Fantasy football news & notes: McCaffrey on injury report

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The news: ESPN’s David Newton reported that Panthers RB Christian McCaffrey has made an appearance on the team’s injury report with an ankle injury.

What it means in fantasy: McCaffrey is dealing with stiffness in his ankle, but the Panthers are adamant that he should play Sunday against the Saints. Fantasy managers are understandably worried about this since McCaffrey has been injured in both of his previous two seasons. In 2020, he played in just three games due to a high ankle sprain and shoulder injury and then missed 10 games last season due to an ankle injury. D’Onta Foreman or Chuba Hubbard would fill in if McCaffrey misses time at any point this season; Hubbard rushed for 514 yards and four touchdowns in 10 starts last season in McCaffrey’s absence. He is available in 94.2% of leagues, and I recommend prioritizing him as a bench add for anyone who is invested in McCaffrey, as this is likely not the last time the starting back appears on an injury report this season.

Going deeper: McCaffrey has averaged 19.5 touches and 22.2 fantasy points per game in his career. He signed a four-year, $64 million extension with the Panthers in April 2020, he has played in only 10 of 33 games since signing.

The news: Steelers QB Mitch Trubisky completed 20 of 32 passes for 207 yards and no touchdowns against the Browns on Thursday night.

What it means in fantasy: With 10 days until Week 4 against the Jets, the Steelers could consider moving to rookie Kenny Pickett. Trubisky is averaging an anemic 5.5 yards per attempt after Thursday night’s game. This ranks last among quarterbacks to start multiple games. Trubisky’s presence under center lowers the ceilings of Diontae Johnson and the other receiving playmakers on the Steelers.

Going deeper: . Although Trubisky attempted 32 passes during the game, he had only 69 yards from inside the pocket. Since ESPN began tracking pocket passing in 2009 this is the second-least passing yards from the pocket in a game in which a quarterback attempted 30 or more passes. Trubisky threw for 138 yards outside the pocket to bring his season total to 203, almost as many as Ben Roethlisberger had all of last season (206). A successful NFL quarterback must be able to step up and throw in the pocket, and at least on film, Pickett has good pocket awareness.

The news: Browns TE David Njoku caught nine of 10 targets for 89 yards and a touchdown against the Steelers on Thursday night, setting a new career high.

What it means in fantasy: The performance of Njoku was notable since he had only six targets, four receptions, and 39 receiving yards in two games. He was the second-leading receiver for the Browns behind Amari Cooper. The Falcons present a plus matchup for him in Week 4. Njoku can be viewed as a low-end TE1.

The news: Cowboys WR Michael Gallup practiced in full on Thursday.

What it means in fantasy: Gallup tore his ACL in Week 17 last season but is expected to play on Monday Night Football against the Giants. Gallup’s return comes at a great time for a Cowboys’ offense struggling to find viable receiving options. CeeDee Lamb, Dalton Schultz, and the Dallas’ other receiving playmakers could benefit in the middle of the field from Gallup’s ability to threaten defenses down the field. Gallup is expected to play limited snaps so he is hard to trust in fantasy lineups in his first game back.

Going deeper: Gallup has averaged 15.0 yards per reception in his career.

The news: Tashan Reed of the Athletic reported that Raiders WR Hunter Renfrow did not practice on Thursday.

What it means in fantasy: Renfrow also missed practice Wednesday. Mack Hollins would replace him in the starting lineup if he can’t play against the Titans in Week 3. Hollins had eight targets last week and if Renfrow is out, he could replicate that against the Titans, though Darren Waller and Davante Adams will be the primary participants in the passing game.

The news: ESPN’s Alaina Getzenberg reported that Bills WR Gabe Davis is very optimistic that he’ll play in Week 3 against the Dolphins.

What it means in fantasy: It appears Davis is trending in the right direction after practicing for the past two days. The Bills and Dolphins have the highest point total of this week’s slate at 52.5. When Davis played against the Rams in Week 1, he had 18.8 fantasy points. Davis can be viewed as a high-end WR2.

The news: Broncos WR Jerry Jeudy did not practice on Thursday due to a shoulder injury.

What it means in fantasy: Jeudy has not practiced at all this week as the Broncos prepare for a matchup against the 49ers on Sunday Night Football. It’s unlikely Jeudy will play if he doesn’t practice on Friday. Fantasy managers should have KJ Hamler on their radars as a replacement. He looks set to return to the lineup against the 49ers on Sunday night after missing Week 2 with a knee/hip injury. Hamler’s available in 97% of ESPN leagues.

The news: Packers WR Allen Lazard did not practice on Thursday due to his ankle injury.

What it means in fantasy: Christian Watson (hamstring) and Sammy Watkins (hamstring) also did not practice on Thursday. It is expected that all three will play against the Buccaneers, but Friday’s practice report will provide more certainty. None of them are great fantasy options for Week 3 so those looking for a flex option should look elsewhere. The trio of Treylon Burks, Nelson Agholor, and Sterling Shepard are better options available in many leagues.

The news: Buccaneers WR Chris Godwin did not practice on Thursday.

What it means in fantasy: Godwin is dealing with a hamstring injury. Julio Jones also did not practice on Thursday due to a knee injury. Breshad Perriman, Russell Gage, and Scotty Miller were all on the field Thursday after limited practices on Wednesday. With Mike Evans suspended for Week 3 against the Packers, the Buccaneers are thin at wide receiver. It looks like Godwin will be the furthest away from action of any of them.

Fantasy Reads

The reading: NFL Nation reporter Jeff Legwold wrote about how running the ball could be a solution to the Broncos’ red zone problems.

What it means in fantasy: The Broncos have amassed 783 total yards on offense through two games but are averaging only 16.0 points per game. Denver is ranked ninth in the league in rushing yards per game (126.0) and tied for seventh in with 4.9 yards per rushing attempt, yet do not have a rushing touchdown. So far this season, the Broncos have attempted only four rushing attempts in the red zone and both of their fumbles were on run plays out of the shotgun, all of which points to the Broncos turning to their running game in the red zone instead of passing . From a fantasy perspective, this bodes well for Javonte Williams and Melvin Gordon in Week 3.

It’s not too late! Sign up for a team or start a new league to draft this weekend and start playing fresh for Week 4.

Today on ESPN

Mike Clay’s Playbook: projections and analysis for every game

Eric Karabell’s fantasy hot seat for Week 3 includes Kyle Pitts, Darnell Mooney.

• Daniel, Liz and DJ’s Fantasy Improv: the lighter side of fantasy

• Fantasy Focus podcast now at 10 am ET

Coming Sunday:

• The Fantasy Football cheat sheet: the week’s best advice in one place

• Inactives Watch: who’s in, who’s out and what does it mean?

• After the games: Matt Bowen and Tristan H. Cockcroft’s fantasy highs and lows

• Fantasy Football Now: Sunday at 10 am ET on ESPN2

In Case You Missed It…

Field Yates’ Fantasy Field Pass for Week 3

Mike Clay’s TNF Playbook: Browns vs. Steelers

Tristan H. Cockcroft’s positional Matchups Map

Matt Bowen’s fantasy film room

Al Zeidenfeld’s DFS Best Buys for Week 3

• Fantasy Focus Podcast: Field Yates, Mike Clay and Daniel Dopp preview Thursday Night Football before telling us the best WR matchups for the week including how to manage expectations for bad matchups. Then, Adam Schefter joins to talk the storylines to watch this week and tell us why Kyle Pitts needs more targets. Listen | Watch


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