Mad Caps… Round one of the Fantasy Football Playoffs is here!!! Yet, the excitement is dampened thanks to a plethora of positive Covid tests. Omicron? How about Omi-gone? Given the state of things, that’s wishful thinking. Fantasy managers can only hope the fallout from these tests isn’t any more damaging than it already has been. Gotta love the opportunity at Tuesday Night Football, however.
Due to this Covid surge, three games have been postponed for Week 15, sending the fantasy community (and the actual football players/teams, more importantly) into a bit of chaos. Saturday’s Las Vegas/Cleveland game was moved to Monday. The Washington/Philadelphia and Seattle/Los Angeles Rams games have been moved to Tuesday. While news is still trickling out pertaining to those contests, The Infirmary is here to get managers ready for Sundays action. Let’s go!
TE Adam Trautman– NO (Knee), RB Michael Carter– NYJ (Ankle), TE Tyler Kroft– NYJ (Chest)
Trautman’s return could be a boon for the Saints, and fantasy managers alike. It was Week 11 when Trautman last played, and in that contest he registered five receptions for 58 yards and a touchdown. It felt like the beginning of a breakout season; then came the injury. Now back in the fold, he should immediately become a favorite weapon for Saint’s quarterback Taysom Hill.
Carter was also making noise before he was sent to the reserve, and he is much needed talent for a Jets team lacking in it. Sure, rookie QB Zach Wilson hasn’t looked great (and he may never look great), but where are the offensive weapons? Elijah Moore and Corey Davis are on IR, leaving Wilson to fend off defenses with the likes of Tevin Coleman and Jamison Crowder. They were once fine players, but as top options… Awe inspiring they are not.
WR DeAndre Hopkins– ARI (Knee), TE T.J. Hockenson– DET (Hand), RB Giovani Bernard– TB (Hip/Knee)
The Hock man is out for the fantasy playoffs, much to the chagrin of many a fantasy manager. While Hockenson was out last week, Detroit went with a two tight end approach. Called up from the practice squad, rookie Shane Zylstra garnered six targets (two catches) and a 63.0-percent Snap Share. Fellow rookie Brock Wright managed five targets (three catches) and a 57.4-percent Snap Share. Zylstra does seem to have the edge, by both stats and reports, but this seems a mess overall; and it is the Lions. Managers should look for tight end relief elsewhere.
Perhaps the biggest news of the week (Covid aside) is Hopkins. The Cards top wideout is done, at least for fantasy purposes. He may return for the NFL playoffs. While that certainly bumps up every pass catcher in the pecking order, A.J. Green is the prime beneficiary.
Last week in Nuk’s absence, Green accumulated seven receptions on 10 targets for 102 yards. Look at that; the 33-year old still has “gas left in the tank.” Let’s hope that gas is of the league-winning kind.
WR Sammy Watkins– BAL (Covid/Knee), WR Anthony Schwartz– CLE (Concussion), RB D’Andre Swift– DET (Shoulder), RB Jamaal Williams– DET (Covid), RB Carlos Hyde– JAX (Concussion), TE Darren Waller– LV (Back/Knee), WR Jaylen Waddle– MIA (Covid), RB Phillip Lindsay– MIA (Covid), RB Alexander Mattison– MIN (Covid), QB Daniel Jones– NYG (Neck), RB Elijah Mitchell– SF (Concussion/Knee)
Ok, does this mean we’re in store for another Craig Reynolds showing? Forget Godwin Igwebuike and his 91st-percentile Speed Score. Forget Jermar Jefferson and his 76th-percentile College Dominator Rating. This is the Reynolds show. No, not Ryan. CRAIG freaking Reynolds. However, reports indicate last week they were cautious with Jefferson due to an ankle injury, and he’s do a larger load while Igwebuike looks to handle pass catching duties. Yuck. Best avoid this situation in playoff matchups.
Giants quarterback Jones will miss another game, as will Mitchell for the Niners. Jones absence reduces the value of an already banged up receiving group. Things could get ugly. With San Francisco, Mitchell’s absence can only mean one things; more Deebo Samuel at running back. There’s no reason to ever NOT play Samuel if he’s available. His versatility is such to make any man or woman giddy.
