NFL Injury Report: December 13
Michael A. Stein recaps the injury news heading into Week 15 and offers up potential return timetables and suggestions for replacement players for fantasy football.
Injuries continue to dictate the outcome of fantasy playoff games, so GMs need to carefully navigate their lineups as things become more complex. Some NFL teams are starting to shut injured players down while others are contending for playoff spots and risking further injury to banged up players. So without any further adieu, let’s take a look at some of the walking wounded in the fantasy football emergency room.
Julio Jones (WR-ATL)
Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones has been practicing in a limited capacity this week as he continues to nurse a shoulder injury. He did the same thing last week and was able to play. Now he prepares for a tough matchup against the 49ers, but the good news for Jones is that Richard Sherman will not be playing. Fantasy GMs should absolutely plug Jones in as a WR1, but expectations should be tempered for his productivity.
Josh Jacobs (RB-OAK)
It has been a rollercoaster ride dealing with Josh Jacobs injury over the past couple weeks. He unexpectedly missed last week’s game and then all signs were pointing towards him being shut down for the season. Now he is practicing again in a limited capacity and reports out of Oakland are that he looked like he was ready to play this coming weekend. This will also likely be the last NFL game in Oakland, so Jacobs is sure to do whatever he needs to in order to play. He instantly becomes one of the top RB1 options for Week 15 going up against a terrible Jacksonville defense that seems to have given up on the season.
Odell Beckham , Jr. (WR-CLE)
OBJ practiced in a limited capacity this week with a groin injury, but this is not expected to impact his availability for Week 15 against Arizona. Beckham has been very disappointing for fantasy GMs this year catching only 59 passes for 844 yards and two touchdowns. He belongs in all fantasy lineups but only as a WR3 against a suspect Arizona defense.
JuJu Smith-Schuster (WR-PIT)
Smith-Schuster was aiming to return this week after missing the past couple games with a knee injury, but he re-aggravated the injury in practice on Thursday. Now it appears he will miss his fourth straight game as this setback will certainly keep him shelved yet again. The Steelers will continue turning to James Washington and Diontae Johnson as Devlin Hodges’ primary targets. Pittsburgh will have James Conner back on the field, but Smith-Schuster’s absence continues to be problematic.
Jameis Winston (QB-TB)
Winston was seen throwing a tennis ball in practice on Thursday as he attempts to deal with the pain in his thumb. He has indicated he intends to play through the pain, but it remains to be seen whether the Bucs will allow that to happen this week. Winston has been terrific in terms of fantasy production throwing for 4,115 yards and 26 touchdowns, but he does also have 23 interceptions and just lost Mike Evans for the season. Fantasy GMs should be concerned about this situation because if Winston does not play then all of their other offensive players’ values diminish significantly.
Devonta Freeman (RB-ATL)
Freeman is coming off arguably his best game of the year last week running for 84 yards and his first rushing touchdown of the season. Unfortunately, he suffered a knee injury that has limited him in practice on Thursday. The good news is that he is trending in the right direction so there is a good chance he will play on Sunday against the 49ers. This will not be a favorable matchup so Freeman is likely a RB3 at best, especially since he will not be playing at 100%.
Alshon Jeffery (WR-PHI)
Eagles wide receiver Alshon Jeffery has been placed on injured reserve after being diagnosed with a Lisfranc injury that will require surgery. This officially ends Jeffery’s season and is a devastating blow to the Eagles who are still in the hunt for the NFC East divisional title. He has been limited to ten games this season and only caught 43 passes for 490 yards and four touchdowns. Philadelphia’s wide receiving corps has been completely decimated by injuries, so it will be a struggle for Carson Wentz to generate offense through the air over the final couple weeks. Jeffery can be dropped in all redraft leagues.
DeVante Parker (WR-MIA)
Miami wide receiver DeVante Parker is questionable for this week’s game against the Giants as he remains in the league’s concussion protocol. He suffered the injury last week against the Jets, but has practiced in a limited capacity this week. Parker has been very productive over the past several weeks and has amassed 55 catches for 882 yards and six touchdowns on the season. He would be a solid WR2 option this week against the abysmal Giants defense, so check back for updates over the weekend to see if he is cleared to play.
