Injury Status: Championship Games

Thu Jan 26 10:10am ET
By JEFF PAUR
Sr Fantasy Writer

Unfortunately, this injury list is a lot longer this week. And one of the players on the list might be the most important in all of the playoffs. It is a shame. You really want to see these teams at full strength for games of such importance. It is the NFL, though, so it shouldn’t come at a surprise. Injuries never come at a good time. Regardless, let’s hope the games are good ones this weekend. They sure are set up to be. 

A.J. Brown, WR, Eagles. Brown injured his hip in last week’s game. He is should be good to go for the game this weekend, though. Brown might be limited in practice most of the week, but should be ready to go this weekend. The Eagles don’t seem too concerned about the injury.  

Patrick Mahomes, QB, Chiefs. Mahomes has the big injury situation of the week. He suffered a high-ankle sprain during last week’s game and clearly looked hobbled in the game. He missed some time but was able to return last week. He is already practicing in full this week, though, which is a great sign. Practice reports for Mahomes were very encouraging, saying he looked good on his injured ankle. Mahomes might not be 100 percent for the game, but will be ready to play. And from early reports, he might not be quite as limited as first thought. 

Christian McCaffrey, RB, 49ers. McCaffrey is being held out of practice to start the week because of a calf injury. He might do very little in practice all week as the 49ers manage the injury. He should be ready to go for the game Sunday. And he shouldn’t be too limited, dealing with the injury the least few weeks. He has been able to play and produce near his normal numbers. 

Jimmy Garoppolo, QB, 49ers. Garoppolo is close to a return from his broken foot, but it won’t be this week. He is expected to sit out once again after getting X-rays on the injury Wednesday. But if the 49ers win, he could be ready to play the Super Bowl. 

Deebo Samuel, WR, 49ers. Samuel has been dealing with an ankle injury the last few weeks, but has been playing and playing well. He has been limited in practice this week, but it is good to see him at least practicing some. He might not be quite 100 percent for this week, but should be good to go for the big game. We wouldn’t worry too much about this injury. 

Elijah Mitchell, RB, 49ers. Mitchell has a new injury, hurting his groin during last week’s game. The 49ers claim it is minor, though. He has not practiced to start the week. But as long as he gets in a little work before the week is out, Mitchell should be ready to go for the game. We expect him to be active and get his normal workload. 

Mecole Hardman, WR, Chiefs. Hardman has been out since Week 9 because of a pelvis injury. He is making good progress, though, and could be ready for the game this weekend. If he can get in a few more full practices before the week is out, look for Hardman to make his return. The problem is you aren’t sure how much he plays with the Chiefs having a host of options making plays in recent weeks. This makes Hardman a risk for fantasy teams even if he is active for the game. 

Clyde Edwards-Helaire, RB, Chiefs. Edwards-Helaire is another Chief that could make his return this week after missing several games. He has been out with an ankle injury, but could be activated from Injured Reserve in the coming days. But even if he is active, look for him to be No. 3 on the depth chart, playing behind Isiah Pacheco and Jerick McKinnon.

Jeff Paur is a two-time finalist for FSWA Fantasy Football Writer of the Year and won the FSWA award for Best Fantasy Football Article on the Web in 2011. He also was the most accurate expert in 2012, winning the FSTA Fantasy Football Accuracy Award. If you have any questions for Jeff, email him at jeff@rtsports.com. Follow Jeff on Twitter @jeffpaur.

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Under the Radar Plays: Week 4

Player Notes
Tee Higgins Oct 2 3:00pm ET
Tee Higgins

Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Tee Higgins (ribs) exited the Week 4 game against the Tennessee Titans with a rib injury. He suffered a rib fracture and early reports suggested he could be out for a few weeks. However, the 24-year-old said he does not think his injury will keep him out for an extended period of time, and he could potentially be back this week. According to Paul Dehner Jr. of The Athletic, it all depends on Higgins' soreness and pain tolerance. All that said, the Bengals will likely want to be careful with the young wideout, so it won't be surprising if he misses the Week 5 game against the Arizona Cardinals.

