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: Injuries have hit the upper echelon DFS plays hard over the past 2-3 weeks. Arian Foster, Jamaal Charles, Le’Veon Bell, Steve Smith, and Keenan Allen are off the board entirely. Matt Forte, Ladarius Green, and T.Y. Hilton are very unlikely to play this week. On the positive side of the injury ledger, other upper echelon plays who have been frequent flyers on the injury report are now nearing full strength. Julio Jones, Alshon Jeffery, Dez Bryant, Randall Cobb, Mike Evans, LeSean McCoy, DeMarco Murray, Tyrod Taylor, and Ben Roethlisberger are all probable or off the injury report altogether. That leaves us with a few talented players whose outlook is not as concerning as their practice reports would suggest this week and a small handful of game time decisions on lesser talents.
Buzzard: Last week was a situation where if you avoided injuries to your top players like Bell you were in good shape to cash. In general we hate those weeks because it really lessens the skill component of the game. This is especially key when it’s the really good plays that go down with injuries and that has been the case lately and Bell and Charles were some of the best plays of the week when they got injured. Hopefully we won’t have to deal with that this week.
Buzzard: All of the injuries from last week do open up some opportunities this week. One of the biggest is the Chargers passing game. Phillip Rivers ($6,900) is having one of the best seasons of his career mainly due to the Chargers lack of a run game and constantly being behind. As Jene mentions both Ladarius Green and Keenan Allen are likely out for this game which will leave a lot of passing targets to go to a small subset of players. The biggest beneficiaries should be Gates and Johnson. Gates has been a primary focus of this article all year and we were expecting him to miss last week but being as tough as Gates always is he played and had a solid game. Look for both of these options to be on the field and primary targets for Rivers all day long. I also don’t mind taking a shot with Malcolm Floyd ($3,900) or Danny Woodhead ($4,800) either. The Chargers will score and with such a limited amount of core players its likely these four players will be heavily involved.
DeAngelo Williams, RB, Pittsburgh Steelers ($5,500)
Buzzard: The big beneficiary in the Steelers running game will be Williams. Williams played well in the two games that Bell missed earlier this year racking up stat lines of 21-127 and 20-77 with 3 TDs. On the season he is also averaging 4.9 yards per carry. Ben Roethlisberger ($6,600) is back from injury so the Steelers should be able to move the ball at ease in a plus matchup against the Raiders so I wouldn’t be surprised to see Williams score a TD or two. One thing to be concerned about is that if the Steelers build a big lead they could turn to their other backs to ice the game away as they will want to keep Williams healthy for the rest of the year. Roethlisberger and the entire passing including Antonio Brown ($8,100), Martavis Bryant ($5,500), and Heath Miller ($2,700) should see a healthy bump in production as well since Bell is so heavily involved in the passing game.
Jeremy Langford, RB, Chicago Bears ($4,000)
Buzzard: Langord is a fourth round back out of Michigan State and will be the feature back in Chicago while Matt Forte it out. The Bears don’t have a lot of running back depth behind Langord so we should expect him to be heavily involved in the game plan and could see 20 touches. Langford has already been trusted with goal line work vulturing two of Forte’s TDs on the season so he has a high likelihood of scoring against a Chargers defense allowing 5 yards per rush attempt which is the worst in the league. Similar to the Steelers game we should also expect to see a boost to the passing game options like Martellus Bennett ($4,000), Alshon Jeffery ($6,700), and Marques Wilson ($4,000).
Bramel: Ronnie Hillman ($4,600), Brandon Marshall ($7,600), and Ryan Mathews ($3,700) will be listed questionable but should be active and see their regular usage. Marcus Mariota and Antonio Gates are also in line for full workloads.
Buzzard: None of these players are particularly interesting with their current questionable status, roles in the offense, and matchup other than Gates as discussed earlier. The one player that I would watch out for is Eric Decker ($5,300) in the case that Marshall does end up scratching from the game. If Marshall is out, look for Decker to be one of the better plays of the week and be heavily involved in the passing game with a plus matchup against the Jaguars.
Austin Seferian-Jenkins, TE, Tampa Bay Buccaneers ($2,800)
Bramel: Seferian-Jenkins is listed questionable but worked out on the field every day this week and fully practiced on Friday. It’s not confirmed yet, but Seferian-Jenkins appears likely to return and could see 4-6+ targets even if he’s eased back into the game plan slowly.
Buzzard: Seferian-Jenkins could be an intriguing play down the stretch run of the season so I am very curious to see how Tampa Bay brings him back this week. That said this isn’t the week to play him. Let’s see what he does this week and next week he might be back into consideration.
Sammy Watkins, WR, Buffalo Bills ($5,000)
Bramel: Watkins was limited in practice on Wednesday and Thursday, but did not practice on Friday. He told reporters he was fatigued on Thursday and insisted he’d start on Sunday. He’s listed questionable and mid-week fatigue suggests his conditioning is still not there yet. That puts him at risk of yet another in-game injury.
Buzzard: Watkins has had a disappointing season so far this year averaging only 37 yards per game after an up and down season last year. This linger injury is part of the reason and is yet another reason to fade him this week. If we are lucky we will get a healthy Watkins by the end of the year when we can throw him out there in some stacks with Tyrod Taylor.
Check the DraftKings blog on Sunday morning for the latest injury expectations.