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The news: Saints WR Michael Thomas needs toe surgery and will be placed on injured reserve.
What it means in fantasy: Thomas will likely miss the rest of the season, according to head coach Dennis Allen. The veteran receiver had a dislocated second toe and will have surgery to repair it. Thomas has not played in a game since injuring the toe against the Panthers in Week 3. After setting an NFL record with 149 catches and being named Offensive Player of the Year in 2019, Thomas signed a five-year, $100 million extension. Since the start of the 2020 season, he has missed 31 games. For the rest of the season, rookie Chris Olave should be viewed as a high-end WR2. Jarvis Landry, who hasn’t played since the Saints’ game against the Vikings back in Week 4 because of an ankle injury, practiced on Thursday and could work his way onto the flex radar, but we need to see what role he carves out for himself behind Olave and Alvin Kamara.
Going deeper: Since Week 3, when Thomas injured his toe, Olave has averaged 9.4 targets and 16.7 fantasy points per game.
The news: Texans RB Dameon Pierce rushed for a career-high 139 yards on Thursday night against the Eagles.
What it means in fantasy: Pierce had 27 rushing attempts against an Eagles defense that allowed 5.1 yards per attempt and was missing defensive tackle Jordan Davis. This was the second-most rushing yards Philadelphia has allowed since Week 1 when it surrendered 144 yards to D’Andre Swift. Pierce has averaged 18 fantasy points since ascending to the starting role in Week 3. Fantasy managers can continue to view him as a low-end RB1.
The news: Texans WR Brandin Cooks is expected to return to the team on Friday after being ruled out of Thursday’s game against the Eagles.
What it means in fantasy: Cooks missed multiple practices this week because of unhappiness about not being traded. Cooks’ fully guaranteed base salary of $18 million for 2023 likely factored in Houston’s failure to find potential trade partners, but now Cook faces the risk of losing that money if he doesn’t return; Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk obtained a copy of Cooks’ contract, which stipulates that the salary becomes void if Cooks “defaults” on the terms. A player could “default” if he does not practice with or play for the team for reasons other than an injury or illness related to football unless he has the written consent of the organization to do so. Cooks can be viewed as a flex option come Week 10, but not one fantasy managers should be ecstatic about.
Going deeper: This season, Cooks has only scored 10 or more fantasy points in three games and had 10 or more targets in two games.
What it means in fantasy: Kupp’s fantasy managers are happy to hear this, as the reports early this week of him playing against the Buccaneers this week seem to be bearing out. Kupp has averaged 12.0 targets and 24.5 fantasy points per game. After not trading Akers before the trade deadline, head coach Sean McVay and the Rams will continue to repair their relationship. Considering how crowded Los Angeles’ backfield has become, Akers is hard to trust from a fantasy perspective even as a flex option. Among the backfield’s other players are Darrell Henderson Jr., Ronnie Rivers, Malcolm Brown, and rookie Kyren Williams. Fantasy managers should avoid this mess if at all possible.
The news: Lions RB D’Andre Swift practiced on Thursday.
What it means in fantasy: The news is great for fantasy managers, as Swift is still recovering from ankle and shoulder injuries. Swift is more of a flex option if he plays against the Packers because of his likely limited workload; he hasn’t had a full workload since Week 1, when he gained 144 rushing yards on 15 carries and caught three passes for 31 more yards against the Eagles. Swift has played in only three games with just 27 touches since then. If Jamaal Williams is on your team, you should still feel comfortable starting him as a low-end RB2 regardless of Swift’s status.
What it means in fantasy: Henry has a foot injury and Tannehill has an ankle injury. Henry missed half of last season with a foot injury that required surgery. During his news conference on Thursday, Henry did not clarify if it was the same foot, but he did insist he would be able to play against the Chiefs on Sunday. Tannehill’s status this week is more optimistic than last week because it boils down to his pain tolerance. If for some reason the veteran is ruled out, rookie Malik Willis would start his second consecutive game. Although Willis struggled as a passer last week, he should offer some rushing value in the against the Chiefs. Five of the Titans’ last six games with the Chiefs have been victories, including a 27-3 triumph in Nashville last season.
