The Sunday portion of Week 17 in the NFL is just about a wrap. We still have the primetime games to get to but it’s never too early to start scouring the waiver wires in fantasy football for replacements for injured starters.
As with every week in the NFL, key skill position players are going to go down with an injury. Some may step right back onto the field soon while others will miss time. When one guy goes down, an opportunity opens up for someone else to fill the gap. We’re currently in a unique space as the situation with COVID has been unpredictable. For now, we’ll just stick with players who have suffered on-field injuries. It’s the final week of the regular season and while some leagues have already crowned their respective champion, others will come down to the wire this Sunday.
Below is a rundown of notable skill position injuries, and who stands to benefit as you consider what to do with your waiver wire priority. We’ll offer updates on each injury as new information comes along this week.
Michael Carter, RB, New York Jets
Michael Carter got off to a great start in Sunday’s loss to the Buccaneers, breaking off a 55-yard run on the Jets’ first drive to put them into scoring position. Unfortunately, he was taken out of the game shortly afterwards and ruled out with a concussion.
Fantasy managers who were starting Carter will have a few options to consider should Carter not be able to clear concussion protocols in time for their season finale vs. the Bills next Sunday. Backup Ty Johnson (17% Yahoo/15% ESPN) had 35 rushing yards and a touchdown in Sunday’s loss while Austin Walter (1% ESPN/0% Yahoo) had 14 carries for 49 yards. They could also consider receiver Braxton Berrios (6% Yahoo/4% ESPN), who has started to come on in the late stages of the season. He had two touchdowns on Sunday, accounting for eight receptions for 65 receiving yards and 12 rushing yards off two jet sweeps.
Ronald Jones, RB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The other starting running back who went down in that game was Ronald Jones, who tweaked his ankle and left the game for good. With Leonard Fournette on IR until the playoffs and Giovani Bernard also out, the Bucs’ running back room continues to take blow after blow.
Should Jones not be good to go against the Panthers next Sunday, one could turn to Ke’Shawn Vaughn (4% Yahoo and ESPN). He had 70 rushing yards and a touchdown vs. Carolina the week prior and came away with 31 yards on Sunday. There’s also Le’Veon Bell (4% Yahoo and ESPN), who got a few touches against the Jets.
Antonio Brown, WR, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
This isn’t an injury but by now, you’ve most likely seen all the videos and memes of Antonio Brown having an outburst on the sidelines, taking his uniform off, and walking out in the middle of Sunday’s game vs. the Jets. Head coach Bruce Arians told media afterwards that AB is no longer a member of the team, so we’ve seen the last of the wideout in red and pewter.
Cyril Grayson (0% Yahoo and ESPN) stepped right in as a substitute for Brown and proved himself. He caught six passes for 81 yards on Sunday, including the game-winning touchdown with 15 seconds left.
Kyle Pitts, TE, Atlanta Falcons
Kyle Pitts made a bit of history on Sunday, becoming just the second rookie tight end in NFL history to go over 1,000 yards for a season. However, he tweaked his hamstring before halftime and after returning briefly in the third quarter, exited the game once again.
Hayden Hurst (1% Yahoo and ESPN) has been out for the last month with an ankle injury but could be ready to go for the season finale against the Saints.
Michael Gallup, WR, Dallas Cowboys
Michael Gallup came down with a touchdown grab in Sunday’s home game against the Cardinals but unfortunately suffered a knee injury in the process. That kept him out for the rest of the showdown between the two playoff bound teams in the NFC.
Cedrick Wilson (0% Yahoo and ESPN) is a viable waiver option should Gallup not be able to go against the Eagles next week. Wilson also pulled down a touchdown grab in Sunday’s game.