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Fantasy Football Injury Insights: Derek Anderson Starting, Julio Jones Advice

Kyle Soppe RotoExperts Staff December 13, 2014 12:26PM EDT
Cam Newton

Injury: Two “transverse process” fractures in his lower back as a result of a Tuesday car crash.

Timetable: This injury is very similar what caused Tony Romo to miss one game earlier this season, so it is at least possible that Newton is back on the field in Week 16 if his Panthers win this week and stay in the playoff race.

Week 15 Fantasy Analysis: This is a tough break for a quarterback and a team that finally put together a solid four quarter performance. Obviously we are glad that Newton was able to avoid serious internal injuries from this scary accident, but Fantasy owners will not be getting the favorable matchup against the Buccaneers that they had hoped for from the versatile signal-caller. That being said, adding Derek Anderson isn’t a bad move if you’re in a tough spot, as he beat the Buccaneers in Week 1 (Newton was sidelined with fractured ribs) and the defense hasn’t really improved. Tampa Bay ranks last in completion percentage against and has given up multiple passing touchdowns in four of their six road games this season. We could see a lack of chemistry as a result of Anderson throwing just 23 passes since that game, but the Panthers should be able to establish their run game (Jonathan Stewart ranks third in rushing yards and first in yards per carry since taking over the lead role in Week 13) against a front seven that has earned the second lowest grade when it comes to stuffing the run, thus allowing Anderson to feel comfortable in the pocket. Even in Kelvin Benjamin’s first game as a professional, 56 percent of Anderson’s Week 1 targets went to either the rookie or Greg Olsen, and if a Carolina quarterback is going to succeed, that would be the blueprint. I’m not downgrading either pass-catcher as a result of this change at quarterback and Stewart should be viewed as a Top 12-15 running back this weekend.

Eddie Lacy

Injury: Hip

Timetable: At first Coach Mike McCarthy wasn’t “overly concerned”, but then the speculation picked up as Lacy was hardly participating in practice by mid-week. He still hasn’t seen much of the practice field this week, but the Packers seem to be playing it cautious and have labeled him as “probable” for this week’s game in Buffalo.

Week 15 Fantasy Analysis: As good as Lacy has been (he is averaging 13.9 percent more yards per game since Week 8 than Jamaal Charles), the Bills own the second best run defense in the league and have held opposing running backs out of the endzone 10 times this season, thus making him a fringe RB1 if he is active. It wouldn’t be shocking to see Aaron Rodgers use a quick-hitting passing attack to supplement the run game should Buffalo’s front seven dominate the line of scrimmage, thus limiting the upside of the red-hot running back (but potentially making Randall Cobb the Packers wideout to target in Daily games this week over Jordy Nelson). Benching Lacy at this point is out of the question unless you have another high-quality option, but don’t feel obligated to stark James Starks should Lacy be ruled out. He is a talented running back that is returning home (played at the University of Buffalo), but with only two games of “workhorse” duties since his 2010 playoff explosion, he is a risk not worth taking in the Fantasy playoffs. Do keep in mind there could also be a scenario where Lacy starts and the two share carries as well.

Rashad Jennings

Injury: Ankle

Timetable: He played just 21.1 percent of snaps last week, but he was not a part of the injury report this week and should be active on Sunday.

Week 15 Fantasy Analysis: Active in real life and active in your Fantasy lineup are two very different things. Jennings was obviously ineffective last week, and while I expect him to be involved against the Redskins, it is going to be difficult to pencil him into your lineup in as anything but a desperation play.  There are reports that he is still less than 100 percent. Andre Williams ran all over the Titans last week to the tune of 131 yards and a score on 24 carries and he gets a similarly fortuitous matchup this week against another run defense that has earned a Bottom 5 grade this season. Even if Williams doesn’t produce at that level, a split in carries would be the best case for Jennings, as the Giants will likely want to use the final weeks of this season to evaluate the rookie. Neither back is a “safe” play, but if you have to roll the dice on one of them, Williams is my pick.

Ryan Mathews

Injury: Ankle

Timetable: He hasn’t practiced all week long, but the Chargers are holding out hope that pre-game warm-ups go well and have labeled him “questionable”.

Week 15 Fantasy Analysis: Nope. Not doing it. We’ve seen this story before and there is no way I’m chancing it in a must-win situation. The lack of practice time scares me as much as his injury-riddled past, leading to the thought that he is currently sitting on the wrong side of “questionable”. Even if San Diego decides to play him, the matchup isn’t great, as the Chargers league worst run blocking offensive line will be asked to create lanes against a Broncos front seven that ranks as the fourth best against the run. A “healthy” Mathews (if that is such a thing) has recorded more than 12 carries just once this season, a usage rate that curbs his upside in a big way. San Diego figures to struggle on the ground regardless of who gets the start, so don’t count on Branden Oliver or Donald Brown (who has actually been on the field nearly four times as often as Oliver over the last two weeks and may get the start) to save your lineup this weekend.

Kendall Wright

Injury: Hand

Timetable: He was a limited participant in practice all week long before taking Friday off.

Week 15 Fantasy Analysis: There is no word of a setback, so we are left to assume that he was given the day off in an effort to give him 24 extra recovery hours heading into Week 15. Consider him a game-time decision, but should he start, I actually prefer his prospects this week to the two aforementioned running backs as a FLEX play. Listen, the Jets defense is as bad as it gets and without Justin Hunter, the Titans truly lack other options. New York has struggled across the board this season, but they do shut down the run, thus making the possession receiver a valuable asset. Delanie Walker can only do so much and will probably be responsible for the majority of the goal line looks, but the potential for double digit targets is very much there and that’s enough to make an active Wright a worthwhile FLEX flier.

Julio Jones

Injury: Hip

Timetable: After leaving the Monday Night game in the fourth quarter, Jones has missed every practice this week. The Falcons have placed the decision in the hands of the medical staff, which means this will be a last second decision.

Week 15 Fantasy Analysis: He is on one of the better two game stretches of this decade, so benching him (assuming he is listed as “active”) is nearly impossible, especially given the favorable matchup against the eighth worst coverage secondary. For me, this is a cut-and-dry injury situation: if he starts for Atlanta, he starts for you, and if he sits, Harry Douglas is a must-start. The veteran has been targeted at least eight times or scored a touchdown in his four highest snap percentage games this season and proved to be a more than capable fill-in for Jones last season (it’s easy to forget he caught more passes than Calvin Johnson for more yards than Julian Edelman). It’s a frustrating situation, but this injury is a real concern (how else can you justify pulling him out of the best game of his career?) and one that will keep Jones’ status undetermined until kickoff. As the week has progressed, talk of “decoy” action from Jones has surfaced, adding to the potential downside here. Stay tuned for a gameday update, but considering that the Falcons staff is going to update his status, not his role, Jones is likely still starting for you if he is deemed active.

DeSean Jackson

Injury: Hip

Timetable: He has been limited in practice all week, a step in the right direction from last week, but is still listed as “questionable” for this week’s showdown with the Giants.

Week 15 Fantasy Analysis: Jackson is an inconsistent receiver who relies on speed, so the lingering nature of this injury is a major concern for his Fantasy owners. That said, the Giants have surrendered the fourth most pass plays of at least 20 yards and the eighth most 40-plus yard completions, making them the exact type of opponent Jackson owners target. The matchup is nice, but I’m looking for other big-play threats (Martavis Bryant or Marquess Wilson) before D-Jax as a result of the quarterback situation. Colt McCoy is the favorite to start, but with the lowest aDOT among the three Washington signal callers, there may not be many downfield opportunities. Jackson isn’t a player I’m looking to start, but in a league with shallow rosters or 12-plus teams, you may not have a better option.

Andre Johnson

Injury: Concussion

Timetable: He is progressing through the protocol at average speed, which would suggest that his Week 15 status will not be determined until the last possible second.

Week 15 Fantasy Analysis: On average, players miss roughly 5-8 days when going through the NFL concussion recovery program and Johnson appears to be right on that track, as Friday was his first time on the practice field (limited). I wouldn’t count on him playing this week, but if he does, don’t let his low touchdown rate over the last two seasons scare you. The Colts are an above average team when it comes to the ability to cover, but their lack of a pass rush makes Johnson a low-end WR2 this week if he does in fact get the green light.

Percy Harvin

Injury: Ankle

Timetable: He’s been limited in late week practices. On the bright side, things do not sound as grim as they looked last weekend.

Week 15 Fantasy Analysis: Don’t get overly excited about what we saw from Harvin last week (six catches for 124 yards and a touchdown), this is still the same limited offense that he totaled just 31 yards for in the previous three weeks. Week 14 was just the second time as a member of the Jets that Harvin recorded more than three receptions, making an injured version of him much more of a risk than a reward option.


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