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Sunday Morning Start ‘Em or Sit ‘Em: Sammy Watkins, Wendell Smallwood, Rob Gronkowski & More

Sunday, November 27, 2016 3:30
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by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)

Just hours before the start of Week 12 I know many people have questions running through their heads. Who should I start? Who should I sit? Let’s take a look at how some of the recent news changes things:

Sammy Watkins – Buffalo Bills – Wide Receiver
Mike Rodak of recently reported:

Bills OC Anthony Lynn pumped the brakes Friday on Sammy Watkins’ potential role Sunday, saying, “As far as implementing him in the game plan, I don’t know about that yet. We’ll evaluate the tape and we’ll see. … He wasn’t quite 100 percent, and after eight weeks [away], his conditioning is not where it needs to be. So we’ll see.”

Watkins hasn’t played since Week 2 against the New York Jets, so you would have to think that he’s going to be eased back into action.  While he’s going to be an important part of the offense, his snaps will likely be limited and that’s going to cap his upside potential.  With Jacksonville actually allowing the fewest points per week to opposing wide receivers over the past four weeks, the outlook gets even bleaker.  Watkins is going to be a tough sell in his first game back.

Wendell Smallwood – Philadelphia Eagles – Running Back
Ryan Mathews is out with a knee injury and that will leave Smallwood to share touches with Darren Sproles.  Smallwood has posted back-to-back 70+ total yard days, with 48 rushing yards (on 13 carries) and 31 receiving yards against a tough Seattle defense this past week.  The Green Bay Packers pose a much less threatening matchup, having allowed the second most points per week to opposing running backs over the past four weeks.  Plus we get this quote, courtesy of Zach Berman of The Philadelphia Inquirer (click here for the article):

“I really like what we see in Wendell, both in the run game and in pass protection,” Reich said. “I like everything about him. I think he’s a really good football player, and I think the more he plays that’s just going to show more and more.”

Smallwood is a viable FLEX option and a potential RB2 this week, depending on your alternatives.

LeSean McCoy – Buffalo Bills – Running Back
According to Nick Veronica (via Twitter):

Rex Ryan on LeSean McCoy, for all your fantasy concerns: “I think his thumb’s fine. I think he’ll be ready to get the majority of the reps.”

There obviously was some concern about McCoy after he dislocated his thumb last week, but it appears that he’ll be ready for his normal workload (if not an even greater one, thanks to the absence of Mike Gillislee).  Consider him a strong play in all formats.

Rob Gronkowski – New England Patriots – Tight End
According to Jeff Howe (via Twitter):

“Gronk was cleared to fly, which was an obvious hurdle last week due to the nature of the lung injury.”

Obviously this is important, after he wasn’t able to make the trip a week ago, though it doesn’t mean he’s a lock to play.  Word has been that he’s going to be a game time decision and with a 4:25 PM EST start time that complicates matters.

Owners need to make sure they have a fallback option in place, just in case, but it appears to be heading in the direction of him playing with Ian Rapoport, this morning, tweeting that, “After missing last week’s game, #Patriots TE Rob Gronkowski (lung) is expected back vs. the #Jets, sources say.”  Expect to utilize him as a must use option.

Mark Ingram – New Orleans Saints – Running Back
As of Saturday Ingram remained in the NFL concussion protocol, awaiting to be cleared to play.  He did practice all week, which is promising, though even if he dresses he’s hardly a must use option.  Just keep these two things in mind:

  1. Matchup – The Rams have allowed the seventh fewest points per week to opposing RB and have been even better recently (fourth fewest over the past four weeks)
  2. Touches – He’s going to share carries with Tim Hightower

While Ingram shouldn’t be completely written off, he’s a much better fit as a low-end RB2/FLEX option as opposed to a player you should be depending on.

Chris Ivory – Jacksonville Jaguars – Running Back
Ivory appears to be in line for the lion’s share of the work this week, as Ian Rapoport tweeted:

“#Jaguars RB TJ Yeldon, who didn’t practice all week with an ankle injury, will work out pregame but is a longshot to play, source said.”

That would make Ivory a potential FLEX option, but the Bills defense has been among the better units against running backs over the past few weeks.  Plus Ivory has had just one game with over 50 rushing yards and we can’t expect him to replicate last week’s 75 yards receiving.  Throw in fumbles in four of his past five games (he lost two) and there’s reason to be skeptical.

Cameron Meredith – Chicago Bears – Wide Receiver
With Eddie Royal likely sidelined, things are looking up for Meredith…  Of course we’d be a lot more optimistic if he wasn’t going to have Matt Barkley manning QB.  The matchup against the Titans does help to keep him on the WR3 spectrum, but he’d be a much better play if he had a better quarterback throwing him the football.  As it is Meredith had just 4 receptions this past week and has only had two truly “big” games on the season (over his past four games he has a total of 7 receptions for 135 yards and 1 TD).  Consider him more of a desperation play.

Michael Crabtree – Oakland Raiders – Wide Receiver
According to Ian Rapoport (via Twitter):

“#Raiders WR Michael Crabtree, limited with an ankle injury, is trending in the right direction toward playing, source said. Test it pregame”

The matchup against Carolina makes him intriguing, but his 4:25 PM EST start time and poor performances of late (5 receptions for 32 yards, on 13 targets, over the past two games) makes him a tough sell.  Unless you are desperate look towards an alternative until Crabtree proves healthy and ready to produce once again.

Tevin Coleman – Atlanta Falcons – Running Back
No longer on the injury report, Coleman will return after a three week absence.  When he’s played he’s been solid, averaging over 80 total yards per game.  Of course the Cardinals offer a difficult matchup, especially for a running back who has made his biggest impact in the passing game, as they have allowed a league low 208 receiving yards to opposing backs.  He’s also going to play behind Devonta Freeman, making Coleman a FLEX option (at best) and more of a player to keep on your bench.

Sources –, ESPN

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Make sure to check out all of our Week 12 rankings:

Running Backs
Wide Receivers
Tight Ends


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