FANTASY PLAYS: Injuries make for tougher calls at tight end
If you’ve got Carolina tight end Greg Olsen, congratulations. You should have a pretty good edge in your fantasy lineups this week.
Everyone else, well, be prepared: it could be ugly at the position.
Top-scoring tight end Rob Gronkowski looks likely to miss this week’s game against Philadelphia with a bruised knee, while No. 2 scorer Tyler Eifert — with an NFL-best 12 touchdown catches — is dicey due to a neck issue. And while he hasn’t had his typical big scoring totals, Jimmy Graham is lost for the year with a knee injury.
That’s a lot of star power, watering down a position that’s already got a limited supply of reliable producers.
So where does that leave you if you don’t have someone like Olsen, Gary Barnidge (whose value could slide with Josh McCown now out for the year), Travis Kelce, Delanie Walker or Jordan Reed?
This week’s first edition of “Fantasy Plays” mentioned a streamer option in New England’s Scott Chandler. Another is Atlanta’s Jacob Tamme (31 percent owned in Yahoo leagues, 29 percent in CBSsports.com), who could get a bump at Tampa Bay with receiver Leonard Hankerson likely out with a hamstring injury.
This Eifert owner is going to take Tamme out for a spin this week in at least one league, and hope for the best. And if you played Green Bay’s Richard Rodgers — who had eight catches for 146 yards and a TD on the final-play heave in Thursday night’s win at Detroit — definitely pat yourself on the back twice.
THOUGHTS ENTERING WEEK(END) 13
— If Danny Amendola is healthy, he and fellow Patriots receiver Brandon LaFell could have big games with Gronkowski potentially out. The Eagles have surrendered the most points to receivers this year, according to Yahoo’s standard-scoring stats. Not to mention Brady and the Pats will surely be irked after suffering their first loss.
— Jay Cutler and Chicago’s skill players sure have an appealing matchup against San Francisco. Cutler has had a couple of quiet games, but he’s thrown just two interceptions in his last five games to avoid negative scoring plays.
— If Allen Hurns (concussion) is out as expected, fellow Jacksonville receiver Allen Robinson is set for a big game against Tennessee after seven straight double-figure scoring outputs in standard leagues.
— After a coaching change led to a boost, Miami’s Lamar Miller has had just 12 carries in the past two games. Next up is Baltimore, which is giving up the sixth-fewest points to running backs. And rookie Jay Ajayi is getting backfield work for the Dolphins, too.
— Fantasy owners look like they should be able to find production in Oakland for years to come. Second-year quarterback Derek Carr has been a top-10 producer, while receiver Amari Cooper is a top-20 option as a rookie entering a home game with Kansas City.
The injury-ravaged Green Bay offense just isn’t the reliable producer it has been. Thursday’s game was yet another reminder, even in a wild victory.
For most of the night, fantasy royalty Aaron Rodgers struggled to connect with his receivers behind a depleted line. Eddie Lacy followed two straight 100-yard rushing games with a major clunker while splitting work with James Starks. Davante Adams had a touchdown catch but has struggled with drops. And how has James Jones gone from TD machine to invisible so quickly?
If you’ve got these guys in your lineups and headed for the playoffs, it’s hard to go in with a lot of confidence outside of Rodgers — and even he’s had some off days. Break your habit of plug-’em-in-and-forget-it starts with the Packers, and realize matchups matter more than ever before with these guys.
Aaron Beard is an Associated Press sports writer based in Raleigh, North Carolina. He’s in his 14th season of obsessing over lineup decisions in fantasy football. Follow him on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/aaronbeardap and the AP’s NFL site at http://pro32.ap.org