Week 12 Injury Impact

Updated: November 30th 2018

No one likes injuries but they happen and we must deal with them.  Week 12 saw a number of injury related and other news items relevant for many fantasy teams.  These injuries come at exactly the wrong team for many as the fantasy playoffs are about to start in most RSO leagues.  Let’s examine a few of the most fantasy relevant injuries, their probable replacements, and impacts on fellow teammates.

Injury News

Melvin Gordon

No injury has a bigger impact on fantasy teams than Gordon’s MCL sprain.  Gordon is irreplaceable as a top-5 fantasy running back.  He likely misses at least the next two games and could easily be done for the fantasy year including great matchups against Cincinnati and Kansas City to start the fantasy playoffs in weeks 14 and 15.

Who’s up next?  Austin Ekeler dominated snaps in week 7 with Gordon injured.   Expect more of the same for as long as Gordon is out with rookie Justin Jackson mixing in a little more this time around.  Jackson actually out-rushed Ekeler in week 12 after Gordon left but those touches were with the Chargers blowing out the helpless Cardinals while Ekeler caught a team-high 10 receptions.  Los Angeles might lean more on MVP-candidate Phillip Rivers while Gordon is out which could mean target increases for Chargers receivers including Keenan Allen.

Jack Doyle

Doyle suffered a season-ending kidney injury in Sunday’s game finishing an injury-plagued year.  Doyle was a top-10 PPR tight end with heavy volume when playing but struggled staying on the field in 2018.  The Indianapolis run game takes a hit as Doyle was also among the top blocking tight ends in the league.

Who’s up next?  The biggest beneficiary is fellow tight end Eric Ebron.  Ebron averaged 10 targets per game during Doyle’s previous five game absence.  Do not expect quite that kind of workload as Andrew Luck’s top wide receiver, T.Y. Hilton, also missed some time during Doyle’s exit.  It does not matter.  Ebron already amassed 11 touchdowns in just 11 games playing limited snaps as a passing down player with Doyle for significant time.  He jumps to a top-tier, set-it-and-forget-it fantasy tight end to finish the year as Andrew Luck’s primary endzone threat.  Mo Alie-Cox, Ryan Hewitt, and Erik Swoope all missed last week’s game but one could become marginally fantasy relevant moving forward as the second tight end in this powerful offense.  Indianapolis faces one of the most fantasy friendly schedules for tight ends of any team going forward. Other receivers, including Hilton, could see increased volume as well.

Marvin Jones, Jr.

The hope of Jones returning ended when Detroit put Jones on injured reserve this week.  The rest of season looked relatively bright for Jones once Golden Tate was traded to Philadelphia with Jones and Kenny Golladay forming a dynamic twosome at wide receiver for the Lions.  That is now on hold until 2019.

Who’s up next?  The move solidifies Golladay at the top of the receiving pecking order in Detroit.  The biggest boost goes to Bruce Ellington who has seen 16 targets in the two games missed by Jones.  There should be enough volume for both to remain relevant the rest of season but things could look ugly at times.  Detroit faces an uninspiring fantasy playoff schedule for receivers including Minnesota and Buffalo.

Andy Dalton

The “Red-Rifle” is done for the season after a disappointing 2018.  Dalton was no more than a low-end starter in 2QB and superflex leagues so his missing of the rest of year after injuring his thumb will not have a big impact in most fantasy leagues.

Who’s up next?  It is unlikely the backup to Dalton will be fantasy relevant considering Dalton’s ineffectiveness in this offense.  Jeff Driskell replaces Dalton as the Bengals starting quarterback.  He displays some impressive athletic traits so you might see more running from the new quarterback but you can safely avoid him in most leagues.  The real impact will be felt on Bengals receivers where weekly volatility and uncertainty increases with a backup quarterback in.  Tyler Boyd and even A.J. Green, when he returns, become higher-risk weekly plays.

Jeff Heuerman

Heuerman was beginning to see his role expand in the Broncos offense after injuries decimated Denver’s tight end core this year.  He also joins the sinking ship after being ruled out for the season.  They will drag bodies from free agency to fill roster spots at this point.

Who’s up next?  This is another situation where you are likely only concerned in deeper leagues.  Matt LaCosse was the only tight end left for Denver after Heuerman’s loss and, while not an exciting option, he provides some intrigue.  Denver tight ends have seen no less than 7 targets over the last four games.  The Broncos also have what should be an easy finishing schedule with games against all sub-.500 teams to end the fantasy season.  The loss of Heuerman likely means more work for starting wide receivers Emmanuel Sanders and Courtland Sutton to go along with a continued heavy reliance on the run game.

Other News

Rex Burkhead

New England recently activated Burkhead from injured reserve adding some chaos in the Patriots backfield.  We do not know what role Burkhead will play when he returns but he and now-Titan Dion Lewis formed a dynamic one-two punch when healthy last season.  The real loser, from a fantasy perspective, could be James White.  White has been outstanding this season as an RB1 in fantasy playing without Burkhead and rookie Sony Michel at times.  White was used primarily as just a passing down back last season with Burkhead and Lewis playing.  That would severely limit his fantasy potential if he moves to that role again to finish the season.

Blake Bortles

The Jaguars benched Bortles for the second, and possibly final, time last week setting the stage for a Cody Kessler end to the year at starting quarterback for Jacksonville.  He is not much of an option except for the deepest of fantasy leagues.  Kessler showed some decent play starting for Cleveland in 2016, however, and does not have a particularly tough schedule going forward.  The switch should not impact Jacksonville receivers negatively as the volume was so low with Bortles.

Bio:  Bernard Faller has degrees in engineering and economics.  He currently lives in Las Vegas and enjoys athletics, poker, and fantasy football in his free time.  Send your questions and comments (both good and bad) on Twitter @BernardFaller1.

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