Now that we are four games into the NFL season, injuries are starting to mount, including several big-name fantasy football starters. Monitoring these situations and knowing how to pivot is key towards building a winning fantasy roster.
Here are the fantasy-relevant injuries ahead of Week 5 and how managers should approach those spots.
David Montgomery (RB) Chicago Bears – After topping triple-digits and two scores against Detroit, Montgomery went down in the fourth quarter and appeared to be in serious pain. The good news here was that the team confirmed Montgomery did not suffer a torn ACL but the star running back is expected to miss a month or so. Damien Williams becomes an instant RB2 for however long Montgomery is sidelined, and Khalil Herbert would be in the change-of-pace role.
Joe Mixon (RB) Cincinnati Bengals – Mixon exited Week 4 early with a sprained ankle and was initially ruled week-to-week–a scary proposition considering that Mixon was called week-to-week all of last season and never returned. However, on Tuesday, Mixon was deemed day-to-day, so the ankle doesn’t appear to be too serious. At this point, picking up Samaje Perine on the waiver wire seems like a solid move, but no need to overreact.
Amari Cooper (WR) Dallas Cowboys – Cooper is dealing with rib and hamstring ailments and may be limited in practice all week but is expected to be in the lineup when the Cowboys host the Giants on Sunday.
D.J. Chark (WR) Jacksonville Jaguars – As feared by those watching Thursday, Chark suffered a broken left ankle and was placed on season-ending IR. Chark can be dropped in redraft formats and his absence should mean more targets for Laviska Shenault and Marvin Jones. After Chark exited Week 4, Tavon Austin came in to play 73% of Jacksonville’s snaps but Austin is well off the fantasy radar.
Logan Thomas (TE) Washington Football Team – Thomas was felled by a hamstring injury as is considered week-to-week. Hamstring injuries are prone to reoccur when not given time to properly heal, so Thomas could be looking at a multi-week absence. Ricky Seals-Jones will start in place for Thomas.
Will Fuller (WR) Miami Dolphins – Fuller broke a finger in the second quarter of Miami’s Week 4 loss to Indianapolis and is expected to miss several games. Injuries are certainly no stranger to Fuller, who has yet to stay healthy for a full NFL season. Fantasy managers with shallow rosters can consider dropping Fuller.
T.Y. Hilton (WR) Indianapolis Colts – Hilton (neck) is nearing a return and is already eligible to return from IR. Indy’s passing attack hasn’t exactly been firing on all cylinders but Hilton should immediately be re-inserted back into the starting lineup and could be a viable WR4 down the stretch in an offense with a very favorable strength of schedule for wideouts.
Jimmy Garoppolo (QB) San Francisco 49ers – When San Francisco emerged from the halftime locker room, Garoppolo was on the sidelines with a calf injury. Trey Lance came off the bench to score over 20 fantasy points and Garoppolo was listed as week-to-week. Like Joe Mixon, Garoppolo’s status has been upgraded to day-to-day as further examination deemed the calf injury less severe. With the 49ers scheduled to have a Week 6 bye, it seems realistic to think that Kyle Shanahan will start Lance in Arizona to give Garoppolo another week to recover, but if the injury isn’t affecting his starter, Jimmy G. could be right back under center in the desert. Whoever leads San Francisco this week has solid fantasy appeal in what shapes up to be a shootout.
Tee Higgins (WR) Cincinnati Bengals – Higgins has missed a pair of games but is expected to return to practice this week. His return would be a much-welcomed boost to a Cincinnati team that is humming along at 3-1. It would mean fewer targets for both J’Marr Chase and Tyler Boyd, but all three are solid weekly WR2/3 options.
Josh Jacobs (RB) Las Vegas Raiders – Out since Week 1, Jacobs returned to action Monday and logged 63.2% of the Raiders running back snaps and 89% of the backfield’s total touches. As long as he remains healthy, Jacobs is back on the weekly RB2 radar. Kenyan Drake only got two touches and wasn’t targeted while Peyton Barber played all of one snap. Barber can safely be dropped, while Drake is also on the verge of being fantasy persona non grata.
Chase Claypool (WR) Pittsburgh Steelers – Another troublesome hamstring injury cost Claypool a game last week. There’s been no update on his status but we’ll monitor is participation in practice all week. If healthy, Claypool is looking at a tough Week 5 matchup against the Broncos.
Sterling Shepard & Darius Slayton (WR) New York Giants – Both of New York’s solid wideouts are dealing with hamstring injuries and both are expected to potentially be back in time for Week 5’s NFC East showdown in Dallas. If active, Shepard is in the WR3 range while Slayton is a tier below.
Elijah Mitchell (RB) San Francisco 49ers – After sitting for two weeks, Mitchell is trending in the right direction and could potentially be active in Arizona. Mitchell could actually take the lion’s share of carries this week if active, however Kyle Shanahan’s backfield is notoriously difficult to handicap. It also would make sense for Shanahan to rest Mitchell ahead of his team’s Week 6 bye, so that’s something to consider as well.
Andy Dalton (QB) Chicago Bears – Matt Nagy proclaimed that Dalton (knee) would be Chicago’s starter once he’s cleared to play. After Justin Fields looked quite credible Sunday, we’re not so sure that Dalton will be re-inserted back into the starting lineup. Either way, this is a below-average passing offense but would be better served with the rookie starting.
Elijah Moore (WR) New York Jets – Moore sat out last week with a concussion but is expected to clear the league’s protocol during the week. Before sitting out Week 4, Moore was playing over 70% of the Jets’ snaps, so his return will send Keelan Cole back to the sidelines.
Tony Jones (RB) New Orleans Saints – Hurt in the second quarter, Jones was carted to the locker room with a serious ankle injury. This led to Alvin Kamara acting as a workhorse rusher and Kamar’a first-ever pro game without a target. Dwayne Washington and Ty Montgomery are next up in the Saints’ backfield.
Rashod Bateman (WR) Baltimore Ravens – Bateman (groin) has yet to play in 2021 but was reportedly close to being activated for Week 4. Assuming he eventually takes over as the Ravens’ No. 2, Bateman is just a week WR4 in a low-volume Baltimore passing attack.
Robbie Gould (PK) San Francisco 49ers – Gould suffered a groin injury early in Week 4 and was unable to kick during the game. The 38-year-old veteran is expected to miss a month, which will force San Francisco to conduct tryouts this week. Whoever signs with the team will be primed to be an above-average fantasy option over the next 3-5 weeks.
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