Week 8 Practice Report & Injury Recap (2020 Fantasy Football)
Another week of football means another week of injuries. Each Friday, I’ll break down the NFL practice reports by matchup. That’s when teams release two key pieces of information: first, a player’s status (full-go, limited, no-go) in practice that week; second, their injury designation (questionable, doubtful, out). It’s vital stuff to follow for your fantasy matchups, and I’ll walk you through the important things to know.
Steelers at Ravens (Sunday, 1:00 PM EST)
Steelers: No fantasy-relevant injuries.
Ravens: RB Mark Ingram (ankle) DOUBTFUL.
Both teams are entering this game relatively healthy. Diontae Johnson, who continues to leave games with random injuries, practiced fully on Thursday and Friday, and he did not earn an injury designation for Sunday’s showdown.
That said, the Ravens are unlikely to have their starting running back. Ingram went down in Week 6 with an ankle injury. Gus Edwards should be in for the bulk of the work, as he’s had the largest role behind Ingram all season. He has 48 carries to Ingram’s 50. Dobbins should have a role, too, and although the Ravens have given him fewer carries (25), he has 14 targets, the most among all of Baltimore’s running backs.
Dobbins and Edwards will face the Steelers’ tough defensive front this weekend, so it’s hard for me to get excited about starting either of them. They’re not bad desperation plays if you’re dealing with bye weeks or injuries, though.
Rams at Dolphins (Sunday, 1:00 PM EST)
Rams: TE Tyler Higbee (hand) QUESTIONABLE.
Dolphins: No fantasy-relevant injuries.
The Dolphins are pretty healthy for Tua Tagovailoa’s first start. There were concerns about DeVante Parker after he got hurt in Week 6, but he was able to practice fully on Friday and didn’t earn an injury designation. He should be a full-go this week, although time will tell how much Tagovailoa trusts him.
Like Miami, Los Angeles isn’t dealing with a ton of injured players. They could be without tight end Tyler Higbee, though, who Sean McVay said would be a game-time decision. Higbee’s low-usage role in this offense should have had him off your fantasy radar long ago, and if he’s still on your roster, I would plan to look elsewhere this week. If Trey Burton is still on waivers in your league, he’d be worth picking up.
Jets at Chiefs (Sunday, 1:00 PM EST)
The New York Jets are a mess. They won’t have their two best wide receivers against the league’s best offenses, and that does not bode well for their ability to stay in this one. With both receivers sidelined, Denzel Mims and Braxton Berrios will have expanded roles. Berrios will man the slot, and he’s a volume-based WR4/5; Mims will play on the perimeter, and he’s a high-upside WR4.
Although I like Mims, it’s worth noting that Sam Darnold didn’t target him very far downfield. Mims had an average depth of target (aDOT) of just 7.6 yards last week, so while he does have the elite speed to get open deep, Darnold (or Adam Gase) could be limiting his upside.
Gore missed Thursday’s practice, and he was limited on Friday with a hand injury. Even if he does play, La’Mical Perine is the best back to roster in this offense, and you can tell by last week’s snap counts.
Watkins will miss another week with his hamstring injury, and Demarcus Robinson will continue to get his mid-range targets as a result. That said, the Chiefs have plenty of other weapons to feature in this game (namely Le’Veon Bell), so I would avoid Robinson unless you’re seriously pressed at wide receiver.
Vikings at Packers (Sunday, 1:00 PM EST)
CB Cameron Dantzler (COVID) OUT, CB Mike Hughes (neck) OUT, CB Holton Hill (foot) OUT, RB Dalvin Cook (groin) QUESTIONABLE.
Packers: RB Aaron Jones (calf) OUT, CB Kevin King (quad) OUT, K Mason Crosby (left calf/back) QUESTIONABLE.
Yes, three of Minnesota’s top cornerbacks won’t play on Sunday. Two (Dantzler and Hill) are listed as starters on the depth chart, while Hill is the CB3. Minnesota is down to rookie Jeff Gladney, Harrison Hand (Harrison Smith’s alter-ego?), and Kris Boyd.
NOTE: Cameron Dantzler was activated from the COVID-19/reserve list on Saturday.
