2021 Fantasy Football: Week 3 Inactives
We are one game through Week 3 and fantasy owners are already frustrated with injury news and running into bad luck with superstars on their rosters. Most recently, the unanimous #1 overall pick in redraft fantasy leagues was ruled out for a majority of the game and beyond on Thursday Night Football.
#Panthers star RB Christian McCaffrey is expected to miss a few weeks, sources say, as the team continues to run tests on his hamstring injury suffered last night. IR is not the plan as of now. Rookie Chuba Hubbard is the next man up.
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) September 24, 2021
Sadly, there are too many bodies at risk and owners have to stay on their toes in case bad health hits players on their teams. We are back again with all the news that might possibly be relevant to your league.
This series will continue to be live every Saturday morning, meaning that if brand new statuses appear, they are not covered here. You can also follow me on Twitter (@AhaanRungta) for more regular fantasy football discussions, including comments on injury-riddled fantasy rosters. If a game does not appear on this list, that means there is currently no current injury threat in the realm of fantasy relevance.
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Week 3 NFL Inactives
Arizona Cardinals vs. Jacksonville Jaguars
QUESTIONABLE: WR DeAndre Hopkins, ARI (ribs)
OUT: TE James O’Shaughnessy, JAX (ankle)
On the Jaguars’ side, their offense has struggled with #1 overall pick Trevor Lawrence under center. Now, their leading tight end from Week 1 (6 receptions on 8 targets for 48 yards vs. Houston) is done for several weeks. O’Shaughnessy is expected to return around Week 9 as he sits on the injured reserve for the time being. In redraft leagues with no injured reserve spots, O’Shaughnessy is not worth rostering.
On the Cardinals’ side, there is one significant fantasy-relevant situation to eyeball this weekend and it has to do with some guy named DeAndre Hopkins. One of the best players in football, Hopkins has scored three touchdowns in the first two weeks of the season but is in serious danger of not playing in Week 3. He has not recorded practice time this week and will head into kickoff on Sunday as a game-time decision.
Cardinals head coach Kliff Kingsbury told reporters today that WR DeAndre Hopkins (ribs) will be a game-time decision.
Christian Kirk, A.J. Green and Rondale Moore could see an uptick in snaps if Hopkins cannot go.
— Doug Kyed (@DougKyed) September 24, 2021
If Hopkins is ruled out, it would be somewhat of a mystery who would see the most benefit given the unique role of rookie emergent Rondale Moore, who recorded his first career touchdown and first career 100-yard game in Week 2 against the Vikings.
Chicago Bears vs. Cleveland Browns
The Bears have a full roster of unhealthy players at practically every position. Their defense will likely be depleted or playing through multiple injuries. Their offensive line has taken a couple of hits this season already. Now, their quarterback of choice has paved the way for the first-round pick Justin Fields to make his first NFL start in Week 4 against the Browns.
A saving grace for Fields is he is currently in line to see a full pass-catching unit available for him to show off the arm. However, wideout Darnell Mooney was limited in practice on Friday after being an integral part of the offense in Week 2 for Chicago. If Mooney isn’t a full go for Week 3, wide receivers Damiere Byrd and Breshad Perriman might be in line for more volume as well as the tight end duo of Cole Kmet and Jimmy Graham but more importantly, leading wide receiver Allen Robinson and starting running back David Montgomery might see upticks in value in the Fields starting debut.
On the other hand, we’ve got an old-fashioned switcheroo in Cleveland; one star wide receiver in Jarvis Landry heads to the injured reserve while wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. is ready to make his season debut. Notably, Cleveland is also dealing with injuries on the offensive line, including Jedrick Wills, who is questionable for Week 3.
Washington Football Team vs. Buffalo Bills
While the championship-contending Buffalo Bills are dealing with minimal few big-name injuries, the Washington Football Team saw a riddling nuance to their offense last week when Taylor Heinicke made his first start of the season. It was a successful one as he found the end zone twice and threw for 336 yards and eventually the win. He was and will still be without newly acquired wideout Curtis Samuel, who is eligible to return off the injured reserve as soon as Week 4 if practices go well. Washington will, in essence, trot out the same offense in Week 4 as they did on Thursday Night Football in Week 3, except with more rest and therefore possibly higher volume for Antonio Gibson—only time will tell.
