UPDATE: 11:19 p.m. Saturday
The fantasy news tonight is dwarfed by a couple of breaking news items concerning the local team in purple:
1. Vikings star receiver Justin Jefferson is now expected to miss anywhere from four to six weeks, according to ESPN. We’re guessing that his absence might be extremely longer if the Vikings are out of contention in four to six weeks, which they very well may be.
2. ESPN is also reporting that Kirk Cousins has no plans to waive his no trade clause, which actually might be worse news for the New York Jets than it is for Minnesota.
In fantasy news, I’d argue the biggest news tonight is the ruling out of Jets cornerback Ahmad “Sauce” Gardner for Sunday’s game. This could mean a BIG day for Philly receivers A.J. Brown and DeVonta Smith, as New York is already missing its other cornerback, D.J. Reeder.
The only other big note tonight is that Chargers RB Austin Ekeler has been cleared to return after a three-week absence Monday night against Dallas. Still a must-start.
NOTE: We’re going to be otherwise occupied Sunday morning and will NOT be giving our usual updates when the inactives lists for the noon kickoff games are released. So make sure you monitor the pregame shows and the various sites on the Internets for the status of, say, Saquon Barkley and Tee Higgins.
UPDATE: 10:40 a.m. Saturday
We were already expecting things to get a little ugly this week when unbeaten San Francisco came to Cleveland to abuse the Browns. But now Cleveland quarterback Deshaun Watson has been ruled out because of a shoulder injury. Forecasters predict a 50 percent chance of a shutout with P.J. Walker stepping in.
Giants quarterback Daniel Jones has been ruled out of the their blowout loss in Buffalo, so Tyrod Taylor will be absorbing punishment in his place.
Carolina RB Miles Sanders won’t play against Miami on Sunday. Also ruled out are Detroit RB Jahmyr Gibbs and Jaguars WR Zay Jones.
Notable players who are considered iffy for Week 6 at this point include Dallas running back Tony Pollard and Detroit tight end sensation Sam LaPorta. Cincinnati WR Tee Higgins is considered a game-time decision.
ORIGINAL POST: 2:24 p.m. Wednesday
If you thought the Vikings’ season was turning into a train wreck, you received more clarity on that likelihood last Sunday when all-world receiver Justin Jefferson suffered a non-contact injury to his hamstring near the end of Minnesota’s loss to Kansas City.
He’s headed for injured reserve, so fantasy mavens who drafted him with the No. 1 or No. 2 pick will be needing a replacement for the next four weeks, starting with this Sunday’s game against the suddenly revived Bears in Chicago.
Here are some under-the-radar receivers who, depending on the size and skill level of your league, might still be available on waivers:
K.J. Osborn (Vikings WR) – The obvious replacement for Jefferson in Minnesota and in fantasy. You certainly can’t get Jordan Addison on waivers, but the Vikings’ No. 3 could be had. He has 13 catches for 166 yards and two touchdowns this season.
D.J. Chark (Carolina WR) – The Panthers veteran might have the best career resume among available WRs. But his numbers this year (10 catches, 171 yards, two TDs) are dwarfed by teammate Adam Thielen. And the Panthers, of course, have QB issues.
Josh Reynolds (Lions WR) – Even with Amon-Ra St Brown out, the Detroit offense is still humming. Reynolds has 16 receptions for 291 yards and three TDs this season and will continue to shine as the Lions coast to the NFC North title.
Josh Downs (Colts WR) – The rookie from North Carolina is now the clear No. 2 in Indy, and he led the Colts last week with six catches for 97 yards. With Gardner Minshew at the helm this week, Downs could be due for his first NFL touchdown.
Curtis Samuel (Commanders WR) – As Washington’s offense has perked up, so too has Samuel. The veteran has 13 catches for 156 yards and a touchdown in the past two weeks, and the Commanders have a light schedule the next six weeks.
Braxton Berrios (Dolphins WR) – He’s one of the few still-available pieces of the explosive Miami offense. Berrios has 15 catches for 159 yards and one TD for a unit that, through the first five games of the season, has the most yardage in NFL history.
Who runs wild this week against the world’s worst defense? It’s Kansas City RB Isiah Pacheco rolling over the Broncos this week. … Buffalo RB James Cook, now clearly the star of the family, will face a lot of Giants hand-tacklers. … The Vikings’ Cam Akers will see a bigger share of carries in Chicago. … And we see a rebound this week by Patriots RB Rhamondre Stevenson against Las Vegas. … Receivers who will have nice weeks include Miami’s Jaylen Waddle against Carolina and the Seattle duo of D.K. Metcalf and Tyler Lockett vs. Cincinnati. … Dallas’ Dak Prescott will be infinitely better against the Chargers than he was Sunday night in San Frnacisco. … And Washington QB Sam Howell will post more strong numbers against the Falcons.
Indy RB Jonathan Taylor mostly watched Zack Moss rack up yardage last week and will likely do the same against the Jaguars. … Jets RB Breece Hall looked great in Denver but will be much less productive against Philadelphia. … Carolina RB Miles.Sanders will do little vs. Miami. … RB Samaje Perine led Denver in receiving yards last week, so WRs Jerry Jeudy and Courtland Sutton are poor choices to stand out against the Chiefs. … Cincinnati WR Ja’marr Chase is all-world, but he’ll cool down a bit against Seattle. … And we’d think twice before starting slumping Baltimore QB Lamar Jackson vs. Tennessee or ANY Cleveland Browns against the mighty 49ers.
Miami rookie RB De’Von Achane’s record-shattering start has been interrupted by a knee injury, so Jeff Wilson will be back sharing time with Raheem Mostert in the Dolphins’ league-leading backfield. … Chicago RB Khalil Herbert is out with an injured ankle, so either Roschon Johnson or D’Onta Foreman will replace him. … In Indianapolis, QB Anthony Richardson is out again, and Gardner Minshew is back in. … Giants RB Saquon Barkley is uncertain to play against Buffalo and uncertain to do anything against the Bills even if he takes the field. … Quarterbacks considered iffy this week include Cleveland’s Deshaun Watson and the Giants’ Daniel Jones. … Other notables who are questionable include Detroit RB Jahmyr Gibbs, Cincinnati WR Tee Higgins, Houston WR Nathaniel Dell and Jaguars WR Zay Jones.
The deepest sleeper
Arizona, our preseason pick to go 0-17, has been surprisingly competitive, in large part, because of the great play of RB James Conner. But he has injured his knee again and will miss the next few weeks. Enter Emari Demercado. The rookie from Texas Christian came on in relief last week and tallied 10 carries for 45 yards and a touchdown. He had 746 yards rushing and seven TDs in his final year with the Horned Frogs, so he has no track record for great success. But he’s likely to be the Cardinals’ No. 1 back for the next few weeks.
The Thursday pick
Broncos at Chiefs (-10½):
Pick: Chiefs by 14
We’ll be updating our column, based on the latest injuries and innuendo, right up until Sunday’s kickoff. Go to TwinCities.com/theloop.