Going deeper: Henry has rushed for at least 100 yards in each of the Titans’ past four games. He leads the league with 166 attempts and 108.0 rushing yards per game and has had four games with 23 or more fantasy points, including a season-high 35.8 against the Texans last week.
The news: Colts RB Jonathan Taylor missed Thursday’s practice due to an ankle injury.
What it means in fantasy: Taylor’s availability this week is in doubt again because of this injury. He had returned from the injury on Sunday after missing two games but aggravated it during that game and missed practice on Wednesday. Deon Jackson should be rostered in all leagues; he accumulated 212 total yards and a touchdown on 39 touches from Weeks 5 through 6. If Taylor is sidelined, Jackson can serve as a reliable RB2 against a suboptimal Patriots run defense.
The news: Raiders TE Darren Waller was limited at Thursday’s practice.
What it means in fantasy: Fantasy managers shouldn’t get too excited because Waller was a limited participant in practice leading up to Week 8’s game against the Saints and was eventually ruled out. A full practice on Friday would be a better indicator that Waller will play against the Jaguars on Sunday. Waller has missed seven of the Raiders’ past 14 games. Derek Carr‘s recent performance makes pass catchers in the Raiders difficult to trust in fantasy as he has averaged only 194 passing yards in his past three games.
Going deeper: Since 2021, Waller has averaged only 6.8 targets and 10.2 fantasy points per game.
The news: Ravens WR Rashod Bateman will undergo season-ending Lisfranc surgery.
What it means in fantasy: Bateman has been listed on the team’s injury report with a foot injury since Week 5 and played 49 snaps over the past two games. Bateman finishes the season with 15 receptions for 285 receiving yards and two touchdowns after he caught 46 passes for 515 yards and a touchdown as a rookie last season. The void left by Bateman will be filled by Devin Duvernay, who is rostered in only 42.1% of leagues. Against the Buccaneers on Oct. 27, Duvernay caught all four of his targets for 31 yards, as well as rushing for 33 yards and a touchdown. DeSean Jackson, who will likely be active this week, can also be picked up by fantasy managers in deeper formats. Mark Andrews and Gus Edwards did not practice on Thursday so it’s possible that the Ravens will give both of them Week 9 off to head ahead of Baltimore’s Week 10 bye. It would be wise for fantasy managers with either on their rosters to stash Isaiah Likely or Kenyan Drake as a contingency plan since the Ravens play on Monday.
Today on ESPN.com/Fantasy and in the ESPN Fantasy App
Mike Clay’s Playbook: projections and analysis for every game
Eric Karabell’s hot seat: Clyde Edwards-Helaire, Derek Carr among players under most pressure in Week 9
• Daniel Dopp and Liz Loza: NFL trade reactions, when patience pays off and everything Detroit Lions
• Fantasy Focus podcast (10 a.m. ET)
• The Fantasy Football cheat sheet: the week’s best advice in one place
• Inactives Watch: who’s in, who’s out and what does it mean?
• After the games: Matt Bowen and Tristan H. Cockcroft’s fantasy highs and lows
• Fantasy Football Now: Sunday at 10 a.m. ET on ESPN2
In Case You Missed It:
Field Yates’ Fantasy Field Pass: Patience with Hopkins, Fields, Kamara has paid off
Mike Clay’s TNF Playbook: Eagles vs Texans
Tristan H. Cockcroft’s most and least favorable matchups at QB, RB, WR and TE for this week’s games
Matt Bowen’s fantasy film room: JuJu Smith-Schuster, Tom Brady among Week 9 upgrades, downgrades
Al Zeidenfeld’s DFS Best Buys for Week 9
• Fantasy Focus podcast: Field Yates, Mike Clay and Daniel Dopp preview Thursday Night Football before talking the WR’s who you need to start and a running back who could be a top-10 play that you need to pick up. Then, Adam Schefter joins to talk the storylines to watch in Week 9 including the impact of some key trades. Listen | Watch