Deebo Samuel suffered both an MCL sprain and a high ankle sprain in the game Sunday. While he is currently expected to return at some point during the regular season, in the meantime it will be difficult to replace what he brings to the San Francisco 49ers, particularly his ability to generate yards after the catch. Over the past three seasons, Samuel has led all receivers in yards after the catch per reception. A return in Week 17 cannot be ruled out but, even so, Samuel's fantasy season is essentially over. Brandon Aiyuk, George Kittle, and Christian McCaffrey will carry the offense while Samuel is out.
Fantasy managers in deeper formats should consider Jauan Jennings (0.4%). Against the Rams in Week 18 of the 2021 season, he had some success, catching six of seven targets for 94 receiving yards and two touchdowns. In Week 12 this season against the Saints, he caught six of seven targets for 49 yards and a touchdown. Jennings does a very good job against both zone and man coverages, as well as on underneath routes, and is one of San Francisco's most reliable third-down options.
Here are some other WR options to consider if you have to replace Samuel on your fantasy team.
Donovan Peoples-Jones, Cleveland Browns (44.3%): Peoples-Jones has scored double-digit fantasy points in eight of his past 10 games, including two with 17-plus points. On Sunday, he had a season-high 12 targets and 19.4 fantasy points against the Bengals. Peoples-Jones next faces a Ravens secondary that has allowed the sixth-most WR fantasy points per game.
Darius Slayton, New York Giants (42.9%): The entire Giants offense struggled Sunday against Philadelphia's stout defense -- including Slayton, who finished with only 42 receiving yards and 6.2 fantasy points. Slayton had managed double-digit fantasy points in six of his previous eight games and, against the Commanders in Week 15 (a team he scored 15 fantasy points against in Week 13), he has a more favorable matchup.
Parris Campbell, Indianapolis Colts (39.7%): In a season in which the Colts offense has not lived up to expectations, Campbell has been one of the few bright spots. During the four games in which he has had at least six targets, he has scored 11-plus fantasy points, including three games with 18-plus points. He has a favorable matchup in Week 15 against the Vikings as only the Titans have allowed more WR fantasy points. Campbell and the Colts will play against the Chargers and Giants in Weeks 16-17. He should not be overlooked by fantasy managers in deeper formats.
DJ Chark, Detroit Lions (22.9%): Chark has the potential to be a difference-maker for fantasy managers in the playoffs. In each of his past three games, he has either caught a touchdown or accumulated at least 98 yards. Chark has amassed 18 targets over that period. Over the past three games, the Lions have averaged 409 yards. If you need wide receiver help, Chark should be on your radar.
Ben Skowronek, Los Angeles Rams (2.6%): Last Thursday, Skowronek had a season-high eight targets and 15.9 fantasy points. He demonstrated great rapport with Baker Mayfield. It was only the second time all season that Skowronek has led the Rams in receiving yards and his first 50-yard game since Week 3. For managers in deeper formats, he's an intriguing pickup.
Quick hits: Watching Jameson Williams (26.9%) score his first NFL touchdown was great, but he played on only 13 snaps against the Vikings. ... In Week 15, Treylon Burks (47.5%) could return to the Titans' lineup against the Chargers. In the two games before he suffered a concussion in Week 13, he scored 17-plus fantasy points. ... Despite the Ravens' reliance on the run, Demarcus Robinson (8.7%) has accumulated 27 targets over the past four games. In three of his past four games, he has scored double-digit fantasy points. ... Nico Collins (20.5%) didn't play Sunday against the Cowboys because of a foot injury. He has led the Texans in both targets and receiving yards since Week 2. In the event Collins or Brandin Cooks is ruled out for Week 15's game against the Chiefs, consider Chris Moore (2.3%) who scored 22.4 fantasy points Sunday.
Let's take a look at our recommended Week 15 ESPN Fantasy waiver wire adds at the other skill positions.
Jared Goff, Detroit Lions (44.9%): Although Goff isn't the fantasy quarterback managers are clamoring to start, he does seem to deliver respectable performances when you need them. Sunday against the Vikings, Goff scored 26.1 fantasy points, and he has now scored 17-plus in three consecutive games. He has performed much better at home than on the road. After facing the Jets and Panthers on the road in Weeks 15-16, the Lions get the Bears at home in Week 17. Goff has averaged 8.5 fantasy points per game on the road. Although he is surrounded by an array of offensive playmakers, it is important to have proper expectations when picking him up.
Mike White, New York Jets (15.3%): White has scored 17-plus fantasy points in two of his past three games. The Bills defense pummeled White on Sunday, forcing him to visit a hospital for precautionary tests on a broken rib, but he seems to have solidified his starting job and has earned the respect of his teammates. Lineman Connor McGovern called White "the epitome of what hopefully everyone in this locker room is willing to do to win." For Week 15, he has an excellent matchup against a Lions defense that just allowed Kirk Cousins to reach a season-high 25 fantasy points.
Mac Jones, New England Patriots (9.7%): Jones had no hand in any of the Patriots' touchdowns on Monday night against the Cardinals and finished with just 7.3 fantasy points. Although Jones has averaged only 11.7 fantasy points per game this season, he's still a solid option for managers in deeper formats in Week 15 against a Raiders defense that's allowed the third-most passing yards. Jones has shown he is capable of taking advantage of favorable matchups, like when he scored 23.2 fantasy points against the Vikings in Week 12.
Brock Purdy, San Francisco 49ers (7.0%): Purdy scored 21.7 fantasy points in his first career start, well outperforming Tom Brady (10.1). This is another great example of how effective head coach Kyle Shanahan's offensive scheme can be for fantasy stats. Purdy became only the fifth quarterback to post a 90-plus total rating in his first career start since QBR was first tracked in 2006. He now faces a Seahawks' passing defense Thursday that has given up 17.0 QB fantasy points per game. Purdy suffered an oblique injury against the Buccaneers, but the 49ers don't expect it to be an issue. He is firmly on the QB2 radar.