WR Emmanuel Sanders– BUF (Knee), WR Marquise Goodwin– CHI (Foot), RB Kareem Hunt– CLE (Ankle/Covid)
Nick Chubb is set to have one helluva a Tuesday Night. That’s it. That’s the takeaway here.
RB James Conner– ARI (Ankle), TE Zach Ertz– ARI (Hamstring), WR Calvin Ridley– ATL (Personal), QB Lamar Jackson– BAL (Ankle), WR Marquise Brown– BAL (Illness), WR D.J. Moore– CAR (Hamstring), QB Andy Dalton– CHI (Covid), WR Allen Robinson– CHI (Covid), QB Baker Mayfield– CLE (Covid), QB Case Keenum– CLE (Covid), WR Jarvis Landry– CLE (Covid), TE Austin Hooper– CLE (Covid), TE Harrison Bryant– CLE (Ankle), RB Tony Pollard– DAL (Foot), RB Javonte Williams– DEN (Knee), RB Melvin Gordon III- DEN (Thumb), WR Josh Reynolds– DET (Thigh), WR Marquez Valdes-Scantling– GB (Back), RB Rex Burkhead– HOU (Hip), TE Brevin Jordan– HOU (Hand), TE Tyler Higbee– LAR (Covid), WR Adam Thielen– MIN (Ankle), RB Brandon Bolden– NE (Knee), WR Lil’Jordan Humphrey– NO (Hamstring), WR Sterling Shepard– NYG (Calf), WR Kadarius Toney– NYG (Covid/Quad), WR John Ross– NYG (Covid), QB Jalen Hurts– PHI (Ankle), WR Quez Watkins– PHI (Covid), WR Tyler Lockett– SEA (Covid), RB Alex Collins– SEA (Abdomen), RB Leonard Fournette– TB (Ankle), QB Taylor Heinicke– WAS (Covid), QB Brandon Allen– WAS (Covid), WR Terry McLaurin– WAS (Concussion), WR Curtis Samuel– WAS (Groin), RB J.D. McKissic– WAS (Concussion)
While a chunk of these players’ status’ will remain in question due to Covid, there are some things worth mentioning.
Lamar Jackson is the biggest question mark this week. While he hasn’t been as sharp in recent games as earlier in the season, we’d all rather have Lamar than not. Tyler Huntley played admirable in Jackson’s stead, but he is no Lamar, to be certain. By this time in the year, contenders should have some depth at QB, but his loss would hurt.
In other QB news, if Mayfield and Keenum should both sot for the Browns, former 49er Nick Mullens would take the start Monday night. There’s a similar situation brewing in Washington, where both Heinicke and Allen hit the Covid list. If neither can pass the protocols, newly signed Garrett Gilbert or practice squad mainstay Kyle Shurmur will get the nod. This is just more yuck. Yuck, yuck, yuck. Perhaps Nick Chubb and Washington’s Antonio Gibson can take advantage of what should be large workloads.
In good news, it appears that Conner will be on the field for Cardinals. On a side note, pour one out for Chase Edmonds. As fellow writer Aaron Stewart recently said, “Edmonds is Duke Johnson 2.0.” It does feel quite similar… The Broncos running backs should also be good for today’s matchup against the Bengals in the Mile High City. By the way, let’s give Gordon some love. Javonte’s time is coming, let’s celebrate what his teammate has done this year. He is currently the RB22 in fantasy. Anyone recall who was drafted the same year as Gordon? Props to the man for staying relevant. Not an easy thing at that position.
With the fantasy playoffs always comes excitement. Unfortunately, these times also bring stress. Even more so in this year of 2021, where the Covid-19 pandemic seems never ending. But as the NFL has proven time and time again, “The show must go on.” Indeed, and it shall. Ready or not, the time has come to make those championship runs. For fantasy managers, only depth and luck can help you now. And of course, The Infirmary will assist along the way, as well.