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.
Buzzard: The biggest thing I can’t understate this week and next is to consider the incentives for each team and player you put in your lineup this week and next. I have wrote about this in detail the last two weeks in my Thursday articles so take a look back at those for more details but if the team or player doesn’t have anything to play for there is a greater chance than normal for that player to bust. On the other hand if they have specific bonuses to play for they have a great chance to exceed expectations. The following teams have already clinched a playoff spot - Packers, Vikings, Panthers, Seahawks, Cardinals, Patriots, and the Bengals. I would be very hesitant to go super heavy on players from any of these teams unless it is someone under the radar. That includes David Johnson ($5,800) who is everyone’s favorite running back this week. The problem is the Cardinals could certainly rest him for a part of the game to work in Andre Ellington ($3,600) which limits Johnson’s upside. He is still a good value play but be careful over playing him as he will likely be over owned in GPPs. If a team is eliminated from the playoffs I think they are safe this week you may just see a little more diversity and more playing time for their young players. Next week things get a lot sketchier for those teams already eliminated.
Bramel: Carson Palmer and Drew Brees are both expected to play through injury this week. Brees’ plantar fascia tear is likely to be the more limiting of the two. Brees’ inability to move comfortably in the pocket was evident last Monday. The Saints’ medical staff will use orthotics and stiff tape to keep Brees’ foot as comfortable as possible, but it’s a difficult injury to fully brace. Expect the Saints to game plan with max protection to keep Brees in the pocket. Palmer’s finger dislocation did not limit him much last week and shouldn’t be an issue this week.
Buzzard: This week I don’t think either Palmer or Brees are in a particularly good situation. I am not a big fan of Palmer because of the incentives I mentioned above. I worry that the Cardinals don’t have the incentive to go all out for the full game with Palmer since he is less than 100%. Brees on the other hand should have plenty of incentive to play well despite being eliminated from the playoffs. The problem is that Brees is still priced high, less than 100%, and the Jaguars have an average defense with a very slim chance of still making the playoffs which is new ground for them this time of the year. The odds makers still sees the game as a high scoring so Brees is a GPP play for me but not one that I am overly excited about.
Adrian Peterson, RB, Minnesota Vikings - $7,300
Bramel: Adrian Peterson has a low grade high ankle sprain. It was clear early this week that Peterson didn’t have much swelling or stiffness 24 hours after the injury and he was cleared to fully practice on Friday. Peterson routinely plays through injuries like this and can be expected to start this week. However, even low grade ankle sprains are subject to in-game aggravations. While Peterson enters the game with his usual expectation, he’s not entirely without risk.
Buzzard: I am 100% off Peterson this week. Peterson’s injury plus the fact that the Vikings have already clinched their playoff spot makes me believe the Vikings will be extra careful with him. I would expect the Vikings to limit Peterson’s carries by about half of what they would normally give him since losing him to an injury at this point of the season would be devastating and having him fresh for the playoffs is a much bigger priority right now than beating the Giants this week. My pivot would be to look for Teddy Bridgewater ($5,200) and the passing game to be heavily involved. Peterson has surpassed my expectations all year so there is a chance he still rips off some big runs and hits value in limited time but that isn’t something I feel comfortable with.
Danny Amendola, WR, New England Patriots - $5,600
Bramel: It’s always tough to read between the lines on New England injuries, but the general tone of this week’s reporting on Danny Amendola’s injury isn’t promising. Early in the week, Amendola’s injury was called a knee sprain – which, while not very specific, is still more specific than we usually hear from the Patriots. And the first reports had Amendola not missing “playoff” time. That suggests a multi-week injury. I think Amendola is more doubtful than questionable. If he plays, his workload and upside are likely to be limited.
Buzzard: The Patriots are another team that doesn’t have anything to play for and have officially ruled Amendola out for the week. This opens up some targets for players like Rob Gronkowski ($7,600), Brandon Lafell ($4,500), James White ($4,700), and Keshawn Martin ($3,000). The problem is the Patriots are just trying to stay healthy going into the playoffs. They have already lost Dion Lewis and Julian Edelman is going to be less than 100% if he makes it back to the playoffs. With Amendola, Lafell, and Scott Chandler also banged up and the Patriots season all but over if Gronkowski gets injured I could see the Patriots going two routes. First, they could run the ball non-stop and just try to get the game over which make White and Brandon Bolden ($3,800) interesting options or they could just try out Martin and see how he does heavily involved in the passing game and run some quick dump offs to White. Neither are safe plays and completely avoiding the Patriots is probably the safe route but you don’t always win GPPs playing the safe route.
Doug Baldwin, WR, Seattle Seahawks - $6,700
Bramel: Doug Baldwin is being called a game-time decision, but his full Friday practice strongly hints he’ll play this week. Watch for any concerning reports through Sunday that Baldwin didn’t respond well to the Friday practice, but he looks like a much better risk than expected.
Buzzard: Baldwin has been the hottest receiver in the league the last few weeks but while it may seem like I am beating a dead horse without anything to play for this week I don’t expect Baldwin to have a full set of snaps this week. With his price going up and his injury status this is the week to finally jump off the band wagon. If you are looking for someone to pick up some snaps on the Seahawks I would be more likely to take a shot with Tyler Lockette ($4,500) and pair him with the Seahawks defense for a possibility of some return scores.
Delanie Walker, TE, Tennessee Titans - $5,600
Bramel: Local writers do not sound concerned, but keep an eye on Sunday’s pregame reports on Delanie Walker, who was added to the Titans’ injury report on Friday with a hamstring strain.
Buzzard: Walker has had a great season and despite the probable tag should be a solid option this year. Walker’s price has risen all year long due to his great season. Walker is 65 yards short of 1,000 which he has never done in his career. I expect him to target that at a minimum. While those yards won’t win you a league it will keep him motivated throughout the game.
Check the DraftKings blog on Sunday morning for the latest injury expectations.