Indianapolis Colts vs. Tennessee Titans
While wide receiver T.Y. Hilton has still not made his season debut, he might be able to do so as early as Week 4. The Colts have even bigger problems though; their starting right tackle Braden Smith is out for the Week 3 contest against the Titans and now their newly-acquired quarterback Carson Wentz has a double-ankle injury that has kept him out of practice all week.
If Wentz is ruled out ahead of the divisional matchup on Sunday, Jacob Eason would be in line to start at quarterback. Eason’s only snaps in the NFL came in the final minutes of Week 2. He went 2/5 in the air for 25 yards and an interception. The only Colts owners that should remain calm at this time are those with running back Jonathan Taylor, seeing as there is a possibility his high volume is bumped to an elite level with the downgrade at quarterback.
On the Tennessee side, don’t get fooled about what they are going through—nearly twenty roster members see injury designations at this time, but tight end Anthony Firkser (still out, expected to return Week 4) remains the only fantasy-relevant name in bad health at the moment.
Atlanta Falcons vs. New York Giants
The Atlanta Falcons continue to be beaten up and confused about their future and fantasy lovers of Russell Gage got bad news sprinkled throughout the week. After recording 5 catches on 7 targets in Week 2, Gage did not practice this week and is considered week-to-week. Lead wide receiver Calvin Ridley and rookie tight end Kyle Pitts should see an increased focus in Matt Ryan’s passing game and in deeper leagues, wide receiver Olamide Zaccheaus will shift up the depth chart as the team’s WR2.
The bigger limbo in health news comes from the Giants, however, as several questions are now arising about the availability of Daniel Jones’ pass-catching weapons for Week 3. My wide receiver love of the week, Kenny Golladay, has an excellent matchup to exploit and might finally break through in 2021 but only if he plays. Golladay, who has had recent concerns with his hip, was limited in practice this week and will be a top fantasy name to eyeball ahead of Sunday games.
Additionally, the talented but drop-prone tight end Evan Engram is looking to make his season debut in Week 3 but he was also limited in practice all week. There truly is no way to read the situation of the Giants offense at the moment.
Cincinnati Bengals vs. Pittsburgh Steelers
While the volume of bodies with health issues may not be record-setting for this game, the fantasy impact is severe here. Not only is superstar linebacker T.J. Watt questionable for the divisional game but target hog wideout Diontae Johnson is a no-go for Week 3 as well.
Diontae Johnson had the most drops in the NFL last season (15)
He has the most targets WITHOUT a drop this season (22) pic.twitter.com/B4GIOXtg2h
— PFF Fantasy Football (@PFF_Fantasy) September 21, 2021
On the other sideline, the talented wide receiver room of the Bengals might have just gotten thinner as Tee Higgins stands as one of the few offensive injury concerns for Cincinnati in Week 3. Higgins did not practice on Friday.
Baltimore Ravens vs. Detroit Lions
QUESTIONABLE: QB Lamar Jackson, BAL (illness) / WR Marquise Brown, BAL (ankle)
QUESTIONABLE: RB D’Andre Swift, DET (groin) / WR Kalif Raymond, DET (thigh)
OUT: WR Tyrell Williams, DET (concussion) / K Austin Seibert, DET (illness)
The injuries of the Baltimore Ravens in 2021 can already make for a documentary in itself and if these new names on the injury list have to miss a game, Ravens fans might look for hobbies other than watching football. Seriously though—after winning a thriller against the AFC favorite Kansas City Chiefs, both Lamar Jackson and his top wide receiver Marquise Brown get a soft matchup to handle in Week 3 if they play. At this moment, neither of their statuses are of astronomical concern. Jackson practiced in full on Friday and Brown was limited but has played through some nagging injuries in the past.
