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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 TySon 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 15 REVIEW
- Jahan Dotson: Last week's top new "Add Now" delivered 4 catches for 105 yards and a score. The 49ers are the 13th most generous to receivers in fantasy football. Tyler Lockett, Cooper Kupp, DeAndre Carter, and JuJu Smith-Schuster all had strong games. All of them spend a lot of time in the slot or, in Lockett, Kupp, and Carter's case, share a common basic athletic profile with Dotson.
- Zack Moss: Jonathan Taylor is out for the year and while Moss would still be the third or fourth option on the depth chart behind Deon Jackson and Jordan Wilkins if the staff gets an itch to switch to the hot hand, Moss earned 24 touches for 81 yards last week.
- D.J. Chark: He he's had two scores in four games. Before last week's one-catch outing against the Jets, Chark has been the 15th-best fantasy receiver in PPR since Week 12.
- Chigoziem Okonkwo: Okonkwo followed up a Week 14 touchdown and a two-point conversion with a 54-yard game. He has been the third-best fantasy tight end since Week 12.
- Donovan Peoples-Jones: As mentioned here last week, Watson made strides, and Peoples-Jones is a favorite target, especially with Amari Cooper hurting.
- Brock Purdy: He's worth a start as a desperation playoff streamer or QB2 in Super Flex and has been the No.8 fantasy passer for the past three weeks.
- Geno Smith: He's worked out.
- Richie James: James is worth using when he's healthy. He's facing a soft Vikings secondary.
- Foster Moreau: He's up and down as a contributor, but that's to be expected from a low-end TE1/high-end TE2 at this point.
- Gus Edwards: J.K. Dobbins returned in a big way, but Edwards maintained a viable role.
- Jared Goff: He has been playing well since recommended early in the year and has taken it up a notch to top-five production during the past six weeks.
- Davis Mills: He's back in the lineup. Expect decent numbers for Super-Flex teams needing a QB2.
- Darius Slayton: With Richie James hurting, Slayton remains a good bet for bye-week value.
- Cade Otton: He's earning red-zone opportunities and gaining Tom Brady's trust.
- 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.
- 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. Last week's close-out touches were a good sign.
- Nico Collins: Collins is a good bet for 4-6 targets and 40-60 yards as his weekly baseline when healthy.
- Van Jefferson: He's an inconsistent option, but his upside will be starter value.
- Latavius Murray: The lead option in a horrific offense.
- Rashid Shaheed: Outperforming expectations, there may be something here with Shaheed beyond this year.
- Jerick McKinnon: A committee option with most of his work in the passing game.
- Noah Brown: His window was closed as a flex-play with Michael Gallup's return in Week 5 but re-opened the past two weeks with 10 catches for 134 yards and 2 touchdowns. T.Y. Hilton may change this soon enough if his role functions in the place of Brown, which makes Brown a risky pick.
- Tyler Huntley: Atlanta is the 9th-most generous defense to quarterbacks and while Huntley was not productive against Cleveland in Week 15, the Browns are one of the stingiest groups.
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