Snap, Crackle and Pop

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Snap, Crackle & Pop Snap, Crackle and Pop is a weekly column that reviews the major injuries (Snap) and then projects both busts (Crackle) and sleepers (Pop) for the coming week.

Steelers WR Hines Ward had some harsh words for teammate Ben Roethlisberger when a concussed Big Ben missed a Week 12 game. Ward felt that Roethlisberger let the team down when they badly needed him. At the time the Steelers had lost two in a row. The Steelers have now dropped four straight, and they will likely play without Ward this Thursday. Mike Wallace figures to start for Ward, who is nursing a sore hamstring. I wonder what Big Ben will say about that?

Washington put RB Clinton Portis on Injured Reserve on Tuesday. Portis suffered a concussion in Week 9 and never returned to action. He finishes the season with 494 rushing yards and two TD in eight games. The 28-year-old Portis has shouldered a very heavy workload, averaging 272 rushes in his eight NFL seasons.

Houston RB Steve Slaton's up-and-down season ended on a down note. Slaton was put on IR with neck and shoulder injuries. As a first-round pick in fantasy drafts Slaton was a huge disappointment. He finishes with 437 yards rushing, which is about a third of what he had last season. Chris Brown and Ryan Moats will share the workload against Seattle. Brown is the safer fantasy choice since he will get the goal-line work.

Atlanta RB Michael Turner missed practice again on Wednesday. His ankle could sideline him for a second straight week. Unless Turner makes an amazing recovery you will get a committee of Jerious Norwood and Jason Snelling against the Saints on Sunday. To make matters worse, QB Matt Ryan isn't practicing either so you could get backup Chris Redman handing off to the backup running backs.

Jets QB Mark Sanchez is still smarting from a brainless dive in last Thursday night's game. Sanchez strained his PCL doing what the Jets have begged him not to do which is to dive forward on scrambles. They brought in Yankees manager Joe Girardi to teach the knucklehead how to slide to no avail. Expect Kellen Clemens to start against the Buccaneers.

Detroit QB Matthew Stafford's dislocated left shoulder is still bothering him. The Lions are playing it safe and already declared Stafford out for Sunday's game. Veteran QB Daunte Culpepper will start against the Ravens.

Philadelphia WR DeSean Jackson is practicing again after missing last week's game with a concussion. Expect Jackson to suit up for the Giants on Sunday. He put up good numbers against New York in week 8 with 3 receptions for 78 yards and a TD.

Chicago WR Devin Hester missed practice Wednesday with a calf injury. Hester has only two receptions in his last two games and faces the top defense in the NFL, Green Bay.

In IDP news, Vikings LB E.J. Henderson had surgery on his leg and will probably be lost for the season. Henderson broke his left femur on Sunday.

The injury news is a moving target. Be sure follow the practice reports on Friday and the up-to-the-minute rankings from our supercomputer, Mighty Max.

The last time the Giants played the Eagles they were thumped 40-17 in Week 8. The Giants haven't beaten anyone with a winning record, except Dallas. Downgrade QB Eli Manning (2 INTs in that first Eagles game) and RB Brandon Jacobs against the good Eagles defense.

You will be glad you plucked RB Jerome Harrison off waivers when the Browns play Kansas City and Oakland in Weeks 15 and 16. Just don't start him this Thursday against the Steelers. Pittsburgh's defense is not what it was but it is still hard to run on.

The Steelers defense allowed Oakland QB Bruce Gradkowski to throw for three fourth quarter touchdowns last week. Two weeks before that they allowed Kansas City's Matt Cassel to beat them with two TD passes. They seem to have a problem defending against middling quarterbacks. So Brady Quinn, this is your week! Cleveland's quarterback has been very good in two of his last three games, tossing 7 TD swithout an interception in that span. WR Chansi Stuckey is a good sleeper pick in point-per-reception leagues.

New Orleans WR Robert Meachem had a great game last week with 8 receptions for 142 yards and a TD. However, the magnitude of his fantasy effort depended on your league's scoring system. Meachem also had a 44-yard fumble recovery for another touchdown. Some leagues gave credit to the Saints defense (improperly I say) and some gave Meachem a second TD. Fluky plays aside, Meachem has emerged from a crowded Saints' depth chart to be a quality fantasy WR2. When the season started he was buried on the depth chart behind Devery Henderson and Lance Moore. Go with the red-hot Meachem again this week against the Falcons' 28th-ranked defense.

Washington WR Devin Thomas had the game of his life last week against the Saints with 7-100 and 2 TD. Against the lowly Raiders' defense, ranked 29th, Thomas is worth a start as is his teammate, RB Rock Cartwright.

Baltimore QB Joe Flacco is a great play against the Lions' bottom-ranked pass defense. He is a fantasy QB1 this week and favorite receivers Derrick Mason and Todd Heap should be in your lineups as well.

Chiefs RB Jamaal Charles has played very well since taking over for Larry Johnson. He has four TDs in his last four games and is averaging 97 total yards per game. He gets a cupcake this week: Buffalo has the league's worst run defense. Charles is a must-start.