Another week of NFL action is behind us and thankfully we didn’t lose any major players to serious injuries. In fact, fantasy owners can expect a few players to return in the coming weeks as the PUP list has been vacated. Teams now have 21 days to evaluate players and decide if they want to put them on the 53-man roster or instead stash them on IR for the rest of the season.
There are still tons of players to monitor heading into Week 7; injuries don’t take a break just because the fantasy football world wants them to.
Tavon Austin, WR, Rams
A thigh injury sidelined the Rams’ do-it-all player for Wednesday’s practice. There had been no previous mention of an injury with the third-year player, and while it’s still too early in the week to deem this a serious issue, it’s a bit concerning when you consider that the Rams are coming off of a bye week.
Austin seems to have finally ripped off his “bust” label, amassing 243 total yards and four touchdowns through five games. If he can’t go, Kenny Britt and Brian Quick get boosts in a matchup against the Cleveland Browns, a team that’s allowed 26.3 points per game — 10th-most in the NFL.
DeSean Jackson, WR, Redskins
Jackson had a solid first season with Washington, catching 56 passes for 1,169 yards and six TDs, but 2015 has been a different story. A hamstring injury has limited him to just one game and he’s been all but ruled out for the sixth-consecutive week. Not only that, but ‘Skins beat writer Mike Jones believes the team won’t bring him back next season since they can save $8 million against the cap by cutting him.
Rostering Jackson in fantasy leagues is becoming a less enticing proposition by the day. The Redskins are terrible and have no reason to rush him back, especially if they don’t plan on retaining him. If you’re in a very deep league or your league has an IR spot, he’s certainly worth stashing, but if you’re in a bye crunch, he’s definitely droppable.
Jamison Crowder has been doing a fine job in Jackson’s absence and should be added in leagues of 12 teams or more. The rookie has totaled 25 receptions and 237 yards over his last four games, and is available in 89 percent of ESPN leagues.
T.J. Yeldon, RB, Jaguars
This is a situation Yeldon owners really need to keep an eye on in the coming weeks.
The 2015 second-round pick missed Sunday’s game with a groin pull and followed that up with a DNP at Wednesday’s practice. The Jaguars sit at 1-5 and are in last place in the AFC’s South Division. It looks like another year of the status quo for one of the worst franchises in professional sports, and the team is certainly looking ahead to 2016. This gives them little incentive to speed up Yeldon’s return to the field. They’ll want to get him plenty of reps throughout the season, but they won’t risk further damaging their prized young back.
Sitting out Wednesday’s practice is an ominous sign, and with a bye week next up on their schedule, the Jags may be best served giving the kid an extra week to heal up. If he doesn’t suit up, Denard Robinson and Toby Gerhart will again form a terrible twosome in the Jaguars’ backfield. Neither is recommended for fantasy, even in the deepest of leagues.
If there’s a positive for fantasy owners to take from this, it’s that Yeldon’s injury forces QB Blake Bortles to throw more.
Last week, Bortles launched a career-high 53 passes, connecting on 30 of them for 331 yards and three TDs. The yardage was the second-most of his short career, surpassed only by the 336 he threw for in Week 4 of his rookie season.
Amazingly, Bortles (55 percent owned) is now the sixth-best QB in fantasy football, trailing only Andy Dalton, Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady, Philip Rivers and Carson Palmer. That’s some pretty good company. Pretty, pretty, pretty, pretty good.
Brandon LaFell, WR, Patriots and Stevan Ridley, RB, Jets
Both LaFell and Ridley have resumed practicing after a six-week hiatus. LaFell (foot) and Ridley (knee) were put on the PUP list after their respective teams deemed them unfit for play prior to Week 1.
Though the two players are widely available in ESPN leagues (LaFell – 27% owned; Ridley – 1% owned), only LaFell is worth adding at this time.
The sixth-year receiver excelled in this first season in Foxboro, catching 74 balls for 953 yards and seven TDs, and rejuvenating his career in the process. LaFell was a good prospect coming out of LSU, but never realized his potential in Carolina. Now in his second year with the Patriots, he’ll have a chance to build on the rapport he formed with Tom Brady last year. He a must-own player in all leagues and could end up being a WR3/FLEX with WR2-upside for the remainder of the season.
Ridley, on the other hand, is in a less desirable situation for fantasy owners. The bruising back’s last action was in Week 6 of 2014. In that game he tore his ACL and MCL and has been rehabbing ever since. Like LaFell, Ridley is a former LSU Tiger, and he brings a decent pro resume to the Meadowlands. He was a 1,000-yard rusher for the Patriots in 2012, but a bout of fumbleitis (8 total from 2012-13) led to some inconsistency (and the ire of Bill Belichick).
Still just 26 years old, Ridley will have a chance to establish himself with the Jets, but the dominance fellow RB Chris Ivory has shown this season will make it an uphill battle. Ivory is currently third in the NFL with 460 rushing yards and has looked better as each week has gone by. If you own Ivory, Ridley makes sense as a stash, but otherwise, he’s just someone to keep an eye on. His lack of pass-catching skills makes him only suitable for standard leagues.