This Given Sunday is examining the biggest injury questions before each week of the NFL season. Here are the top-five health-related storylines entering Week 17.
Green Bay's leading receiver is dealing with knee and ankle injuries and was left out of practice to start the week. He's a must-start if he's in the lineup, but the situation in Green Bay is complex. This is likely a must-win game for them but they have another injury situation playing a role on offense as well. Which brings us to…
Nelson is practicing for the first time since Week 13, which is very encouraging for any fantasy owners that might need him for the final Sunday of the season, as well as any Packers fans fearing an upset loss to let the first-round bye slip away. The problem is that Nelson's been out several weeks and it's tough to tell how effective he'll be if he returns. With two of Green Bay's three most productive receivers hurt, those who own Cobb, Nelson, James Jones and Greg Jennings should monitor both situations closely between now and Sunday morning. The bad news is it's a 4:25 p.m. ET kickoff.
It'd be awesome to get a boost from Gronk in Week 17, but the odds aren't in his favor. He's practicing on a limited basis but Bill Belichick isn't wanting to rush the stud tight end back, especially with the Patriots taking care of business despite his absence. If your fantasy season is still alive in Week 17, you've got a suitable replacement or you're strong enough elsewhere, so even if Gronk is a surprise start Sunday, you might want to leave him out of your fantasy lineup. Also working against you: It's a 4:25 p.m. ET start against Miami.
Ordinarily an ironman like White wouldn't make this list just because he's missing practice time due to a knee injury. But the difference this week is that the Falcons have absolutely nothing left to play for Sunday against the Buccaneers. Mike Smith has indicated he'll be playing his regular starters in order to secure another victory, but they might not want to take many changes with the banged-up White. Fortunately for fantasy owners, it's an early kickoff.
Forte wasn't practicing to start the week after sustaining an ankle injury last Sunday. The Bears have another crucial game this week against the Lions, though, so expect Forte to do everything in his power to get back on the practice field by the end of the week. Monitor that situation, handcuff yourself and take solace in the fact the game kicks off at 1 p.m. ET.