Home Sports NFL Nation Fantasy Fallout: Who steps up for Justin Jefferson?

NFL Nation Fantasy Fallout: Who steps up for Justin Jefferson?

NFL Nation Fantasy Fallout: Who steps up for Justin Jefferson?


Another week of the NFL season is in the books, and there is no shortage of fantasy football news to digest.

Each Tuesday during the season, ESPN fantasy analyst Eric Moody will ask our NFL Nation reporters what to make of the fallout after games are played and the most pressing questions heading into the weekend. Who is primed for a big performance, who is impacted by injuries and what roles might change? Here’s what our crew had to say about some of the biggest storylines after Week 5’s action as we head into Week 6.

How will the Minnesota Vikings‘ passing game adapt with Justin Jefferson having to miss at least four games because of a hamstring injury?

With Jefferson going on injured reserve, the Vikings will add more targets for rookie receiver Jordan Addison, first and foremost. Veterans K.J. Osborn and Brandon Powell will also get increased reps, and quarterback Kirk Cousins will continue to target tight end T.J. Hockenson extensively. But if you want to know who Cousins’ new favorite will be, it’s worth noting his assessment of Addison after the first five games: “Jordan is the real deal,” Cousins said. “We hit on that draft pick. He’s a great player.” — Kevin Seifert

Is New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick ready to move to Bailey Zappe as the starting quarterback since Mac Jones has been benched for two consecutive games?

Stay tuned for the final answer. Belichick was asked after Sunday’s game if Jones was still his top quarterback and said: “Yeah. There were a lot of problems. It certainly wasn’t all on him.” Whether his answer is the same after film review is to be determined. The Patriots have a turnover problem, and Jones — while not receiving much help from the offensive line or pass-catchers — is at the heart of it. — Mike Reiss

Considering the Buffalo Bills‘ trend of rotating running backs and James Cook‘s decreasing role in the passing game, can we expect this pattern to persist or do you think there might be shifts in upcoming games?

Relying on a Bills running back in fantasy hasn’t been a good approach for years, even though maintaining a successful running game around Josh Allen has been a priority. While Buffalo started well-balanced, the Jaguars were able to take away the running game and the Bills had just 29 rushing yards. Integrating Cook more is still something that Buffalo wants to do, but for fantasy purposes, bigger backs Latavius Murray and Damien Harris are more likely to get goal-line carries. Cook has three or more receiving targets in all but one game and he’ll still get opportunities there, but the Bills have a lot of ways they can spread around the ball. — Alaina Getzenberg

What is the status of Amon-Ra St. Brown‘s abdomen injury, and how might the Detroit Lions‘ passing game change if he remains sidelined?

This seems to be a situation where the Lions were protecting St. Brown from himself ahead of facing the winless Panthers, whom they dominated 42-24 on Sunday without him and rookie RB Jahmyr Gibbs both in the lineup. Although St. Brown finished the Week 4 win at Green Bay with five catches and a touchdown, the abdomen irritation started immediately after the game and he was held out of practice all week. He was working with a trainer on the side where he was able to still run, which was a good sign. He called it a pain management situation last week and I would expect him to return against Tampa for the upcoming game. He hates to miss any action, but without him in the mix, Detroit still has offensive talent with tight end Sam LaPorta and veteran receiver Josh Reynolds ready to pick up the slack. — Eric Woodyard



How should fantasy managers navigate the Cardinals’ backfield?

Field Yates and Daniel Dopp examine the fantasy dynamic between James Conner, Emari Demercado and the rest of the Cardinals backfield.

With De’Von Achane expected to miss multiple weeks, how do you expect the Miami Dolphins‘ backfield usage to play out?

Achane’s injury is a gut punch to a Dolphins rushing attack that averaged 238 yards on the ground over its past three games. While the rookie has been the driving factor in that, veteran Raheem Mostert is the NFL’s co-leader in rushing touchdowns and has maintained a role through Achane’s emergence. He should absorb a heavier workload as backfield mate Jeff Wilson Jr. is also introduced into the mix. Miami is expected to open Wilson’s 21-day practice window this week and he should operate in a tandem with Mostert. Salvon Ahmed and Chris Brooks are fine depth pieces, but the touches aren’t likely there to warrant a spot on your fantasy roster — and certainly not in your starting lineup. — Marcel Louis-Jacques

How will the Indianapolis Colts‘ offense change if Anthony Richardson has to miss time to recover from his shoulder injury?

With Gardner Minshew under center, the Colts will lean more into their conventional running game behind Zack Moss and Jonathan Taylor, now that the latter has returned to the lineup. The Colts figured to focus heavily on their running game even with Richardson in the fold, but without him, they will not have the benefit of the read-option element that Richardson provides. From a passing perspective, Minshew is more apt to throw quickly and with anticipation, so he’ll generally complete a higher percentage of passes than Richardson. But the question is whether he can generate the chunk plays that Richardson is capable of because of the rookie’s big arm. Minshew is averaging a career-low 6.7 yards per attempt but is posting a career high in completion percentage (68.7). — Stephen Holder

What adjustments do you anticipate from the New York Giants‘ offense if Daniel Jones has to miss time to recover from a neck injury?

The offensive line will not magically be fixed, even if Tyrod Taylor starts in place of Jones. So the offense will be borderline nonfunctional with Taylor or Jones and likely the return of running back Saquon Barkley. The one difference will be that Taylor, with his reckless nature, won’t be shy about throwing the ball deep downfield. Jones’ 6.3 air yards per attempt is second lowest among QBs. Taylor’s deep-ball attempts could unlock rookie WR Jalin Hyatt. — Jordan Raanan

Do you think there’s a possibility of seeing Tyjae Spears taking on a larger role while Derrick Henry‘s usage decreases in the Tennessee Titans‘ backfield?

There’s definitely a possibility that Spears sees an increase in touches. In fact, on Monday, Titans coach Mike Vrabel said they have to find more ways to get him the ball. Spears scored his first NFL touchdown on a 19-yard end-around last Sunday. Offensive coordinator Tim Kelly has started to employ Spears in a package of plays that use cheat motion to give him a head start on defenders. But Henry has 20 or more carries in two out of five games this season. The Titans won both games. The usage split between Henry and Spears will be a week-to-week situation. — Turron Davenport

Is there reason for concern about the limited involvement of Washington Commanders WRs Terry McLaurin and Jahan Dotson in the passing game against the Bears last Thursday night?

McLaurin remains a very good receiver; the opportunities have changed, however. He’s averaging career lows in targets per game (6.5), yards per catch (10.4), yards after the catch (2.52) and also in percentage of catches for 20-plus yards (12). He is catching five passes per game (second best in his career), but McLaurin has now gone nine consecutive games without a 100-yard game, dating to last season. He averaged 13.5 fantasy points last season and has fallen to 12.6, ranking 27th at receiver. One big game could change this direction, but Washington needs to get him more involved downfield to create big plays. — John Keim


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