How far the mighty have fallen. So many draft day stars have been taken down by injury, costing fantasy owners anywhere from one or two games (Arian Foster, who has since recovered beautifully) to an entire season (Jamaal Charles, so much potential, so sad). Perhaps the worst status is that of fantasy limbo where owners continue the hand-wringing over whether a player will or won't return in any given week (Peyton Hillis headed for a sixth straight absence, Jahvid Best headed for his fifth).
Add Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson to the list of stars who have suffered an injury that will lead to missed time (Grade 1 high ankle sprain). While Peterson has not officially been ruled out, the nature of the injury is such that no one expects him to suit up. He is in a walking boot and may test the ankle Friday, but it would be hard to imagine him being game ready by Sunday.
Earlier this year there was optimism that St. Louis Rams quarterback Sam Bradford would play the week following a high ankle sprain; he missed two games. Dallas Cowboys running back Felix Jones returned last week after missing four weeks with his high ankle sprain. While no two injuries are identical, the concern over proper healing of a high ankle sprain to prevent future problems and the demands of the running back position suggest Peterson will miss this week and perhaps longer.
The Buffalo Bills saw their star running back Fred Jackson go down with a calf bruise. Jackson was reportedly very sore Monday and is being called day-to-day by the team. Any bleeding in the calf is compounded by the tight muscle compartments in the area, making it difficult to eliminate swelling. It would not be surprising if Jackson is out in Week 12.
The Chicago Bears suffered perhaps the most devastating loss when they discovered quarterback Jay Cutler broke his right thumb, an injury that will require surgery. While the Bears are still leaving the door open for Cutler to return this season, the likelihood of that happening is small. Between waiting for the bone to heal, restoring range of motion and strength sufficient to both grip the ball and guide the ball when throwing, the timetable normally extends beyond six weeks. Although the Bears will wait and see how Cutler's progress evolves, from a fantasy perspective there is no reason to wait. Time, as they say, to move on.
With the altered holiday schedule resulting in three Thursday NFL games, we focus on those injury concerns here:
Green Bay at Detroit
• Detroit Lions running back Jahvid Best will not play Thursday. He is still recovering from symptoms following a concussion and has not yet practiced. He has been making strides, appearing at the team facility and watching some practice, but has steps to clear before returning to a game situation. Kevin Smith had a sensational game last Sunday and is expected to get plenty of work again Thursday.
• Wide receiver Calvin Johnson gave everyone a scare when he didn't practice Tuesday, the most significant practice heading into a Thursday game. Apparently he was getting some additional rest for his ankle, but Paula Pasche of the Oakland Press reported via Twitter that Johnson says he will, in fact, play.
• The Green Bay Packers had two major fantasy player injury concerns coming out of Week 11. Receiver Greg Jennings had a bruised knee but was back in practice Tuesday and "running just fine," according to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. Head coach Mike McCarthy has already indicated Jennings will play Thursday. Running back James Starks came out of Sunday's game with two injuries, sprains to both his right knee and ankle. Starks was in practice Tuesday as well but the Journal-Sentinel described him as appearing "cautious." The decision for Starks will come down to gametime, but there is a decent chance he does not play.
Miami at Dallas
• The Dallas Cowboys will likely be without wide receiver Miles Austin again Thursday. He has not yet returned to practice following his hamstring injury and cannot be expected to be running full speed in two days. Sitting out this week gives him another week and a half of rest. His chances of returning in Week 13 seem much better.
• Running back Felix Jones returned from his high ankle sprain and seemed to survive Week 11 without incident. Of course he didn't carry a full load, probably wise given that he was coming off a month away from the game. With DeMarco Murray playing as well as he has, the ratio of carries is likely to stay as it is, at least for the time being.
San Francisco at Baltimore
• San Francisco 49ers running back Frank Gore started last Sunday and had no reported problems with his knee or ankle following the game. According to CSNBayArea.com, Gore came out of the game once the 49ers were up 23-0, probably a smart move knowing the next game was four days and a coast-to-coast plane trip away. Expect Gore to start again Thursday night.
• The Baltimore Ravens were without the services Sunday of linebacker and team leader Ray Lewis, who sat out the game with a toe injury. According to the Carroll County Times, Lewis says he is getting treatment and doing all he can "to prepare to play on Thursday." He says he is making some progress but there may not be enough time to make the progress he needs to play in a game. A decision on him may not come down until pregame Thursday.
Happy Thanksgiving and we'll have the latest injury updates affecting Week 12 in the Saturday blog!