The first week of the 2021 NFL season did not disappoint in many ways. From the opening game to the wild events of the Monday Nighter in Vegas, fans were treated to the usual week one madness and then some. Unfortunately, another aspect carried on like clockwork; injuries. Luckily, The Infirmary is here to keep fantasy managers up to speed. Week 2, bring it on.
Tre’Quan Smith is set up for a big year due to Michael Thomas’ injury situation. Though Marquez Callaway is the clear No. 1 and the beneficiary of Thomas’ absence, Smith was poised to handle the field opposite him. Now, moved to IR with a bad hammy, he’ll have to wait at least three weeks before returning to the field. Meanwhile, the wide receivers behind him are Deonte Harris and Lil’Jordan Humphrey. No one should be excited about these players.
Out of the three new Ravens RBs, Latavius Murray would seem to have the most “gas left in the tank” and fits Gus Edwards’ role perfectly. Expect Murray and Ty’Son Williams to share the workload for at least Week 1, but let’s be real about this, folks. This all likely means that Lamar Jackson will just run it himself more than he ever has, and perhaps, lean more on that passing game like they intended. Either way, it’s hard not to see these running back injuries as a potential bump for the former MVP.
While some (including this particular writer) have never sworn by Sony Michel, one simply can’t ignore the former Patriot’s efficiency last year. He ranked No. 1 among qualified running backs in Yards Per Touch (6.5) and No. 2 in True YPC (5.2); impressive, considering the team faced an average of 7.3 (No. 6) Defenders In Box. In New England, Michel was one of too many cooks in the kitchen; in Los Angeles, however, he forms a nice duo with Henderson on what should be a high-octane offense.
There’s drama in the Bayou, and Michael Thomas is at the forefront. The star wideout’s decision to opt for ankle surgery in June didn’t sit well with the Saints and Coach Sean Payton. Thomas was paced on the PUP list, and won’t be eligible to return until after Week 6; at which point Marquez Callaway may have a firm grip on the No. 1 chair.
The running back position was hit hard this week. Dalvin Cook, Alvin Kamara and Miles Sanders join James Robinson in sitting out. Alexander Mattison will fill in for Cook, but hasn’t always looked good when doing so. However, this week he’ll face the atrocious Lions run defense. Get him in those DFS lineups!
The Rams need a win to stay in the playoff hunt, and will be down their quarterback in addition to Cooper Kupp. With Jared Goff sidelined, John Wolford will start under center instead of the maligned veteran Blake Bortles. The move is intriguing, as is Wolford’s player profile. As a senior for Wake Forest, the QB ran for 683 yards and 10 touchdowns. He posted a 10.96 (95th-percentile among qualified quarterbacks) Agility Score. Someone say Konami Code?
Melvin Gordon is a great play this week with Phillip Lindsay out. Gordon has played quietly well this season, ranking No. 14 among qualified running backs with 173 carries, No. 12 with 814 rush yards and No. 10 with nine total touchdowns. He also ranks in the top-13 at the position in Route Participation, Evaded Tackles and Big Runs. Gordon is a great value in DFS this weekend at $5600.
Christian McCaffrey will once again miss time, leaving the handcuff-of-the-year, Mike Davis, to do his thing. However, the Washington defense is stout versus the run. Speaking of the Washington Football Team, it appears likely they will be without Terry McLaurin. Now that everyone is finally coming to terms with Logan Thomas as a bonafide tight end, what better week to have him in a lineup.
Michael Thomas’ absences aren’t anything new this year. However, to lose him at playoff time when Drew Brees is returning is disheartening. Making matters worse, he appears set for IR, which would take him out for next week’s fantasy championship matches as well. With Marquez Callaway on the reserve himself, fantasy managers should again look to Tre’Quan Smith.
Myles Gaskin appears set to miss another week, which momentarily puts DeAndre Washington once again in the starters seat. Yuck. There is a chance, however, that one of the other Miami backs may return. As for Ronald Jones, he’ll miss Sunday’s game and Leonard Fournette will lead the charge in relief. Rookie Ke’Shawn Vaughn has yet to make a significant impact this season, but this Sunday may be as good a chance as any.
Regardless of the status of Houston’s banged up receivers, the name to watch here is Chad Hansen. Remember that guy? In Week 13, the 25-year old caught five of seven targets for 101 yards and a touchdown. The former fourth round pick also boasts a compelling player profile, featuring a 10.87 (88th-percentile among qualified wide receivers) Agility Score and a 10.16 (77th-percentile) Catch Radius. The guy is worth a dart throw in DFS and a stash on dynasty rosters.
It’s a shame Myles Gaskin will sit this Sunday out; there is an opportunity to shine. The Chiefs run defense is towards the bottom of the league, and Miami’s is good enough to slow the Patrick Mahomes led offense. In relief, DeAndre Washington steps in to face his former squad. His player profiler draws some intrigue, but nothing of consequence has ever come from his play.
Josh Jacobs’ absence from Sunday’s game opens the door for Devontae Booker. For his part, Booker has been involved in about every game in some capacity. The 28-year old even has a couple of double-digit point games. However, this Sunday he’ll see the bulk of the workload and will pay dividends. In limited action this year, Booker averages 5.1 (No. 2 among qualified running backs) True Yards Per Carry and 5.6 (No. 10) Yards Per Touch.
With Mark Andrews out in Baltimore, the newly acquired Luke Willson has an opportunity. It might be a one week thing, but with Lamar Jackson returning to the lineup Willlllllson is sure to see work. Forget not the man’s profile, no matter how long he’s been away from relevancy. It is loaded with intrigue.
Perhaps the biggest news of this list of players who will miss Week 12 due to injury is Todd Gurley. While he isn’t the same running back these days, he’s been solid for fantasy purposes. Brian Hill will assume lead duties in Gurley’s stead, and there’s plenty of reason to believe in him this week.
Tevin Coleman may be out in San Francisco, but Raheem Mostert was activated from the injured reserve, as was Jeff Wilson. There’s a good chance the pair hits the field this Sunday for the 49ers; Mostert would be a welcome sight for this offense. Matt Breida looks to be the starter against the Jets with Salvon Ahmed out and Myles Gaskin a week away from returning. Throw him in those DFS lineups.
Now on the injured reserve, Drew Brees will miss a minimum of three games to recover from his list of ailments. Taysom Hill has been announced the starter for this week, surprising many who assumed Jameis Winston would get the call. Coach Sean Payton has stated he views Hill in the same vein as Hall of Famer Steve Young. Do we actually get to see what Hill can do with an offense now? Either way, temper expectations for the Saints pass-catchers.
Not only is Drew Brees out, but multiple other starting quarterbacks may also miss Sunday’s action. Should Teddy Bridgewater sit, which seems likely, Carolina will turn to either P.J. Walker or Will Grier. The pair have split first-team reps this week. While Grier has some starting experience from last year, he wasn’t very good in those starts. Walker was the start of the brief XFL resurgence, and should get the nod. If so, he makes an intriguing DFS play based on his scrambling ability.