Maybe, just maybe, Larry Fitzgerald can become the first receiver to score a touchdown against the Jacksonville Jaguars since Week 1.
Jaguars cornerback Jalen Ramsey told ESPN's Michael DiRocco that he doesn't expect to play Sunday at the Arizona Cardinals after injuring his hand in practice Friday. It's unclear how long Ramsey might be sidelined. But if it's anything long-term, that might offer hope to receivers like T.Y. Hilton, Doug Baldwin and DeAndre Hopkins over the next three weeks as well.
Ramsey's status could be a huge development for the fantasy playoff stretch, because no unit in the NFL has been as dominant as Jacksonville's secondary.
The Jaguars have allowed by far the fewest fantasy points this season to receivers (21 per game in ESPN leagues) and quarterbacks (7.4 per game). They have allowed just 162 passing yards per game (best in the NFL by nearly 25 yards). And they haven't allowed a touchdown pass to a receiver since Hopkins in Week 1 (but they were still so dominant in that game that they inspired the Houston Texans to bench quarterback Tom Savage by halftime).
Missing Ramsey may put a dent in that dominance -- but it's not like Fitzgerald will be completely off the hook.
For another thing, ESPN fantasy analyst Mike Clay pointed out that Fitzgerald lines up in the slot 66 percent of the time -- and the Jaguars haven't done a lot of shadowing with Ramsey against top receivers this year. So Ramsey might not have matched up with Fitzgerald the most in this game anyway.
It doesn't seem to matter, since the Jaguars have also allowed the fewest fantasy points to slot receivers this year, according to Clay's numbers. So Hilton (40 percent in the slot) and Baldwin (76 percent in the slot) won't be off the hook, either. Hilton had just two catches for 27 yards when the Indianapolis Colts first played Jacksonville in Week 7.
ESPN Arizona Cardinals reporter Josh Weinfuss said no matter who is covering Fitzgerald, he expects QB Blaine Gabbert to target him frequently on Sunday. The Cardinals have never shied away from targeting Fitzgerald against other top cornerbacks, and Gabbert and Fitzgerald have started to develop a rapport.
So obviously you don't want to bench Fitzgerald -- or Hilton or Baldwin or Hopkins, for that matter. You'd just better hope that your fantasy playoff life doesn't hinge on a breakout performance from any of them.
"Every fantasy owner should have concerns when their No. 1 WR has to line up vs. the Jags secondary," ESPN NFL analyst Matt Bowen said before Ramsey's injury. "This is the best unit I've watched on tape all year. Physical, aggressive and tough. These guys challenge routes all day long."
Now, you might point out that the Jags gave up a surprising six catches for 80 yards to Cleveland Browns receiver Corey Coleman last week. But DiRocco noted that Cleveland's DeShone Kizer also threw two interceptions while targeting Coleman -- and that Ramsey wasn't pleased about Coleman's performance and is determined to make up for it going forward.
So whenever Ramsey comes back, he might be more determined than ever to ruin your fantasy playoff hopes.
WORTH A CLICK:
Sammy Watkins and Martavis Bryant have been two of the bigger fantasy disappointments this season, but they both have a chance to resurface this week. ESPN Pittsburgh Steelers reporter Jeremy Fowler said Bryant could actually be a viable fantasy play again in the wake of rookie JuJu Smith-Schuster's injury. Watkins, meanwhile, should benefit from the injury to Los Angeles Rams receiver Robert Woods -- and from injuries to both of the New Orleans Saints' starting cornerbacks. As ESPN Rams reporter Alden Gonzalez said, "If you have Sammy Watkins, now is as good a time as any to start him."
Thanks to the Saints' surging defense and run game, Drew Brees has turned into a supporting actor for most of their eight-game win streak. But as I wrote this week as ESPN's Saints reporter, Brees proved that he still has the "magic" when needed in a rare come-from-behind situation Sunday. Brees completed 11-of-11 passes for 264 yards and two TDs in less than five minutes as New Orleans rallied to beat the Redskins.
Likewise, ESPN Carolina Panthers reporter David Newton pointed out that QB Cam Newton has a history of saving his best for last -- he threw for 20 TD passes with one interception over the final seven games of his 2015 MVP run. Newton appears to be playing his best football heading into December again this year.
One of the reasons why Newton should finish strong? His go-to tight end Greg Olsen is back from injured reserve. "He brings a calming presence," Cam Newton said. "It's just an extra piece to the puzzle that we've been long missing.” Olsen, meanwhile, said he hopes to pick right back up where he left off last year and catch 10 balls right away -- although he knows that's easier said than done.
No one misses Aaron Rodgers more than Jordy Nelson. But as ESPN Green Bay Packers reporter Rob Demovsky wrote, Nelson is not complaining or demanding targets now that backup QB Brett Hundley has shown more of a comfort level with receiver Davante Adams.
ESPN New England Patriots Mike Reiss reporter wrote a "short story" about RB Dion Lewis, who has become New England's leading rusher despite his 5-foot-8 stature. Bill Belichick compared Lewis to former New York Giants back Joe Morris.
The Kansas City Chiefs need answers for their slumping run game -- and fast, writes ESPN Chiefs reporter Adam Teicher. But as ESPN Buffalo Bills reporter Mike Rodak wrote, the Bills defense could provide the perfect medicine.