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Big names dealing with COVID-19 or injury going into Week 16, fantasy semifinals

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  • Travis Kelce
    Travis Kelce
    American football player, tight end

The fantasy football semifinals kick off this week for many leagues, but the COVID-19 pandemic is still raging throughout the NFL.

Though it doesn’t look like the league will postpone any games this week — three games were rescheduled in Week 15 due to massive outbreaks — the coronavirus can still impact fantasy lineups at a moments notice.

Here’s the latest on some big names in the NFL headed into Week 16.

Uncertain on COVID-19 list

Travis Kelce, Kansas City Chiefs TE

Kelce is one of several Chiefs players who landed on the team’s reserve/COVID-19 list earlier this week, putting his status in doubt ahead of their game on Sunday against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Though it’s still unclear, Kelce does have a significant chance to play on Sunday. He is reportedly fully vaccinated, which could allow him to return early under the NFL’s new health and safety protocols if he’s asymptomatic.

That’d be a huge help for the Chiefs, especially since he’s coming off their overtime win over the Chargers where he scored twice and racked up 191 yards on 10 receptions. Kelce, who has 1,066 receiving yards so far this season, is the second-best tight end fantasy-wise behind only Mark Andrews.

For now, keep an eye on Kelce.

Tyreek Hill, Kansas City Chiefs WR

Just like Kelce, Hill’s absence would be significant for the Chiefs.

Neither player practiced on Wednesday, but the team is still holding out hope that Hill can return in time for Sunday.

Hill is approaching a career-high already this season with 1,178 receiving yards and nine touchdowns. He had 148 yards and a touchdown on 12 receptions against the Chargers on Thursday, too.

Though it’s unclear if Hill is vaccinated or asymptomatic, he’d obviously be worth waiting on.

"Those guys have gotten a lot of reps with me and within this offense," quarterback Patrick Mahomes said Wednesday, via ESPN. "Obviously, it's a very complex defense we're facing on Sunday, but they've played [the Steelers] a couple of times before I was here. As long as they're healthy, they're safe and they've passed the protocols and they're back, we'll throw them right back in the offense and they'll have the roles they've always had."

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Austin Ekeler, Los Angeles Chargers RB

Though Ekeler hasn’t been ruled out for the Chargers’ game against the Texans on Sunday, “it’s not looking good.”

Ekeler told Yahoo Sports’ Liz Loza on Wednesday that he wasn’t feeling well after landing on the reserve/COVID-19 list earlier in the day and was pessimistic about being able to play in Houston.

"Don't recommend," Ekeler told Yahoo Sports. "Zero out of 10 fun. Just dealing with this day-to-day. We have new protocols in place. I had to get tested every day and have two negative tests and no symptoms. And so right now, I can tell you it's not looking good [for Sunday's game], just because the history of COVID and how long it usually takes to dissipate or at least for your body to beat it. So, I'm just going to be chilling."

Ekeler is in the middle of a career season with the Chargers, having recorded 789 rushing yards and 10 touchdowns so far this year. He has 62 receptions for 558 yards and seven receiving touchdowns, too.

Ekeler is currently the second-best running back in Yahoo’s default scoring leagues, behind only Jonathan Taylor. Though he’d be incredibly helpful, take it from his own words. At this point, it’s probably not worth the risk.

Austin Ekeler of the Los Angeles Chargers
Austin Ekeler landed on the Chargers' reserve/COVID-19 list this week. (Harry How/Getty Images)

Brandin Cooks, Houston Texans WR

Cooks was one of three Texans added to their reserve/COVID-19 list (a list that continues to grow) on Wednesday, which brings their team total to 18 players. Cooks, who is the 15th best receiver so far this season fantasy scoring-wise, has 945 receiving yards and five touchdowns on 80 receptions.

Cooks scored twice and had 102 receiving yards in Houston's win over the Jaguars on Sunday, too. Though the Chargers are undoubtedly a better defensive team than the Jaguars, Cooks still has plenty of opportunities to produce on Sunday.

His status for that game is still unknown, though he is vaccinated. If he’s asymptomatic, there is hope that he can return in time.

Tyler Lockett, Seattle Seahawks WR

Lockett landed on Seattle’s reserve/COVID-19 list last Thursday, and missed their rescheduled game against the Rams on Tuesday because of it.

That was just the second missed game of his career.

Though his status is still uncertain, Lockett is in a pretty good position to return in time for Sunday’s game against the Chicago Bears. Coach Pete Carroll said Lockett was one of several players who are “real close” to being cleared.

Lockett has 1,023 receiving yards and five touchdowns so far this season, marking his third-straight 1,000-yard season.

EDITOR'S NOTE: Tyler Lockett has been activated off the reserve/COVID-19 list.

[Week 16 Fantasy Rankings: QBs | RBs | WRs | TEs | FLEX | DST | Kickers]

Out with COVID-19

Taysom Hill, New Orleans Saints QB

Hill was placed on the team’s reserve/COVID-19 list on Thursday, and the Saints have already made other plans for their game on Monday against the Miami Dolphins.

The Saints are reportedly turning to rookie Ian Book instead. Book, who they took with their fourth-round pick in April, has yet to play a regular season snap. He is, though, the only active quarterback on the roster currently — as Jameis Winston is on injured reserve and Trevor Siemian is also expected to land on the reserve/COVID-19 list.

