As we head into Thanksgiving week, I go from freezing outside Lucas Oil Stadium last week to the Florida sun. I'm down in Sarasota, but wherever there's a cell signal and wi-fi, I can get the information you need to set up your fantasy team.
There's a lot of teams heating up, like my head in the sun, but injuries are beginning to slow down. It happens this time of year due to some variant of the "survivor effect." I'm still digging through the data and with only a few years in the database, solid answers are tough to find. What this survivor effect shows is that there is a fatigue and 'wear down' effect over the course of a season, but those that break down tend to do it around the midpoint of the season. By Week 12, only the strongest have survived.
We'll still have the trauma and a smaller number of fatigue-based breakdowns, but it's worth noting, especially for older players. The counterintuitive lesson is that past health is indicative of future durability, unlike my 401k. On to the injuries:
Brady Quinn QB CLE: Quinn is going to try to go, but Peter King's report that there's tendon involvement pushes him off the start list for most fantasy teams. Derek Anderson might be a good play if Quinn can't start, so I'll keep my eye on the pre-game workouts.
Brandon Jacobs RB NYG: It's going to be a last minute decision on whether he will play (though remember that any time a team gives a player a change to "prove he's ready," they're already biased to letting him play.) What won't change is that he's not going to get the bulk of carries while the Giants focus on having Jacobs ready for the playoffs.
Reggie Bush RB NO: Bush is no mystery -- he's not playing Monday night according to every source I have. There's a lot of frustration bubbling with the Saints and Bush's extended recovery isn't endearing him to his teammates. Pierre Thomas becomes a decent fantasy play if you're looking for points.
Josh Morgan WR SF: Not just out for this week against Dallas' banged up secondary, but there's rumors that the groin strain is bad enough to end his season. The targets will go to Bryant Johnson, who's available in a lot of leagues.
Selvin Young RB DEN: The groin has him out again, leaving the carries to Peyton Hillis and Tatum Bell. Young's groin isn't just bad, it doesn't seem to be getting better.
Cadillac Williams RB TB: They have other options behind Warrick Dunn before they get to Williams this week. Add a hamstring strain to his troubles and if you're a Bucs fan, hope you don't see Williams on the field just yet.
Brian Westbrook RB PHI: Westbrook will play, but as expected, he'll split carries with Correll Buckhalter. The Eagles gameplan will be a bit more pass heavy, though with four solid WRs, it's tough to lock in on one who'll get the lion's share of targets. Instead, the best play is Donovan McNabb, who knows the rules for fantasy scoring.
Warrick Dunn RB TB: Dunn's expected to take the bulk of carries and without a credible option behind him, the Bucs will use him smartly. That could cost him short and goal-line carries, but help his yardage totals.
Roddy White WR ATL: White reacted well to treatment on his sore back. It's always a bit of a worry when you hear "back injury" about one of your players but you have to understand that there's a wide variety of types of back injuries. The traumatic can be the easiest, assuming there's no structural damage. White will be the No. 1 WR this week for the Falcons, making Matt Ryan a happy guy.
Colts DST:Bob Sanders is just a few weeks into a return from knee surgery and a quad strain, so why's he back out? The whisper is that he came back too soon, but sources tell me that Sanders, in just one game, managed to bang himself up the way he always does. His big hits hurt him more than the guys he tees up and now, it's hurting the Colts, who have big dollars committed to the little guy.
Derrick Mason WR BAL: Mason's coming back from a dislocated shoulder and is still limited by pain and swelling. Whether the painkillers help him on Sunday remain to be seen, so he's a risky play.
Deuce McAllister RB NO: A sore knee is a way of life for McAllister. He's likely to play, but he's likely to split carries with Pierre Thomas anyway.
Darren McFadden RB OAK: McFadden's as healthy as he's been all season, so he'll get more touches, but unless Justin Fargas goes down, he's got a couple more weeks of being the changeup.
Antwaan Randle El WR WAS: He'll play despite a sore ankle, but he'll be the third or even fourth option for Jason Campbell. Plan accordingly.
Kellen Winslow TE CLE: Winslow will play, but he will be in a harness. That will keep the Browns from sending him over the middle and could cause some adjustment issues. The harness isn't so tight that he'll alligator-arm some passes, so expect him to be in the normal mix of targets. He's equally valuable with Quinn or Anderson throwing to him.
Kevin Smith RB DET: He will play and start for the Lions. My sources tell me that the team is going to do everything they can to establish the run and that Smith's workhorse tendencies could play well this week.
Steve Slaton RB HOU: Slaton's got a great matchup and played well last week. He did come out with a chest bruise, but that's easily protected. Why Gary Kubiak continues to use Ahman Green is beyond me. Slaton's for real.
Clinton Portis RB WAS: Portis is expected to play despite a sore knee, according to NFL Network's Adam Schefter. The knee will still be a problem, but expecting about what we saw from him last week is a reasonable expectation. That said, the question mark on his play combined with the late start time makes this a tougher play than it should be.
Peyton Hillis RB DEN: There's some worry Hillis isn't reacting well to the workload, but we'll see.
Tony Gonzalez TE KC: Gonzalez was listed on the OIR early this week, but was off it by the end of the week. Play him in all formats.
Calvin Johnson WR DET: The thigh isn't a big problem, but Johnson's never played well with even minor injuries. Then again, he's about the only option in the Lions offense. Then again, that draws double coverage. In other words, he'll play, but I don't like him as a fantasy WR1.
Matt Jones WR JAX: Jones isn't suspended and his quad is better to boot. He'll be David Garrard's WR1 this week.
Plaxico Burress WR NYG: Mind right or not, Burress' hamstring is not right. In what figures to be a tough game, Burress' presence would be a big plus for the NFL's best team.