While rankings and projections are beneficial, nothing is more critical for fantasy football than following injuries, as the landscape will change with nearly every significant one. Now that we are mere hours away from the opening Sunday of the 2021 NFL season, here is an update on some critical injury reports to watch and their fantasy football impact for Week 1.
Fantasy Football Injury Report: QB update
Here is where we currently stand on several of the critical fantasy football QBs dealing with injuries.
Carson Wentz, Indianapolis Colts
According to ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter, head coach Frank Reich announced on Friday [September 10] that Wentz would be the starting QB for the Colts’ Week 1 matchup against the Seattle Seahawks. Wentz underwent foot surgery in July and had a 5-to-12-week timeline. Just as important is the announcement that G Quenton Nelson will also play today. Nelson underwent the same surgery as Wentz.
Trey Lance, San Francisco 49ers
According to NFL Insider Ian Rapoport, Lance (finger) enters today’s game without an injury designation. Lance will serve as the backup after Kyle Shanahan named Jimmy Garoppolo the team’s starting QB during the preseason. Shanahan announced to the media on August 30 that the rookie QB had a “small chip” in his right index finger.
Fantasy Football Injury Report: RB update
Let’s see how injury bugs are affecting RB committees.
Gus Edwards, Baltimore Ravens
This is your last chance to get Edwards out of your lineup and off your team. During practice on Thursday, Ravens RB Gus Edwards suffered what was confirmed to be a torn ACL. The Ravens signed Le’Veon Bell, Latavius Murray, Trenton Cannon, and Devonta Freeman to round out their depth chart. Ty’Son Williams, meanwhile, will be the lead back for Week 1.
Austin Ekeler, Los Angeles Chargers
Ekeler gave fantasy managers a scare this week as he was a DNP during Wednesday and Thursday practices with a hamstring injury. However, he was a limited participant on Friday and was officially listed as questionable for the Chargers’ Week 1 game against the Washington Football Team. While you will start him in fantasy, this is a difficult matchup against one of the best defenses in football. He is a mid-to-low end RB2 rather than his normal RB1 ranking.
Saquon Barkley, New York Giants
Per Jordan Raanan of ESPN NFL Nation, Barkley (ACL) is questionable for Week 1. Barkley has reportedly been progressing well as he continues his recovery from a torn ACL he suffered in Week 2 of last season. Rapoport reported that Barkley is expected to play in Week 1 after getting through a padded practice this week with no setbacks.
Nevertheless, the Giants play three games in 14 days. As the center of the franchise, it would not be surprising to see Barkley on a snap count on Sunday against the Broncos. I am sure we will see some flashes out of him, but if the ball is taken out of his hands, he can do nothing about it.
D’Andre Swift, Detroit Lions
Swift has been dealing with a groin strain, but he’s a full-go for the Lions’ Week 1 game against the 49ers. According to Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press, he was not listed on the team’s injury report. Head coach Dan Campbell did have concerns about Swift’s level of conditioning. However, he’s since expressed confidence in him for Week 1. The workload split between Swift and Jamaal Williams will be a talking point coming out of this game.
Josh Jacobs, Las Vegas Raiders
On Thursday, Jacobs was limited in practice with a toe injury but told Jesse Merrick of KSNV News 3 Las Vegas on Friday, “I did everything today. I feel good to go.” There should be no concern for Jacobs’ fantasy status for Week 1.
WR injury update
News for pass catchers is essential in PPR leagues — let’s break down the WR fallout.
Curtis Samuel, Washington Football Team
According to ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter, Washington placed Samuel on injured reserve (groin). He’ll be eligible to return in three weeks. Samuel has been dealing with a groin injury since the spring, and when trying to participate for the first time on Wednesday [September 8], he came off the field limping. There is concern that this injury could last longer than the initial three-week IR stint.
Terry McLaurin will see a significant target share today along with increased passing usage to Antonio Gibson, Logan Thomas, and J.D. McKissic. Also, keep an eye on Cam Sims. Ryan Fitzpatrick has been enamored by his film and play, even calling former Washington QB Alex Smith to discuss the 6’5″ wideout.
Jamison Crowder, New York Jets
According to NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport, the Jets have ruled Crowder out for Week 1 against the Panthers. Crowder tested positive for COVID-19 and remains in protocol. Corey Davis will be the primary receiver and is a WR3 for fantasy, with Elijah Moore taking over the slot role.
Tre’Quan Smith, New Orleans Saints
Per Nick Underhill of NewOrleans.Football, the Saints have placed Smith on IR. Smith was added to the injury report on Thursday [September 9] with a hamstring injury. Jameis Winston will rely on breakout candidate Marquez Callaway as his WR1. With that said, fantasy managers should not, as he will see shadow coverage from Jaire Alexander, one of the top CBs in the NFL.
Michael Thomas, New Orleans Saints
Speaking of Thomas, on August 31, he was placed on the PUP list (ankle). This means he cannot return until after their Week 6 bye. At the time of his surgery, Thomas’ initial timeline was 4-5 months.
Kenny Golladay, New York Giants
After limited participation this week, Golladay (hamstring) will play on Sunday against the Denver Broncos. He was not listed on the Giants’ Friday injury report. Golladay was a significant addition in the offseason in a make-or-break season for Daniel Jones.
Emmanuel Sanders, Buffalo Bills
Bills head coach Sean McDermott also said that Sanders would be listed as questionable for the game. He’s been limited in practice this week with a foot injury. If he cannot play, Gabriel Davis would see a boost in fantasy value for Week 1.
Nelson Agholor, New England Patriots
According to Mike Reiss of ESPN, Agholor (ankle) is trending in the right direction for Sunday’s season opener. Agholor was a limited participant on Friday and is listed as questionable for Week 1.
Odell Beckham Jr., Cleveland Browns
According to Schefter, no determination has been made regarding Beckham’s status for their Week 1 matchup with the Kansas City Chiefs. Browns head coach Kevin Stefanski stated, “We will use the next 48 hours with all of these guys and determine who is playing and is not. We will let you know 90 minutes before the game.” Stefanski is referring to the inactive list that teams must publish 90 minutes prior to kickoff.
TE injury update
Which fantasy-relevant tight ends are on the injury report as the season draws closer?
Evan Engram, New York Giants
Despite working on the side of practice on Friday, the Giants have listed Engram as out for Week 1 against the Broncos, per Jordan Raanan. Kyle Rudolph will be the starting TE but is likely outside the fantasy radar for this week. Should Engram’s injury linger, Rudolph could become an intriguing mid-TE2 in favorable matchups.
Adam Trautman, New Orleans Saints
Trautman (ankle) is not listed on the official injury report ahead of the season opener in Week 1 against the Packers. With Smith on the IR, Thomas on the PUP, and Callaway in a brutal matchup, Trautman could end up being one of the highest targeted players and remains a breakout candidate for fantasy.
Noah Fant, Denver Broncos
According to Zac Stevens of DNVR Broncos, Fant will play on Sunday after being a full participant on both Thursday and Friday. He is a low-end TE1 for fantasy this week.
Irv Smith Jr., Minnesota Vikings
Smith suffered a meniscus injury in the Vikings’ preseason finale and underwent season-ending surgery. Smith Jr. was a favorite of fantasy managers to breakout with Rudolph off the roster and in New York.
For those looking for a sleeper or stream option at TE, keep an eye on Tyler Conklin. In 2020, Conklin reeled in 19 catches for 194 yards and 1 touchdown. His 168 yards across the final four games when Rudolph was out were ninth among tight ends. The Bengals’ defense ranked 26th in points allowed to TEs at 14.4 per game last season.