Check on these players listed here for their injury and/or COVID statuses before starting them in fantasy Week 16. I also want to note that while this is an article to assist in our fantasy football rankings, I recognize that the larger issue is player health and well-being. I hope all players affected by COVID currently have a speedy recovery and avoid serious complications.
Thursday Night Football
First things first, Thursday night sees the 49ers in Nashville to face the Titans. CB Elijah Molden and OL Rodger Saffold are the only players on either team’s COVID reserve list, so that is good news when a lot of other teams haven’t been as lucky.
San Francisco notable absences: RB Elijah Mitchell is OUT again due to a knee injury. They will also be without LB Dre Greenlaw, in case you were considering their D/ST. Jeff Wilson and Deebo Samuel then look to get the bulk of the carries in the 49ers’ backfield. Both were successful last week, but one would expect that Tennessee poses a more formidable threat defensively than Atlanta.
Tennessee notable injuries: OL Taylor Lewan and OL Rodger Saffold are both out. Simply put, Lewan and Saffold being out is bad news for Ryan Tannehill and the Titans’ running backs. The 49ers’ defense has been good, and their team is on a roll, I think the Titans will struggle to move the football. However, A.J. Brown is trending toward being available. If he plays, the offense would at least have a weapon in the passing game. Make sure you monitor Brown’s status leading up to Thursday night’s kickoff.
Christmas Day Football: Browns at Packers
For those who celebrate Christmas, Saturday should have some fun additions to the festivities. Cleveland heads to Lambeau for the first game at 4:30 pm EST.
The Browns got hit hard by COVID last week and didn’t have head coach Kevin Stefanski on Monday night against the Raiders. Most notably for fantasy owners, QB Baker Mayfield TE Austin Hooper, RB Kareem Hunt, QB Case Keenum, and WR Jarvis Landry all missed the Las Vegas game on the COVID Reserve list. Make sure you confirm these players’ returns before Saturday afternoon’s game. Kareem Hunt is also trending toward not playing due to injury, even if he clears COVID protocols. At the TE position, Harrison Bryant and David Njoku were both limited at practice. If Hooper returns, you are probably not trusting any Browns TE.
The Packers have suffered less than the Browns with only two players currently on the COVID Reserve list, but one of those players is Marquez Valdes-Scantling. He has a chance to play if he is both vaccinated and asymptomatic but monitor this situation closely. He has become a relevant WR3/FLEX play late in the season, but you can’t afford a goose egg in your semifinal.
Christmas Day Football: Colts at Cardinals
The nightcap on Christmas Day should be great entertainment as you end your holiday. The Colts head to Arizona in a matchup of two potential playoff teams.
The Colts added CB Rock Ya-Sin and DE Kemoko Turay to the COVID reserve list yesterday, which is not good news for their defense. They also had one player, S Andrew Sendejo, who did not practice on Wednesday. For fantasy purposes, though, as long as their offense avoids the list, Jonathan Taylor can still be counted on to carry you to victory.
The Cardinals have C Rodney Hudson and P Andy Lee on their COVID reserve list. In terms of injury, RB James Conner and WR Rondale Moore sat out of practice on Wednesday, and TE Zach Ertz was a limited participant. Monitor that running back situation leading up to Saturday night to confirm whether or not Conner will play.
COVID for the Sunday/Monday Slate
COVID outbreaks have been hitting some teams hard going into Week 16, and it’s important to check on your players’ time spent on the COVID list. For example, Browns’ QB Baker Mayfield was put on the reserve list on Dec. 15, which means his 10 days of quarantine would be complete on game day. He has a chance to play against the Packers. Further, vaccinated players also have the potential to return much quicker if they are asymptomatic for 24 hours after their positive test.
While there are a large number of players on the COVID list throughout the league, below are some of the more notable players when it comes to fantasy.
WR Brandin Cooks (HOU), RB Austin Ekeler (LAC), and WR Jalen Guyton (LAC) are all on the COVID reserve list. WR Cole Beasley of the Buffalo Bills entered the COVID reserve list on Dec. 21st. He is unvaccinated and must quarantine for 10 days, so will miss the Bills’ game against the Patriots on Sunday. Patriots’ WR Kendrick Bourne, however, is vaccinated and still has a chance to play on Sunday.
Thirteen Total Players On Chiefs’ COVID Reserve List
The biggest news comes from Kansas City, regarding WR Tyreek Hill, TE Travis Kelce, and K Harrison Butker. They are just three of thirteen total Chiefs’ players that have been added to the COVID reserve list. Kelce, who is vaccinated, has a chance to play on Sunday against Pittsburgh. Butker, who is unvaccinated, will not play. Tyreek Hill’s status is uncertain as of now.
This is huge from a fantasy standpoint, as Hill, Kelce, and Butker are all top players at their respective positions. Hill and Kelce had monster games last week and would put managers in a dilemma if they aren’t able to go.
A Few More COVID-Related Items
The COVID reserve list for every team is going to be fluid for the remainder of the season. Things can change quickly, so make sure you are checking the lists daily.
Last, I should mention that QB Jared Goff (DET), TE Juwan Johnson (NO), TE Adam Trautman (NO), RB Michael Carter (NYJ), WR Elijah Moore (NYJ), QB Taylor Heinicke (WFT), and WR Tyler Lockett (SEA) are several more players that are in danger of missing their Week 16 games. There are a lot more players on COVID reserve lists, but I intended to highlight the more notable fantasy-related names. However, if you are worried about matchups, I would look into some of the defensive players and non-skill offensive players that are on their team’s list.
Sunday & Monday Notable Injuries
In addition to all of this unfortunate COVID news, there are the normal injuries that also can ruin a fantasy season. Here are some of the more notable players to monitor while you are looking at the Week 16 rankings:
Limited practice Wednesday: Saquon Barkley (NYG), James Robinson (JAX), D’Andre Swift (DET), Emmanuel Sanders (BUF), Brandon Bolden (NE), Damien Harris (NE), Antonio Brown (TB), Adam Thielen (MIN), Justin Fields (CHI), Courtland Sutton (DEN), Javonte Williams (DEN), Tony Pollard (DAL).
No practice Wednesday: Laviska Shenault (JAX), Jamison Crowder (NYJ), Nelson Agholor (NE), Rhamondre Stevenson (NE), Mike Evans (TB), Leonard Fournette (TB), D.J. Moore (CAR), David Johnson (HOU), Lamar Jackson (BAL), Pat Freiermuth (PIT), Darren Waller (LV), Antonio Gibson (WFT).
Last, make sure to check on your Saints and Dolphins players later in the week. And, I think it bears repeating one more time, make sure you check on the COVID reserve lists often, there seem to be more players added daily.
And best of luck to all still in the fantasy playoffs! I wish that applied to me…
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