With three weeks already in the books of a fast-moving 2021 NFL season, injuries are starting to take a toll on many fantasy football rosters. Staying informed of their potential impact is an important part of building a championship roster.
Here are the key fantasy-relevant injuries for football fans to be aware of ahead of Week 4.
Christian McCaffrey (RB) Carolina Panthers – Easily the biggest injury of the week, consensus No. 1 fantasy football draft pick Christian McCaffrey suffered a non-contact hamstring injury in Houston and is expected to be sidelined for multiple weeks. With CMC out, Chuba Hubbard becomes the hottest waiver wire claim of the season and offers weekly RB2 value. Obviously, losing fantasy’s top player is a devastating blow for both the Panthers and fantasy managers, but missing a month in October is far preferable to doing so in December. At this point, root for McCaffrey to sit long enough to be a legitimate 100% healthy so he can be back to his excellence down the stretch, just when it’s needed most.
Dalvin Cook (RB) Minnesota Vikings – Cook was considered questionable all week but as the days mounted without him participating in practice, it was more unlikely that he would play. The ankle injury that kept Cook sidelined isn’t considered serious, so he’ll likely trend towards playing in Week 4. If Alexander Mattison is somehow on your waiver wire, grabbing him would be a wise investment.
A.J. Brown (WR) Tennessee Titans – Another huge loss, Tennessee wideout A.J. Brown tweaked his hamstring early in the Titans’ victory over the Colts and did not return. Brown has already been listed as week-to-week, but with a Week 4 date on tap against the feeble Jets, expect the team to err on the side of caution and give Brown a week off to heal up. If he is active, Brown is a must-start but could be on a snap count.
Julio Jones (WR) Tennessee Titans – Like Brown, Jones has missed practice time due to a bum hamstring. Jones is considered less severe but anytime a wideout is sitting due to a hamstring ailment, it’s quite noteworthy.
Josh Jacobs (RB) Las Vegas Raiders – Jacobs has now missed two straight starts and wasn’t particularly close to playing last week. With Peyton Barber filling in with a superb outing against the Dolphins, Jon Gruden could choose to take it easy with Jacobs and not push him into the lineup until he was 100%. We’ll monitor Jacobs’s practice participation all week and update the FullTime Discord as news develops.
Tee Higgins (WR) Cincinnati Bengals – Higgins has already been ruled OUT for Thursday’s game with a shoulder injury. Hopefully, Higgins will be able to heal with an extra three days off ahead of Week 5’s home date with Green Bay.
Darrell Henderson (RB) Los Angeles Rams – After sitting out Week 3 with bruised ribs, Henderson should have a good shot at suiting up in a potential shootout against the Cardinals. His practice status will need to be monitored all week. Also, Sony Michel got 23 touches with Henderson sidelined last week and could begin to take snaps away from Henderson, who logged a 94% snap rate in Week 1 and was also used as a bell cow in Week 2 before the injury. UPDATE: Henderson practiced on Wednesday and is trending towards playing.
JuJu Smith-Schuster (WR) Pittsburgh Steelers – Smith-Schuster was limited to 33 snaps last week after bruising his ribs. The injury isn’t considered serious, but we’ll have to monitor JuJu’s practice status all week. If active, he’ll be on the WR3 radar against the Packers. Teammate Diontae Johnson (knee) should also be monitored all week after he missed Pittsburgh’s Week 3 loss to the Bengals.
Justin Fields (QB) Chicago Bears – Making his first NFL start, Fields had an abysmal showing, as Chicago generated a minuscule 47 yards of offense. Fields completed just 6-of-20 passes and was sacked nine times. Furthermore, Fields also injured his hand late in the game and the Bears also have Andy Dalton nursing a knee injury. At this point, it doesn’t really matter who is under center for Chicago, at least not until Nagy is relieved of his duties. Avoid starting any Bears until things take a dramatic turn.
James White (RB) New England Patriots – White suffered the same hip injury that forced Washington QB Ryan Fitzpatrick out for the remainder of the season. As for the Patriots, J.J. Taylor and Brandon Bolden could factor in on third downs, but keep an eye on rookie Rhamondre Stevenson, who has been a healthy scratch in each of the past two games.
Sterling Shepard (WR) New York Giants – New York’s slot receiver exited Week 3 with a hamstring injury and is considered questionable for Week 4. Hamstring injuries tend to be easily re-aggravated, so Shepard is far more likely to miss this week than try to play through.
Rob Gronkowski (TE) Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Gronk took a hard shot and hurt his ribs but X-rays turned out to be negative. He’s tentatively expected to be back in the lineup to face his former team, the Patriots in New England.
Giovani Bernard (RB) Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Coming off of his best game of the season, Bernard suffered a slight MCL strain late in Tampa’s Week 3 loss in Los Angeles. Bernard only received two touches in each of the Buccaneers’ first two games before seeing extensive action last week as Tampa was playing from behind. We wouldn’t expect the Bucs to have a lot of trouble with New England in Week 4, so Bernard isn’t a good bet for touches even if he’s active.
K.J. Hamler (WR) Denver Broncos – Unfortunately, Hamler tore his ACL and will miss the remainder of the season. After already losing Jerry Jeudy, the Broncos are getting thin at receiver. Tim Patrick makes for an outstanding waiver wire add, while Hamler can be dropped in all non-dynasty leagues.
Gerald Everett (TE) Seattle Seahawks – Everett was placed on the reserve/COVID list and is status for this week is now very much in doubt.
Darius Slayton (WR) New York Giants – Like his teammate Sterling Shepard, Slayton hurt his hamstring last week and should be considered very questionable to face the Saints. Even if Slayton is active, fantasy managers should avoid using him because of the risk of a recurring injury and possible limited role.
Marquez Valdes-Scantling (WR) Green Bay Packers – MVS is also dealing with a hamstring ailment and has been held out of practice. If Valdes-Scantling can’t go, Randall Cobb and Allen Lazard would see an uptick in snaps, but still are off the fantasy radar.
Tyler Conklin (TE) Minnesota Vikings – Conklin is dealing with an elbow injury and will need to be monitored as Sunday draws closer. Surprisingly, Conklin enters Week 4 as the No. 10 tight end in PPR formats.
Are you seriously still on the sidelines? Proven track record to help you win. Join the fun and Become a FULLTIME MEMBER! We’re chatting 24/7 in our Discord and when you join, you get access to exclusive Member Only perks such as: Access to our customized rankings and projections, deep-dive downloads, waiver wire suggestions, private Who Do I Start Advice, our WR/CB Matchups report, a Survivor Contest, Member area chat in our Discord and to top it all off, 5 free monthly drafts into our Weekly Draft Contests! That’s just the tip of the iceberg! JOIN the Fun, and Get Yourself to the Championship.