Remember when your parents finally let you drive the car on your own? This is nothing like that, but you will need to be "on your own" a bit more this week. I'm heading over to the Colts-Texans game here in Indy and as much as I can do with my iPhone, the updates will be a bit fewer and far between.
Luckily, most of the injury action is early this week; we know who's in and who's out for the most part and even the ones that are on the edge are going to be affected enough by injury that you should be replacing them on your rosters anyway. With comebacks from Tony Romo and Matt Hasselbeck and non-comebacks from Steven Jackson and Reggie Bush, the NFL has been nice enough to bring us roster moves on a silver platter. Then again, it's also brought some confusion, some obfuscation, and the general head-scratching roster puzzles that make this game so great and so frustrating. Let's take a look at the injuries around the league:
Clinton Portis RB WAS: The knee didn't make enough progress to get Portis back out on the field, big game or not. Portis' big year takes a hit, but it's the smart play as the Redskins start treating Portis the way that the Eagles treat Brian Westbrook. The Redskins are suggesting Portis could be used in a very limited fashion Sunday night, but even so, he's unlikely to be a fantasy start.
Steven Jackson RB STL: Another week missed for Jackson as the quad/knee problem makes it impossible for him to get the burst and push he needs. It will be another week of waiting, watching and hoping. The upside is some fantasy teams should get a bonus heading into the playoffs.
Selvin Young RB DEN: Young is out with a severe groin strain, leaving the running game to Peyton Hillis and Tatum Bell. That's a positive for Jay Cutler, who could be throwing more and headed for another big fantasy week.
Reggie Bush RB NO: I'm pretty sure that Reggie Bush is the NFL equivalent of Kerry Wood. Never loses his stuff, but never stays healthy for long. On those occasions where he is, he's electric. This week, he'll be watching.
Felix Jones RB DAL: The Cowboys are a bit disappointed that Jones didn't make more progress over the course of the week. Sources tell me that's a bit of smoke. The Cowboys know how serious his hamstring strain was, but would like everyone else to think he's just a slow healer.
Justin McCareins WR TEN: McCareins hasn't been a bit part of the offense anyway, but the aftereffects of a concussion will keep him as no part of it this week.
Matt Jones WR JAX: He's is iffy to play, but even if he does, he'll be limited to red zone and short-yardage situations. While a player like Jones or Plaxico Burress can be valuable in that type of situation, it makes it tougher to say that he'll have a big day.
Kyle Orton QB CHI: If he can play, he will. Early indications are that he'll get the start against the Packers, but sources tell me Lovie Smith will have a very quick hook if Orton's mobility is endangering him.
Chad Pennington QB MIA: Penningtonwas a late add to the injury report, something you have to take seriously with the Dolphins. They've gone weeks without an injury and the only other player on the list this week went from "questionable" to "done for the year" overnight. Pennington's foot problem isn't said to be serious, but it's worth noting since a lot of people picked up the Fins QB due to the matchup.
Tony Romo QB DAL: Romo's back and seems to be without limitation. Yes, there's pain and some recurrence risk, but he's the same guy you drafted high and missed the last couple weeks. That's your quarterback, man.
Ben Roethlisberger QB PIT: Not on the OIR? I don't get it either, unless he had a miracle cure on his shoulder. He'll play, but this one bears some watching.
Willie Parker RB PIT: Like Roethlisberger, Parker's not on the OIR. While the shoulder shouldn't bother him too much, it is still a problem that will likely need surgery in the offseason at the latest. There's no indication on how many touches he'll lose to Mewelde Moore.
Frank Gore RB SF: I'm rooting for Mike Singletary, a guy I loved watching on the field. Off the field, his attitude worries me and doing things like reclassifying Gore's concussion as a neck strain are precisely the thing I'm worried about. Gore will play, but should he?
Ladell Betts RB WAS: Betts isn't 100 percent back from his own knee problem, but he's good enough to go. Expect Shaun Alexander to see some touches, but Betts to carry the load.
Darren McFadden RB OAK: He'll get some touches this week as things start to clear up from a pair of toe injuries. He's still not 100% and the team is going to be overprotective. Think of this more as a peek than a real look; that comes in the next two weeks.
Matt Hasselbeck QB SEA: The good thing about a long layoff is that it lets us know that the guy is likely fully recovered. The Seahawks have no reason to risk Hasselbeck, so he's a safe play in his first game back from back, knee and leg problems.
Colts DST: The whole defensive backfield is banged up, including Bob Sanders, for whom it's nothing new to be banged up.
Michael Turner RB ATL: Turnerhas a sore hand, but it shouldn't affect his touches or how they'll use him. There's some questions about whether the Falcons will shift to Jerious Norwood in goal line situations, but Turner tends to score from a distance or around end anyway, so losing the close-in drive-in situations isn't that big a deal.
Reggie Wayne WR IND: The mild ankle sprain on the heels of a minor knee problem are a bit worrisome, but he's still the top target for the Colts.
Jason Witten TE DAL: Things went okay last week, but with Romo back, expect Witten to be involved in the passing game this week.
JaMarcus Russell QB OAK: The knee problem passed, but Russell's still on the Raiders. The team's trying to figure out if he's part of the problem or the solution.
Earnest Graham RB TB: Graham's still the #1 in the Bucs committee, so don't be scared by Cadillac Williams' return. If anyone, Graham will lose more carries to Warrick Dunn, but he'll still get the bulk and the goal line carries.
Deion Branch WR SEA: His return, timed with Hasselbeck's comeback, should be a positive, but the heel problem and the knee issues have me with one of those hunches. I just don't think Branch is going to be a good play, but that's hunch, not fact. The fact is the heel is reported to be healed and he will play.