FANTASY PLAYS: Pats’ Rob Gronkowski injury big Week 13 question
With just one crucial week left in the fantasy regular season, Week 12 snuck a few shots of chaos into the mix.
Most notably, Rob Gronkowski, declared active after missing Week 11 with a punctured lung, left the game against the Jets with a back injury. There is no telling this early in the week how severe this may be or if Gronkowski will miss time, but — thankfully — the Pats play early in Week 13 so his fantasy owners won’t have to guess on his status in a late game.
— Jeremy Hill tweaked an ankle in Cincinnati’s loss to the Ravens. And while Hill returned to the game after a brief absence, it’s an injury worth monitoring as the week goes by, as — this season, in particular — a player returning to a game with an injury doesn’t preclude an MRI or X-ray discovering something more severe early the following week. According to Pro Football Focus’ Nathan Jahnke, Rex Burkhead played 38 snaps to Hill’s 37. Burkhead should be a top waiver wire target this week.
— Lamar Miller hobbled off the field at the end of Houston’s loss to the Chargers. While Akeem Hunt has pulled off some electric plays, Jonathan Grimes may also factor into the backfield mix if Miller cannot go.
— Tyrell Williams suffered a shoulder injury in the fourth quarter and did not return. Look for Dontrelle Inman’s role to grow in the passing game if Williams misses time.
— Allen Hurns has put together a season to forget, and a hamstring injury Sunday may keep him out for significant time. Marqise Lee now has touchdowns in consecutive games and is owned in just 13 percent of CBSSports.com leagues.
— DeVante Parker, John Brown, and Chris Ivory also missed time Sunday and should be monitored as the week goes by.
THE KENNETH DIXON ERA MAY BE UPON US
After two weeks with six carries in each game, Ravens running back Kenneth Dixon carried the ball 13 times for 49 yards, while catching four passes for 31 yards. His backfield mate, Terrance West, carried 13 times for 48 yards, with three catches for 16.
This may cause some serious consternation for owners of both players in Week 13, who have to try to squeeze out logic where there may be none: Will Dixon continue to siphon carries from West, who arguably had just as effective a performance? Has Dixon played his way into a timeshare with West? Will Dixon revert to the six-carry backup he was in previous weeks? Is there some weird fourth scenario that we haven’t even considered yet?
With fantasy playoff berths on the line, Dixon and West are seeing their roles redefined at the worst possible time for their owners.
TAYLOR GABRIEL IS DOING A LOT WITH A LITTLE
Despite playing just 36 of a possible 70 snaps, Falcons wide receiver Taylor Gabriel managed to put up another stellar game in Week 12, with four catches for 75 yards and two touchdowns (along with a rush for 27 yards). Gabriel now has touchdowns in two consecutive games and hasn’t dipped below 52 receiving yards in the last four weeks.
While Gabriel’s numbers look nice, potential owners should proceed with caution — Gabriel has just 18 targets over the last four games. So if he fails to connect on the few chances he gets, he could leave a fantasy owner with little to show for a big-play risk.
— Marquess Wilson (eight receptions for 125 yards and a touchdown) seems to be Matt Barkley’s favorite target. The Bears get the 49ers and a great matchup in Week 13.
— Quick note on the Bears — according to Pro Football Focus, receivers had 10 drops, the most since 2006.
— Week 13 brings with it two crushing bye weeks for the Titans and Browns. Owners of Terrelle Pryor, Marcus Mariota, DeMarco Murray, Rishard Matthews, and Delanie Walker may see their fantasy playoff hopes dashed by nutty NFL scheduling. Owners of Mariota, in particular, will have to sift through sub-par waiver wire options to replace a quarterback who has 22 touchdowns since Week 5.
— Sammy Watkins played just 25 out of a possible 55 snaps on Sunday, catching three passes for 80 yards. Expect him to see a significant jump in playing time in Week 13 against the Raiders.