Fantasy Football: How to replace Mike Evans, Alshon Jeffery, Calvin Ridley, and more for Week 15
Ben Gretch gets you up to speed on the latest headlines for Fantasy Football in Week 15.
In a modern era more focused on long-term player health, it seems teams are a bit quicker to send players to IR late in the year, especially when they have nothing to play for.
Maybe the increase is just a perception, but what's clear is players are being deactivated left and right here in 2019, and it means playing time in the Fantasy semifinals for unheralded backups. Let's dig into the situations and see who could be sneaky Week 15 options, plus cover the rest of the news and notes from around the league.
Mike Evans expected to miss rest of season
In a vertical Bucs passing game that has produced more WR Fantasy points than any other team in the league across scoring formats, Mike Evans will have his top-five season cut short due to a hamstring injury.
Chris Godwin will certainly see an increased target projection as a result, but it's important to understand the roles in this offense. Godwin has been more of an underneath option with an average depth of target of 10.4, a touch below the league average for a WR, while Evans' aDOT of 15.4 has meant a ridiculous 1,814 total air yards this season, a number that leads the league by miles ahead of DeAndre Hopkins' 1,444 in second place.
What that means is there is a ton of downfield opportunity available, especially considering Jameis Winston is expected to start despite a broken hand. While Godwin might see a few deeper looks, plenty of those targets could go to Breshad Perriman (14.2 aDOT) and Justin Watson (12.7 aDOT). Watson saw a huge snap bump after Evans left, catching five of eight targets for 59 yards and a score, while Perriman's already-strong snap share also increased en route to 70 yards and a score on three catches and five targets.
I'm tentatively expecting Watson to play solid role, and he's worth a look in deeper leagues. Scotty Miller has missed the past two games with a hamstring injury, but he's one player who could throw a wrench in that plan if he is active in Week 15.
Then there's O.J. Howard, who saw five targets at an aDOT of 14.0 in Week 14 and is the more vertical of the Bucs' two tight ends. It wouldn't be shocking — it might even be likely — to see the Evans injury open things up for Howard to see some decent volume to close out the season, perhaps helping him salvage a bit of what has been a lost season.
If I sound optimistic about several options here, it's because I am, and that's due to the opportunity void left by Evans arguably being bigger than it could be for any other WR in the league.
Alshon Jeffery to IR
Having just returned to a 16-target, 137-yard game in Week 13, Alshon Jeffery left early in Week 14, and has also been ruled out for the season. In Jeffery's case, we have a pretty good idea of what this means, because he's already missed three games this season.
Expect Zach Ertz to see an increase in targets, with Dallas Goedert being a solid secondary tight end option. Nelson Agholor is the biggest potential winner, but his health status is still up in the air for Week 15 after missing Week 14 with a knee issue. If Agholor can't go again, we'll likely see plenty of J.J. Arcega-Whiteside and Greg Ward again, as we did on Monday night, but I'd expect targets to flow through the tight ends and Miles Sanders and Boston Scott out of the backfield.
Calvin Ridley's season over
An abdomen injury will cut short Calvin Ridley's strong follow-up to his impressive rookie season. Ridley went over 800 yards for the second-straight season, this time in just 13 games, and scored seven touchdowns to back up the 10 he posted in 2018.
The Falcons head to San Francisco in Week 15 to take on a 49ers defense that will be without both star cornerback Richard Sherman and plus edge rusher Dee Ford. Both defenders are likely to miss the remainder of the regular season, making the 49ers look a bit less daunting going forward.
Julio Jones should see plenty of targets, while tight end Austin Hooper returned in Week 14 and could see plenty of work in his second game back. After Ridley left in Week 14, Russell Gage stayed in the slot role opened up by the Mohamed Sanu trade earlier this year, while Olamide Zaccheaus seemed to cover Ridley's role, catching a 93-yard touchdown on one of the two targets he saw. Zaccheaus played 31% of the snaps while Christian Blake — who had played a 90% snap share on Thanksgiving with Jones out — played just 17%.
Zaccheaus projects to play the most in Ridley's role while Blake continues to back up Jones. Still, the lack of clarity on how big Zaccheaus's role could be makes him tough to trust.
Marvin Jones done for 2019
Marvin Jones is yet another starting wide receiver to see his season cut short, ending a nine-touchdown campaign prematurely. The Lions haven't been a premier passing offense with David Blough under center, but they are still willing to get the ball down the field, so this is not insignificant.
