One of the busiest times for medical staffs is down the stretch. Players bodies wear down over the course of the season, allowing backups and overshadowed players to see the spotlight. With many stars being injured this week, there will be plenty of opportunity for other players to step into the spotlight. Players like Brandin Cooks, Adam Thielen, and Evan Engram will be featured in this article. All statistics used in this article can be found at our website https://www.lineups.com/nfl.
WR Adam Thielen (MIN) – 98.4% Rostered
Vikings receiver Adam Thielen came back after missing week 8 with a hamstring injury he suffered during week 7. Thielen made it through just 7 plays before exiting the game after reaggravating the same hamstring he injured during week 7. He currently has a questionable designation. Thielen was a non-participant during Wednesday’s practice. The Vikings don’t expect him to suit up on Sunday.
With Adam Thielen likely to miss week 10, let’s take a look at the last time Thielen exited early and missed time, weeks 7-9. During those weeks Dalvin Cook saw his highest carries of the season, 25 carries during week 7, 23 carries during week 8, and 21 carries during week 9. He also scored some of his highest fantasy totals of the season with 27.4 in week 7, 25.6 during week 8, and just 13.6 during week 9; the only week during that span he didn’t score at least one touchdown. Backup running-back Alexander Mattison’s usage did not change during this time, seeing just under his season average of 8 carries per game.
Wide receivers like Stefon Diggs and Olabisi “Bisi” Johnson saw their highest snaps counts of the season while Adam Thielen missed time. Diggs saw his most consistent fantasy performances during this time. Diggs was held in check by the Kansas City Chief’s much improved defense this year. Catching just 1 pass on 4 targets for 4 yards and 1 carry for 12 yards. However, during weeks 7 and 8 Diggs saw 7 catches for 143 yards during both games. His second and third game in a row with 100+ receiving yards. Expect a similar or even better production from him facing Dallas’ secondary in week 10. Bisi Johnson was an unproductive fantasy option during this time. His best week coming during week 7 where he scored 12 fantasy points with 4 catches for 40 yards and a touchdown. Diggs is a borderline WR 1 with Thielen missing time, Johnson does not receive enough targets in this offense to merit a starting spot.
The tight-ends saw an uptick in target share during Thielen’s absence. Both Kyle Rudolph and rookie tight-end Irv Smith Jr. saw they’re highest targets during week 7-9. Rudolph saw a total of 14 targets and Smith Jr saw 15 targets during weeks 7-9. Rudolph has actually seen a slight downtick in targets in favor of Smith Jr. seeing more snaps. Smith saw his highest snap counts of the season, up to 64% of snaps while Rudolph has been seeing an average of 78.33% from 92.33% during the first 6 weeks. Neither are must starts, however if you are in need of a bye week replacement for a player like Zach Ertz, Rudolph has the safer floor as he sees more snaps and red-zone targets than Smith Jr.
TE Evan Engram (NYG) – 98.4% Rostered
Evan Engram suffered a foot injury during his week 9 matchup against the Dallas Cowboys. Talking to reporters on Wednesday telling them he will not suit up on Sunday against the Jets.
The Giants running game has been struggling during the past few weeks. Saquan Barkley reached just 28 yards on 14 carries against the Cowboys. However, facing the Jets defense who have been struggling in the run game as of late proves to be a potential bounce back game. Barkley has been scoring many of his fantasy points in the passing game, catching 14 passes over the past 2 weeks for a total of 146 yards and a touchdown. Seeing as the Jets have been struggling all season long, Saquan is expected to be carrying the ball a lot this week. The Jets have allowed the 4th most rushing touchdowns on the season. The Jets are still one of the best run-defenses in the league, allowing the 4th least rushing yards this season with a league best average yards per carry of 3.1 yards. Saquan is still a must-start no matter what.
However, the same is not said about the Jets’ pass defense, a below average unit overall. With the injury to Sterling Shephard (Concussion) still keeping him out for potentially the 5th week in a row, Golden Tate has emerged as the Giants’ number 1 receiving option. Tate has seen 42 targets since entering the lineup after suspension in the beginning of the year, averaging 8.4 targets per game. With Engram out this week, Tate’s targets will only increase during week 10. Rookie wide receiver Darius Slayton is the second receiver in this Giants’ lineup, playing up to 99% of the snaps this season and averaging 75% of snaps since entering the lineup in week 2. Slayton has been inconsistent in his production and has been touchdown dependent to perform in fantasy. Seeing just 3 red-zone targets this season, Slayton is best left on your bench.
With Engram out, backup tight-end Rhett Ellison is expected to start during week 10. The last time Engram was out, week 6, Ellison saw 100% of the snaps on offense. During week 6 Ellison saw 7 targets against the New England Patriots. The Jets are ranking 5th against opposing fantasy tight-ends this season. However, if you are desperate this week at tight-end, the 7 targets he saw when Engram missed week 6 is promising. Ellison also saw 5 targets after Engram went out in week 9. Ellison is a desperate start at tight-end this week.