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Jonathan Taylor Oct 2 2:50pm ET
Jonathan Taylor

Indianapolis Colts running back Jonathan Taylor (ankle) is expected to practice on Wednesday. The former rushing champion began the 2023 season on the PUP list after an offseason full of drama, including a public dispute with team owner Jim Irsay and a trade request. However, it appears Taylor is going to return and play for the Colts. If he is activated off the PUP list for the game against the Tennessee Titans in Week 4, he'll face a tough matchup with a defense that has not allowed a running back to surpass 67 rushing yards through four weeks. He also could be eased back into action and begin the season on a snap limit. Ultimately, some fantasy managers will still want to roll the dice on him, as running back production is often scarce in fantasy football.

From RotoBaller

Jalen Hurts Oct 2 2:30pm ET
Jalen Hurts

Philadelphia Eagles offensive lineman Cam Jurgens (foot) is being considered week to week after leaving the Week 4 game against the Washington Commanders early with a foot injury. The second-year guard is the only new starter on the team's offensive line from last year's NFC Championship run. In his absence, 27-year-old Sua Opeta will fill in at right guard. This development shouldn't affect Jalen Hurts, D'Andre Swift, A.J. Brown, and DeVonta Smith too much, but it could weaken the overall offensive line just a bit.

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Desmond Ridder Oct 2 2:20pm ET
Desmond Ridder

Atlanta Falcons quarterback Desmond Ridder struggled mightily in the loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars in London. The second-year Cincinnati product completed 19 of his 31 passing attempts for 191 yards, one touchdown, and two interceptions. Atlanta scored just one touchdown and lost the game 23-7. Many have speculated that Taylor Heinicke could be given the keys to the offense after Ridder's early-season struggles, but head coach Arthur Smith said Ridder will remain the starter heading into Week 5. The Falcons host the Houston Texans in Week 5, so hopefully, Ridder can bounce back. Heinicke might be worth stashing in two-QB and superflex leagues. He could eventually be named the starter if Ridder can't turn things around.

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Chase Claypool Oct 2 2:13pm ET
Chase Claypool

Dynasty | Bears wide receiver Chase Claypool will remain away from the team this week after expressing displeasure in regards to his role in the offense. Dynasty Analysis: After showing a ton of promise in his first two years with the Steelers, the wheels have fallen off the proverbial cart. Claypool was traded at last year's deadline but was only able to muster 14 catches for 140 scoreless yards in seven games with the Bears last year. Through three games this season, he has four catches for 51 yards and a score. This relationship seems fractured beyond repair as Head Coach Matt Eberflus is basically keeping him home instead of even being around the team. Expect a trade or release in the coming days. Claypool's ranking of WR81 has nowhere to go but up at this point.

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Jimmy Garoppolo Oct 2 2:10pm ET
Jimmy Garoppolo

Las Vegas Raiders quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo (concussion) is still in concussion protocol after missing Sunday's Week 4 game against the Los Angeles Chargers. He has now been in the protocol for a week. Head coach Josh McDaniels said the veteran signal-caller is still the team's starting quarterback when he returns from the injury. Rookie Aidan O'Connell threw for 238 yards and an interception in the Week 4 loss, but he did score a rushing touchdown on a QB sneak. Garoppolo's eventual return to the lineup should help Davante Adams and Jakobi Meyers get back on track.

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Jalen Tolbert Oct 2 11:40am ET
Jalen Tolbert

Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Jalen Tolbert had his best game of the young season in the 38-3 shellacking of the New England Patriots on Sunday in Week 4. Tolbert hauled in all four of his targets for 53 yards, which was third on the team in this one behind tight end Jake Ferguson and receiver Michael Gallup. Both the catches and receiving yards were career-highs for the 24-year-old Tolbert, and he also made a big special-teams tackle early in the game. Fantasy managers can continue to ignore Tolbert, even in deeper formats, as he's currently behind CeeDee Lamb, Brandin Cooks and Gallup on the receiver depth chart in Dallas.

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Chase Claypool Oct 2 11:30am ET
Chase Claypool

Chicago Bears head coach Matt Eberflus told ESPN1000 in Chicago that wide receiver Chase Claypool will remain away from the team this week as they prepare for their Week 5 matchup against the Washington Commanders on Thursday Night Football. The Bears made some changes to their offense heading into the Week 4 loss to the Denver Broncos on Sunday, the biggest of which was making the struggling Claypool a healthy scratch. A report on Sunday also surfaced that the Bears are seeking to trade the 25-year-old wideout to a team that is in need of receiver depth. In the first three weeks this year, Claypool has just four catches for 51 yards and a touchdown on 14 targets. His fantasy value has hit rock bottom at this point, but a change of scenery could do him some good.

