Thu Nov 14 9:10am ET
By JEFF PAUR
Sr Fantasy Writer
There were a couple more fairly big-named players get hurt last week, leading to more uncertainty for fantasy teams. The top overall fantasy tight end went down, a low-end No. 1 or No. 2 fantasy back got injured, and an emerging receiver suffered an injury. This isn’t great news for fantasy owners. There are a couple players set to return this week, though, which is a good thing. All the latest injury news from around the league is below.
Alshon Jeffery, WR, Eagles. Jeffery is dealing with a sprained ankle. He is considered day to day and iffy to play Week 11. The Eagles are likely to do anything they can do get Jeffery on the field, but that doesn’t mean he’ll play. Philadelphia is really thin at receiver right now with DeSean Jackson sidelined. We would consider Jeffery a game-time decision this week.
Austin Hooper, TE, Falcons. Hooper suffered a sprained knee last week and left the game. He is going to avoid surgery for the injury, but expects to miss about a month of action. This is a huge loss for fantasy teams. Luck Stocker like takes over as the starting tight end while Hooper is out of action.
T.Y. Hilton, WR, Colts. Hilton has missed the last two games because of a calf injury. He is out of practice to start the week but has not been ruled out. The Colts are still holding out hope Hilton can play. He will need to get in some practice before the week is out for that to happen. Keep an eye on the player notes for the latest on Hilton, but get other options ready. Hilton seems pretty iffy right now.
Jacoby Brissett, QB, Colts. Brissett was close to playing last week and is already practicing in full to start this week. His knee injury is much better. Unless he has some sort of setback later in the week, Brissett will be ready to go for the Week 11 game, returning to the starting lineup for the Colts.
Matthew Stafford, QB, Lions. Stafford was a late scratch last week because of a back injury He is dealing with fractured bones in his back. He is out of practice to start the week and the chances of him playing this week don’t look great. Jeff Driskel gets another start if Stafford can’t play. We should know for sure late in the week but get other options ready.
Matt Breida, RB, 49ers. Breida is dealing with an ankle sprain once again, aggravating a past injury. He is going to miss a week or two of action. This gives Raheem Mostert a bigger role in the offense for the 49ers, serving as the No. 2 back for the team.
James Conner, RB, Steelers. Conner is set to return from his shoulder injury this week after missing the last few games. He is practicing in full and not even on the Injury Report. He will return to the starting lineup in Week 11.
Devonta Freeman, RB, Falcons. Freeman suffered a foot injury last week, leaving the game early. He has not been officially ruled out to play this week but is considered a long shot to suit up. Brian Hill should start and get most of the work at running back for the Falcons in Week 11.
A.J. Green, WR, Bengals. Green had a setback last week with his ankle, dealing with some swelling. He is out of practice to start this week, which is not a great sign for Green. He could return at some point this season, but that likely isn’t this week. He will need to start practicing more regularly to get back on the field.
Dede Westbrook, WR, Jaguars. Westbrook has missed the last several game because of neck and shoulder injuries. He was close to a return last week but couldn’t play. He is set to play this week, though. He already is practicing in full and ready to return to the starting lineup for the Jaguars in Week 11.
Will Fuller, WR, Texans. Fuller is back practicing some on his injured hamstring this week. This is a positive step for Fuller. He has a chance to play this week. Consider him a game-time decision. If he plays, he has a high ceiling in this pass-first offense but also a low floor, making him a boom or bust fantasy play.
Adam Thielen, WR, Vikings. Thielen remains out of practice because of a hamstring injury. He is likely to miss the game again this week. Thielen could return in another week or two. The Vikings want to make sure he is completely healthy before putting him back in the lineup after his setback a few weeks back.
George Kittle, TE, 49ers. Kittle has already been ruled out for Week 11 because of his ankle and knee injuries. He remains out of action after missing the game last week. He could return in another week or two, though. He is not dealing with a long-term injury.
Brandin Cooks, WR, Rams. Cooks is practicing some this week but ruled out again. He suffered another concussion a few weeks back and has been slow to recover. The Rams won’t rush their starting receiver back too soon because of the seriousness of the injury. At this point, we aren’t sure when he returns.
Emmanuel Sanders, WR, 49ers. Sanders was knocked from last week’s game because of bruised ribs. He is out of practice to begin the week. He has not been ruled out just yet but the chances of him playing don’t look great at the moment. He is dealing with a pretty painful injury. The 49ers might take a cautious approach with their No. 1 receiver, so get other options ready to use in Week 11.
