Injury Report: Week 15

John Daigle
Rotoworld

Week 15 of the fantasy football season is finally here, and the Rotoworld crew has everything you need to leave the weekend with a win. Patrick Daugherty answers your lineup questions with his Week 15 Rankings, Nick Mensio tells you who to start and who to fade in Start ‘Em or Sit ‘Em, Ian Hartitz dives into which receivers are destined for production in his WR/CB Matchups Analysis, and Hayden Winks breaks down every matchup in his famous Fantasy Forecast Column.

I'm also here to shed some light on the most important injury situations facing fantasy owners heading into the weekend. The sister resource to this column is the Rotoworld News Page, which will have every single inactive and all the late-breaking news up to kickoff and beyond. I'll also join Josh Norris and a rotating member of the crew every Sunday morning at noon ET on the Rotoworld Fantasy Football Show to answer all of your pressing start/sit decisions.

 

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Early Games

Texans @ Titans

*Will Fuller (hamstring, questionable) was limited all week but, barring any setbacks, is “expected” to return for this must-win divisional bout. Deshaun Watson was already locked into the upper echelon of options under center but could arguably rival Lamar Jackson’s 37-point outburst as the week’s overall QB1 with CB Adoree’ Jackson (foot, out) unavailable along the perimeter. Tennessee’s secondary, for example, was recently gouged by Patrick Mahomes (8.9 YPA) and Jacoby Brissett (7.9) in between layup spots against Nick Foles and Derek Carr — the latter pair which unsurprisingly went 2-for-10 on their minimal deep shots (20-plus yards) against the Titans. Tye Smith and journeyman Tramaine Brock are obviously no match for DeAndre Hopkins and Fuller on the outside, entrenching the latter as a WR3 with WR1-upside despite battling through a soft tissue injury.

*Derrick Henry’s (hamstring, questionable) “maintenance plan” entailed him sitting out for all three practices heading into Sunday. It’s the first time in his career he’s missed an entire week’s worth of sessions, but Henry himself reiterated he’ll play. Fantasy managers at the very least should stash Dion Lewis as a forward-thinking move ahead of Sunday and, perhaps more importantly, Week 16. You're obviously starting Henry if he’s active, especially since this contest projects to fly over its 51 total after opening at 47.5.

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Seahawks @ Panthers

*Don’t overthink Chris Carson’s role without Rashaad Penny (ACL) available. The latter played his way into a timeshare for Seattle over the last two weeks, but friendly reminder Carson averaged 20 carries and 3.4 targets through the team’s first 10 games while Penny was a mere afterthought. C.J. Prosise and Travis Homer have combined for 24 touches all year and aren’t a threat for volume. Standout CB Shaquill Griffin (hamstring, questionable) played every snap against the Rams on Sunday night but did sustain a hamstring injury mid-game that kept him sidelined at practice throughout the week. Jadeveon Clowney’s (illness) and Mychal Kendricks’ (hamstring) absences are more impactful since both are tied for the team lead in sacks with three. 

*Ian Thomas sticks as a season-long TE1 and DFS cash game lock for the second straight week with Greg Olsen (concussion) officially ruled out. Thomas unsurprisingly played 61-of-71 snaps against the Falcons, soaking up a 24 percent target share and 5/57/1 receiving on double-digit looks. Fantasy players should expect similar production in a home bout that projects for negative game script (and thus an increase in pass attempts).  

 

Patriots @ Bengals

*Julian Edelman (shoulder/knee, questionable) reportedly received “extra treatment” to finish the week after sitting out for Wednesday’s practice altogether, but did travel with the team to Cincinnati. Both he and Mohamed Sanu (ankle, questionable) are fully expected to play, though Edelman arguably remains New England’s only skill player worth trusting. Starting LT Isaiah Wynn’s (eye) and C Ted Karras’ (knee, questionable) return to the lineup would also boost Sony Michel’s outlook as a boom-or-bust RB3.

