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These are the players who stood out for fantasy-relevant reasons — the good reasons, the bad reasons, and the in-between.
This column will be posted every Monday afternoon.
Players about whom we’re feeling more optimistic based on recent play or news.
Deshaun Watson (Hou) — Watson has been lost in the shuffle a bit this season with the Texans’ disastrous start to the season, but he showed on Thanksgiving Day that he’s among the elite fantasy quarterbacks. He posted 318/4 passing with a 12.7 YPA average, which gives him 24+ FP in six of his last seven games. He owns a 26.6 FPG average in that span since the Texans fired Bill O’Brien after Week 4. Watson does have a brutal fantasy playoffs schedule (Ind, @Chi, @Ind, Cin), but he’ll still be a top-six option at the position in the final month of the season. (Tom Brolley)
Derrick Henry (Ten) — Pull the snow tires out because we’re officially entering Henry SZN. He ripped the Colts for 27/178/3 rushing and 2/7 receiving on four targets for 38.5 FP in Week 12, which vaulted the Titans back to the top of the AFC South. Henry now holds a 127-yard advantage over Dalvin Cook for the league’s rushing title (1257 to 1130), and he has the type of schedule (Cle, @Jax, Det, @GB, @Hou) to push for 2000 rushing yards — Adrian Peterson was the last back to do it back in 2012 when he ran for 2097 yards. It doesn’t hurt that Henry has historically performed better in November and December when he averages 5.5 YPC compared to his 4.1 YPC average in the months of September and October. With Alvin Kamara fading with Taysom Hill at quarterback, Henry looks like the one back who could challenge Dalvin for the RB1 title this season. (TB)
Antonio Gibson (Was) — Gibson put himself on the national radar with his breakout performance against the Cowboys on Thanksgiving Day. He posted 20/115/3 rushing and 5/21 receiving on seven targets against Dallas, which gives him rushing touchdowns in five straight games and eight overall in that span. His recent streak of hot play has snuck him into the top-12 at the position with 16.7 FPG, and he’s squarely in the low-end RB1 range heading into the final month of the season, even with some tougher matchups (@Pit, @SF, Sea, Car) on the horizon. (TB)
Austin Ekeler (LAC) — Well, the Chargers didn’t ease Ekeler into action in Week 12 against the Bills, his return from a two-month hamstring injury, despite reports early in the week that he was unlikely to play until Week 13. He posted 14/44 rushing and 11/85 on 16 targets. He played 73% of the offensive snaps, held a 31% share of the Chargers’ offensive opportunities, and led all RBs in routes run (37). Anthony Lynn and this coaching staff might be dopes — we’re still struggling to figure out how a team with this much talent has only three wins — but Ekeler is back as an RB1 following massive usage. (Joe Dolan)
Kenyan Drake (Ari) — Kyler Murray’s pain has been Drake’s gain as he’s posted two of his three best fantasy performances in the last two weeks with Kyler playing through an AC sprain in his throwing shoulder. Drake has caught seven passes for 46 yards in the last two weeks with Murray looking to check it down more because of his injured shoulder — Drake had just 8/38 receiving in his first eight games. He’s also found the end zone three times in that span despite averaging just 3.3 YPC (33/108/3 rushing). Drake has seen seven of his 13 goal-line carries in the last two weeks with Kliff Kingsbury designing fewer goal-line carries for Murray right now. Drake’s bigger role as a receiver and as a goal-line back could dry up if Murray starts to feel better in the near future, but we should ride his usage for now even with some tough matchups looming in the fantasy playoffs (LAR, @NYG, Phi, SF). (TB)
David Montgomery (Chi) — The evidence is mounting that Montgomery is in a much better position to succeed when Mitchell Trubisky is at quarterback since Mitch lines up under center more than Nick Foles, which allows Montgomery to run more downhill with some much-needed build-up speed. Montgomery ripped off an early 57-yard run against the Packers in Week 12, which helped him to his first 100-yard game of the season — he finished with 11/103 rushing and 5/40/1 receiving for a season-best 25.3 FP. He’s now averaging 6.5 YPC (38/249/0 rushing) in his three full games with Trubisky playing under center compared to his 3.7 YPC average (102/326/1) in seven games in which Foles has appeared. Montgomery owners should be crossing their fingers that the Bears don’t go back to Foles down the stretch since Montgomery should feast against an easy schedule (Det, Hou, @Min, @Jax) in the fantasy playoffs. (TB)