Robbie Gould, K, 49ers. Gould missed the game last week because of a quad injury and is out of practice to start the week. We are sure the 49ers will do all they can to get their starting kicker back in the lineup after seeing their backup miss a game-winning attempt last week. But even with that said, Gould is looking pretty iffy to play. He probably misses again, barring a late-week turnaround.
Jeff Paur is a two-time finalist for FSWA Fantasy Football Writer of the Year and won the FSWA award for Best Fantasy Football Article on the Web in 2011. He also was the most accurate expert in 2012, winning the FSTA Fantasy Football Accuracy Award. If you have any questions for Jeff, email him at email@example.com. Follow Jeff on Twitter @jeffpaur.
Free-agent defensive end Jadeveon Clowney isn't close to signing with a team in free agency, according to a few sources. A growing thought around the league is that Clowney could wait a while to find his new team, perhaps into training camp this summer. He hasn't gotten offers anywhere close to what he wants, which is a multi-year deal in the $20 million a season range. Instead, the consensus is that the Seahawks' offer to re-sign him was in the $13-15 million per-year range. The pass-rusher had only three sacks in 2019 and has a long injury history, which makes things more problematic with the current restrictions on physicals due to the coronavirus. Clowney can be a difference-maker when healthy, but he's a wild card because of his injury history and lack of a double-digit sack season.
The Dallas Cowboys agreed to a three-year deal with a base value of $7.5 million with former Los Angeles Rams kicker Greg Zuerlein on Friday, according to sources. Zuerlein will reunite with special teams coach John Fassel. The signing is bad news for Kai Forbath. Greg the Leg had a down year in 2019 because of a foot injury, making 24 of his 33 field-goal attempts (72.7 percent). He made just five of his 11 tries from 40-49 yards but did make all 42 of his extra points. The 32-year-old has one of the strongest legs in the league and should be able to rebound if healthy in a great environment where he'll get to kick indoors for at least half of his games. Zuerlein has made 82 percent of his field-goal tries in his eight seasons in the league.
The Philadelphia Eagles exercised tight end Zach Ertz's option for the 2021 season on Thursday, according to a source. Ertz will count for $8 million in 2020 and $8.25 million in 2021, and extension talks with him and the team will likely pick up in the coming months. The 29-year-old has proven to be one of the most valuable pass-catching tight ends in the NFL since he was drafted in the second round in 2013. Ertz caught 88 passes for 916 yards and six touchdowns in 15 games in 2019, and he's made the Pro Bowl each of the last three seasons. He's had 70-plus catches and at least 816 yards the last five seasons, culminating in 1,163 receiving yards and eight TDs in 2018. He's a high-end TE1, but the emergence of Dallas Goedert is starting to make him a little bit more risky.
The Minnesota Vikings re-signed running back Ameer Abdullah to an undisclosed deal on Friday. Abdullah, a second-round pick of the Lions in the 2015 draft, only had 23 rushing attempts for 115 yards (5.0 yards per carry) and no rushing scores in his first full season with the Vikings in 2019. He added 15 receptions on 21 targets for 88 yards and one touchdown. Behind Dalvin Cook, Alexander Mattison and Michael Boone on the running back depth chart, Abdullah is unlikely to move the needle in fantasy once again in 2020 unless Minnesota's running backs are hit hard by the injury bug.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians said that the team will look to bring in a "pass-catching back" in free agency and/or the draft to complement running back Ronald Jones II. Jones was brutal in his rookie season but stepped up in his sophomore campaign to run 172 times for 724 yards (4.2 yards per carry) and six touchdowns in 16 games (nine starts). He was splitting time with Peyton Barber, although he was the much better back for most of the season. He corralled 31 passes for 309 yards in the passing game, but his pass blocking still leaves a lot to be desired, and Tampa can't afford mistakes with Tom Brady under center in 2020. If Jones is sharing touches once again, especially through the air, it'll significantly lower his fantasy ceiling. Just because Brady is in town won't necessarily mean that Jones will break out. Don't overpay.
The Green Bay Packers are expected to re-sign running back/return man Tyler Ervin on an undisclosed one-year deal. Ervin was picked up off waivers midway through last season and gave the Packers a boost in the return game. The 26-year-old had 11 punt returns for 106 yards and also returned six kickoffs for 160 yards in four games in Green Bay in 2019. He did next to nothing on offense, though, carrying the ball just one time for 10 yards and catching two passes for 11 yards. He's strictly a special teams guy and is behind Aaron Jones, Jamaal Williams and Dexter Williams on the running back depth chart.
