What to do in fantasy after an awful weekend of injuries
Week 5 was a bloodbath. A litany of great players suffered serious injuries, and while we are first and foremost hoping to see these players heal up and return to the field, we must also consider the fantasy implications of these injuries.
Below is a quick run through some of the bigger injuries from the weekend — and what they mean for your fantasy squad.
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Giants receivers all hurt — Odell Beckham Jr. now droppable
Beckham, the Giants’ best player and one of the best receivers in fantasy, will likely land him on IR for at least eight weeks, reported NFL.com via Ian Rapoport. The article noted that “it is highly unlikely the wideout sees the field again this season.”
If your fantasy team has an IR spot and it’s looking like you might be around for the fantasy playoffs, there’s no harm in placing Beckham there. But he is droppable at this point.
There’s no way for you to replace OBJ, but there’s obviously a ton of opportunity now in New York’s passing game. Unfortunately, Sterling Shepard and Brandon Marshall also hurt their ankles, while Dwayne Harris fractured his foot.
Shepard will be out for at least one week, but could stay out for as much as a month. He’d be my favorite to “replace” Beckham’s volume. He ranks second in receptions (22) and yards (263) and Giants receivers. but his up-in-the-air status makes him tough to trust.
The same is true for Marshall. As of this writing, we don’t know how long he’ll be out. It seems unlikely he’ll play in Week 6, but keep tabs on his status. He is second among Giants receivers in targets (32).
Eli Manning has to pass the ball to someone, so while it feels gross, at least one of Marshall or Shepard will likely be a viable weekly flex option once they return to the field.
If you are already pretty comfortable at wide receiver, however, you can safely avoid this situation. It figures to be a headache for the rest of the season.
The real “winner” here is tight end Evan Engram, who ran a pass route on 36 of Manning’s 41 dropbacks. He produced a 0 in the box score, but has emerged as a legitimate fantasy TE1 over the first five games of his career. With OBJ now out, Engram might be Manning’s top target, and there’s now no doubt that he’s an every-week starter.
Travis Kelce suffers concussion on Sunday night
Kelce, a top-three fantasy tight end, was on his way to yet another dominant performance Sunday night before suffering a concussion. Players are always out for an unknown amount of time after suffering concussions. Rico Gathers was placed on IR after suffering one in the preseason. Davante Adams and Marquise Goodwin returned without missing any games.
Kelce’s status remains unknown, but it was reported on the telecast that he passed the initial tests, so it’s possible he was held out of the remainder of the game for precautionary reasons. That would obviously be a best-case scenario.
If Kelce does miss time, his replacement will be Demetrius Harris, who has just five catches for 36 yards and a score on the season. Harris can stay on the waiver wire.
Kelce will remain a dominant TE1 once he returns to the field.
Charles Clay injures knee on non-contact injury
Clay had emerged as a bona fide TE1 in fantasy leagues, ranking in the top six in targets (20), yards (258), touchdowns (2), and fantasy points (37/57 for standard/PPR).
Assuming Clay misses extended time (official word has yet to come), his replacements will be Logan Thomas and Nick O’Leary. Thomas was good in the preseason, posting a 15-9-72-0 line, but Clay’s established rapport with Tyrod Taylor — particularly in the red zone — is what drove his fantasy value. Thomas has played just 47 snaps so far this year, and has seen just two targets. There’s no need to pick him up.
O’Leary has played 187 snaps (not too far behind Clay’s 224), but he is mostly a pass-blocker. He’s seen just eight targets while running 65 pass routes.
However, most of those targets (6) and half of those routes (32) came in Week 5 with Clay injured. O’Leary figures to be the tight end to replace Clay in the offense. There’s no need to rush to the waivers to pick O’Leary up, but if he sees about six targets per week, he does become a viable emergency fill-in option at the tight end position.
DeVante Parker sprains his ankle; Landry picks up all the work
In Week 5, Landry’s 9 targets were more than twice as many as Kenny Stills and Grant combined (4). Landry even saw a rare end-zone target, which he did convert into a score.
If Parker misses time, Landry becomes a sturdy fantasy player — particularly in PPR leagues. His usage in the red zone indicates he might be a strong WR2 in standard leagues as well for as long as Parker is out.
Since the injury is to Parker’s ankle, we obviously have to be a bit concerned for his season-long outlook. We saw with Beckham that rushing back from ankle injuries can worsen the issue.
Parker still needs to be owned (he might only miss a game or two), but since he relies on explosive plays and physical dominance to unlock his high weekly ceiling, a hobbled Parker will be far more likely to hit his floor, which is extremely low with Jay Cutler at quarterback.
Once Parker returns to full health, he figures to step right back into his usual role as a boom-or-bust fantasy option. I’m just concerned that he’ll bust more often than he booms while recovering.
Jordy Nelson mysteriously misses final drive for Green Bay
Here’s an under-the-radar situation to monitor: Nelson missed the Packers’ last-minute, game-winning drive with an undisclosed injury. He also saw just four targets in a game that had 65 combined points (although he did score), so it’s fair to wonder if something is up with Nelson.
As of now, nothing has been reported, but this is definitely a situation to monitor. Davante Adams would become a borderline WR1 if Nelson were to miss time, and Randall Cobb would be upgraded to WR2 status as well.
Texans lose J.J. Watt and Whitney Mercilus for the year
Watt’s injury is obviously painful from an NFL fan standpoint, and Mercilus has been a beast as well, but if we’re looking for a silver lining through a fantasy lens, it’s that the depleted Houston defense means that Deshaun Watson should see the field more often — and that’s a great thing for fantasy’s No. 1 quarterback.
Watson has been hyper-efficient, parlaying 90 completions into 1,072 yards (11.91 average) and 12 touchdowns (13.33 percent TD rate), along with just four interceptions. Considering his long is only 48 yards, that 11.91 average looks even better.
Will Watson throw four or five touchdowns every week? Of course not. He does, still, at times, look like a rookie. But he has thrown at least 30 passes in three straight games, and he leads all quarterbacks in rushing yards as well (179). The volume is there, the efficiency is there, and now the Texans defense is broken, which means more points from opponents, which means more Watson-in-YOLO mode like we saw Sunday night. He’s a stud QB1 for fantasy and can be considered an every-week starter at this point.
Obviously, this is a buoy for his pass-catchers as well, led by DeAndre Hopkins. He’s a WR1. Will Fuller has caught touchdowns at an unsustainable rate (4 TDs on 6 catches), but there is something to be said about a high ceiling and a player who has a knack for finding the end zone. I think we need to consider Fuller a high-upside flex option with the emergence of Watson.