NFL Quick Hits: Will the Cowboys rest Ezekiel Elliott?

The Giants’ 24-19 loss to the Eagles on Thursday night resulted in the Cowboys clinching the NFC East and the conference’s No. 1 playoff seed. The first two fantasy-related tweets I received after the game were these:

 

 

The Cowboys haven’t stated any intentions to rest players, but it’s fair to wonder what they’ll do with their key contributors – especially Elliott – with their final two games carrying more risk than reward. According to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, “history points to (Jason) Garrett playing his healthy starters.”

The guess here is that on Monday night, the extent of Elliott’s slowdown will see him get something like 15-17 carries instead of his average of 22. Basically, business as usual, with a workload scaled back a bit from his league-leading pace. I can’t see benching Elliott for a fantasy title game, even with the possibility of diminished production. We don’t know what will happen, but it’s unlikely that the Cowboys will completely take their foot off the gas for Week 16. Week 17 could be a different story, and if your league still plays then, add Darren McFadden.

In other news …

Falcons head coach Dan Quinn says that WR Julio Jones (toe) will play Saturday. Jones has missed the last two games, and it seems that the Falcons were especially cautious with him against two soft opponents (Rams, 49ers) with the playoffs approaching. Jones is probably close to full speed now – start him if you’ve got him.

Bengals WR A.J. Green says he’ll play Saturday after missing most of the last five games with a hamstring injury. However, the Bengals’ website seems less certain of Green’s status, noting that it would be “hard to see” Green playing if he isn’t a full participant in Friday’s workout. We should know more Friday afternoon.

In other Bengals’ news, TE Tyler Eifert hasn’t practiced this week due to a back issue, and is in jeopardy of missing Saturday’s game.

Chargers RB Melvin Gordon isn’t practicing this week, and appears unlikely to play. Rookie Kenneth Farrow and sidekick Ronnie Hillman will face the Browns’ porous defense. I’m playing Farrow in a fantasy title game, and have him ranked at RB21.

Texans RB Lamar Miller (ankle) didn’t practice Wednesday or Thursday, and it’s “looking more and more unlikely” that he’ll play on Saturday, according to the Houston Chronicle. Alfred Blue will get the start and most of the work if Miller can’t go.

Miller’s teammate, C.J. Fiedorowicz, looks like he’s ready to go after missing Week 15 with a concussion.

Redskins TE Jordan Reed (shoulder) didn’t practice Thursday, and head coach Jay Gruden was non-committal on Reed’s status. Make sure you have a backup plan for Reed, who looked hurt during Monday’s loss to the Panthers.

Lions RB Theo Riddick (wrist) hasn’t practiced this week, but “was working on the side with a trainer” on Thursday and “could be nearing a return,” per MLive.com. Stay tuned.

Raiders offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave said earlier this week that the team needs to “make up for lost ground” in terms of getting WR Amari Cooper more touches. Hmm …

Vikings RB Adrian Peterson hasn’t practiced this week due to a groin injury. Forget about him, fantasy owners.

The status of Jets RB Matt Forte (shoulder) is shaping up to be a gametime decision. Plan to avoid Forte even if he’s active, and start Bilal Powell either way. Powell’s value gets dinged a little bit if Forte plays, but not enough to change his start/sit status in most cases.

Steelers TE Ladarius Green (concussion) looks like a no-go for Sunday’s game against the Ravens.

Do you want to start Browns WR Terrelle Pryor with a finger injury that probably needs offseason surgery? Me neither.

Rams QB Jared Goff has been cleared to play against the 49ers after being in the concussion protocol. Let’s hope he hands the ball off enough to celebrate Todd Gurley’s first 100-yard game of the season. The Niners have allowed 176.3 rushing yards per game, which is 20.6 more than the 31st-ranked Browns’ run defense. They’re inexplicably awful.

Good luck in Week 16, folks. Tweet me (@jhalpin37) if you have any lineup questions.

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