Good morning, Fools. Merry Christmas Eve, and happy Championship Saturday!
Not sure how I feel about 13 games being played on a Saturday, with so many other things going on, but it is what it is. Let's get to the news we can use to emerge victorious this weekend. (I'm hoping none of your leagues are holding your Super Bowls in Week 17, even though I know some still make that mistake. Please, for the love of Priest Holmes, stop it!)
BIG NEWS OF THE DAY: Roy Helu has been ruled OUT of today's game due to his lower leg injuries. Evan Royster will get the start against the Vikings, which makes him a real sleeper. Minnesota's run defense is good, but not the brick wall it once was. That said, Royster has had very little experience at this level. I wouldn't rush to pin your title dreams on him, unless Helu was your last option at RB.
Big Ben is out, as he should be, against the Rams. Charlie Batch will be the Steelers' QB, which hurts Mike Wallace's and Antonio Brown's stock. I wouldn't bench Wallace ever, but Brown is expendable depending on your other options. The real beneficiary is Mendenhall, who not only has a delicious matchup, but will be leaned on even more heavily than normal given the QB situation.
After telling us all week that Felix Jones' hammy was OK, and he was just being held out of practice in an over-abundance of caution, his status is now in complete doubt. He will likely be limited under any scenario, but he may even be declared inactive if the Giants beat the Jets in the earlier game (rendering Dallas' game vs. the Eagles meaningless for postseason purposes). Regardless, Sammy Morris is slated to get a big share of the workload. Avoid Felix today.
Look for a good game from Kevin Smith, as he is very close to full health and the Lions have committed to him as their workhorse back. The DET-SD tilt should be a barn-burner, and Smith is bound to get his share of the fantasy pie.
Mark Ingram will surely be declared inactive on Monday night, leading to more split touches between Chris Ivory and Pierre Thomas.
Looks like James Starks is headed back to the lineup for Sunday night's game. The rough matchup with the Bears, and the likely shared backfield with Ryan Grant (and Brandon Saine and John Kuhn), make all Packers RBs unusable fantasy options.
On the other side, it appears that Marion Barber will be held out of the game. That makes my choice of Kahlil Bell as "flier of the week" even stronger. He's a decent flex play if you're willing (or need) to gamble a bit.
Chris Johnson has been bothered by an ankle injury all week, but he is expected to suit up today vs. the Jags. You probably have to start him, though; even if he's not 100%.
Beanie Wells (knee) is questionable to play today, but most observers believe he'll start as usual in Cincinnati.
Lance Moore aggravated his hamstring in practice Friday. Not sure how serious it is, but given the Monday night start, he's now a risky option. The last thing you want now is to be left without a backup option and have to take a goose egg in one of your WR slots.
Vincent Jackson will be a game-time decision due to a groin injury. There's a very real chance he won't play in today's later game. Plan accordingly. (Malcom Floyd and Vincent Brown are decent proxies if available.)
Don't expect Mario Manningham to play today. That adds value to both Nicks and Cruz, who face a tough secondary.
Brandon Marshall is fine and will play today. In fact, he should have a monster game against the Pats.
TE Anthony Fasano, however, will not play in the delicious matchup against New England's shoddy secondary.
That's it for now, Fools. I'll be tweeting (@ladd_biro) the inactives when they start announcing them. Good luck today, and have a blessed weekend.
About the author
Ladd Biro was named 2010 "Football Writer of the Year" by the Fantasy Sports Writers Association. Ladd's nationally syndicated columns have appeared in more than 20 publications -- including the Dallas Morning News, San Francisco Chronicle, Philadelphia Inquirer, Chicago Sun-Times and Sporting News magazine -- since 2003. During the NFL season, he can be heard nationwide on Sporting News Radio as host of the weekly "Fantasy Files" program, dispensing his unique blend of wit and wisdom. Since 2009, all his written fantasy content can be found on the Fantasy Fools blog.