Evan Engram (TE-NYG)
There was optimism last week that Engram would play on Monday night, but that did not happen. He missed another game with a foot injury but could make his return this week against Miami. Engram has a ton of talent but cannot stay on the field long enough for fantasy GMs to really trust him. He has only played eight games this year, but he immediately becomes a TE1 option if he is active for this week’s favorable matchup against the Dolphins.
Will Fuller (WR-HOU)
Texans wide receiver Will Fuller indicated that he has been feeling good after practicing this week as he looks to return from a hamstring injury. Fuller has always been an injury risk since joining the league, but his return this week against Tennessee could have big fantasy implications. He is a boom or bust player capable of lighting up the scoreboard on any given week. Fantasy GMs should absolutely have him in the starting lineup this week if he is active.
Marvin Jones (WR-DET)
It seems as though the Lions have placed half of their roster on injured reserve over the past few weeks. Now they can add Marvin Jones to the list as his season is finished due to an ankle injury. Jones also had his season cut short last year with a knee injury, so there are clearly health concerns with him going forward. Jones can now be dropped in all redraft leagues as he finishes the season with 62 catches for 779 yards and nine touchdowns.
Bo Scarbrough (RB-DET)
Speaking of the Lions, running back Bo Scarbrough was unable to practice on Thursday due to a rib injury. He suffered the injury last week against Minnesota, and was limited in practice earlier in the week. The fact that he was downgraded on Thursday does not bode well for his availability this weekend against Tampa Bay. Scarbrough has carried a heavy load for the Lions over the past few weeks rushing for 301 yards and a touchdown, but if he cannot play then Detroit will turn to Ty Johnson and J.D. McKissic to share snaps.
Daniel Jones (QB-NYG)
Jones missed Monday night’s game against the Eagles with an ankle sprain and is expected to sit out Week 15 as well. Eli Manning made his return to the field in Philadelphia and will now have an opportunity to play in front of the home crowd one last time. Jones did practice in a limited capacity on Thursday, so it does appear he is making progress. This likely means he will be back on the field for the final two games of the season. Manning was terrific in the first half against the Eagles, but then fell apart in the second half. He is only a low-end QB2 option this week despite having a favorable matchup against the Dolphins.
Damien Williams (RB-KC)
Damien Williams returned to practice this week in a limited capacity. He has been dealing with a rib injury over the past several weeks but now at least has the potential to play this week against Denver. The Chiefs backfield has been a complete mess with various injuries and a lack of consistent production from anyone. Williams has had an extremely disappointing season rushing for only 309 yards and one touchdown after bursting on the scene late last year. Fantasy GMs would only plug Williams in a lineup if they are depleted at the running back position.
Adam Thielen (WR-MIN)
This could finally be the week where Adam Thielen is healthy and returns to the field. He has missed the past several games with a hamstring injury and his pending return comes at just the right time for the fantasy playoffs. The Vikings control their own destiny for the postseason and will certainly try to get Thielen back into the offense. We should know for sure sooner than later, but if Thielen is active then he is a must-start WR3 in your lineup.
Jared Cook (TE-NO)
Saints tight end Jared Cook was taken out of last week’s classic game against San Francisco after suffering a concussion on his second touchdown catch. He has been in the league’s concussion protocol this week, but did participate in practice on Thursday in a limited capacity. He will have an extra day to continue recovering since the Saints play on Monday night, but GMs should hopefully know well before that whether he can be placed in starting lineups. Cook has been red hot lately and has 34 catches for 523 yards and six touchdowns.
Greg Olsen (TE-CAR)
Veteran tight end Greg Olsen remains in the league’s concussion protocol despite practicing in a limited capacity this week. It remains to be seen whether he will be cleared in time to play this week, but signs are pointing in the right direction with his ability to practice. Olsen has always been a productive fantasy player, but at this stage of his career he is a low-end TE1 due to the fact he is banged up and the Panthers have been a disaster. Ian Thomas has played well in his absence but would become irrelevant if Olsen does return.