Raheem Mostert (SF) — Mostert returned to the lineup in Week 12 after a six-week layoff for his high-ankle injury, and he stepped right back into his lead runner role. He finished with 16/43/1 rushing and 2/0 receiving against a stout Rams defense while playing on 40% of the snaps. Jeff Wilson worked as the #2 RB with 12/43 rushing on a 35% snap share while Jerick McKinnon operated as the passing-back with 5/32 scrimmage on a 25% share. Mostert isn’t going to be a true bell-cow back with Wilson and McKinnon factoring in behind him, but Mostert’s snap share should grow a bit in the future after a successful return to the field after his lengthy absence. (TB)
Wayne Gallman (NYG) — It took some time for the Giants to find their footing after Saquon Barkley went down, including signing Devonta Freeman and giving Dion Lewis reps, but Gallman has now established himself as quite a nice backup for Barkley. He posted 24/94/1 rushing and 3/-3 receiving on 5 targets against the Bengals in Week 12. Gallman has now scored in five consecutive games, the first of which against Philadelphia in Week 7 was the first game of the year in which he received 10 or more touches. Over that span, Gallman is the overall RB7 in PPR fantasy points scored. Now, with Daniel Jones (hamstring) injured and potentially missing time, we have a bit of a dilemma — the Giants are going to have to lean on their run game more to support Colt McCoy, but defenses could also key on it more. What the numbers say about Gallman, however, is that he’s impossible to sit right now. (JD)
James Robinson (JAX) — The Jags’ are tanking for Trevor and cleaning house in the process — they just fired GM Dave Caldwell — but at least James Robinson is their only bright spot. And he’s a damn good one. In a game that was much more competitive than expected, Robinson ripped the Browns for 22/128/1 on the ground and added 5/31 as a receiver. With Chris Thompson on IR, Robinson has become one of the league’s few true workhorse backs. Over his last five games, Robinson leads all running backs in snap rate (83%) and is averaging 24.4 touches per game. The huge workload is well deserved. Robinson will be a locked-in RB1 throughout the fantasy playoff stretch run. (Graham Barfield)
Amari Cooper (Dal) — Cooper has emerged as the only reliable piece of this passing attack for fantasy moving forward after exploding for 6/112/1 receiving on eight targets on Thanksgiving Day against the Football Team. He’s posted 5+ catches and 65+ receiving yards in five of his six games since Dak Prescott went down for the season so he’s the one Cowboy who has found a way to survive. Andy Dalton isn’t the easiest quarterback to trust and Coop doesn’t have the easiest schedule in the final month (@Bal, @Cin, SF, Phi), but he’s playing well enough to stick in the WR2 range. (TB)
Deebo Samuel (SF) — Samuel is still available in 44% of Yahoo fantasy league but that percentage will be sharply dropping after his impressive return to the offense in Week 12. He posted season-bests in targets (13), catches (11), receiving yards (133), and FP (24.3) in San Francisco’s upset victory over the Rams. Samuel has had a frustrating season because of his Jones fracture this summer and his hamstring injury at the end of October, but he’s clearly a difference-making player in real life and in fantasy when he’s on the field. Brandon Aiyuk (COVID-19 list) could return to the lineup this week, but this passing game should run through Deebo for the rest of the season (Buf, Was, @Dal, Ari) with George Kittle (foot, IR) out of the lineup. (TB)
Allen Robinson (Chi) — A-Rob’s time in Chicago could be running short as he quickly approaches free agency at the end of this season, but he’s still giving maximum effort as he strengthens his case for a fat new contract. He posted 8/74/2 receiving on 13 targets in Chicago’s blowout loss to the Packers in Week 12, which was Mitch Trubisky’s first start since Week 3. A-Rob now has 6+ catches in four straight games and he sits behind only Keenan Allen and Stefon Diggs in targets per game (9.6). It’s not going to be pretty playing Trubisky or Nick Foles down the stretch, but A-Rob has the chance to finish this season with a flurry of fantasy points with a pristine playoff schedule (Det, Hou, @Min, @Jax). (TB)
