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Press conferences: They're either the most important thing in the world or something to be entirely ignored, depending on if they validate how you already felt or not. Nonetheless, they are an important window into an NFL organization. Much as the eye in the sky don't lie about players, coaches can't cover up every emotion or lean they have when they're asked questions. In omission, or in tone, even someone as tight-lipped as Bill Belichick or Nick Caserio can give something away. And that's what this column scans for.
Let's look at some of the trickiest situations for Week 7 lineups.
Let Russ Heal
We already know that Russell Wilson and the Broncos are down bad. This was supposed to be one of the weeks you could count on him for in DFS -- there are four good quarterbacks on bye, he's playing a Jets team that has been brutal on defense for most of Robert Saleh's tenure. Instead, Russ has been brutal and he's hurt. And the Jets, who started the year off allowing 24, 30, and 27 points, haven't allowed 20 points since Week 3. Even the Dangerwich isn't safe!
Meanwhile, the major storyline this week in Denver has been that Wilson's hamstring is hurt enough for him to split practice snaps with backup Brett Rypien. He was dubbed a game-time decision by his head coach:
I don't trust Nathaniel Hackett to do the right thing. I think there's a major push here to get Wilson out there because they perceive that he gives them the best chance to win, and with Wilson actually speaking on Wednesday, I think they predetermined the direction they'd like this to go in. But between how bad he looked at the end of Monday Night Football and how bad he's been, well, most of the season, I also sort of feel like the Broncos are worried that Rypien will start and play every bit up to Wilson's par. The ego locked into this trade -- both from Denver and from Russ -- is enormous.
Ultimately, if Russ does play, I don't think you can play him with confidence. He's a low-end QB2 at best. I would break any kind of tie against him. I absolutely would have no interest in waiting around to see if he'll play at 3:05 when I could start someone like Marcus Mariota or Kenny Pickett. I can't believe I'm typing those words, but that's how bad this situation has been for six weeks. Rypien can't be trusted either in fantasy leagues, but I almost feel like there's a little more upside there than there is in an immobile Wilson stagnating in the pocket. I'd sit him out in a second if I ran the Broncos in a sim league or something -- but this situation is defying the normal bounds of rationality.
Tyler Lockett's unicorn DNP x 3 -> Questionable Timeline
Tyler Lockett had a dud on Sunday, where he had just five targets and caught just two passes for 17 yards. He'd picked up a hamstring injury on the report towards the end of last week, but played through it. Then, he got to this week and the Seahawks didn't see him practice in any of his three opportunities to do so.
It's extremely rare for someone to not practice the entire week and be named questionable, and when it does happen -- my go-to for this year is Terron Armstead doing it multiple times -- it's usually an offensive lineman. Offensive linemen, notably, don't have to sprint 30 yards on every play, so it's less about performance and more about gutting out injuries to their lower extremities.
Despite the injury, we tapped into maximum optimism Pete Carroll in his Friday presser when he was asked about Lockett:
Carroll would also suggest that the years that Lockett had in the program make him more able to play off the report.
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Well, here's my stance: If it held him back last week, and he's playing this week with the same injury, and there's little that we know of that tells us that his health has improved -- I'd be sitting him if I had anywhere close to a reasonable option. I'd start a similar top-40 guy over him. I'd happily start a Michael Gallup or Drake London over him. And I'd also keep an eye on Noah Fant, who seemed to benefit target-wise last week with Lockett hampered. Fant led the team in receiving yards and targets in Week 6 -- I don't know if he's going to be that big of a deal this week, but it's certainly on the table.
Does Keenan Allen actually want to play this weekend?
This is a question our scientists have been working on all week. Allen notably told NFL Network's Bridget Condon that he'd "feel more comfortable" playing after Los Angeles' Week 8 bye.
One interesting tidbit about this is that while Condon appears to have quite a bit of access to Allen, he wasn't made publicly available to the rest of the Chargers media, so there isn't a Q&A session on the record that I can pull and clip from.
A game-time decision (as the other two in this article are), Allen has been getting by with limited practices, but notably progressed in those practices in so much as he was working with starters in certain situations that he hadn't been in during recent weeks. Brandon Staley talked about him in the Friday presser and said that if there was any apprehension, that they wouldn't play him.
I will level with you -- I don't have to make the Lockett decision in any of my leagues this year -- but the words coming out of this situation this week do not fill me with enthusiasm. From the bye week, to Staley talking about a pitch count, to the apprehension. The problem is that if Allen does play, Josh Palmer's absence seems to do a lot to level off volume concerns. Finally, on the third hand, we have whatever this is:
Much like Lockett, you have to wait until the afternoon games on Lockett -- and much like Lockett, I am squeamish about doing so. With a player who is so obviously not 100 percent quite yet that they're going to pitch count him, you also have concerns about game scripts. Could Allen blow up the box score right away? It's not completely out of the realm of possibility. But the story I have to tell myself where this happens is so specific that it makes me inclined to actually see it. I know this does not feel good to read if you've been holding on to him for exactly this moment -- and obviously, fire him up if you're in a deep league and he's starting over some WR6 schlub -- but I couldn't tell you I'm enthusiastic about Allen's Sunday prospects with a straight face.