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Dynasty Injury Report: Week Three

We round up the long list of latest dynasty-relevant injuries around the league.

AJ Brown

My name is Jeff Mueller, Doctor of Physical Therapy and Injury Analyst for DLF, and I am here to help guide you through these weekly injuries and provide helpful insight into how bad the injury is and what the expected timeline for recovery is for your key player. It is important to remember that my analysis is based on limited information provided by teams, beat reporters, and limited video analysis of the injury itself – I am simply here to give you the best estimate possible for how to move forward and plan around player injury.

The weekly injury roundup will be posted on Wednesdays to discuss injuries that just occurred. I would also encourage you to tune in to the DLF YouTube channel (make sure to subscribe!) to catch the Injury show posted on Saturdays and the Sunday morning Injury and Start/Sit show for helpful active/inactive announcements.

Week Three brought us a few big-name injuries and the hip injury trend continued. The first injury listed is key to know for Thursday Night Football.

Tee Higgins, WR CIN

Injury: Shoulder/AC Sprain

Return to Play: Week 4-5

Fantasy Impact: Higgins progressed to a limited practice on Friday of last week before being ruled out for week three. While the Bengals did not officially practice on Monday, he was listed as a DNP. He was also listed as a DNP on Tuesday. Higgins will need to practice Wednesday in order to be cleared for Thursday. Given it is a short week and assuming this is an AC sprain, it would not surprise me if Higgins does not play in week four. If he is active, I do not recommend playing him due to reinjury risk.

If he is inactive for week four, I expect him to be able to return to play for week five.

AJ Brown, WR TEN

Injury: Hamstring Strain, Grade I

Return to Play: Week-to-Week

Fantasy Impact: Brown pulled up while running a deep route on Sunday and never returned, indicating at least a grade II strain. I am planning on Brown missing two games (week four and five), with a chance to return in week six. However, it would not surprise me if this is a three to four-game absence.

Christian McCaffrey, RB CAR

Injury: Hamstring Strain, Grade I

Return to Play: Week-to-Week

Fantasy Impact: Update on CMC: It was announced that he will not be placed on IR at this time. While this is good news, it does not necessarily mean that McCaffrey won’t miss three or more games. The Panthers are likely keeping him off IR just in case he heals quickly, but they did show a tendency to slow-play their return-to-play decisions for players. I am planning to be without CMC for at least two games minimum, with potential of missing up to four games. Uptick to Chuba Hubbard, Royce Freeman.

George Kittle, TE SF

Injury: Calf Tightness

Return to Play: Day-to-Day

Fantasy Impact: Reportedly, Kittle was experiencing calf tightness after the game and is expected to be day-to-day. This suggests he suffered a low-grade calf strain during the game, however he played the entire game. I expect him to play week four without limitations, but may carry some slight risk for injury. Do not fade.

Josh Jacobs, RB LV

Injury: Ankle Sprain, Toe Sprain

Return to Play: Week-to-Week

Fantasy Impact: Gruden has stated that he hopes to see Jacobs practice this week, which remains uncertain. He was in quite some pain in week one, attempting to play through his multiple injuries, so he may require one more week. Monitor his practice status closely, but I do believe there is a chance he returns to the field for week four.

Sterling Shepard, WR NYG

Injury: Hamstring Strain

Return to Play: 2-3 weeks

Fantasy Impact: Shepard was ruled out immediately after pulling up and grasping at his right hamstring, grasping his entire way to the locker room. On video, his strain appeared to be worse than Brown’s and McCaffrey’s based on his pain response, but no timeline has been announced as of writing this report. Plan on being without Shepard for at least two games, possibly longer. Uptick to Collin Johnson.

Darius Slayton, WR NYG

Injury: Hamstring Strain

Return to Play: 2-3 weeks

Fantasy Impact: It was a similar situation for Slayton, as he also suffered a hamstring strain and was ruled out. His injury sounds less significant than Shepard’s, so while I do expect both to miss week four, we could see Slayton return to play sooner than Shepard. Uptick to Johnson, Kadarius Toney.

KJ Hamler, WR DEN

Injury: Left ACL

Return to Play: Season-Ending

Fantasy Impact: Hamler was showing great strides in year two of his young career, but unfortunately tore his left ACL on Sunday while landing/twisting his knee after jumping up for a contested-catch attempt. It would not surprise me if the injury sustained is ACL+, such as meniscus or MCL, given the severity of the injury. Of note, this is the second time he has torn his left ACL (2016). If anyone is buying, I would look to sell in dynasty. Best sell window is likely next year during preseason.

Gio Bernard, RB TB

Injury: Right MCL

Return to Play: Week-to-Week

Fantasy Impact: Sit – Bernard suffered a hyperextension injury to his right knee while simultaneously scoring a touchdown late in garbage time. It looked significant, however it has been reported that he only suffered an MCL sprain. There is a chance he could play Sunday night, however I would plan on him missing the week. My best bet is that Leonard Fournette receives an uptick in receiving volume.

