The Coronavirus recently forced sports to adopt unique measures to produce a playing season. While there's still potential for a positive test to sideline a player for at least three weeks, and there’s no way of projecting how many positive cases occur during the NFL season, there are also compelling factors beyond illness that create a demand for this feature: Late-week injuries, suspensions, and coaching decisions with personnel.
We developed this feature to give you resources that will help you weather the potential loss of players.
As the author of the most comprehensive scouting analysis of skill players since 2006, I’m one of those resources—especially for players at the bottom of depth charts, signed to practice squads, and training at home with dreams of that phone call from an NFL team.
Each week, I’ll walk you through the shortlist of players who will get their shot to contribute as replacements for players falling victim to unexpected late-week events. This feature is also a great list for preemptive selections, a method of free agent shopping that's successful for a lot of fantasy GMs who reserve their funds for one costly addition and to stream defenses and kickers.
I won't be updating this piece over the weekend, but you'll get the goods on players worth consideration, and based on the past last two years, this column offered a lot of quality short-term and long-term options — many of them as preemptive picks:
- Khalil Herbert
- Craig Reynolds
- Boston Scott
- Josh Reynolds
- James Robinson
- Robert Tonyan Jr
- Travis Fulgham
- Tim Patrick
- Russell Gage
- Braxton Berrios
- Duke Johnson Jr
- Rashaad Penny
- Davis Mills
- A.J. Dillon
- Tyler Conklin
This is a partial list, but you get the point.
We’ll examine three types of replacements:
- Players who get immediate playing time.
- Pre-emptive additions from your league’s waiver wire.
- Options worth monitoring in case the established backup eventually misses time.
Many of these players are late-round picks and street-free agents. I'm not giving you obvious waiver candidates that will command a large percentage of your FAAB dollars. These are options you'll often find in your First-Come, First-Serve section during the latter part of the week prior to kickoff.
If you think street-free agents won’t be factors Ty'Son Williams from Week 1 last year is on Line 1 waiting for you to pick up. Craig Reynolds is on Line 2. Boston Scott is waiting patiently on Line 3. They each have a long list of players before them who would like to make an appointment to set you straight. James Robinson would like to tell you about his 2020 campaign. And Raheem Mostert has time on his hands if you need a deeper consultation.
WEEK 11 REVIEW
- Donovan Peoples-Jones: A quality producer as a bye-week option for several weeks, Deshaun Watson's return could eventually lead to an increase in big-play production after Watson shakes off the rust for a week or two.
- Geno Smith: Safe to say he's playing well enough and in a good position to be considered for real as a starter.
- Parris Campbell: Glad I went against the grain about dropping Campbell. With Matt Ryan returning as the Colts' starter, Campbell will earn reliable volume.
- Foster Moreau: He's earning targets and converting them as the second or third option and earned two red-zone targets last week, converting on one and the other well defended, despite many thinking of it as a drop. Moreau has been at least a capable flex for the past month.
- Gus Edwards: An injury has limited him in recent weeks. He has been a full participant late this week and should return as a big part of the offense this weekend.
- Jared Goff, Jimmy Garoppolo, and Davis Mills: I presumed most of your league doesn't have them as free agents, but I'm listing them here if that's not the case. I'd roll with them in this order of preference, but Garoppolo and Mills are close enough that I wouldn't fault anyone for opting for Mills.
- Odell Beckham Jr: Likely joining a contender, Beckham may not be ready to play until December, but December isn't far off for teams with the luxury to stash a player with his skills.
- Darius Slayton: With Bellinger out and Kadarius Toney in Kansas City, Slayton is a good bet for bye-week value, especially after scoring against Jacksonville in Week 7 and following up with a 5-66 outing against the Seahawks.
- Tyler Conklin: At first, Zach Wilson's presence in the lineup didn't sustain Conklin's production that the tight end had with Joe Flacco. Wilson did a better job of finding Conklin against the Patriots, and it elevates him to a must-add if you need help at the position, but Conklin's target volume is less consistent on a weekly basis with Wilson compared to Flacco. Rookies Greg Dulcich and Cade Otton might be the better options for their targets and upside because of the caliber of quarterbacking.
- Cade Otton: He outperformed Greg Dulcich for the first two weeks, earning a respectable 4-64 against the Panthers. He lacks Dulcich's big-play potential, but he has averaged 5.3 targets during the past three games, including a 5-catch, 68-yard outing against the Rams that led to the first touchdown of his NFL career. His volume was lower last week due to the return of Cameron Brate, but Otton made key plays that should keep him in consideration.
- Greg Dulcich: Expect more boom-bust weeks ahead than what you'll get from Otton (see above), but higher ceilings, which can work out well at this position given the dearth of consistent scorers with a high points baseline. So far, Dulcich has averaged nearly six targets and 60 yards per game during the same three-week span as Otton.
- Marcus Mariota: The veteran journeyman is a weekly threat to deliver strong ground-aided fantasy production despite below-average fantasy value as strictly a passer.
- Isiah Pacheco: He's getting more decisive with obvious solutions but needs to prove he can create in more difficult circumstances to lock down the starter job beyond this year.
- Nico Collins: Collins is a good bet for 4-6 targets and 40-60 yards as his weekly baseline when healthy.
- Randall Cobb: He has a good shot at delivering as one of the top three options in this offense moving forward.
- Van Jefferson: He's an inconsistent option but his upside will be starter value.
- Latavius Murray: Melvin Gordon III got cut, which makes Murray the lead option.
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