UPDATE: 1:09 p.m. Saturday
On a day when many NFL eyes were on Atlanta and the impending Colin Kaepernick workout, a shocking event in Starkville, Miss., shook up the quarterback futures market.
Presumed No. 1 draft pick Tua Tagovailoa, playing for Alabama despite an ankle injury, suffered an apparent hip injury late in the first half against Mississippi State. The Heisman Trophy runner-up was carted off the field after a sack and was reported to be screaming in pain outside the locker room.
Why Alabama coach Nick Saban had his irreplaceable star in the game with the Tide holding a four-touchdown lead will be debated endlessly in the coming days. But it looks like any NFL teams that had been “tanking for Tua” may have been doing so in vain.
In the morning’s fantasy news, the only really good report concerns Colts quarterback Jacoby Brissett, who is expected to return from a knee injury.
Three top wideouts have been ruled out for this week: Colts WR T.Y. Hilton (calf), Eagles WR Alshon Jeffery (ankle) and Texans WR Will Fuller V. Saints cornerback Marshon Lattimore (hamstring), one of the league’s best, is also out, which makes Tampa Bay’s Mike Evans a strong pick for No. 1 receiver in Week 11.
Two 49ers stars are considered doubtful for their rematch with Arizona: TE George Kittle (knee) and RB Matt Breida (ankle).
Among the questionable at this hour: Jets RB Le’Veon Bell (illness), Bears RB David Montgomery (ankle), Eagles RB Jordan Howard (stinger), 49ers WR Emmanuel Sanders (ribs) and Ravens WR Marquise Brown (ankle).
ORIGINAL POST: 1:00 p.m. Friday
While fantasy football mavens like to pretend that they’re taking part in a game of high skill, winners are often determined by pure, unadulterated luck.
You’ve no doubt lost plenty of games because your opponent started a mediocre player who had his Game of a Lifetime. But the randomness with which star players occasionally lay eggs is just as common. Week 10 is Exhibit A … when these stars’ poor performances during the Bye-pocalypse were proof positive that nothing is guaranteed in fantasy gaming.
Saquon Barkley (Giants RB) — The consensus No. 1 draft pick averaged about three per carry against the Jets. Three inches, that is. Odds are the one yard he traveled on his 13 efforts did not carry anyone into the winner’s circle this week.
David Johnson (Cardinals RB) — The first-round favorite managed only 10 yards on six touches against Tampa Bay, as coach Kliff Kingsbury decided newcomer Kenyan Drake should be his money back against Tampa Bay.
Cooper Kupp (Rams WR) — He came into Sunday’s game as one of the league leaders, then posted a goose egg in Pittsburgh. He was targeted on only 4 of 41 Los Angeles passes, and he caught not a one.
Stefon Diggs (Vikings WR) — He was expected to post big numbers in Adam Thielen’s absence. Outside of one great 27-yard catch that was confirmed on super-slow-mo video, he had only two catches for 22 yards. Luckily, Kyle Rudolph picked up the slack
JuJu Smith-Schuster (Steelers WR) — This preseason top-10 wideout continued his slide, catching only three passes for 44 yards. He’s really missing Ben Roethlisberger after getting only six targets from his mediocre backup QB, Myles Garrett’s pal Mason Rudolph.
Jared Goff (Rams QB) — Speaking of declines … the Super Bowl quarterback went touchdown-free in Pittsburgh, with two interceptions. His 243 yards were little consolation to those banking on Sean McVay’s alleged offensive juggernaut.
Drew Brees (Saints QB) — Perhaps the flukiest result of Week 10, Brees was unable to get the Saints in the end zone at the Superdome. That had not happened before. The fact they were stopped by a previously porous Falcons defense, winners of only one game, is another example why fantasy football will rip out your soul and step on it.
Field conditions could be dicey for the Monday night Chiefs-Chargers game in Mexico City, so you might want to think twice about running backs in this game, though Patrick Mahomes will be fine. … Tampa Bay’s defense has been surprisingly good against the run and may be so again against the Saints’ Alvin Kamara and Latavius Murray. …Philadelphia QB Carson Wentz has struggled recently and has to face an angry Patriots defense coming off of its first loss. … The Rams’ Jared Goff is an even worse option against a Bears defense that roughed him up last year. … On the flip side, the Bears’ David Montgomery won’t find the Rams’ defense too giving. … Arizona WR Christian Kirk will cool off against the Niners’ top defense, mostly because Kyler Murray will be running for his life most of the afternoon.
Wondering who gets to run up the score on Cincinnati this week? It’s the Raiders’ Derek Carr and Josh Jacobs. … The Ravens-Texans shootout will determine whether Lamar Jackson or Deshaun Watson is the No. 1 QB this week, and which is No. 2. … Buffalo QB Josh Allen should rebound against a Miami team that has already exceeded its expected win total. … Phllly will have its usual hard time covering New England WR Julian Edelman, as the Buccaneers will struggle to slow Saints TE Jared Cook. … If 49ers RB Tevin Coleman is healthy, he should run through Arizona’s supposed defense. … Nick Foles is back as the Jacksonville quarterback, and he’s facing a Colts defense that had trouble stopping Ryan Fitzpatrick, for gosh sakes. … And this would be the one time all year to start the Jets’ defense, thanks to the Redskins’ starting of unready QB Dwayne Haskins.
Atlanta RB Devonta Freeman (foot) is expected to miss a couple of weeks, but the big void this week is among pass catchers with Seattle’s Tyler Lockett (leg), Atlanta’s Austin Hooper (knee), San Francisco’s Emmanuel Sanders (ribs) and the Jets’ Chris Herndon (ribs) sidelined. … The absences of Detroit QB Matthew Stafford (back), the Vikings’ Adam Thielen and Cincinnati WR A.J. Green will continue. … Giants RB Saquon Barkley (ankle) is banged up but expected to play, as is 49ers RB Matt Breida (ankle). … Among players who might return from injury this week: Indy QB Jacoby Brissett, Giants WR Evan Engram, Houston wideout Will Fuller V, Indy WR T.Y. Hilton, Philly WR Alshon Jefffery, Jacksonville WR Dede Westbrook, and Tennessee’s Delanie Walker and Corey Davis. … Rams WR Brandin Cooks is in the concussion protocol. Still.
THE DEEPEST SLEEPER
This is one of the more obvious deep sleepers in memory. Atlanta RB Brian Hill was owned in roughly zero percent of leagues coming into the week. But thanks to injuries to Freeman and Ito Smith, Hill is the Falcons’ No. 1 back for the near term. He ran 20 times for 61 yards and caught a TD pass last Sunday in their upset win in New Orleans. And this week he gets to face the run-friendly Carolina defense. Since you already may have lost a chance to claim Hill, we’ll offer you another sleeper: 49ers backup tight end Ross Dwelley. George Kittle missed the Monday night game against Seattle and could miss Sunday’s game against Arizona. You know, the Cardinals that have yet to cover a tight end this season. If Kittle is ruled out, feel free to pounce on this sophomore, a former San Diego Torero.
We’ll be updating our column, based on the latest injuries and innuendo, right up until Sunday’s kickoff. Go to TwinCities.com/theloop.
You can hear Kevin Cusick on Wednesdays on Bob Sansevere’s “BS Show” podcast on iTunes. You can follow Kevin on Twitter — @theloopnow. He can be reached at email@example.com.