Several wide receivers are dealing with injuries entering Week 12. Here are the ones you need to know about before setting your lineup.
Cecil Shorts and Mike Brown, WRs, Jacksonville Jaguars at Houston Texans
Shorts’ groin is not fully healed, but he’s considered Probable and will play against the Texans. Shorts has a total of nine targets in his last two games, but he’s still the Jaguars’ most dangerous receiver. The Texans are No. 1 in the NFL in passing defense, so it could be another less-than-spectacular outing for Shorts. Brown’s shoulder injury is more of a problem compared to Shorts’ groin, as the undrafted rookie is listed as Questionable. Between the matchup against Houston and his injury situation, there’s really no reason to pay Brown much attention this week.
Calvin Johnson and Nate Burleson, WRs, Detroit Lions vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Even though Johnson didn’t get in a full week of practice, the knee is fine and he is Probable. The only question is how will Megatron do today when he visits Revis Island? Burleson (right), on the other hand, is set to play in his first game since Week 3. Out since breaking his forearm in a car accident in late September, Burleson practiced fully on Thursday and Friday. He is Probable and expected to start alongside Johnson. I don’t need to tell you that Johnson is a WR1, do I? Burleson is certainly appealing considering the attention Johnson receives from opposing defenses, but in his first game back it’s better to err on the side of caution. For now, view Burleson as a WR3 with upside.
DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Houston Texans vs. Jacksonville Jaguars
Hopkins missed some practice time due to an illness, but he returned on Friday. The rookie is listed as Probable and maybe today’s matchup will be just what the doctor ordered. Over his last seven games, Hopkins has just one touchdown catch and has recorded more than three receptions one time. The good news of Hopkins’ owners is that the Jaguars have given up 12 touchdown catches to opposing wide receivers this season. Hopkins is fairly safe to employ as a WR3 this week.
Keenan Allen, Vincent Brown and Eddie Royal, WRs, San Diego Chargers at Kansas City Chiefs
Allen left last week’s game against Miami in the fourth quarter after sustaining a knee injury. Fortunately, he escaped without serious damage and was able to practice fully this week. Allen is listed as Probable and will be out there against the Chiefs. The rookie has emerged as the Chargers’ No. 1 wide receiver, but Allen will have his work cut out for him against a physical, athletic Kansas City secondary. Meanwhile Brown and Royal both missed some practice time this week due to their respective injuries. Brown has a shoulder injury and was a full practice participant on Friday. Royal has a toe injury which has prevented him from practicing at all for more than a month, but he has yet to miss a game. Brown is Probable, while Royal is Questionable, but both will likely be out there. Allen is clearly the best option of the three, as Brown has just one touchdown catch on the season and three or fewer receptions in each of his past five games. Royal has seven touchdown grabs, but he’s also a boom-or-bust player. The Chiefs are giving up fewer than 14 points per game, so don’t expect a lot out of any of these Chargers.
Greg Jennings, WR, Minnesota Vikings at Green Bay Packers
Despite being Probable for last week’s game, Jennings ended up not playing against Seattle because of a strained Achilles tendon. He was limited again in practice this week and is listed as Questionable, but the expectation is he will play. Even though Green Bay has been fairly generous to wide receivers this season, that doesn’t mean Jennings should be in your starting lineup. He has struggled all season and there’s no reason to expect that to change, even going against his former team. In Week 8 against the Packers, Jennings caught one pass for nine yards.
Emmanuel Sanders, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers at Cleveland Browns
Sanders hurt his foot last week, which forced him to leave the game against Detroit early. He practiced fully all week though and is considered Probable. Antonio Brown is the Steelers’ No. 1 wide receiver, but he has a very tough matchup today with Browns shutdown cornerback Joe Haden. That could mean more opportunities for Sanders to produce, although Jerricho Cotchery, who has five touchdown catches in his last three games, also is a factor. Sanders and Cotchery should be viewed as nothing more than possible WR3 options this week.