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‘Twas the day before Christmas and all through the league, all the players were stirring, yes even the eliminated teams. The lineups were set by the fans with care, in the hopes that a fantasy championship would soon be near. And the owners were nestled all snug in their beds, while visions of injured NFL fantasy stars danced in their heads.
Now Jonathan Taylor, now Brian Robinson Jr., now Josh Jacobs and Alexander Mattison, on Rhamondre Stevenson and on AJ Dillon, the Sporting News brings you the latest injury RB news for Week 16’s crucial matchups in the hopes that some Christmas joy can soon be there.
For news on banged-up WRs Michael Pittman Jr., Tyreek Hill, Christian Watson, Jayden Reed, Nico Collins, and Hollywood Brown, go here. For updates on hurting QBs Trevor Lawrence and C.J. Stroud, click here.
Jonathan Taylor injury update, Week 16 fantasy outlook
UPDATE: Taylor practiced in full again on Thursday.
Taylor (thumb) was back at practice on Wednesday for the Colts after missing the past two games due to injury. It was a pleasant surprise for fantasy owners to see that he was a full participant, meaning that, barring a setback, he should be good to go on Sunday. It’s also worth noting that fellow RB Zack Moss (forearm) was a DNP on Wednesday. If Moss can’t play, Taylor would be tapped with the workhorse role against the Falcons.
It goes without saying, but Taylor would be a must-start in Week 16 whether he’s splitting time with Moss or not. The RB is certainly worth the risk, especially in a solid Colts offense. HC Shane Steichen has his guys rolling as the playoffs approach despite plenty of injuries, and that shouldn’t change against an inconsistent Falcons team. Considering the full participation Taylor is all but guaranteed to play, but if he’s inactive along with Moss, we’re looking at a split between Trey Sermon and Tyler Goodson.
Brian Robinson Jr. injury update, Week 16 fantasy outlook
UPDATE: Robinson Jr. didn’t practice again on Thursday.
Robinson (hamstring) faced a familiar fate on Wednesday, listed as a DNP once again. The RB picked up the injury in Week 13 and hasn’t practiced since, though Washington did have a bye thrown in there, as well. Regardless, Robinson’s continued absence is notable, as he seems primed to miss this upcoming game against the Jets. With nothing left to play for except draft positioning, there’s a chance that Robinson could just be shut down for the season. Updates to come on Thursday and Friday will be especially telling with just a few games left.
It seems that fantasy owners will have to proceed without Robinson going forward, leaving a backfield split between Antonio Gibson and Chris Rodriguez Jr. The Commanders have shown that Gibson will receive some carries, but he’s mostly a pass-catching option while Rodriguez will handle most of the ground work. Out of the two, Gibson has more upside even though we’d prefer to avoid this backfield entirely without Robinson.
Josh Jacobs injury update, Week 16 fantasy outlook
Jacobs (quad) won’t have an official practice update until Thursday with the Raiders playing on Monday, but according to HC Antonio Pierce, he’d bet on the RB returning this week. Even though the season is all but over for the silver and black, Jacobs’ return would likely end the Zamir White experiment. It’s a bit surprising that Vegas wouldn’t want extended looks at some of their younger players, but the Raiders apparently aren’t waiving the white flag anytime soon.
The potential return for Jacobs becomes even more interesting given his uncertain contract situation. It’s unclear what the potential re-injury risk is at this point, but another ailment could make life even more difficult for an RB who already has to deal with the devaluing of the position. Jacobs’ return would also signal a return to starting territory in fantasy, however, especially since he’s playing in a run-first offense that wants to play throwback football. If he doesn’t log enough practice time to play on Monday, it’ll be White that once again handles the RB1 workload and becomes a worthy flex option.
Alexander Mattison injury update, Week 16 fantasy outlook
UPDATE: Mattison failed to practice again on Thursday.
Mattison (ankle) was listed as a DNP on Wednesday, yet that wasn’t even the worst news for the RB of the day. HC Kevin O’Connell didn’t commit to him playing and also alluded to Ty Chandler being the lead back on Sunday. “We’re kind of building with the mindset that Ty is going to be a guy we’re trying to get the ball to a lot, both in the run and the pass, and if we have Alex that’s going to be a huge bonus for the depth and making sure we have our full group available,” O’Connell said via ESPN’s Kevin Seifert.
That reality is a tough one for Mattison, who has held the RB1 spot all season long. He’s been inefficient in the new role after backing up Dalvin Cook for years, leaving many to question why it took so long. Even if Mattison returns in Week 16, he’s no longer a fantasy option and can safely remain on your bench.
Rhamondre Stevenson injury update, Week 16 fantasy outlook
Stevenson (ankle) was once again a DNP at practice on Wednesday. It is anyone’s guess why the RB hasn’t been placed on IR at this point, but we’d be shocked if Stevenson played again this season. The timeline was already said to be a few weeks for a possible return, and with just three games left to go in a lost season, it would be foolish to trot him back out there for game action.
As expected, Ezekiel Elliott will continue to operate as the lead back in New England until further notice. You won’t mistake him with the Cowboys-version who dominated in his prime, but Elliott is receiving enough opportunities to warrant fantasy consideration, especially against a weak Broncos’ run defense. With upside in the run and pass games, Elliott clocks in as a solid option in Week 16.
AJ Dillon injury update, Week 16 fantasy outlook
UPDATE: Dillon was limited in practice again on Thursday.
Dillon (thumb) turned in a limited practice on Wednesday, following up his limited session last Friday in a positive way. This current trajectory seems to suggest that the RB will have a chance to suit up in Week 16. Thursday’s and Friday’s updates will provide more clarity, but the arrow is certainly pointing up right now.
The RB’s return would provide a boost to a backfield that’s seen more than its fair share of injuries this season. Aaron Jones came back from a knee issue last week to resume the RB1 role, but he wasn’t his normal, efficient self. Dillon’s return would essentially cap the fantasy values for both players and put them in flex territory, at best. In the second round of the fantasy playoffs, Jones and Dillon are both risky. We’d vote against starting either, but that is best determined on a team-by-team basis.