The unkindest cut: Dealing with injuries and playoff starts/sits

With Tyler Lockett out and Seattle likely to be chasing points against Kansas City, DK Metcalf is a wheels-up play this week. (All-Pro Reels Photography/Wikimedia Commons)

By MIKE HERNDON

You’ve done your homework, drafted wisely, worked the wire, made all the right moves (well, enough right moves anyway), and made the fantasy football playoffs.

And now, as you sat back and enjoyed your well-earned bye last weekend, you awoke to the news this week that the quarterback who led you to all that fantasy goodness is hurt and likely out for the next couple weeks.

Or, as we know it: Out for the entire fantasy playoffs.

This is why we can’t have nice things.

If your fantasy quarterback is Jalen Hurts, this is your reality.

And it isn’t only him. If you weathered the early-season doldrums with Jonathan Taylor, you won’t have him either. If you rode with Nick Chubb, he might be out too.

Taylor is out for the season and Hurts likely won’t play again until the NFL playoffs. Having been held out of two practices already, Chubb might be out this week as well. The timing doesn’t seem fair, but this is football. Players get injured. This is why you, as a fantasy player, are constantly building the strength of your bench.

On another note, there is more rough weather on tap this week, so be aware and plan accordingly. It didn’t affect Tua Tagovailoa as much as we might have thought last week – a performance to remember so we won’t fade him the next time he plays in cold weather – but the situations in Cleveland and New York bear watching. If you’re deciding between a couple of similar options, it’s usually wise to pick the one that isn’t playing in 9 degree weather with 35 mph wind gusts. And remember: The wind is a bigger problem than the temperature, and rain is usually only an issue if it’s torrential.

Start/sit recommendations for your fantasy playoffs in Week 16:

QB:

Starts:

Geno Smith, Seahawks: Seattle’s likely going to be chasing points against the Chiefs, so Geno’s going to have to throw a lot. He’s been efficient this year and the Chiefs’ defense just gave up 24 points to the Texans, of all people.

Daniel Jones, Giants: He broke our hearts last week, but the Giants’ offense played efficiently and this week’s opponent, Minnesota, has been giving up points in bunches – particularly through the air. If you need a streamer, don’t be afraid to go back to the well with Jones.

Gardner Minshew, Eagles: He’s not a preferred play against a tough Cowboys defense, but if your waiver wire is as barren as some of mine, Minshew might be worth a look in replacing Hurts. He’s been effective in the past and he’s got a wealth of talent around him, including AJ Brown.

Sits:

Derek Carr, Raiders: Carr has had an up-and-down season and his two biggest clunkers have come on the road against the Saints and Rams. He’ll be playing in frigid weather in Pittsburgh this week against a Steelers defense that has played much better with TJ Watt healthy and back in the lineup. That said, the Steelers secondary is weak and Davante Adams should get his.

Taylor Heinicke, Commanders: The 49ers defense has been playing at an extremely high level. If I’m looking for a streamer at QB or a replacement for Hurts, it’s certainly not going to be somebody facing that defense.

RB:

Starts:

Alvin Kamara, Saints: He’s been a major disappointment this season, but if you haven’t completely given up on him, all signs seem to point to a spike week. The Browns’ defense has been getting gashed on the ground and the weather is expected to be frigid and windy, limiting downfield passing.

Zack Moss, Colts: He’ll split time with Deon Jackson now that Taylor is out, but it was Moss that got 24 carries last week, turning them into 81 yards. This week, the Colts face the Chargers, whose run defense is notoriously leaky. Follow the volume.  

Kareem Hunt, Browns: If Chubb sits, this is the moment you’ve been rostering Hunt for. D’Ernest Johnson may get some carries, but fire Hunt up with confidence.

Sits:

Brian Robinson, Commanders: See the note on Heinicke. Avoid the 49ers defense.

James Conner, Cardinals: A Trace McSorley-led offense likely means fewer scoring opportunities, and the red zone is where Conner boosts his weekly value. With Vita Vea plugging the middle, running on Tampa Bay’s defense is no easy task, either.

WR:

Starts:  

DK Metcalf, Seahawks: As noted earlier, Seattle’s likely going to be throwing a lot and Tyler Lockett is out this week so Metcalf should command a large target share. Fire him up.

Christian Watson, Packers: Don’t let last week’s clunker deter you. There should be a lot of points scored in Miami and while the return of Romeo Doubs makes the target shakeout a little murkier, Watson is still Aaron Rodgers’ most dynamic target.    

Sits:

Chris Olave, Saints: He’s missed practice with a hamstring injury this week. If he plays, it’ll be on a rainy, cold and windy day in Cleveland. Find a better option.

Marquise Brown, Cardinals: You probably can’t sit DeAndre Hopkins, but I sure wouldn’t play any other receiver that’s trying to catch passes from Trace McSorley.

TE:

Starts:

Taysom Hill, Saints: In cold and windy weather, with passing likely minimized, this might be a week that Hill gets some increased play in the run game. When that happens, he’s a solid play in leagues that still give him tight end designation.

Sits:

As always, if you don’t have one of the three or four studs at the position, play whoever you can find that’s getting targets. It’s rough out in these streets.



Categories: Fantasy Football

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