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Brandin Cooks Oct 2 11:30am ET
Brandin Cooks

It wasn't much, but Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Brandin Cooks caught a season-high four passes on four targets for 27 receiving yards in the team's 38-3 blowout win over the New England Patriots in Week 4 on Sunday in Dallas. Cooks returned in Week 3 from a knee injury after missing one game and he has six receptions for 44 yards on 11 targets the last two weeks. The Cowboys really haven't had to throw the ball all that much early on this year, which has hurt Cooks in his first year with the team. That won't remain the a case all year, but the 30-year-old veteran wideout probably isn't going to have a very dynamic role in this offense unless CeeDee Lamb or Michael Gallup miss time with an injury.

From RotoBaller

Pat Freiermuth Oct 2 11:20am ET
Pat Freiermuth

Pittsburgh Steelers tight end Pat Freiermuth (hamstring) is getting his injured hamstring scanned on Monday. It's not just a tweak, reports the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette's Gerry Dulac. We'll have to wait to see what the tests show on his hamstring, but at this point, he seems pretty questionable to play in Week 5 against the division-rival Baltimore Ravens. Before leaving Sunday's loss to the Houston Texans, the 24-year-old had three catches on four targets for just seven yards. If you've been rolling with Freiermuth as your TE1, you'd be wise to start making backup plans for Week 5 now. If he's unable to play against Baltimore, Darnell Washington and Connor Heyward would both be in line for bigger pass-catching roles for the Steelers.

From RotoBaller

Demario Douglas Oct 2 11:20am ET
Demario Douglas

New England Patriots wide receiver Demario Douglas hauled in two of three targets for 45 yards against the Cowboys in Week 4. The Patriots lost by a score of 38-3, falling to 1-3 on the season. Douglas seemed to impress the Patriots' coaching staff throughout training camp and the first four weeks of the regular season, with the exception of his Week 2 fumble. The Patriots have a somewhat deep but not very top-heavy receiving corps, creating the possibility for Douglas to earn more targets if he keeps playing well. Dynasty managers would be wise to stash the Liberty product.

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Kendrick Bourne Oct 2 11:20am ET
Kendrick Bourne

New England Patriots wide receiver Kendrick Bourne hauled in two of three targets for 36 yards in Week 4 versus the Cowboys. The Patriots lost by a score of 38-3, falling to 1-3 on the season. This was the Bourne's worst game of the season in terms of both statistics and fantasy production. The 28-year-old had a big Week 1, playing 91 percent of snaps and scoring two touchdowns, but has come back down to earth since then. Notably, he has yet to log more than 56 percent of snaps in a single game since the opener. He has lost playing time to DeVante Parker and Demario Douglas and isn't an appealing fantasy option for the time being.

From RotoBaller

Myles Garrett Oct 2 11:20am ET
Myles Garrett

Cleveland Browns All-Pro pass-rusher Myles Garrett (ankle) rolled his ankle in the Week 4 loss to the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday and was seen in a walking boot after the game, but it doesn't seem to be a major injury. The Browns are heading into their bye in Week 5, and Garrett assured reporters on Sunday that he's not going to miss any time with his ankle injury. It's great timing for the 27-year-old, the Browns defense and fantasy managers that have Garrett rostered in IDP leagues, as he should be back and ready to rock in Week 6 at home against the San Francisco 49ers. Garrett is one of the best pass-rushers in football and has nine tackles (eight solo) and 5.5 sacks through the first four weeks of the 2023 season.

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Trevor Siemian Oct 2 11:13am ET
Trevor Siemian

Dynasty | Embattled Jets quarterback Zach Wilson completed 28-of-39 passes for 245 yards and two interceptions in the Jets close loss on SNF to the Chiefs. Dynasty Analysis: The Jets decided to stop playing it safe with Wilson and just let him loose in prime time. The results were shocking as he made difficult throws throughout the night and genuinely looked like a player who should have been taken in the top five of an NFL Draft. This is a small sample size and Wilson still made a critical mistake on a late fumble but the talk of Trevor Siemian taking over will be extinguished for now. Wilson is still off the dynasty radar but he at least has a pulse.

