Here’s my inside look at some of today’s matchups from an inside perspective…
Lions: HC Dan Campbell made it clear that if RB D’Andre Swift (sprained shoulder-questionable) is going to play against the Falcons, Swift would have to be cleared for contact.
Swift, according to Campbell, looked good in practice this week. It’s hard to gauge what his exact role would be for this game if he’s cleared, but Swift should be good for at least 10 touches if he’s active.
Swift, who has missed the past 3 games, did get some practice time in all three days that the team worked. If he’s active, I’m going to use him. I figure I should be able to get at least 10 points (PPR scoring). I’m in dire straits in a few leagues due to injuries and C-19 issues, so I’ll take Swift’s upside if he’s active and hope for the best.
Ravens: How bad is this team off at QB today?
Starting QB Lamar Jackson (right ankle/bone bruise) was never going to play despite being listed as questionable on Friday. He missed 6 straight practices and was downgraded to out on Saturday.
Even practice squad QB Chris Strevler is not available, as he was placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list earlier this week. Oy.
The team re-signed UDFA QB Kenji Bahar (Monmouth) to their active roster today. He was with the team in training camp and earlier this season on their practice squad.
Journeyman QB Josh Johnson, who was signed off the Jets practice squad two weeks ago, will start today with Bahar backing him up. Yeah, it might be a good time to start the Bengal fantasy defense.
Bengals: The team was pleasantly surprised when starting RB Joe Mixon (left ankle) came in for an evaluation for his injury before practices began this week and was just fine. And considering he couldn’t finish last week’s game, this is surprising news. He also took in all of his usual first-team reps in practice this week and carries no injury designation for the game.
While they’re down two starters on defense (MLB Logan Wilson—shoulder, DT D.J. Reader (C-19 list)), the Bengals should have little trouble keeping the score down today. They activated starting CB Chidobe Awuzie off the C-19 list late this week.
So, if your league gives credit for points against, they’re really looking good.
Jaguars: Starting RB James Robinson (knee) is no longer listed with his lingering injury (bruised heel). He had been listed on their injury report with the heel issue since Week 9.
Giants: QB Jake Fromm is expected to start for Daniel Jones (neck-IR) and they are down 3 starting OLs from Week 1.
RT Nate Solder is the latest being out after being placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list on Saturday. What a disaster and if you were ever going to play the Eagles fantasy defense, this would be the week—especially if you get credit for points against.
And veteran DT Danny Shelton, who generally only plays on base/run downs, was also placed on the C-19 list this weekend. Great news if you were going to use any of the Eagle RBs—Miles Sanders or Jordan Howard.
Eagles: RB Miles Sanders (quadriceps) has a new injury coming out of the last game and didn't practice, but the team said the decision for him not to practice was strictly precautionary due to the short week—they played last on Tuesday evening. Interestingly, his lingering ankle injury was taken off their injury report. And he does not carry an injury designation despite not practicing leading up to this game.
The team got some good news late this week when rookie G Landon Dickerson was activated off the C-19 list. He has been a dominant part of their running game success this season.
Buccaneers: 4th-year RB Ronald Jones, who is in the final year of his rookie deal, is slated to be their main ball carrier today. He typically doesn’t have a high margin for error due to fumble and confidence issues over the years, but veteran RB Le’Veon Bell just signed with the team on Wednesday and the team has not shown any confidence in 3rd-year RB Ke’Shawn Vaughn to this point.
The WR rotation without Mike Evans (hamstring-out) and Chris Godwin (ACL-IR) looks like: Antonio Brown (heel/no injury designation), Tyler Johnson, Scotty Miller.
HC Bruce Arians indicated earlier this week that he was looking for 30-35 plays from Brown in this game. That was before he saw him practice and was able to evaluate his conditioning.
Chargers: With starting RB Austin Ekeler (C-19) out today, 4th-year RB Justin Jackson, who led the team in snaps at RB during last week’s game, figures to be their featured back. While he has done next to nothing in his career, he did look really good against the Chiefs last week. Now we should note that DT Chris Jones was out, but I had not seen Jackson ever look this good.
The Texans are down several players in their front-7, so Jackson and the LAC running game is looking better than usual in this matchup.
Rams: 2nd-year RB Cam Akers (torn Achilles) was activated off IR on Saturday only to help him qualify for their pension program. There is not an expectation that he’ll play before the end of the regular season at this point. For him to qualify for the player pension, he has to be on the 53-man roster for at least 3 games.
It’s not known exactly how the RB carries and snaps will be divided, but head coach Sean McVay seemed to indicate this week that RB Darrell Henderson, who was not listed on the injury report this week (quadriceps), will have a larger role than he did last week. Sony Michel handled most of the snaps and carries since Henderson had missed Weeks 13-14 with his injury and C-19 and they wanted to ramp him up slowly. We have noticed players on the C-19 for 2 weeks or more don’t always get their full workload the first week back.
Steelers: The team’s run defense, which has been terrible for most of the season, took yet another hit after they lost 2 more DLs this week: DE Chris Wormley is out after suffering a groin injury in last week’s game and DT Isaiah Buggs was placed on the C-19 list. They’re already down run-stopping DT Tyson Alualu (broken ankle-IR) and Stephon Tuitt (knee-IR).
I know 2nd-year RB Clyde Edwards-Helaire has been disappointing, but it’s hard to imagine that he can’t get 75-80 yards on the ground against a run defense that has given up over 5.1 yards per carry over the last 8 weeks (2nd worst in the NFL).
Chiefs: The team got great news when two key offensive starters were activated off the reserve/COVID-19 list on Saturday afternoon: WR Tyreek Hill and TE Travis Kelce. Hill was not added to the injury report, but Kelce was added as questionable. Typically, teams that listed players as questionable after coming off the C-19 list did so because the players weren’t either feeling 100% or the medical staff did not have a chance to take a look at them initially. Either way, you might want to have another TE available for the late games just in case. If I had Kelce on any of my playoff teams, I wouldn’t take any risks of taking a 0. I can’t imagine him missing such an important game, but never say never—and it’s better to be safe than sorry.
The team also got back starting CB L’Jarius Sneed (personal family issue) earlier this week from his 2-game absence. He’s their best coverage player at the position and having him back is great news if you have their fantasy defense.
Broncos: WR Tim Patrick (hand) was removed from the injury report after being listed on there last week.
While QB Drew Lock, who will start for Teddy Bridgewater (concussion-out), is usually dreadful, he does possess a much stronger arm than Bridgewater. So at least you have a chance if you have any of their WRs or TEs.
Raiders: RB Josh Jacobs (illness) took in his normal first-team reps on Thursday and Friday and is expected to be in the lineup. He also does not carry an injury designation this week.
The team expects TE Foster Moreau (abdomen, thigh) to be in the lineup again for TE Darren Waller (knee-bone bruise, back-doubtful) despite not having a full practice. They did not give him an injury designation.
Waller has not practiced since getting hurt in Week in their game on Thanksgiving (Week 12), which makes it dubious why they aren’t listing him as out.
WFT: RB Antonio Gibson (toe-questionable) is still very iffy and didn’t practice this week, but head coach Ron Rivera seemed to be at least a little optimistic that he could go today. However, Gibson struggled during their last game after suffering the injury.
UDFA rookie RB Jaret Patterson, a star during training camp, will see an increased role if Gibson is inactive. Patterson was the first one in at RB after Gibson got hurt against the Eagles before returning later in the game. And journeyman QB Jonathan Williams would also be in the mix for work if Gibson is out.