I am not a doctor nor do I play one on television. However, I am willing to give my best guesses as to whether or not certain potential impact players play this week based on their practice reports. This is just my opinion but here are my takes on injured players heading into week 16:
Alshon Jeffery, Bears, $13,700 – As per usual, Alshon Jeffery finds himself on the injury report this week…this time with a hamstring injury. He missed all practices this week and is listed as doubtful for Sunday’s matchup against the Chicago Bears’ ex-Coach Love Smith. The fantasy implications here are Jay Cutler needs to be downgraded without both his top targets (Martellus Bennett and Jeffery) and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers defense ($4,900) should be upgraded. Chicago will now likely rely heavily on the run game and tight end (TE) Zach Miller which isn’t a very potent offense. Outside of Miller and maybe Jeremy Langford in tournaments, the Bears offense can be ignored this week in DFS.
Andre Ellington, Cardinals, $7,000 – Could this finally be the week Andre Ellington returns from his turf toe injury? Coach Bruce Arians seemed optimistic he would return this week as he said there was, “a very good chance he returns this week.” Even assuming he suits up, he should only receive a handful of snaps because David Johnson has emerged as the team’s clear workhorse. At most, Ellington will see action on a few first downs although some are going to speculate he’ll see a larger workload than that because of Arians’ unpredictability. I don’t buy that and I think Johnson remains viable in all formats as a rock-solid RB1.
Brian Hoyer, Texans, $10,200 – Tennessee has struggled against the pass recently but still no one was looking forward to starting a recently concussed Brian Hoyer. He hasn’t officially been ruled out yet but he isn’t expected to play. The issue here is earlier this season Brandon Weeden sapped all of the value out of Dez Bryant and now he has the potential to do so with DeAndre Hopkins. Early in the week when it seemed optimistic Hoyer would suit up, I had Hopkins as my number two cash receiver behind Antonio Brown. With Hoyer likely sitting this one out, Hopkins is best left for a single bullet tournament option as the odds of him producing are not great with a horrific quarterback (QB).
Danny Amendola, Patriots, $10,600 – Although listed as questionable, reports surfaced earlier in the week suggesting the odds of both Julian Edelman and Danny Amendola playing this week were pretty slim. On Saturday, the Patriots ruled out both slot receivers leaving the Patriots slim at the skill positions once again. Rob Gronkowski and James White will do their best to pick up the slack and both are viable in all formats. As for wide receivers (WRs), well, it’s ugly. Giving Keshawn Martin a shot in one tournament lineup isn’t the worst idea in the world but fading the Patriots situation totally feels like the move. White should be kept busy all day against a stout rushing defense. The Patriots will look to take advantage by throwing to the backs out of the backfield as opposed to running. He’s my favorite play on the offense.
Dez Bryant, Cowboys, $10,300 – Once again Dez Bryant will miss a game this season and has been ruled out for week 16. He didn’t make the trip to Buffalo so he will not play and, as per usual, the Cowboys passing game is one to avoid. They have been a disaster since Tony Romo went down but I actually do like the matchup for Darren McFadden this week. He’s one of my favorite tournament backs on the slate so do not fully ignore the Cowboys offense…just the pass-catchers.
Drew Brees, Saints, $12,700 – Do not ever accuse Drew Brees of not being tough. Even though he has not practiced all week, Brees swears he will play through a torn plantar fascia in his foot. I’ve asked London Fletcher about these types of injuries before and he attested to just how painful they truly are. You can barely walk when there is any issue with the plantar fascia let alone when it is torn. Using Brees is a risky proposition this week as he could be knocked out on any play if the pain is too great. However, I do like using some of his skill players because even if Brees leaves they will remain in the game. Brandin Cooks and Tim Hightower are both viable cash options and add Benjamin Watson if speaking about the tournament format.
Karlos Williams, Bills, $8,800 – Although Karlos Williams felt sore on Monday, he has been upgraded to probable and the Bills’ official website expects him to start. Mike Gillislee has enjoyed a solid run in recent weeks but don’t forget Williams set a rookie record by scoring in his first six games in the NFL. Williams possesses both big play potential and the ability to punch it in from the goal line. Gillislee will likely still have a change-of-pace role but the backfield is Williams’ this week. He could be in for a huge week at only $8,800.
Marques Colston, Saints, $7,000 – While Drew Brees will play through his injury, Marques Colston is expected to sit with a chest injury. Brees will already be struggling through injury and now one of his top targets will not suit up. Colston has regressed over the past few seasons and he is not the target he once was so prospective Brees owners shouldn’t fret too much. This just means more action for Brandon Coleman and possibly even more targets for the tight ends.
Spencer Ware, Chiefs, $7,800 – Spencer Ware is listed as probable for the tilt against the Cleveland Browns on Sunday. For Charcandrick West truthers, this certainly hits a bit as the backfield will not officially revert into a committee. West’s 4.8 yards per carry (YPC) and a TD last week likely sealed his role as the lead back in the committee but it still caps both players’ upside in an elite matchup against the Browns porous run defense. West is the preferred option but he should be reserved for tournaments only despite the dream matchup because of the workload distribution uncertainty.
Tyler Eifert, Bengals, $9,200 – Sometimes players whiz through the NFL’s concussion protocol but it’s clear Tyler Eifert is not going to be one of those guys in this instance. He will now miss his second consecutive game with the issue and the third game out of the last three. Even if he played, A.J. McCarron and the Bengals were already in a difficult spot against the Broncos defense. None of the Bengals’ offensive players stand out other than Giovani Bernard catching passes out of the backfield and the Denver defense could actually prove to be the best play of this whole game.