- How should fantasy managers adjust their lineups following injuries to some of the league's key players entering Week 2?
NFL trainers and team doctors earned their paychecks on Sunday as they tended to what seemed like an injury every few plays.
Last week I reminded fantasy managers to prepare themselves for phrases like “questionable,” “ruled out,” “did not practice” and “MRI results.” After just 36 hours of NFL action, fantasy football managers were frustratingly blasted with those phrases.
Should you panic if your first round pick is going to miss a few weeks? Absolutely not. Work the waiver wire. We already have some great suggestions on who to pick up here.
Let’s get to this injury recap, sadly there’s a lot to get to.
Might Be a While Before We See Them Again
Tyreek Hill, Kansas City Chiefs, Wide Receiver
A consensus top seven wide receiver, Hill suffered a collarbone injury that apparently will not need surgery (that’s the good news) but will reportedly keep him out between three-to-six weeks (that’s the bad news). There is a possibility, that if the injury does prove to be more serious than the initial test results indicate, Hill could be placed on short-term injured reserve, which would keep him out until Week 9. That prediction is from Dr. David Chao who said he wouldn’t be surprised to see the Chiefs speedster land on injured reserve. Very best case scenario for Hill is returning around Week 6 in mid-October.
Fantasy Impact: With Hill out, look for Sammy Watkins to take over as the Chiefs number one wide receiver. Watkins balled out in Week 1, catching nine passes for 198 yards and three touchdowns. When the Chiefs were concerned about Hill getting suspended back in the spring, they decided to draft speedy pass-catcher Mecole Hardman in the second round of the draft. With Hill now out, look for Hardman to get more playing time in arguably the NFL’s best offense. Considering Hill was sidelined for most of the match-up vs. the Jaguars and quarterback Patrick Mahomes threw for 378 yards and three touchdowns, I’m not overly concerned Mahomes’ production will slow down without the “Cheetah” on the field.
Tevin Coleman, San Francisco 49ers, Running Back
Head coach Kyle Shanahan told reporters he was “concerned” about Coleman’s injury after the team’s 31-17 victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Shanahan’s concerns were justified, Coleman suffered a high ankle sprain according to MRI results. Fantasy managers that drafted the offseason addition to San Francisco’s backfield were hoping it would be diagnosed as a low ankle sprain and thus he would only miss two or three weeks. But high ankle sprains are tricky, and much more likely to linger, and their timetable to heal takes much longer than the low sprain variety. Coleman will likely miss a month or more because of his bothersome ankle.
Fantasy Impact: Matt Breida was already listed on top of the 49ers depth chart, so his role will not change. But since San Francisco planned on using a committee in their backfield, look for Raheem Mostert to get more playing time until Coleman returns to action.
Derrius Guice, Washington Redskins, Running Back
After missing all of his rookie season with a torn ACL, Guice injured his non-surgically repaired knee during Sunday’s opener against the Eagles. MRI results show damage to his meniscus but surgery has already been ruled out. The second-year back gained just 18 yards on 10 carries and will now be sidelined several weeks.
Fantasy Impact: Adrian Peterson was a healthy scratch for the Redskins in Week 1, but he’ll undoubtedly take over as the power rusher in Washington’s backfield with Chris Thompson holding down his role as a change of pace and pass catching back.
Devin Funchess, Indianapolis Colts, Wide Receiver
A broken collarbone (seemingly a theme for Week 1) forced the Colts to place their $10 million offseason acquisition on injured reserve. He’s eligible to return after eight weeks, assuming he doesn’t suffer a setback. Before suffering the injury, Funchess caught three passes for 32 yards during the team’s overtime loss to the Los Angeles Chargers.
Fantasy Impact: Wide receivers Deon Cain and Zach Pascal are technically the next players up on the depth chart but look for rookie Parris Campbell to start getting more involved in the passing attack. Indy may decide to use more 12-personnel formations (one running back with two tight ends) and utilize both Jack Doyle and Eric Ebron to make up for Funchess’s (6'4", 225 pounds) physical presence.
Nick Foles, Jacksonville Jaguars, Quarterback
The Jaguars’ $88 million offseason acquisition will miss at least two months of action after breaking his collarbone against the Chiefs. The injury actually occurred on a deep touchdown pass to wide receiver D.J. Chark, but Foles was tossed to the ground and landed directly on his non-throwing shoulder. Jacksonville is putting Foles on injured reserve designated to return, so if he doesn’t suffer any setbacks he’s eligible to get back on the field at some point in November.
Fantasy Impact: Gardner Minshew, a sixth-round rookie selection, will take over as the Jaguars starting quarterback. While filling in for Foles against the Chiefs, Minshew completed 22-of-25 passes for 275 yards, two touchdowns and one interception. The Jags also traded for Steelers backup Josh Dobbs. With Minshew under center, Jaguars receivers like Dede Westbrook will have a downtick in production.
