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Melvin Gordon made his case to play for the Chargers before kickoff against the Cardinals on Sunday. He might need more than a convincing argument to play again in the next two weeks.
After scoring twice and rumbling for 61 yards on 10 carries with 5 yards through the air, Gordon got whipped low by a tumbling defender attempting to tackle Austin Ekeler, who flipped Gordon the ball on a double-reverse. The contact sent Gordon to the ground hard, where he grabbed his right knee.
After getting helped to the sideline, Gordon was checked out and hobbled to the locker room. He didn't return to the field nor the sideline — not that he needed to, as the Chargers blew out the Cardinals — but ESPN reported Sunday night that Gordon suffered an MCL sprain. He'll undergo further tests Monday but figures to miss at least Week 13.
The contingency plan at running back for the Chargers is pretty well known: Ekeler will see a bump in snaps if pressed into the starting lineup. He replaced Gordon in Week 7 versus the Titans and played nearly every offensive play, finishing with 12 carries and five catches. That's not quite as many touches as Gordon averages per game (20.5 coming into Sunday), but still a decent haul. Justin Jackson would be the back behind Ekeler, but he wouldn't see many touches.
Ekeler would fill in nicely but he's a better passing-downs back than feature back. Thus, the real ripple effect in Gordon's absence would come in the Chargers passing game, where Philip Rivers would be pressed to throw more than he has been. That might have been the case anyway in Week 13 with the Chargers headed to a Sunday night tilt at the Steelers (Sunday, 8 p.m. EST, available on fuboTV), but it'll be a virtual certainty in every game Gordon misses. Fantasy owners could expect ol' friend Antonio Gates to get more looks as a short-area target and Mike Williams to continue fielding end-zone throws from Rivers. Those short-area targets loom larger without a consistent run game.
Three big questions from Week 12
If Andy Dalton's thumb injury is serious, can we forget about using any Bengals players?
I thought backup quarterback Jeff Driskel played decent football in place of Dalton, but it came against a mostly uninterested Browns defense that knew it had a win locked up. Losers of three straight, Cincinnati is 5-6 and clinging to slim playoff hopes. Do they soon realize their season is over and let A.J. Green sit out until 2019? Will Joe Mixon struggle to score if they play without Green stretching defenses and Dalton not on the field? There is a chance the best from the Bengals' studs has already happened.
What the heck has happened to Jarvis Landry?!
As Landry's numbers have sagged, the Browns' run game has drastically improved. Landry's only good game with Nick Chubb as the starter came at Tampa Bay in Week 7, and it took Chubb a while to get going in that one. Since then, Landry has four straight without a touchdown or more than 50 yards, and seven targets or fewer in three straight. Worse yet, his playing time has begun to decrease — under 70 percent of the Browns' offensive snaps in consecutive games. He's impossible to trust moving forward, and isn't a must-own anymore.
Should expectations remain high for suddenly solid running backs Gus Edwards and Josh Adams?
Absolutely, 100-percent, yes. Both Edwards and Adams totaled season-high carries for their respective teams on Sunday: Edwards' 23 carries were the most for any Ravens running backs in two years; Adams' 22 totes tied for the most carries by any Eagles' back since Doug Pederson took over in 2016. If that doesn't speak to what these coaching staffs think about their run situations, I don't know what will. Edwards should thrive at Atlanta next week while Adams could have a tricky time with the Redskins at home. Both will still be popular starting options.
Seven big waiver pickups for Week 13 and beyond
- Doug Martin (67 percent owned): Don't look now but the Raiders' top back has averaged 4.8 yards per carry since taking over for Marshawn Lynch and he scored his first rushing touchdown of the season in Week 12. His matchup against the Chiefs in Week 13 isn't bad ... well, so long as the Raiders don't fall behind too quickly. Silver lining: Martin has at least three grabs in two of his last three games. If you're in a pinch, Martin can give you some Fantasy numbers.
- Case Keenum (33 percent owned): Keenum is the leader in the clubhouse to be the Week 13 quarterback streamer of the week. Cincinnati has allowed three or more passing touchdowns to four of their last five opponents, including Baker Mayfield on Sunday. Keenum is always an adventure to trust but if your other options are Eli Manning (versus Chicago) or Blake Bortles (eww) or Derek Carr (double eww), he'll do. One note: If Marcus Mariota looks good on Monday night then he'd take precedence in a home game against the Jets.
- Chiefs DST (54 percent owned): They play the Raiders in Week 13.
- Mike Williams (59 percent owned) and Antonio Gates (13 percent owned): With Gordon sidelined, these two should be more prominent end-zone options for Rivers to throw to.
- Justin Jackson (0 percent owned): Only worth adding in deeper leagues unless Gordon's injury is season-ending.
- Dan Arnold (0 percent owned): Our never-ending search for tight end streamers take us to the Saints, where Arnold came out of nowhere to give Drew Brees an outlet that, apparently, Benjamin Watson couldn't provide. On a team with Michael Thomas and Alvin Kamara, Arnold tied for the team lead in targets with six and catches with four, pacing New Orleans with 45 yards and a touchdown. Statistically, it's among the best performances by a Saints tight end this season or last season. Though we wish he played more snaps, the Thursday night matchup against Dallas could provide more chances for the 6-foot-6 converted receiver out of Wisconsin-Platteville. It won't hurt to stash him.