The bad news is that the COVID reserve list is an ever-changing headache and injuries are adding to the issue. The good news? Fantasy managers have until Sunday morning to make final roster decisions. There are no Thursday or Saturday games this week, so we will at least be able to monitor each player’s situation through a full week of practice. And I would like to remind everyone that the priority is player health and well-being; it is important to keep things in perspective.
No Thursday or Saturday Football
Week 17 is that rare week where the football schedule will remind me of when I was a kid; games were only on Sunday and Monday night. In times like these, fantasy managers can appreciate having to wait a few extra days to watch football. My goal here is to highlight any key fantasy player’s uncertainty to play in relation to either the COVID reserve list or having an injury.
Please keep in mind that a lot can change between now and Sunday. Each team’s COVID reserve list is updated constantly, and you will want to check frequently even if you have no players on the list at the moment of reading this article. The COVID tracker at cbssports.com is a good one to use as they update their list in a very timely fashion. Also, since the NFL has changed their quarantine requirements from 10 days to 5, the potential for players’ returns has increased as well. This applies to asymptomatic players who are both vaccinated and unvaccinated.
The COVID reserve list – QB and RB
At this moment, all 32 NFL teams have at least one player on the COVID reserve list. Here are the players that fantasy managers will want to keep their eyes on. The day they were put on the reserve list is in parentheses.
There are three quarterbacks that are fantasy-relevant on the COVID reserve list: Tyler Huntley (Dec. 25), P.J. Walker (Dec. 29), Carson Wentz (Dec. 28). Wentz and Huntley are the biggest names here. Even though the Colts run their entire offense through Jonathan Taylor, Wentz is still a factor in managing the game. And Tyler Huntley should be monitored as well. Lamar Jackson was limited at practice, but if he can’t go, Huntley is a viable fantasy starter.
The only notable running back on the reserve list is David Johnson (Dec. 27). Rex Burkhead had 149 rushing yards and 2 touchdowns last week. If Johnson is out again, Rex Burkhead could be a streaming option that can help win a championship.
The COVID reserve list – WR, TE, and K
There are a number of key WRs on the COVID reserve list: Laviska Shenault, Jr. (Dec. 24), Mike Williams (Dec. 25), Mike Evans (Dec. 27), Julio Jones (Dec. 27), and Nick Westbrook-Ikhine (Dec. 27). Keep in mind the dates here. Mike Evans is the most notable. Tampa Bay will be without Chris Godwin and Leonard Fournette, so Mike Evans would be in line to get a bunch of targets. He is also coming back from a hamstring injury, so that situation will be key to watch as well.
There are not any big name TEs on the COVID reserve list, but there are some worth mentioning. Marcedes Lewis (Dec. 28), Chris Manhertz (Dec. 27), Luke Farrell (Dec. 27), Jacob Hollister (Dec. 28), and Tyler Kroft (Dec. 27). Manhertz, Farrell, and Hollister are only relevant here because they all play for Jacksonville. James O’Shaughnessy did not practice on Wednesday, but may not have anyone to compete with him for TE targets against the Pats. Then again, it’s the Jags against the Pats, so it probably doesn’t matter.
The Browns will hope to get Chase McLaughlin (Dec. 22) back from the COVID reserve list this week. It should help his chances that the Browns don’t play until Monday. Dustin Hopkins (Dec. 28) of the Chargers has a chance to play based on the new NFL protocols, but the consistent kicker’s status will be uncertain going into Sunday’s game.
The COVID reserve list – expect the unexpected
I cannot say it enough, these COVID reserve lists are changing rapidly. You should be checking your roster every day through Sunday morning. A lot of players will be cleared off of the list. However, new names have been popping up daily.
Predicting matchups will also be tricky given the COVID situation. The Chargers, for example, have four CBs on the COVID reserve list. Take this into consideration even though this season they have been a good defense against the pass. Further, there are three Raiders’ linebackers on the list. This would help the Colts if Carson Wentz can’t suit up.
Much like last week, I am going to list the relevant fantasy players who either did not practice, or were limited on Wednesday, Dec. 29th. Keep in mind that with no Thursday or Saturday games it may not be devastating if a player did not practice. These are simply the players you should be monitoring for the rest of the week.
Limited participants: Emmanuel Sanders, Saquon Barkley, Kadarius Toney, Justin Fields, Damien Harris, Antonio Brown, Jalen Hurts, Antonio Gibson, Lamar Jackson, Jimmy Garoppolo, Chase Edmonds, Zach Ertz, Dalvin Cook, and Aaron Jones.
Did not participate: Clyde Edwards-Helaire, Jack Doyle, James O’Shaughnessy, Jamison Crowder, Jordan Howard, Miles Sanders, Teddy Bridgewater, James Conner, Jared Goff, D.K. Metcalf, and Aaron Rodgers.
Other notable injury news
Lions’ RB D’Andre Swift was back as a full participant at Wednesday’s practice. This is good news for Swift owners, but most likely bad news for anyone who thought Craig Reynolds was going to lead them to a title. It should also be mentioned that there was no report for the Monday night game between the Browns and Steelers.
Lamar Jackson was back in a limited fashion. If he plays I would consider starting him. He has a tough matchup against the Rams, but the Ravens are fighting for their playoff lives. I think Lamar goes off if he plays. If you’ve been stashing Trey Lance, this may be your week! If Jimmy Garoppolo is out, Lance could be a sleeper to carry you to your fantasy championship.
Make sure you monitor your players’ situations with either COVID reserve or an injury. Good luck in your championship matchups!
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