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Championship Week has arrived in many leagues, while others are still fighting through their semi-final rounds this weekend. As is often the case this time of year, key injuries, especially at quarterback and wide receiver, serve as the proverbial lump of coal in many Fantasy owners' stockings. With so much riding on Week 16 outcomes, let's take a look at the latest medical outlook for all of the players that could potentially gift-wrap you a Fantasy title:
- This week's new marquee quarterback absence is Cam Newton, who was shut down after the quarterback struggled with his ailing throwing shoulder for multiple weeks. Enter Taylor Heinicke, who had 14,959 passing yards and a 132:39 TD:INT on his resume from his four years at Old Dominion. Heinicke even has a little Newton to his game, at least near the goal line, as he also compiled 22 rushing touchdowns during his college career. However, he'll come into Sunday's divisional battle versus the Falcons (Sunday, 1 p.m. ET, available on fuboTV) having thrown all of five regular-season NFL passes. His insertion into the starting lineup downgrades the Panthers' pass catchers overall, with one notable exception — Christian McCaffrey, who could see at least a slight uptick in his already robust pass-catching volume while serving as the second-year signal-caller's safety valve.
- Carson Wentz (back) will miss a second straight game for the Eagles Sunday against the Texans. Nick Foles will once again be under center in a key contest for Philadelphia's postseason hopes. Foles evoked memories of 2017's late-season Cinderella run while leading a road upset of the Rams last Sunday night. The effect of the switch at quarterback seemed to benefit Alshon Jeffery the most, as the veteran wideout racked up a season-high 160 yards while equaling a season best with eight receptions.
- The Lions' Matthew Stafford (back) is questionable for a third straight game heading into a Week 16 divisional clash against the Vikings. Stafford once again practiced in limited fashion throughout the week, but as per early Sunday reports, he's expected to suit up despite Detroit's lack of postseason aspirations. Veteran Matt Cassell would step in should Stafford suffer an unexpected setback.
- Todd Gurley (knee) is reportedly out for Sunday's game against the Cardinals. The Rams already have a division title and playoff berth locked up, and the next win by the Saints locks them out of the No. 1 seed. The scenario would leave newcomer C.J. Anderson, John Kelly and Justin Davis, the latter who's questionable with a shoulder injury himself, to share backfield duties. Local beat writer reports Friday indicated Anderson would likely serve as the lead back in Gurley's absence.
- James Conner (ankle) is officially ruled out for Sunday's interconference showdown against the Saints. However, the Steelers have to be feeling much better about the prospect of a Jaylen Samuels-helmed backfield after he ripped off 142 yards on 19 carries versus the Patriots in Week 15. The only damper in terms of potential Fantasy production is the matchup against a New Orleans run defense that ranks as the stingiest in yards allowed per game (79.1) and that's yielding just 13.57 Fantasy points per game to running backs in standard scoring formats. Still, Samuels is also highly capable of contributing through the air, compiling 12 catches for 114 yards and a touchdown in the last three games.
- The Texans' Lamar Miller (ankle) will not play Sunday against the Eagles, leaving capable veteran Alfred Blue to likely lead the backfield. However, D'Onta Foreman, activated from the PUP list Dec. 4 after completing his recovery from last season's Achilles tear, could well be active according to late-week reports.
- The Chiefs' Spencer Ware (hamstring) is doubtful for Sunday night's game against the Seahawks. His likely absence leaves Damien Williams (123 total yards, two rushing touchdowns in Week 15) as the lead back in the KC ground attack once again, while both Darrel Williams and Charcandrick West serve as backups.
- The Packers placed Aaron Jones (knee-MCL) on injured reserve this week, leaving Jamal Williams in the role of lead back for the final two games of the season. The second-year back has the ability to play on all three downs thanks to his pass-catching prowess, although Kapri Bibbs remains on hand as a change-of-pace/receiving option as well.
