Thu Oct 22 10:19am ET
By JEFF PAUR
Sr Fantasy Writer
I wanted to talk some strategy when it comes to injury. Most of you probably do this but if not, here is a tip. If you have an injured player that is iffy to play. Try to use him in your flex spot so you have some flexibility if the player has to miss the game. That way you aren’t tied into using a specific position if the player misses. I realize that some circumstances might not allow that. You might have three must plays at running back each week, trying up a flex spot. But again, if you have flexibility at the flex spot, try to use those game-time decisions at those spots. Just a thought.
Now here is the latest injury news from around the league. . . . .
Alshon Jeffery, WR, Eagles. Jeffery is trying to return from a foot injury but apparently injured his calf in practice this week. Both injuries will keep him out of action this week once again. We aren’t sure when he returns to action. Hopefully, sooner than later.
Denzel Mims, WR, Jets. Mims is finally nearing a return from his hamstring injury. As long as he doesn’t have any setbacks in practice this week, the Jets expect to have Mims in the lineup. He could make an impact in a hurry, getting a chance to play a role in a passing game looking for options at receiver.
DeSean Jackson, WR, Eagles. Jackson is not even on the Injury Report this week. His hamstring injury is finally near full strength. He could play a big role right away, getting a chance to head right back into the starting lineup.
Zach Ertz, TE, Eagles. Ertz suffered a high-ankle sprain last week and is going to miss a good chunk of time with the injury. He could be out almost a month. Dallas Goedert will start for the Eagles if he is healthy enough to play.
Miles Sanders, RB, Eagles. Sanders is another injured Eagle. He will miss the game this week because of a knee injury. The good news is Sanders seemed to avoid something too serious. He might not be out much longer than this week. Boston Scott should get the start for the Eagles in Week 7.
Dallas Goedert, TE, Eagles. Goedert is eligible to return from Injured Reserve this week and has a chance to be ready for the Week 7 game. He is up in the air right now but has not been ruled out. He is looking like a game-time decision. But if he is active for this week, he is a top fantasy play as the starter in this offense. Goedert has huge upside going forward.
Jonnu Smith, TE, Titans. Smith suffered a sprained ankle last week and left the game early. His ankle injury is not considered too serious, though. Smith has been limited in practice this week and has a decent shot to play. We should have a better idea later in the week but consider him a decent bet to play right now. If Smith happens to sit out, Anthony Firkser would start for the Titans and have good fantasy value.
Sam Darnold, QB, Jets. Darnold has missed the last few games with a shoulder injury. He is practicing on a limited basis this week, so he is getting closer to a return. The Jets aren’t going to rush him back unless he is ready, though, so another week missed is likely for Darnold.
Sammy Watkins, WR, Chiefs. Watkins remains out of practice because of hamstring injury. He is not expected to play this week, giving Demarcus Robinson and Mecole Hardman more playing time at receiver.
Michael Thomas, WR, Saints. Thomas sat out last week because of disciplinary reasons, but was also nursing an ankle injury. He has a new injury, though, besides the ankle, having some sort of hamstring injury. So he is dealing with two injuries, but was able to practice on a limited basis to start the week. He seems to have a decent shot to return this week but keep an eye on the practice notes late in the week before putting him in your lineup. He isn’t a sure thing to play just yet, looking like a game-time decision.
Raheem Mostert, RB, 49ers. Mostert left the game early last week because of an ankle injury. He is not expected to play this week and could miss a few weeks of action. Jerrick McKinnon will start while Mostert is out of the lineup once again.
DJ Chark, WR, Jaguars. Chark was back in the lineup last week but remains limited in practice because of an ankle injury. He should be good to go this weekend after playing last week and getting near his usual workload.
Keenan Allen, WR, Chargers. Allen was off last week but had to leave the previous week’s game because of back spasms. The Chargers are downplaying the injury, but he has been limited in practice to start the week. We would expect him to play but a back injury is a little scary because it could pop up at any time. But if active, it is hard to sit Allen because of his huge upside.
