Monitoring players' injury status is crucial to fantasy football, from draft preparation to in-season roster moves and, ultimately, sit/start decisions. In this week's injury report cheat sheet, I'll comb through the official injury reports for each game and offer updates and analysis for not just fantasy-relevant players, but for all players whose availability could influence another player’s fantasy rankings.
Todd Gurley II, RB – Gurley’s arthritic knee is going to keep him out of Sunday’s shootout versus the Raiders, and Brian Hill becomes a top-20 option at running back. He will most certainly be the chalk in DFS on DraftKings at just 4K.
Las Vegas ranks 29th in PFF run-defense grade and has allowed the second-most rushing touchdowns to running backs this season.Unlike Gurley, Hill has been a staple in the passing game all year so he'll be involved in this game even if the Falcons fall behind.
Hill has the same number of catches as Gurley this year (16) but has run fewer routes (102 vs 173).
Julio Jones, WR – Atlanta could also be without its alpha WR in Week 12, and that screams disaster for Matt Ryan. In the three games Ryan has played without a healthy Jones, he has averaged just under 10 fantasy points per game.
Jones’ absence makes Calvin Ridley a stone-cold lock in DFS. Even though Ryan has been a disaster in three games without Jones, he has facilitated two 100-yard receiving games for Ridley.
Clelin Ferrell, DE – Ferrell leads the Raiders in generated pressures and has the second-highest run defense grade on the team. If he's out that would further help the Falcons’ running game.
In those four games, Beasley has averaged just over five receptions and 13.1 fantasy points per game. The matchup from the slot also favors the Bills’ crafty wideout — the Chargers rank dead last in yards per target on passes to WRs in the slot.
Also, don’t fret if Chris Harris Jr. comes back for L.A. From the slot this season, he has allowed eight catches for 131 yards and a touchdown on 11 targets.
Brown’s absence does not necessarily bode well for Allen’s ceiling. Four of Allen’s “floor games” came with Brown inactive or limited throughout the game. When Brown has been 100% healthy, Allen has averaged 31 fantasy points per game. In the other games, that drops to a staggering 17.5 fantasy points per game.
That’s not to say Allen should be benched this week, but he may not have a top-five finish like we are accustomed to. But you’ll sure want to have strong exposure to Stefon Diggs in DFS this week because Casey Hayward Jr. is out for Sunday. He is the Chargers’ No. 1 outside cornerback.
Austin Ekeler, RB – Head coach Anthony Lynn says Ekeler has a chance to return this against the Bills. If he does, fire him up across the board, especially in DFS where we see stud RBs go low-owned and then blow up. Kalen Ballage was my running back “start of the week” because the Bills’ matchup is too good to pass up on.
Larry Fitzgerald, WR – Fitzgerald was placed on the Covid/reserve list this week and will not suit up this Sunday. This means 2019 second-round pick Andy Isabella will see more action, and he possesses a ton of explosive upside. The Pats rank dead last explosive pass play percentage to WRs this season. Isabella should see a healthy amount of targets with the defense preoccupied with DeAndre Hopkins.
Corey Peters, DI – The Cardinals lost a key run-stuffer in Week 11 and their run defense got exposed. They allowed 5.4 yards per attempt and a 24% explosive run rate. Considering most of this rushing came from an older Carlos Hyde, that does project well for them to contain the Patriots’ rushing attack.
Isaiah Wynn, LT – The Patriots could run into some pass-protection issues this week without their starting left tackle. Wynn is the team’s highest-graded pass-blocker. This could lead to more quick throws, so James White’s stock continues to surge with Rex Burkhead gone for the remainder of the season.
Joe Burrow, QB – Brandon Allen will get the start for the Bengals this week, and that might be good for Tee Higgins, who operates as the team’s vertical threat. Last year with Denver, Allen peppered Courtland Sutton with a 33% target share and targeted him downfield frequently (14.9-yard aDOT).
Higgins is coming off a week where he finished third in total air yards, so fantasy managers should not be so quick to abandon the talented rookie. As we have seen with Terry McLaurin, great WRs can overcome less-than-stellar QB play.
If Allen treats Higgins like his 2019 version of Sutton, those who stick with the talented rookie will be pleasantly surprised.
If Bernard can’t go, Perine would fall into the Frank Gore RB tier based on volume. Last year when the Bengals played with a backup quarterback, Joe Mixon saw carry totals of 30, 15 and 18 in three starts.
If Bernard does play, this backfield will be hands-off because it projects like an ugly two-man split. In three starts last season, the most targets an RB saw from Allen was five.