Matt Ryan, Indianapolis Colts (6.2%): The Colts are coming off of their Week 14 bye. Ryan has amassed just 27.9 fantasy points over the past three games. However, in Week 10, he scored 22.6 against the Raiders. Against the Vikings in Week 15, Ryan has the perfect matchup in which to thrive. This season, Minnesota's defense has allowed 20.4 QB fantasy points per game.
Quick hits: Taylor Heinicke (14.1%) returns from the Commanders' bye week to face the Giants. In Week 13, he scored 17.6 fantasy points against them. ... In three of his past five games, Ryan Tannehill (14.7%) has scored 17-plus fantasy points. In Week 15, he and the Titans face the Chargers. ... Desmond Ridder (2.0%) will make his first career start against the Saints in Week 15. Make sure he's on your watch list or pick him up proactively. The Falcons play the Ravens in Week 16 and the Cardinals in Week 17. Those matchups are both very favorable.
Zonovan Knight, New York Jets (58.0%): Against the Bills on Sunday, Knight dominated both the early-down snaps and short-yardage snaps, while Michael Carter played more on passing downs. In this role, Knight can be a fantasy starter until the end of the season. Over the past two weeks, James Robinson has been a healthy inactive. Knight has now had 17-plus touches and 13-plus fantasy points in three consecutive games.
Gus Edwards, Baltimore Ravens (36.8%): Certainly, J.K. Dobbins (60.7%) should be prioritized if he's available in your league. Dobbins finished his Week 14 return with 18 fantasy points. It was his first 100-yard rushing game since Week 17 of the 2020 season. The Ravens could continue to rely more on the running backs in Week 15 if Tyler Huntley fails to clear the league's concussion protocol. Now, the Ravens backfield is likely to operate as a committee considering Dobbins' injury history. This season, Edwards has had at least 11 rushing attempts in four of the five games in which he has played. He makes for a solid flex option in deeper formats with upcoming games against the Browns, Falcons and Steelers.
Jerick McKinnon, Kansas City Chiefs (34.6%): McKinnon finished with just 22 rushing yards on six attempts against the Broncos on Sunday. However, he also caught seven of nine targets for a career-high 112 receiving yards and two touchdowns. McKinnon (39) played on more snaps than Isiah Pacheco (29). Throughout the season, he has served as the Chiefs' third-down back, running 25 routes against Denver. McKinnon will have a hard time replicating this performance, but with games against the Texans, Seahawks and Broncos, the Chiefs have a very favorable fantasy playoff schedule. In four of his past six games, McKinnon has reached double-digit fantasy points. In Week 15, he can be viewed as a flex option against the Texans, who gave up 39.3 combined fantasy points to Tony Pollard and Ezekiel Elliott on Sunday.
Chuba Hubbard, Carolina Panthers (19.0%): The Panthers have relied heavily on the run over the last two games with Sam Darnold at quarterback, creating a conducive environment for both Hubbard and D'Onta Foreman. Hubbard has amassed 34 touches over that span and continues to be the Panthers' third-down and change-of-pace back. Carolina leads the league in rushing attempts (199) between the tackles and ranks second in rushing yards between the tackles (926) since Week 7. In the fantasy playoffs, all three of Carolina's opponents are in the top half of the league in terms of most RB fantasy points allowed. Hubbard is a solid flex option for fantasy managers in deeper formats.
Tyler Allgeier, Atlanta Falcons (34.7%): Allgeier gets a boost with Ridder expected to make his first career start. In nine of his 12 games this season, he has had double-digit touches. Allgeier leads the Falcons in rushing attempts, rushing yards and rushes of over 20 yards. He's also the only running back on the team with at least 20 attempts to have not fumbled. You should stash Allgeier if you have room on your roster, especially for Week 17's game against the Cardinals.
Rex Burkhead, Houston Texans (7.1%): Aaron Wilson of Pro Football Network reported on Tuesday that Dameon Pierce is dealing with a "relatively mild high ankle sprain" and will miss Week 15 and possibly longer. Eno Benjamin was waived by the Texans on Tuesday morning, leaving Burkhead and Dare Ogunbowale as the team's only running backs. Burkhead is suddenly back on the flex radar for managers looking for help at running back.
Evan Engram, Jacksonville Jaguars (44.5%): Engram finished with a whopping 39.2 fantasy points against the Titans on Sunday. He caught 10 passes for 152 yards and two touchdowns. If you need a tight end, Engram is worth picking up despite his upcoming matchups against the Cowboys, Jets, and Texans.
Tyler Conklin, New York Jets (39.1%): Conklin has been targeted 15 times over the past two games but has only scored 11 fantasy points. He is one of only eight tight ends with at least 425 receiving yards and three touchdowns this season. Conklin has a favorable matchup against the Lions in Week 15. Detroit's defense has allowed the fifth-most TE fantasy points per game.
Chigoziem Okonkwo, Tennessee Titans (4.3%): The rookie tight end had season highs in both targets (6) and fantasy points (18.5) against the Jaguars on Sunday. Over the past three games, Okonkwo has been targeted 16 times. Two of those three games have yielded double-digit fantasy points. Okonkwo leads all tight ends with 2.58 yards per route run. Despite splitting snaps with Austin Hooper, he is well-positioned to succeed against the Chargers in Week 15.
Quick hits: Hunter Henry (30.9%) is on the streaming radar against the Raiders in Week 15. ... Due to Taysom Hill's (38.2%) nontraditional usage, it is difficult to predict when to insert him into lineups. In Week 15, he will face a Falcons defense that has allowed the third-most total yards per game.