Fantasy Football: Week 15 Injury Report
Injuries are an unfortunate part of football. It's one thing we hate having occur to not only the players we roster but within the game itself. With that said, this does create opportunities for teammates, opening up potential pickups in season-long leagues while also producing value plays in daily fantasy football.
Using the practice report, we can glean a lot of information based on who's available and what coaches are saying from press conferences. This knowledge can allow us to make emergency plans to pivot or change our lineups come Sunday morning when inactives are announced.
Based on this week's practice reports, here are a few quick-hitters to give you a leg up on lineup decisions as crunch time approaches for Sunday lineup lock.
Ezekiel Elliott (shoulder) missed Wednesday practice but was upgraded to full on Thursday. The full participation upgrade is a good sign that Elliott will be ready for Sunday. The Dallas Cowboys running back has seen a hefty workload over the last three weeks - seeing 100 touches during that span - 31 more than the second place leader. In terms of running back usage, it won't get any better than what Elliott has been receiving and his target volume has increased significantly over the course of the season. Elliott has five catches in every game since Week 10 and saw a massive spike last week with twelve. Elliott's receiving ability should be featured again this week with the Indianapolis Colts allowing the most catches to the position and top five in receiving yardage.
Austin Hooper (knee, ankle) has been a nonparticipant this week but practiced on Friday. Hooper is having his best season as a professional and ranks second on the team in targets (79) and catches (64), both of which rank within the top ten for the position. Still, Hooper has been largely inconsistent week-to-week and a difficult tight end to plug-and-play. His matchup against the Arizona Cardinals isn't particularly amazing either, who are 17th in Football Outsiders' DVOA against the position. The young tight end is coming in just outside of numberFire's top twelve in positional rankings and its projected for 7.15 points.
Ben Roethlisberger (ribs) missed Wednesday but practiced in full on Thursday. With the concern that Roethlisberger is dealing with an in-game injury last week, Wednesday was a maintenance day for the 15-year veteran. In a game against the New England Patriots, Roethlisberger will be key to a Pittsburgh Steelers win that will dictate AFC playoff seeding and securing their own playoff hopes as they have a 62.5% odds of making it. Roethlisberger leads our sixth ranked offense and is currently projected for 305.2 yards with 2.28 touchdowns and 0.96 interceptions.
T.Y. Hilton (ankle) continues to be sidelined this week and officially questionable. Last week we noted that Hilton did not practice but was able to play against the Houston Texans, however that was a shoulder injury and Hilton is on the report for an ankle this week. With the lower body injury Hilton could come in less effective, but expectations are that he will play and should be started in the fantasy playoffs. Hilton exploded last week with a nine catch, 199 yard game and has turned it up for fantasy players lately. Over the last three weeks Hilton is second among wide receivers in targets (35) with a 40% air yards market share.
James Conner (ankle) has not practiced this week and could be a game time decision on Sunday against the New England Patriots. It was reported on Thursday that Conner could miss practice all week and still play, but the lack of practice is concerning in regards to health. With Conner out last week Jaylen Samuels played 80% of the snaps with 18 touches, seven of which were receptions. Samuels was highly regarded as a competent pass catcher coming out of the 2018 draft and it showed last week when he racked up 64 receiving yards. The rookie did manage to lose a goal-line touchdown to Stevan Ridley but he only logged eight snaps in the game. Samuels would be a strong play for the second straight week at $5,500 on FanDuel.
Matt Breida (ankle) has logged back-to-back limited practices after missing last week's game against the Denver Broncos. Breida re-aggravated his injury in Week 13 which forced Jeff Wilson to be the San Francisco 49ers' primary ball carrier. Wilson accumulated 230 scrimmage yards on 47 total touches in those two games. If Breida is active, which appears to be that way, we could see a two way split in the backfield. If such, then it's likely a situation to avoid, especially since the 49ers are 3.5 point underdogs - per FanDuel sports book - to the Seattle Seahawks.
Odell Beckham (quad) was a surprise inactive last week after having a late injury designation over the weekend after a quad injury surfaced. Beckham was limited Wednesday and downgraded on Thursday, and ultimately ruled out. With Beckham unavailable, 8.9 targets will open up in the New York Giants offense and Sterling Shepard should lead the wide receivers in targets. Shepard lead the team in targets last week (6) in a blow out game where Eli Manning was pulled and attempted only 22 passes. Shepard could flirt with double digit targets this week in a what should be a more neutral game script - and would provide salary relief on FanDuel at $5,200.
Jordan Reed (toe) hasn't practiced this week and is ruled out against the Jacksonville Jaguars. Early reports indicated that the injury could sideline him for the remainder of the season. To his credit, Reed has played in every game this season and is the overall TE9 in PPR leagues after having multiple seasons of injury issues. With the former pro bowler sidelined, Vernon Davis should see an increase in snaps this week in his stead. Davis has been involved in the offense, playing just under 50% of the snaps in most weeks, but targets are inconsistent week-to-week, as expected. At $5,300 on FanDuel, Davis would be a risky play given the Washington Redskins offensive issues along with having to start their fourth quarterback this season.
Carson Wentz (back) has been dealing with an injury this week and is not expecting to start against the Los Angeles Rams. He will make the trip with the team and seems like a long shot to be active and should be ruled out on Sunday. Nick Foles is preparing to start in his place. The backup quarterback made the first two starts this season and had one touchdown and one interception to go along with a 5.5 yards per attempt. Even though the receiving corps is in better standing than it was to start the season, it's hard to start anyone with significant confidence outside of Zach Ertz. The premier tight end racked up 16 catches on 23 targets as Foles' lead receiver.
Isaiah Crowell (toe) was ruled out earlier this week but more importantly placed on IR on Friday. The New York Jets will get a few games to get a good look at second year player Elijah McGuire and rookie Trenton Cannon. McGuire should lead the team in running back snaps for the remainder of the season, and should be checked as a pickup to bolster fantasy team benches with the championship week coming upon us. He is currently owned in 22.5% of ESPN leagues. Our projections have McGuire as a bottom end RB2 with 16.7 touches against the Houston Texans.
As it is with all injuries, each individual situation is fluid. Make sure to keep tabs throughout the weekend and keep up with our numberFire player news feed for up-to-date reports prior to kickoff. Good luck this week!
Gabriel Garrido is not a FanDuel employee. In addition to providing DFS gameplay advice, Gabriel Garrido also participates in DFS contests on FanDuel using his personal account, username guhreedoe28. While the strategies and player selections recommended in his articles are his/her personal views, he/she may deploy different strategies and player selections when entering contests with his/her personal account. The views expressed in his/her articles are the author's alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of FanDuel.