What This Is:
A no-nonsense quick-hitting analysis of fantasy-relevant player injuries that could impact performance on game day.
A preview of the current week’s fantasy-relevant players with an injury through Friday afternoon.
Be sure to bookmark and check in with Injury Insights frequently throughout the weekend.
The following general rules apply for big shake-ups on the weekend:
Players who are downgraded from full or even partial practice to “Did Not Practice” on Friday or Saturday, for any medical reason, are a long shot to play. Typically you’ll see teams say these players are a “game-time decision” which is code for “they ain’t playing.”
Players who have a concussion have up until Saturday night/Sunday morning to clear the protocol.
If no “final update” is available, the player has either been officially ruled out or no news is good news.
These are gross estimates of return based on averages using data & experience. This assumes no setbacks and moderate severity to give a general baseline. These timelines are intentionally conservative.
Tee Higgins - Week 2
Mr. J.K. Dobbins, Sir - Week 2
D’Andre Swift - Week 2
Mike Evans - Week 2
Allen Lazard - Week 2
George Kittle - Week 2-3
Michael Pittman - Week 2-3
Alvin Kamara - Week 3-4
Keenan Allen - Week 3-4
Justin Herbert - Week 4-5
Rondale Moore - Week 4-5
Chris Godwin - Week 4-5
Zach Wilson - Week 4-5
Michael Gallup - Week 4-6
Gus Edwards - Week 5-6
Dak - Week 6-7
Jameson Williams - Week 5-8
Elijah Mitchell - Week 7-9
The following players have already been ruled out as of Friday evening and/or are unlikely to play so get them out of your lineups:
James Proche - DOUBTFUL
Velus Jones Jr - DOUBTFUL
Brandon Bolden - DOUBTFUL
CJ Uzomah - DOUBTFUL
Higgins was out for personal reasons on Wednesday but has until Saturday to clear concussion protocol. Ed Werder expects this to happen. The mode (most frequently occurring value) with first-time concussions among skill players is 0 games missed. Over a four-year period there was approximately a 10% recurrence of concussions in-season so the risk, though present, isn’t terribly concerning.
George Kittle — Groin
Kittle practiced on Friday for the first time in a week. He's a must-start in most instances if active on Sunday but he's highly, highly volatile. It's worth noting that last year when dealing with another soft tissue injury Kittle only practiced in a limited fashion on Friday similar to this week. He wasn't ready and did not play the following week.
JK Dobbins — ACL+
Dobbins finally practiced in full this week for the first time since tearing the ACL nearly 14 months ago. The vibes out of Ravens camp were negative all summer and being cleared to play doesn’t necessarily mean he’ll be cleared for a full allotment of snaps. The wise strategy is to distribute workloads in that backfield until Dobbins acclimates to work. But of course, what a team does and what we assume they’ll do can vary widely. Dobbins is moderate to highly volatile in his first week back from this massive injury. For a comprehensive analysis of Dobbins from a big-picture perspective, here’s some supplemental reading.
Allen Lazard — Ankle
Lazard has been limited this week in practice and is likely to play in Week 2. Because of the vague nature of this situation (injured in practice, so no video available) there’s moderate volatility attached to Lazard this week.
Mac Jones — Low back/illness
The bottom line here is that Jones is likely to suit up but he’s had a disrupted prep week. There’s minimal to moderate volatility with Jones this week.
D’Andre Swift — Ankle
Swift rolled his ankle and hasn’t been able to practice. He’s said himself that he’s likely to play which isn’t necessarily out of the question but isn’t guaranteed quite yet. There’s minimal to moderate volatility coming off of a “low” ankle sprain for skill players due to the potential for recurrence. Swift should be viewed cautiously by prop bettors and cash game DFS players.
Alvin Kamara — Ribs
Kamara went from limited to off from practice this week, which implies he is likely struggling to move and/or take on minimal contact. Kamara is at high risk of sitting this week and even if he does play, there's a high risk of re-injury. Kamara is highly volatile this week. Don’t expect him to be fully healthy for another 1-3 weeks.
Najee Harris — Foot
From a big-picture perspective, Harris has been dealing with a foot-related ailment since 2018. This is his third go-round with this issue. So despite these injuries responding well to rehab, it’s fair to begin wondering if this will ever go away or if it’s a ticking time bomb. Despite the Steelers downplaying the situation and Najee practicing in full on Friday, there’s a high probability Harris will continue to play through some pain and discomfort all season long. He’s highly volatile moving forward — especially as the season progresses.
Ken Walker — Inguinal Hernia
Well, there’s really minimal precedent for this specific procedure given it’s not a true groin strain or sports hernia, so the best place to start with Walker is recognizing that his camp was shortened by about 2 weeks. Those were 2 weeks worth of reps that he missed as a rookie and 2 weeks missed of game-simulated conditioning. It might take him some time to adapt to NFL game speed and he’s at moderate risk for soft tissue issues due to altered workloads.
Leonard Fournette — Hamstring
It’s Week 2 and Fournette’s persistent hamstring issue is already popping up. Obviously, he looked good in Week 1 and of course, two limited practices don’t imply the sky is falling. However, the concern with Lenny coming in was always these specific issues. The hope is Lenny gets over the issue soon as his body acclimatizes to another NFL season, but Rachaad White is still a prime stash candidate.
Zach Ertz — Calf
Ertz finally practiced in full and is presumably over the calf issue. Keep in mind he has a long history of hamstring/soft tissue injuries he tends to play through but due to this history and his age, he’s moderately volatile for the rest of this season.
Julio Jones — Knee
Julio plays through injury and tends to perform rather well despite his lack of full health. Keep in mind his age and history of previous soft tissue injury make him at least moderately volatile all season.
Mike Evans — Calf
Similar to Zach Ertz, the concern with Mike Evans is recurrence rates. He bounced back after being downgraded but for cash players, this might be a week to be underweight on Evans until he can prove the strain is behind him.
Kadarius Toney — Hamstring
After an offseason knee surgery followed by a recurrence, Toney began having hamstring troubles in camp. The issue has come back up and even if he’s healthy, Toney is a “can’t start” for everything surrounding his situation (including this injury).
Russell Gage — Hamstring
Gage is still limited in practice despite this injury being around since camp. Gage will have to prove he’s not impacted by the hamstring anymore before he can be trusted.
Michael Pittman — Quad
The Colts had a walk-through on Friday as opposed to a full practice. Surely Pittman’s new injury that came up on Wednesday contributed to that decision. The data suggests Pittman will be active and although this is presumably a soft tissue injury, the quad muscles tend to be more resilient than hamstrings. Pittman, assuming he plays, is minimal to moderately volatile. He’s still a must-start in season-long leagues.