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.
Bramel: Once again this week, there will be a long list of players with minor injuries listed probable and expected to see their usual workload. None will be likely to suffer an in-game aggravation and can be considered on the basis of matchups and other non-injury factors. Of this group, DeSean Jackson (knee contusion) may carry the most relative risk, but he’s played through pain previously and was able to practice on both Thursday and Friday.
Buzzard: Historical results will tell you that a player will score approximately 98% of their season average points when listed as probable. This is primarily because of the slightly elevated risk of in game injury but also being a step slower than normal. This is a small risk though and should mostly only be used as a tie breaker between players that you have ranked very closely. That said if you are always playing probable players without regards to their injury risk over the long run you will be making donations to the rake.
Greg Olsen, TE, Carolina Panthers - $6,900
Bramel: One player currently listed probable who may not see his usual workload is Greg Olsen. Despite a reassuring steady increase in practice participation this week, including a full Friday practice, it’s possible the Panthers may choose to limit his snaps this week to minimize any risk of an aggravation. Watch the weekend media reports and pregame warmup observations leading up to the early Sunday game. If the news continues to trend positively, Olsen will be safe to use. But I think there’s a little more risk here than the probable tag would suggest.
Buzzard: Jene’s example with Olsen is a good one in making sure that we are taking into consideration injury risk even on probable players. The fact that Olsen could take snaps off this week is magnified by the fact that the Panthers have the bye already locked up for the playoffs so there is very little incentive for them to push Olsen heavily in his banged up state. As I mentioned in my Thursday night article motivation is one of the biggest keys for the last few weeks of the season. Find the motivation, find the points. As such you would be wise to pivot to someone like Jordan Reed over Olsen.
Bramel: I don’t believe we’ll see T.J. Yeldon, Julian Edelman, or Andre Ellington this week. Ellington likely has the best chance of making the active roster for his team. Regardless, none of the three will contribute in a significant role if active.
Buzzard: There are two big beneficiaries of these injuries. First of all, Johnson will continue to be a true workhorse back in the Cardinals backfield. Over the last two week he has had stat lines of 22-99 and 19-92. He is a young back with fresher legs than the defenses and should be considered one of the best plays of the week. Don’t overthink it too much and start your cash game lineups with Johnson.
Denard Robinson will step in to lead the Jaguars backfield. This is starting to become a trend where Robinson is the lead back for the Jaguars come the end of the season. Last year Robinson started from weeks 7-13 where he was a solid fantasy back amassing 15 carries for 70 yards and 2 receptions for 12 yards. He also scored 4 TDs in those 7 games. Those stats are very consistent with what he produced last week and makes Robinson a solid punt option. The Jaguars still have an outside chance of making the playoffs, something they aren’t too used to at this point in the season, so look for them to play aggressively. Don’t be afraid to get Robinson into your lineups.
Tom Brady, QB, New England Patriots - $7,800
Bramel: Tom Brady was listed questionable with an illness but is expected to play. With two more days to recover, we’re not likely to be surprised here. Brady is safe to roster.
Buzzard: The bigger question for Brady is the health of Rob Gronkowski. Brady continues to play at an elite level even at age 38 but he is more reliant on Gronkowski than any other quarterback in the league is on a specific pass catcher. Early in the season from weeks 1-8 Brady averaged 338 yards per game. However, over the last few weeks when Gronkowski started to show up on the injury report and missing games Brady has dropped all the way down to 274 yards per game. We saw this same trend last year as well. Luckily for Brady and the Patriots Gronkowski is getting healthier and should play more than the 61% of snaps he played last week. Additionally Brady could be starting to show some age as the season progresses. With the Patriots locked into a bye they may have Brady drop back less often than normal. Brady is a good GPP play in a prime matchup and should even be considered for your cash game but I think he comes with more risk than normal.
Alshon Jeffery, WR, Chicago Bears - $7,300
Bramel: The Bears won’t be giving us any information on Alshon Jeffery this weekend. It’s most likely Jeffery was held out of practice this week with a minor illness rather than concern over his calf strain. But we’ve seen calf injuries keep Jeffery out earlier this season. Make sure you confirm Jeffery is healthy enough for active duty on Sunday morning.
Buzzard: Jeffery has had an injury riddled season but you wouldn’t know it by his stats as he has been outstanding averaging nearly 100 yards per game. He has also been really consistent with only one game this year where he completely bombed which was week 10 against the Rams. I expect the Bears to continue to keep Jeffery heavily in their game plan which makes him an excellent GPP play despite his questionable injury status.
C.J. Anderson, RB, Denver Broncos - $4,000
Bramel: C.J. Anderson is expected to be active but actually play this week. Expect him to be limited in snap count and touches, with a ceiling in the 8-10 carry range.
Buzzard: The Broncos running game is one to avoid with both Anderson and Ronnie Hillman ($4,300) splitting the carries fairly evenly. Throw on top of that the offense isn’t nearly as intimidating with Brock Osweiler ($5,100) leading the charge. As such I am staying away from the Broncos running game. If I want to play a Bronco I rather stack the passing game as Osweiler is likely to be low owned and the Steelers pass defense has been atrocious all year long.
Donte Moncrief, WR, Indianapolis Colts - $4,300
Bramel: Donte Moncrief was listed questionable by the Colts, but wasn’t able to practice at all after starting the week in a walking boot. He’s much closer to doubtful than probable and would be at high risk of an in-game injury if he’s active.
Buzzard: This week’s show down between the Colts and the Texans will have huge implications for the playoffs but for DFS it is one to avoid. Like the Broncos running game the Colts passing game is an easy fade even with some additional targets to go around with Moncrief out. Matt Hasselbeck just doesn’t have the ability to carry this offense that is lacking a lot of fire power.
Bramel: The Chiefs saw enough progress in Spencer Ware to allow him to return to a limited Friday practice. Andy Reid said Ware “did a nice job” and wouldn’t rule him out this week. We’ve heard similar optimism for Reid with running back who weren’t active on gameday, so remain skeptical on Ware until he’s confirmed to be active on Sunday. With so little practice time, it’s unlikely Ware will have a significant role in the game plan this week.
Buzzard: If Ware were to miss the game or be limited you should give a big boost to West. West hasn’t been particularly effective this year averaging only 3.9 yards per attempt but if Ware were to miss the game he could be extremely heavily involved in the game plan similar to week 12 where he was given 19 rush attempts which he turned into 114 yards and a TD. Most teams have attacked the Ravens through the air but that isn’t the Chiefs strength so we should expect a more balanced attack. West makes for a solid GPP play and if Ware is out could be considered for cash games.
Check the DraftKings blog on Sunday morning for the latest injury expectations.