The Divisional Round is upon us, and the Rotoworld crew has everything you need to cash in DFS this weekend. Graham Barfield tells you who to target in his Divisional Round Tiers, Jeff Brubach ranks every fantasy player for the entire playoff slate, and Evan Silva breaks down every Divisional Round matchup in his award-winning Matchups Column.
As for me, I am here to shed some light on the most important injury situations facing fantasy owners heading into the weekend. The sister resource to this column is the Rotoworld News Page, which will have every inactive and all the late-breaking news up to kickoff and beyond. I also occasionally tweet about football @RMSummerlin.
Chiefs @ Patriots
*New England listed 12 players as questionable, but the big names are Rob Gronkowski (knee, back), Julian Edelman (foot), Danny Amendola (knee), Dont’a Hightower (knee), Chandler Jones (abdomen, toe), Rob Ninkovich (shin) and Sebastian Vollmer (ankle). Edelman said he was ready to go “full throttle” earlier in the week, and there is not much concern about his or Amendola’s status. Gronkowski is a bigger question. The circumstances regarding Chandler Jones’ incident Sunday and the sudden onset of Gronk’s “injuries” make his situation one difficult to predict. He was able to get in a limited practice Friday, and it is tough to imagine Gronk will sit out a playoff game. He could struggle at less than 100 percent against a strong defense, but he is a solid DFS option in a weak tight end group. Scott Chandler (knee, questionable) would get more targets if Gronk sits, but we have been down that disappointing road before. The other four questionable Patriots of note should play. Tom Brady (ankle, probable) practiced in full all week. Tre’ Jackson (knee) is out.
*Jeremy Maclin (ankle), Spencer Ware (ankle), Justin Houston (knee), Tamba Hali (knee, thumb) and Albert Wilson (hamstring) are questionable. Maclin suffered a “mild” high-ankle sprain in the Wild Card win but did not practice at all this week. Even if he plays, he is unlikely to serve as anything more than a decoy. Wilson will play and should see more targets with Maclin limited, but athletic rookie Chris Conley will see the biggest increase in work. He is a good DFS dart throw on the short slate. Ware returned to full practice Friday and will be ready to go. He has established himself as the lead back over the last two weeks. Hali will be limited if he plays, but Houston should be a full go. Laurent Duvernay-Tardif and Mitch Morse are out with concussions.
Packers @ Cardinals
*Josh Mauro (calf) and Frostee Rucker (ankle) are the only two players listed as worse than probable for a healthy Cardinals squad.
*Green Bay has a slightly different health situation. Andrew Quarless was placed on injured reserve Thursday with a knee injury, and Davante Adams is out with a sprained MCL. Jared Abbrederis will take on a bigger role with Adams out, and Randall Cobb will spend more time on the outside, meaning he will see more of Patrick Peterson. Peterson followed Cobb into the slot on a few snaps in Week 16, and it is possible he shadows Cobb even more often in this game. Sam Shields (concussion) and Quinten Rollins (quad) are questionable. Both should play, but any limitations against the Cardinals’ loaded receiver corps could prove costly. In a bit of good news, David Bakhtiari (ankle, probable) is set to return. He should provide a much stiffer test for Calais Campbell and Dwight Freeney than Don Barclay offered in the last meeting.
Seahawks @ Panthers
*Jonathan Stewart (foot) is not on the injury report this week. He should have no limitations and is always a good bet to see 20 carries. Ted Ginn was also not on the injury report early in the week, but he missed Friday’s practice with a knee injury and was listed as questionable. The missed practice is concerning after Ginn sat out the season finale, but he said after practice he is “100 percent for everything.” Fozzy Whittaker (ankle) is out.
*Like last week, Marshawn Lynch (abdomen) practiced in full in every session. Unlike last week, he actually got on the team bus and made the trip to Seattle’s playoff game. Listed as probable, it would be shocking if Lynch did not play. He is a solid DFS option even as an underdog on the road in another weak running back slate. Luke Willson (concussion) and Michael Bennett (toe) are also probable. Will Tukuafu (hamstring) is doubtful.
Steelers @ Broncos
*Brock Osweiler (knee, questionable) returned to a limited practice Friday and should be ready to back up Peyton Manning (foot, probable) against Pittsburgh. Every other Bronco on the active roster is probable or better.
*Ben Roethlisberger (throwing shoulder, questionable) should play after getting in a full practice Friday, but Antonio Brown (concussion) and DeAngelo Williams (foot) are both out, meaning the Steelers will be without their top receiver and top two running backs against the best defense in the league. The Broncos DST is the safest bet on the board. Even with Brown out, it is difficult to trust Martavis Bryant and especially Markus Wheaton in anything besides a cheap GPP. Fitzgerald Toussaint could lead the team in receptions.