Merry Christmas! Today’s fantasy football injury report touches on 27 players. Many of those listed are “circle backs” from earlier in the week that missed a practice. In addition to those players, the others are folks who never got to 100% in practice this week. Many of the players in such a predicament are questionable heading into the game and I like to give you an idea of who may take their reps in the worst case scenario.
QBs: Lamar Jackson, Tyler Huntley, Jared Goff, Justin Fields, Andy Dalton
RBs: Antonio Gibson, D’Andre Swift, James Conner, Damien Harris, Rhamondre Stevenson, David Johnson, Brandon Bolden
WRs: Mike Evans, Adam Thielen, DJ Moore, Jamison Crowder, Laviska Shenault, Gabriel Davis, Rondale Moore, Josh Reynolds, Kalif Raymond, Nelson Agholor, Devin Duvernay, Jakeem Grant, N’Keal Harry
TEs: Darren Waller, Pat Freiermuth
Arizona Cardinals: James Conner (RB)/Rondale Moore (WR) - Neither player was able to reach even a limited participation status at any point this week. They simply didn’t touch the practice field and yet are expected to have a chance at playing today. If they play, it won’t be much. Chase Edmonds is expected to get the bulk of the touches in such a scenario and has averaged just short of six yards per carry. This doesn’t even include his abilities out of the backfield, three receptions a game. Moore is easier to replace within the offense as Antoine Wesley moves into a WR3 role. In six games this season, Wesley has been targeted 19 times for 11 receptions.
Baltimore Ravens: Lamar Jackson (QB)/Tyler Huntley (QB)/Devin Duvernay (WR) - These three players were not at practice on Friday. Lamar and Devin are still tending to ankle injuries that kept them off the practice field all week, resulting in a likely out status. Huntley’s situation is concerning as he developed an illness on Friday. Normally a non-COVID illness isn’t all that worrisome, but Lamar missed a game earlier in the year for such a thing. If that were to occur the team has Josh Johnson on the bench. Johnson has been with what feels like every team on the NFL throughout his journeyman career. He nearly led a comeback for the Jets against the Colts earlier in the season in what may have been the best showing of his career, throwing for over 300 yards and three touchdowns.
Buffalo Bills: Gabriel Davis (WR) - This is a blow to the Bills WR room as they expected Davis to continue to play a role in their offense this week without Cole Beasley. Unfortunately, Davis is unvaccinated and joins Cole on the mend for the next two weeks. Isaiah McKenzie now becomes WR3 behind Stefon Diggs and Emmanuel Sanders. McKenzie has 73 total yards and a touchdown this season as a gadget player and special teamer.
Carolina Panthers: DJ Moore (WR) - The clear no.1 for the club, Moore was able to hit the practice field on Friday in a limited fashion. I still don’t feel too confident in his ability for Sunday but he did play banged up in Week 15. If he cannot go, Brandon Zylstra will see a bigger role opposite Robby Anderson. Zylstra has six receptions on nine targets between the last two weeks.
Chicago Bears: Justin Fields (QB)/Andy Dalton (QB)/Jakeem Grant (WR) - The pair of signal callers were surpassed by Nick Foles for the starting role on Sunday against the Seahawks. Fields and Dalton are both banged up and there is a chance that neither may even be able to back up Foles. Nick has only found success in Philadelphia and everywhere else has struggled. He went 2-5 last season with the Bears, putting up an 11:8 TD:TO ratio. Grant is still dealing with concussion protocol and thus will not play this week, giving the speedy slot spot back to Marquise Goodwin. Goodwin has been out for a few weeks with an injury of his own. Marquise had just put up a 100-yard game prior to his injury against the Lions.
Detroit Lions: Jared Goff (QB)/D’Andre Swift (RB)/Josh Reynolds (WR)/Kalif Raymond (WR) - The first injury is going to affect the other three this week. Goff is all but ruled out for Sunday with COVID, leading to Tim Boyle starting. Boyle only created 77 yards of offense in his one start earlier in the season. The trio of players after Goff all practiced throughout the week in a limited fashion. I think the club will go with a heavy run game approach, meaning Swift probably plays. D’Andre has been out for a few weeks with a shoulder injury. I anticipate Jamaal Williams and Craig Reynolds to still see their touches. Reynolds was too good the last two weeks not to, averaging over five yards a carry. The WRs may play, but I don’t expect much from them even against a bad Falcons defense.
