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Fantasy Injury Updates: George Kittle, Mike Gesicki, Eric Ebron impacting Week 16 TE rankings

The tight end position is very thin, so any time there are multiple injuries at that spot, things get a little dicey. Ahead of Week 16 and fantasy football championship games, the statuses of George Kittle (foot), Mike Gesicki (shoulder), and Eric Ebron (back) will be critical in helping make key start ’em, sit ’em lineup decisions and determining which streamers and sleepers can be trusted at the position.

For the latest updates on injured RBs Ezekiel Elliott, Cam Akers, James Robinson, and Ronald Jones, click here; for more RB updates on Christian McCaffrey, Myles Gaskin, Antonio Gibson, and Joe Mixon, click here; for injury news on key WRs Julio JonesKenny GolladayDeVante Parker, and Tyler Boydclick here. For all the latest fantasy updates, follow us on Twitter @SN_Fantasy.

Quarterback | Running back | Wide receiver | Tight end | D/ST | Kicker

Is George Kittle playing this week?

UPDATE: Coach Kyle Shanahan said Tuesday that Kittle has a “chance” to return this week, adding, “If he’s good, I plan on him playing.”

Kittle has been out since suffering a foot injury against the Seahawks back in Week 8. He started practicing last week and is eligible to come off IR at any time now.

That said, Kittle’s return should be viewed as questionable. The 49ers were eliminated from playoff contention after their loss to the Cowboys and the Cardinals’ win over the Eagles in Week 15. So, while Kittle could be nearing a return, the 49ers could opt to shut him down with just a couple of meaningless games left in their 2020 season. It could even behoove them to do that, as it would allow Kittle extra time to heal and avoid injury risk that could impact him during the offseason.

Kittle’s status will bear watching. The 49ers are playing the Cardinals this week, and Kittle did have four catches for 44 yards in the season opener against them despite dealing with a balky ankle. If he plays, he’ll have to be trusted as a top-10 TE regardless of workload. If not, Jordan Reed will be a low-end streamer against a Cardinals defense that has been solid against TEs this year.

Quarterback | Running back | Wide receiver | Tight end | D/ST | Kicker

Is Mike Gesicki playing this week?

UPDATE: Gesicki was limited in practice on Tuesday, which is a good sign for his potential availiability on Saturday.

Gesicki (shoulder) missed last week’s game for the Dolphins, but on the day of the game, NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported that Gesicki had “a real chance to play” against the Patriots. That didn’t end up happening, but the fact that Gesicki was that close should bode well for him moving forward.

The Dolphins are playing against the Raiders on Saturday night this week, so Gesicki will have one fewer day of rest to get on the field. That said, considering that he was only a non-participant at Wednesday’s practice last week, he may have a chance to return if he can at least be limited in all sessions this week. If he’s slapped with another non-participant tag, it may be harder for him to get on the field.

If Gesicki is out again, Durham Smythe, who caught five passes for 40 yards and led the Dolphins in receiving last week, would be in line for more targets at TE. He wouldn’t be a recommended play at the position, but in DFS contests, he could be a worthwhile low-budget option.

WEEK 16 WAIVER WIRE: Top pickups | FAAB budget planner

Is Eric Ebron playing this week?

UPDATE: NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero reported Tuesday afternoon that Ebron did not suffer any organ damage from the hit he took on Monday night.

Ebron left the Steelers’ Monday Night Football loss to the Bengals after suffering a back injury in the first half. He didn’t return and was carted into the locker room after being helped to the sidelines.

With the Steelers playing on a short week, Ebron’s status is unclear. Considering the amount of pain he was in, it’s hard to imagine that he would return to action in Week 16. His practice status will bear watching, but considering that Ebron was coming up on a tough matchup against the Indianapolis Colts anyway, there are better streamers out there for owners to trust in championship games.

If Ebron can’t play for the Steelers, Vance McDonald will soak up his targets and will be a low-end streaming option for this week. But again, there are better matchup-based TEs in our Week 16 TE rankings that can be trusted.

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