DeVante Parker (Mia) — Fitzmagic was back in the saddle against the Jets in Week 12, and Parker was back in the stat sheet in a big way — he posted 8/119 receiving on a season-high 14 targets. Here are Parker’s stats in games started by Ryan Fitzpatrick: 7.7 targets per game, 5.3 receptions per game, 69 yards per game, 14.1 YPR, 72.4% catch rate, 2 TD total, 13.9 PPR FPG. Here are his numbers in games started by Tua Tagovailoa: 6.25 targets per game, 3.75 receptions per game, 39.8 yards per game, 9.8 YPR, 57.7% catch rate, 2 TD total, 10.7 FPG. So with the exception of TDs, Parker’s production takes a major hit across the board when Fitzpatrick isn’t in the game. It’s evident that Fitzpatrick — right now — is a better QB than Tua, and if Tua is going to be out longer than just Week 12 with his thumb injury, Parker is going to be a beneficiary. (JD)
Jarvis Landry (CLE) — Well, it only took 12 weeks, but Jarvis Landry finally scored! In what was his best (and only) good game of the season, Landry got open at will and hung 8/143/1 against the Jaguars. Baker Mayfield only had eyes for Landry, targeting him on a ridiculous 38% of his throws. No other Brown saw more than 3 targets. This is only a modest upgrade because we know the Browns want to run the ball 25-35 times per game, but Landry is really the only show in town for this passing attack. Since Odell Beckham (ACL) was lost for the season, Landry has seen a strong 28% target share. (GB)
Tyreek Hill (KC) — No receiver in fantasy has a ceiling quite like Tyreek Hill and, boy, did we get an explosion game in Week 12. Patrick Mahomes and Hill connected for 75 and 44-yard scores in the first quarter alone, the duo connected for another 20 yard TD in the third-quarter, and Hill ended the day with a truly Madden-esque 13/269/3 receiving line. The Bucs’ simply didn’t have an answer for Hill’s speed. This was one of the most ridiculous fantasy outings in history as Hill’s 57.9 PPR points were the sixth-most all-time by a wide receiver. Hill joined Will Fuller (53.7 points in Week 5 of 2019) and Tyler Lockett (53 points in Week 7 this year) as the only three receivers to hang a 50-burger over the last three seasons. Hopefully you didn’t have to face Hill in many leagues this week. With the Chiefs opening the floodgates offensively — they’ve gone a ridiculous 73% pass-heavy in their last four games — Hill is going to push Davante Adams for the WR1 status down the stretch run. (GB)
Hunter Henry (LAC) — Henry was snakebitten all year in terms of scoring TDs, and then he scored in back-to-back weeks in Weeks 10 and 11. Then, in Week 12 against Buffalo, he saw a season-high 10 targets, turning those 10 targets into a season-high 7 receptions, for 67 yards (his first time above 50 yards since Week 2). It’s rare this year that we actually get to upgrade a TE, but Henry appears to be one of QB Justin Herbert’s three favorite targets — along with WR Keenan Allen and RB Austin Ekeler — based on this game against Buffalo. His production had been disappointing for a lot of the year, but he looks to be in a groove now, and he’s pretty hard to sit. (JD)
Rob Gronkowski (TB) — Gronk! Even though the Buccaneers ended up losing what was a highly enjoyable game against the Chiefs, Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski’s connection was in peak form. Gronk smashed his way to a 6/106 receiving line, marking a new-season high in yards and tying a high in receptions. Gronk’s usage had fallen by the wayside a bit since the team added Antonio Brown, but the Bucs’ gameplan centered more around Gronk, Chris Godwin, and Mike Evans against Kansas City. Tampa is out on their bye in Week 13, but they’ll return for the fantasy playoffs with three mouth-watering matchups against the Vikings, Falcons, and Lions. Gronk will be a sure-fire TE1 in those spots at what is an absolute dumpster fire of a position for fantasy decisions. (GB)
Players about whom we’re feeling less optimistic based on recent play or news.
