There are some big names on the RB injury report for Week 17, and they’re coming at the worst time for fantasy football managers. With championships on the line, uncertainty over RB options can cause major headaches for managers when considering their lineups.
With Austin Ekeler, Miles Sanders, Kenneth Walker III, Rhamondre Stevenson, Damien Harris, Latavius Murray, and Alvin Kamara among the names on the early injury reports this week, it could be a long week as Sunday approaches.
Please note that practice status listings are as follows: DNP – did not participate, LP – limited participant, FP – full participant.
RB Injury Report Heading Into Week 17
If you are considering joining an early week Underdog Fantasy Best Ball draft, then the information below could be crucial to help you make tough decisions. Which players should you avoid, and who might be some under-the-radar options to target as you try to get an advantage over your opponents?
Austin Ekeler, LAC | Knee (LP)
It should be a positive sign that Austin Ekeler was considered limited to open the week as he deals with a knee injury. This injury is somewhat of a surprise after Ekeler carried the ball 18 times and saw four targets on a 60% snap share. It’s worth noting that this was an estimated injury report, with the Los Angeles Chargers having a walkthrough coming off Monday Night Football.
The early indication is that there’s no major concern about Ekeler missing time, but we will need to keep an eye on the injury report. While the Chargers are reportedly not considering resting players as they fight for seeding in the AFC, they may limit Ekeler to ensure they have him healthy for the playoffs. If Ekeler is active, barring some indication he will be on a snap count, he remains a must-start.
In the event that Ekeler is ruled out or we find out he’ll be limited, then Joshua Kelley is the player that should see the biggest boost. Over the last two weeks, Kelley has 19 rushing attempts for 57 yards and a touchdown. He’s also added two receptions on three targets for 16 yards. Even if Ekeler were out, it would be hard to view Kelley as a confident 12-team league starting option.
Miles Sanders, PHI | Knee (DNP)
It’s concerning to see Miles Sanders on the injury report as a non-participant with a knee issue in Week 17. The Philadelphia Eagles RB has managed to remain remarkably healthy this year, as he’s already played 15 games in 2022 after missing nine games combined over the previous two seasons. However, with the Eagles just one win away from locking up a first-round bye in the 2022 NFL playoffs, we could see him rested this week.
There wasn’t a huge focus on Sanders in head coach Nick Sirianni’s Wednesday media availability, which is usually a good sign. However, at that point, there may not have been public knowledge that Sanders was dealing with an injury. He carried the ball 21 times last week, with his last action being a fourth-quarter fumble with 2:19 remaining.
Deciphering how to sort throw Philly’s backfield should Sanders miss time isn’t clear. Kenneth Gainwell has averaged 3.2 rushing attempts and 1.73 targets per game this season, while Boston Scott has 3.31 touches per game and 0.38 targets.
Last season, when Sanders was out, we saw Scott stepping up into a bigger role with Gainwell sprinkled in. Both would see a slight bump in fantasy value if Sanders were out, but either would be tough to trust in 12-team leagues.
Kenneth Walker III, SEA | Ankle (DNP)
After bursting onto the scene in a big way earlier in the season, Kenneth Walker III has become a somewhat frustrating fantasy option. Whether it is uncertainty over his status or middling performances, Walker has not been someone that fantasy managers can just set and forget.
Based on what we have seen this year, Walker could conceivably play without practicing. This could be a load management situation, but do not be surprise if Pete Carroll and the Seahawks list him as questionable heading into the weekend.
Rhamondre Stevenson, NE | Ankle (LP)
Seeing Rhamondre Stevenson on the New England Patriots injury report with an ankle issue has become fairly standard over the past few weeks. Since he hurt himself on Monday Night Football of Week 14, Stevenson has been either absent or limited from practice, yet he’s suited up on gameday nonetheless.
The results of those two games have been wildly different. In Week 15, he carried the ball 19 times for 172 yards and a touchdown. Then in Week 16, he took 13 carries for 30 yards. While he was a superb fantasy asset against the Las Vegas Raiders, he was a major disappointment against the Cincinnati Bengals while conceding a costly fumble.
There doesn’t seem to be any reason to assume Stevenson won’t play with this injury. However, it is something to monitor for the weekend, especially with Damien Harris still on the injury report. Harris returning to the field could limit Stevenson’s ceiling, especially if the latter is still dealing with trouble from his ankle.