From Dynasty League Fantasy

Justin Herbert Oct 2 11:10am ET
Justin Herbert

Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert (finger) suffered a fractured finger on his left, non-throwing hand in the Week 4 win over the division-rival Las Vegas Raiders on Sunday, according to sources. Herbert's finger also suffered a gruesome nail injury, but he somehow finished the game and with the team's bye coming in Week 5, Herbert shouldn't miss any time. Once he returned to the game after having a split put on his fractured finger, he didn't take any snaps under center, except for a fourth-down sneak late in the game. NFL Network's Ian Rapoport said he doesn't see this being a major issue for Herbert moving forward. The 25-year-old saved his fantasy day on Sunday with two rushing touchdowns, but he should remain a strong QB1 option coming off the bye for a Week 6 matchup against the Dallas Cowboys on Monday, Oct. 16.

From RotoBaller

Rhamondre Stevenson Oct 2 11:10am ET
Rhamondre Stevenson

New England Patriots running back Rhamondre Stevenson rushed for just 30 yards on 14 carries against the Cowboys on Sunday evening. He also hauled in two of three targets for an additional 10 yards through the air. The Patriots lost by a score of 38-3, falling to 1-3 on the season. Stevenson's relative struggles were the product of an ugly game that saw Mac Jones get benched in the second half. With that said, the Patriots face the Saints next week, which could be a bit more favorable. Stevenson should be treated as a low-end fantasy RB2.

From RotoBaller

George Pickens Oct 2 10:10am ET
George Pickens

Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver George Pickens caught just three of his seven targets for 25 yards in the team's 30-6 blowout loss to the Houston Texans. Still, outside of running backs, the second-year pro led the team in receiving yards. The entire Pittsburgh offense sputtered against a beatable Houston defense. They also lost quarterback Kenny Pickett (knee) and tight end Pat Freiermuth (hamstring) to injuries. It appears as though Mitch Trubisky could get the start against the Baltimore Ravens in Week 5. The passing game can't get much worse, so Pickens will still be viewed as a flex option next week.

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Jaylen Warren Oct 2 10:00am ET
Jaylen Warren

Pittsburgh Steelers running back Jaylen Warren received 14 opportunities out of the backfield in the team's 30-6 loss to the Houston Texans. The second-year pro turned eight carries and six catches into 55 total yards. Warren and Najee Harris nearly split the touches 50/50. The starter ran the ball 14 times and caught one pass on two targets. Both backs saw 49% of the snaps in the blowout loss. Warren and the Steelers face the Baltimore Ravens in Week 5. An already struggling offense could have a new quarterback in Mitch Trubisky, who is likely to start in place of Kenny Pickett (knee).

From RotoBaller

Ezekiel Elliott Oct 2 9:50am ET
Ezekiel Elliott

New England Patriots running back Ezekiel Elliott rushed just six times for 16 yards against the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday afternoon. He added six receiving yards on two catches. The Patriots lost by a score of 38-3, falling to 1-3 on the season. Elliott was reportedly expected to handle the workload of an RB1 on Sunday, but that certainly did not happen. Not only did he and the offense struggle, but he was out-touched by Rhamondre Stevenson, 16 to eight. Elliott should not be started in fantasy football, and he can be dropped in leagues with 10 or fewer teams.

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Najee Harris Oct 2 9:50am ET
Najee Harris

Pittsburgh Steelers running back Najee Harris cobbled together a fantasy-relevant performance for the Steelers in their 30-6 loss to the Houston Texans. The third-year pro ran the ball 14 times for 71 yards and caught one pass for 32 yards. His 100-yard performance was his first of the young season, despite his lowest snap percentage of the campaign. Backup running back Jaylen Warren received 14 touches in the game. The Steelers scored just six points on the afternoon as the offense continued to sputter. Harris and the Steelers face the Baltimore Ravens in Week 5, where quarterback Mitch Trubisky may start in place of Kenny Pickett (knee).

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