UPDATE: 9:45 p.m. Friday
The rash of injuries that have stricken Southern California teams is alleviating a bit as we head into the weekend.
Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford is officially out of the concussion protocols and is expected to start Sunday against New Orleans.
The Chargers, for their part, apparently will be getting back their top two receivers, Keenan Allen and Mike Williams. Same goes for tight end Gerald Everett. Should be a big boost for QB Justin Herbert against the Chiefs.
As for Monday night’s game in Mexico City, Arizona QB Kyler Murray is said to be a game-time decision. That means you should probably plan on replacing him in your lineup in the next 24 hours, if you’d rather be safe than sorry.
ORIGINAL POST: 11:12 a.m. Wednesday
Nine months ago, the Rams’ Cooper Kupp was the toast of Los Angeles and a Super Bowl Most Valuable Player. It’s been all downhill ever since.
The NFL’s top receiver posted fine, but now spectacular, numbers in the first nine games. But he suffered an ankle injury near the end of last Sunday’s game against Arizona and needed surgery. He is out at least four weeks and is very likely done for the season because of the Rams’ non-contender status.
He’s far from the only top receiver who will be watching this week. The bye week has idled the likes of Miami’s Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle, Tampa Bay’s Mike Evans and Chris Godwin, Seattle’s D.K. Metcalf and Tyler Lockett and Jacksonville’s Christian Kirk.
So nearly every fantasy football team has a hole or two to fill this week at the receiving position. If you’re fortunate, you may still be able to claim one of these fellows whose prospects are starting to look good, or could look good very soon.
Allen Robinson (Rams) — The most obvious Kupp replacement is the guy doing it in Los Angeles, but Robinson managed only four catches for 44 yards last week. While he’s having his second consecutive bad season, Robinson is only two years removed from catching 102 for the Bears. So there is some upside.
Christian Watson (Packers) — The former Bison from NDSU stopped dropping balls for a while and produced a three-touchdown game with 107 yards in the victory over Dallas. Aaron Rodgers’ nagging of the rookie appears to be finally paying dividends.
Kadarius Toney (Chiefs) — In his Kansas City coming out game, the former Giant had four catches for 57 yards and a TD, and his hopping move into the end zone could be the start of even better things for the Patrick Mahomes-led offense.
Darius Slayton (Giants) — The New York receiving picture is finally starting to come into focus, and Slayton’s Week 10 showing (3 catches, 95 yards, 1 TD) indicates he could become a main target for the improving Daniel Jones.
Donovan Peoples-Jones (Browns) — While the rest of the Cleveland offense was melting in Miami, DPJ caught five passes for 99 yards. He could get even busier in the coming weeks when Deshaun Watson finally returns from suspension.
Others to consider — Parris Campbell (Colts), Nico Collins.
The Vikings’ Kirk Cousins looked great in Buffalo, but the QB will cool off against Dallas’ tough defense. … The now-once-beaten Eagles will clamp down on Indy RB Jonathan Taylor, though you have to start the former No. 1 pick anyway. … Buffalo’s defense will rebound after last week’s debacle, which makes Nick Chubb the only reliable Cleveland starter this week. … The Packers will have to rely on the pass to beat Tennessee, so don’t count on a big game from A.J. Dillon. … The Raiders are a mess, which means another underwhelming game for WR Davante Adams against Denver. … And keep an eye on Chargers QB Justin Herbert. He’s only worth starting if he gets at least a couple of his injured pass catchers back.
While the Vikings are giddy about their 8-1 record, they’ll need to be ready to face Dallas RB Tony Pollard, who has starred as a starter. … Both running backs will post big numbers in the Bengals-Steelers game, which won’t surprise Joe Mixon backers but will be a pleasant change for Najee Harris mavens. … Same goes for the Ravens-Panthers matchup, so get Kenyan Drake and D’Onta Foreman into your lineup. … Look for Washington RB Brian Robinson to stay hot against the Texans. … The streaking Giants will have to outscore the Detroit combo of Jared Goff and Amon-Ra St Brown. … Chicago QB Justin Fields is rising so high that he lifts all boats, particularly the USS Chase Claypool this week. … And San Fran WR Deebo Samuel is due for another big game, so expect one vs. the Cardinals.
Cooper Kupp is the headliner, but he’s hardly the only casualty from Week 10. Denver lost WR Jerry Jeudy for at least a week or two. Arizona tight end Zach Ertz will miss the rest of the season. Chicago RB Khalil Herbert will be out at least four weeks. And Chiefs wideout Juju Smith-Schuster is in the concussion protocol after a vicious hit. … The long list of questionables includes a couple of quarterbacks (Rams’ Matthew Stafford and Cardinals’ Kyler Murray), two running backs (Dallas’ Ezekiel Elliott and Packers’ Aaron Jones) and a slew of wide receivers (Chargers’ Keenan Allen and Mike Williams, Chiefs’ Mecole Hardman, Packers’ Allen Lazard and Romeo Doubs and Lions’ Josh Reynolds) and three noteworthy tight ends (Ravens’ Mark Andrews, Chargers’ Gerald Everett and Browns’ David Njoku).
THE DEEPEST SLEEPERS
Up until Sunday, the Tennessee offense consisted of Derrick Henry and little else. But Titans backup receiver Nick Westbrook-Ikhine came out of the woodwork last Sunday for his best game as a pro. Five catches for 119 yards and two touchdowns for a team that has gotten little from starters Robert Woods and Treylon Burks. A former Indiana Hoosier, Westbrook-Ikhine had a mere seven receptions before Week 10, and he looks like a valuable target for Ryan Tannehill going forward.
THE THURSDAY PICK
Titans at Packers (-3½): Pick: Titans by 3
We’ll be updating our column, based on the latest injuries and innuendo, right up until Sunday’s kickoff. Go to TwinCities.com/theloop.