Examining fantasy football handcuff options amid star injuries

Did you hear the widespread cacophony of woe that echoed across the fantasy football land on Monday? Or perhaps you only heard a collective sigh of relief wash over the rolling hills near your home? Which one would depend on your proximity to fantasy managers who have Javonte Williams or Jonathan Taylor on their rosters?

First there was bad news: Both Taylor and Williams left their games with injuries. Then there was some better news, that Taylor’s ankle injury is not believed to be serious, so he might not miss significant time. Then there was the worst news: Williams not only will miss Thursday’s game, he has a torn ACL and is out for the season.

Taylor’s situation is at least temporary. The consensus top-overall fantasy pick has unsurprisingly dominated the Colts’ ground game. It’s the lack of any share with anyone that makes forecasting a potential replacement more difficult.

Because Taylor is such a vital part of the Indianapolis offense, and despite ESPN’s Adam Schefter reporting Taylor has a chance to play Thursday, the Madman can’t imagine the Colts would be so short-sighted as to allow him to play. And even if they do foolishly decide to let him play, we are prepping backup options just in case — whether that case being last-minute scratch or he plays and worsens the injury long term.

Javonte Williams
Javonte Williams

Because Nyheim Hines and Deon Jackson are the only RB options on the Colts’ roster, we’ll scoop up Hines where we can. Though he is unlikely to get a bell cow-type workload, we do expect an increase in carries — and a heavier reliance on the pass by the offense in general, which is how Hines is used most often.

Unless we hear the injury is more serious or will require extended time out, we’re not to make any panic moves beyond this to cover for Taylor in the short term.

Williams, obviously, is a different story. The first option is clearly Melvin Gordon, who had been, quite literally, in a 50-50 timeshare entering Week 4 (Williams had 38 touches to Gordon’s 34).

Only, that isn’t what happened Sunday. First, Williams dominated the first-half volume, getting nine carries to Gordon’s two. Then Williams was injured near the start of the second half. For the remainder of the game, Mike Boone saw a significant amount of use compared to Gordon.

Gordon had just two carries the rest of the day. Boone had three carries and was also targeted three times on passes (Gordon got just one first-half target).

So once Williams left, Boone had six combined touches and targets, Gordon had just two. That is confusing, and confusion can be troubling for fantasy managers.

For now, we’re going to chalk it up to Gordon’s limited use being game plan-specific. Besides, Williams was unable to win a healthier share of the workload from Gordon, why would anyone think third-stringer Boone would be able to do so? Don’t spend significant free-agent capital on Boone based on one half-game of use.

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