- Checking in on Odell Beckham, Keenan Allen and other injured fantasy football stars.
It would be nice if the injury bug could leave the fantasy community alone for the biggest week of the season, but that, of course, would be wishful thinking. Anyone who is one of the last two owners standing in his or her league is likely in at least decent shape, but there is still more than a handful of stars who could miss championship week. We’ll take a look at the players most likely to sit out in the Week 16 SI.com Training Room. As always, we’ll give you the injury nuts and bolts, provided by 4for4’s Russell Manalastas, a physical therapist and strength coach based in New York, and the fantasy spin to go with them.
Odell Beckham Jr., WR, Giants
Injury: Bruised Thigh
Injury take: Beckham has missed the last two games due to a bruise on the front of his thigh that he sustained at the end of November. The Giants have no intention of putting Beckham on injured reserve, so fantasy owners should be approaching this as they would any other injury recovery during the season. Bruises to the front of the thigh can be very painful, specifically when a player needs to accelerate or decelerate. With the Giants out of playoff contention, there is no real need to rush Beckham back. That could affect his practice time, which would make it unlikelier that he’s able to return. If he’s able to practice with the team in any fashion this week, then he could be a game-time decision on Sunday. Keep a close eye on the Giants’ injury reports this week, beginning Wednesday.
Fantasy spin: That sounds like a lot of ifs, especially for a player on a team with nothing left to play for this season. If Beckham goes for the Giants, he goes for you, even after missing two games, but he sounds like a longshot at this point.
Keenan Allen, WR, Chargers
Injury: Hip Pointer
Injury take: Allen landed on his hip early in Thursday night’s game against the Chiefs and did not return. He was diagnosed with a hip pointer, which, in layman’s terms, is a bad bruise to the front of the hip bone. It can be very uncomfortable—often more so than a bruise elsewhere—because there are a lot of key muscles that attach where the hip pointer is located. The pointer causes those muscles to stiffen up, which makes many of the functions of a wide receiver hard to perform. Allen will have had more than a week to recover by time the Chargers take the field against the Ravens on Saturday, but he’ll likely be a game-time decision and have to test out the hip before the game to see how it feels.
Fantasy spin: This is similar to Beckham’s injury, in that you’re playing Allen if he goes no matter what. In fact, that’s going to be a familiar refrain throughout this column. That’s the unfortunate reality of so many big-name players being hurt in the final week of the fantasy playoffs. The difference, though, is that the Chargers could still end up as the AFC West champions and top seed in the AFC, so they, unlike the Giants, have something at stake. That could entice Allen to play through some pain on Saturday.
Lamar Miller, RB, Texans
Injury: Sprained Ankle
Injury take: Miller left early Saturday night against the Jets due to an ankle injury. He tested the ankle on the next series, but clearly something wasn’t right and sat out the rest of the game. It is unclear the severity of the injury, but he’s considered day-to-day for now, an encouraging sign that he could be ready to play in Week 16.
Fantasy spin: The Texans just about have the AFC South sewn up, but there is a scenario where they fall down to a wild card, or out of the playoffs entirely, if they lose their two remaining games. They’re also just a game ahead of the Patriots for the No. 2 seed, and the second bye, on the AFC side of the bracket. All of that is to say that Miller may be inclined to give it a go this week in Philadelphia, even if he isn’t 100%. He’d be closer to the low end of the RB2 range should he suit up.
Tyler Boyd, WR, Bengals
Injury: Sprained MCL
Injury take: Boyd suffered the knee injury in the first half against the Raiders and did not return. Even though reports are stating that the sprain is minor, MCL sprains typically are multi-week injuries, which puts Boyd’s rest of the season outlook in doubt. I would plan on going in another direction in Week 16.
Fantasy spin: The injury itself is bad enough, but with Cincinnati’s season fully unraveled after a promising start, it would be silly for them to risk one of their breakout performers in a meaningless game. Fantasy owners should be prepared to play without Boyd this week.
Spencer Ware, RB, Chiefs
Injury: Strained Hamstring
Injury take: Andy Reid sounded optimistic notes about Ware after the back missed the Week 15 loss to the Chargers, calling him day-to-day. In my estimation, the injury seemed a reaction to the higher workload Ware took after the team released Kareem Hunt, which gives me some pause. Add in the fact that Damien Williams had a great game in Ware’s absence, and that could convince the team to take it easy on Ware for at least another week. He will likely be a game-time decision, so make sure you have other options ready to go in case Ware doesn’t feel right.
Fantasy spin: Despite the loss to the Chargers last week, the Chiefs are still in first in both the AFC West and the conference as a whole going into Week 16. If everything remains status quo, they will have home-field advantage throughout the AFC side of the postseason. The Chiefs are at Seattle this week, but after what Williams did in Week 15, they can’t possibly think that Ware improves their chances of winning by that much. A healthy Williams is likely their best bet, which could have Ware inactive at least one more week.