Week 14 was not kind to running backs in terms of injuries. If you were lucky enough to survive this round in your fantasy playoffs, you might find yourself in need of a replacement for the next one in Week 15.
As always, practice reports throughout the week will provide better hints as to players' statuses for Sunday, but here are the early reports following Week 14:
Peyton Hillis, RB, Broncos: At the start of the season, most fantasy owners didn't even know who Peyton Hillis was, and it's a virtual certainty that he was not on any fantasy roster. But by Week 14, after stepping up for a team that had been decimated by injuries at the running back position, Hillis was owned in more than 80 percent of ESPN.com fantasy leagues.
Sadly, there's no reason to own him any longer, outside of keeper leagues. ESPN analyst Chris Mortensen reported Monday that Hillis is done for the remainder of the season because of a hamstring injury. On Sunday, Hillis was stepped on after a catch and ended up in an awkward splitlike hyperextended position on his right leg, resulting in the injury. Hillis expressed optimism after the game, but tests proved otherwise, and he'll be placed on injured reserve in the next day or two.
With Hillis out, the Broncos could turn to Selvin Young (nearing recovery from a groin injury), Tatum Bell (who stepped in Sunday after Hillis was injured) or P.J. Pope, who recently missed time because of a rib injury. Stay tuned for practice reports late in the week to see how the Denver lineup is shaking out.
Brandon Jacobs, RB, Giants: Two weeks ago, the Giants were concerned enough about the health of Jacobs' knee that they played it safe and sat him out in Week 12. And last year, Jacobs sprained the medial collateral ligament in his right knee and missed several weeks.
Well, on Sunday, Jacobs gave the Giants another scare when he appeared to injure his left knee during the third quarter. Although he did not return to the game, Jacobs did not appear overly concerned about this latest setback, telling the New York Daily News that he does this "almost every game, so I knew what it was." Jacobs added, "I could've [come back in], but why? We couldn't get anything going." Interestingly, this is not the knee that Jacobs injured last year (and then reportedly reinjured this year), yet his comments would suggest this knee has not been entirely ailment-free, either. With Derrick Ward and Ahmad Bradshaw available, there was no reason to force an impaired Jacobs back into the lineup and risk more serious injury. Despite Jacobs' comments, it remains to be seen whether he will be well enough to play in Week 15. Be sure to have an insurance option ready, just in case.
Other noteworthy injuries:
• Even after their victory over the Jets in San Francisco on Sunday, the 49ers were not all smiles after the game. Running back Frank Gore was forced out of the game early because of an ankle injury, and Matt Maiocco of the Santa Rosa Press Democrat reports that Gore was moving around quite slowly in the locker room afterward. The injury is being called an ankle sprain/contusion, and early X-rays were reportedly negative, but his status for Week 15 remains unclear. According to Maiocco, Gore really wants to play Sunday when the team travels to his hometown of Miami, but whether he is able to play is unknown at this point.
• Vikings quarterback Gus Frerotte left Sunday's game because of an apparent lower back injury. Frerotte could be seen receiving some treatment on the sideline but eventually was carted off to the locker room and did not return to the game. Coach Brad Childress did not comment on Frerotte's potential availability for Week 15, but the quarterback is expected to undergo additional tests Monday. Tarvaris Jackson came in when Frerotte went out and likely would start Sunday in his place if necessary.
• Redskins running back Clinton Portis had a laundry list of injuries headed into a tough Sunday night matchup with the Ravens, and he certainly didn't seem to feel any better as the game went on. Portis struggled in the first half, then sat out the majority of the second half. Although no additional injury for Portis has been reported, it seemed logical, given his (and his team's) struggles to move the ball on the ground and the team's inability to keep him off the field and out of harm's way.
• The Ravens actually had Willis McGahee in the game at running back for a while Sunday night, but that ended when McGahee suffered a stinger on his right side in the fourth quarter. Ray Rice was in and out of the game with his own ailments, and when the Ravens ran, the bulk of the work went to Le'Ron McClain. McClain likely will continue to get the bulk of the work for the remainder of your fantasy season, but check back for updates on McGahee's and Rice's statuses later in the week.
Be sure to check back here throughout the week as we update these and other injuries. New Orleans heads to Chicago on Thursday, so be sure to set your lineup in advance. Stop by the injury chats (11 a.m. ET Tuesday and Friday) to discuss the status of your injured players. Hope to see you there!