*John Ross (foot) began the week as a limited participant but was removed from Cincinnati’s injury report by Friday. He’ll continue to work in three-wide sets alongside Tyler Boyd and Alex Erickson now that Auden Tate's (MCL) officially done for the year. Ross played 51 percent of the Bengals’ offensive snaps fresh off injured reserve, but fantasy players should be stashing him with an eye towards Week 16 (against Miami) rather than running him out for Sunday’s nightmarish matchup opposite DPoY candidate Stephon Gilmore.

 

Buccaneers @ Lions

*With Scotty Miller (hamstring) unexpectedly cleared for Sunday, there’s no need to waste brain cells trying to figure out who benefits in Mike Evans’ (hamstring, out) absence. Breshad Perriman is the favorite to lead in routes run behind Chris Godwin, but second-year specimen Justin Watson could easily out-produce the entire lot as the team’s No. 2 on fewer snaps after receiving a game ball for his 5/59/1 interim work in Week 14; of course, with Miller sprinkled in, chances are all split reps. Under the gun I rank them Godwin > Watson > Perriman > Miller. In fact, O.J. Howard is the likeliest beneficiary since he’s run 63 routes on Jameis Winston’s 87 dropbacks over the past two weeks. Howard's only seen 11 targets in that span but will undoubtedly go overlooked in DFS tourneys since his salary is sandwiched between Ian Thomas’ and Tyler Higbee’s across sites. 

*Marvin Jones’ (ankle, out) sudden trip to injured reserve thrusts Chris Lacy and Danny Amendola into full-time roles. Amendola’s quietly seen eight targets in both of David Blough’s starts, but the dusty wideout is merely a high-floor option since Tampa Bay’s sneakily allowed just 235 yards per game and 5.9 yards per attempt in their last four contests. For what it’s worth, Bo Scarbrough’s (ribs, questionable) likely absence also projects Ty Johnson and J.D. McKissic for increased involvement.

 

Bears @ Packers

*This offense remains Allen Robinson’s and Anthony Miller’s show with Taylor Gabriel (concussion) still sidelined. The aforementioned duo have accrued a 25 and 22 percent target share from Mitchell Trubisky in Chicago’s last five games, ranking as fantasy’s WR5 and WR26 in that span. They should be leaned on again in a median spot against the Packers, who have allowed 7.7 YPA to opposing quarterbacks on the year. Miller in particular has a tremendous matchup against 36-year-old Tramon Williams from the slot.

*Davante Adams (toe) had his practice reps scaled back to close the week but did notably avoid Green Bay’s final injury report. Both he and Jimmy Graham (wrist/groin, questionable) will play.

 

Broncos @ Chiefs

*Noah Fant (hip/foot, questionable) remains a volatile TE2 even if he does suit up. The more looming concern is Denver’s hobbled front-seven, which will likely be short DE DeMarcus Walker (ankle, out), LB Joe Jones (back, questionable), DE Dre’Mont Jones (ankle, questionable), and DE Adam Gotsis (knee, out).

*Damien Williams (rib) is questionable after being downgraded on Friday with an “illness.”  Best guess is he suits up, but he shouldn’t be used in Week 15 since this backfield is littered with landmines. Spencer Ware led all in snaps (31, 40%) against the Patriots, for example, while LeSean McCoy handled the most carries (11) and Darwin Thompson saw the most targets (5).

 

Dolphins @ Giants

*DeVante Parker (concussion, questionable) and Albert Wilson (concussion, questionable) just need to be cleared by the team’s independent neurologist to play Sunday. Both practiced in full to close the week, essentially upgrading Ryan Fitzpatrick and Patrick Laird in a soft on-paper matchup (see below) versus New York.

