I’ve been on staff with Yahoo since 2008. My fantasy writing resume goes back two decades. I’ve been playing fantasy football and covering sports since the early-90s. I’ve been an NFL fan all my life.
Today, Nov. 28, is the wildest off-the-field Saturday I’ve ever seen.
I want be clear, I’m not trying to be glib here. I know we play a game about a game. I know we work in the toy department. Obviously the players are humans, with emotions, fears, and problems like anyone else. Please know that thought is very much in the front of my mind as I sort through the Week 12 news cycle and what it means for the fantasy landscape.
It’s been a difficult year for everyone I know, and everyone you know. Let’s try to be good, and reasonable, to each other.
To the status update:
• The Steelers and Ravens are hoping to play their Week 12 game on Tuesday, the third prospective date that’s been set. Originally they were scheduled to play Thanksgiving night, and then briefly the game was placed in the early window Sunday. The Ravens have several players on the COVID-19/reserve list, including QB Lamar Jackson, RB J.K. Dobbins, and RB Mark Ingram; as of 6 pm ET Saturday, the count was up to 18. The Steelers placed James Conner on the COVID-19/reserve list on Saturday. Benny Snell is the likely starter with Conner out, if this game actually gets played.
• The Broncos have a major quarterback issue. Backup Jeff Driskel went on the COVID-19/reserve list on Thursday. Then on Saturday, Drew Lock, Brett Rypien, and Blake Bortles were all ruled ineligible due to contact tracing concerns, leaving no quarterbacks on the active roster. Denver might be forced to start a backup WR (Kendall Hinton) under center. WR Jerry Jeudy (ankle) is questionable, and not someone I would play proactively this week.
• The 49ers need a new practice and playing facility, as Santa Clara County is locking down the area for three weeks, effective Monday. The Niners are supposed to host Buffalo and Washington in the next two weeks.
The club isn’t expecting Brandon Aiyuk (COVID 19/reserve list) to play against the Rams on Sunday, but Deebo Samuel (hamstring) looks likely to go. In the backfield, Tevin Coleman (knee) is ruled out, but Raheem Mostert (ankle) has a chance to play. Jerick McKinnon is another option.
• Jonathan Taylor went on the COVID 19/reserve list on Saturday. Jordan Wilkins and Nyheim Hines figure to split the workload in Taylor’s absence. Indianapolis hosts Tennessee, in a key AFC South game.
• Austin Ekeler (hamstring) came off injured reserve Saturday. It doesn’t mean he’ll definitely play at the Bills, but he has a chance. At least it’s an early wave game. Kalen Ballage (ankle/calf) is listed as questionable.
• Tyler Higbee (elbow) is a game-time decision for the Los Angeles game at San Francisco. Gerald Everett looks interesting if Higbee is eventually scratched.
• Marquez Valdes-Scantling (Achilles’) is listed as questionable after a late-week injury. Perhaps this could lead to an opportunity bump for Allen Lazard, although he’s a different style of receiver. Lazard returned to action last week.
• Gio Bernard (concussion) looks like a game-day call for Cincinnati’s home match against the Giants. If he can’t go, Samaje Perine is the next man up. Meanwhile, Joe Mixon (ankle) hasn’t played since Week 6. The Bengals are giving a start to QB Branden Allen, instead of presumptive backup QB Ryan Finley.
• Chris Carson (foot) is off the injury report, clearing him to go Monday at Philadelphia.
• John Brown (ankle) went on injured reserve Saturday. That means he’s out for three games. Rookie Gabriel Davis has flashed at times this year, and re-enters the regular rotation.
• New Orleans has a compromised offensive line, as LG Andrus Peat (concussion) and LT Terron Armstead (COVID-19/reserve list) won’t play at Denver.
• The Dolphins downgraded Tua Tagovailoa (thumb) to doubtful on Saturday, which means we’ll see Ryan Fitzpatrick start against the Jets. I’ll be considering Fitzy on a couple of my Superflex rosters. The backfield is also complicated; Myles Gaskin wasn’t activated off injured reserve Saturday, and Salvon Ahmed (shoulder) won’t be able to play. The remaining backs include Matt Breida, Patrick Laird, and DeAndre Washington.
• Christian McCaffrey (shoulder) remains week-to-week; he won’t play at Minnesota. Mike Davis remains the stand-in. Teddy Bridgewater had a full practice week and will start.
• Zach Ertz (ankle) isn’t expected to play Monday against Seattle. Dallas Goedert looked superb at Cleveland last week.
• Adam Humphries (concussion) won’t play at Indianapolis. The Titans prefer a narrow passing tree, so there probably isn’t a fantasy beneficiary from this news.
• The Jaguars won’t have D.J. Chark (ribs) or Chris Conley (hip) against Cleveland, but Laviska Shenault (hamstring) is set to return. Mike Glennon will be the starting quarterback, as the Jags benched Jake Luton. Gardner Minshew (thumb) might get his job back for December.
• Sam Darnold (shoulder) returns to the starting lineup for the Jets. Frank Gore figures to be the team’s featured back, with Lamical Perine (ankle) on injured reserve.
• Adam Thielen (COVID-19/reserve list) isn’t expected to play against the Panthers. TE Irv Smith (groin/back) is doubtful, setting up Kyle Rudolph as a Week 12 spot starter.
• Julio Jones (ankle) had a limited practice week and is a game-time decision for Sunday’s match against the Raiders. Jones is obviously the key member of this offense; when he plays, things generally hum smoothly, and when he doesn’t, look out below. Todd Gurley (knee) will not play, setting up Brian Hill for a spot-start. Calvin Ridley (foot) is able to go, but Hayden Hurst (ankle) is another game-day call.
• Mitch Trubisky returns to action, starting Sunday night against the Packers. Nick Foles has a hip injury, and has been in a multiple-week slump anyway. David Montgomery is out of concussion protocol, and expected to start.
• The Chiefs will get Sammy Watkins (hamstring) back against Tampa Bay, his first action since Week 5.
• The Cardinals held Kyler Murray (shoulder) out of some work this week but he’ll start at New England. Larry Fitzgerald (COVID-19/reserve list) will not play, perhaps opening up some opportunities for Andy Isabella.
• Rex Burkhead (knee) is out for the year, which might allow for Sony Michel to return against Arizona. James White takes on extra fantasy value with Burkhead’s absence.
• The Lions fired GM Bob Quinn and head coach Matt Patricia on Saturday. The club went 13-29-1 on Patricia’s watch. Offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell will coach the team the rest of the season.