Normally, you’d want to start every wide receiver possible against a secondary this bad. Unfortunately, the Packers only have two fantasy-relevant wide receivers: Davante Adams and Marquez Valdes-Scantling. Adams should finish as the WR1 again this week, especially with Jones still sidelined, and MVS should have an above-average day. He’s a boom-or-bust WR4.
Dalvin Cook logged a full practice on Friday, and head coach Mike Zimmer said that there shouldn’t be a limit to his workload against the Packers. If you’re a Cook manager, I would expect to have him back this week.
Colts at Lions (Sunday, 1:00 PM EST)
Colts: TE Mo Alie-Cox (knee) QUESTIONABLE.
Lions: No fantasy-relevant injuries.
These two squads will have most of their offensive weapons heading into Sunday’s game, and there’s not a lot to speculate about injury-wise other than the Colts’ situation at tight end.
Even if Alie-Cox does play, I fully expect Trey Burton to see the bulk of the workload at tight end — head coach Frank Reich literally used his tape to show Alie-Cox and Doyle how to run routes. That said, the Detroit Lions give up the second-fewest PPR points to the position, so I wouldn’t necessarily target Burton as a streamer.
Raiders at Browns (Sunday, 1:00 PM EST)
The Browns lost Beckham for the season last week, and without him, Rashard “Hollywood” Higgins will have a starting role. Even though the Browns are a run-first team, Higgins should be a viable WR3/4-type player most weeks, even if he is a bit boom-or-bust. Jarvis Landry may see an uptick in volume, too, but it’s hard to get excited about a wide receiver who has thrown more touchdowns than he’s caught.
Cleveland also won’t have Hooper this week, and without him, Harrison Bryant should draw the start. The rookie tight end looked good against the Bengals (but let’s be honest — that’s not hard to do) and scored two touchdowns, while fellow tight end David Njoku only scored one. Both guys are back-end streaming options against a bad Raiders defense that ranks in the top half against tight ends.
After logging three limited practices, Edwards got a questionable tag for this game. Head coach Jon Gruden had called him doubtful at the start of the week, though, so don’t get your hopes up too much. If Edwards continues to miss time, Nelson Agholor will remain the Raiders’ best perimeter receiver, and he’s an interesting low-end, touchdown-dependent streaming option.
Patriots at Bills (Sunday, 1:00 PM EST)
Patriots: WR Julian Edelman (knee) OUT, WR N’Keal Harry (concussion) OUT, RB Damien Harris (ankle) QUESTIONABLE, CB Stephon Gilmore (knee) QUESTIONABLE, CB J.C. Jackson (knee) QUESTIONABLE.
Bills: CB Josh Norman (hamstring) OUT, S Micah Hyde (concussion) QUESTIONABLE.
There’s a lot to unpack here for New England’s offense. On the one hand, both of their starting wide receivers are out. On the other, the Bills’ secondary looks extra vulnerable — Norman won’t play, and I’d be surprised to see Hyde out there since he failed to practice at all this week.
Tre’Davious White will shut down whichever remain receiver he’s asked to cover, so who knows who will lead the Patriots in receiving this week. James White is a strong candidate, as he’s drawn 5.25 targets per game. Damiere Byrd (4.67) and Jakobi Meyers (1.75) could both have strong weeks, and Meyers is trending up — he got a team-high six targets in last week’s debacle against the 49ers. Byrd and Meyers feel like high-risk WR4 options with more upside than normal, while White should be a strong flex option in PPR formats.
I expect Harris to play after he logged limited practice sessions every day this week, although he may not get a ton of carries.
The injuries to Gilmore and Jackson are worth monitoring for Diggs and Brown managers. If Gilmore can’t go, then Diggs is an even better start at WR1 than he’d have been otherwise. If he can, Brown should draw some additional targets from Josh Allen, as the quarterback won’t want to look Gilmore’s way too frequently.
Chargers at Broncos (Sunday, 4:05 PM EST)
The right half of the Chargers’ offensive line has been missing time, and their absence is measurable in their offensive line rankings. They rank in the top half of the league on the left, but they rank 23rd in the middle, and they’re 30th at right tackle and 26th at right end. Bulaga was able to log limited reps all week, and his return would give the right side of this offensive line a much-needed boost.
