It wouldn't be an autumn Sunday afternoon in 2015 without the injury bug ruining fantasy football lineups.
The damages showed no signs of letting up on Sunday, ending the surprisingly strong season of Patriots running back Dion Lewis, hobbling Ben Roethlisberger yet again and leaving the status of a handful of other top performers in doubt. The ''next man up'' mantra that now pervades NFL locker rooms has also become the norm for fantasy owners.
The challenge for fantasy owners is even more difficult based on the fact that numerous players, especially at the running back position, are clearly playing hurt and seeing their production plummet as a result. (Chris Ivory and Ronnie Hillman owners know what we're talking about). So what to do about all the uncertainty and turmoil engulfing your lineup?
This week's Fantasy Plays offers alternatives and waiver-wire pickups for 10 injury scenarios:
Patriot fans and Lewis owners were heartbroken to see the back go down with a knee injury after a season that saw him come out of nowhere to become a top threat for New England. He is out for the year. The next man up is likely Brandon Bolden, but you never know with the Patriots. Keep an eye on James White, and LeGarrette Blount presumably becomes more valuable. And don't be surprised if Bill Belichick grabs someone off the street like Travaris Cadet and he becomes a star.
How's this for a game log? 38 carries for 43 yards the last two games (He did have two touchdowns). He is dealing with a hamstring injury that hasn't been enough to keep him out of action, but it has clearly undercut his fantasy value. You won't find much in the stat lines in his possible replacements to justify a waiver-wire pickup, but keep an eye on the health of Bilal Powell. He might have the most upside if he can get healthy.
Just when he started to look like the old McCoy, ripping off big runs with the speed and quickness that made him a star in Philadelphia ... he leaves the game with a shoulder injury and is now day-to-day on a short-rest week with a division game against the Jets on Thursday. It's not a good matchup to begin with, and Karlos Williams is suddenly more valuable again.
Hillman owners thought they had the Broncos' backfield situation figured out. Wrong. He had seven carries for one measly yard against the Colts, and C.J. Anderson got the bulk of the production. Hillman is suffering from a thigh injury, so the back-and-forth continues, with Anderson at the top of the depth chart for the time being.
What a painful season for Lacy owners. He commanded a top-five pick in many leagues but he's been a total dud. Making matters worse, he left the game against Carolina with a groin injury. The next man up for the Packers is James Starks, but he isn't much of a factor for scoring in a pass-heavy offense. But if you are looking for a Green Bay waiver pickup, look at tight end Richard Rodgers.
The Titans' wide receiver is sidelined with a knee injury, which means fantasy owners should be going after Dorial Green-Beckham. He was targeted more under new coach Mike Mularkey's game plan in their upset victory over the Saints and seems to be an important part of their offensive plans going forward.
It's not a misprint or a typo. The concussion-prone former Bronco and Patriot is back in the league, signed by the Rams to bolster their receiving corps. Do not expect much of Welker in the short term, but there's certainly no harm in charting his progress as he works his way back into the game.
The Raider will spend the week in concussion protocol, which creates uncertainty for owners. Taiwan Jones might be the best bet to swoop in.
He will miss this week's game against the Browns, which is followed by a bye week. He will come back at some point after that. This is a roll-of-the-dice play, but Landry Jones is better than people think. Going up against a weak Cleveland defense, he could easily shine and provide a lift to QB-depleted fantasy owners who want to gamble.
The Vikings' signal caller isn't much of a fantasy option, but some of the players around him are. Early signs point to Bridgewater being fine after suffering a controversial hit against the Rams, but you can never be too vigilant in keeping tabs on his progress as the week unfolds.
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