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Sunday of NFL Week 14 brought a flurry of news on the injury front.
Quarterbacks Matthew Stafford, Alex Smith and Brandon Allen all sustained potentially serious injuries which may carry implications for other fantasy-relevant players on their teams. Dolphins pass catchers Mike Gesicki and DeVante Parker were both hurt, as was 49ers receiver Deebo Samuel.
Here’s a recap of the biggest injuries to players across the league and how it could impact fantasy football in the final two weeks of the playoffs:
Matthew Stafford, QB, Detroit Lions (ribs)
Stafford sustained a ribs injury during the fourth quarter of Sunday’s divisional clash against the Packers and was forced to exit the game. He finished the day completing 24 of 34 attempts for 244 yards, one touchdown and zero interceptions and was briefly replaced by backup Chase Daniel, who completed went 3-for-6 for 29 yards.
Stafford underwent X-rays after the game, per interim head coach Darrell Bevell, who said “it’s too early to tell” regarding the extent of the injury. Bevell added the team would have more of an update on Monday. If Daniel gets the start come Sunday on the road against the Titans, expect all the fantasy-relevant players on the Lions (e.g., T.J. Hockenson, Marvin Jones, D’Andre Swift) to be downgraded.
Alex Smith, QB, Washington Football Team (calf)
Smith exited the game after suffering an injury to his right calf during the first half of Sunday’s win over the 49ers. The 36-year-old finished completing 8 of 19 attempts for 57 yards, zero touchdowns and one interception and was replaced by 2019 first-rounder Dwayne Haskins, who was benched earlier this season for Kyle Allen (on IR). Haskins completed 7 of 12 attempts for 51 yards and had four rushes for a loss of 12 yards.
Head coach Ron Rivera told reporters after the game that it was a “somewhat mild” calf strain and X-rays were negative, per NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport. It’s still concerning, however, given that it’s the same leg that nearly cost Smith his career in 2018.
Smith’s status remains up in the air heading into Week 15 as the Football Team attempts to hold first place in the NFC East for the first time this season. In terms of fantasy, the switch to Haskins isn’t likely to have a massive impact on the skill position players (perhaps aside from Smith’s favorite short-yardage weapon, J.D. McKissic).
Mike Gesicki, TE, Miami Dolphins (shoulder)
The Dolphins tight end suffered a scary shoulder injury toward the end of the team’s Week 14 loss to the Chiefs. Prior to the injury, Gesicki had been in the midst of a career game and reeled five of six targets for 65 yards and two touchdowns.
Head coach Brian Flores did not update the media on his star tight end’s status and said it’s “too early right now. … We’ll probably have more information later in the week,” per the Miami Herald.
If Gesicki misses any time, the Dolphins would have to turn to Durham Smythe, Adam Shaheen and Chris Myarick, who are next on the tight end depth chart. Gesicki was already borderline relevant given offensive coordinator Chan Gailey’s usage of the position, so none of the remaining guys would be worthwhile for fantasy purposes.
DeVante Parker, WR, Miami Dolphins (leg)
Parker suffered a leg injury during the first half of Sunday’s loss to the Chiefs and was deemed questionable to return. He was held catchless on two targets for the day. His absence elevated Lynn Bowden Jr., who caught seven of nine targets for 82 yards, Mack Collins, who caught five of six targets for 66 yards, and Gesicki, who scored twice. Gesicki and receiver Jakeem Grant were also injured during the game
The extent of the injury is unclear at this time, as Flores did not provide updates on any of the injuries postgame. If Parker were to miss time, his absence could lift Bowden’s and Collins’ fantasy values to relevance in deeper leagues only.
Deebo Samuel, WR, San Francisco 49ers (hamstring)
Samuel saw all of one snap in Sunday’s loss to the Washington Football Team before he visibly injured his right hamstring. He had already missed three games this season with a hamstring strain suffered in Week 7. After the game, head coach Kyle Shanahan didn’t sound optimistic about Samuel’s outlook and said the receiver will undergo further imaging to determine the extent of the injury on Monday.
“You could tell just talking to him, didn’t look good,” Shanahan said. “He’ll have an MRI, they’ll look at it tomorrow.”
Samuel himself took to Instagram to post a since-deleted story that he may have suggested he’s done for the season. If true, Brandon Aiyuk — who caught 10 of 16 targets for 119 yards — would likely benefit the most. Kendrick Bourne (3-7-42-0) and Richie James (3-3-33-0) could also see more targets, but would only be worthy of consideration in the deepest of leagues.
Brandon Allen, QB, Cincinnati Bengals (knee)
Allen makes an appearance on the injury report for the second week in a row after suffering a right knee injury in the Bengals’ loss to the Cowboys on Sunday. He completed 27 of 36 for 217 yards, one touchdown, zero interceptions and four rushes for 12 yards as the injury occurred late in the game. He was briefly replaced by Ryan Finley, who completed one pass for 5 yards.
The Bengals’ skill-position players have all taken a significant hit since Joe Burrow went down with a season-ending injury. Finley would likely be a further downgrade, however, if Allen misses time.