Adrian Peterson and Toby Gerhart
The reigning MVP will likely miss Minnesota's Week 15 game against the Eagles after suffering a mid-foot sprain in the team's loss to the Ravens. The mid-foot is made up of five tarsometatarsal joints, formed where the metatarsal bones of the foot join with the cuboid bone and the three cuneiform bones. The linchpin of these joints is the second joint, which is stabilized by a strong ligament known as Lisfranc's ligament. Lisfranc injuries have become commonplace in the NFL with running backs Maurice Jones-Drew, DeMarco Murray, and Darren McFadden all missing time with the injury. Fortunately X-rays and a MRI revealed the Lisfranc joint is uncompromised. A CT scan also came back negative, meaning surgery will not be required. It also cracks the door open for a possible Peterson return though he will still have to properly manage the effects of the sprain. The most common associated symptoms with a mid-foot sprain include pain and instability and attempting to play through these issues would elevate the risk of a more serious injury. With the Vikings eliminated from postseason contention there's little reason for the team to gamble with Peterson's health. Fantasy owners lucky enough to still be playing should already have begun looking for suitable alternatives.
Those options may not include Peterson's backup who performed admirably in his absence. Gerhart rushed for 89 yards and score against Baltimore but tweaked his hamstring late in the game and will be questionable entering the week. However head coach Leslie Frazier did not seem overly concerned about the injury and the team is optimistic about his availability. However if Gerhart cannot overcome the minor hamstring strain and remains limited in practice, the Vikings would be forced to turn to Matt Asiata. Asiata has a total of three carries over the past two seasons and should be considered as a high-risk option at this point.
Gronk is once again sidelined after suffering a torn anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) and medial collateral ligament (ACL) in his right knee during New England's win over Cleveland. The Pro Bowl tight end missed the first six games of the season recovering from offseason surgeries on his back and forearm but, unlike other ACL injuries, his previous ailments did not factor into new injury. Gronkowski suffered a contact injury, meaning the force that tore both ligaments was generated from an outside source; in this case Browns defensive back T.J. Ward. Ward struck the outside of Gronkowski's right knee just after it was planted in the turf. The rigid kinetic chain took on the force but it was just too much for the ligaments to absorb, pushing them past their yield point. Gronkowski will undergo surgery in the near future and will be expected to miss between 8-to-12 months recovering. Several players including Adrian Peterson and Wes Welker have challenged that timeline, returning earlier than expected. However Peterson was a noticeable exception and Welker struggled early on following his return. Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III also came back ahead of schedule but has not quite returned to the level of play he displayed in his rookie campaign. Look for Gronk's 2014 status to mirror this year's, as questions surrounding his health will linger throughout training camp and preseason. In the meantime, Tom Brady's value takes a hit, as recently signed D.J. Williams does not have the same pedigree as Gronkowski. Look for Shane Vereen to see an increase in responsibilities, making him a valuable asset in all formats, but particularly in PPR leagues.
The Lions running back was a late scratch after aggravating a calf strain in pre-game warm-ups. If you witnessed the snowy conditions that ravaged Philadelphia, it is easy to understand just how easily Bush suffered the setback. Cold weather has a negative effect on the body. When a player is subjected to extremely low temperatures their muscles weaken and lose flexibility, increasing the likelihood for strains. Furthermore muscles often fatigue quicker in colder temperatures making it more difficult for athletes to sustain a high-level of performance in the cold or snowy conditions. The conditions of a snow and ice covered playing surface also increase injury risk as players have a difficult time gaining traction. Monitor Bush's availability throughout the week to see if he can move past this setback. With the Lions returning home to the sheltered confines of Ford Field, weather should not be an issue.
Tavon Austin: The explosive rookie is considered day-to-day with an ankle injury but the team appears optimistic about his ability to play Sunday against the Saints. Austin has been a feast-or-famine player and a difficult matchup coupled with this injury makes him a considerably risky play for Week 15.
Jay Cutler: Cutler continues to make progress in his recovery from a high ankle sprain and recently received assurance from his head coach that he remains the starter despite the solid play of back up Josh McCown. Head coach Marc Trestman went on to say that Cutler would need to complete a full week of practice before he can return, a task he could not finish last week. Cutler participated on a limited basis in two practices for the team's Week 14 game against Dallas.
Maurice Jones-Drew: MJD suffered a hamstring in the fourth quarter of Jacksonville's win over Houston. The team has stated he will not practice until Friday, meaning he will have gone a full week without stepping on the field since the Jags played on Thursday. It's not looking good for Jones-Drew setting up Jordan Todman for his first career start.
Aaron Rodgers: Like last week, Rodgers will undergo scans and tests to determine if his injured collarbone can withstand impact. If he receives medical clearance he becomes a must start as the Packers face a Cowboys defense that has given up over 400 yards passing to four different quarterbacks this season.
Wes Welker: Welker seems unlikely to play this week, especially with the Broncos facing a short week of preparation for a Thursday night game against the Chargers. Welker suffered his second concussion in the past four weeks Sunday and will once again be placed into the league-mandated concussion protocol. Remember the effects of concussions are cumulative, meaning the symptoms of the two recent head injuries will build on one another. Welker's symptoms will likely be more impactful and take longer to dissipate making a quick recovery more challenging.
Jeff Stotts is a Certified Athletic Trainer, MAT, PES and the Injury Analyst for Rotowire.com. You can follow him on twitter @RotoWireATC.