Denver has dealt with a ton of injuries this season, and the injury bug bit them against last week. Lindsay went down with a concussion, and Patrick suffered a hamstring injury in their game against the Chiefs. After two limited practice sessions, it seems like Lindsay should be able to clear the league’s concussion protocol before Sunday. The Chargers are a juicy defense to target with running backs, and while I still would prefer to have Melvin Gordon, Lindsay could be in for an above-average performance here.
It had good news for Lindsay, but I have bad news for Patrick. The wide receiver failed to practice once this week, and I would be shocked to see him play against the Chargers. Without him around, Jerry Jeudy should see more downfield usage than normal, and he’s an intriguing pick at WR4.
49ers at Seahawks (Sunday, 4:25 PM EST)
Before I get into the running backs, note that Deebo Samuel’s injury puts Brandon Aiyuk and Kendrick Bourne in line for tons of points against Seattle’s league-worst wide receiver defense. Aiyuk is a high-end WR2; Bourne is a dart throw at WR4.
Both of these backfields are a complete and utter mess. I’ll start with San Francisco’s: Raheem Mostert is on injured reserve, Tevin Coleman could get activated this week, and Jerick McKinnon is dealing with “tired legs.”
The “tired legs” bit stems from a JaMycal Hasty profile published in The Athletic, and I have no idea what it means. Kyle Shanahan told the press that the 49ers had planned to rest McKinnon after last week’s game, which made me optimistic about the role he’d play against the Seahawks, but now I’m not sure what’s going on.
If Coleman can play, I wouldn’t start either McKinnon or Hasty. If he can’t, then McKinnon and Hasty are both high-risk options at RB2/flex with tons of bust potential.
Seattle’s backfield is also a cluster. Neither Carson nor Hyde has practiced all week, yet Carson willed himself into a questionable tag. I would be surprised if either suit up. Travis Homer sat out this week’s first two practices, but he logged limited reps on Friday, so there is some chance that he’ll play on Sunday. If none of them can go, DeeJay Dallas would be the team’s last man standing at the position.
For fantasy purposes, it doesn’t matter much who starts for Seattle — the 49ers have given up the second-fewest points per game to the position all season. I would only consider starting Homer or Dallas if you have exhausted your alternatives.
Saints at Bears (Sunday, 4:25 PM EST)
After an impressive Week 7 breakout, Callaway got his ankle rolled up and had to exit the game. He logged a limited practice session on Thursday and Friday, but the team ruled him out regardless. Michael Thomas will miss another week with his injuries, too, and managers who took him in the first round have to be getting frustrated. The Saints also won’t have Emmanuel Sanders, who tested positive for COVID and is showing symptoms.
The injuries will vault Alvin Kamara into a larger role than normal against Chicago’s defense. Although the Bears are the 11th-best defense against opposing rushers, they also surrender a league-high percentage of explosive runs, and that gives Kamara a ton of upside against them.
For the Bears, Allen Robinson’s doubtful designation makes Darnell Mooney an interesting play in deeper formats. Mooney led this team in air yards in both Week 6 and Week 7, and his long-distance average depth of target (15.2) means that he doesn’t need to see tons of Nick Foles‘ targets to return fantasy value. Jimmy Graham should be a better streaming option than usual this week, too, as the Saints’ defense gives up the most points per game to the position.
Cowboys at Eagles (Sunday, 8:20 PM EST)
The Cowboys should be without Dalton this week, and that will force Ben DiNucci into a starting role on Sunday Night Football. However, it’s not all bad news for Dallas as All-Pro right guard Zack Martin is healthy enough to play. His return will give Ezekiel Elliott a much-needed boost, although the elite running back will have to face stacked boxes until Dalton returns.
The Eagles’ receiving weapons have been banged-up for what feels like the whole season. With Jackson on injured reserve and Jeffery still out, the burden will continue to fall on Travis Fulgham, although Jalen Reagor is expected back this week, and the first-rounder should see his fair share of targets. He’s a risky option at WR3/4 this week, but I’m excited about his upside against a terrible Dallas defense.
Philadelphia may even get Dallas Goedert back. The tight end is optimistic that he’ll get to play against the Cowboys, although I wouldn’t be surprised to see the team hold him, as they’re heading into their bye week.
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