The IR spot in fantasy football is a tricky thing and different for all leagues. In dynasty leagues, it is an essential tool that allows you to protect your team while still remaining competitive. It lets you stash guys like Kerryon Johnson or Will Dissly but still have a roster spot to add a weekly fill-in player. In redraft leagues, where the benches are shorter, it can be wonderful or worthless, depending on your league settings.
In some redraft leagues, players designated as Out can be placed on IR, essentially helping it function like a dynasty league on a weekly scale. When they announce that your star WR is out, you can IR him and go sign a one-week replacement. I imagine a lot of Davante Adams owners have been taking advantage of this in 2019.
In other leagues, a player has to be coded as IR to be placed on the IR and in a redraft league that makes the spot almost worthless…almost. In the NFL, if a player is placed on the IR early enough, they are eligible to return after 8 weeks, and some of them could be coming into very beneficial fantasy situations. There are 5 guys that should be returning from IR in 2019 that are worth an add if you have a deep bench or an IR spot that is sitting empty.
N’Keal Harry (WR – Patriots)
Eligible For Return: Week 9
Tom Brady needs targets, plain and simple. While the team did just add Mohamed Sanu, they also placed Josh Gordon on the IR, effectively ending his season in New England. Harry is the perfect player to fill the role vacated by Gordon. Gordon averages six targets per game during his time with New England and that kind of volume with a QB like Brady can lead to big fantasy days. Harry is a big WR that will play a far different role than Sanu, or any other WR on the Patriots active roster. He has been with the team for the entire season, which should help any “knowledge of the offense” questions that linger from a sub-par preseason. Harry returns to practice this week and can return to game action next week.
Derrius Guice (RB – Redskins)
Eligible For Return: Week 11
To this point in his career, Guice is 100% hype, 0% substance. The thing is, no one has ever questioned his talent. He has been compared favorably to Leonard Fournette and Ezekiel Elliott, and that is good company to be in for fantasy football. No active RB for the Redskins has done anything to make us think that Guice will not immediately get his job back and Washington could certainly use the talent infusion. Guice is expected to return to practice next week, which means he will have 2 additional weeks of practice to get his legs game-ready. Can he stay healthy? I have no idea. But if he can, he could be the perfect late-season RB2.
Nick Foles (QB – Jaguars)
Eligible For Return: Week 11
For fantasy owners struggling at QB, Foles could be a savior of sorts. Five of the Jaguars’ final seven games are against defenses in the bottom 12 vs fantasy QBs. He was injured throwing an absolute dime of a TD pass to DJ Chark in Week 1 but is expected to return to practice this week or next. While Gardner Minshew has taken the football community by storm, I can’t imagine that he has put Foles out of job, especially with the financial investment that the Jags have in Foles. The Jaguars have a perfectly timed Week 10 bye, and Foles is eligible to return the following week.
David Njoku (TE – Browns)
Eligible For Return: Week 12
The current tight end landscape in fantasy football is pretty bleak and that is the only reason this addition is worth making. Njoku had four catches for 37 yards and a TD in Cleveland’s first game and then was hurt in Week 2 before doing anything. In that Week 1 game, he scored 11.7 fantasy points and that is better on average than all but three TEs this season. Essentially, if you don’t own Hooper, Waller, Andrews, Engram, Kelce, or Kittle, you may want to grab David Njoku to aid your team in the fantasy playoffs. There has been very little news out of Cleveland about his return but the good news about a wrist injury is that he should have been able to keep his legs in shape while not playing.
John Ross (WR – Bengals)
Eligible For Return: Week 14
Ross is the last of these five players simply because of how late we have to wait for his return. Ross already played four weeks and was the overall WR12 in fantasy as the season hit the quarter-pole. Unfortunately, he injured his shoulder and will not be able to play again until the fantasy playoffs. Worse yet, the Bengals are so bad, they may choose not to bring him back at all. But if he does come back, you will be getting a guy that had 323 yards and three TDs in four games for your playoff squad. If he were to duplicate those numbers in the fantasy playoffs, you might be looking at a #FootClanTitle.