Week one is officially in the books! I hope everyone’s teams are looking strong! Luckily in the week two injury update for the NFC, we will not be discussing any season-ending injuries. We will, however, discuss some fantasy starters who will be missing several weeks and the implications of their absence.
Quarterback Week Two Injury Update
Dak Prescott Injury Update
Prescott, who missed most of the 2020 season due to a frightening ankle fracture, will be missing the next 6-8 weeks due to a thumb fracture occurring in the second half of their Sunday night battle against Tampa Bay. As shown in the video below, Prescott injured his thumb while contacting a Tampa defender while throwing.
Reports state that he fractured his thumb, which is different than the injury Drew Brees sustained a few years back. Brees injury was to the Ulnar Collateral Ligament (UCL) of the thumb, whereas Prescott’s is reported to be a fracture.
While Prescott should return for the second half of the season, it would not be surprising to see him struggle with accuracy in the first few games back. He will undoubtedly lose some of his grip strength and fine motor skills as he recovers. Both of these he will gain back with time and rehab but may lead to temporary issues with throwing in the short term after returning.
Cooper Rush will take over for Prescott, which should be seen as a downgrade for all of Dallas’s offensive assets.
Winston was limited in Wednesday’s practice due to a back injury. At this time, it is unclear what his back injury is or how serious it is, but with him practicing in a limited capacity, it appears likely that he will play.
The back is highly involved in throwing, and throwers with back pain may have difficulty generating power due to pain inhibiting their ability to rotate fully, and accurately, as pain may impact their follow-through. In the NFL, all players deal with pain, so as long as Winston and the New Orleans medical staff can control his pain, he should be good to go.
Running Back Week Two Injury Update
Mitchell suffered an MCL sprain during San Fransicso’s rain bowl against Chicago. Since 2017, NFL RB’s averaged missing three games due to an MCL injury. With Mitchell expected to miss up to 8 weeks, his injury was clearly more severe than others.
San Fransico is notoriously not loyal to its running backs. This, combined with RBs averaging a decline of 2.9 fantasy points in the first game back from an MCL sprain, should have fantasy players concerned for Mitchell’s reliability even when he does return.
Mitchell has a laundry list of injuries since entering the NFL just one year ago (shoulder injury, rib injury, finger fracture, concussion, knee injury, hamstring injury) has not proven his ability to stay on the field. San Fransisco will turn to veteran Jeff Wilson Jr. and rookies Tyrion Davis-Price and Jordan Mason in the meantime.
Kamara picked up a rib injury in the week one victory against division rival Atlanta. Coach Dennis Allen stated on Monday that he thinks the star RB will be fine. Today (Wednesday), Kamara practiced in a limited fashion and appears on track to play week two against Tampa.
Ribs can be tricky, particularly for running backs. A rib injury impacts every movement a player makes. Ribs expand and recoil when breathing; therefore, the pain will increase when the depth and rate of breathing increase with physical activity. Many muscles involved in shoulder and arm movement attach to the ribs; therefore, the arm motion in running and catching can be painful. Lastly, getting hit hurts! This will be one to monitor, it is likely he plays, but he could be on a snap count to prevent this issue from worsening.
Swift popped up on the injury report today as he missed practice to tend to an ankle injury. We assume this is a lateral ankle sprain (the most common ankle injury). Other ankle injuries are typically reported as such, whereas lateral ankle sprains are often reported as an ankle sprain.
Historically, in the first game, after a lateral ankle sprain, RBs average 2.5 fantasy points below their pre-injury average, and only 27% of them meet or exceed their pre-injury baseline. On the surface, this warrants concern; however, for a super start like Swift, fantasy players likely don’t have an alternative that would score more than Swift’s average minus 2.5 points. If he plays, he should be started.
Fournette was limited in practice Wednesday due to a hamstring injury he picked up in week one’s victory over Dallas. His limited status leaves him hopeful of playing on Sunday against New Orleans.
Hamstring injuries can decrease speed and agility, as the strain on a hamstring increases by 1.3x when an athlete’s speed increases from 80-100%.
