November 20, 2009

Well, it happened. Fantasy owners finally felt the wrath of the Injury Gods in Week 10. No longer are we discussing the rehab of Chaz Schilens and Jermichael Finley. Now we're talking season-ending injuries to stud running backs and how to save your season. Heavy, significant stuff, in other words.

Brian Westbrook: Concussion

The only good thing fantasy owners can take away from Westbrook's latest concussion is that at least he won't be listed as questionable this week. Instead, he's officially been ruled out and most likely will be for awhile. After suffering his second concussion in three weeks, Westbrook met with specialists on Wednesday, and there's speculation he could miss the remainder of the season.

The versatile LeSean McCoy is handling the first team reps, but don't be surprised to see bruising fullback Leonard Weaver receive some handoffs as well. With Westbrook out in Weeks 8 and 9, Weaver had 16 carries for 108 yards and a touchdown, and Andy Reid recently described him as having "versatility to where he can also be a ball carrier, and he's good in the pass game." Still, it'll be McCoy, averaging exactly 100 total yards in three starts this season, who owners will want to rely on against Chicago this week.

Ronnie Brown: Lisfranc injury

Owners of the Dolphins' wildest Wildcat runner have found out what Brown can do for you, but unfortunately it's ruining your fantasy season by sustaining a Lisfranc injury. Miami placed "The Delivery Truck" on season-ending IR Wednesday, further establishing Ricky Williams as one the most improbable fantasy comeback stories of all-time.

The formerly dread-locked Rasta is coming off just his second 100-yard game since the 2005 season, and he'll inherit full Wildcat duties in Tony Sparano's offense. The burly duo of Lex Hilliard and Lousaka Polite will garner some carries, and Pat White can be expected to see increased action as a hybrid quarterback, but the job is pretty much all Williams'.

Julius Jones: Bruised lung

The fantasy insignificant Jones has already been ruled out of this week's action because of a significantly bruised lung. Jim Mora indicated he could return next week, but he cautioned they "have to be careful." Jones has averaged 2.7 yards per carry since Week 4, so it's not like his absence puts a big dent in the fantasy landscape, but it does provide the opportunity for the shifty Justin Forsett to endear himself to the masses. The second-year kick returner/running back stepped in and contributed 123 yards on 17 carries to go along with five catches for another 26 yards last week. Despite the tough matchup against Minnesota, he should post enough points to be starter-worthy, especially in PPR leagues.

Clinton Portis: Concussion

Like a college student waking up on a Monday morning, Portis was still experiencing blurred vision as late as Wednesday of this week, and he met with a specialist as a result. He'll need at least 24 hours without experiencing any symptoms before he'll be allowed to practice again, and he must make it through a full workout before medical clearance will even be discussed. On the bright side, Jim Zorn upgraded his status by saying Portis was "very doubtful" against the Cowboys as opposed to the "very, very doubtful" status he assigned him last week.

In the meantime, it looks like Ladell Betts, or "El Boogie" as he's now being called, will be the Redskins starting RB for a second straight week. Betts has received 15-plus carries 16 times in his eight-year career, totaling 1,678 rushing yards in those games for a remarkable average of 104.8 yards per contest. After seeing those numbers, owners of the duo should be asking themselves one question: Clinton who?

Cedric Benson: Strained hip muscle

Benson aggravated a pre-existing hip injury in Sunday's victory over the Steelers. He left after gaining 22 yards on seven carries, giving way to rookie Bernard Scott and do-it-all back Brian Leonard (who combined for 41 yards on 17 touches). Benson was held out of the mid-week practice, and although the Bengals are indicating the injury isn't serious, their signing of Larry Johnson might suggest otherwise.

With their next three games against Oakland, Cleveland, and Detroit, it would appear Cincinnati can afford to rest their workhorse running back (Benson was on pace for a ridiculous 396 carries this year). If they decide to do so, Scott, who returned a kick 96 yards for a touchdown against Pittsburgh, would see a good portion of the workload, with Leonard, and yes, even Johnson potentially seeing some spot duty.

Kyle Orton: Torn ligaments in left ankle

Orton tore ligaments in his left ankle on a scramble right before halftime against the Redskins, and was unable to return. He didn't practice on Wednesday, but he was adamant about wanting to play on Sunday. "I came back last year as soon as I could and I'll do the same thing this year," he said, referring to a bad ankle injury that caused him to miss a game last season. What he didn't say was he returned too soon from that injury, and he subsequently averaged 150 passing yards while throwing eight interceptions over the season's final seven contests. Although a decision won't be made until later in the week, Orton does have one thing working in his favor; Chris Simms is the only other option.

Simms, filling in during the second half against Washington, went 3-of-13 for a grand total of 13 yards. He was so bad, Ryan Leaf had a flashback. So bad, even Simms' own father sent a post game email asking him to consider changing his last name. So bad, that all Orton has to do is step on the practice field without crutches and he'll immediately be named this week's starter. Did I mention Simms was bad? You won't want to start Orton if he does play, but his presence in the huddle should at least keep the threat of a first down alive in the Broncos' game plan.

Michael Turner: Right ankle sprain

Uh-oh, it's the dreaded high ankle sprain for Turner. He was a boot-wearing spectator at Wednesday's workout, and there's been talk he could miss multiple weeks with the ailment. Obviously Turner disagrees with that assessment, going so far as to say he's not counting himself out for this week. Owners have to love the dedication, but doing anything other than tracing his name into your lineup with a finger would be a foolish decision. High ankle sprains are among the most lingering issues football players deal with (right behind paternity suits and Roger Goodell's restrictive touchdown celebration policy).

With Jerious Norwood considered "a long shot" to return from his hip injury (Benson owners take note), Jason Snelling will be asked to assume full running duties if Turner misses this week as expected. "The Snellinator" ran for 61 yards and a touchdown on 18 carries after Turner went down against Carolina, and he's a reasonably safe play as a RB3 this week.

Chris Ryan is a staff writer at Check out RotoExperts' Game Day Chats every Sunday morning from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. ET. Our team of Experts will answer all of your last-minute lineup questions, including those for IDP leagues.

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