Sterling Shepard, WR – I am not sure if Darius Slayton made a deal with the devil himself, but he always seems to stay healthy while other Giants wide receivers get hurt. I say this because when other receivers are hurt around him his targets and production skyrocket. He saw seven targets on three separate occasions during the beginning of the season with Shepard out of the lineup. Shepard is listed as questionable, so if he can’t go, jam Slayton into DFS lineups in an uber-matchup.
Even if Shep plays, he hasn’t been reliable when playing with injuries. Shepard or no Shepard, Slayton should be in for a big day.
Salvon Ahmed, Myles Gaskin RB – Ahmed is out and the team will reportedly watch the film to see if Gaskin can play. This leaves the Miami backfield in limbo until we know more about Gaskin’s availability. If he can’t go, I will once again shoot my shot on DeAndre Washington. The team has been so reluctant to feature Matt Breida — after being traded to Miami, Washington should be much more acclimated to the offense.
Tua Tagovailoa, QB – Tua is dealing with a thumb injury, so he has to be off the streaming radar. There are a ton of other great options at QB this week, including Ryan Fitzpatrick should he get the nod. That’d be great for DeVante Parker’s fantasy ceiling.
Jakeem Grant, WR – Grant is questionable with a hamstring injury. If he's out, Malcolm Perry would operate as the team’s No. 2 out of the slot. He saw five targets and played 92% of his snaps from the slot.
Sam Darnold, QB – The Jets’ “franchise QB” is set to make his return in Week 12, which causes a shake-up in how we should view his pass-catchers. Jamison Crowder needs to be placed back into the WR3 conversation considering Darnold has targeted him or his immediate back-up Braxton Berrios on 28% of his pass attempts.
Denzel Mims needs to be on the radar too — he saw nine targets in his one game with Darnold. Breshad Perriman, on the other hand, has seen his fantasy stock rise the most with Joe Flacco under center, so he can be left as waiver wire fodder. He has just 13 targets total in three games with Darnold.
DeForest Buckner, DI – Do you hear that? Yes, that’s the sound of Derrick Henry soaring up my RB rankings. Buckner will miss Sunday’s game because of Covid, which leaves a massive hole in the Colts’ run defense. He is PFF’s fifth-highest graded interior defensive linemen.
Ryan Kelly, C – The Colts’ starting center didn’t practice all week, which is never a good sign. He will likely be replaced by rookie Danny Pinter, who has graded well in pass-blocking (75.1) in limited snaps this season. Slight downgrade for the Colts’ backs without Kelly.
Rodger Saffold, David Quessenberry, OL – The Titans’ run-blocking was fine without Saffold last week (72.1 grade), but their pass-blocking was subpar (51.1). Ty Sambrailo was poor in relief at left tackle — now that he has been placed on IR, in comes Quessenberry to protect Ryan Tannehill’s blindside.
The Colts hardly have an elite pass-rush, but Tannehill’s fantasy numbers have taken a toll since Tennessee lost starting tackle Taylor Lewan.
Adam Thielen, WR – His availability is up in the air for Sunday’s contest after he was placed on the Covid/reserve list earlier this week. If he can’t go, that would make Justin Jefferson set up to dominate the Panthers, who rank 28th in explosive pass play percentage allowed (24%) over the past four weeks.
Jefferson ranks second in the NFL (22) in catches of 15 yards or more. Thielen’s absence would also create an opportunity for the tight ends to get more involved in the offense. The Panthers have allowed the second-most fantasy points to tight ends over the past four weeks.
Irv Smith Jr., TE – ISJ is listed as doubtful, which puts Kyle Rudolph in play in a plus-matchup. Carolina has allowed the second-most fantasy points to TEs over the past four weeks and Rudolph posted his highest receiving total (63 yards) in the only game this season when Smith was inactive.
Last season, Rudolph also saw a huge boost in fantasy production when Thielen was inactive. From Weeks 7-13, he was the TE4 on the back of six receiving touchdowns.
Donte Jackson, CB – Action Jackson has been banged up all season with a toe injury and missed last week’s game. He is doubtful for Week 12 and will be replaced on the outside by rookie Troy Pride Jr., who has really struggled this season with a 34.4 PFF coverage grade.
D.J. Chark Jr., Chris Conley, WR – Two of the Jags’ top wide receivers have already been ruled out, so Laviska Shenault Jr., Keelan Cole and Collin Johnson will have the luxury of catching passes from Mike Glennon.