Kyler Murray (Ari) — Murray is laboring through an AC joint sprain in his throwing shoulder, which he initially suffered against the Seahawks back in Week 11. He appeared to be favoring his injured throwing shoulder against the Patriots, and this offense didn’t have the same juice with a weak 4.3 yards per play average. Kyler has run just five times in each of his last two games because of his injured shoulder for a combined 46 yards after he ran 10+ times for 60+ yards in each of his four previous games. Murray’s aDOT is also sitting under seven yards in each of his last two games, which includes his 6.2 aDOT against the Patriots, which dropped his season average down to 8.0. Murray could be healthier in Week 13 with another seven days to distance himself from his initial injury in Week 11, but he’s no longer a top-three QB lock like he had been, especially in a tough matchup against the Rams in Week 13. (TB)
Josh Allen (Buf) — Look, no one is telling you to bench Allen, but he had a poor statistical game in a ripe spot against the Chargers in Week 12, posting 18/24 passing for 157 yards with a TD, a fumble lost, and a bad pick, also adding 9/32/1 rushing to help offset his passing woes somewhat. But he was wrestled down in the second half and appeared to injure his ankle — he missed only one play, but you have to wonder if he’ll be a little hobbled. Moreover, the Bills had to put WR John Brown on IR this week, and that could have a major ripple effect on Allen’s production. In the three games Brown has missed this year, Allen averages 17.7 FPG. In the eight games Brown has played, he averages 27.3 FPG. If extrapolated for the full season, his numbers with Brown would rank 2nd among all QBs (behind only Kyler Murray, minimum half a team’s games played). Without Brown? 21st. Obviously, we’re in small sample range here, but Allen’s performance has been consistently worse when Smokey isn’t available. (JD)
Mike Davis (Car) — Mike Davis, thank you for your service. It appears likely that Christian McCaffrey (shoulder) will return to the field in Week 14, when the Panthers return from their bye. That means, if Davis is indeed done starting this year, he would have started nine games for an injured McCaffrey. In those nine games, he averaged 15.6 FPG in PPR, which would rank him 12th among RBs who have played at least half their team’s games this year. That is the definition of an RB1 — and while Davis’ production dipped off from an impossibly hot start, he likely kept a lot of CMC teams afloat into the playoff hunt. Not every RB replacement has to be a superstar, and Davis’ production was simply good enough that those who blew their FAAB budget or a top waiver priority on him likely are better for having him on their fantasy teams. (JD)
Giovani Bernard (Cin) — This one is pretty easy. The Bengals’ offense is in the toilet with Joe Burrow out, and it speaks to how awful Ryan Finley must look at practice that the Bengals opted to start Brandon Allen over him and, apparently, are going back to Allen without hesitation in Week 13 (per coach Zac Taylor). Against the Giants in Week 12, the Bengals ran 46 offensive plays, averaged 3.4 yards per play, and didn’t score an offensive TD until 2 minutes were left in the game. Gio posted 8/32 rushing (including a season-long 15-yard run) and 2/17 receiving on 3 targets. Even with Joe Mixon on IR, he’s a FLEX play. (JD)
Darrell Henderson (LAR) — Henderson’s time as Los Angeles’ top back is over with rookie Cam Akers staking his claim to lead this ugly three-man backfield ahead of Henderson and Malcolm Brown in the final weeks of the season (@Ari, NE, NYJ, @Sea). Henderson has totaled just 61 scrimmage yards on 30 opportunities in his last three games, and he’s reached double-digit FP just once in his last six games. Akers exploded for a 61-yard run against the 49ers, and he now has 25/141/1 scrimmage over the last three weeks since the Rams came out of their bye. Akers is the only player in this Rams backfield who should be considered as a flex play for fantasy lineups right now. (TB)
