2018 NFL Injury Report: December 18
Michael A. Stein breaks down the injury situations across the NFL, including player profiles, reasons for optimism, and reasons for pessimism.
It is now time for the final two weeks of the NFL’s regular season which means this is either the semi-finals or finals of many fantasy leagues. Congratulations to those GMs who have survived and made it this far. That is no understatement because it truly has been a matter of survival for GMs this year due to the vast array of injuries to key players. This week will be no different as several key players are banged up and there are so many unknowns about whether they will be able to play or not. So without any further ado, let’s delve into the next edition of the 2018 fantasy football emergency room.
Todd Gurley (RB-LAR)
Fantasy GMs have been tortured lately with injuries to key players, but owners of Todd Gurley almost went off the ledge on Sunday night when he was taken out of the game with a knee injury. Fortunately, he only missed one series in the second half as he treated his knee. Gurley has been incredible all season with 1,251 yards rushing and 17 touchdowns along with 59 catches for 580 yards and four touchdowns. The Rams may give Gurley some additional rest over the final two games so GMs should be aware that there could be a decrease in his playing time in order to keep him healthy and rested for the postseason.
Odell Beckham , Jr. (WR-NYG)
OBJ has missed the past two games due to a quadriceps injury but the Giants are hopeful that he will be back on the field for Week 16 against the Colts. Beckham’s absence could not have come at a worse time for GMs as they have missed their elite wide receiver for the first couple weeks of the fantasy playoffs. The Giants playoff hopes are over so now they can use the last couple games to build towards next year. It is possible these could be the last games that Beckham plays with Eli Manning . Beckham will undoubtedly do what he can to be on the field and should be heavily targeted if he is able to suit up.
Aaron Jones (RB-GB)
It is déjà vu all over again for Aaron Jones who suffered a sprained MCL for the second consecutive season. He has been very productive over the past several weeks and has accumulated 728 yards rushing and eight touchdowns along with 26 catches for 206 yards and one touchdown since he made his season debut. Chances are that this knee injury will cost him the final two weeks of the season so GMs should be running to waiver wire to grab Jamaal Williams who will see a lot of playing time next week against the Jets.
James Conner (RB-PIT)
Conner was inactive on Sunday against the Patriots which was expected all along as he continues to recover from his ankle injury. The good news is that he is expected to play in Week 16 which would be a huge boost for fantasy GMs in the semi-finals or finals of their league’s playoffs. Jaylen Samuels has filled in admirably for Conner, but he does not provide anywhere near the same value. Conner will be a bona fide RB1 next Sunday against the Saints barring any setbacks during the week.
Keenan Allen (WR-LAC)
Last week’s fantasy playoff matchups were impacted immediately on Thursday night when Keenan Allen suffered a hip injury and was taken out of the game in the first half. The good news is that he avoided a serious injury and it is expected that he will be back on the field on Saturday against Baltimore. The Chargers dramatic win over Kansas City has put them in a position to get the top overall seed in the AFC so Allen will desperately want to be back on the field for this big game. Baltimore’s defense is solid so it will be a difficult matchup. However, Allen will still be a must-start as a WR2-3 even if he is less than 100%.
Melvin Gordon (RB-LAC)
Speaking of the Chargers getting healthier, Melvin Gordon is also expected to return on Saturday against the Ravens. He has missed the past few games with a knee injury but is on pace to make his return for Week 16. Gordon was victimized by the short week last Thursday which was devastating for fantasy GMs who needed their RB1 in the lineup. For those GMs that have survived, he will be a huge boost to lineups this coming week.
Leonard Fournette (RB-JAX)
This has been a lost season for Fournette and the Jaguars. He missed several games due to injury and suspension, and he has failed to produce much when he has been on the field. Fournette barely saw any action late in the game last week against the Redskins due to a foot injury. It is expected that he will practice in a limited capacity this week, if at all. His status for next week against Miami is up in the air right now, but even if he does play he would not be anything more than a low RB2 or Flex option.
Lamar Miller (RB-HOU)
Texans running back Lamar Miller suffered an ankle injury on Saturday against the Jets and missed the whole second half as a result. The good news is that the injury does not appear serious and it is quite possible that he is able to return for Week 16. This is a situation we will have to monitor during the week before we know anything for sure. Miller has been a solid RB2 all season long rushing for 917 yards and four touchdowns. It is also possible that D’Onta Foreman is finally activated this weekend as well to give Houston some additional depth and flexibility in the backfield.
Matt Breida (RB-SF)
Breida returned this past weekend against Seattle after missing Week 14 with an ankle injury. However, he re-aggravated the ankle during San Francisco’s victory against the Seahawks and now his status for Week 16 is in jeopardy. Jeff Wilson had filled in admirably for Breida so he could see additional playing time again next week if the 49ers decide to shut Breida down. Follow for additional updates throughout the week as we should know more within a couple days.
Frank Gore (RB-MIA)
Veteran running back Frank Gore will likely be shut down for the remainder of the season after he sustained a foot injury. He has an active game streak of 126 dating back seven years but this will come to an end. Gore has incredibly rushed for 722 yards this season at 35-years old and helped keep Miami in the playoff hunt throughout the season. It is not known yet whether he will retire or not, but he has had an incredible career and stayed relevant in fantasy football for most of his 15-year career. He can now be dropped in all league formats.
Tyler Boyd (WR-CIN)
The Bengals have been hit hard by the injury bug this season, and that trend continued this past weekend when Tyler Boyd sustained a sprained MCL against Oakland. He had taken over as Cincinnati’s primary wide receiver with A.J. Green done for the season and delivered the good with 76 catches for 1,028 yards and seven touchdowns. This injury could very well cost Boyd the final two games of the season meaning that John Ross would become the de facto number one receiver. Fantasy GMs should stay away from all Bengals players except Joe Mixon over the final two weeks.
Marcus Murphy (RB-BUF)
Murphy had an opportunity to be the Bills’ lead running back this past weekend with both LeSean McCoy and Chris Ivory sidelined. Unfortunately, Murphy joined the others on the bench after suffering a dislocated elbow and will be placed on injured reserve ending his season with 250 yards rushing and no touchdowns. Keith Ford stepped up and ran for 53 yards in Murphy’s absence and he would be the primary running back next week if McCoy and Ivory are unable to return.
Randall Cobb (WR-GB)
The veteran wide receiver has had a terrible season marred by injuries. He is now in the league’s concussion protocol and his status for Week 16 is questionable at best right now. The Packers are going through a transitional period right now so they may choose to shut Cobb down rather than rush him back for meaningless games. Cobb has been limited to 37 catches for 356 yards and two touchdowns in only eight games this year, and his fantasy relevance is all but depleted.
Ito Smith (RB-ATL)
The Falcons disastrous season took another hit this past weekend as backup running back Ito Smith suffered a season-ending knee injury. He has gotten significant playing time this year due to Devonta Freeman ’s injury and will finish the season with 315 yards rushing and four touchdowns. Tevin Coleman will see almost all of the action out of the backfield over the final two games so he will be a viable fantasy option despite his recent struggles.