Week 11 could be the turning point for many fantasy leagues, as a slew of key players went down with injuries, many of the season-ending variety. With the fantasy playoffs just around the corner, impacted teams now have to think ahead and shuffle their lineups while also scouring the waiver fire for healthy bodies to fill their roster.
With that in mind, let’s take an early look at how these injuries will affect fantasy teams for Week 12 and beyond, and who may be available as direct replacements. With three games on Thursday, waiting on injury reports is even tougher this week, so fantasy owners should be prepared.
Injured Player: A.J. Green (hamstring), WR, Cincinnati Bengals
Likely Replacement: Tyler Boyd, WR, Cincinnati Bengals (5 percent owned)
When Green was carted off the field after his first target early in the first quarter on Sunday and was quickly ruled out for the rest of the game, it was not a good sign. The Bengals fear that Green has a torn right hamstring (results pending a Monday MRI), and that his season will be over. Fantasy owners should prepare for the worst-case scenario, and look to pick up Boyd. Boyd led the team in targets and receptions in the loss to the Bills, finishing with six catches for 54 yards and a touchdown. Boyd is not Green, by any means, but he'll fill in as a decent WR3 with upside as long as Green is out.
Injured Starter: LeSean McCoy (thumb), RB, Buffalo Bills
Likely Replacement: Mike Gillislee, RB, Buffalo Bills (25 percent owned)
McCoy suffered a dislocated thumb in Week 11 and missed the second half of the game. The early reports following the game are that he will need surgery to put the thumb back in place, but he should be able to play in Week 12. However, as a pass-catching running back, fantasy owners should be concerned about his ability to catch the football a week after having surgery. Either way, look for Gillislee to have a bigger workload against the Jaguars in Week 12. If he’s not already, Gillislee should be owned by all McCoy owners. He had 14 carries for 72 yards in the win over the Bengals.
Injured Starter: C.J. Prosise (scapula), RB, Seattle Seahawks
Likely Replacement: Thomas Rawls, RB, Seattle Seahawks (75 percent owned)
If for some reason, Rawls is available, grab him immediately. The Seahawks may be kicking themselves for releasing Christine Michael, as their running back depth just got very thin. Prosise reportedly has a fractured scapula (shoulder blade) and could miss up to eight weeks. It's a similar injury to Donte Moncrief (who missed five weeks). Prosise owners should hear within a day or so if that is the diagnosis and if so, he can be dropped in re-draft leagues.
Injured Players: Ryan Mathews (knee) and Darren Sproles (ribs), RBs, Philadelphia Eagles
Likely Replacement: Wendell Smallwood, RB, Philadelphia Eagles (3 percent owned)
The extent of both injuries is unknown at this point, but it looks like Sproles may be more likely to suit up for Week 12 than Mathews. The next man up for Philadelphia would be Smallwood, who took over in Week 11. Smallwood had 13 carries for 48 yards against a tough Seahawks defense. The Eagles play the Packers on Monday night in Week 12, which is going to be tough for fantasy owners unless injury information is released earlier in the week. At this point, look for Mathews to be out, Smallwood to fill in as a lead back, and Sproles to continue to handle passing downs if healthy. If Sproles is also out, look for Kenjon Barner (0 percent owned) to fill in.
Injured Player: T.J. Yeldon (ankle), RB, Jacksonville Jaguars
Likely Replacement: Chris Ivory, RB, Jacksonville Jaguars (48 percent owned)
The extent of Yeldon's ankle injury is unknown, but fantasy owners should look to see if Ivory is available in their league. In Week 11, Ivory had 17 carries for 39 yards and added six receptions for 75 yards. Ivory has been hit-or-miss this season, but if Yeldon isn't playing, he has RB3 value with potential for RB2 numbers. Both backs have seen work even when both were healthy, so Ivory is worth a grab, just in case.
Injured Player: Robert Woods (knee), WR, Buffalo Bills
Likely Replacement: Brandon Tate, WR, Buffalo Bills (0 percent owned)
The official word on Woods' knee injury likely won't come until after an MRI, but it looked like one that would cause him to miss time. Woods was coming off a 10-catch, 162-yard performance in Week 9 before the Week 10 bye. Marqiuse Goodwin would be the next man up, but he suffered a concussion in Week 11, so his status for Week 12 is unknown. Tate led the team in receiving yards (48) and really isn't a great fantasy option, but he will be the No. 1 receiver on the team (assuming Goodwin is out). This also assumes that Sammy Watkins (41 percent owned) doesn't return. The Bills want him back, but he has yet to practice. Tight end Charles Clay (13 percent owned) is actually the best option in the Bills passing game to pick up.
Injured Started: Giovani Bernard (knee), RB, Cincinnati Bengals
Likely Replacement: Rex Burkhead, RB, Cincinnati Bengals (0 percent owned)
Bernard didn't appear to be injured in the game, however, late Sunday night things went from bad to worse for the Bengals on the injury front. It was reported that Bernard tore his ACL in the loss to Buffalo. Jeremy Hill is the likely beneficiary of his absence, but he's 94 percent owned. For fantasy owners looking for a long shot, Burkhead is next on the depth chart. He's seen the field a few times this year, and he's more of a pass catcher than a true running back. He'll likely pick up some of the passing downs, while Hill is the lead back seeing most of the work. For deep leagues, Burkhead is worth a flier to see his role in Week 12.
Injured Starter: Zach Miller (foot), TE, Chicago Bears
Likely Replacement: ???
Miller reportedly has a broken foot, which would end his season. The tight end just started to come on, especially on a team that will be without a suspended Alshon Jeffery for three more games. The next tight end on the Bears roster is Logan Paulsen, but he's not a viable fantasy option. Eddie Royal, Cameron Meredith and Marquess Wilson will be the Bears’ primary pass catchers. However, this offense is on a downward spiral and it's hard to recommend any. Royal is owned in 22 percent of leagues; Meredith is owned in 57 percent of leagues; Wilson is owned in 0 percent of fantasy leagues. For a tight end replacement, consider Zach Ertz (57 percent owned), the aforementioned Charles Clay (13 percent owned), Vance McDonald (8 percent owned) or Will Tye (2 percent owned).
— Written by Sarah Lewis, who is part of the Athlon Contributor network and lives, eats, and breathes fantasy football. She also writes for SoCalledFantasyExperts.com among other sites. Have a fantasy football question? Send it to her on Twitter @Sarah_Lewis32.