Let’s take a look at five of the biggest fantasy football takeaways from Week 12 of the NFL season.
Tight End Trouble
As you probably already know, tight end isn’t exactly the deepest position in fantasy football. While some unexpected names have joined the top tier this year, like Browns TE Gary Barnidge, it’s still tough to have multiple strong options on your fantasy team.
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That’s what made the Week 12 injuries to Rob Gronkowski and Jimmy Graham so tough to swallow.
Chances are, you’re near or approaching the championship week in your league. You’ve made it this far, and to lose someone like Gronk at this point isn’t easy. He’s arguably the most irreplaceable player in all of fantasy.
While Gronk is listed as week-to-week with his knee injury, it seems like there’s a decent chance he could miss the rest of the regular season. Graham, who ruptured his right patellar tendon, is definitely out for the year. Bengals TE Tyler Eifert, meanwhile, suffered a neck injury that could potentially keep him out this week.
Next Man Up?
So who should you target as a replacement?
New England’s Backup TE Scott Chandler was already more involved in the passing game with Danny Amendola sidelined, and he should step into a valuable red zone role with Gronk out. He’s a decent bet for a touchdown and should be added in all 12-team leagues.
Another strong option is 49ers TE Vance McDonald. He’s scored in two consecutive weeks, and clearly has a chemistry with Blaine Gabbert. The 49ers will be coming from behind more often than not, which sets up McDonald for valuable garbage time stats as well. He’s a borderline TE1 going forward.
It’s still unclear when Larry Donnell will come back from injury, but Will Tye has played fairly well in his absence. With a matchup against the Jets on the horizon, it’s possible Tye gets even more involved over the middle given the strength of the Jets’ secondary.
Finally, Vernon Davis may be worth a longshot pickup as well. The Broncos are establishing playaction much better with Brock Osweiler, which usually bodes well for tight ends. Although he’s still sharing work with Owen Daniels, he’s more likely to be available in your league and is worth a flier if you’re desperate.
It’s always exciting when you get your hands on a backup running back who produces right away when given the opportunity. That’s exactly what happened with Jeremy Langford in Chicago and Charcandrick West in Kansas City this year, but now some wrenches have been thrown into the equation.
With Matt Forte back for the Bears, it looks like Chicago will be content to make this close to a 50-50 timeshare. That’s bad news for both Forte owners who survived without him and Langford owners who rode him to playoff berths. Both are in the RB2 discussion against the 49ers, but it’s hard to get fired up about either one if they split the work like they did against Green Bay last week.
As for West, he’s had the tables turned on him in a familiar fashion. Spencer Ware looked great last week and ran with plenty of authority, which makes it seem very unlikely that he’ll be phased out entirely, even with West looking likely to play against the Raiders with his hamstring healed up.
If I had to guess, Ware will likely take over the short yardage and goalline work, while West will remain the passing down back and get the majority of early-down carries. I have West as an RB2 this week and Ware as a Flex, but we’ll see if Andy Reid decides to ride one or the other this week. Both are risky plays because of the unknown, but worth the reward in this offense behind that line.
A Victory For Streamers
Moreso than most years, streaming defenses has been as successful of a strategy as it was in prior seasons. Defenses like Denver dominated the early half of the season, scoring touchdowns by the handful and rewarding owners who used a slightly higher pick to nab them.
While I’m still opposed to drafting defenses early, it’s hard to argue that a team like Carolina or Denver hasn’t been worth the slightly earlier plunge. Even though teams like Houston and Buffalo have been a bit more disappointing, the big name defenses have performed for the most part.
Monday night was a nice little victory for the streaming community, however. Baltimore’s defense had been beat up this year and dropped like crazy in multiple leagues, but a Monday night matchup against the Browns was juicy. Even though the Ravens failed to do much for most of the game, a blocked field goal for a touchdown had a huge fantasy impact.
Steaming has been difficult this year, but if you played the matchups in Week 12, you probably ended up in a good spot.
QB: Brock Osweiler, Brian Hoyer
RB: David Johnson, Bilal Powell, Jay Ajayi, Daniel Herron
WR: Dontrelle Inman, DaVante Parker, Doug Baldwin
TE: Scott Chandler, Vance McDonald, Will Tye, Vernon Davis