Chargers, Falcons dealt sizable blows

Chargers, Falcons dealt sizable blows

Championship-seeking fantasy owners keep scrambling to find a competent replacement for sidelined San Diego star Melvin Gordon. But what other players of consequence may miss out on the Week 15 action?

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Staying out West, the Chargers’ opponent this afternoon carries a fair number of concerns on the offensive side of the football. Both of Oakland quarterback Derek Carr’s top receivers are listed as questionable. Michael Crabtree aggravated a dislocated ring finger in last Thursday’s 21-13 loss to Kansas City and has since been extremely limited in practice. The same goes for Amari Cooper, whose dinged-up shoulder could make it hard for the former No. 4 overall pick to gain separation against San Diego’s secondary. Bear in mind that Carr’s still dealing with a nagging pinkie ailment himself.

Arguably, though, the host squad confronts a more difficult obstacle. Gordon went down – and frighteningly so – seven days ago with hip and knee injuries. With the Chargers virtually eliminated from postseason contention, there’s no reason to rush his return. Expect Philip Rivers to lean on a Kenneth Farrow-Ronnie Hillman backfield timeshare shortly.

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Sliding back to the outside, Julio Jones’ bothersome toe will render him unavailable for Atlanta’s showdown with San Francisco. The perennial Pro Bowler last suited up on Dec. 4. Another vertical specialist from the 2011 NFL draft class, A.J. Green, faces a similarly bleak prognosis. He’s doubtful for the Bengals’ crucial divisional tilt vs. the Steelers.

Under center, the outlook appears a bit sunnier across the league. Just don’t mistake that for actual warmth in Chicago, where Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers must fend off a sore right calf and single-digit temperatures. Meanwhile, in Carolina, Cam Newton’s trying to overcome a balky shoulder. Yet he shouldn’t have trouble lacing them up for a primetime clash with ex-teammate Josh Norman and the Redskins.

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