The fantasy football playoffs have arrived, and owners are taking stock of all the injuries that will impact waiver wire wickup strategy and key start 'em, sit 'em decisions in Week 14. Two of the big-name injuries causing concern at the moment are QB Drew Brees and TE George Kittle. Brees is eligible to come off IR in Week 14, but will he be activated? And Kittle can come off IR, too, but is he making enough progress in his return from a broken foot to play? These injury questions will have a massive impact on our fantasy rankings and lineup decisions for fantasy owners everywhere.
Is Drew Brees playing this week?
Brees (ribs) has been absent for the past few weeks while dealing with 11 fractured ribs. However, it appears that the veteran quarterback could have a chance to play as soon as Week 14.
According to ESPN's Adam Schefter, Brees is progressing in his recovery, and while his return is not definite, it remains a possibility for Week 14. Brees will have to be closely watched in the lead up to the Saints' game against the Eagles.
Brees' potential return would push Taysom Hill back to a backup role in the Saints' offense. Hill has played well in Brees' absence, backed up Sean Payton's confidence in him, and proved that he can be the Saints' QB of the future. However, if Brees returns, Hill would merely be a change-of-pace option at the position mainly used as a runner, so his fantasy value would all but evaporate (unless ESPN opted to reinstate his tight end eligibility with him not starting at QB, but that seems highly unlikely).
Meanwhile, Brees' return would also have a positive impact on Alvin Kamara, as the RB has just three catches for seven yards in Brees' absence. With Brees on the field, Kamara was averaging 7.4 catches and 72 yards per game. Needless to say, Kamara's owners will have to pay attention to Brees' health, as well, as it could be the difference between him being a top-five play and a borderline RB1 against a solid run defense.
Is George Kittle playing this week?
Kittle (foot) has missed the 49ers' past four games after breaking a bone in his foot. While it initially seemed like he could miss the rest of the season after the injury, the tight end is hopeful to return to the 49ers for their stretch run.
According to NBC Sports Bay Area's Matt Maiocco, Kittle is "very optimistic" about returning this season. He traveled with the team to Arizona and will remain there to rehab while the 49ers play their home games at State Farm Stadium in the wake of Santa Clara County's ban on contact sports amid the COVID pandemic. That's a sign that he does truly believe that he'll have a chance to return in the coming weeks.
That said, Kittle returning in Week 14 may be a bit difficult. The original timeline on his injury was eight weeks, and we're at the five-week mark now. According to Maiocco, Kittle indicated that when his doctors and trainers said eight weeks, he thought it would take six, so that would put him at a potential Week 15 return if all goes well.
Of course, the 49ers won't rush Kittle back into action even in the midst of a potential wild card run, as they won't want him to cause any long-term damage to his foot. They'll likely approach this cautiously, and either way, a Kittle return in Week 14 doesn't look particularly likely. Jordan Reed will get at least another week to work as a starter and potential TE1 for fantasy purposes.