Dalvin Cook, Minnesota Vikings RB

Cook was placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list on Thursday, and he’s expected to be out for 10 days — as he’s reportedly been following protocols for unvaccinated players.

This means that Cook will miss their game on Sunday against the Rams, and could potentially also miss Week 17's game.

Cook, who is the only Vikings player on the reserve/COVID-19 list, has 1,067 rushing yards this season — the most in the NFC. Backup Alexander Mattison is expected to start in Cook’s place, and is an auto-start for anyone with him on their fantasy roster. 

Dalvin Cook of the Minnesota Vikings
Dalvin Cook is out Sunday after landing on the team's reserve/COVID-19 list. (Stephen Maturen/Getty Images)

Cole Beasley, Buffalo Bills WR

Beasley landed on the Bills’ reserve/COVID-19 list on Tuesday. The outspoken receiver has made it clear that he is still unvaccinated in the past, meaning he will be sidelined for 10 days and miss their game against the Patriots.

Beasley claimed in an Instagram post this week that the league’s “rules” are keeping him out of the game, not the coronavirus — even though he said he has “mild symptoms.”

Beasley has 640 receiving yards and one touchdown so far this season with the Bills. He had 35 yards on eight receptions last week against the Panthers.

Questionable with injuries

James Conner, Arizona Cardinals RB

Conner has been out so far this week with a heel injury, putting his status for Saturday night’s game against the Indianapolis Colts in jeopardy.

Cardinals coach Kliff Kingsbury said Thursday that Conner would be a game-time decision. Conner, the fifth-highest scoring fantasy running back on the season, has 700 rushing yards and a career-high 14 touchdowns so far. He only had 39 yards on eight carries last week in their upset loss to the Detroit Lions, however.

Lamar Jackson, Baltimore Ravens QB

It’s still unclear if Jackson will be able to play against the Bengals this weekend after dealing with an ankle injury the past two weeks.

Jackson suffered the ankle injury against the Browns two weeks ago, and sat out Sunday’s loss to the Green Bay Packers. Backup Tyler Huntley nearly led the Ravens to a win in that contest.

Jackson is still taking things “day-by-day,” offensive coordinator Greg Roman said Thursday.

Though he’s a solid contributor when he’s healthy, Jackson’s status could still go either way — especially considering how great Huntley played in Green Bay.

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Darren Waller, Las Vegas Raiders TE

Waller hasn’t played since the Raiders’ Thanksgiving Day win over the Dallas Cowboys while dealing with both a back and a knee injury. Raiders interim coach Rich Bisaccia said he was a “work in progress” on Monday, but he’s yet to practice this week.

Waller, 29, has 643 receiving yards and two touchdowns on 53 receptions so far this season, his fourth with the Raiders.

D’Andre Swift, Detroit Lions RB

After a three-week absence with a shoulder injury, Swift returned to practice Wednesday in a limited capacity.

Though his status for Sunday against the Falcons is still unknown, Swift’s return is a great sign.

Swift, fantasy RB16 overall, has 555 rushing yards and 429 receiving yards with six total touchdowns so far this season, his second in Detroit. Assuming he’s back, and depending on quarterback Jared Goff’s status, Swift could have plenty of opportunities against Atlanta.

D'Andre Swift of the Detroit Lions
D'Andre Swift returned to practice this week after missing three games with a shoulder injury. (Mike Mulholland/Getty Images)

Out with injury

Leonard Fournette, Tampa Bay Buccaneers RB

Fournette landed on injured reserve Thursday after suffering a hamstring injury in their loss to the Saints on Sunday.

Fournette left the game on crutches, but he is expected to return for the postseason, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

In the meantime, the Bucs signed Le’Veon Bell to serve as Ronald Jones’ backup through the rest of the year. Jones is ranked as the consensus fantasy RB8 for Week 16.

Chris Godwin, Tampa Bay Buccaneers WR

Godwin’s season is done.

The Buccaneers’ wide receiver suffered a torn ACL in their loss to the Saints on Sunday after a collision with New Orleans safety P.J. Williams. He ended the year with 1,103 receiving yards and five touchdowns on 98 receptions.

DeAndre Hopkins, Arizona Cardinals WR

Hopkins is expected to miss the rest of the season due to a knee injury, but a postseason return isn’t out of the question.

Hopkins underwent surgery last week to repair a torn MCL. He could return in about two months at best, which doesn’t rule out a late postseason return if things go well both for Hopkins’ recovery and the Cardinals.

Hopkins finished the year with 572 receiving yards and eight touchdowns on 42 receptions.

Other names of note

Justin Fields, Chicago Bears QB

Out for Week 16, Nick Foles will start

Gabriel Davis, Buffalo Bills WR

Out for Week 16 on reserve/COVID-19 list

Baker Mayfield, Cleveland Browns QB

Still questionable, but reportedly expected to return

Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Green Bay Packers WR

Questionable

Kendrick Bourne, New England Patriots WR

Questionable, but looking good to return.

Jarvis Landry, Cleveland Browns WR

Questionable, but expected to return

Kareem Hunt, Cleveland Browns RB

Likely out on reserve/COVID-19 list, ankle injury

Jared Goff, Detroit Lions QB

Questionable

Harrison Butker, Kansas City Chiefs K

Out

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