Who is the Marlon Mack replacement that fantasy football owners should turn to for Week 12 and beyond? Mack broke his hand on Sunday and had surgery on Monday. The timeline to return is yet to be determined. What we do know is that he broke his dominant hand, and he is already declared out for Thursday’s game against the Houston Texans.
The Indianapolis Colts have a plethora of running backs that we will have to sift through to figure out our plan moving forward. The situation is the same for all of them, but the fantasy football outlook is a little different for each. One thing that is the same is the tremendous offensive line. The Colts have one of the top offensive lines in the league, and arguably, the best run-blocking offensive line in NFL. This was evident this weekend when Mack and Jonathan Williams combined for over 250 yards rushing against the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Indianapolis also has the seventh-best strength of schedule moving forward this year. Their schedule against the run is up and down for the rest of the fantasy football season. This week, the Colts play the ninth-worst run defense in the Texans. In Week 16, they get the Carolina Panthers, who are the fifth-worst against the run. Unfortunately sandwiched in the middle, are the New Orleans Saints and Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who are the two of the toughest run defenses in the league.
For starters, what do fantasy football owners do with Mack? Personally, I would definitely hold on to him and put him on the bottom of your bench, and if possible, in your IR spot. The timeline is not determined yet, but he should be able to make it back for the fantasy football playoffs.
Mack is currently RB15 in PPR (point per reception) formats, although he has been fairly inconsistent. He has not had double-digit fantasy points in back-to-back weeks yet this year. The only time that Mack went over 20 points was in Week 1, and he has had single-digit performances in five out of 10 weeks. One of the main reasons for the inconsistency is Mack’s lack of involvement in the passing game.
Mack has only 12 receptions all year and has had zero catches in four out of 10 games this season. The most that Mack has caught in a game is three, and he has only done that twice. The Colts are a run-first team, and when they do pass the ball, it is going to the tight ends or wide receivers. When Indianapolis does pass to the running backs, Nyheim Hines is typically getting the work as the third-down back.
Jonathan Williams was a top waiver wire pickup this week and is seen by most as the top replacement for Mack in fantasy football. Williams burst on to the scene last week with 116 yards rushing and is considered the Week 12 waiver wire darling that everyone is searching for. He comes with a warning label, however, as Williams literally had one total rushing yard in the last three seasons going into Sunday.
Ahead of 2016, Williams was a YouTube sensation going into the draft and a dynasty football hype all-star. All of this hype went nowhere, though, as he only had 27 attempts in his rookie season with the Buffalo Bills for just 94 yards. In 2017, Williams was out of the league, and he has bounced around from several practice squads since then. He was signed and cut multiple times by the Colts and has recently only seen playing time with Jordan Wilkins out. Williams recorded that one yard in Week 10 before blowing up this past weekend following Mack’s injury.
If possible, I would definitely pick up Williams, and particularly, if Wilkins is out. If that is the case, then he is a must-start. Like Mack, however, I would caution you that he likely will not be involved in the passing game. Hines could easily eat into his fantasy production by continuing in the third-down role that he is used to seeing. With that offensive line and the volume expected, Williams should be a top-24 fantasy football play this week if Wilkins is out.
Jordan Wilkins is actually the guy that I would recommend picking up in all of your fantasy football leagues, even if he doesn’t play in Week 12. The Colts did take him off the injury report, though, so all signs point to him play on Thursday night. It’s possible him and Williams split carries on a short week, but I do believe that he is the better running back and that he’ll slide into the starting role following Week 12 assuming he’s fully healthy. If Mack misses the next four games, you could see Wilkins as the lead back, and just like Williams, I think he would be a shoo-in for top 24 fantasy production.
Regardless if you are a Mack owner or not, you should be looking to pick up both of these running backs. If Wilkins is healthy, he is a plug and play starter for you. If not, you can slide him into your IR, and then play Williams this week before moving to Wilkins right after. Wilkins does offer a three-down skill set and has a better resume than Williams does.
Nyheim Hines is another option that you could pivot to in PPR formats for Week 12. Hines is the best pass-catching option out of the group and did see more rushing attempts when Mack got hurt on Sunday. With Mack out, we could easily see more of a 50-50 timeshare with Hines getting more snaps and possible touches. Hines offers a safe floor as he is already averaging four targets a game and is on pace for another 80 target/60 catch season. He is a flex option for your fantasy football lineups this week.
To recap and answer the question, “Who is the Marlon Mack fantasy football replacement?,” I suggest targeting Wilkins as the top option because he is at the top of the depth chart when everyone is healthy. Williams is option two, and he is the top short-term option that could benefit from the short week. If possible, try and get both. Hines is the consolation prize if you miss out and should have some relevance regardless of the situation.
David Heilman is a writer and director of fantasy football content for Pro Football Network. You can follow him at @DynastyDorks on Twitter.