Jeff Paur is a two-time finalist for FSWA Fantasy Football Writer of the Year and won the FSWA award for Best Fantasy Football Article on the Web in 2011. He also was the most accurate expert in 2012, winning the FSTA Fantasy Football Accuracy Award. If you have any questions for Jeff, email him at email@example.com. Follow Jeff on Twitter @jeffpaur.
Five Hot Plays: Week 12
Detroit Lions wide receiver Marvin Jones Jr. caught six passes for 48 yards in the Lions 41-25 loss to the Texans on Thanksgiving. The veteran led the Lions with 12 targets but the Lions passing offense really struggled after a promising start. Jones Jr. also left the game in the final minutes with an apparent leg injury and the extent is unknown at this time. Jones Jr. deserves a fantasy roster spot in deeper leagues but the return of Kenny Golladay next week and a possible injury could hamper an already middling value moving forward.
Detroit Lions wide receiver Mohamed Sanu caught four passes for 32 yards with one touchdown and a two-point conversion reception in the Lions 41-25 loss to the Texans on Thanksgiving. The veteran got an opportunity with the injury to Kenny Golladay and was able to secure a pass from quarterback Matthew Stafford for a 14-yard touchdown late in the game. Sanu possesses very little fantasy appeal but could siphon touchdowns away from Golladay and tight end T.J. Hockenson in the coming weeks if he continues to see the field.
Detroit Lions running back Adrian Peterson carried the ball 15 times for 55 yards with two touchdowns in the Lions 41-25 loss to the Texans on Thanksgiving. Peterson punched in two short-yardage scores before the Texans ran away with the game and led the team in carries. With starting running back D'Andre Swift out with a concussion, the veteran back ran hard but was unable to break off any big gains. Swift's status heading into Week 13 will determine Peterson's fantasy value moving forward.
Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford completed 28-of-42 passes for 295 yards, one touchdown and one interception in the Lions 41-25 loss to the Texans on Thanksgiving. The Lions offense simply is not the same without star receiver Kenny Golladay and a strong first half was wasted by stagnant offensive play in the second half. The veteran also was the victim of a fantastic interception by the Texans J.J. Watt, who took it to the house for 19-yard touchdown. Stafford was able to rack up some passing yards with the game out of reach but consistently struggled in the red zone. Stafford will continue to lack QB1 appeal heading into Week 13.
Detroit Lions tight end T.J. Hockenson caught five passes for a team-high 89 receiving yards in the Lions 41-25 loss to the Texans on Thanksgiving. Hockenson got off to a promising start, coming down with a 51-yard reception. The talented tight end saw eight targets in the game but his production dissipated in the second half with the Lions down multiple scores. The Lions season is going off the rails but Hockenson continues to be a bright spot. He didn't find the end zone but should continue to be one of the main focal points in the passing offense moving forward.
New York Jets quarterback Sam Darnold (shoulder) practiced in full on Thursday, which is a sign he's heading toward a return in Week 12 against the Dolphins. Darnold was limited on Wednesday and appears to be on track to play on Sunday after missing the team's last two games in Weeks 9 and 11. The 23-year-old could be a bit more intriguing as a low-end QB2 in superflex leagues now that wide receivers Breshad Perriman, Jamison Crowder and rookie Denzel Mims are all healthy, and Miami's defense also allows the 10th-most fantasy points per game to quarterbacks. Veteran Joe Flacco gave the winless Jets a chance in the last two games as the starter, but he'll go back to holding the clipboard for Darnold if he plays. Crowder will have more upside if Darnold returns, too.
