Jordy Nelson couldn’t even test his injured hamstring on Friday, and although Packers head coach Mike McCarthy said at the time that he’s 50/50, that percentage seemed like it was a downright filthy lie. How can a player who’s missed a game with an injury and then wasn’t even able to take it for a test drive at half speed in practice have a chance to play at full speed while facing contact?
That question, friends, is why we all just watch games, and click away to plug players into fake lineups and such. For we are mere mortals, and football players are cyborgs who were once raised by a giant rat in a sewer, or something.
Nelson is active and playing. While Calvin Johnson playing is unsurprising and the worry about him was a product of instinctive profuse sweating, Nelson’s inclusion on the Packers’ active list is the opposite of that for the aforementioned lack of any test whatsoever this week. That’s also why — again similar to Johnson — you can feel free to insert Nelson into your starting lineup now, but do it with decreased expectations.
Now that I’ve written this Nelson will surely surprise us (and indeed, just after typing those words Jay Glazer reported that he’s a “full go” so we’ll see), and do something crazy and heroic. But the worry about him is even more significant than the concern surrounding Johnson, because while both will be limited despite still playing, Johnson’s injury hasn’t necessitated any missed time.
Nelson is a surprise last-minute active. Treat him accordingly, and look at him as a mid-tier WR2 when usually he’d be flirting with WR1 status in the high octane Packers offense with Greg Jennings out despite a less than ideal matchup against the Cardinals and Patrick Peterson.
Here are the other notable actives/inactives.
Ryan Tannehill (leg): After practicing — albeit on a limited basis — all week, Tannehill will start in an appealing matchup against the Colts. Similar to Brandon Weeden, Tannehill is a great deep-ish league play for those dealing with Tom Brady’s bye.
Brian Hartline (groin): Tannehill becomes an even more intriguing option with his top receiver healthy after Hartline missed Wednesday’s practice and was limited Thursday and Friday.
Donald Brown (knee): He’ll play, but barely. Brown’s knee injury that kept him on the sideline for two games earlier this year flared up last week, and today he’ll be Vick Ballard’s backup. Stay away from him in all formats.
Derek Cox (back): One of two Jaguars defensive backs who were questionable for today’s game against the Lions, Cox will play, but the news isn’t so good for Rashean Mathis (see below).
Laurent Robinson (concussion): The Jags’ primary free agent acquisition last spring will make his first appearance since Week 4, but it’ll still be the Cecil Shorts show whenever Blaine Gabbert airs it out deep. Robinson is only a desperation play in the deepest of deep leagues.
Rashean Mathis (groin): As expected, Mathis won’t play against the Lions, making life a little easier for the injured Johnson, and raising expectations for Titus Young.
Alshon Jeffery (hand): He’s still out after the Bears rookie wideout showed some early-season promise before breaking his hand. There’s tepid optimism about a Week 10 return for Jeffery, so he could be a good value add this week.
Jake Locker (shoulder): No surprise here, as Locker was ruled out earlier this week, and Matt Hasselbeck will continue to start for the Titans. Locker still hasn’t been cleared for contact, and today he’ll miss his fifth game.
Brandon LaFell (concussion): This is disappointing since LaFell finally started to show some of his sleeper upside last week against a tough Bears secondary. He needed only three receptions to finish with 88 yards, one of which was a 62-yard catch.