*The Giants had already struggled in allowing the fourth-most yards per attempt (8.2) and seventh-most fantasy points per game (24.9) to opposing quarterbacks with Janoris Jenkins — Pro Football Focus’ No. 3 cornerback in coverage — on the field. His recent release comically plants some combination of Deandre Baker, Corey Ballentine, Sam Beal and Grant Haley against whoever’s cleared for Miami. Eli Manning should have no issues responding in his second straight start, though, since the Dolphins have struggled to create pressure at the league’s second-lowest rate (37.2%) while tallying the fewest sacks (17) and hurries (32) across the association. For that reason, the 38-year-old is a strong season-long streamer and high-floor cash game option for those in a pinch.

 

Eagles @ Redskins

*Philadelphia is expected to lean on rookie J.J. Arcega-Whiteside, AAF alumnus Greg Ward, and mid-week signee Robert Davis in three-wide sets with Nelson Agholor (knee) and Alshon Jeffery (foot) out. None should garner anything more than DFS stone-min cash game interest. Lane Johnson’s (ankle, out) absence is a dire loss for both Miles Sanders and Boston Scott, but that situation could potentially be offset if Halapoulivaati Vaitai holds up his end of the bargain. Reminder No. 22 overall pick Andre Dillard was thrown into the fire at right tackle the last time Johnson was unavailable but benched at the half in favor of ‘Big V’. Jordan Howard (shoulder, out) should be dropped for an end-of-bench Week 16 stash since he has yet to be cleared for contact.

*Even if Ronald Darby (hip, questionable) plays, Terry McLaurin’s production (unfortunately) hinges on Dwayne Haskins’ arm. The matchup in a vacuum is superb, however, since Darby allowed 3/132/2 to Darius Slayton in the second quarter alone on Monday night. Again, none of the Eagles’ receivers can be trusted, but it would certainly help their case(s) if all of Quinton Dunbar (hamstring, questionable), Fabian Moreau (hamstring, questionable), and Josh Norman (illness, questionable) can’t go.

 

Afternoon Games

Jaguars @ Raiders

*D.J. Chark’s (ankle) absence vacates 8.1 targets and a team-high 97 air yards per game for any of Dede Westbrook, Chris Conley, and Keelan Cole to soak up. Westbrook is the popular pick to see more opportunity, but his 6.4 average depth of target from the slot in Gardner Minshew’s nine starts doesn’t fit the bill. In turn, fantasy players should logically shoehorn Conley as Chark’s direct beneficiary since the former’s accumulated a team-high 14.8 aDOT from the rookie whilst running 91 percent of his routes from the perimeter. Don’t fret using Conley in DFS head-to-heads and 50/50s this weekend if looking to spend up on Christian McCaffrey, Chris Godwin, and/or Hopkins across sites. Note that Oakland has permitted the most 20-plus and 40-plus yard gains through the air this year.

*Josh Jacobs (shoulder) reportedly struggled to put on a sweater in the locker room Friday but stated the “plan is to” play as long as the team allows it. Having said that, coach Jon Gruden claimed he doesn’t know “how much [Jacobs] will play,” though “it does look pretty good.” Simply put, you’re playing the rookie if he’s declared active, especially since the Jags just moved their fourth starting linebacker (Quincy Williams) in the last three weeks to injured reserve. DeAndre Washington is the obvious pivot if Jacobs is scratched since he handled 64 percent of Oakland’s carries and 7-of-10 backfield targets in the interim against the Titans on Sunday. Unfortunately, Washington has no standalone value if Jacobs starts.

  

Browns @ Cardinals

*Starting center JC Tretter (knee, questionable) carried a questionable tag into last week’s contest but didn’t miss a single snap, and hasn’t missed a game since joining the Browns in 2017. In other words, both he and David Njoku (ankle) are fully expected to suit up. The 23-year-old tight end was limited to nine routes run in his first game action since Week 2 but did accrue three targets during his seldom usage. He’s a cross-your-fingers TE2 with TE1 upside versus Arizona's leaky ‘flow chart’ defense. 

*Andy Isabella (shoulder, questionable) should be available despite being limited throughout the week.

