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A.J. Brown and the Titans Take the Win over the 49ers

A.J. Brown

A.J. Brown

Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

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If we thought Week 15 was bad, Week 16 started off on the same track. We have fantasy superstars on the COVID-19 reserve list and their status is in question for our fantasy semifinals. Some of our superstars produced, while others left us in a hole.

TNF Fantasy Implications
You were either extremely happy or sorely displeased with Thursday night’s matchup. It was a game that left much to be desired. Either way, that’s how the dice roll in fantasy. Both Ryan Tannehill and Jimmy Garoppolo scored less than 20 points at 14.56 and 13.18 respectively. It shouldn’t crush you, but it’s not ideal. Jeff Wilson, in place of Elijah Mitchell, was the only running back to score double-digit points at 14.7 while D’Onta Foreman scored 7.7 points.

The TNF winner was A.J. Brown who recently came off of injured reserve with a chest injury. That didn’t stop him with 11 receptions for 145 yards and a touchdown for 31.5 fantasy points. Deebo Samuel wasn’t far behind with nine receptions for 159 yards and 28.1 points.

By far, the most upsetting fantasy output from Thursday was George Kittle who only had two receptions for 21 yards and a sad 4.1 points in PPR scoring formats.

New COVID-19 Cases
It would have been too much to ask for a lack of new COVID-19 cases as a Christmas miracle. Sadly, the virus didn’t vanish after the outbreak in Week 15 and it couldn’t come at a worse time for those who managed to survive into the semifinals.

So far, the teams that are more heavily affected in terms of fantasy are the Chargers, Browns, Saints, Chiefs, and the Vikings. The virus is certainly not limited to just those teams but there are serious issues for key fantasy players who are affected from those squads.

The most recent rash of bad news came on Thursday when the Saints announced they are preparing rookie QB Ian Book to be the starter on Monday night. Both Taysom Hill and Trevor Siemian were placed on the COVID-19 reserve list. Shortly after that news, the Vikings announced that their star back, Dalvin Cook (who is unvaccinated) was placed on the reserve list. If Cook managers do not also roster Alexander Mattison, there could be some serious issues in Week 16.

As of this date, the Chargers Austin Ekeler and Jalen Guyton are still on the list as are Chiefs’ stars Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce.

Keep a very close eye on your lineup over the holiday and have a pivot option available if you need an emergency replacement.

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Christmas Day Preview
This is our second weekend with Saturday games, but I wanted to bring awareness to the slate since our attention will be split between football and that big holiday called Christmas.

The first game will feature the Browns taking on the Packers in Green Bay on a possible snowy day. Cleveland should have Baker Mayfield back as well as Jarvis Landry against a defense that has been fifth-worst against wide receivers in the last four weeks. Of course, the Browns’ main offensive weapon is the run game and they will be without Kareem Hunt once again as he continues to deal with his ankle injury. The Packers have the best defense against the run in the last four weeks so Nick Chubb will have his work cut out for him.

On the other side of the ball, the Packers will continue to funnel their firepower through Davante Adams who will see an even higher target share with Marquez Valdes-Scantling out with COVID-19. The Browns are stout against the run, but Aaron Jones and AJ Dillon should still see plenty of usage. Both backs will be in the RB2 category.

The evening game will feature the Colts and the Cardinals and should be a very exciting game for both real football and fantasy purposes. The Cardinals could have clinched their playoff berth with a win against the Lions last week but lost that game in a stunning upset. They will have to find some way to shut down Jonathan Taylor who has been making mincemeat out of defenses this season.

James Conner and Rondale Moore are expected to be game-time decisions. If either is unable to go, Kyler Murray will need to rely on Chase Edmonds and his wide receiving corps absent DeAndre Hopkins against a defense who is ranked first in the league against receivers.