Alvin Kamara (NO) — It’s officially time to start worrying about Alvin Kamara’s outlook for the rest of this season. The Saints offense has completely changed with Taysom Hill under center and Kamara’s usage has fallen off of a cliff because of it. Over the Saints last two games, Kamara and Latavius Murray have split snaps right down the middle (63 to 63) while Murray has out-carried Kamara (31 to 24). Not only is he battling Murray for carries and Hill for goal-line work, Kamara’s passing down usage has dwindled. After being held catchless for the first time in his career last week, Kamara at least caught one ball against the Broncos. It went for -2 yards. Kamara has seen just three targets on Taysom’s 39 attempts over the last two weeks, which works out to be a pitiful 8% target share. With Drew Brees under center in Week 1-9, Kamara averaged 9 targets per game for a 25% share. Most of Kamara’s upside is tied to his passing down work and he’s also in a three-way split for carries. Gross. Kamara will only be a low-end RB2 when Saints take on the Falcons for the second time in three weeks in Week 13. (GB)
Clyde Edwards-Helaire and Le’Veon Bell (KC) — Why run the ball when Patrick Mahomes is your quarterback? That’s been HC Andy Reid’s gameplan over the last month and, clearly, it’s working. Mahomes is averaging 45.3 pass attempts per game over the Chiefs last four contests and he has posted 416 yards / 5 TDs, 372 / 4, 348 / 2, and 462 / 3 to show for it. That’s not too bad. On the flipside, both Clyde Edwards-Helaire and Le’Veon Bell’s usage has suffered with Mahomes throwing it so much. The Chiefs have gone a ridiculous 74% pass-heavy over the last month and that has left CEH and Bell with only 36 and 22 carries between the two respectively. Even though the Chiefs are throwing it all over the yard, Edwards-Helaire has been disappointing in the passing game and only has eight receptions for 40 yards and a score over the Chiefs last four games. Unfortunately, CEH has devolved into a FLEX option only while Bell is basically just a handcuff. (GB)
Leonard Fournette (TB) — After being cut by the Jaguars, Fournette joined the Bucs’ on a one-year deal to try and rehabilitate his value and his tenure in Tampa hasn’t gone the way he’d hoped so far. Through 12 weeks, Fournette is the RB39 by fantasy points per game and getting sharply out-played by Ronald Jones. HC Bruce Arians has almost completely abandoned trying to run the ball with Fournette in recent weeks and, honestly, who can blame him? Over their last four games, Jones has out-carried Fournette by a massive 45 to 16 margin. Arians is by no means trustworthy when it comes to coachspeak, but he did come out after their last game and say that he wants to get RoJo even more involved. If you were still holding out hope for a turnaround, you can safely drop Fournette now. (GB)
Tyler Boyd (Cin) — It seems pretty obvious that losing Joe Burrow would have a negative effect on Boyd, but it’s still discouraging that Boyd’s worst game of the 2020 season — by far — came in the first start for Brandon Allen. Against the Giants in Week 12, Boyd caught 3 of his 6 targets for 15 yards, posting 4.5 PPR FP. His previous low this season — 7.3 FP — came in Burrow’s first career start, and Boyd hasn’t had fewer fantasy points in a game since he caught a single pass for zero yards in Week 11 last season (which, coincidentally, also came with a backup QB in Ryan Finley). Hopefully, things get better here, but Allen was terrible in Week 12, and the fact that the Bengals clearly view him as a superior option to Finley is troubling in that it’s hard to expect this to get much better for Boyd. He’s a PPR WR3. (JD)
Jamison Crowder (NYJ) — Sam Darnold was back in Week 12. He had been feeding Crowder targets all year, so a lot of people wondered if Crowder was startable. Well, we might have gotten the answer. Darnold struggled badly against the Dolphins, and Crowder posted 3/31 receiving on 5 targets, falling behind both Breshad Perriman and Denzel Mims on the food chain. The Jets stink, and Darnold is flailing through an audition for his next job. Crowder is bench fodder. (JD)
Jonnu Smith (Ten) — Jonnu’s scorching start to the season is a distant memory as we enter December. He’s reached double-digit FP just twice in his last seven games after he opened the season with 11+ FP in each of his first four games. He bottomed out in Week 12 as he didn’t even register a target against the Colts despite playing 75% of the snaps. Geoff Swaim, off all players, led the Titans TEs with 3/30 receiving while playing 64% of the snaps while Anthony Firkser saw just one target without a catch on 28% of the snaps. Jonnu isn’t guaranteed to see weekly targets with the offense revolving around Derrick Henry, A.J. Brown, and Corey Davis every week, leaving Smith as a TD-or-bust option down the stretch. (TB)
Players whom we’re not ready to upgrade or downgrade, but their situations demand monitoring based on recent play, injuries, or news.
