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Newsletter 293 The Wildest Slate Of The Year

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In today’s Fantasy Life Newsletter presented by Hulu + Live TV, we recap Thursday Night Football, check out Kevin’s data barrage, and take a look at the full practice report from yesterday. It's 12/17. Take it away, Peter Overzet…

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I often joke on Twitter about a slate being “flipped on its head” after a player has been surprisingly ruled out.

In Week 15, it feels like the slate flipping on its head is a constant state as opposed to a singular event. Every couple hours we learn of another player who has been placed on the COVID list or ruled out due to injury. 

Literally as I was typing this opening, Washington placed its top two QBs, Taylor Heinicke and Kyle Allen, on the COVID list.(By the way, this leaves Garrett Gilbert, who signed with the team today, as the team’s starting QB Sunday vs. the Eagles.

We got you covered, though. Below, I’ll run down the full practice reports from yesterday and add a COVID section as well. We’ll also be back tomorrow with updated ranks. Pray for Waz, it’s going to be a tough task.

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📈 TNF RECAP

The Chiefs-Chargers game lived up to its 54 point total with an overtime finish that yielded 62 total points and a Chiefs victory.

 

Both Tyreek Hill (12-148-1) and Travis Kelce (10-191-2) had monster games. Kelce’s 41 point score in PPR leagues is going to be tough to overcome for anyone facing him in the first round of the fantasy playoffs.

 

On the Chargers side, Keenan Allen (6-78-1) and Austin Ekeler (12-59-1; 4-23) predictably led the way.

 

The water cooler talk today is all about the Chargers 4th down decisions. It’s another classic battle between analytics nerds and football guys, a tale as old as time. As usual, Lord Reebs has a nice way of summing things up:

 

📈 KEVIN'S DATA BARRAGE 

Kevin Tompkins, a fantasy football writer and podcaster, shares the most interesting nuggets from his Data Barrage series. Take it away, Kevin…

James Conner, ARI - While the Lions allow the 3rd-most fantasy points to RBs this season, Chase Edmonds will likely reduce some of Conner’s workload if he returns from IR. In Week 14, Conner earned nine targets and with Edmonds out has run no less than 57% of routes and has had at least 22 or more opportunities (carries plus targets) in three of four games. In the games Conner and Edmonds have played, Conner has five targets. Total. Temper your expectations for Conner if Edmonds is active heading into your playoffs.

Gabriel Davis, BUF - There are a ton of wide receivers we’ve lost for Week 15, so while Davis has been on a milk carton for most of 2021, there’s a reason for optimism. Davis has scored double-digit fantasy points in his last two games, coupled with an 81% route share and eight targets last week. Emmanuel Sanders is currently “week-to-week” with a knee injury, which should open up more opportunity for Davis.

Robby Anderson, CAR - Anderson put together his best fantasy day of his season and a WR10 finish on the week thanks to a 34% target share (12 targets), almost 50% of Carolina’s air yards, and 34% TPRR. D.J. Moore could be sidelined with a hamstring injury, so while the Panthers’ offense is somewhat gross on the surface, Anderson is worthy flex play or bench stash.

Dalton Schultz, DAL - If you’ve been rostering Schultz, I sincerely hope you enjoyed the ride to get here. Amari Cooper, CeeDee Lamb, and Michael Gallup are all (relatively) healthy and playing full route shares for the Cowboys. In games with all three WRs back and playing, Schultz has a combined 83% route share, but only 7% TPRR, five targets, and just two receptions for 28 yards. While any tight end can make his week by simply scoring a touchdown, Schultz hasn’t even done that with one touchdown since his Week 7 bye.

Noah Fant, DEN - You just can’t trust Fant at this point. Fant’s routes were in the 90% range with Albert Okwuegbunam on IR, but when he returned, Fant’s routes dropped to 70%. Fant’s target share dropped as well, as he hasn’t had above six targets in a game since Week 7 and hasn’t scored a touchdown since Week 6. This Denver offense has the fourth-lowest pass play percentage over the last three weeks (47%), so in a low-volume passing game that can’t even get the ball to the man they just paid $60m to (Courtland Sutton), I don’t have very high hopes for Fant in these playoff matchups.

Amon-Ra St. Brown, DET - It pains me to write about a Detroit wide receiver, but none of them had consecutive games with 12 targets like St. Brown has in the past two weeks. The Lions will also be without T.J. Hockenson for the remainder of the season after undergoing thumb surgery. Detroit may need to throw a ton in this matchup with the Cardinals, where they are already close to a two-touchdown underdog. St. Brown’s combination of 30% TPRR, 32% target share, and 93% route share makes for a very intriguing volume play, especially in PPR formats.

Kevin Tompkins has been playing fantasy football for almost two decades. Amazingly in all that time, he has never drafted a bad running back. One would describe his fantasy takes as "reasonable."

 

🚑 THE INJURY WARD 

One thing to note about all of these COVID designations is that the rules have now changed and some of these players may still be eligible to play Sunday:

* Did Not Practice: Lamar Jackson (ankle), Adam Thielen (ankle), J.D. McKissic (concussion), James Conner (ankle), Leonard Fournette (ankle), Javonte Williams (knee), DK Metcalf (foot/back), Eli Mitchell (concussion/knee), James Robinson (heel/knee), Marquise Brown (illness), Aaron Jones (illness), David Montgomery (illness),

* Limited participants: Josh Allen (foot), George Kittle (knee), Terry McLaurin (concussion), Tony Pollard (foot), Damien Harris (hamstring), Jalen Hurts (ankle), Melvin Gordon (thumb/hip), Miles Sanders (ankle), Saquon Barkley (ankle), DJ Moore (hamstring)

* COVID: Allen Robinson, Case Keenum, Tyler Lockett, Alex Collins, Jaylen Waddle

 * Out: Darren Waller (knee, back), Kareem Hunt (ankle), T.J. Hockenson (out for season), DeAndre Hopkins (out for the season)

We’ll be back tomorrow with Waz’s updated Week 15 ranks and updates on a lot of these injury situations.

-PETE OVERZET

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