The one thing about the second season for the fantasy industry is the chance to enjoy the games with a little added fun without the intensity of the regular season. Like any fantasy owner, we continue to monitor the players and their health entering wild-card weekend.
Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger (ankle) was limited in practice Wednesday but returned in full Thursday and Friday and is set to play. He has been erratic this year but has upside if 100 percent healthy and is a No. 1 fantasy QB in most formats.
Lions QB Matthew Stafford enters this week's game with 14 TDs in his last four games and could post in one game what Alex Smith does in two.
Steelers RB Isaac Redman has a perk that Rashard Mendenhall (knee) didn't have; Redman will be the every-down back. Look for him to stay in on passing downs and he could be the sleeper of the playoffs if the Steelers can advance.
Lions RB Kevin Smith (ankle, knee) was limited in practice Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, but he is expected to play. He was involved in a collision Wednesday with TE Tony Scheffler, but both players are fine. Smith states that he is healthier now than he has been since sustaining his injury Thanksgiving week.
Falcons RB Michael Turner (groin) did not practice Wednesday and was limited on Thursday and Friday There's no indication that he won't play and we must assume the team is being cautious. He ended the season with a 17-172-2 performance against the Bucs to enter the playoffs on a high note.
Giants RB Ahmad Bradshaw (foot) did not practice Wednesday or Thursday, but this has become routine for Big Blue. Since his foot injury, the team has drastically cut back his practice time in order to keep him from aggravating the injury. He was a limited participant in Friday's practice and should be fine to play. He makes sense as a No. 2 fantasy back.
Texans RB Arian Foster (knee) practiced this week after not playing in Week 17 and is a solid No. 1 fantasy RB in any format after rushing for nine TDs in his last nine games.
Bengals RB Cedric Benson (foot) returned to practice Thursday and is listed as probable for Cincinnati's matchup with Houston. Benson hasn't rushed for more than 100 yards since Week 12. He's a No. 2 or flex back in most formats this week.
Texans TE Andre Johnson (hamstring) has practiced in full this week and could help owners in the second season after he was a bust during the regular season. He's a No. 2 fantasy WR with upside.
Lions WR Calvin Johnson (Achilles) did not practice Wednesday and was limited Thursday and Friday but the Lions are simply being cautious in resting him, since they need him to be 100 percent against the Saints. He is listed as probable.
Falcons WR Roddy White (hip) was a full participant in practice Thursday and Friday and is a highly rated fantasy WR this week.
Out, or consider other alternatives
Steelers RB Rashard Mendenhall (knee) is out for the playoffs leaving Isaac Redman as the starter.
Saints RB Mark Ingram (toe) is out for the playoffs, giving Chris Ivory value. But Ivory will also have to compete with Pierre Thomas and Darren Sproles for touches. Depending on the playoff format, all three running backs have value.
Saints WR Lance Moore (hamstring) did not practice all week and was inactive in Week 17. He will not play on Saturday night.
Broncos WR Eddie Royal did not practice Wednesday, returned Thursday in limited form and was a full participant in Friday's practice. He was a nonfactor in Denver's offense even before QB Tim Tebow took over. With the offense devoid of a legitimate passing attack, he has no value. Demaryius Thomas is the only WR to own, and he's a boom-or-bust option.
Texans TE Owen Daniels (knee) was limited in practice this week and was inactive in Week 17. He is listed as probable for Saturday's contest against the Bengals. Look for Joel Dreessen to continue to see time. If Daniels plays hurt, he has no value, while Dreessen's strength is that he is a TD vulture, which makes him a boom-or-bust guy.
The 'B' team
Bengals QB Andy Dalton (illness) returned to practice Thursday and is a low-end fantasy QB in most playoff formats. He ended the season with a two-touchdown performance against the Cardinals, sandwiched by zero-touchdown performances against the Rams and Ravens.
Saints WR Robert Meachem (knee) went through full practices on Wednesday and Thursday but was limited on Friday. He could see an increase in targets as a result of Lance Moore's absence.
Giants TE Jake Ballard (knee) was limited in practice Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. He's questionable, so check for updates on game day, but he does have low-end value in some formats.
Rounding it out
Texans QB T.J. Yates (shoulder) practiced in full this week and will start this Saturday. The team is committed to him, but it won't be shocking, if he falters, to see veteran Jake Delhomme enter after his solid performance in Week 17.
Falcons RB Jason Snelling (knee) was limited in practice Wednesday and Thursday before fully participating in practice on Friday. He has been a nonfactor this fantasy season.
Falcons WR Harry Douglas (groin) did not practice Wednesday but returned to practice later in the week. He was limited for both Thursday and Friday's practices. Douglas has minimal value with Roddy White and Julio Jones starting.
Texans TE Joel Dreessen (knee) practiced in full this week and if Daniels can't go, he'll carry the position for fantasy owners, but he is a low-end TE. He's a TD vulture, making him a boom-or-bust play.