We’ve reached the portion of the NFL season where we play a guessing game about how much teams will use their best players coming off injuries or in meaningless games. It is the least fun game one can play.
Fantasy players should watch for any and all indications of how Washington is going to use Antonio Gibson in his possible return from a toe injury and how the Niners might deploy George Kittle in his first game in two months. Talk of pitch counts and situational playing time should certainly be baked into our Week 16 decision making.
This fantasy championship weekend is not for the risk averse.
Bucs @ Lions
Bucs CB Carlton Davis (groin) is doubtful.
Lions T Tyrell Crosby (ankle) and WR Kenny Golladay (hip) are out, clearing the way for another week of Marvin Jones as the Lions’ top wideout. He could be in line for double digit targets if game script goes sideways for Detroit — a pretty good bet.
Lions LB Jamie Collins (neck), T Taylor Decker (groin), S Jayron Kearse (hip), K Matt Prater (back), C Frank Ragnow (throat), CB Darryl Roberts (hip), QB Matthew Stafford (rib, right thumb), and T Halapoulivaati Vaitai (concussion) are questionable. Stafford is expected to suit up.
49ers @ Cardinals
49ers RB Raheem Mostert (ankle), QB Nick Mullens (right elbow), WR Deebo Samuel (hamstring), CB Richard Sherman (calf), and S Jimmie Ward (concussion) are out. C.J. Beathard will get the start this week and should only be used as a streaming option in deep superflex leagues. Jeff Wilson becomes a decent low-end RB2 who should see most early-down carries and goal line opportunities. Samuel’s absence all but guarantees Brandon Aiyuk will dominate targets, though George Kittle’s return from injured reserve could impact Aiyuk’s target share.
Head coach Kyle Shanahan said Kittle will be on “somewhat of a pitch count” — whatever that means — likely limiting the massive upside we know and love. KIttle should still be considered a top-10 tight end option without a full complement of snaps.
49ers DE Dion Jordan (knee) is doubtful, and C Hroniss Grasu (knee), DT Javon Kinlaw (knee), S Tarvarius Moore (knee), and CB Emmanuel Moseley (hamstring) are considered questionable.
Cardinals LB Dennis Gardeck (knee) is out. TE Dan Arnold (back), TE Darrell Daniels (hamstring), RB Chase Edmonds (ankle, knee), LB Kylie Fitts (hamstring), WR Larry Fitzgerald (groin), CB Dre Kirkpatrick (hamstring, calf),
G Justin Pugh (calf), LB Haason Reddick (shoulder), S Jalen Thompson (ankle), and TE Maxx Williams (ankle) are listed as questionable. Edmonds, who played last week without any practice, got in a limited practice on Thursday and should be good to go for Week 16. Kenyan Drake would be a RB1 if Edmonds is a surprising inactive.
Dolphins @ Raiders
Dolphins G Solomon Kindley (knee, foot) and DE Shaq Lawson (shoulder) are out. G Ereck Flowers (ankle), TE Mike Gesicki (shoulder), WR Jakeem Grant (hamstring), and WR DeVante Parker (hamstring) are questionable. Lynn Bowden would be a volume-based WR3 option if Parker or Grant are out. Parker would be a sneaky WR2 play against a Vegas secondary that’s been terrible of late.
Sunday Early Games
Falcons @ Chiefs
Falcons G James Carpenter (groin), CB Darqueze Dennard (quadricep), WR Julio Jones (hamstring), and C Alex Mack (concussion) are out. Russell Gage will continue being a usable WR3 in PPR formats with Julio inactive. CB Ricardo Allen (concussion), DT Marlon Davidson (knee), and WR Brandon Powell (foot) are out.
Chiefs RB Clyde Edwards-Helaire (ankle) and LB Damien Wilson (knee) are out. DE Frank Clark (illness), WR Tyreek Hill (hamstring) are listed as questionable, though Hill should be able to play through the hamstring issue. CEH will miss the rest of the regular season, leaving Le’Veon Bell as KC’s lead back, and the likeliest Chiefs back to see goal line opportunities. Darrel Williams will eat into Bell’s pass game involvement.