Damien Harris, NE | Thigh (LP)
We haven’t seen Damien Harris take the field since Week 12, and the last two weeks have been particularly frustrating. He was listed as questionable coming out of New England’s final practice of the week but didn’t suit up in either game. However, there has been a clear improvement in each of the last four weeks.
In Week 13, Harris was ruled out following practice. In Week 14, he was listed as doubtful. The last two weeks have seen him questionable coming out of practice, and he got closer to being active in each of the two games. In Week 16, he was ruled out 24 hours before the game, while in Week 17, he was a game-time decision. If that trend continues, Harris has a chance to suit up this week.
Unfortunately, even if Harris suits up, he will be hard to trust from a fantasy perspective. After starting the year with a prominent snap count, Harris slipped into a secondary role behind Stevenson. That is likely to resume this week, meaning Harris is not someone you can start outside of 16-team leagues as an upside play.
Aaron Jones, GB | Knee/Ankle (LP)
The game of Aaron Jones being listed on the injury report with one of many different ailments continues into Week 17. Unfortunately, the issues are making him a tough fantasy option to rely on. Over the last three weeks, Jones has had one performance in which he scored 18.6 fantasy points and two others of 7.5 and 4.4 fantasy points.
In those two games, Jones was briefly checked for an injury before returning both times, but it seemed as though he was limited in both games. He’s a tough player to bench if he is active, but the past three weeks have made him difficult to trust at the same time.
Christian McCaffrey, SF | Knee (LP)
Once again, Christian McCaffrey will open the week as a limited participant with his knee issue. However, this hasn’t resulted in him missing time previously, and he’s not expected to be limited come game time this week. Initially, this is nothing more than a “do not worry” message, but it’s also something we need to keep an eye on just in case,
Latavius Murray, DEN | Rest (DNP)
We saw Latavius Murray managing a foot injury last week that he was ultimately able to play through, despite being questionable. Murray ended up playing on just 46% of the offensive snaps and saw 11 opportunities. Coming off a 142-yard performance the week before, Murray’s 40 total yards on nine touches and 11 opportunities was a disappointing return. However, this week, the designation is simply non-injury related, so we should expect to see Murray this weekend.
The Broncos’ backfield was confusing last week. Chase Edmonds had six carries and two targets, while Marlon Mack had four rushing attempts and one target. With this injury concern, it may make sense to look elsewhere for an RB option in Week 17.
We found out earlier in the week that Antonio Gibson was dealing with a “sprain,” but head coach Ron Rivera did not reveal the exact nature. Gibson appeared to suffer the injury during Saturday’s game, missing significant time. He saw his playing time drop from 60% the previous week to just 29% in Week 16. However, he saw touches throughout the game as the team appeared to manage the issue.
Entering Week 17, Gibson began the practice week as a non-participant with ankle/foot and knee issues. With a playoff chance hanging in the balance, the Washington Commanders will want to make sure they have Gibson in the longer term, so we may see him miss this week. Rookie RB Brian Robinson Jr. would see the majority of the work in Gibson’s absence.
Even if Gibson plays, he would be a hard option to trust from a fantasy perspective. Over the last four games, he’s averaged seven rushing attempts and 3.5 targets per game. The opportunities haven’t been there for Gibson to be a consistent contributor to fantasy teams.
Alvin Kamara, NO | Quadricepts/NIR-Personal (DNP)
The status of Alvin Kamara for Sunday shouldn’t be a concern for fantasy managers. While he is listed with a quadriceps issue, when he spoke to the media after practice, head coach Dennis Allen said Kamara was absent due to a personal issue. While Allen would not elaborate further, Nick Underhill of NewOrleans.Football reported that, according to a source, the issue shouldn’t impact his status for Sunday.
James Conner, ARI | Illness (DNP)
James Conner missed the Arizona Cardinals’ walkthrough on Wednesday with an illness. An illness this early in the week rarely turns out to be anything more than a minor issue that resolves itself, but we’ve seen instances where illnesses linger and cost a player time or impact their performance in the next game.
Initially, the assumption is that this will be nothing more than a day or two’s absence from practice, but it bears watching. If Conner recovers, he should be fine to start against the Atlanta Falcons this week.