For the second straight day, Chicago Bears quarterback Mitchell Trubisky (shoulder) practiced in full on Thursday, while Nick Foles (hip) did not practice. Head coach Matt Nagy hinted on Wednesday that Trubisky was on track to start in Week 12 against the division-rival Packers, and that is even closer to happening with Foles still unable to practice. It's not like Foles has been good since replacing Trubisky in Week 3. While neither QB is more than a low-end QB2 in superflex leagues in this stagnant offense, but at least Trubisky can offer fantasy managers a little something with his legs. The Packers Defense has also allowed the sixth-fewest fantasy points per game to signal-callers, so whoever starts under center for Chicago won't be a great fantasy option. Trubisky threw for 562 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions in two games against Green Bay in 2019.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers center A.Q. Shipley (neck), who has been filling in as a starter the last two weeks, may be dealing with a career-ending neck injury, according to head coach Bruce Arians. Shipley left the Monday night loss to the Rams in the fourth quarter. It's bad news for a Tampa offensive line that is already without starting left guard Ali Marpet, who has missed three games with a concussion. Starting center Ryan Jensen was moved to left guard because of Marpet's injury after Joe Haeg struggled in the blowout loss to the Saints. Left tackle Donovan Smith (ankle) also missed practice this week. It's something to watch for quarterback Tom Brady's protection heading into Week 12 in their contest against the Chiefs.
Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver D.J. Chark Jr. (ribs) did not practice on Thursday for the second straight day. Chark is now in danger of sitting out in Week 12 against a vulnerable Browns Defense unless he gets in at least a limited practice on Friday. As of right now, the 24-year-old should be considered a shaky WR3/flex with quarterback Mike Glennon making his first start under center since 2017 with the Bears. If Chark is unable to suit up on Sunday, it'll boost the values of Keelan Cole, Chris Conley and rookie Laviska Shenault Jr. (if he plays). But the bottom line is it's tough to trust any Jacksonville pass-catcher with the team on their third starting QB in 2020. Running back James Robinson is the team's only real safe fantasy play against Cleveland.
The Los Angeles Rams placed linebacker Micah Kiser (knee) on Injured Reserve on Thursday. Kiser has been really solid on the interior of the Rams Defense this year, recording 77 tackles (44 solo), three passes defensed and one forced fumble in nine games this season. The 25-year-old from Virginia suffered the knee injury in the Monday night win over the Buccaneers. While LA will miss his presence for at least the next three games, their defensive unit as a whole should remain fantasy relevant. The Rams defense should be considered a top-five fantasy unit this weekend against the division-rival 49ers and backup quarterback Nick Mullens.
Atlanta Falcons running back Todd Gurley II (knee) and tight end Hayden Hurst (ankle) were held out of practice for the second straight day on Thursday. Fantasy managers definitely don't want to see Gurley and a knee injury mentioned in the same sentence. He played a season-low 36 percent of the snaps in Week 11, too, and has a well-documented history with knee issues. He'll need at least a limited practice on Friday to have a chance at facing the Raiders in Week 12. Whoever is the team's primary back, though, will have some upside against a Raiders defense that has allowed the fourth-most fantasy points per game to running backs. Gurley owners might want to run to the waiver wire and add Brian Hill right now. Hurst had no catches last week and is in danger of missing Sunday's game. If he cannot play, Luke Stocker and Jaeden Graham would split repetitions at the tight end position for Atlanta. Hurst is a very shaky low-end TE1 at this point.
Atlanta Falcons wide receivers Julio Jones (hamstring) and Calvin Ridley (foot) were limited in practice on Thursday. The Falcons announced earlier this week that Jones would be a game-time decision in Week 12 against the Raiders, but the good news is that he's been limited in two practices this week. However, he played only 22 snaps in Week 11 as he continues to play through nagging injuries. We'd say he's on the right side of questionable, but the 31-year-old All-Pro receiver should be viewed as a shaky WR2/3 if he continues to be limited. Ridley should be fine to play and has clear WR1 upside if Jones is limited again or out entirely against Las Vegas. The Raiders have allowed five receivers to go over 100 yards receiving this year, setting up Ridley as a must-start this weekend.