WR T.Y. Hilton (IND) D – 94.8% Rostered
Hilton suffered a calf injury last week during practice late in the week. The Colts desperately missed him, falling to the Pittsburgh Steelers in heart-breaking fashion during week 9. Fellow receiver Parris Campbell also was injured with a broken hand and will be out for some time. QB Jacoby Brissett also went down during week 9 with a knee injury but was a limited participant in practice during Wednesday and is expected to play week 10.
Running-back Marlon Mack’s usage saw no change from the Hilton injury. Carrying the ball 21 times for 89 yards, just about average for him. With Brissett still expected to play during week 10 after a knee injury, the Colts may take it easy on him and run the ball with a favorable matchup against the Dolphins. The Dolphins have seen the 5th most rushing attempts from opposing running-backs and have allowed the 4th most rushing yards, averaging 4.7 yards per attempt. Although he does not see much in the passing game expect Mack to be a workhorse this week, rank him as a high-end RB2. Backup running-back Nyheim Hines’ offensive production is still lacking. Seeing just 1 carry for 7 yards and 1 target for 21 yards against the Steelers, he is best left on the bench.
With Hilton and Campbell’s injury, Zach Pascal has stepped up as the Colts’ number one receiving option. Seeing 94% of the snaps last week without Hilton. Pascal caught 5 of 6 targets for 76 yards and a touchdown against the Steelers. The Dolphins has allowed the 3rd most yards per completion at 12.3 yards. They have also allowed the 3rd most passing touchdowns to opposing receivers. Pascal is available in over 70% of leagues and should be rostered. He is a WR2 against the Dolphins this week. Chester Rodgers is the second receiver in the Colts’ lineup without Campbell. He saw 65% of the snaps during week 9. Seeing 5 targets, catching 3 for 22 yards and a touchdown.
Tight-end duo Jack Doyle and Eric Ebron both have been disappointing this season. However, with a heavily injured receiver core they could be seeing added targets. Doyle caught 3 of 4 targets for 22 yards and a touchdown against the Steelers, his second-best fantasy performance of the year. Ebron unfortunately did not, catching both of his targets for 16 yards. He has been very touchdown dependent dating back to last season when he caught 13 touchdowns. Facing the Dolphins who rank 15th against opposing fantasy tight-ends, neither are confident starts. If you are desperate, Doyle is your best bet. Doyle has seen at least 68% of snaps compared to Ebron’s best of 51%.
WR Brandin Cooks (LAR) – 85.1% Rostered
Exiting week 8 with a concussion, Cooks has already been ruled out of Sunday’s game against the Steelers. Cooks exited week 8 early in the first quarter with his fifth concussion of his NFL career, Cooks could be seeing an extended absence.
Gurley will be facing a tough Steelers’ run-defense, ranking 7th against opposing fantasy running-backs. The last we saw of Gurley was before their week 8 bye against Cincinnati. In that game he carried the ball just 10 times for 44 yards and a touchdown. Gurley has been battling his lingering knee issue all season long, the reason he fell so far in many fantasy drafts this season. With Gurley being limited in touches and against a tough matchup, he is an RB2 going into this week. Backup running-back Darrell Henderson Jr. has been helping Gurley carry the work load. Carrying the ball 11 times in each of the past 2 games. Henderson has been effective in the run game, averaging 4.5 yards against Cincinnati. Both running-backs have struggling in the passing game. Between the two of them, they caught a total of 4 passes in the past 2 games. Henderson is not a starting option this week but should be rostered in case of a Gurley injury.
Coming off his best performance of the year against Cincinnati, Cooper Kupp scored 31.5 fantasy points. Catching 7 of 10 targets for 220 yards and a touchdown. Kupp is the new number one receiving option in this Rams offense. He is a must-start every week going forward. Robert Woods saw just 2 targets in week 8, catching both for 36 yards. He also carried the ball 4 times for 6 yards. Woods has been struggling this season to repeat his impressive year last year. Josh Reynolds saw the biggest uptick in this offense, seeing 8 targets and catching 3 for 73 yards and touchdown. He was the only receiver in week 8 to see any red-zone targets. Reynolds was the receiver who stepped up last year in Kupps absence, catching 5 touchdowns in 8 starts in 2018. During that time he averaging 13.9 yards per reception and seemed to have a connection with Jared Goff. Reynolds is a WR3 going forward and should be picked up if Cooks absence is prolonged.
Gereld Everett has made somewhat of a name for himself in this Rams offense. Seeing a total of 29 targets over the past 4 games. He has seen a majority of the offensive snaps over Tyler Higbee, who the Rams extended this offseason. Everett has averaged 11.4 yards per reception this season, scoring 2 touchdowns so far. However, he is still inconsistent in his production. Facing the Steelers defense who ranks 24th against opposing tight-ends, Everett is a starting option in week 10. Rank him as a top-10 tight-end this week.
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