Kenny Golladay figures to see the biggest bump, as his already strong share of the Lions' passing game should just increase. He may also draw more defensive attention, but a matchup with the beatable Bucs' pass defense should still allow him plenty of chances to put up numbers.
The injury also should make Danny Amendola a sneaky PPR option. Amendola saw an uptick in route share and targets this past week with T.J. Hockenson out, and now that available opportunity only increases with Jones joining Hockenson on IR.
The Lions also figure to activate one of the three wide receivers on their practice squad, as special teamer Chris Lacy is the only other WR on the active roster as of Wednesday morning. Projecting who the number three option in this passing game will be is difficult, and while someone should see a few targets in that role, it's probably not worth chasing. Expect both passing downs running backs Ty Johnson and J.D. McKissic to be involved as well, but the way they split the receiving work while Bo Scarbrough handles the lion's share (would you believe me if I said no pun intended?) of the early-down work makes it tough to use either Johnson or McKissic, even in PPR.
Here are some more injury situations to monitor for Week 15:
- Lamar Jackson will play Thursday night, and says he's 100%. His status on the injury report seems more related to the team wanting to limit his reps on the short week. Fire him up in all formats.
- Derrius Guice has a sprained MCL and has hit IR. Guice of course already missed eight games on short-term IR this season, during which time it became clear Adrian Peterson was the early-down option. Chris Thompson still figures to play plenty on passing downs, and neither is a great option in a sub-par offense, but Peterson does have a high rush attempt floor is at least a stopgap RB2 if you need it.
- Auden Tate will miss the remainder of the season. John Ross returned from IR in Week 14 to play about half the snaps, but expect that role to expand in Week 15. Alex Erickson played a hefty snap share alongside Tyler Boyd in the Bengals' preferred three-wide sets, and he'll also remain heavily involved. None are recommended plays against the Patriots, but they will be worth tracking ahead of a Week 16 matchup with the Dolphins.
- Josh Jacobs underwent an MRI Wednesday and reports are the results were positive. The Raiders signed running back Rod Smith earlier Wednesday, but there now seems to be some optimism Jacobs will be able to go in Week 15 after sitting Week 14. If Jacobs does miss again, DeAndre Washington is a solid spot start after having a comfortable lead over Jalen Richard in both snap share and route share in Week 14, en route to a 20-touch day that included six receptions, 96 total yards and a score.
- The Steelers have injuries all over, but there's little clarity from coach Mike Tomlin. JuJu Smith-Schuster is apparently on track to return in Week 15, muddying a passing offense that threw just 19 passes last week. Diontae Johnson did post a big game on eight targets, while James Washington hauled in all four he saw, but Smith-Schuster's return would complicate matters against a strong Bills secondary. At running back, James Conner is expected to return to practice in some capacity, while Jaylen Samuels is on the injury report with a groin injury. Both or neither could play, though this backfield will be tough to trust either way against Buffalo.
- Rashaad Penny has been sent to IR with a torn ACL, almost certainly meaning a return to feature back status for Chris Carson just in time for a cake matchup with a Panthers front seven that has been gashed in recent weeks. Carolina granted the Falcons their first 150-yard rushing game of the season in Week 14 — along with Devonta Freeman's first rushing score of the year — one week after Derrius Guice ran for 129 yards and two scores on just 10 rushes and Adrian Peterson added another 99 and a score on 13 attempts against them. Carson is a top-five option in all formats in our Week 15 rankings.
- The Colts signed Dontrelle Inman after sending Parris Campbell to IR one week after Chester Rogers. Both Rogers and Campbell were slot options for the Colts, and Inman could see immediate opportunity in that role, while Zach Pascal and Marcus Johnson continue to man the outside. T.Y. Hilton's status remains unclear.
Fantasy Football Today Newsletter
Get tips, advice and news to win your league - all from the FFT podcast team.
Thanks for signing up!
Keep an eye on your inbox for the latest sports news.
There was an error processing your subscription.
Fantasy Football Today Podcast
Dave Richard checks in from the Senior Bowl to give the Fantasy crowd the low down on the top...
It's never too early for our squad to start looking ahead to 2020 and finalizing a first run...
Ben Gretch covers each division to review each team's 2019 season and looks ahead to 2020 with...
The Fantasy Football Today crew discusses key takeaways from the tight end position in 2019.
Ben Gretch reviews the 2019 season for each team from the NFC West.
The Fantasy Football Today team discusses postseason performances that have impacted Fantasy...