Taysom Hill (NO) — After a promising first start two weeks ago against Atlanta, Hill regressed a bit this past week in Denver. Hill only completed 9 of his 16 passes for 78 yards and threw a pick. To be fair, the Saints didn’t really have to do much offensively because the Broncos were put in a horrible situation with all of their quarterbacks out because of COVID tracing. Still, Taysom struggled to read the field and held the ball too long on his limited dropbacks and HC Sean Payton really condensed their passing offense because of it. Outside of hitting Michael Thomas for 24 yards on a deep curl in their two-minute offense in the first half, Hill didn’t push the ball down the field at all. At this point, we’re playing Hill in fantasy strictly for his rushing potential and he definitely delivered in that department this week with another 2 TD performance. With Drew Brees (ribs) still sidelined, we’ll see Hill get another start next week when they take on the Falcons again. (GB)
D’Andre Swift (Det) — Swift nearly played on Thanksgiving Day after suffering a concussion before Week 11, but he ultimately couldn’t gain final clearance to play against the Texans. It was a bummer since the Lions finally let him break out in Week 10 with 149/1 scrimmage against the Football Team, and he would’ve crushed it against a porous Texans run defense in Week 12. Hopefully, interim HC Darrell Bevell will continue to let Swift be a bell-cow back down the stretch against a schedule with a mix of soft and tough spots (@Chi, GB, @Ten, TB). Swift has the potential to be a difference-making back for fantasy if he can string together a few games with 15+ touches. (TB)
Dalvin Cook (Min) — Cook hurt his ankle while losing a fumble in Week 12’s crazy tilt with the Panthers, and for a brief time, it looked bad — however, he returned to the game and appeared no worse for the wear. It’s clear the injury isn’t serious, but it’s fair to wonder if things might stiffen up over the course of the week now that Cook isn’t running on adrenaline. There doesn’t seem to be a reason to panic, but Cook’s scare is a reminder that Alexander Mattison should be rostered in all leagues, especially if you have Cook on your roster. (JD)
Jonathan Taylor and Nyheim Hines (Ind) — Taylor’s rookie campaign got grounded again before Week 12 just when it looked like it was about to take flight. The Colts placed him on the COVID-19 list as a high-risk contact, which means he could return in Week 13 against a bad Texans run outfit if he avoids testing positive. With Taylor out of the lineup, Hines dominated the work in the Colts backfield with 8/66 receiving and 10/29 rushing on a 65% snap share — Jordan Wilkins could muster only 9/57 scrimmage on a 35% snap share. Jacoby Brissett has recently thrown another wrench into the backfield with three goal-line rushing TDs in the last three weeks, which lowers the ceiling for these backs going forward. Taylor and Hines would be RB2s this week as the top backs in this committee if Taylor is able to return. Hines would be set up as a borderline RB1 if Taylor can’t play again this week since Wilkins is clearly the third fiddle in this backfield now. (TB)
David Johnson (Hou) — Johnson will be eligible to return in Week 13 after a three-week stay on the injured reserve after suffering a concussion back in Week 9. The Texans have had a non-existent running game since Johnson went on the injured reserve with Duke Johnson mustering just 33/106 rushing (3.2 YPC) over the last three games. DJ was averaging 12.0 FPG before his injury, and he’ll be more of a low-end RB2 option to close out the season with a brutal closing kick (Ind, @Chi, @Ind, Cin). (TB)
Christian McCaffrey (Car) — McCaffrey (shoulder) practiced on a limited basis in Week 12 and was actually listed as questionable for the Panthers’ tilt with the Vikings, though he didn’t end up playing. That likely bodes well for his status in Week 14, however — the Panthers have a Week 13 bye, and CMC seems primed to be fully healthy for the fantasy playoff push. (JD)
Josh Jacobs (LV) — In one of the most disappointing performances of the week, the Raiders offense simply didn’t show up in Atlanta. Derek Carr lost three fumbles on three sacks, threw a pick-six, and Josh Jacobs lost a fumble on a nice 16-yard gain. Because the Raiders got down quickly and weren’t able to get into any sort of rhythm offensively, Jacobs ended his day with just 10 touches for 41 yards. Jacobs also picked up an ankle injury in the blowout, but NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport said that it wasn’t as bad as it looked Monday morning. Hopefully Jacobs will be able to practice in full later this week, but it’s worth noting that he’s been on the injury report seemingly all season with hip and knee issues. The Raiders have a perfect chance to bounceback in Week 13 when they take on the lifeless Jets. (GB)