Darrell Henderson, RB LAR

Injury: Rib Cartilage Injury

Return to Play: 1-2 Weeks

Fantasy Impact: The plan is to see how Henderson performs in practice this week and handles contact, likely with a flak jacket on to reduce impact on the ribs. Monitor this one closely, as I believe at this point it is 50-50 on if he plays in week four. If not week four, I believe he will return for week five.

Note: I do not think the Rams would play him at his regular snap count that he obtained in weeks one-two, and I do not believe they would use him as the goal line back where he would be sustaining more blows to the ribs. His ceiling is likely lower for the first few games upon his return.

Elijah Mitchell, RB SF

Injury: Shoulder Strain

Return to Play: 1-2 Weeks

Fantasy Impact: I was wrong on Mitchell being able to play in week three. He did suffer an AC sprain and not a stinger. He was listed as a limited participant and Doubtful on Friday, and I believe there is a good chance that he does return to play for week four. If healthy, expect Mitchell to lead the 49ers in carries and be a viable flex play in fantasy.

JuJu Smith-Schuster, WR PIT

Injury: Rib Sprain

Return to Play: 1-2 Weeks

Fantasy Impact: It is time to see if Smith-Schuster is as tough as Amari Cooper. After suffering the injury, Smith-Schuster exited the game and did not return, indicating a more significant injury to his ribs. It would not surprise me if he misses week four, but returns in week five.

Diontae Johnson, WR PIT

Injury: Right Knee Sprain

Return to Play: 1-2 Weeks

Fantasy Impact: Johnson’s injury remains a mystery, as no further details have come out regarding what he sustained. My best guess is a low-grade MCL sprain, as the plan is to have him practice this week to see how his knee responds. If he is active, he does carry re-injury risk but I do believe at worst he would be a viable flex play or WR3 fantasy play.

Dalvin Cook, RB MIN

Injury: Right High Ankle Sprain

Return to Play: 1-2 Weeks

Fantasy Impact: Typically, high ankle sprains have cost running backs anywhere between one to three games, with typically lower production in the first few games upon return to play. Cook was a DNP all week last week, so it will be key to see him practice this week. I am viewing this situation as a 50-50 on him playing in week four, with a better chance of returning to play in week five. If inactive, continued uptick to Alexander Mattison.

Note: While there typically is a production hit upon return from a high ankle, Cook typically has a high ceiling so even with regression he will be a solid RB2 with upside upon returning.

Tyler Lockett, WR SEA

Injury: Left MCL Sprain

Return to Play: Week Four

Fantasy Impact: Start – Lockett appeared to suffer a significant knee injury, however only missed a few snaps and returned to the game. Most likely, he suffered a low-grade MCL sprain, which inevitably swelled after the game and overnight. I would expect to see him as a limited participant this week but be able to play in week four.

Elijah Moore, WR NYJ

Injury: Concussion

Return to Play: TBD

Fantasy Impact: Sit – Moore suffered a concussion in the second half and did not return to the game. He will have to go through the concussion protocol steps in order to be cleared for week four. Even if cleared, I do not view him as a viable fantasy start until the Jets offense improves.

James White, RB NE

Injury: Hip Subluxation

Return to Play: 6-8 Weeks

Fantasy Impact: Hip subluxations are all the rage in the 2021 NFL season. I expect this to be a similar timeline to Ryan Fitzpatrick’s, with potential of being ruled out for the season if surgery is required. The good news is that it does not sound severe, meaning just a subluxation without blood supply concerns. Uptick to JJ Taylor, Brandon Bolden.

Justin Fields, QB CHI

Injury: Hand Sprain

Return to Play: 1-2 Weeks

Fantasy Impact: Fields suffered a throwing hand injury on Sunday, although X-rays were negative for any fractures. He stated that he felt fine, but it is unpredictable what Matt Nagy will decide to do. Andy Dalton is likely not ready to return from his knee sprain with bone bruise, but Nagy did not rule out starting Nick Foles in week four. I still expect Fields to start.

Rashod Bateman, WR BAL

Injury: Sports Hernia Surgery

Return to Play: Eligible to return from IR

Fantasy Impact: Bateman was placed on short-term IR, meaning the Ravens can pull him off of IR beginning this week. It has been reported that he will be practicing this week, although it remains to be seen if he will be ready. Timeline-wise, I believe we will see Bateman make his debut in week five or week six, but will be ecstatic if he is cleared to play for week four.

If you have any questions on these players or any other players who I did not discuss, please ask in the comments. Good luck in week two!

Dynasty Injury Report: Week Three
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