Fortunately for Fournette owners, RBs surprisingly see no decline in performance when returning to play from a hamstring injury. Miles Sanders last week returned after a 3+ week absence due to a hamstring and scored 17.5 points! If he plays, you start him.
Rams rookie Kyren Williams suffered a high ankle sprain in the league opener Thursday night. McVay announced that Williams underwent surgery, which is performed for grades II and III high ankle sprains and is typically the “Tight Rope” procedure made famous by Tua.
An unfortunate start to Williams’s career, as he also endured a foot fracture in June. With a Rams backfield that suddenly looks thin, Williams had an opportunity to carve some playing time. He will have to wait 6-8 weeks now.
RBs see only a modest decline in fantasy production when returning from this injury. It will be interesting to see if LA adds any RB depth. If not, Williams could still have a role later in the season.
Williams suffered a rib injury in the Falcon’s week one contest against the division rival Saints. He does not appear to have any fractures, which makes it likely that he will play in week two against the Rams.
Williams does not need to be started, as Cordarrelle Patterson has a firm grip on the RB job.
Wide Receivers week two injury update
Unfortunately, Godwin, who started week one after suffering an ACL injury in week 15 last season, injured his hamstring Sunday night. He returned from the ACL injury in a remarkable 38 weeks and did look explosive in his few times handling the ball.
As we have discussed, returning from an ACL injury in less than nine months significantly increases the risk for a re-tear. Luckily, Godwin did not re-tear his ACL, but we also know that the previous injury is a predictor of future injury.
From a fantasy standpoint, he is now rehabbing an ACL and a hamstring, each of which shows declines in WR fantasy production in the first several games back, and both have high risks for recurrence in the first few games back. Fantasy players may want to be cautious when he returns.
Like the rest of the Tampa Bay WRs, Evans was limited in practice on Wednesday. Evans is dealing with a calf injury. A calf injury will impact a player’s ability to be explosive and create separation. Evan’s average depth of target in 2021 was over 13 yards, indicating he likes to get down the field. With a calf injury, this may be difficult to do.
Historically, calf injuries significantly impact WRs in their first game after the injury. WRs average 5.7 points BELOW their pre-injury average and only 8% meet or exceed their pre-injury average. This makes it very unlikely Evans returns his average production this week if he plays.
However, the rest of the Tampa WRs are also on the injury report; therefore, if Evans is one of the only options available for Brady, he may be valuable anyway.
Jones did not practice due to an undisclosed knee injury. Since Tampa will not tell us what the injury is, we cannot provide any insight at this time. Julio is no stranger to the injury report, and fantasy players will have to continue to monitor throughout the week.
Lazard returned to practice Wednesday after an ankle injury (presumably lateral sprain) kept him out of week 1. Aaron Rodgers was visibly frustrated with the performance of his young receiving corps and would welcome the return of 5th-year veteran Lazard, with whom he has some degree of trust.
Contrary to their RB counterparts, WRs see a minimal decline in performance after ankle sprains, averaging only 0.7 points below their pre-injury average, with nearly half (44%) able to meet or exceed the pre-injury average in the first game after injury. If Lazard plays against Chicago, his ankle should not limit his ability to be effective.
Giant’s second round rookie has an undisclosed “knee” injury, and is considered day-to-day. It is unclear what his knee injury is, but it does not appear New York is too concerned.
Tight Ends Week two injury update
Kittle missed week one due to a groin injury. He missed practice on Wednesday, which does not bode well for his week two status; however, he will have two more days to practice in hopes of playing.
Kittle is a significant part of the San Fransisco offense, which just lost its lead rusher in Elijah Mitchell. Despite the groin’s major role in sprinting and cutting, on average, there is absolutely no decline in fantasy production seen in any RBs, WRs, or TEs in the first game they return from a groin injury. If Kittle plays, he should be started.
For more information about each injury be sure to check out our injury pages! Week two injury update for the AFC can be viewed here! We discuss each players outlook on our weekly podcast, and daily updates on twitter!