Injuries decimated NFL teams and fantasy rosters in Week 11, and all could have far-reaching implications for owners tuning their lineups two weeks before the start of fantasy playoffs.
Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco went down with a torn ACL and MCL, while Baltimore also lost running back Justin Forsett to a broken right arm for the third and fourth major injuries to the Ravens roster. Falcons running back Devonta Freeman left after the first quarter against Indianapolis with a concussion, and the Chiefs lost running back Charcandrick West to a hamstring injury.
Lastly, the Seahawks kept running back Marshawn Lynch on the sidelines during their 29-23 victory over San Francisco due to what head coach Pete Carroll deemed an abdominal injury. NFL Network reported Lynch may have a sports hernia and could be done for the season.
The first thing most owners will do is quickly put in a waiver claim for each of these players’ immediate back-ups, but caution should be exercised on a case by case basis. In the case of the Ravens and Forsett, Javorius Allen is next up on the depth chart but without Flacco and veteran Matt Schaub stepping in, there’s no telling where an already lackluster Ravens offense might go.
Schaub hasn’t appeared in a game all season, and hasn’t thrown multiple touchdowns in any game since 2013, so opposing defenses will dare him to throw often and stack the box against any back behind him. Schaub’s uncertain future also limits the potential growth of tight end Crockett Gillmore, so owners should be wary of picking him up as well.
Otherwise, in many cases the backups for each of the injured stars should be excellent plug-ins for Week 12 and beyond. Here are six players to consider adding during Week 12’s waiver wire period, and several others to monitor, who just might save your postseason.
Thomas Rawls, RB, Seattle Seahawks
No other player will be more expensive on the waiver wire this week than Rawls, who we already profiled and suggested to owners back in Week 6 after he rushed for more than 100 yards for the second time in three weeks. Lynch’s status remains in the air and his owners, as well as everyone else in your league hoping for a playoff push, will be pouncing on Rawls. He’s almost the perfect rusher for Seattle, capable of turning a high volume of attempts into huge chunks of yardage, and Rawls will certainly get the attempts due to the design of Seattle’s offense and its glaring lack of receiving options. Some owners have already jumped on Rawls, but he’s owned in just 37.1 percent of ESPN and 33 percent of Yahoo leagues.
Tevin Coleman, RB, Atlanta Falcons
Owners may be tempted to add Atlanta fullback Patrick DiMarco because of his two touchdown grabs in Week 11, but Coleman’s the immediate successor to Freeman if his concussion keeps him out in Week 12 or beyond. With just one reception off seven targets during his rookie season, Coleman might not be the best play for PPR leagues, but he will see the bulk of touches. Coleman’s owned in just 26 percent of ESPN and 27 percent of Yahoo leagues, and could be owners’ backup priority behind Rawls.
Alfred Blue, RB, Houston Texans
The Texans are humming and Blue recorded his second touchdown of the season off a 21-yard reception against a tough Jets defense in Week 11. With Arian Foster down Blue hasn’t been impressive and at times he’s lost carries to Jonathan Grimes. But with 21 attempts against New York, he’s clearly the focal point of Houston’s rushing attack. He also comes with the added protection of receiver DeAndre Hopkins and the surprisingly solid play of quarterback T.J. Yates. Still Blue’s a tougher pickup with 42 percent ownership in Yahoo and 53.1 percent in ESPN league formats.
Cody Latimer, WR, Denver Broncos
A major change at quarterback saw Latimer catch the first touchdown of his career, and for owners who already possess depth at receiver but would like more he could be your guy. Latimer was viewed as a talented, high-ceiling guy when Denver took him in the second round in 2014 but he’s largely underperformed and dealt with injuries ever since. But as we’ve seen with backups around the league like Matt Cassel, Matt Hasselbeck, and even Yates to some extent, quarterbacks tend to favor certain receivers and its possible Latimer becomes a favorite target of Brock Osweiler should Emmanuel Sanders continue to miss time. The easiest pickup of the week with 1 percent ownership in Yahoo and 3.1 percent in ESPN formats.
Devin Funchess, WR, Panthers
It’s possible when Kelvin Benjamin returns next season he’ll have a rival for the No. 1 receiver spot. The 6-foot-4 rookie’s garnered 14 targets for 176 yards and two scores in the last three weeks compared to 24 targets for 90 yards and no touchdowns in Carolina’s previous seven games. He’s owned in 34 percent of Yahoo and 10.8 percent of ESPN leagues, and it shows some owners have been cautious because of the Panthers tendency to feed running back Jonathan Stewart and tight end Greg Olsen. However, Carolina may have finally found its go-to receiver in Funchess.
Spencer Ware, RB, Kansas City Chiefs
Taking over for West in the second half against San Diego, Ware quickly responded to West’s injury and the increase in carries resultrd in 96 yards and two scores on just 11 attempts. Granted it was against a Chargers rushing D that’s now No. 26 in the NFL, and West could very well return since he’s been deemed day-to-day. But for West’s owners Ware is excellent insurance as the hot Chiefs make a push for the postseason. Ware’s owned in just 7 percent of Yahoo and 0.1 percent of ESPN leagues.
Others to monitor: Alex Smith, QB, Chiefs; Theo Riddick, RB, Lions; Ahmad Bradshaw, RB, Colts; T.J. Yates, QB, Texans; Brock Osweiler, QB, Broncos; Marquess Wilson, WR, Bears; Lance Kendricks, TE, Rams; Stevie Johnson, WR, Chargers; Tyler Lockett, WR, Seahawks