Read ESPN’s fantasy football Daily Notes every weekday to stay caught up on the news you need to know and get a head start on the fantasy football content coming today and tomorrow to ESPN.com and the ESPN Fantasy App.
The news: Eagles QB Jalen Hurts was limited in Wednesday’s practice.
What it means in fantasy: Hurts has missed the Eagles’ past two games with a shoulder injury, resulting in consecutive losses. During Wednesday’s walkthrough, he practiced with the first-team offense. Despite returning to practice on Dec. 29, Hurts was ruled out against the Saints, but he is likely to play this week as the Eagles try to secure the No. 1 seed in the NFC playoff race by beating the Giants. He can be viewed as a high-end QB1 against New York. Hurts has averaged 26.4 fantasy points per game.
The news: Bears QB Justin Fields has been ruled out against the Vikings in Week 18 because of a hip injury.
What it means in fantasy: Fields sustained the injury against the Lions in Week 17, and Nathan Peterman will start against the Vikings. Peterman’s last start came with the Bills back in 2018. Despite the favorable matchup against the Vikings’ secondary, fantasy managers shouldn’t include Peterman in their lineups this week. Fields finishes his second season 64 yards shy of surpassing Lamar Jackson’s single-season rushing record for a quarterback (1,206 yards).
The news: Cowboys RB Tony Pollard returned to practice in full on Wednesday.
What it means in fantasy: Pollard missed practice last week and the Cowboys’ Thursday night matchup against the Titans with a thigh injury. The fact that he participated fully on Wednesday implies he will be ready to suit up against the Commanders in Week 18 in a crucial matchup that will influence the winner of the NFC East. Pollard can be viewed as a midrange RB2.
Going deeper: This season, Pollard accumulated 1,359 total yards and 12 touchdowns and was named to his first Pro Bowl. Six of his past seven games have seen him score 14 or more fantasy points, including four with 20 or more.
The news: Seahawks RB Kenneth Walker III did not practice Wednesday due to an illness and an ankle injury.
What it means in fantasy: While Walker has played through an ankle injury for weeks, fantasy managers should make note of this development. The game has playoff implications as the Seahawks can clinch a spot if they beat the Rams and the Lions beat the Packers on Sunday night. It is possible that DeeJay Dallas could fill the void if Walker is ruled out, but he did not practice Wednesday either.
Going deeper: Walker needs only 64 yards and a touchdown to reach 1,000 yards and 10 TDs for the season. The only three rookie running backs to accomplish this feat are Jonathan Taylor (2020), Saquon Barkley (2018) and Ezekiel Elliott (2016).
The news: Cardinals RB James Conner did not practice Wednesday due to knee and shin injuries.
What it means in fantasy: The Cardinals have been eliminated from playoff contention, so Conner is a candidate to be ruled out against the 49ers on Sunday. Conner is still under contract with Arizona heading into 2023, so keeping him healthy should be a priority. In the event that Conner is ruled out, Corey Clement and Keaontay Ingram would form a running back by committee for the Cardinals.
The news: Giants RB Saquon Barkley mentioned publicly that he plans on playing against the Eagles on Sunday.
What it means in fantasy: Fantasy managers should prepare as if Barkley is not playing despite his comments. Coach Brian Daboll could rest him now that the Giants have clinched their first postseason berth since 2016. In Week 18, fantasy managers can pivot to Matt Breida.
Going deeper: Breida has seen 14 or more touches in 11 career regular-season games, averaging 94.4 total yards in those games.
The news: Commanders RBs Brian Robinson Jr. and Antonio Gibson did not practice Wednesday due to their respective injuries.
What it means in fantasy: Gibson, who missed Week 17 against the Browns, has knee and ankle injuries. Robinson’s injury is not documented. As the Commanders are already eliminated from postseason contention, both running backs could be ruled out against the Cowboys in Week 18. Additionally, a cynic might point out that a win could alter Washington’s NFL draft position in 2023. In the event that Robinson and Gibson are unable to play, Jonathan Williams would be the Commanders’ lead back.
The news: Seahawks WR Tyler Lockett did not practice Wednesday.
What it means in fantasy: Lockett sustained a leg injury against the Jets in Week 17 after returning from a hand injury. While he returned to the game, Lockett is still having some trouble with the injury as the Seahawks prepare to play the Rams in Week 18. The Seahawks need a win this week to stay in playoff contention, so Lockett will likely push to play. More clarity will be provided by his practice status on Thursday and Friday. Lockett should be viewed as a flex option due to his risk of reinjury. Entering Week 17, he had scored 10 or more fantasy points in eight consecutive games, including five with 15 or more.
The news: Cardinals WR Marquise Brown will play against the 49ers in Week 18.
What it means in fantasy: Brown is dealing with a wrist injury, but coach Kliff Kingsbury said the wide receiver will be active, which implies the injury is not serious. Wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins will not play against the 49ers due to a knee injury. Colt McCoy is out for the season due to a concussion, so quarterback David Blough will make his second start in Week 18. Brown can be viewed as a flex option by fantasy managers this week.
The news: Chargers QB Justin Herbert was a full participant in Wednesday’s practice.
What it means in fantasy: There are two things fantasy managers should know. First, Herbert’s status is only an estimate since the Chargers chose to go with a walkthrough Wednesday. He was listed with an injury to his non-throwing shoulder. Second, fantasy managers should have a contingency plan because the Chargers play the Broncos on Sunday afternoon in the second wave of NFL games. If the Bengals defeat the Ravens, Los Angeles will be locked into a wild-card spot, and coach Brandon Staley may choose not to use his starters. Those who were planning to start Herbert could switch to Russell Wilson or Brock Purdy in that scenario.
The news: Commanders coach Ron Rivera mentioned that rookie QB Sam Howell will start against the Cowboys.
What it means in fantasy: Multiple sources indicated the Commanders favored starting Taylor Heinicke and having Howell play relief until late Wednesday morning. Carson Wentz will be inactive. Keeper and dynasty fantasy managers should keep Howell on their radar, especially those participating in two-quarterback or superflex formats. He is the only quarterback on the current Commander’s active roster that is signed for the 2023 season. Howell should be on the QB2 radar for fantasy managers in Week 18.
Today on ESPN.com/Fantasy and in the ESPN Fantasy App
Field Yates’ Fantasy Field Pass: A way-too-early 2023 first-round mock draft
Tristan H. Cockcroft’s positional matchup map
Matt Bowen’s fantasy film room
Al Zeidenfeld’s DFS Best Buys for Week 18
• “Fantasy Focus” podcast (10 a.m. ET)
Mike Clay’s Playbook: projections and analysis for every game
Eric Karabell’s Week 18 hot seat