Injuries are a fact of life in the NFL, but Sunday of Week 13 was an especially brutal day of injuries. During just the 1 pm games, we had two different starting quarterbacks, three starting running backs, and one of the most dynamic young playmaking receivers in the game exit with injuries.
As of Sunday afternoon, we don't have any specifics on the extent of these injuries, but here's what you need to know coming out of Sunday's games on the injury front, starting with the QBs who were forced out:
Kenny Pickett leaves with an ankle injury
Pickett has suffered seemingly serious injuries multiple times over the past few seasons only to play through them the following week, so I don't want to rule him out for Week 14. But it's going to be tough with the Steelers facing the Patriots on Thursday night – he'll have just three days to recover and be cleared.
Whether he'll be able to or not remains to be seen, but this is one situation where I don't expect a huge dropoff from the starter to the backup. Mitchell Trubisky has plenty of starting experience, including with the Steelers last season, and he wasn't dramatically worse than Pickett has been the past few seasons:
- Trubisky: 212 attempts, 2.4% touchdown rate, 3.3% interception rate, 6.6 yards per attempt
- Pickett: 703 attempts, 1.8% touchdown rate, 1.8 interception rate, 6.3 yards per attempt
It's a downgrade for the offense as a whole, I think, but probably not a significant one. That's not necessarily an endorsement of Trubisky; Pickett just hasn't been particularly good. After a promising showing in Week 12, the Steelers struggled to move the ball before Pickett's injury Sunday, and this is probably still just a pretty bad offense, with fringe-y Fantasy options all the way around. Trubisky is worth adding in two-QB leagues, but won't have any appeal in single-QB formats.
Derek Carr exits after a big hit
Carr has dealt with injuries all season, and it was more of the same Sunday against the Lions. He was forced to leave the game Sunday in the fourth quarter after a big hit where he was driven into the turf just after getting a pass off. The hit from Lions pass rusher Bruce Irvin drew a roughing the passer penalty, and it forced Carr from the game.
Carr was replaced by Jameis Winston and was almost immediately ruled doubtful to return to the game, with a back and shoulder injury, and he was also evaluated for a concussion. Carr also left Week 10 with a concussion and shoulder injury and also had an AC joint sprain in his right shoulder back in September. None of that means Carr will definitely miss time moving forward, but the lengthy recent history does seem to suggest that it might be tough for Carr to come back quickly.
That could put Jameis Winston in line to start in Week 14, and possibly after, with a pretty great schedule coming up. The Saints face the Panthers in Week 14 and the Giants in Week 15, and Winston could be in the mid-to-high-end QB2 for Fantasy for those matchups. The Saints certainly believe Carr is the better player than Winston, who they have been hesitant to rely on in four seasons with the Colts, though he's done decently well when given the opportunity lately, with a 6.1% touchdown rate and 7.1 yards per attempt in 329 attempts with the Saints.
Of course, that also comes with a 3.3% interception rate and five fumbles, which has always been the issue for Winston. He can raise the ceiling of your offense, but he also might make three backbreaking mistakes to cost you a game. We care about that a bit less for Fantasy – if anything, Winston's turnover issues tend to put him in position for more pass attempts, as his teams are often trailing thanks to his mistakes – but it's probably why the Saints have been unwilling to trust him despite getting mediocre play over the past few seasons.
That being said, I think Winston would be a clear upgrade for at least Chris Olave, whose performance sparked when Winston entered the game in Week 10. Winston's aggression as a passer fits well with Olave's skill set as a downfield playmaker, and he'll have top five upside if Winston has to start for Carr.
Tank Dell carted off
The most devastating injury of the day happened, as the rookie Dell suffered what is believed to be a season-ending fractured fibula in the first half. The Texans had Dell in to block on a running play near the goal line, and the undersized wideout got caught in a pile and went down to the ground on a Dameon Pierce touchdown. Dell had to be helped onto the cart and was taken to the locker room, where he was ruled out shortly after by the training staff.
It's a devastating injury for one of the best young playmakers in the game. Dell entered Sunday's game with a four-game touchdown streak, tied for the rookie lead with seven touchdown receptions, as well as 47 catches for 709 yards (the latter also good for second among rookies). It also robs Rookie of the Year frontrunner C.J. Stroud of one of his best weapons heading into a push for the playoffs.
