Bad things seem to happen at the absolute worst times. Like when you get sick right before Christmas. Or you get into a car accident on the way to the hospital. Or when star players get injured right before the fantasy championships.
Needless to say, there were some huge injuries this past week. Antonio Brown, Rex Burkhead, Hunter Henry, Marquis Lee, Davante Adams, O.J. Howard, and Austin Ekeler all went down with various injuries, and all of them are out for at least Week 16, and probably beyond that, too.
So, what do you do? Some of you may have a viable replacement on your bench that you can plug in to your starting lineup, but others of you may not be so lucky.
To help you out, here are some replacements for wide receiver, running back, and tight end that could help fill the void this week. Obviously, no one can truly replace Antonio Brown. He’s a freak athlete, the best wide receiver in the NFL right now, and is playing at a level beyond anyone else. But, you can still win (or try to win) without him, you’ll just need a little help from some other players.
Bryant is the obvious free agent replacement for Antonio Brown, as he’s now in line for more targets with Brown out this week. After Brown went out last week, Bryant had a four-yard touchdown catch, and ended the night with four catches for 59 yards and a touchdown. Not too shabby for an overall shabby year for Bryant.
This week, the Steelers play the Texans, who are a shell of what they used to be. 42 percent of passing yards allowed by the Texans have come from passes 15 yards or more downfield. That’s a lot. Obviously, Bryant is the Steelers’ deep threat, and he’s set up for a good game.
I don’t blame you if you don’t want to start Goodwin this week. He has an extremely tough matchup this week against the Jaguars, who are allowing the fewest passing yards per drive (15.1). However, he should still see plenty of targets. Goodwin has 99 or more yards in three straight games, which you can’t ignore.
The good news is that the Jaguars have allowed six pass plays that went for 40 yards or more over the past four games, and four of those pass plays were touchdowns. So, there is hope for Goodwin this week.
Even though Westbrook put up a dud last week and only had two catches for 21 yards, he still played more snaps and ran more routes than fellow-wideout Keelan Cole.
Westbrook has been a big part of the offense for the past several games, and now that Marquis Lee is out, he should see even more targets against a struggling 49ers defense. Over the past six games, the 49ers have allowed double-digit points to seven wide receivers. That bodes well for Westbrook and the other Jaguar receivers.
Speaking of other Jaguar receivers, Keelan Cole is worth a mention. Last week he had seven receptions for 186 yards and a touchdown. That was the highest receiving yards in Week 15. However, this wasn’t Cole’s first good week. He’s scored a touchdown in the past three games, and has reached double digit points in those three games. That’s something you can’t ignore.
Wallace has been in the Top 30 wide receivers in four of the last six games, and he’s averaged 66.7 yards per game in those weeks.
Now Jeremy Maclin is out, which means more volume for Wallace against the Colts this week, who rank 31st in rate of completions allowed that gain 10 or more yards. That’s pretty bad, but it’s good for Wallace and fantasy owners.
It’s hard to trust a Bears wide receiver, but here we are. Wright has had a total of 24 targets over the last two games. Last week he ended up with 81 yards, and the week before that he had 107 yards. He seems to be Trubisky’s favorite target, and is flex-worthy this week.
Williams has big-play ability, and it’s a good possibility that will happen this week against the Jets. 20.2 percent of completions against the Jets have gained 20 or more yards. That’s the second highest rate in the NFL.
With Hunter Henry out for the season, this may mean more opportunities for Williams to show what he’s got.
Davis only had six carries last week, but that was mostly due to game flow, as the Seahawks found themselves behind almost immediately to the Rams.
Honestly, there aren’t many starting running backs out there right now to choose from, and Davis has some value this week against a soft Cowboys defense. I expect this game to be a lot closer than last week, which means more opportunities for Davis.
It’s official! Barber has taken over the Buccaneers backfield. Doug Martin was a healthy scratch last week, leaving Barber in the driver’s seat.
This week, he has a rough matchup with the Panthers (they’ve given up the third-fewest points to running backs this season) but he’s definitely worthy of a start if you’re running back needy.
Anderson seems to have taken over the backfield again, but who knows if it will last? He’s been hard to trust all year, with Devontae Booker and Jamaal Charles taking a lot of the snaps.
However, things seemed to have changed. Over the past three weeks, he has 64 percent of the touches, after having 40 percent the seven weeks before that. Last week alone he had 30 carries for 158 yards.
This week they play the Redskins, who are allowing 137.2 rushing yards per game since their Week 5 bye. That’s the most rushing yards allowed in the league. Honestly, I think I just talked myself into starting him this week.
With O.J. Howard on IR, Brate has the tight end snaps to himself. No longer do you have to guess which one will have the good game!
Here’s even more good news for Brate: This week they play the Panthers, who have allowed a touchdown to a tight end the past two weeks and in three of their past five games.
Trustworthy tight ends are rare, but Watson seems to be on a good streak recently. He’s been a TE1 in two of the last three games, and plays the Colts this week who have given up double-digit points to tight ends in three of the past four games.
The past two weeks, James has been targeted regularly and been a consistent contributor of the offense. He should’ve had a touchdown last week (stupid rule) and should get more opportunities with Brown out.
Coming off a nine-target game, Clay has some value right now, as the Bills are thin at receiver, and you can’t ignore a tight end that is getting those kinds of opportunities. He doesn’t have a great matchup against the Patriots this week, but there aren’t many tight ends available to pick up right now.
Like I mentioned, no one player is going to fill the void that Antonio Brown and the other injured players have left. But you can still find decent talent that can help you survive this week and hopefully take home the championship trophy.
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