Week 12 has had two teams with multiple inactive players due to COVID-19 so far. The virus and the NFL repercussions of broken protocols have wreaked havoc on scheduling and fantasy and two games haven’t even been played yet.
If you happened to be in a position where you needed a fill-in at QB, you may have looked at QB Derek Carr in a juicy matchup against the Atlanta Falcons. If you did, I am sorry. This matchup should have been a shootout, but it was downright ugly for the Raiders. They lost 43-6 to a team that has allowed 22 touchdown passes and over 3,000 passing yards to QBs so far this year. This was bad news for anyone who streamed Carr over an inactive Lamar Jackson or Drew Lock.
This week has had one of the biggest impacts from COVID-19 so far, so let’s get right into it.
The NFL has been tightening their responses to broken COVID-19 protocols, but so far it has been relatively manageable to plan accordingly from a fantasy perspective.
Whether teams aren’t taking the threat of the virus seriously or the mistakes are simply innocent human error, the repercussions are very real. The Raiders will be the first ones to tell you that.
The Saints are next in line. Per ESPN’s Adam Schefter, the league fined the Saints $500,000 and took away a seventh-round draft pick after celebrating post-game in the locker room with no masks after a win against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Week 9. Videos of the post-game celebration were posted on social media by the team and by the players themselves. The Saints have appealed, but if this kind of thing continues, it won’t be the last time we hear of more fines and lost draft picks.
The Ravens' outbreak continues to be an issue with WR Willie Snead testing positive on Sunday. He is the seventh starter for the organization to go on the COVID reserve list with QB Lamar Jackson, RBs J.K. Dobbins and Mark Ingram, and recently TE Mark Andrews, just to name a few. Both teams still want to play this week while the Steelers are, understandably, less than pleased about being robbed of a Thanksgiving primetime game.
It doesn't stop there. Because of more positive testing, the game, which was originally rescheduled to be played on early Sunday afternoon, was moved again to Tuesday, December 1 at 8:00 pm EST. This causes another host of issues as the Ravens were supposed to host the Dallas Cowboys on Thursday, December 3. That game has now been moved to Monday, December 7 at 5:00 pm EST.
I should also add that this game on Tuesday is by no means guaranteed to happen. The Eagles and Seahawks will face off on Monday night. If there is a flex-worthy candidate on your waiver wire for either squad, you may want to grab them if you are planning on starting any player still available for the Ravens or the Steelers. That way, in case the game is canceled today, you can have a starter for tonight's game.
The Ravens’ outbreak reportedly came from a strength and conditioning coach who did not report signs or symptoms and did not consistently wear a mask or contract tracer. He has been disciplined and the Ravens have had their game moved twice.
Meanwhile, the Broncos went without all of their quarterbacks due to COVID positive and high-risk contact tracing. Their game played as scheduled. Drew Lock, Brett Rypien, Blake Bortles, and Jeff Driskel were all inactive on Sunday after not wearing masks in close proximity. RB Royce Freeman has been acting as the emergency quarterback as the Broncos crossed their fingers hoping this would never happen. Well, it did. They also called up WR Kendall Hinton from their practice squad who had played a few times as a QB for Wake Forest in college.
Noah Fant summed up his thoughts about this situation with excellent brevity.
Hinton performed admirably, but the box score doesn't reflect that. I give anyone kudos to have the heart and the courage to go out there like Hinton did against the best defense in the league in Saints.
It would make sense to me to have your position groups broken up during practice to help avoid this kind of thing. Alas. Here we are.
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By far the most productive player was Chiefs WR Tyreek Hill, who ended the game with a whopping 57.9 points in PPR with 13 receptions on 15 targets for 269 yards and three touchdowns. Therefore, it makes perfect sense that his QB Patrick Mahomes posted an excellent stat-line with 31.28. He completed 37 of his 49 attempts for 462 yards (mostly to Hill) and four touchdown passes (again, mostly to Hill).
Titans RB Derrick Henry also had three touchdowns on 27 carries, 178 yards, and 38.5 points. Thanksgiving saw Antonio Gibson (36.6), Will Fuller (35.1), and Deshaun Watson (33.12) start the 30-plus points club trend.
The great scoring didn’t stop with the top-five leading scorers, of course, but we had some surprising names score 20 points or more, including Saints RB Latavius Murray. After averaging around eight points a game, Murray saw an uptick in production under backup QB Taysom Hill. This week, he exploded with 19 carries for 124 yards and two touchdowns. Unfortunately, this was bad news for Alvin Kamara who played second fiddle against the Broncos. He rushed 11 times for 54 yards and caught one pass to lose one yard. It was a disappointing 6.2 point finish for the normally reliable fantasy star. I should point out that his second-worst performance was last week with Hill at QB against the Falcons. The Saints will face the Falcons again with Hill at QB in Week 13. That is distressing.
Welcome back to action RB Austin Ekeler. Instead of being eased back into play, he rushed 14 times for 44 yards and caught 11 passes on 16 targets for 85 yards and 23.9 points. He didn’t find the end zone thanks to rookie RB Josh Kelley who vultured the touchdown on seven carries for 35 yards.
Deebo Samuel was another familiar face on the field that has been absent for some time. He got into the 20-point club with 11 receptions on 13 targets for 133 yards and 24.3 points from backup QB Nick Mullens.
While not posting the biggest stat-line, Travis Kelce is in our top-five tight ends but not number one. That belongs to the Packers Robert Tonyan who has been a bit of a fantasy yo-yo. He caught five receptions for 67 yards and a touchdown to finish with 17.7 points. Evan Engram started hot for the Giants and finished with 16.9 points on six receptions for 129 yards. Rob Gronkowski (16.6), Kelce (16.2), and T.J. Hockenson (13.9) on Thursday night finish the top-five.
Quick Hits and Injury Updates
Lions fired HC Matt Patricia and GM Bob Quinn. OC Darrell Bevell will act as interim HC. … Jaguars fired GM Dave Caldwell. … QB Mike Glennon started in favor of Jake Luton for the Jacksonville Jaguars and finished as the QB10 after Sunday’s games. … QB Ryan Fitzpatrick started again for an injured Tua Tagovailoa. HC Brian Flores is still adamant Tagovailoa is the starter when he’s healthy. … Patriots RB Rex Burkhead was placed on IR. … Vikings RB Dalvin Cook left the game but ended up coming back. His status is something to monitor heading into Week 13. … Panthers WR D.J. Moore left the game with a non-contact injury. … Giants QB Daniel Jones did not finish the game with a hamstring injury and will have further tests on Monday.