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We all know that injuries are part of football, and in Week 11, four took a toll on Fantasy Football lineup.
From the Sunday afternoon games, there wasn’t a more worrisome injury Fantasy managers faced than the one suffered by Kerryon Johnson in the third quarter of the Lions‘ win over the Panthers. After a shifty run that resulted in just a three-yard gain, Johnson limped to the sideline and then walked with trainers into the locker room with a knee injury. NFL Network reported that Johnson suffered a knee sprain and will have an MRI on Monday but isn’t believed to have suffered a torn ACL. It almost certainly means he’ll miss the Lions’ Thanksgiving Day game against the Bears, however. Theo Riddick and LeGarrette Blount will play the same position but aren’t anywhere near as talented as Johnson — something it took the Lions coaches several weeks to discover.
Buccaneers tight end O.J. Howard also limped off after hurting his right ankle in the fourth quarter of the Bucs’ loss at the Giants. There was no word on the severity of his injury after the game but obviously any absence would mean a big boost in playing time for tight end Cameron Brate.
There wasn’t a more gruesome injury than the broken leg Alex Smith suffered in the second half of the Redskins‘ loss to the Texans. Very few people were starting Smith in Fantasy leagues anyway, but his absence opens the door for Colt McCoy to lead the Washington offense. In 25 career starts, McCoy has six just games with multiple passing touchdowns and four with over 250 passing yards. Maybe he’ll be a boon for Jordan Reed’s stats (the two connected for a score on Sunday), but it’s not like he’ll give the Redskins anything they didn’t already have with Smith.
Marcus Mariota was ruled out for the second half of the Titans‘ loss at the Colts with what the team called an elbow-related injury. However, the official team website said “[i]t’s believed to be the same injury that forced Mariota to miss time earlier this season.” If it’s something that affects the fingers on his throwing hand again, then it’s definitely a problem. All of the optimism we heaped on Corey Davis and Dion Lewis would vanish if they had to catch passes from Blaine Gabbert for the rest of the season.
Other injuries could play a role in how key Fantasy starters fare the rest of the season:
- Colts center Ryan Kelly went down with a knee injury, which could impact the protection for Andrew Luck and the running lanes for Marlon Mack.
- The absence of two Texans guards could similarly impact Deshaun Watson and Lamar Miller.
- And poor Philadelphia saw all three of the cornerbacks they started on Sunday go down with injuries, along with starting center Jason Kelce and starting linebacker Jordan Hicks. Those injuries could obviously hamper their chances to play in a competitive game, though I’m sure the Giants (who they play in Week 12) surely won’t mind.
Now is a good time to remind you that specific depth is important at this stage of the season. Got a stud running back? Consider finding his real-life backup and putting him on your bench, provided he’s a good player in his own right — Malcolm Brown as a handcuff for Todd Gurley is a good move; Cameron Artis-Payne as a handcuff for Christian McCaffrey, not so much. Carrying one quarterback? That’s fine if there are a lot of good quarterbacks on waivers you could reach for in case of emergency, but if there are only a few, grab one. Ditto that for tight ends. Loaded at one position but weak at another? Make a deal if you still can to even out the quality of those positions. And while many consider it a faux pas to carry two DSTs, it’s not necessarily a bad move to have two, especially if you’re streaming and want to stay a week ahead of the matchups (target the Chiefs DST off waivers this week since they play the Raiders two weeks from now).
It’s better to be even a little bit prepared for a bite from the injury bug than to be completely unprepared.
Three big questions from Week 10
Has the Ravens youth movement come early?
Some might argue it came on time. Leaning on their offensive line and attacking the absolute weak spot of the Bengals defense, undrafted rookie Gus Edwards and first-round pick Lamar Jackson each had over 110 yards on the ground to help pace the Ravens to an unconventional 24-21 win over the Bengals. Jackson in particular wowed as a runner, though he left quite a bit to be desired as a passer, rarely challenging downfield and throwing an interception without finding the end zone. There’s a Tim Tebow sort of feel to Jackson, but that’s alright —Tebow helped people win Fantasy leagues way back when, and Jackson could do the same. More on Edwards below, but both are going to be popular adds off waivers this week with the Raiders coming to Baltimore in Week 12 before the Ravens face the Falcons in Week 13.