On the Detroit side, wide receiver Tyrell Williams is expected to return around Week 6 after coming off the injured reserve and now wide receiver Kalif Raymond and starting running back D’Andre Swift were limited in practice on Friday. If any of these names see the bench instead of the field on Sunday, the early fantasy superstar tight end T.J. Hockensen could put up even more gory numbers with his elite volume and scoring potential.
Oh, and the Lions have now crossed five kickers off the list this season and currently have no placekicker on the depth chart available for Sunday. I have nothing else to contribute to this topic.
New York Jets vs. Denver Broncos
While the Broncos’ Jerry Jeudy still being on the injured reserve remains one of the biggest storylines of the season, the Jets are the team with more fantasy-relevant names off the healthy board here. Still with zero snaps this season, veteran wide receiver Jamison Crowder did not practice at all this week and isn’t a threat to see the field in Week 3. In his absence, Braxton Berrios leads the team’s wide receivers in targets with 18.
Oh and if you are one of those whose roster is highly affected by the Jets’ backfield committee, you should know that their RB3, Tevin Coleman, is out and you will be missing out on his 24-yard quota in Week 3.
Miami Dolphins vs. Las Vegas Raiders
Two gigantic names in our sport, both far from healthy. After an ankle injury kept 23-year-old running back Josh Jacobs out of their Week 2 contest against the Steelers, he did not practice again this week and is just one more piece of bad news away from missing Week 3 as well.
On the other sideline, Alabama product quarterback Tua Tagovailoa cannot catch a break via health and will be out at least for this week. He’ll be replaced at quarterback by Jacoby Brissett.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. Los Angeles Rams
After already taking a major hit to the backfield in 2021, the Rams lost Cam Akers before the season started and are now in danger of losing Darrell Henderson temporarily. Henderson did not practice this week and will be a game-time decision for the afternoon matchup against the reigning Super Bowl champions. If Henderson is indeed inactive for the Rams, Sony Michel, a former teammate of Tom Brady, will start at running back.
Meanwhile, the status of Antonio Brown is a peculiar one. He was placed on the COVID-19 list after drawing a positive test. Since he is reportedly vaccinated, even though he missed practice on Friday, he could in theory play on Sunday after two negative COVID-19 tests at least 24 hours apart. The chances are slim so fantasy managers need to assume his current status of OUT holds up.
Reminder that the Buccaneers are 100% vaccinated so this doesn't mean Brown is out for Week 3 quite yet. A situation to monitor, of course.
— Ahaan Rungta (@AhaanRungta) September 22, 2021
Seattle Seahawks vs. Minnesota Vikings
QUESTIONABLE: RB Dalvin Cook, MIN (ankle)
This game is the epitome of the “minor” injury news. While some injury designations are scattered across the report cards of participants in this game, the only major fantasy shakeup could be in the Vikings backfield. One of the game’s best at his position, running back Dalvin Cook reportedly has had some activity but not enough to log a practice session on Friday. His status will be a major storyline close to game time on Sunday and is nowhere near set in stone at this moment. If Cook misses the contest, Alexander Mattison handcuff owners have themselves a starting running back for Sunday afternoon.
Mike Zimmer said Dalvin Cook is "doing much better" and got some work in today after being DNP Wed/Thurs. Asked if he thinks RB is a position where a player can sit out a week and still be ready for a game, Zimmer said, "If you're asking about Dalvin, I think Dalvin can."
— Courtney Cronin (@CourtneyRCronin) September 24, 2021
Green Bay Packers vs. San Francisco 49ers
The Packers might be one of the healthiest teams in football right now while the 49ers continue to have a new storyline on the injury reports every week. This time, we visit their backfield again. Remember when someone in your league spent all their FAAB on Elijah Mitchell? If you’re one of those owners, this is straight pain. Not only is Mitchell likely a no-go for Sunday Night Football in Week 3 but JaMycal Hasty is also certainly out, meaning those Trey Sermon owners could easily have themselves an RB1-tier player this weekend. The 49ers have also signed Jacques Patrick, who could be as high as the RB2 on the team if Mitchell’s health news is of the disappointing variety.
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