Thu Feb 1 1:00 pm
By JEFF PAUR
Sr Fantasy Writer
Both teams head into the big game with minimal injury situations. The biggest name most are concerned about is Rob Gronkowski, who was knocked out of his last game because of a concussion. His status is below but it looks like all systems go for the elite tight end. You always want to see the teams at full strength for the Super Bowl. There are some injuries both sides are dealing with, but things look pretty good for both teams considering how late in the season it is right now. Hopefully, this makes for an entertaining Super Bowl.
Rob Gronkowski, TE, Patriots. Gronkowski remains in the concussion protocol but has been doing pretty much everything in practice. He should be cleared to play in the next day or so. The expectations are he will be fine and his usual self for the big game. Keep an eye on the notes to see when he is cleared, but he should be just fine for Sunday.
Jay Ajayi, RB, Eagles. Ajayi was limited in practice the week before his last game because of an ankle injury but was able to play in the game. He is practicing in full this week, so it seems his ankle injury is a thing of the past for now. He should be near 100 percent healthy for the Super Bowl.
Mike Gillislee, RB, Patriots. Gillislee is battling a knee injury and has been inactive the last several games. He seems healthy enough to play but the Patriots are holding him out with the current backs making plays with their chances. So expect Gillislee to be a healthy scratch again for this week with Dion Lewis, James White and Rex Burkhead getting all the work at running back for the Patriots.
Tom Brady, QB, Patriots. Brady's hand injury seems a thing of the past. He looked just fine in his last game out and should be able to play this week without anything too cumbersome on the hand. This injury isn't a factor anymore. Brady will be just fine.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers' defense is bad. Despite what we've seen in recent weeks, there is enough evidence to suggest that they're more likely to remain bad than turn a corner. They had a great day against the 49ers and took advantage of an injured Cam Newton but with the Ravens coming up, they should be avoided. The Ravens' strengths are the Buccaneers' weaknesses. Their ability to manipulate defenses on designed QB runs along with their versatile running backs should cause trouble for a bottom-five defense like Tampa. More-so the Bucs defense has struggled away from Raymond James Stadium which doesn't help their case for Week 16 in Dallas either. Stay away.
Buccaneers wide receiver Adam Humphries had a down week against the Saints but should bounce back in Week 15. Humphries will likely be matched up with Brandon Carr in the slot and have a decent amount of opportunities to beat him. The only cause for concern aside from the pressure that Jameis Winston will face is the time of possession. It's very likely that Baltimore posses the ball for large chunks of the game, giving the Buccaneers fewer drive attempts to produce and score on. Humphries has proven over the past few weeks to be reliable enough to look past that and as a result, he should be started. His matchup next week in Dallas is a lot less favorable, might as well take him on for one last dance.
Seattle Seahawks rookie running back Rashaad Penny (knee), who has been ruled out for the first game of his career in Week 15 against the 49ers, doesn't appear to be dealing with a serious injury. His injury was discovered after the win on Monday night, and he will remain in Seattle this weekend to continue his rehab. Head coach Pete Carroll said an MRI exam didn't show anything significant, but the coach didn't specify what the injury was. The team isn't concerned that Penny will be out for an extended period. Penny's absence will mean more time for J.D. McKissic this weekend, but he won't be fantasy relevant behind Chris Carson and Mike Davis. McKissic has played just three snaps in two games since coming off Injured Reserve several weeks ago.
Los Angeles Chargers wide receiver Keenan Allen (hip) was diagnosed with a hip pointer after being injured in the Thursday night win over the Chiefs, according to a source. He's not dealing with structural damage and this isn't an injury that will affect him in the long term. It's possible that Allen will miss some time, but it's unlikely to be much, if at all. The damage is already done for most of his fantasy owners, though, as his donut on Thursday night likely ruined the chances of his owners in the fantasy semifinals. For those that somehow make it through, the good news is he could be available in Week 16 in a tough matchup against the Ravens. If Allen's playing, he'll be a low-end WR1. Mike Williams, who had three touchdowns on Thursday, and Tyrell Williams will benefit if Allen has to miss any time.
Seattle Seahawks wide receiver Doug Baldwin (hip), who is questionable for Week 15 against the 49ers, said he will play. Baldwin missed the Monday night win over the Vikings and has sat out three games all year with injuries. His various ailments have limited him to just 37 catches on the year after he's had at least 66 receptions each of the last four years. The injuries have made him realize that he may be nearing the end of his football career. Oh, I am on the downside, he said. Im 30 years old. I would not be able to play at the caliber Im now at 38, so Im definitely on the downside. On top of it, Seattle runs the ball more than any other team, so Baldwin will be a touchdown-dependent WR3 against San Fran.
Oakland Raiders defense/special teams are a punt option this week against the Bengals. They will be facing off against the Bengals backup quarterback Jeff Driskel, who only has three touchdowns in his last three games, along with one interception. The Raiders have been able to generate multiple interceptions in two of their last four games, so there is a bit of turnover upside in this matchup.
Oakland Raiders wide receiver Jordy Nelson is a viable fantasy option this Sunday against the Bengals. Nelson has seen 18 targets over the past two games and if you are in a deeper league and dealing with injuries, he has some PPR upside. The matchup is certainly a good one, as the Bengals come in with the 27th DVOA (Defense-adjusted Value Over Average) against the pass this season. He should be able to continue seeing this volume and turn that into solid fantasy points for a third straight week.
