It’s rare to see an entire 16-game NFL slate go by without seeing a major injury occur and the first week of the 2021 season was no exception. While unfortunate, fantasy managers have to adapt and take a proactive approach to move forward after players are sidelined.
Here are the fantasy-relevant injuries that happened in Week 1 and what fantasy fans can do to move forward.
Raheem Mostert (RB) San Francisco 49ers – After the surprising news that rookie Trey Sermon would be inactive, Mostert was poised to post RB1 numbers against an anemic Detroit defense. But after just two carries, Mostert left the game with a knee cartilage injury and will miss the rest of the season. Mosthurt’s absence led to a breakout game for Elijah Mitchell, who is undoubtedly one of the top waiver-wire targets for Week 2.
As appealing as breaking the bank for Mitchell seems, proceed with caution. Kyle Shanahan is apt to rotate his backs on a whim, and Sermon is guaranteed to have a role moving forward. JaMycal Hasty could also be worked into the mix and the Niners also added Kerryon Johnson to the fold.
Jerry Jeudy (WR) Denver Broncos – Anyone who saw the injury Jeudy suffered has to feel relieved that it was only a high-ankle sprain and not a fracture or serious ligament damage. Regardless, Jeudy will miss a substantial amount of time.
Before exiting, Jeudy ran 79% of his routes from the slot. That means KJ Hamler is the most likely candidate to move inside, but Tim Patrick will also see an increase in snaps and targets. Both Denver wideouts are worth a solid FAAB bid, with Patrick offering more ceiling.
Ryan Fitzpatrick (QB) Washington Football Team – A second-quarter hit knocked Ryan Fitzpatrick out of Washington’s opening loss and will cost the veteran journeyman half the season. The Football Team placed Fitzpatrick on IR and he’s expected to be sidelined for 6-8 weeks. Taylor Heinicke will take over under center and has a decent shot at remaining Washington’s starter all season. Fitzpatrick can be dropped in redraft formats and Heinicke is a priority add in Superflex leagues.
Odell Beckham Jr. (WR) Cleveland Brown – Beckham was a surprise scratch in Cleveland’s first game, which doesn’t bode well for his recovery from ACL surgery. At this point, there is no firm timetable on when we’ll see the dynamic wideout back in Cleveland’s lineup but he had drawn positive reviews throughout the summer. Hopefully, it’s just a precautionary move and Beckham will be back in Week 2 or 3.
Michael Gallup (WR) Dallas Cowboys – Gallup has been placed on IR and will miss a minimum of three games with a strained calf. Expect Cedrick Wilson to replace Gallup and run most of his routes out of the slot. This will allow CeeDee Lamb to see more perimeter snaps. Hopefully, Gallup will only miss three or four games and will return. He’s a fantasy hold for now.
Antonio Gibson (RB) Washington Football Team – Gibson temporarily left Washington’s Week 1 opener with a shoulder injury but quickly returned to the game without ill effect. Gibson was listed as a limited participant in Monday’s practice but this likely has more to do with Ron Rivera keeping his running back healthy on a short week. Looks like a non-issue.
Rashaad Penny (RB) Seattle Seahawks – No stranger to the injury report, Penny injured his calf and will miss at least one game. Alex Collins should slide in as Seattle’s No. 2 back and has a legit shot to take over those duties for the remainder of the season.
Evan Engram (TE) New York Giants – Engram was held out of Week 1 with a calf injury and is supposedly trending towards playing in Week 2. But with the Giants looking at a short week, I wouldn’t count on it. Even if he’s active, Engram
D’Wayne Eskridge (WR) Seattle Seahawks – The second-round rookie logged 12 snaps and three touches in his NFL debut before exiting with a concussion. Eskridge will have to be cleared from the league’s concussion protocol before he can return. He’s well off the fantasy radar but remains a dynasty hold.
Saquon Barkley (RB) New York Giants – The Giants wisely eased Barkley back into the lineup, limiting their stud running back to just 29 snaps. The good news here is Barkley didn’t aggravate his knee injury and will continue to see his weekly role increase over the next month. Managers that drafted Barkley will have to exude patience, as it’s unlikely you have better options on the bench.
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