There’s no question Evan Engram is a talented fantasy football weapon at the tight end position, but his injury history is concerning. After playing 16 games for the first time in his four-year career in 2020, his availability is already in question before Week 1 of the 2021 NFL season. Luckily, Kenny Golladay, Darius Slayton, Sterling Shepard, and Kadarius Toney can pick up some of the slack if he can’t go. Additionally, Jason Garrett and Co. brought in the closest thing to Jason Witten they could find in Kyle Rudolph.
Is Evan Engram playing this week?
No, Engram won’t see any action in Week 1 for the New York Giants. The fifth-year TE has been battling a calf injury since the Giants’ preseason contest against the Patriots on August 29. Any soft tissue injury such as calves, hamstrings, and quads tend to linger for quite some time. If Engram comes back too early, he risks exacerbating the injury.
He didn’t participate in practice all week. Unfortunately, the one matchup that the Giants might have exploited offensively was Engram against Denver’s linebackers.
Injury history for the fifth-year pro
This certainly is not Engram’s first injury, which means it probably won’t be his last, either.
Engram looked like he was on the right path to begin his career. The Giants TE caught 64 passes as a rookie and looked like one of the few TE prospects to seamlessly transition to the NFL level.
Nonetheless, in Week 16 of the 2017 NFL season, Engram suffered a rib injury against the Philadelphia Eagles that forced him to miss the season’s final game. Since then, he’s had to fight the “injury-prone” tag.
The preseason hasn’t been kind to Engram. In August of 2018, a concussion plagued him, but he returned before the season opener against the Cowboys.
Engram then sprained his MCL in September that sidelined him for three games in his sophomore NFL season. But wait, there’s more! Engram pulled his hamstring during warmups and went on to miss that game and another in 2018.
The misery continued in 2019. Engram sprained his MCL against the Vikings, but he only missed one game. However, he also sprained his foot later in the season against the Cowboys. He ended up having surgery on the foot and missed the Giants’ final seven games.
What does Engram’s absence mean for the fantasy outlook of Kyle Rudolph and Kaden Smith?
Engram’s absence in Week 1 opens the door for Kyle Rudolph to see more snaps and targets. Kaden Smith will also chip in as well. Rudolph has four 50-plus-catch seasons on his NFL résumé, including a career-high 83 in 2016. Both Rudolph and Smith are excellent red zone targets.
It is difficult to trust either tight end in anything outside of the deepest of fantasy football formats. It should be noted that quarterback Daniel Jones has a passer rating of 102.8 when throwing to Smith over the last two seasons.