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Injury Analysis: 2007 NFL Weekly Injury Report-Week 16

Will Carroll

Will Carroll writes about fantasy sports for RotoWire.

RotoWire Injury Report

Will Carroll
RotoWire Injury Expert

If you think doing the Injury Report from a boat a couple weeks back was good, try doing it from the Baseball Winter Meetings in Nashville, where the hotel is so big it has it's own zip code ... no, I'm not kidding. Here are the 10 biggest injuries of the week:

If you need a comp for Brett Favre, this might be the only time that Eli Manning is going to be the best one. Manning came back quickly and effectively from a mild shoulder separation earlier this season. Favre's injury is described by sources as "significantly less significant" - their words, not mine - than Manning's injury. Favre is expected to play to continue his streak and while Aaron Rodgers will be ready to come in at the slightest hint of problem, Favre and the Pack aren't doing this just to continue the streak. The biggest concern was the radiating problem that had pain and numbness in Favre's forearm and fingers. Yes, pain and numbness are almost opposite, but with nerve problems -- and a lot go through the shoulder -- they can alternate, making it very tough to treat in the acute sense. Watch to see how (and if) Favre practices this week before committing to him as your fantasy starter.

Bob Kravitz of the Indy Star is a nice guy, but he makes the job tough this week. In what he clearly labeled as an opinion column, he opined that Marvin Harrison could be out until the playoffs based on the idea that the No. 2 seed in the AFC was pretty well sewn up. While the Colts could win out without him, it remains to be seen if Harrison will be out quite that long. While it's possible, that would be about three steps beyond conservative. A more likely scenario is that Harrison will be worked in sometime in the next couple weeks with a fuller game of work in Week 15 or 16 to get his timing down. What's more important to watch now is whether Harrison gets back into practice. Dungy is sticking with his rule that Harrison must practice all three days without limitation. Whether or not that occurs, his work with Peyton Manning and Reggie Wayne will be a big indicator on whether he can help now or in the immediate future.

If you liked the Andre Johnson injury, you're going to love the Roy Williams injury. Williams has a sprained PCL, though not quite as severe as Johnson's. Williams is almost certain to miss the rest of the regular season, but the Lions are leaving the door open if they happen to right the ship and make the playoffs, something that will be much harder without Williams on the field. At this point, it doesn't look like surgery will be necessary, and in the longer term, this isn't something that should affect Williams in the least. If you're debating whether or not to drop Williams, it's the smart play unless you're in a keeper league.

Marshawn Lynch looks to be coming back this week, though the team is still holding the line on its very cautious stance with its rookie RB. Lynch should take the practice field and assuming no setbacks, he'd get the start this week. It's hard to judge yet what effect the ankle injury might have, but like most dynamic runners, any leg injury is going to limit the lateral movement and burst. We should get a good look at Lynch in practice, allowing us to tell whether or not he can remain effective even with the temporary limitations. My best guess at this stage is that he'll be good enough as a real and fantasy RB to get the start, but to expect a carry split similar to that we saw with Adrian Peterson and Chester Taylor last week.

While the season as a whole has been better for the Arizona Cardinals in 2007, the number and severity of the injuries has to be a concern to the team. The latest series of injuries to its top WRs have put more pressure on a running game that's been better, but hardly a match to expectations. Anquan Boldin, troubled all year by a hip injury, dislocated a toe and could miss a week. Worse, that's a painful injury that can linger much in the same way as turf toe if there was ligament damage. Keep your eye on Boldin to return to practice, then look to see that he's not hobbled even more than he has been by the hip. Larry Fitzgerald (groin) seems to have responded to the week off and has healed enough to get the start this week. With Boldin limited or out, expect Fitzgerald to see a heavy targetting.

Matt Schaub deserves combat pay. The guy has suffered through a series of injuries - hip, ankle, and now shoulder - in his first season as a starter and doesn't seem to have ever been upright this season. His dislocated non-throwing shoulder was the most painful of the bunch, it appeared, but it may not be that significant. Once reduced, Schaub didn't have significant swelling which is a decent enough first indicator that there's not much underlying damage. He'll likely have some imaging done to confirm it, but a better test will be once he tries to throw again. Yes, I said throw even though it's his non-throwing shoulder. A QB's motion might take strength on one side, but the other arm is an important cog in the machine for balance and accuracy. If Schaub can't go, Sage Rosenfels has been a solid option and given the situation, appears to be a decent pickup for at least this week.

Jon Gruden didn't pull any punches, calling some internet reports about Jeff Garcia's back out. (Hey, they call me an "internet report," I'll call Chris Mortenson an internet report.) Garcia, out with a back injury, was reported to have a hairline fracture in his spine. Either way, there's not much to go on here besides the word of Garcia and Gruden. Garcia insists he'll be ready to play this week, though given Tampa's lead in the division and the play of Luke McCown, Gruden seems to be leaning to giving Garcia another week of rest. Even if we assume the fracture scenario is correct, it's unlikely that the spine is unstable. Garcia will likely have more padding in the area anyway, so it's hard to see how the situation would play out differently. While a fracture, especially in the back, sounds much worse, the actual prognosis isn't.

The continued descent for Plaxico Burress was evident this weekend, but the Giants did find a way to win. You've probably noticed that Eli Manning isn't targeting Burress quite as much, shifting to Amani Toomer, Jeremy Shockey and Sinorice Moss more. It's an adjustment, to be sure, and one that appears to be a trend with Burress' ankle getting worse by the week. There's been talk of trying a week off to see if there's just a small improvement for the stretch drive, but given the lack of results the bye week gave, it's tough to be optimistic. Burress remains a solid red zone target, so it's tough to move him completely off a fantasy roster, but especially in PPR leagues, you have to really take a hard look at both your lineup and your roster.

So much for the controversy. Just a day after A.J. Feeley reminded everyone in Philly why he's the backup, the Eagles announced that they expect Donovan McNabb to be ready to play this week. McNabb's ankle will cost him a little bit of mobility, but it's the thumb that remains more of a concern. I spoke with a scout who thought that McNabb would have to deal with the issue much like Kurt Warner has with his elbow, focusing on the center snap and shorter passes that aren't as reliant on a tight spiral for accuracy and catchability. Practice isn't going to give us much information on how he'll perform, so if you're going to roll the dice on starting McNabb like Andy Reid is, you're guessing and hoping.

That was a terrible injury Derrick Ward took, ending what had been a solid day and season for him. Ward established that he's a viable RB option if not a starter. His fractured lower leg should heal up without significant long term consequences, plus he's enough of a north-south runner that a small loss of lateral 'hop' isn't going to be as big a deal as it would be for a smaller, more dynamic guy. Ward's done for 2007 and should be dropped. The good news for the Giants is that they expect Brandon Jacobs back this week. Watch to see whether he fully participates in the later practices this week.

Bumps and Bruises: Marc Bulger is expected to clear his neurological exam early this week and be available for Sunday. There's still some question about whether the Rams will play him, given the hits he's taken and the context of the season for the Rams. With Gus Frerotte out with a torn labrum, Brock Berlin looks to get the start ... Adrian Peterson looked pretty healthy, don't you think? ... Javon Walker? Not so healthy. His knee is still very weak ... Brodie Croyle should be back, minimizing the availability of an injured Damon Huard ... DeShaun Foster is going to lose time as his toe has healed, but his effectiveness hasn't returned ... Alex Smith is due to throw this early this week, with a determination on whether he'll be shut down for surgery by the end of the week.

Article first appeared 12/4/07