The Baltimore Ravens announced on Thursday that they wouldn't be signing defensive tackle Michael Brockers after being unable to agree on the terms of a contract after his high ankle sprain from last season was flagged on a physical. Instead, he's getting a three-year, $31.5 million deal to re-sign with the Los Angeles Rams, according to a source. It's a similar deal to what Baltimore had offered. The 29-year-old returns to the only team he's called home since being the 14th overall pick in 2012. He's not much to look at in fantasy in IDP leagues, but he'll return to strengthen the interior of LA's defensive line along with Aaron Donald.
The belief is that Denver Broncos recently signed running back Melvin Gordon III will be the team's bell-cow back in 2020. We have a long way to go before the start of the regular season and Phillip Lindsay and Royce Freeman will still get their touches in this crowded backfield, but Gordon could be the lead man in this backfield after coming over from the Chargers in free agency. On the surface, Denver's backfield looks like one to avoid in fantasy because of all the bodies in play, and Gordon's signing surely destroys Lindsay's fantasy upside as an RB2. The question now is how much upside will Gordon have and how large of a share will he command in his first season in Denver? He had a weak 3.8 yards per carry alongside Austin Ekeler in LA in 2019, and the Broncos could change up their plans if Gordon struggles out of the gates as the bell-cow.
Free-agent LB Elijah Lee (49ers) agreed to an undisclosed deal with the Detroit Lions Friday, March 27.
Free-agent LB Reggie Ragland (Chiefs) agreed to an undisclosed deal with the Detroit Lions Friday, March 27.
Free-agent RB Tyler Ervin (Packers) is expected to sign a one-year deal with the Green Bay Packers Friday, March 27. Financial terms weren't disclosed.
Free-agent DT Michael Brockers (Rams) spurned an agreement with the Baltimore Ravens Friday, March 27, and he agreed to a three-year deal with the Los Angeles Rams. The deal is worth up to $31.5 million. Brockers' high ankle sprain from late last year was flagged in his physical with the Ravens, and the two sides couldn't agree to contract alterations.
Chicago Bears RB Tarik Cohen picked up a first down on only 18 of his 79 catches in 2019. The resulting 22.8-percent first-down rate was the lowest in the league among all players with at least 50 receptions.
Buffalo Bills WR Stefon Diggs managed 63 catches - the second-lowest mark of his career - and was charged with a drop on 6.4 percent of his 94 targets - a dramatic increase from two percent in 2018 - but he still finished with a career-high 1,130 receiving yards in 2019 with the Minnesota Vikings due in part to averaging 13.1 yards before the catch per reception. That figure was more than double his 5.6 yards before the catch per reception the previous season.
Los Angeles Chargers RB Austin Ekeler hauled in 92 of his 108 targets last season. The resulting 85.2-percent catch rate led the league among all players with at least 50 receptions.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians shut down the possibility of free-agent wide receiver Antonio Brown landing with the Bucs on Thursday. "Theres no room and probably not enough money. Its just not going to happen here. Its not a fit here," Arians said. New quarterback Tom Brady is close with Brown and reportedly wanted him to follow him to his new home in Tampa, but that won't be happening. For one, it's not even known if the NFL will have Brown back amid all of his off-field issues and ongoing investigations. It was mostly a pipe dream all along after Brady and Brown played in one game together for the Patriots in 2019. Having Mike Evans and Chris Godwin as his top two receivers is already a huge upgrade on what Brady was working with in Boston last year.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers WR Mike Evans picked up a first down on 54 of his 67 catches in 2019, while Miami Dolphins WR DeVante Parker did so on 58 of his 72 receptions. The resulting 80.6 percent first-down rate for both players led the league among players with at least 50 receptions.
Kansas City Chiefs TE Travis Kelce recorded 1,229 receiving yards in 2019, becoming only the fifth tight end in NFL history to top 1,000 yards four times in his career. However, he is the only one ever to do so in four consecutive seasons.
Denver Broncos RB Melvin Gordon is believed to be in line for a bell-cow role in 2020, according to James Palmer of NFL Network Thursday, March 26.
Fantasy Spin: While promising for Gordon's fantasy value in 2020, it's bad news for those with shares of either Phillip Lindsay or Royce Freeman. Gordon is likely to be low-end RB1 or high-end RB2, while fantasy managers will have to choose between the other two as an RB4/5 later in drafts.
Free-agent WR Antonio Brown (Patriots) won't be signing with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, according to head coach Bruce Arians Thursday, March 26. 'There's no room and probably not enough money,' Arians said. 'It's just not going to happen here. It's not a fit here.'