At this point in the NFL season, injuries are starting to take their toll on players.
This is why its vitally important to pay close attention to the latest injury reports before setting your final starting roster this week because one poor performance from an injured star could cost fantasy owners a spot in their league’s playoffs.
Let’s look at some star players battling injuries leading up to Week 12, and determine if fantasy owners should start or sit them.
Wes Welker, WR: Start vs. Patriots
Welker is probable for his return to New England and it would be a surprise if he didn’t play. How effective will he be after recovering from a concussion? We should expect him to be a focal point of Peyton Manning‘s offense against a Patriots defense that doesn’t have much of a pass rush and could be without cornerback Alfonzo Dennard.
Welker has received at least six targets in every game this season, and he’s scored a touchdown in seven of the Broncos’ 10 games. He’s the best slot receiver in the NFL and Manning trusts him in every type of situation, especially on crucial third downs.
Fantasy owners should expect an impressive performance from Welker because he will be highly motivated to prove to the Patriots that they should have done more to keep him in free agency.
Julius Thomas, TE: Sit vs. Patriots
The Broncos tight end is questionable with a knee injury, and his status for Week 12 is uncertain.
Jack Del Rio on TE Julius Thomas, who is listed as Questionable: "Limited again today. We'll just have to make a determination."—
Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) November 22, 2013
Thomas ranks second in the NFL with 10 receiving touchdowns and has emerged as one of the elite fantasy tight ends, but he’s not a smart start against the Patriots. Not only is a knee injury difficult for tight ends to be productive with, there are so many other quality pass-catchers in the Denver offense for Manning to target if Thomas isn’t at 100 percent.
After not practicing much this week, the best decision is to bench Thomas.
Adrian Peterson, RB: Start vs. Packers
Peterson hasn’t been an elite fantasy player by his lofty standards this season, but he’s performed at a higher level than a lot of other running backs that were first-round picks in many drafts, including Ray Rice and Arian Foster.
Even though he’s questionable with a groin injury, Peterson should play and has a good matchup against a Packers defense that gives up 103.8 yards rushing per game and 4.1 yards per carry. The reigning NFL MVP is a goal-line threat every week and has scored four touchdowns in his last five games. Don’t be surprised if he rushes for over 100 yards and finds the end zone at least once.
Jordan Reed, TE: Sit vs. 49ers
The Washington Redskins tight end emerged as a top-10 tight end early in the season, but over the last three games, he’s totaled just 111 receiving yards and one touchdown on only 15 targets. In Washington’s loss to the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 11, Reed was targeted once.
Reed has a difficult matchup on Monday night against a physical San Francisco 49ers defense that ranks 10th against the pass and has several elite linebackers to cover him. When you consider his lack of production in the last three weeks, his tough matchup and the fact that he’s listed as questionable recovering from a concussion, it’s best to bench Reed and find a replacement.
Mike Wallace, WR: Sit vs. Panthers
Wallace has disappointed fantasy owners this season with an average of just 53.4 yards receiving per game and one total touchdown. In fact, he hasn’t reached the end zone since Week 2. Wallace has also tallied 41 or fewer receiving yards in five of his last eight games.
He’s listed as probable with a hamstring injury, but against an elite Carolina Panthers defense that did a tremendous job against a healthy New England Patriots offense last week, Wallace should not be started in any type of fantasy league. Carolina ranks fifth against the pass and third against the run, so expect Miami’s offense to struggle mightily on Sunday.