 

Falcons @ 49ers 

*Whereas it previously made sense to chase Russell Gage’s usage whenever he stepped into the starting lineup, Olamide Zaccheaus’ sudden involvement derails any obvious beneficiary in place of Calvin Ridley (abdomen, IR). It does bode well for Julio Jones, though, that Richard Sherman (hamstring) has officially been ruled out. Sherman graded out as Pro Football Focus’ No. 1 corner through 13 games, leaving an obvious drop-off with reserve Emmanuel Moseley now being pinned on the perimeter instead.

*Sherman’s absence overshadows the fact San Francisco will also be without Dee Ford (hamstring), K’Waun Williams (concussion), safety Jaquiski Tartt (ribs), NT D.J. Jones (ankle) and DT Jullian Taylor (elbow) — a whopping 60 percent of the Niners’ starting defense. Don’t let that fool you: Atlanta’s o-line still ranks eighth-overall in pressure rate allowed (31%), pitting Matt Ryan in an impossible spot without Ridley. The 49ers’ D/ST are fully expected to go overlooked in DFS tourneys despite overpowering opponents weekly. 

 

Vikings @ Chargers

*Adam Thielen (hamstring) was removed from Minnesota’s injury report entirely, ensuring he’s available for a full helping of reps for the first time since Week 7. Having said that, his workload can’t be trusted as a full-fledged WR2 in his first game back. RotoPat grouped him with other questionable WR3 options — Tyler Lockett, Cooper Kupp, Dede Westbrook, John Brown — and I tend to agree. Fantasy players should also shed Alexander Mattison (ankle, out) for Mike Boone on waiver wires since the latter has suddenly become the Vikings’ No. 2 back. There’s no guarantee Mattison returns this year following a full week of missed practices, making Boone the league-winning handcuff if Dalvin Cook, for whatever reason, can’t go against the Packers in Week 16.

*Xavier Rhodes (ankle, questionable) has been truly miserable this season, being charged with 53/645/4 on 63 targets thrown his direction (via PFF). Philip Rivers should find any of Keenan Allen, Mike Williams, and Hunter Henry with ease whether it’s backup Mike Hughes or Rhodes in coverage on Sunday.

 

Rams @ Cowboys

*Gerald Everett’s (ankle) absence keeps Tyler Higbee locked in as an all-too-obvious top-eight option for the third consecutive game. It’s a salivating matchup, too, as the Cowboys’ linebackers have struggled mightily to contain receiving tight ends, permitting the sixth-most receptions to that position all the while missing the third-most tackles in the league.

*Leighton Vander Esch, Dallas’ leading tackler, remains sidelined with a career-threatening neck injury. Chris Covington’s promotion from the practice squad is also an ominous sign for Sean Lee’s (thigh/pectoral, questionable) availability.

  

Sunday Night

Bills @ Steelers

*Odds are starting OG Jon Feliciano (illness, questionable) is active Sunday night.

*JuJu Smith-Schuster (knee) had a setback mid-week and was promptly announced as unavailable for this one. You can stop holding onto him and (finally) cut bait for a high-upside stash. Feel confident firing up James Conner as a low-end RB2 in his first game back since he did notably receive 26 touches on 83 percent of Pittsburgh’s snaps in his last healthy contest in Week 8. Benny Snell will ride the pine since he was previously hoarding Conner’s early-down role.

 

Monday Night

Colts @ Saints

*Zach Pascal should be viewed as a Top 25 wideout whether T.Y. Hilton (calf, questionable) miraculously suits up or not. There’s opportunity for both in the Superdome since the Colts will be without Devin Funchess (collarbone), Chester Rogers (knee), and Parris Campbell (foot), but Hilton’s situation reads as one to avoid on limited reps even if he's active. 

*Jared Cook (concussion) was upgraded to full participation for Saturday’s practice and has an extra 24 hours to get cleared from the league’s protocol. Assuming he’s healthy, I’m prioritizing this week’s intriguing TE options Higbee > Cook > Thomas > Howard > Njoku.

 

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