Todd Gurley (ATL) — After not practicing all week with a knee injury, Todd Gurley ended up missing his first game of the year. In Gurley’s absence, Brian Hill (13/55 rushing) and Ito Smith (12/65/1 rushing; 4/10 receiving) split the workload in a game the Falcons controlled throughout. With Atlanta already looking towards 2021 and Gurley’s effectiveness falling off of a cliff, we may not see him get his usual workload again this season. Over his five previous games, Gurley was averaging a hilariously low 2.7 yards per carry. That ranked worst in the league in this span. If he plays, Gurley will be an uninspiring RB3 option next week against the Saints stout run defense. (GB)
Phillip Lindsay (DEN) — The Broncos were put into an impossible situation this past week with all of their quarterbacks out because of COVID contact tracing. Unsurprisingly, they could not move the ball at all. Denver ended up with just 112 yards of total offense while practice squad call-up Kendall Hinton only completed one pass. And unfortunately, Phillip Lindsay picked up a knee injury after picking up only 20 yards on nine carries before exiting. Lindsay also lost a fumble on a direct snap. HC Vic Fangio said after the game that Lindsay’s injury is “minor” — so hopefully he won’t miss any time. Regardless, Lindsay is a stash only as he and Melvin Gordon continue to split the workload. (GB)
Kenny Golladay (Det) — It’s been a lost season for Golladay who missed his fourth consecutive game because of a hip injury, which he initially suffered in Week 8. He also missed two games because of a hamstring injury to start the season. Golladay has scored between 14-17 FP in each of his four complete games this season so he’s been a solid WR2 when he’s been on the field. He’ll try to return this week after getting in a limited practice before last Thursday’s game, but we can’t count on him to be the WR1 that he was drafted to be with a fairly tough schedule down the stretch (@Chi, GB, @Ten, TB). At least the Lions fired Matt Patricia, which could lead to some better performances from this beleaguered Lions squad down the stretch. (TB)
DJ Moore (Car) — Moore had 4 catches for 61 yards on 9 targets against the Vikings in Week 12, but his day should have been so much better — Teddy Bridgewater missed him for 2 TDs, the last of which was a terrible throw to a wide-open Moore for what should have been a game-sealing TD. The throw was so bad that Moore had to contort himself to try to catch it, and he landed awkwardly and suffered an ankle injury. He was in serious pain, but we haven’t gotten an update as of publication. It didn’t look great when it happened, but an uncharacteristically awful throw from Teddy in the short area could have more ramifications than just a lost football game. (JD)
Adam Thielen (Min) — Thielen missed Sunday’s game with the Panthers because of COVID-19 protocols, but there’s still a little bit of uncertainty regarding exactly why he missed. He apparently tested positive, then negative last week, but did his initial positive come back as true? Or could he simply not pass the rest of the protocols in time? For what it’s worth, Thielen appears to be feeling good, watching and cheering on his teammates from the comfort of his own home. We’ll have to get an update on his status later this week. (JD)
Julio Jones (ATL) — Julio missed his third game of the season last week with a hamstring injury that has bothered him for most of the year. He got in a couple of limited practices on Wednesday and Thursday last week which hopefully means that he’ll be able to return and do even more work this week. This has been a frustrating year for Julio because he’s not only missed three games now, but he’s left two other contests early with the sore hammy. Still, in his six full games where he hasn’t left early, Julio is averaging 6.5 receptions and 101 yards per game. The Falcons face the Saints, Chargers, Buccaneers, and Chiefs in Week 13-16. (GB)
Evan Engram (NYG) — Engram had the breakout performance we’ve been waiting for in Week 12 against the Bengals, catching 6 of 9 targets for 129 yards (though he did lose a fumble, as he can’t get out of his own way sometimes). His usage suggested that kind of performance was coming. That’s the good news. The bad news is that 8 of his targets and 5 of his receptions came with Daniel Jones at QB — after Jones (hamstring) got injured, Colt McCoy hit him once… for a 1-yard loss. Engram’s upside is such that he’s hard to bench at the TE position, but if Jones misses time, this entire offense takes a massive hit. (JD)