Houston Texans: David Johnson (RB) - After not practicing all week, I don’t expect Johnson to play Sunday against the Chargers. This will lead to a split of touches between Rex Burkhead and Royce Freeman. Something has to give in this one as neither back average over three yards a carry and the Chargers are awful against RBs in fantasy. I think there is potential for a happy medium result that could give you FLEX value but monitor the situation.
Jacksonville Jaguars: Laviska Shenault (WR) - The wideout was placed on COVID protocol yesterday, being ruled out for Sunday. This will place Laquon Treadwell in a bigger role opposite Marvin jones. Treadwell has seemed to find a groove for the first time in his career with the Jags. The former 1st round pick has 18 receptions over the last four weeks on 28 targets. Honestly, I would add him and start him against the Jets.
Las Vegas Raiders: Darren Waller (TE) - The star tight end continues to start the week off questionable, but doesn’t practice and is thus ruled out on Sunday. I understand it’s gamesmanship, but it sucks for fantasy owners who have a stud at the position. Nevertheless, Foster Moreau is going to carry the load again. Last week he put up a solid week for the second time as TE1, making seven receptions.
Minnesota Vikings: Adam Thielen (WR) - As the wideout works their way back from a sprained ankle, they went out on the practice field in a limited fashion all week. He will likely return to the side opposite of Justin Jefferson. If there is a setback between now and then, KJ Osborn will see the role once more. KJ has ten receptions over the last three weeks on 19 targets.
New England Patriots: Damien Harris (RB)/Rhamondre Stevenson (RB)/Brandon Bolden (RB)/Nelson Agholor (WR)/N’Keal Harry (WR) - To start this long list of injuries off, Stevenson and Agholor are both ruled out for the game against the Bills on Sunday. Harris, Bolden and Harry are all questionable with their respective injury situations. It’s likely that all three will play due to the aforementioned injuries. Harris has averaged 4.6 yards per carry this season and Bolden is on pace for 45 receptions as a threat out of the backfield. Harry likely plays because not only Agholor is out, but Kendrick Bourne is still in COVID protocol. This makes Jakobi Meyers the only starting WR left. Harry has ten receptions this season.
New York Jets: Jamison Crowder (WR) - The elite slot receiver was all but ruled out yesterday with his calf injury. This is going to push Braxton Berrios into a bigger role as I’ve mentioned earlier this week. I think Berrios has value in the matchup against the Jaguars if you are desperate for a FLEX. Boom or bust.
Pittsburgh Steelers: Pat Freiermuth (TE) - The rookie tight end was ruled out yesterday with a concussion, unable to take the field on Sunday against the Chiefs. Zach Gentry will get his first career start. Gentry has put up ten receptions this season as a TE2 behind Freiermuth.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Mike Evans (WR) - This doesn’t come as a surprise after the loss to the Saints last week, Evans is really banged up. The team is trying to conserve what they have to get to the playoffs and be as healthy as possible. Antonio Brown just returned to the team and will be WR1, followed by Tyler Johnson and Scotty Miller. Johnson has seven receptions over the last two weeks, mainly a short yardage target. Maybe he takes a Godwin role?
Washington Football Team: Antonio Gibson (RB) - This is maybe the most concerning injury of the week for fantasy owners. Gibson hasn’t practiced all week, and seems to have a healthy chance of not going on Sunday night. Given the timing of the game, you won’t have many players to choose from to replace him at the last minute. Jaret Patterson would get his first career start if Gibson is out, the undrafted rookie from Buffalo. Jaret did not get respect coming out of a small school following a historic 2020 that saw him rush for nearly 1,100 yards and 19 touchdowns in six games. I am placing a bit of bias in this one.