What does Jameis Winston’s return mean for the Bucs offense?
It means they’re still going to rack up plenty of yards, but have to deal with some interceptions. Winston came off the bench to replace Ryan Fitzpatrick — the third in-game quarterback change by the Buccaneers this season — and threw for 199 yards on 12 of 16 passes with two touchdowns and an interception. The assumption remains the same until proven otherwise: Winston will utilize his running backs and tight ends a bit more than Fitzpatrick did, and will lean on his bigger receivers rather than DeSean Jackson. They could very easily get back on track at home against the 49ers next week.
Is DJ Moore for real this time or was this another mirage?
You can never expect much consistency from the Panthers passing game because they’re so dang good at running the ball, but Moore really broke out against a putrid Lions defense. On eight targets, Moore collected seven grabs for 157 yards and a touchdown including an 82-yard catch-and-run that perfectly encapsulated what his specialty is. These were across-the-board season-highs and proof that he can be a factor in this offense. However … and this is where the mood changes … it came against a terrible Lions pass defense. He wasn’t the only one with career-marks through the air (Curtis Samuel also notched a 5-55-1 stat line). So the matchup had a lot to do with it. The Panthers host the Seahawks next week but then take on the Bucs in Week 13. I’d target using Moore in that matchup against the Bucs, not necessarily against Seattle.
Five big waiver pickups for Week 12 and beyond
- Gus Edwards (0 percent owned!): Alex Collins‘ tenure as the Ravens’ top back could be over after Edwards out-paced him with 115 yards on 17 carries with a touchdown — all after Collins scored. Collins finished with just 18 yards on seven carries. It almost feels like Ravens coach John Harbaugh was looking for an excuse to bench Collins, lauding Edwards’ north-south rushing ability “that we didn’t have in the beginning of the year.” The one-time Miami Hurricane and Rutgers Scarlet Knight will bring his big frame but swift moves to the front lines of the Ravens offense against a beleaguered Raiders run defense at home in Week 12. He’s going to be a high priority for a bunch of Fantasy managers.
- Josh Adams (54 percent owned): I wasn’t interested in starting Adams this week against the Saints, but that won’t happen again after he accounted for Philly’s only bright spot Sunday. Adams’ 28-yard touchdown jaunt fortified what was otherwise a fairly limited outing — seven carries for 53 yards and three catches for 19 yards. Those three catches are encouraging, because it would help if he will be a larger part of the Eagles passing game moving forward. And with Corey Clement and Wendell Smallwood struggling to even find carries, perhaps Adams can take a large chunk of the Eagles’ run game against the Giants next week. Peyton Barber had over 100 yards and scored on them on Sunday.
- Lamar Jackson (24 percent owned): Got Jared Goff? How about Patrick Mahomes? Jackson sizes up as a great bye-week replacement for them. Not only might he notch over 100 rush yards against the Raiders in Week 12, but Oakland gave up three touchdowns to Josh Rosen on Sunday and will be on the road for the second straight week. Heck, you might want to start Jackson even if you don’t have a stud quarterback on a bye.
- Theo Riddick (46 percent owned): If the Lions think they’re going to ride Blount like they did Kerryon Johnson, they’re fooling themselves. Expect Riddick to see the largest jump in playing time in Detroit’s backfield, though the only way he’ll make waves in Week 12 against the Bears is through the air. He’s a PPR-only add.
- Keke Coutee (32 percent owned): He reprised his role as the Texans’ slot receiver and quickly regained his form as a safe PPR flex. There’s no reason to believe he won’t be good for five-plus grabs per week, especially if Houston’s run game can’t maintain consistency