Chark was already a “sit” for me heading into Week 12, so this makes the decision easier for fantasy managers.
If anything, I’d be drawn to Shenault in DFS because of his YAC ability and low aDOT (5.5, 102nd ranked). In 2017, Glennon’s average depth of throw (6.8) ranked 55th out of 56 qualifying quarterbacks.
Sidney Jones, CB – Without their highest-graded cornerback in Jones (77.3), the Jags will have to turn to the likes of Josiah Scott, Tre Herndon and Luq Barcoo — and all have PFF coverage grades below 50. Stock is way up for the Browns’ passing attack.
Denzel Ward, CB – Ward is the Browns' best cornerback — 75.0 PFF coverage grade — and his absence opens the door for the low-owned Jaguars wide receivers in DFS tournaments. He primarily lines up at LCB, and Shenault has played the majority of his snaps at RWR this season — meaning Shenault will see a lot of back-up Tavierre Thomas. Thomas has a coverage grade of 49.3 this season.
Myles Garrett, DE – Even without Garrett last week, the Brown ranked eighth on the week in pressure rate (44%). Start the Browns DST with confidence and pray that Glennon just continues to pepper Shenault with check-down targets.
Bryce Callahan, CB – Callahan is by far the best Denver cornerback. He ranks No. 3 in the NFL in fewest yards allowed per coverage snap (0.55) and represents the team’s only chance on slowing down Michael Thomas.
Jerry Jeudy, WR – Jeudy missed practice Thursday with a foot injury that has reportedly been “bugging him.” That might explain his drop-off in production the past few weeks, so be ready to pivot to the likes of Tim Patrick who would operate as the team’s No. 1 if Jeudy is limited or inactive. This would also be a boost for Noah Fant, who I believe is underrated this week.
Graham Glasgow, Demar Dotson, OL – The Broncos' two highest-graded run-blocking offensive linemen are listed as questionable heading into Week 12 — that’s just more reason why Melvin Gordon III should be on the bench across all formats.
Andrus Peat, G – The Saints’ guard is dealing with a concussion, putting in his status for Sunday in doubt. He also missed Week 4 and Alvin Kamara rushed for a season-high 83 yards, so this injury shouldn’t concern anyone.
Richard Sherman, CB – Before Sherman was hurt he was the 49ers’ best cornerback — he was targeted just twice in Week 1. Sherman typically locks down the left side of the field, so his active status lowers expectations for Robert Woods, who primarily lines up at RWR.
Brandon Aiyuk, WR – The rookie WR remains on the Covid/reserve list — his absence would boost the stock of the Deebo Samuel (assuming he also plays) and my start of the week at tight end, Jordan Reed.
Trent Williams, T – We saw Williams miss Week 9 versus the Green Bay Packers and the team failed to establish any identity running the ball despite a plus matchup. They averaged 3.5 yards per carry and had one rush go over 10 yards. If Williams is out, avoid all S.F. RBs — he is PFF’s seventh-highest graded run-blocker this season (83.8).
Raheem Mostert, Tevin Coleman, Jeff Wilson Jr., RB – Mostert and Wilson have a chance to be activated off IR, but they are not very enticing options if Williams can’t play. The Rams have allowed the fourth-fewest fantasy points to RBs this season. If both running backs are ruled out, then Jerick McKinnon becomes an option because the team may have no one else to turn to.
Coleman has already been ruled out.
Arik Armstead, Javon Kinlaw, D.J. Jones, DL – Armstead will make his return this week to ensure the Rams can’t impose their will running the football. He is the team’s highest-graded run-defender (69.7).
But if the 49ers can’t get get Kinlaw and Jones back, they might be in for a world of pain against the run. It would leave the defense depleted in the interior.
It’s been almost six weeks since we've seen Watkins on the field in 2020, but it’s important to note that during his four healthy games he was averaging nearly 13.3 fantasy points per game and saw an equal target share in the offense (17%) to Tyreek Hill.
Though Demarcus Robinson has had a slight surge in production with Watkins and Mecole Hardman missing time, I fully expect Watkins to slide back into the No. 2 receiver role come Sunday. Robinson averaged just over three targets per game with a healthy Watkins.
Watkins’ aDOT (6.9, nice) also fits perfectly with how the Chiefs can pick apart this Buccaneers’ secondary. The Bucs have faced the fourth-most targets and have allowed fifth-most catches to WRs targeted zero to nine yards downfield. Watkins ranks second on the team in targets in that area and has missed five games this season. He also ranks 10th in yards per route run (4.25) on these short targets.