Should Be OK But Expect a Lack of Practice and Questionable Tag
Patrick Mahomes, Kansas City Chiefs, Quarterback
A collective sigh of relief was heard—coming from Chiefs fans and any fantasy manager with one of the many Chiefs’ offensive weapons on their teams—when Mahomes emerged from the medical tent and ran back to the field. After getting crunched by the Jaguars defense, Mahomes limped off and headed right for the trainers, where he got his ankle taped. I wouldn’t be surprised if this injury puts Mahomes in the “limited” category during practice this week.
Fantasy Impact: The injury didn’t seem to slow down Mahomes’ production at all, as the reigning MVP completed 75% of his passes for 378 yards and three touchdowns. If the injury does linger, Mahomes may not be as agile in the pocket, but fantasy managers shouldn’t be concerned about Mahomes’s gameday availability for the team’s matchup vs. the Raiders.
Deshaun Watson, Houston Texans, Quarterback
The Texans passer headed to the medical tent not once but twice during the team’s loss to the Saints on Monday Night Football. Watson landed awkwardly on his back after a 21-yard touchdown run and was spotted getting back massages throughout the game. Watson didn’t miss any plays and finished the game with 268 yards, three touchdowns and 40 yards on the ground.
Fantasy Impact: The Texans beat reporters will be all over the Watson “injury” all week but fans can expect Bill O’Brien to knock down and concern about Watson’s health. Unless there’s a dramatic shift with the prognosis, Watson will suit up in Week 2 against the Jaguars defense that got carved up by Mahomes and the Chiefs.
Joe Mixon, Cincinnati Bengals, Running Back
He was struggling (10 yards on six carries) before the injury, Mixon then rolled his ankle and missed the majority of the game vs. the Seahawks. Head coach Zac Taylor told the media his star running back suffered an ankle sprain, and thankfully MRI results indicate a low-grade sprain, meaning Mixon isn’t set to miss multiple games. He will, however, sit out of most practices this week, and depending on his pain threshold, may be able to play in Week 2.
Fantasy Impact: With Mixon out of the lineup, Gio Bernard picked up 21 yards on seven carries and caught two passes for 42 yards. He would see a larger workload if Mixon were to miss any action.
Mike Williams, Los Angeles Chargers, Wide Receiver
During a very unproductive outing, three catches for 29 yards, Williams left late in the fourth quarter due to a knee injury. Initial reports indicate Williams is not expected to miss any significant time.
Fantasy Impact: We’ll monitor Williams’s practice participation this week, but it looks like he’ll take it easy in practice and will plan to suit up in Week 2’s match-up vs. the Detroit Lions.
In the Protocol
Sterling Shepard, New York Giants, Wide Receiver
The Giants’ top receiver suffered a concussion during the team’s loss to the Cowboys, yet oddly enough played the same amount of snaps as Eli Manning. Shepard caught six of his seven targets for 42 yards. The confusion protocol (and concussions in general) can be a bit tricky when trying to estimate when a player will return to action. Some players are able to play the following week while others are out of action for two or more games.
Fantasy Impact: With Golden Tate suspended through Week 4 and Shepard in danger of missing Week 2 against the Bills, the Giants are very thin at receiver. Look for Cody Latimer and Bennie Fowler to start as Eli Manning’s top wide receivers for this matchup.
Dontrell Hilliard, Cleveland Browns, Running Back
Serving as Nick Chubb’s backup while Kareem Hunt is suspended, Hilliard frustrated Chubb’s fantasy managers when he vultured a touchdown inside the five yard line. Hilliard later left the game and was evaluated for a concussion.
Fantasy Impact: If Hilliard does indeed have a concussion, Chubb would likely be in for an even larger workload, considering the next healthy back on the roster is D’Ernest Johnson who played in the now defunct AAF in last spring.
Nothing To See Here?
JuJu Smith Schuster, Pittsburgh Steelers, Wide Receiver
The Steelers’ top receiver suffered a toe injury in the closing minutes of the team’s blowout loss to the Patriots. Smith-Schuster did have an X-ray, but the results came back negative.
Fantasy Impact: All signs point to Smith-Schuster playing in Week 2.
Baker Mayfield, Cleveland Browns, Quarterback
The Browns sent their second-year quarterback in for X-rays on his hand for what they are calling “precautionary measures.” The results were negative so there is no bone damage.
Fantasy Impact: Mayfield looked bothered by something during the team’s Week 1 loss but who am I to argue with X-ray results? Mayfield completed 25-of-38 passes and threw three interceptions against the Titans.
Injured But Not On The Fantasy Radar
Albert Wilson, Miami Dolphins, Wide Receiver: Calf
Will Dissly, Seattle Seahawks, Tight End: Knee