the 49ers.
Ryan Mathews has been
limited in practice due to his sore hamstring. (Stop me if you’ve heard
this one before.) Facing a Bengals defense that has allowed just four
rushing scores all year, it’s best to look elsewhere for RB production
this week. Say, for example, Danny Woodhead (just two of his seven touchdowns have come on the ground). [Update: Mathews is listed as probable, but I still don't like him this week.]
Knowshon Moreno has returned to practicing in full and is probable for Sunday's tilt with the Chiefs. Assuming he has no setbacks, he belongs in your lineup, despite the tough matchup.
Darren Sproles is fully expected to play Monday night in a tough matchup in Seattle.
Ben Tate is also probable. How his touches will stack up against Dennis Johnson's is another story altogether.
Even with Daniel Thomas out due to a bad ankle injury, you can’t rely on Lamar Miller to produce. Especially against the Jets’ stout run defense.
Peyton Hillis will be the primary backup to Andre Brown this week, with Brandon Jacobs ruled out due to a knee injury. No, you don't want Hillis in your lineup. Just keeping you informed.
Lance Dunbar is likely done for the season after his best performance of the year, thanks to a knee injury incurred during the Thanksgiving game. That's good news for DeMarco Murray's owners, who would have had to worry about Dunbar eating into Murray's carries down the stretch.
DeAngelo Williams is in jeopardy of missing Sunday's game due to a quad injury. Jonathan Stewart is dealing with a bum ankle. And Mike Tolbert has a knee issue. All are listed as questionable for this weekend.
I'm down on Andre Ellington anyway, given Rashard Mendenhall's recent resurgence. But a knee injury apparently incurred during practice this week has Ellington shaping up as a game-time decision on Sunday. Stay away.
The concussion suffered by Rashad Jennings in the Thanksgiving contest could open the door for Darren McFadden’s
return to his starting role. That is, assuming Run DMC can avoid
tripping over his dog or slipping in the shower in the interim.
Hakeem Nicks (abdomen) is
getting in some practice time this week and should be active against the
Redskins. Then again, we thought the same thing last week before he was
declared inactive. Nicks has a great matchup, but it’s hard to trust
him right now.
Keep an eye on Antonio Gates’ status as Sunday approaches. He’s dealing with a bum hammy, which could lead to more action for his promising backup, Ladarius Green.
Julius Thomas has also been
limited in practice with his knee injury; but he is currently expected
to be ready for the showdown in Kansas City. [Update: Thomas is listed as questionable but still appears on track to play.]
Jordan Reed is expected to
return on Sunday night against the Giants. Reed is recovering from the
third concussion of his short career. Get him back in your lineup, but
keep that worrisome history in mind when drafting next year.
It’s hard to sit a receiver of Andre Johnson’s
caliber, but it’s even harder to argue with his own assessment: “We
suck as an offense.” Facing a surging New England defense that just
clamped down impressively on Peyton Manning and his potent receiving corps, Case Keenum could be in big trouble this week. Which means Johnson could very well suck again.
Aaron Dobson has already been ruled out due to a foot injury.
David Akers owners, be warned. The Lions are auditioning potential replacements for the struggling kicker during their extended break between Thanksgiving and Week 14.