But the Texans do actually have a decent group of playmakers in the passing game beyond Dell, led by Nico Collins. Collins dominated Sunday, and he was doing so even before Dell's injury. He caught nine passes for 191 yards and a touchdown on 12 targets, and looks like he might be a top-12 WR the rest of the way for Fantasy, as he has 32 targets for 23 catches and 360 yards over the past three weeks since coming back from a calf injury.
The Texans have had several different wide receivers step up in big ways this season, but beyond Collins, nobody else showed up Sunday. Noah Brown was back from a knee injury and played 42 of 53 snaps, but earned just two targets, failing to catch either. The only player who had multiple catches for the Texans besides Collins was tight end Brevin Jordan, who caught three of four passes for 64 yards – though his value will certainly hinge on Dalton Schultz' availability, as the veteran missed Sunday's game with a hamstring injury. Brown could be useful moving forward, and he's certainly shown some upside, with 325 yards in two games before his injury, but it'll be tough to rank him as anything more than a boom-or-bust WR4 after Sunday.
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Rhamondre Stevenson suffered an ankle injury
Stevenson was the latest victim of the controversial hip-drop tackle Sunday. He was brought down on the final of his nine carries, and to add insult to literal injury, he fumbled on the play that ended his day. Stevenson had 39 yards on his nine carries, along with one catch for 0 yards in a very run-heavy start to the game.
Veteran Ezekiel Elliott stepped up for the Patriots, rushing for 52 yards on 17 carries, while catching four of five passes for 40 yards. The Patriots were shut out by a bad Chargers defense, and Stevenson's is just the latest significant injury for an offense that was already without Kendrick Bourne (knee) and Demario Douglas (concussion). This was already one of the worst offenses in the league, and replacing Stevenson with Elliott isn't going to help matters.
That being said, Elliott could be a solid RB2 moving forward. Scoring opportunities will likely be few and far between, but he should get whatever ones are there for the Patriots. And he should have a solid three-down role moving forward, with Ty Montgomery and Jamychal Hasty the only other running backs on the roster right now. Montgomery should see some passing downs work, but Elliott should be in line for 15 or so touches per game, including a few in the passing game, moving forward, and that's enough to put him in the RB2 discussion even on a bad offense if Stevenson has to miss time, as looks likely.
Derrick Henry is in the concussion protocol
Henry was in the midst of one of his best games of the season, with 120 yards and two touchdowns against the Colts, but he took a hard hit where he bounced off multiple defenders early in the fourth quarter and had to come out of the game. His helmet hit the turf hard, and he went to the blue medical tent and eventually the locker room to be evaluated for a concussion.
The injury thrust promising rookie Tyjae Spears into a prominent role, and that's a potentially significant outcome for the Week 14 waiver wire. Spears, who has shown a spark all season while serving as the change-of-pace back alongside Henry, played every single snap after Henry left the game, and he might be one of the few handcuffs in the league who can be a legitimate must-start Fantasy option if the starter misses time. Whether Henry has to miss Week 14 against the Dolphins remains to be seen, but if he does Spears will be coming off a game where he had 88 yards from scrimmage on 20 touches despite not being the lead back until the fourth quarter.
Spears could be the top target on waivers heading into Week 14, and might just be a top-15 RB for Fantasy even against what isn't a great matchup against the Dolphins. One thing that helps in a game where the Titans will likely be trailing is that Spears has been very solid as a pass-catcher and could be in line for a heavy role in the passing game. If you're desperate for a running back and facing a must-win situation to get into the playoffs, Spears might be someone worth investing a lot of FAB money in for Week 14.
Brian Robinson left with a hamstring injury
Robinson was off to a solid start Sunday, with 53 yards on seven carries in the first half, though I'm not sure it would have ended up a good game even without the injury, given the way the game was going – the Commanders trailed the Dolphins 31-7 at halftime of the eventual 45-15 loss.
The obvious beneficiary of Robinson's injury was Antonio Gibson, who led the team with 10 carries, rushing for 35 yards and adding four catches on five targets for 37 yards. Rookie Chris Rodriguez also got involved, with seven carries for 29 yards, though he mostly stepped into Robinson's early-down role and wasn't targeted in the passing game.
Neither is necessarily much of a high priority on waivers heading into Week 14, however, because the injury for Robinson comes at a good time, with the Commanders heading into their bye week. Hamstring injuries can certainly linger for multiple weeks, but Robinson is going to get an extra week of recovery time here, and could be back in time for Week 15 against the Rams. If you have room and Gibson is available in your league (he's 66% rostered), he's worth adding, but Rodriguez looks more like a luxury, given the extra time Robinson has to get back to health.