Giants @ Ravens
Giants WR Golden Tate (calf) is out after an in-practice injury this week. CB Darnay Holmes (knee), QB Daniel Jones (hamstring, ankle), and LB Blake Martinez (ankle) are listed as questionable. Jones is expected to start, but could remain gimpy only three weeks removed from a serious hamstring injury. He’s a bottom-five QB option against Baltimore.
Ravens CB Jimmy Smith (ribs, shoulder) is out. WR Marquise Brown (knee), WR Dez Bryant (thigh), DT Calais Campbell (calf), S Anthony Levine (abdomen), LB Pernell McPhee (knee), CB Marcus Peters (calf), G Tyre Phillips (concussion), RB Patrick Ricard (knee), C Matt Skura (back), and LB Kristian Welch (foot) are all questionable. Brown is expected to suit up. He’ll continue to a high-upside WR3 option.
Colts @ Steelers
Steelers LB Ulysees Gilbert (ankle) is out, while LB Olasunkanmi Adeniyi (shoulder), S Marcus Allen (neck), K Chris Boswell (groin), and RB Anthony McFarland (illness) are questionable. RB James Conner (quadricep) practiced in full this week and should return to his starting role. Head coach Mike Tomlin’s praise of Benny Snell this week could hint at a split Steelers backfield, making neither back fantasy relevant in normal-sized leagues.
Bears @ Jaguars
Bears CB Jaylon Johnson (shoulder) and CB Buster Skrine (concussion) are out, and TE Demetrius Harris (foot) is doubtful. Meanwhile, S Deon Bush (foot), DT Mario Edwards (hamstring), DT Akiem Hicks (ankle), LB Khalil Mack (shoulder), DT Bilal Nichols (knee), WR Cordarrelle Patterson (knee), WR Allen Robinson (hamstring), and CB Duke Shelley (knee, foot) are questionable. If Patterson is inactive, David Montgomery could see an even larger workload against a Jacksonville front seven being decimated by opposing rushing attacks.
QB Mike Glennon will get the nod for Jacksonville this week as Gardner Minshew is benched again. Jaguars WR Collin Johnson (hamstring) and CB Sidney Jones (Achilles) are out. RB James Robinson (ankle), who was rested all week, is listed as questionable. It would hardly be stunning for the tank-mode Jags to hold out their best player in the season’s final two weeks. Dare Ogunbowale and Devine Ozigbo would form a Week 16 committee if Robinson sits.
Bengals @ Texans
Bengals WR Tyler Boyd (concussion), LB Jordan Evans (hamstring), C B.J. Finney (abdomen), and LB Logan Wilson (ankle) are out. There’s almost no fantasy value among Bengals wideouts without Joe Burrow under center, though A.J. Green and Tee Higgins would conceivably see a target bump with Boyd sidelined.
Texans RB Duke Johnson (neck) is out, positioning David Johnson as a borderline RB1 play based on likely volume. With Duke out in Week 15, David played 80 percent of Houston’s snaps and saw 11 targets. CB Phillip Gaines (knee) is considered questionable.
Browns @ Jets
Broncos @ Chargers
Broncos RB Phillip Lindsay (hip, knee) is out. Melvin Gordon, who has thrived when Lindsay has missed games this year, profiles as a low-end RB1 against his former mates. DE Bradley Chubb (ankle), RB Royce Freeman (hip), CB Nate Hairston (toe), and DT DeShawn Williams (knee) are listed as questionable.
Chargers DE Joey Bosa (shin, concussion) and DE Uchenna Nwosu (knee) are out, while WR Keenan Allen (hamstring) and LB Denzel Perryman (back) are questionable. Allen was able to practice on a limited basis Friday, indicating he’s trending toward suiting up. He makes for a dicey play considering his Week 15 usage (24 snaps, three targets) with the same hamstring issue.
Chargers TE Donald Parham becomes an intriguing streamer after TE Hunter Henry was placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list. The former XFL-er and touchdown machine will serve as the team’s top tight end against a Denver defense allowing 4.8 tight end receptions per game.