- The Lions' LeGarrette Blount (calf) is questionable for Sunday's divisional battle against the Vikings after practicing in limited fashion over the last two days of the week. With backfield mate Kerryon Johnson (ankle) having been placed on injured reserve this week as well, a Blount absence would mean extended work for Zach Zenner and Theo Riddick against a Minnesota defense that's allowed a modest 15.86 Fantasy points per game to running backs in standard scoring formats. Zenner has notably taken 22 carries for 99 yards and two touchdowns the last two games, while Riddick surprisingly logged eight rushes for 47 yards in Week 15 against the Bills.
- The Bills' Chris Ivory (shoulder) is questionable for Sunday's game versus the Patriots, and although he finished the week with a pair of full practices, early Sunday reports indicate he will not play. Meanwhile, LeSean McCoy does not carry an injury designation and will start. Marcus Murphy (elbow) was placed on injured reserve this week.
- The Dolphins placed Frank Gore (foot) on injured reserve this week. The good news according to Saturday reports is that Gore won't need surgery and plans on returning for his 15th season in 2019. In the meantime, Kenyan Drake and Kalen Ballage will helm the Miami backfield over the last two games. Ballaghe took 12 carries for 123 yards and a touchdown against the Vikings in Week 15 after Gore's exit from the game, and could be the lead option.
- The Seahawks' Rashaad Penny (knee) is questionable for Sunday night's battle against the Chiefs, but he did wrap up the week with a limited Friday practice. According to reports, however, he appears to be trending toward an absence. With Chris Carson the clear-cut lead back in Seattle along with Penny's iffy status, owners of the latter may certainly want to play it safe and keep him on the bench, considering the game's 8:20pm ET kickoff.
- The Giants' Odell Beckham, Jr. (quadriceps) will sit out again in Week 16. Sterling Shepard, Corey Coleman, Bennie Fowler and Evan Engram should all see increased opportunity of varying degree once again, while running back Saquon Barkley should also continue in his extensive pass-catching role. Russell Shepard is one New York pass catcher who won't have a chance for an increased role Sunday, as he's been ruled out as well with an ankle injury.
- The Texans' DeAndre Hopkins (ankle) is questionable for Sunday's game against the Eagles after three limited practices this week. As per early Sunday reports, he's highly motivated to play, but he'll have to prove his fitness to trainers in pregame warmups before getting the green light, making him a game-time decision for this 1 p.m. start. At this point, however, it does appear as if he will suit up, barring a setback.
- The Falcons' Julio Jones (hip) is questionable for Sunday's game against the Panthers after only managing a limited Friday practice this week. As per early Sunday reports, Jones is "trending up", but the team will still test him pregame to see how he's able to run and cut. A Jones absence would leave Mohamed Sanu and Calvin Ridley in the role of top wideout duo versus an inconsistent Carolina secondary.
- The Steelers' JuJu Smith-Schuster (groin) is questionable to face the Saints in Sunday's key battle, but he proclaimed his readiness on Twitter in a message directed at his Fantasy owners Saturday morning. Naturally, nothing is official until inactives for the 4:25pm ET kickoff are released 90 minutes prior, but it appears the dynamic second-year wideout will suit up barring any setback in pregame warmups.
- The Bengals' Tyler Boyd (knee-MCL) will not play against the Browns on Sunday. The most accomplished receiver remaining on the Cincinnati roster with A.J. Green already out, his absence will leave the team in full preseason mode on offense with Jeff Driskel under center and the likes of Cody Core, John Ross and Alex Erickson as his top targets. Ross has the most upside of the trio, but he's managed no more than three receptions and 52 receiving yards in any game this season.
- The Chiefs' Sammy Watkins (foot) remains out in Week 16 against the Seahawks. Chris Conley will continue to operate as the No. 2 receiver alongside Tyreek Hill in Watkins' absence, but recent arrival Kelvin Benjamin could certainly push for more playing time versus Seattle after snagging one of two targets for 17 yards in his Week 15 debut versus the Chargers.
