Fantasy Football Injury Updates: Christian McCaffrey, JuJu Smith-Schuster, A.J. Brown (2021 Fantasy Football)
It was another exciting week of action in the NFL in Week 3, with plenty of anticipated matchups taking place across the league. While memorable moments were happening, there were, unfortunately, injuries that occurred to notable players in the NFL. Whenever injuries do happen to take place, it’s up to us to keep track of each player’s status to stay on top of things in the fantasy football side of the spectrum. Amid all of the injuries we saw from Thursday through Sunday, here are the players who went down with ailments in Week 3 and how we should handle their situations in fantasy football.
Christian McCaffrey (RB – CAR)
McCaffrey’s injury likely cost many fantasy manager’s their Week 3 matchup, as the top pick in many drafts went down early against the Texans with a hamstring injury. It’s still not clear how long he’ll be out, as it sounds like he suffered a ‘less than a Grade 1 strain.’ Given the likelihood that McCaffrey will miss time, Chuba Hubbard becomes a top waiver wire priority.
Justin Fields (QB – CHI)
Justin Fields finally got the opportunity to make his first career start for the Chicago Bears on Sunday versus the Cleveland Browns. The rookie signal-caller was under duress throughout the entire game as he would be sacked an eye-popping nine times. While Fields would struggle in his debut to the tune of 68 passing yards on 20 attempts, Fields reportedly sustained a finger injury sometime in the second half. Following the game, Fields said that he was fine and that the injury won’t affect him moving forward. Matt Nagy has made it clear that Andy Dalton will start whenever the veteran can return from a knee ailment he suffered in Week 2, so it remains to be seen if Fields starts again in Week 4 versus the winless Detroit Lions.
James White (RB – NE)
With Mac Jones starting for the New England Patriots, James White carved out a prominent role in the offense. Even though Damien Harris leads the team in carries, White is the running back that New England loves to use in passing-down situations. But during New England’s loss to the New Orleans Saints on Sunday, White was carted off of the field with a hip injury. Seeing that White was carted off and he was immediately ruled out for the rest of the game, that’s not a good sign for White’s current outlook. If White is forced to miss time, Damien Harris could handle more targets out of the backfield or Rhamondre Stevenson/J.J. Taylor could see more playing time for the Patriots.
A.J. Brown (WR – TEN)
A.J. Brown just hasn’t had luck on his side early in the 2021 season. After undergoing surgery on both of his knees in the offseason, Brown sustained a hamstring injury in the first half of Sunday’s contest against the Indianapolis Colts. The Tennessee Titans were likely being cautious with Brown as hamstring injuries can be tricky to deal with since they can worsen upon more usage. We will probably see the Titans limit Brown in practice this week, which could give us an indication of his status for Week 4. If Brown is forced to miss any time, Julio Jones, Chester Rogers, and Josh Reynolds could see boosts in the passing game.
JuJu Smith-Schuster (WR – PIT)
The offense of the Pittsburgh Steelers looks lifeless to begin the season, so any injuries to their premier offensive weapons would be detrimental. While Diontae Johnson was already sidelined in Week 3 for the Steelers, JuJu Smith-Schuster would sustain a rib injury that would cause him to be ruled out in the second half. Smith-Schuster is a sure-handed wide receiver for Ben Roethlisberger, who is struggling to show any signs of being a capable franchise quarterback at this point in his career. We will get more information on Smith-Schuster as the week progresses, but he was likely ruled out for the rest of the game due to Pittsburgh being down by double-digits to the Cincinnati Bengals.
Sterling Shepard/Darius Slayton (WR – NYG)
The New York Giants haven’t had the start to the season they were hoping for as they have fallen to 0-3 after losing to the Atlanta Falcons in Week 3. While coming into Sunday’s game with a hobbling wide receiver corps, the Giants got even thinner at wide receiver with Sterling Shepard exiting in the first half with a hamstring injury. Besides Shepard, Darius Slayton also left the game with a hamstring injury in the first half and wouldn’t return. So it will be worth monitoring the status of Shepard and Slayton throughout the week. Whenever Shepard and Slayton were ruled out, Collin Johnson tied for the team-high with seven targets. Kenny Golladay would receive an uptick in targets if Shepard or Slayton were forced to miss any time for the Giants.
Carson Wentz (QB – IND)
I can honestly say that I’ve never seen a player be on the injury report for ‘ankles’, but Carson Wentz made it a first for me. Wentz had both of his ankles sprained in Indianapolis’ loss to the Los Angeles Rams in Week 2. Despite not practicing for the majority of the week, Wentz was able to suit up and start for the Colts on Sunday versus the Titans. It didn’t seem as if Wentz was limited much by his ankle injuries in Week 3 as Indianapolis fell to 0-3 on the season. Unless something changes throughout the upcoming week, Wentz should be ready to start again in Week 4 against the Miami Dolphins.
Dalvin Cook (RB – MIN)
As the week rolled along, it became more and more evident that Dalvin Cook was trending in the wrong direction for the Minnesota Vikings in Week 3. Even though Mike Zimmer had positive comments about Cook after he sustained a sprained ankle in Week 2, Cook would fail to log a single practice leading up to Minnesota’s matchup with the Seattle Seahawks. Cook would ultimately be ruled out, leaving the bulk of the touches out of the backfield for Alexander Mattison. Mattison would definitely receive a boost in fantasy football if Cook is forced to miss any more time for the Vikings moving forward.
Darrell Henderson Jr. (RB – LAR)
Darrell Henderson Jr. was playing well in relief of Cam Akers, who sustained a season-ending Achilles injury in the offseason. Henderson was handling the majority of the backfield duties for the Rams, but he would suffer a rib injury in Week 2 against the Colts. The talented running back would remain questionable throughout the week, only for Los Angeles to rule him out ahead of Sunday’s impressive victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Sony Michel touched the ball 23 times for 79 yards against the Buccaneers in Week 3, which shows that he could be in for an increased workload moving forward, regardless of Henderson’s status in Week 4.
Diontae Johnson (WR – PIT)
Before the Steelers suffered an injury to Smith-Schuster on Sunday, Johnson was already sidelined with a knee ailment he got on the final play of Pittsburgh’s loss to the Las Vegas Raiders in Week 2. James Washington got more offensive snaps with Johnson in street clothes and Chase Claypool saw more targets from Roethlisberger in Week 3. With the Steelers looking to snap their two-game losing streak, they are hoping that Johnson and Smith-Schuster will be active when they square off with the Green Bay Packers in Week 4.
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