In this series, we’ll cast a wide net to cover many different injuries that occurred during each week of the NFL regular season and what the implications are for your fantasy teams. If there were large injuries during the week, we’ll be sure to have a detailed piece in addition to this article. If there is any injury on your mind you believe I missed, please feel free to comment below and I’ll give you my thoughts.
We made it, folks! The fantasy football regular season is now officially over in the vast majority of leagues. I hope your season was successful and you’re still in the hunt for a championship. If not, hopefully your league has a “toilet bowl” for the rest of the league to keep them engaged. Dynasty fantasy football during the regular season always feels like a grind, but the off-season is quickly approaching. Keeping up with depth charts and injuries to snag a valuable asset from your opponents is a great way to keep churning value on your roster and make your team better for 2019. Either way, let’s delve into week 13’s key injuries and what they mean for the rest of this season and the future.
A.J. Green, WR CIN
An overall disappointing, injury-plagued season came to an end on Sunday for the Bengals’ star wide receiver. Green had been adamant about wanting to play through his foot injury that already cost him three games before this week. On what appeared to be just a normal route, Green grabbed his foot after just a few steps and ultimately had to leave the game for good. He’ll consult doctors in the coming weeks for surgery, but his 2018 is over regardless of the decision.
Fantasy owners have perhaps fortunately been forced to cope without Green for the past few weeks. If anything, it’s fortunate Green’s re-injury did not happen during the fantasy playoffs. The Bengals have a tough week 14 matchup against the Chargers coming up, one that they’ll likely be playing from behind in. Despite the Bengals likely needing to throw to keep up, Tyler Boyd and Joe Mixon would be the only two fantasy assets I’d feel comfortable moving forward starting. The Bengals have been one of the most injury plagued teams this season in regards to their skill position players. They’ll look to take a major step forward again in 2019.
James Conner, RB PIT
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Conner has been one of the biggest surprise assets of the 2018 season. Similar to Alvin Kamara last season, Conner has performed as a top five running back while being drafted late or plucked off the waiver wire in the majority of leagues. While Conner has certainly propelled many teams to the fantasy playoffs, those who have him will need to look elsewhere in week 14. It seems this injury isn’t going to cost Conner his season, but it’s certainly going to be a week-to-week situation to monitor.
With the Steelers playing it safe with their own playoff hopes looking good at the moment, backup running back Jaylen Samuels is the most intriguing option in this backfield. An athletic, versatile rookie, Samuels wasted no time showing his upside in primetime action on Sunday night, scoring a touchdown shortly after Conner left the game. Samuels is arguably a better receiving threat than Conner is, but he’s not nearly as proven. While an intriguing dynasty option, Samuels should not be in your starting lineup if you have better options. If on your waiver wire, Samuels is worth using the remaining budget you have this season.
Odell Beckham, Jr, WR NYG
In a shocking development this morning, Odell Beckham Jr. was ruled out this week with a quad injury. While he was limited in practice on Friday, there didn’t seem to be any danger of him missing the game, especially since he wasn’t listed on the injury report for the week. However, things obviously changed after practice yesterday as Beckham didn’t even travel with the team this week. His loss is significant this week and marks the second year in a row where Beckham owners will be left without him in a key playoff game. Owners could turn to Sterling Shepard this week. While he’s had a mostly disappointing season, Shepard will likely soak up a whole host of targets this week as the offense will clearly run through Saquon Barkley first and Shepard likely second.
Greg Olsen, TE CAR
Olsen missed time early this season with this same foot injury that now will cost him the rest of the season. Honestly, I’m surprised and impressed Olsen was able to play as many games as he did this season after suffering that injury in week one. The 33-year old tight end was on constant maintenance and rest during the week but was playing a significant number of snaps for the Panthers on game days. Ultimately, his foot just couldn’t take any more stress and Olsen’s season is over because of it. A perennial TE1 in fantasy football, this could very well be the last we’ve seen of Olsen on the field. After contemplating retirement last off-season, Olsen may consider it again this summer. I believe Olsen is the kind of player who would not want to go out on an injury, but his offers to broadcast may be too tempting for the 12-year veteran.
In the meantime, Ian Thomas will take over primary tight end duties for the Panthers. With Christian McCaffrey, D.J. Moore, Curtis Samuel, and Devin Funchess taking the vast majority of Cam Newton’s targets, Thomas isn’t worth starting in the fantasy playoffs. However, as DLF’s TE30 in our rankings, Thomas has potential to take over a legitimate role in the Panthers’ offense heading into 2019. He may be on waivers in your league and is definitely worth a pickup heading into the off-season.
Christian Kirk, WR ARI
Week 13 was the week of the foot injury as rookie wide receiver Christian Kirk also will be out for the remainder of the season with a broken foot. As we’ve seen, foot injuries can have a tendency to linger, so hopefully Kirk takes the time he needs to fully recover heading into 2019. Though likely not a key cog to a championship run, Kirk provided fantasy owners with solid depth as a rookie, finishing week 13 ranked as WR38 in PPR leagues on the year. As a 21-year old rookie, Kirk has a bright future paired to Josh Rosen for the foreseeable future. He finishes his rookie campaign with 43 receptions on 70 targets for a team-high 590 yards along with three touchdowns in 12 games. When examining his season-long output in the offseason, it’s important to contextualize how good of a season Kirk had. On pace for 57 receptions for nearly 800 yards, Kirk’s output is impressive given how dismal the Cardinals offense as a whole has been in 2018. I recently compared Kirk to Jeremy Maclin, as the two have nearly identical profiles after their first seasons. Kirk will be a great buy-low off IR heading into 2019.
Matt Breida, RB SF
Another week, another Matt Breida injury. 2018’s Iron Man, Breida seems to get hurt and recover almost instantaneously each week. This ankle injury, however, will keep him sidelined for at least one week. In his place on this past Sunday, Jeff Wilson performed admirably, scoring a whopping 19.4 PPR fantasy points. Wilson is in line to start again and is a good bet for decent production against an attackable run defense. The 49ers may be behind early, so Wilson’s pass catching should propel him to a nice floor this week. You could do worse in your flex if you’re desperate for a flex play this week.
There’s not too much left to be said for parting words. The fantasy playoffs can be a fickle beast, with the winner often coming simply from having the best performing player in the week (ala Todd Gurley in 2017). With all of the injuries we’ve covered here and throughout the season, I hope you’ve been able to add key pieces to your roster to give you the best chances to win in the coming weeks. We’ll be sure to keep covering key injuries throughout the fantasy playoffs. In the meantime, best of luck to all during these fun, intense playoff weeks.
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