In partnership with Roto Street Journal, The 33rd Team is presenting a series on the players every fantasy football contender needs to stash for the 2021 playoffs.
Key injuries and COVID-19 have run rampant through the NFL and it just so happens to be the first round of the 2021 fantasy football playoffs. With a new player landing on the COVID list or missing practice every few minutes it seems, fantasy managers are scouring for the perfect fantasy football Week 15 streamer or sleeper to fill a pivotal hole in their respective lineups.
The COVID-19 list exceeded 135 players as of 7:30 PM Thursday night, with a handful of players having fantasy relevance.
Teams with the most players on the Reserve/COVID-19 list:
— Ari Meirov (@MySportsUpdate) December 17, 2021
Notable quarterbacks whose Week 15 statuses are in doubt or declared out: Lamar Jackson (ankle), Baker Mayfield (COVID-19), Taylor Heinicke (COVID-19)
JUSTIN FIELDS (23%)
Don’t look now, but Justin Fields is on a fantasy heater. Having eclipsed 20 fantasy points in three of his last four starts, the Konami Code quarterback is finally showing his full fantasy potential in the Bears offense. Fields only completed 18 of 33 passes for two touchdowns and two interceptions on Sunday Night Football against the Packers, but he also added a team-high 74 yards on the ground.
The former Buckeye is as dynamic as they come and that should continue in Week 15 against the vulnerable Vikings defense. Minnesota’s defense has allowed the fourth-most fantasy points to quarterbacks this year and gave up 120 rushing yards to Lamar Jackson in Week 9. Starting Fields is risky, but it’s a risk that Jackson’s fantasy managers should take.
Other streamers: Tua Tagovailoa (45%), Mac Jones (33%), Ben Roethlisberger (25%)
Notable running backs whose Week 15 statuses are in doubt or declared out: James Conner (ankle), Leonard Fournette (ankle), D’Andre Swift (shoulder), Tony Pollard (foot), Kareem Hunt (ankle), Alex Collins (COVID-19)
D’ERNEST JOHNSON (23%)
D’Ernest Johnson won’t be the Browns’ workhorse back on Saturday night against the Las Vegas Raiders, but he will be in the Kareem Hunt role with Hunt declared out with an ankle injury. With Baker Mayfield, Case Keenum, Hunt, Jarvis Landry, and Austin Hooper all likely out for Week 15, expect the Browns to heavily lean on Nick Chubb and Johnson against a Raiders team that has been gashed on the ground.
Johnson put up over 19 fantasy points in the two games this season where he saw double-digit touches.
The Raiders have given up the second-most fantasy points to running backs this season and have allowed nine touchdowns to opposing running backs over the last five weeks.
Other streamers: D’Onta Foreman (63%), Rhamondre Stevenson (62%), Ronald Jones (37%), Royce Freeman (16%), Malcolm Brown (10%), Craig Reynolds (3%)
Notable receivers whose Week 15 statuses are in doubt or declared out: DeAndre Hopkins (MCL), Odell Beckham Jr. (COVID-19), Tyler Lockett (COVID-19), Jaylen Waddle (COVID-19)
KENDRICK BOURNE (31%)
If you take out the Buffalo monsoon game that occurred before the Patriots’ bye week, Kendrick Bourne has been on a fantasy tear. Surprisingly, between Weeks 3 and 12, Bourne was fantasy’s WR12 overall. The former 49er quickly developed a rapport with Mac Jones and serves as the team’s premier perimeter playmaker. Bourne leads the team in receiving yards (623) and is second on the team with five receiving touchdowns.
The receiver’s ownership declined during the Patriots’ bye week, leaving him available in nearly 70 percent of leagues. The Patriots get a beatable Colts secondary that is going to attempt to make the Patriots’ offense “one-dimensional.” Expect a big game from Bourne on Saturday night.
GABRIEL DAVIS (17%)
With Emmanuel Sanders “week-to-week” with a knee injury, it’s officially Gabriel Davis season. Davis, a true deep ball weapon, has scored in back-to-back games and ran a route on a season-high 80.6 percent of dropbacks against the Buccaneers. He also saw season-highs in targets (8) and receptions (5) in that same game. Due to his high ceiling and low floor, Davis is risky as a true boom-or-bust streamer. But, he’s proven in the past that he can put up big numbers when given the opportunity.
Davis will benefit from lining up across from Stefon Diggs against the Stephon Gilmore-led Panthers’ secondary. The Panthers have done well against opposing wideouts, but Josh Allen will challenge that secondary early and often.
Other streamers: DeVante Parker (65%), KJ Osborn (43%), Rashod Bateman (41%), Donovan Peoples-Jones (14%), Allen Lazard (8%)
Notable tight ends whose Week 15 statuses are in doubt or declared out: Darren Waller (knee/back), TJ Hockenson (thumb), Austin Hooper (COVID-19)
DAVID NJOKU (11%)
The Browns are a COVID-riddled mess right now. As noted, they will be without Mayfield, Keenum, Hunt, Landry, Hooper, and potentially Harrison Bryant, which will give David Njoku a chance to smash on Saturday night. Njoku, who is returning from his own battle against the virus, will likely be the only viable tight end in the lineup. Earlier this season, the athletic specimen secured all seven of his targets for 149 yards and a score in a game against the Chargers. The talent has always been there, but the lack of snaps has kept Njoku off fantasy radars.
Njoku could be the man for Mullens against a Las Vegas Raiders team that has allowed the second-most fantasy points to tight ends this season.
Other streamers: Tyler Conklin (44%), Gerald Everett (34%), Foster Moreau (13%)