Week 17 fantasy injury report: Cowboys

With the NFC East crown on the line against the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 17, the Dallas Cowboys have two very significant injury situations that we've been monitoring all week.

Tony Romo, QB, (back): On Tuesday, I outlined the concerns for Romo given the news of his herniated disc and any potential nerve compromise. After undergoing an epidural injection early in the week, the key would be whether he could make enough real improvement to allow him to take the field by Sunday. It appears the team is still awaiting a final verdict in that regard, but as of Thursday, the outlook is somewhat gloomy.

According to ESPN's Ed Werder, Romo has only "slightly improved" following the injection and other treatment. He has not attended practices or game-planning meetings. The team is still leaving the door open for Romo to demonstrate improvement, but Kyle Orton continues to take the first-team reps. As recommended Tuesday, fantasy owners should make alternate plans.

Dez Bryant, WR, (back): Romo isn't the only member of the Cowboys dealing with a back problem. Of course, the issue Bryant is dealing with is long-standing, and he has managed to play despite the condition several times this season. Bryant's problem has centered around back spasms and muscular tightness; he has not reportedly experienced pain radiating into his leg, which suggests that there isn't a nerve compromise as in Romo's case.

Still, Bryant aggravated his back recently, and was removed from practice early Thursday to instead focus on rehab. For his part, Bryant told ESPNDallas.com's Calvin Watkins there is "no doubt" he will play, and his effectiveness throughout the season -- even after being limited in practice sessions because of his back -- should encourage fantasy owners. After all, if Orton is under center Sunday as appears to be likely, he will need some help from the big playmaker.