Oakland Raiders wide receiver Seth Roberts is a low-end fantasy option this Sunday against the Bengals. Roberts has seen six or more targets in three of his last four games, but hasn't posted any touchdowns or gained more than 76 yards. Roberts is very cheap in the DFS industry and with the Bengals having the 27th DVOA (Defense-adjusted Value Over Average) versus the pass, he is in a spot to succeed but still makes a risky option due to the lackluster production.
Oakland Raiders rookie wide receiver Marcell Ateman is not a viable option this week against the Bengals. For a few weeks it appeared that Ateman was set for a large role in the offense, especially after had 10 targets, but since then he has only eight targets for five receptions for a total of 61 yards. He is simply too ineffective with the receptions to be a solid fantasy option despite the favorable matchup.
Oakland Raiders tight end Jared Cook is the best fantasy option on the team this Sunday against the Bengals. Cook has over 100 yards in two straight games along with having three touchdowns in three of his last four games. He also comes in with six or more targets in four of his last five games, showing that he is truly the best and most consistent option the Raiders have in the passing game. He has a great matchup this week against the Bengals who are 27th DVOA (Defense-adjusted Value Over Average) against the pass this season.
Oakland Raiders quarterback Derek Carr has seen some recent success and is in a spot to extend this production. Carr has posted multiple touchdowns in three of his last four games and is now up against the Bengals, who come in with the 27th DVOA (Defense-adjusted Value Over Average) versus the pass. This is one of the better matchups on the slate and with the Raiders coming in with an implied team total set at 21, he should be in a spot to produce solid fantasy numbers.
Oakland Raiders running back Doug Martin has a three-game touchdown streak in the works and he will look to extend that versus the Bengals this Sunday. Martin has seen double-digit carries in each game he has started since Marshawn Lynch went out with an injury and turned that into three touchdowns, one in each of his last three games. The matchup this week is very favorable since he is up against the Bengals who have the 28th DVOA (Defense-adjusted Value Over Average) versus the rush this season.
Oakland Raiders running back Jalen Richard is a riskier fantasy option this week, despite facing off against a very soft Bengals defense. Richard is coming a game where he only saw one target in the passing game, which was his lowest total since Week 2. Richard makes his living in the passing game and has seen four or more targets in 10 straight games. That PPR value is certainly very nice, but with the game set to be closer than usual, we could be seeing a solid workload for Doug Martin, limiting the chances for Richard.
San Francisco 49ers running back Matt Breida (ankle) and wide receivers Dante Pettis (foot) and Marquise Goodwin (calf) are all questionable for Week 15 against the Seahawks. Breida missed Week 14 but looks to be on track to return. He was initially injured against Seattle several weeks ago but could be a volume-based RB2 if he's not limited against Seattle. Breida's return would mean Jeffery Wilson would return to a backup role. Pettis has become an upside WR3 in PPR leagues, but San Fran's passing game would be in serious trouble if both Pettis and Goodwin sat out. Kendrick Bourne, Trent Taylor and rookie Richie James might need to step up on Sunday, which would make Seattle's defense/special teams even more attractive.
Tennessee Titans QB Marcus Mariota (abdomen) was added to the injury report Friday, Dec. 14, as an abdominal issue limited him in practice. However, he was then removed from the report ahead of the Week 15 game against the New York Giants.
Fantasy Spin: There isn't anything to worry about as far as his availability on Sunday. He'll be facing the league's 19th-ranked pass defense, as the G-Men give up 249.0 yards per game through the air, including 51 pass plays of 20 or more yards. Still, he should be considered more of a QB2 in most fantasy leagues.
Detroit Lions DT Da'Shawn Hand (knee), OT Ricky Wagner (concussion) and S Charles Washington (hamstring) did not participate in practice Friday, Dec. 14, and have been ruled out for Week 15. LB Trevor Bates (ankle), FB Nick Bellore (ankle), CB Marcus Cooper (back), OT Taylor Decker (shoulder) and LB Devon Kennard (hip) were limited during practice and are listed as questionable.
Tennessee Titans RB David Fluellen (knee), LB Brian Orakpo (elbow) and TE Cole Wick (shoulder) did not practice Friday, Dec. 14 and each are ruled out for Week 15 against the New York Giants. QB Marcus Mariota (abdomen) and WR Tajae Sharpe (ankle) were limited in their work, while CB Dane Cruikshank (knee), CB Joshua Kalu (hamstring), OT Dennis Kelly (not injury related) and OT Taylor Lewan (shoulder) practiced in full and were all removed from the injury report.
Detroit Lions WR Bruce Ellington (hamstring) did not participate in practice Friday, Dec. 14, and has been ruled out for Week 15.
Fantasy Spin: T.J. Jones, Andy Jones and Theo Riddick could all see some more targets with Ellington out of the lineup. Riddick can be a flex option in all leagues but will be more valuable in point-per-reception leagues. Kenny Golladay is probably the only Lions receiver that should be started in fantasy leagues.
Detroit Lions QB Matthew Stafford (back) was limited during practice Friday, Dec. 14, and is listed as questionable for Week 15.
Fantasy Spin: Stafford should be able to play this week, but owners can check the inactive list to make sure. He has thrown only two touchdowns in the last four games and should be benched if owners have better options available.
Cincinnati Bengals QB Jeff Driskel (shoulder) practiced in full on Friday, Dec. 14 and he was removed from the injury report ahead of the Week 15 game against the Oakland Raiders.
Fantasy Spin: Driskel continues to start with Andy Dalton (thumb) done for the season, so the Bengals get a chance to evaluate him for the future. However, fantasy owners should steer far clear of him, even against a Raiders pass defense allowing an NFL-high 31 passing scores this season.