NFL Week 17 Injuries Bettors Need to Know: Get Ready for the Dion Lewis Show
The cruel reality of the NFL is that most teams aren’t able to start the same 22 men on a week-by-week basis. The physical nature of every single play is what makes fans love the sport, but also what can ultimately cripple the experience with the loss of key players. Monitoring Market Share and Vegas line breakdowns are very important in predicting future performance, but so is accounting for how the absence of key players could impact the rest of the team. The end of the season also makes it important to identify which teams remain motivated in Week 17.
Let’s run through some of the key injuries for Week 17. You can view daily practice participation and estimated game statuses using the Injury Dashboard over at FantasyLabs.
Green Bay Packers vs. Detroit Lions
The Lions offensive line collapsed last week without C Travis Swanson (concussion, IR), G T.J. Lang (foot, not listed), and RT Ricky Wagner (ankle, not listed), so the return of the latter two linemen is good news for a unit that will also have TE Eric Ebron (knee, not listed). Ebron will look to take advantage of a depleted Packers defense that could be without CB Damarious Randall (knee, questionable), OLB Nick Perry (ankle, out), and OLB Clay Matthews (hamstring, questionable). The Packers offense isn’t much healthier, as RT Jason Spriggs (knee, out), G Jahri Evans (knee, out), WR Jordy Nelson (shoulder, out), TE Richard Rodgers (shoulder, out), WR Davante Adams (concussion, out), and RB Aaron Jones (knee, out) are all sidelined.
Cleveland Browns vs. Pittsburgh Steelers
The Browns defense tentatively expects to have both SCB Briean Boddy-Calhoun (knee, questionable) and CB Jamar Taylor (foot, questionable) for their matchup against a resting Steelers squad. Although they could technically still reach the No. 1 seed with a win and Patriots loss, QB Ben Roethlisberger, RB Le’Veon Bell, and DT Cameron Heyward are all expected to spend Sunday’s game on the sideline. The Browns will once again face QB Landry Jones to end their season, and the Steelers backfield is expected to consist of both RB Stevan Ridley and RB Fitzgerald Toussaint.
New York Jets vs. New England Patriots
The Patriots’ depleted running back room is setting up Dion Lewis for a large workload, as Mike Gillislee (knee, out), James White (ankle, questionable), and Rex Burkhead (knee, out) are all already sidelined or looking iffy to suit up Sunday. Tom Brady’s early-week absence at practice (Achilles/left shoulder, not listed on final report) won’t stop him from playing Sunday and he’ll have his No. 1 weapon Rob Gronkowski (illness, not listed) ready to go. They’ll all benefit from facing a Jets front seven that could again be without DT Mo Wilkerson (coach’s decision, questionable). The Patriots won’t have 6-foot-6, 325-pound DT Alan Branch (knee, out) for the third consecutive game. But the Jets offense has plenty of questions of its own: TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins (ribs/foot, doubtful) and RB Matt Forte (knee, questionable) aren’t guaranteed to suit up, although WR Jermaine Kearse (ankle, not listed) and WR Robby Anderson (illness, not listed) are good to go.
Washington Redskins vs. New York Giants
As if the Giants haven’t had enough injuries at receiver this season, WR Tavarres King (concussion, out), WR Sterling Shepard (neck, out), and TE Evan Engram (ribs, out) won’t suit up Sunday. The potential absences of starting LT Ereck Flowers (groin, questionable) and RT Bobby Hart (ankle, questionable) won’t help the passing “attack”. The defensive side of the ball isn’t pretty for either team, as the Giants have placed LB B.J. Goodson (ankle, out) and S Landon Collins (forearm, out) on IR, while the Redskins will be without DT Ziggy Hood (elbow, out), LB Zach Brown (foot, out), and LB Ryan Anderson (knee, out).
Dallas Cowboys vs. Philadelphia Eagles
Head coach Jason Garrett said anyone who is healthy will play Sunday vs. the Eagles, while owner Jerry Jones hinted that younger players would see more snaps than usual given the team has been eliminated from playoff contention. Even with the Cowboys’ usual skill position starters expected to play the majority of the game, they’ll have to make do without all-world LT Tyron Smith (knee/back, IR) as well as potentially slot WR Cole Beasley (illness, questionable). The offense does expect to have both WR Dez Bryant (knee, not listed) and RT La’el Collins (back, questionable) against an Eagles defense that is only expected to be without DE Brandon Graham (ankle, out). Eagles head coach Doug Pederson said starters such as Nick Foles won’t play the whole game Sunday, but he’ll go partly off feel in deciding when to pull some of the key starters.
Jacksonville Jaguars vs. Tennessee Titans
The Jaguars’ injury-depleted receiving core will be without WR Marqise Lee (ankle, out) and WR Jaelen Strong (ACL, out), while LT Cam Robinson (abdomen, questionable) isn’t guaranteed to suit up either. The offense will welcome back WR Allen Hurns (ankle, not listed), who will join Dede Westbrook and Keelan Cole (quad, not listed) in 3-WR sets. They could all benefit from the potential absence of No. 1 CB Logan Ryan (ankle, questionable). DeMarco Murray (knee, out) will miss his first game since joining the Titans, which will make Derrick Henry the team’s featured back for the first time in his career.
San Francisco 49ers vs. Los Angeles Rams
Rams head coach Sean McVay has revealed that RB Todd Gurley, QB Jared Goff and LT Andrew Whitworth will rest Sunday with the No. 1 and 2 seeds out of reach. Backup QB Sean Mannion and RB Malcolm Brown will start, and the offense will also be without WR Cooper Kupp (knee, out). The Rams will face a streaking 49ers team that will have defensive difference-makers LB Reuben Foster (stinger, not listed) and S Adrian Colbert (shoulder, not listed). Jimmy Garoppolo’s top weapons — WR Marquise Goodwin (back, not listed), WR Trent Taylor (shoulder, not listed), and TE Garrett Celek (knee/rib, not listed) — will all suit up Sunday.
New Orleans Saints vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The Saints defense is already without front-seven stalwarts LB A.J. Klein (groin, out) and DE Alex Okafor (Achilles, out), and the continued absence of DE Trey Hendrickson (ankle, out) won’t help against a surging Buccaneers offense that could welcome back WR DeSean Jackson (ankle, questionable), who has practiced all week. Still, both offenses are far from healthy, as Saints LT Terron Armstead (thigh, out) and WR Michael Thomas (hamstring, not listed) could play limited snaps if active, while Buccaneers WR Chris Godwin (ankle, questionable) and TE Cameron Brate (hip/knee, questionable) aren’t guaranteed to play Sunday.
Kansas City Chiefs vs. Denver Broncos
The Chiefs and Broncos each have nothing to play for this week, so 2016 first-round pick Paxton Lynch (ankle, not listed) will face off against 2017 first rounder Patrick Mahomes. Unfortunately for Mahomes, he’ll have to move the offense without Tyreek Hill, who will rest on the sideline alongside Alex Smith. The Chiefs backfield is a bit of a mystery, as each of Charcandrick West (illness, questionable) and Akeem Hunt (shoulder, questionable) could see more snaps than usual if they’re ultimately able to suit up. Lynch hopes to have starting RT Donald Stephenson (finger, questionable), and figures to feed Demaryius Thomas all the targets he can handle with both Emmanuel Sanders (ankle, out) and WR Cody Latimer (thigh, out) sidelined.
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Photo via Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports.