The injury status of each player is one of the most key inputs into our lineup decisions each week. The question isn’t only if the player will play but how limited will they be if they do play. However, the most important thing to consider is who will pick up their touches if they are limited or miss the game completely. Each week our resident injury expert Jene Bramel will break down the injuries and Steve Buzzard will break down what it means for your cash and GPP lineups. See this article for definitions of all DFS terms.
Marshawn Lynch, RB, Seattle Seahawks - $6,700
Bramel: The Seahawks listed Lynch questionable after he didn’t practice all week, but Pete Carroll said Lynch was on the positive side of questionable. Lynch was effective in limited carries last week after a similar week of little practice. I expect Lynch’s usage to be scoreboard dependent. If the Seahawks are comfortably leading in the second half, they’re likely to rest their star running back. Against San Francisco at home, that game script is very possible.
Buzzard: Lynch has been banged up all year which has led to a disappointing season. Only twice on the season has he broken the 20 carry mark which was in weeks 7 and 8. Of course one of those times was against this same 49ers team where he produced a solid stat line of 22-122-1 for his best game of the year. However, he was limited to 8 carries last week against Cardinals and as Jene mentions this week’s game is very scoreboard dependent. As 12.5 point favorites this week I would expect Lynch to be on the sideline a good portion of the game which should leave him off your rosters.
Darren McFadden, RB, Dallas Cowboys - $5,000
Bramel: Darren McFadden is the toughest read of the weekend. Both McFadden and the Cowboys say his limited practices were precautionary. But it’s very difficult to know how much the groin strain is bothering McFadden and the forecast is for wet weather in Miami on Sunday. The Cowboys do not have a deep running back depth chart, but it’s still possible McFadden sees less than his usual high percentage of the team’s snaps. Continue to monitor his status through the weekend.
Buzzard: Any time we see McFadden on the injury report it gives us pause because of his injury history. Over the last four weeks McFadden has been a true work horse logging carries of 29, 20, 27, and 17. If healthy that trend should continue into this week as the Cowboys have little competition for him. The team’s stance that his missed practices are just precautionary make plenty of sense as that is exactly how I would treat my fragile running back that I was planning on relying heavily on. But can you rely on that for your DFS lineups? My current approach is to pass on him in cash games but I think he makes a good GPP play as his matchup is good, he is getting the majority of the teams carries, and his ownership rate is likely low.
Alshon Jeffery, WR, Chicago Bears - $6,800
Bramel: On Monday, John Fox essentially confirmed Alshon Jeffery functioned as a decoy in the Chicago game plan last week. After not practicing on Thursday or Friday, there’s no indication Jeffery is any healthier this week. If active, don’t expect Jeffery to be full strength.
Buzzard: Jeffery was officially downgraded to doubtful this week which should keep him off of all but maybe your 50th contrarian GPP lineup as I don’t expect him to play. However, just like last week this could open up the rest of the passing offense for a lot of opportunities. With Eddie Royal already out and Matt Forte questionable this puts guys like Martellus Bennett ($4,200), Marquess Wilson ($3,500), and Marc Mariani ($3,000) all on the GPP radar. Unfortunately for the Bears they are facing the Denver Broncos who are allowing a league best 4.8 NY/A which could leave the Bears with very few yards to spread around. The Bears also have one of the lowest implied totals on the board with an expected total of only 20 points. On the plus side, the weather of this game is expected to be cold with snow expected on Saturday and clear skies on Sunday. This could lead to a field in poor condition which can often benefit the offense and allow one of these lesser known players to have a big play or two which will earn them GPP value. Bennett will stay on my cash/GPP game radar if Jeffery is officially ruled out and the rest of the supporting cast will all be on my lower end GPP radar.
Bramel: The Cardinals will very likely be without Michael Floyd on Sunday night. The mechanism of injury and inability to practice suggest a multi-week recovery. And Bruce Arians didn’t sound optimistic on Friday, saying Floyd would be out there “if he could run.” John Brown should be active and play, but is clearly more limited what was hoped before the bye week. The late Sunday home game will allow for maximum treatment time, but Brown’s usage is tough to project.
Buzzard: Palmer is having the best season of his career at 35 and should be a leading candidate for MVP as he has been dealing with a lot of injuries to his wide receivers all season long and it hasn’t fazed him. This week the Cardinals have a tough matchup with the Bengals who are allowing only 5.8 NY/A and only 1.2 passing TDs per game. This matchup along with the game being so late pretty much eliminates both Floyd and Brown from any of my lineups. If you want to take a contrarian approach and put Brown in 1% of your GPP lineups go ahead but I wouldn’t go much more than that. On the other hand, this opens up some opportunity for Larry Fitzgerald ($7,200) who should be targeted similarly to his last week total of 15. Even in such a tough matchup against the Bengals and Leon Hall this should put Fitzgerald on both your cash and GPP radar and if we know Floyd and/or Brown’s status by the 1PM kickoff he could be bumped even higher.
Bramel: Antonio Gates is listed probable and, as he often does, will play through multiple injuries. Gates will continue to be limited, but will likely see his usual targets in high leverage situations. His floor is lower than usual, but the ceiling remains high. Ladarius Green returned to limited practice this week, but there’s not enough in the practice reports or media interviews to expect more than limited duty if he’s active.
Buzzard: As Jene mentions, a limited Gates is better than the majority of the tight ends in the league. His limited status will keep me from play Gates in any cash games but Gates is in a great spot for GPP action. The Chargers continue to pass at a high rate and I expect them to put some points on the board against the Chiefs. I wouldn’t be surprised in the least bit if Gates scores a TD or two. Green is off my radar for any type of games. The players that I see making the biggest move up is Steve Johnson ($3,900) and Dontrelle Inman ($3,000) whom are both in a good spot for GPP and Johnson is reliable for cash game success as they should both see a large uptick in targets with two limited tight ends and Keenan Allen already ruled out for the year.
Tony Romo, QB, Dallas Cowboys - $6,000
Bramel: Tony Romo is back this week and should not be limited by his collarbone injury. Most quarterbacks will have timing issues after a long layoff, as practice cannot replicate the speed of game action. Expect Romo to miss some passes early, then work to settle into a rhythm quickly.
Buzzard: Romo has a slightly plus matchup against the Dolphins but he does carry some extra risk given his long layoff that his price doesn’t reflect. As such he isn’t a good bet for cash game value. However, he should make for a great GPP option as he still has one of the best weapons in the league in Dez Bryant ($7,700) and he has a banged up McFadden in the backfield. Especially if the game script calls for the Cowboys to abandon the run or if McFadden gets hurt look for Romo to continue to look for Bryant and/or his security blanket Jason Witten ($5,100) both of whom make good low owned GPP targets.
Vincent Jackson, WR, Tampa Bay Buccaneers- $4,700
Bramel: The Buccaneers have listed Vincent Jackson questionable and local writers have reported him doing extra work after practice. It looks like he has a real chance to play this week, but his conditioning and effectiveness are major concerns after just two limited practices this month.
Buzzard: If Jackson is active he should make a good low owned GPP option as he is always a target hog and his price is at a very playable level. He’s not a favorite play of mine but his ownership levels will more than make up for his injury risk. The big news will be the impact on Mike Evans ($7,300) who has been a target hog over the last three games that Jackson has missed amassing targets of 9, 19, and 13 in that span. If Jackson is out again confidently roll with Evans in both cash and GPP games but if Jackson is healthy it will be GPP only for Evans who only averages 9 targets per game in the games prior to this injury.
Matt Forte, RB, Chicago Bears - $6,800
Bramel: I expect Matt Forte to sit one more week. He told reporters on Friday he was “pretty close” but recognizes he has “two games in four days so I’ve got to be smart about it.” I think Forte’s limited practices this week were conditioning related, with the plan to have him return on Thanksgiving. If he plays, there will be a heavy rotation with Jeremy Langford.
Buzzard: Even if Forte is ready to suit up this game he isn’t ready for your DFS lineups yet. Leave him on the sideline for at least one more week. Jeremy Langford ($5,600), on the other hand, makes for a solid GPP option. As mentioned above, the Bears have a very challenging matchup against the Broncos which makes for a less than ideal situation. But the Bears offensive weapons are severely limited so expect Langford to see plenty of touches. There are safer cash game plays but I wouldn’t be surprised to see Langford break a few big plays on a poor field and reach GPP value.
Check the DraftKings blog on Sunday morning for the latest injury expectations.