The injuries from week three were light in quantity but one injury will have a huge impact on quality for the foreseeable future of many teams.
Let’s dive into this week’s injuries and see who skirted disaster (stock up) and the key names we will be missing (stock down) and how that affects other names (ripple effect).
Le’Veon Bell (RB, New York Jets)
Sugarcoating is a cardinal sin of fantasy football so let’s be clear; the Jets offense was horrendous without Sam Darnold the last two weeks. However, the Jets are on a bye this week and are supposed to get their franchise quarterback back next week. This also gives Le’Veon Bell a chance to rest after worries of a shoulder ailment. Both should be more than ready to go week five and Bell is an excellent buy-low candidate right now if you have any faith in Darnold as a quarterback. Jamison Crowder is tough to hang onto through the bye for some but let’s not forget Darnold peppered him with 14 targets in week one and will receive a nice boost as well.
LeSean McCoy (RB, Kansas City Chiefs)
Shady’s Back. LeSean McCoy had a great first outing this year against Jacksonville, struggled through an ankle injury week two, and then tallied his first touchdown as a Chief last week. He sat out the final quarter of this past week’s game but assured reporters multiple times that he would be ready to go for Detroit. McCoy additionally quipped that “football is fun again” for him. This does not sound like a man who plans on missing time.
Alshon Jeffery (WR, Philadelphia Eagles)
The Eagles top wideout returned to a full practice on Tuesday. Alshon Jeffery was held out with a calf injury on Sunday but seems ready for the quick turnaround, a Thursday night game at Lambeau Field. May want to sit Alshon out as he will likely draw coverage from Jaire Alexander who has been sensational this year. Fantasy owners will be pleased to have Alshon going forward though.
Darius Slayton (WR, New York Giants)
Darius Slayton is a long-shot sleeper here but there is no denying the rookie looked solid in his first action with the Giants after sitting out the first two games with a hamstring ailment. Fellow rookie Daniel Jones made his debut and Slayton was greeted with five targets on 29 snaps, quite a high target share for playing 45 percent of the snaps. Golden Tate comes back after next week, but with no Saquon Barkley (more on that below), Slayton has a chance to slide in as the WR3 in what will be a pass-heavy approach going forward.
Stock Down & The Ripple Effect
Saquon Barkley (RB, New York Giants)
The universal first overall pick in fantasy drafts is sidelined with a high ankle sprain and that is a tough blow for teams. Saquon Barkley could sit out until the bye week, which would mean we would not see him on the field until week 12 (and that game is in Chicago, a rough spot to comeback to).
The Ripples: Evan Engram was already a target monster before the Giants lost their best talent. His 30 targets is tied for eighth in all of football through three games and nothing about that is going to change now. Wayne Gallman is the waiver add from this situation, but what do we really expect out of the third year back? His athleticism is subpar and his production dating back to college has never been stellar. Gallman has always caught the ball decently though so his usage (pending a signing) will likely warrant flex consideration each week.
Cam Newton (QB, Carolina Panthers)
This injury popped up late last week and continues to worsen by all accounts. Reports are now that Cam Newton is dealing with a Lisfranc injury. First of all, Newton is an easy cut in nearly all formats (a deep Superflex/2QB league may warrant a hold if waivers are thin). We all heard about how Cam had retooled his throwing motion this off-season but we have not seen the benefits of that. Add-on that it is clear this injury has sapped his running ability, his fantasy value is as low as it has ever been.
The Ripples: It was only against the Cardinals, but it was hard not to appreciate the job Kyle Allen did. The second-year pro had a rocky college career but he is now 2-0 as a starter in the NFL. The first quarter was a little quiet but then we really saw Allen breakout. The best part if you own other Panthers in fantasy is that he gave his receivers a chance. The biggest boost is arguably to Curtis Samuel, who Allen has thrown touchdown passes to in each of his starts, but every Panther had a big day on Sunday. Again, it was only the Cardinals so we may need some time to hash it who is the biggest beneficiary of this QB change, but the early returns are great if you own Samuel or any of the Carolina weapons.
T.Y. Hilton (WR, Indianapolis Colts)
T.Y. Hilton had been paying off early for those that stuck with him despite the quarterback change as he is tied for the league-high with four receiving touchdowns. The big-play dynamo left before halftime with a quad injury this past week and sat out the rest of the game. Any injury that saps a speedster of any kind of explosiveness is concerning for his long-term outlook.
The Ripples: Mostly negative on this one. Jacoby Brissett has been a capable QB2 but no Hilton would lower his fantasy ceiling. Marlon Mack is dealing with a calf issue of his own and if you take out a 26-yard long in the fourth quarter this past week, Mack only has 99 rushing yards on 35 carries the past two weeks (2.83 YPC). No Hilton likely means more stacked boxes. Maybe Hilton being out or limited could lead to an emergence of another receiver. Parris Campbell snap count spiked to 45 percent on Sunday and they could use his 4.31-speed sooner than later. Campbell provides no guarantee but his rare athleticism and draft capital provide the clearest potential of the group.
David Njoku (TE, Cleveland Browns)
This one came up a bit later last week and David Njoku wasn’t officially placed on Injured Reserve until last Friday, so it’s not bad to update this.
The Ripples: ‘Tight End Purgatory’ is an unfortunate place to be. This year, at least Darren Waller and Mark Andrews have emerged behind the big three of Travis Kelce, George Kittle, and Zach Ertz. Yet per usual, the rest is heavily matchup dependent. If you’re in purgatory, then Demetrius Harris is worthy of consideration. The highly athletic, 6’7” target is a former college basketball player and has spent the last few years sitting behind Kelce. Harris played on 90 percent of snaps this past week with Njoku out, a percentage only surpassed by three other tight ends (you can take a wild guess at which three). The two targets were disappointing, but at least one of those targets led to a score. Harris will be the starter from now on for quite some time. Continue to monitor his snap count and target share.