- The Colts' T.Y. Hilton (ankle) is questionable for Sunday's game against the Giants, although he was able to wrap up the week with a limited practice. As per early Sunday reports, the team is hoping he'll once again tough things out and take the field. The likes of Ryan Grant, Dontrelle Inman, Zach Pascal and Chester Rogers would all stand to benefit from a Hilton absence, although tight end Eric Ebron would also be in position to profit.
- The Packers' Randall Cobb (concussion) is doubtful for Sunday's game against the Jets after failing to practice all week. His likely absence once again opens up the door for rookie Marquez Valdes-Scantling, who produced a pair of 100-yard efforts earlier in the campaign when Cobb was sidelined with a hamstring issue. Davante Adams should also see an uptick in his already expansive target share.
- The Lions' Kenny Golladay (chest) is questionable for Sunday's game against the Vikings after three limited practices this week. As per early Sunday reports, he's expected to play and attempt to build on the 7-146 line he managed in a tough matchup versus the Bills in Week 15.
- Meanwhile, the Lions placed Golladay's position mate Bruce Ellington (hamstring) on injured reserve this week. TJ Jones, Andy Jones and Brandon Powell all bump up a spot on the depth chart as a result.
- The Texans' Keke Coutee (hamstring) remains out in Week 16. DeAndre Carter, who most recently brought in two of three targets for 55 yards in Week 15 against the Jets, should once again serve as the No. 3 receiver versus the Eagles.
- The Jets' Quincy Enunwa (ankle) will miss his second straight game Sunday against the Packers. The trio of Robby Anderson, Jermaine Kearse and Andre Roberts will serve as Sam Darnold's top three targets versus Green Bay.
- The Buccaneers' DeSean Jackson (thumb) is listed as questionable for Sunday's game against the Cowboys, but he wrapped up the week with two full practices. As per early Sunday reports, he's expected to play.
- The Cardinals' J.J. Nelson (illness) is questionable for Sunday's game versus the Rams after working back to a limited practice Friday. Chad Williams and Trent Sherfield remain ahead of him on the depth chart behind Larry Fitzgerald.
- The Cowboys' Tavon Austin (groin) is questionable for Sunday's game against the Buccaneers.
- The Cardinals' Ricky Seals-Jones (illness) is questionable to face the Rams on Sunday after only turning in a limited Friday practice this week. Veteran Jermaine Gresham, who has just nine receptions (on 12 targets) for 94 yards in 12 games this season, would take over primary tight end duties if Seals-Jones can't go.
- The Broncos' Matt LaCosse (foot) is questionable for Monday night's game against the Raiders after wrapping up the week with a pair of limited practices. If LaCosse is ultimately ruled out, Brian Parker, who has three receptions (on seven targets) for 23 yards over 11 games, would be the next man up.
- The Cowboys placed Geoff Swaim (wrist) on injured reserve this past week. Dalton Schwartz and Blake Jarwin will continue to serve as Dallas' top two tight ends.
- The Jaguars' Josh Lambo (groin) remains out in Week 16 against the Dolphins. Kai Forbath, who drilled field-goal attempts of 33 and 41 yards and also was true on his lone extra-point in Week 15 versus the Redskins, will once again handle placekicking duties for Jacksonville.
KEY DEFENSIVE PLAYERS
- The Cardinals' Patrick Peterson (illness) is questionable for Sunday's battle against the Rams after missing practice Friday.
- The Cowboys' Anthony Brown (back) is questionable to face the Buccaneers on Sunday after missing practice Friday.
- The Raiders' Gareon Conley (concussion) is questionable for a Christmas Eve battle with the Broncos on Monday night.
- The Chiefs' Kendall Fuller (thumb) is questionable to face the Seahawks on Sunday night after working back to a limited practice Friday.
- The Seahawks' Shaquill Griffin (hip) is questionable for Sunday night's showdown against the Chiefs but finished the week with two full practices.