Eagles @ Cowboys
Eagles LB Duke Riley (biceps), TE Richard Rodgers (ankle), CB Kevon Seymour (knee), and DE Josh Sweat (wrist) are out. DE Derek Barnett (calf), DT Fletcher Cox (neck), and P Cameron Johnston (concussion) are questionable. WR Jalen Reagor (ankle), and DB Darius Slay (concussion) practiced in full Friday and should be OK for Week 16. Reagor, who has a 19 percent target share in Jalen Hurts’ two starts, is a week-winning flex option against the burnable Cowboys Defense.
WR DeSean Jackson returned to practice this week and has been cleared to play Sunday. His role should be limited after spending the past eight weeks on injured reserve. His return could cap snaps and targets for Greg Ward and Alshon Jeffrey.
Cowboys CB Rashard Robinson (knee), LB Leighton Vander Esch (ankle), DT Antwaun Woods (ankle), and S Xavier Woods (ribs) are out. TE Blake Bell (illness) and RB Ezekiel Elliott (calf) are listed as questionable. Elliott’s likely return turns Tony Pollard into a flex play in deep leagues. If Elliott is a surprise inactive, Pollard would be a plug-and-play RB1 as the team’s best running back.
Rams @ Seahawks
Rams RB Cam Akers (ankle) is out. Darrell Henderson should handle most of the early down work for LA and Malcolm Brown should see passing down snaps and most of the targets out of the Rams’ backfield. Henderson will be a game script dependent low-end RB2/high-end RB3. Brown is only viable as a flex in deeper PPR leagues.
Panthers @ Football Team
Panthers RB Christian McCaffrey (thigh), T Russell Okung (calf), and CB Troy Pride (hip) are doubtful. McCaffrey will once again sit after a week without practice. Mike Davis remains a RB2 play in a difficult matchup. DE Brian Burns (knee), DE Austin Larkin (shoulder), DT Bravvion Roy (knee), and LB Adarius Taylor (ankle) are listed as questionable.
Washington LB Thomas Davis (not injury related, knee) is out, while WR Terry McLaurin (ankle) is considered doubtful. Playing 92 percent of the team’s offensive snaps over the past month, Cam Sims would likely slot in as Washington’s WR1 if McLaurin is inactive. Sims would be no more than a low-ceiling WR3/4 play against Carolina. Steve Sims would probably see extra run if McLaurin is out.
Washington RB Antonio Gibson (toe), LB Kevin Pierre-Louis (ankle), and QB Alex Smith (calf) are considered questionable. Smith is shaping up as a game time call while Gibson looks like a go against the Panthers. Washington could lean on the running game with McLaurin out, making Gibson a RB2 option. J.D. McKissic would maintain his flex status in PPR formats, especially if Smith — the dump off king — returns.
Sunday Night Football
Titans @ Packers
Packers S Will Redmond (concussion) and TE Jace Sternberger (concussion, illness) are out, and G Simon Stepaniak (knee) and RB Jamaal Williams (quadricep) are questionable to play. Williams out would boost Aaron Jones’ pass catching prospects. AJ Dillon would become the team’s RB2 but has no place in fantasy rosters.
Monday Night Football
Bills @ Patriots
Bills TE Reggie Gilliam (knee, hamstring) and T Ty Nsekhe (groin) didn’t practice Friday. The team released Jake Kumerow this week, a possible signal that John Brown (ankle) could come off IR for Monday night’s matchup. Brown would be a reasonable WR3 if he is active.
Patriots C David Andrews (calf), LB Ja’whaun Bentley (shoulder), DE Tashawn Bower (ankle), DT Adam Butler (shoulder), LB Shilique Calhoun (knee), LS Joe Cardona (ankle), DT Byron Cowart (back), T Jermaine Eluemunor (ankle), K Nick Folk (back), DT Lawrence Guy (shoulder), RB Damien Harris (ankle), T Justin Herron (ankle), CB J.C. Jackson (knee), LB Anfernee Jennings (shoulder), CB Jonathan Jones (neck), G Shaquille Mason (calf), WR Donte Moncrief (thigh), DE John Simon (hamstring), WR Matt Slater (knee), and RB J.J. Taylor (quadricep) are considered questionable.
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