The Buffalo Bills did not practice Thursday, Nov. 26, and the following participation reports are estimations. WR John Brown (ankle) did not participate. OG Cody Ford (ankle) and QB Jake Fromm (non-injury) were limited. DE A.J. Epenesa (concussion), DE Jerry Hughes (back), RB Taiwan Jones (hamstring), TE Dawson Knox (hamstring) and CB Josh Norman (illness) were full participants.
Denver Broncos head coach Vic Fangio said that backup quarterback Jeff Driskel will be put on the team's Reserve/COVID-19 list. It's unclear if Driskel actually tested positive for the virus, but either way, he's unlikely to be active as a backup in Week 12 against the Saints. Even if Driskel were active on Sunday, he'd likely be the third QB behind starter Drew Lock and Brett Rypien. Driskel made one start for the injured Lock earlier this year in Week 3 against the Buccaneers, going just 17-for-30 for 176 yards with a touchdown and an interception. If Lock were to miss any more time in 2020 with an injury, it would likely be Rypien getting the start over Driskel under center for Denver.
The Denver Broncos Defense played a huge part in the Week 11 upset win over the Dolphins, sacking rookie quarterback Tua Tagovailoa six times and recording an interception to hold Miami to 13 points. They'll face a Saints team this weekend without future Hall of Fame quarterback Drew Brees, but that might actually be a bad thing. New Orleans' offense still remains plenty explosive, and Taysom Hill and his versatility under center will present headaches for this undermanned Denver defense. Opposing defenses have scored the fourth-fewest fantasy points per game against the Saints this year. The Broncos D ranks 19th in the league in overall fantasy points and have allowed 30-plus points in four of the last five games. Don't expect them to surprise fantasy managers for two straight weeks.
Denver Broncos kicker Brandon McManus ranks ninth in the NFL with a 95.2 percent field-goal percentage in 10 games this year, missing just one of his 21 field-goal attempts. He's also missed just one of his 19 extra-point attempts. McManus hasn't missed a kick since missing an extra point in Week 7 against the Chiefs. The only field goal he missed was from 50-plus yards. But the 29-year-old with a big leg has been just a fringe fantasy starter because of Denver's inconsistent offense. It helps that he'll be kicking in the high altitude of Denver again in Week 12 against the Saints, but New Orleans' defense has allowed 19 field-goal tries this year, which is tied for 16th in the NFL. The Broncos most likely won't be able to settle for field goals against the Saints offense.
Denver Broncos QB Jeff Driskel on Thursday, Nov. 26, will be placed on the Reserve/COVID-19 list.
Denver Broncos rookie wide receiver K.J. Hamler has 26 targets in the last three games, which he has turned into 14 catches for 160 yards. Hamler has seen his role increase in the last three weeks, but he has only one touchdown in his rookie season and 25 receptions for 275 yards in eight total games. The 21-year-old from Penn State has seen more production out of the slot and has big-play upside, but Denver is using him as more of a chain-mover than a deep threat. In this inconsistent offense as the third wideout behind rookie Jerry Jeudy and Tim Patrick, it's hard to put much faith in Hamler in single-year fantasy leagues. He'll be a WR4/flex in deeper leagues against New Orleans this Sunday.
The Houston Texans have declared OT Charlie Heck, WR Kenny Stills, WR Isaiah Coulter, RB Cullen Gillaspia, LB Nate Orchard and QB Josh McCown inactive for Week 12.
Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald has tested positive for COVID-19 and will miss Week 12 against the Patriots, according to sources. It's a bad time for this to happen, since Fitzgerald had at least 54 yards in three of his last four games and led the Cardinals with 10 targets in Week 11's loss to the Seahawks. DeAndre Hopkins will still have a tough test against All-Pro cornerback Stephon Gilmore on Sunday, but Fitz's absence should open up more targets for Christian Kirk, Andy Isabella and others. Kirk should see the biggest boost from Fitzgerald's absence against a Patriots Defense that hasn't been nearly as strong as in years past. Kirk will have WR2 upside this weekend.