Ali Marpet, Donovan Smith, OL – Tom Brady’s production comes and goes with the health of his offensive line. Marpet has missed the last three games and Brady’s pressure rate has risen from 21.2% (league-low) to 38.2% (11th-highest). Backup tackle Josh Wells played well in limited action last week, but his 2019 PFF grade (39.0) is not encouraging.
Jamel Dean, CB – There isn’t an injury on the planet that would change a fantasy manager's stance on starting a Chiefs key offensive player, but the Bucs are going to be without their highest-graded cornerback in Dean, so they could be in a world of trouble. He is projected to match up with Demarcus Robinson/Sammy Watkins per PFF’s WR/CB matchup so they’d get a boost if he can’t go.
Nick Foles, QB – Mitchell Trubisky looks like the projected starter for Sunday night, and a QB change might not be the worst thing for the Bears’ offense. Trubisky threw six touchdown passes in just three games whereas Foles has thrown 10 in eight games.
David Montgomery is the undisputed bell cow in his backfield, but be aware that his pass-game usage might dip with Trubisky under center. Montgomery saw only five targets in two and a half games with Trubisky to start the season.
Akiem Hicks, DI – There’s a solid chance that Hicks can’t suit up on Sunday night. That would be a massive blow to the team’s efforts in containing Aaron Jones. Without him at points last season, the Bears allowed three different RBs to rush for over 119 yards. They also allowed over one rushing touchdown per game.
This season, the Bears have allowed just six rushing touchdowns, which ranks third in the league.
Marquez Valdes-Scantling, WR – MVS popped up in the injury report this week with an Achilles injury. If he can’t go, more targets will be available for the running backs, Allen Lazard and Equianimeous St. Brown.
Zach Ertz, TE – Ertz is expected to make his return to the lineup for Week 12, but don’t allow his presence to influence start/sit decisions on Dallas Goedert. The Eagles run 12 personnel at the highest rate in the league (34%), so I don’t expect Goedert’s snaps to diminish.
During the first two weeks of the season with both TEs healthy and active, Goedert led all Eagles in every major statistical receiving category.
Also, we have seen Richard Rodgers compile 108 receiving yards over the past two weeks operating as the team’s No. 2 tight end.
Vinny Curry, DE – Curry was placed on the Covid reserve list last week, so he missed Week 11. In his absence, Nick Chubb rushed for over 100 yards. The Eagles’ run defense has struggled without Curry playing all season —with Curry out from Weeks 2-5, the defense allowed a RB to surpass at least 20 fantasy points twice.
Lane Johnson, T – Johnson told reporters that he is done for the season — this makes Carson Wentz hands-off in fantasy football. Two of Wentz’s worst early fantasy outings came with Johnson sidelined. Without Johnson the team's pressure rate rises from 35% to 41% and sack percentage under pressure rise from 20% to 32%.
Add the Seattle DST if available.
Greg Olsen, TE – Olsen won’t be returning for Seattle anytime soon, thrusting Jacob Hollister into the starting role. Over the past three weeks — including a game in which Hollister was injured — the Seahawks’ tight end has commanded 10 targets and posted a team-high 83.8 PFF receiving grade.
I expect Hollister to get the nod over Will Dissly, and he is a great plug-and-play option for Week 12. Philadelphia has allowed the sixth-most fantasy points to the TE position.
J.K. Dobbins, Mark Ingram II, RB – News broke Monday that both J.K. Dobbins and Mark Ingram II tested positive for Covid-19 and will miss Thursday night’s game versus the Pittsburgh Steelers. This slides Gus Edwards into the starting role, and he has had the Steelers’ number in the past.
In his last two games against his AFC North rival, Gus Bus has 37 carries for 217 yards and 28.9 fantasy points. Ergo, if he is the only show in town, he can be a viable fantasy contributor.
Lamar Jackson, QB – The reigning MVP tested positive for Covid-19 and will miss Week 12. Robert Griffin III will start in his place. He shouldn’t be started versus Pittsburgh, but in two-QB leagues he should be added. If Jackson has to miss extended time, RG3 could be viable down the stretch with some plus-matchups on the horizon.
Calais Campbell, Brandon Williams, DI – The Ravens' two premier run-stuffers are both on the Covid/reserve list. They have allowed 286 rushing yards over that span, which is the second-most in the league (5.0 yards per attempt).
Pernell McPhee, DE – McPhee has led the team in run-stop percentage over the past two weeks (15.4%) but also won’t be available for the team’s scheduled game for Tuesday because of Covid-19.