- The Dolphins' Xavien Howard (knee) is questionable for Sunday's game against the Jaguars but turned in three limited practices this week after missing the last two games.
- The Eagles' Sidney Jones (hamstring) has been ruled out for Sunday's game against the Texans.
- The Texans' Johnathan Joseph (hip) is questionable for Sunday's interconference battle against the Eagles.
- The Raiders' Daryl Worley (shoulder) is questionable for Monday night's divisional battle against the Broncos.
- The Browns' Jabril Peppers (neck) is questionable for Sunday's divisional battle against the Bengals but did work back to a limited practice Friday.
- The Jets' Daryl Roberts (toe) is questionable for Sunday's game versus the Packers.
- The Buccaneers' Justin Evans (toe) was placed on injured reserve earlier this week.
- The Bears' Eddie Jackson (ankle) has been ruled out for Sunday's game against the 49ers.
- The Dolphins' T.J. McDonald (ankle) is doubtful for Sunday's conference battle against the Jaguars.
- The Seahawks' Bradley McDougald (knee) is questionable for Sunday night's interconference clash against the Chiefs. Teammate Tedric Thompson (chest) has been ruled out.
- The Colts' Clayton Geathers (knee) will not play in Week 16 against the Giants. Teammate Mike Mitchell (calf) is considered questionable.
- The 49ers' placed Jaquiski Tartt (shoulder) on injured reserve on Friday.
- The Eagles' Michael Bennett (foot) is questionable for Sunday's game against the Texans. Linemate Timmy Jernigan (back) is questionable.
- The Cardinals' Markus Golden (ankle) is questionable for Sunday's game against the Rams after missing practice all week. Linemate Rodney Gunter (foot) is questionable.
- The Bears' Bilal Nichols (knee) is questionable for Sunday's battle against the 49ers.
- The Giants' Kerry Wynn (thumb) is questionable for Sunday's interconference clash with the Colts.
- The Packers' Kenny Clark (elbow) will not play Sunday against the Jets.
- The Cowboys' David Irving (ankle) has been ruled out for Sunday's game against the Buccaneers.
- The Texans' Brandon Dunn (ankle) will not suit up against the Eagles in Week 16.
- The Lions' Damon Harrison (ankle) is questionable for Sunday's divisional battle against the Vikings.
- The Raiders' Maurice Hurst (ankle) remains questionable for Monday night's game against the Broncos.
- The Browns' Larry Ogunjobi (biceps) is questionable for Sunday's battle against the Bengals.
- The Seahawks' Jarran Reed (oblique) is questionable for Sunday night's showdown against the Chiefs.
- The Panthers' Kawann Short (calf) is questionable for Sunday's game versus the Falcons. However, as per early Sunday reports, he's not expected to play.
- The Dolphins' Kiko Alonso (knee) is questionable for Sunday's game against the Jaguars but turned in three limited practices this week.
- The Bengals' Jordan Evans (ankle) will not play versus the Browns in Week 16. Teammate Vontaze Burfict (concussion) is questionable.
- The Vikings' Eric Kendricks (hamstring) has been ruled out for Sunday's game against the Lions.
- The Jets' Jordan Jenkins (ankle) is questionable for Sunday's interconference tilt versus the Packers.
- The Lions' Devon Kennard (hip) is questionable for Sunday's battle against the Vikings.
- The Cowboys' Sean Lee (hamstring) is questionable to face the Buccaneers in Week 16 but is expected to play according to reports.
- The Giants' Alec Ogletree (concussion) has been ruled out for Sunday's battle versus the Colts.
- The Colts' Anthony Walker (shoulder) is out for Sunday's game versus the Giants.
So who should you sit and start? And what shocking running back could win you Week 16? Visit SportsLine now to get Fantasy football rankings for every single position, and see which shocking RB finishes in the top 15 this week, all from the model that out-performed experts big time last season.