Injury implications

September 21, 2020

The worst part of the NFL is the injuries therein and Week 2 was far from immune. The best of the best went down with injuries, some nagging and some sadly serious. As always, all of the thoughts and prayers I can offer are with these players as they make their recovery from their ailments.

However, this is fantasy football. There are ramifications that need to be discussed and the aftermath is quite important. Time to dive in.

Saquon Barkley (torn ACL)

Barkley is feared to have a torn ACL and a MRI should confirm it today. It hurts to see for any player but with a special player like Barkley, it hits a bit deeper. Nevertheless, Barkley’s injury ended his season and left Dion Lewis as the lone Giants running back on Sunday. Wayne Gallman should be active next week, but more interestingly the team has already put a call out free agent Devonta Freeman. As of now, Lewis is a volume-based play that should be an immediate waiver add. If Freeman joins the club, it becomes an unappealing mess worth taking a shot on without much investment. Barkley struggled to get much going in his limited time on the field and there’s no reason to expect Lewis or Freeman to do much better.

Drew Lock (sprained AC joint)

Lock suffered the injury when Steelers linebacker Bud Dupree crushed him in the first quarter. The timeline was a bit murky — two to six weeks, quite the range. As of now Jeff Driskel will continue to take snaps under center. The Broncos will pound the rock with Melvin Gordon to keep Driskel’s attempts down as they did last week without much success. The entire offense takes a big step down without Lock, but Driskel is not the worst guy under center. The Lions had some fantasy relevance with him down the stretch last season. Driskel even was relevant himself last season due to his rushing ability. The Buccaneers are a tall order, but game script should allow for most fantasy options to remain relevant. The ceiling of each player remains capped, however.

Raheem Mostert (“mild” sprained MCL)

The timeline should become more clear with the MRI, but Mostert should be presumed out for a few weeks as of now. Tevin Coleman and Jerick McKinnon become fantasy relevant names to know, with former as the steady volume producer and latter as the home-run hitter. It’s worth noting that Coleman also left the game with a knee injury. It could simply be a precautionary measure due to the Jets posing no threat, but if the injury is serious McKinnon is a must-own guy. We saw that explosiveness from years past in McKinnon on Sunday when he ripped off a 55-yard run on third-and-long. He becomes a RB2/flex option next week in a plus matchup against the Giants. Jeff Wilson becomes an intriguing add and undrafted rookie Jamycal Hasty will likely be called up from the practice squad after an impressive offseason. 

Jimmy Garoppolo (high ankle sprain)

Garoppolo tried to play through the injury but was in clear pain throughout the game. The 49ers, up big against the hapless Jets, clearly did not feel like Garoppolo needed any heroics. With the Giants an unimposing matchup and the 49ers with the eyes on the bigger prize in February, expect Nick Mullens to start in Week 3. He’s a capable backup who will spend most of his time handing the ball off to his running backs. His wide receivers remain fantasy dart-throws and Kittle remains the auto-start option he always was should he return to health himself — when Mullens played eight games in 2018, Kittle was the TE2.

Christian McCaffrey (ankle)

CMC is expected to be out several weeks in what is a major blow to the entire offense as the team’s best player is sidelined. Bridgewater will likely be forced to air it out a bit more, which could keep Robby Anderson’s resurgence alive and well after another 100-yard game. In the backfield, Mike Davis should see the majority of carries and is worth a pickup based on volume alone. He performed well as a pass-catcher on Sunday, but historically he has not been anything special. The team values his veteran leadership which is why he made the team over Reggie Bonnafon, but Davis is the primary benefactor. 

Davante Adams (hamstring)

Man, it was a brutal week. We all knew it at the time, but writing these names now… it’s tough.

Again, the severity of the injury has still yet to be determined. Regardless, Adams’ injury puts the Aaron Rodgers’ fantasy train on slippery tracks. There’s a reason why everyone hated the Packers’ draft — there are few options behind Adams. Allen Lazard should act as the No. 1 option with Marquez Valdes-Scantling running on the outside. Valdes-Scantling could score the occasional deep touchdown but his volatility will, and should, make owners uneasy. Lazxard could see flex value due to volume, but a tough matchup at New Orleans makes everyone a scary start. The team will continue to lean on its backfield and Aaron Jones will receive steady receiving work. Don’t sell high just yet. 

Courtland Sutton (knee/leg cramping)

The fear is that Sutton is out with a “significant” knee injury. A MRI today should clear up any uncertainties and provide some clarity. It’s a huge blow for this offense with or without Lock. Jerry Jeudy, who left and returned with an injury of his own, has the talent to be a viable fantasy option himself but the volatility under center makes him a shaky play. Sutton’s absence opens up targets for the big-bodied tight end Noah Fant as well who has looked great through two weeks. Hopefully Sutton can recover from the injury in time for a late-season return or for 2021 at worst; a tough. break for an up-and-coming star.

Parris Campbell (knee)

Campbell enjoyed a nice Week 1 game after an injury plagued rookie season, but couldn’t escape the injury bug for long. He had to be carted off which suggests a long timetable for the second-year wide receiver. It’s thought to not be an ACL tear, on the bright side, but for the time being rookie Michael Pittman Jr. enjoyed a nice day on the outside. He is worth an exploratory pickup but the biggest day came through the seam in the form of tight end Mo Alie-Cox. He’s a ridiculous athlete who’s breakout can be a sign of things to come when it comes to Phillip Rivers, who loves to target the tight end. Five catches for 111 yards is tough to replicate and starter Jack Doyle (ankle/knee) could be back in Week 3. But this is a valuable role; Alie-Cox should be a pickup for tight end-needy teams.

Sterling Shepherd (turf toe)

The concern for Shepherd in years past has been concussions but an injury to his toe could not be farther from that problem. Turf toe is a tricky injury that could leave him out for a game or half the season. Only time will tell how Shepherd recovers from the injury. Golden Tate should see plenty of work from the slot and Evan Engram could line up outside more. C.J. Board steps in as the No. 3 wide receiver. All in all, it helps Tate and hurts Daniel Jones. 

No nice things for New York fans this year.

Breshad Perriman (knee)

No nice things for New York fans this year.

A toothless Jets offense got even (less toothy?) weaker on Sunday when Perriman exited the game with a knee injury, leaving just slot receiver Braxton Berrios and Josh Malone as the players left standing after Chris Hogan (ribs) also got injured. This offense desperately needs a playmaker, but it does not look like anyone’s coming anytime soon. It’s incredibly worrisome that Chris Herndon still couldn’t get it going with no one else to catch passes.

Will Fuller (hamstring)

This was an injury that apparently limited him throughout the game and with his medical history, people should be worried. Brandin Cooks would be the benefactor of a limited Fuller, but ultimately this hurts Deshaun Watson more than it helps anyone else. Hopefully Fuller can get back to 100% health or close to it before their Week 3 tilt against the Pittsburgh Steelers; they definitely could use him.