This week was supposed to be the “easy one” for us: No players were on a bye, and we had a Thanksgiving triple-header. But this is 2020, and Week 12 has turned into utter chaos for fantasy football players.
We started out the week with a slew of positive COVID0-19 cases in Ravens’ organization. Their game against the undefeated Steelers was postponed to Tuesday night, as a result. The positive tests on both teams keep coming with Lamar Jackson and James Conner since added to a list that includes J.K. Dobbins and Mark Ingram. This was a full-blown outbreak. Whether this game is played will depend on how Sunday and Monday goes.
Editor’s Note: BAL TE Mark Andrews has since been added to the list. With more positives confirmed, still, the NFL is determined to play this game on Tuesday evening per below.
If that was not enough, we lost Adam Thielen early in the week to the COVID/IR list, dealing a crushing blow to fantasy managers that have benefited from his 11 scores and overall strong play. Early Saturday, morning we lost Jonathan Taylor to the COVID/IR list, as well. Taylor was coming off of a terrific second-half in a come-from-behind victory against Green Bay. Saints LT Terron Armstead was also lost for the same reasons. Brandon Aiyuk is still on the list, and looks doubtful to play Sunday.
If all that were not enough, on Saturday evening, we found out that ALL of the Denver Broncos quarterbacks were now on the COVID/IR list, dealing a likely crushing-blow in an already difficult match-up against the Saints.
All these COVID-related absences have left managers scrambling. Do we start Steelers or Ravens? Can we start any Broncos? Does the game-flow hurt Saints players? The questions continue to mount.
As for the Steelers-Ravens, my gut feeling is the NFL clearly wants them to play, but if we have bad news Sunday or Monday, the game is in jeopardy of being postponed. Assess your own risk tolerance and consider adding a player in the Bears-Packers game or Seahawks-Eagles game to buy yourself some time in making your lineup choices. Be ready to pivot. If you have a solid option, I would consider just starting them and guaranteeing the points.
As always our threshold for Dumpster Diving is players rostered in less than 10 percent of Yahoo! leagues.
Kendall Hinton Denver QB/WR (11%)
For Hinton, we will make an exception with our threshold.
News came out that Hinton would be the emergency fill-in at QB for Denver from the practice squad. In Yahoo! leagues, he has a WR designation. Is there risk in starting him? Of course. He has not played QB since 2015. The Broncos could abandon ship and run all-Wildcat with Royce Freeman, Phillip Lindsay and Melvin Gordan under center. But if Hinton does have some success, he could be a double-digit fantasy scorer. There is massive risk, but potential for reward.
Ryan Fitzpatrick New York Jets QB (10%)
It looks like Tua Tagovailoa will miss a solid match-up against the Jets and “Fitzmagic” will immediately enter the QB streamer discussion.
I am happily starting him in a superflex league. Expect for Fitzpatrick to put up high counting stats. If you have Ben Roethlisberger, for example, and are worried about the Steelers’ game even being played at this point, or lost Lamar Jackson, consider Fitzpatrick.
Rashard Higgins Cleveland WR (10%)
“Hollywood” Higgins has had two decent games in a row with 113 yards receiving his last two weeks. This week, he has a chance at a touchdown and a solid output against a bad Jacksonville secondary. Jacksonville has allowed twelve top-24 WR performances this year and allows almost 190 yards receiving per game. If you are in a bind, consider taking a trip to Hollywood.
Josh Reynolds LA Rams WR (10%)
Reynolds appeared on this list two weeks ago and did not disappoint. This week, we will consider him once again. He had his quietest game in several weeks last week, but will look to rebound against the 49ers. Expect a solid amount of targets, including a few deep shots, for Reynolds.
Andy Isabella Arizona WR (1%)
Larry Fitzgerald is on The COVID/IR List and Isabella should see an uptick in playing time. Earlier this season, Isabella found the end zone when we had him on the Dive and we certainly could see a repeat. The former Massachusetts star will be playing a game in New England and it would be fitting to see him make a big play or two. If you are in a bind, he has obvious upside in the Cardinals’ attack.
Kyle Rudolph Minnesota TE (7%)
Irv Smith looks set to miss; Rudolph should be a low-end TE1 or high-end TE2. He also could pick up a few targets in the red zone with no Thielen, as noted earlier. The TE position has been a dumpster fire and if you are in need, like so many teams have been, certainly consider Rudolph.
Royce Freeman Denver RB (8%)
Freeman is the contrarian play to Hinton. We should expect to see Freeman as the Wildcat QB; how much time depends on the game-flow and success of Hinton. This is a dice-roll, but the options are very limited. Consider Freeman if you need an emergency fill-in at RB.
Gabriel Davis Buffalo WR (2%)
Davis is a repeat name to our Dumpster Dive. The talented rookie will now see a huge uptick in snaps and opportunities with John Brown now on IR.
Davis has produced when given the chance already this season and is a great speculative add for teams in need of WR depth. If he has a good game, expect him to be a popular waiver wire add next week due to his ability and opportunity in one of the league’s best offenses.
Best of luck in a crazy Week 12!