Sunday, June 16, 2024

Fantasy Football: Trey Lance injury fallout, Week 3 early waiver targets and more key updates on injuries

Injuries have defined the first two weeks of the NFL season, and we got another significant one Sunday, as 49ers QB Trey Lance suffered an ankle injury that is expected to require season-ending surgery. And, of course, he wasn’t the only player to leave Sunday’s games with injuries – in addition to the number of big names who were already sitting out Sunday, we saw Jerry Jeudy, James Conner, Damien Harris and Dalton Schultz exit Sunday’s games. 

You know how it goes – injuries are part of life in the NFL, and especially early in the season, there’s always heightened risk, but it’s still disappointing every time it happens. In Lance’s case, he suffers the injury before we really had a chance to see what he could do as a full-time starter, and we likely won’t get another chance to see him until next season.

Lance’s injury isn’t going to dominate Fantasy Football discussions the way some other significant injuries might, but it’s still a big blow for those of us who were counting on him to be their starter. And, of course, it has potentially serious ramifications for the 49ers offense – thankfully, they were able to keep Jimmy Garoppolo in the end.

We’ll get into Lance’s injury, what it means for the 49ers, and who you might be able to acquire to help replace him in tonight’s newsletter, along with the rest of the injuries from Week 2 you need to know about, plus your early look at my top waiver-wire targets for Week 3

Week 2 Injury Recap

Lance’s injury sounds like it’s going to be a season-ender, and it comes after he played in such poor conditions in Week 1 that we really didn’t get to see what this offnese would look like with him at the helm. And now, we probably won’t until next season, Lance’s third in the league. That’s a huge bummer for a player as talented as him, and if you drafted Lance to be your starter, it leaves an obvious hole in your roster – and one that you can’t just expect Jimmy Garoppolo to fill.

Because, while Lance was unproven, expectations where a lot higher than they’ve ever been for Garoppolo, and rightly so. Garoppolo is a fine player, but Lance’s rushing upside made him a potential Fantasy difference maker. Garoppolo won’t ever be that. 

But maybe Tua Tagovailoa can be? The Dolphins have been pretty pass-happy, and we saw the upside of what that could mean in Week 1, as he matched Dan Marino’s franchise record with six passing touchdowns. You might wince at the inclusion of Tagovailoa in the same breath as Marino, but with Jaylen Waddle and Tyreek Hill ranking among the league’s most electrifying playmakers, Tagovailoa doesn’t have to be incredible to have a chance to etch his name into the Dolphins record book a few more times. 

Of course, Tagovailoa is only available in 20% of CBS Fantasy leagues, so he might not be an option. Justin Fields might be your best choice if he’s out there, though he’s only available in 37% of leagues, so that might not help either. The truth of the matter is, there’s no obvious must-start guy out there on waivers in most leagues. Among the quarterbacks available in more than half of CBS Fantasy leagues, Marcus Mariota and Daniel Jones probably have the most upside thanks to their rushing potential, though neither has put together two good games yet. 

So, your best choice might be to try to swing a trade. If Aaron Rodgers doesn’t light it up this week, he’d be a prime buy-low candidate, as would be Dak Prescott, assuming you can live for a few weeks without him. Maybe you can stream for a few weeks – Jared Goff against the Vikings or Ryan Tannehill against the Raiders in Week 3, and Jones against the Bears or Mitchell Trubisky against the Jets in Week 4 – and by that time Prescott could be back to right the ship. 

But the point is, there’s no obvious solution that is widely available. Garoppolo may, in fact, be about as good as anyone else available in your league. We know he doesn’t have much upside, but he’s a steady option with great playmakers. And, if nothing else, the switch from Lance to Garoppolo does make it a little easier to project the likes of Deebo Samuel, Brandon Aiyuk, and George Kittle, who will hopefully be back next week. 

Because Garoppolo isn’t going to run the ball himself, the way Lance was. That means the 49ers should be more pass-happy with him at QB – though they’ll still likely be one of the most run-heavy offenses in the league either way. We can project, say, 30-35 pass attempts per week for the 49ers, compared to more like 20-30 with Lance most weeks. Between that and Garoppolo being a non-factor as a rusher in the red zone makes it easier to see how all of Samuel, Aiyuk, and Kittle can thrive – though Samuel is still a clear outlier among the trio in terms of Fantasy value.

All in all, the ceiling for both your Fantasy team and the 49ers is likely lower without Lance than it otherwise would have been. But at least the 49ers know what they have in Garoppolo. You might not be so lucky. 

Here are the other injuries we’ll be watching coming out of Sunday’s games:

  • Jerry Jeudy (shoulder) — Jeudy landed awkwardly after being hit, and it looks like this one could potentially be a pretty serious one — he was ruled out shortly after halftime after leaving the game in the first quarter. That’s frustrating after his 2021 campaign was derailed by a high-ankle injury early on, though we don’t have any specific details at this point. Courtland Sutton got going once Jeudy left the game, finishing with seven catches for 122 yards on 11 targets, and that could be what he needs to live up to the exorbitant price he was going for in drafts. Before Jeudy’s injury, it’s not clear Sutton was the No. 1 option in the offense, but if Jeudy misses significant time, there would be no choice. 
  • James Conner (ankle) — Conner left the game in the early third quarter and watched from the sidelines as the Cardinals came back to win in overtime. Eno Benjamin had been the No. 2 back before the injury, but he split work with Darrel Williams after the injury — Williams finished with eight carries for 59 yards and a touchdown, while Benjamin had eight for 31, plus three catches for 20 yards (Williams had two for 3 yards). If Conner misses time, it looks like this will be a committee, and Williams got the first crack at goal-line work, an important thing in this offense. I would prefer Benjamin for Fantasy, but both could be in the RB3 range if Conner is out. 
  • Damien Harris (knee) — It doesn’t sound like this is a serious injury, as Harris told reporters after the game, “I’m fine, dog!” He grabbed at his knee after a late carry, so we’ll just keep an eye out for now, with Rhamondre Stevenson likely in line for a significant workload if Harris were to miss time. 
  • Dalton Schultz (leg) — Schultz left in the fourth quarter after going down awkwardly, and it looked like he grabbed at his knee, possibly. We don’t have any more details than that, but it’s something to keep an eye on for an offense already missing Prescott. I wouldn’t expect much from Jake Ferguson if Schultz was sidelined, but it could make Michael Gallup‘s impending return even more important for the Cowboys offense.  

Early Week 3 Waiver Wire Targets 



Here’s who I’m looking at coming out of Sunday’s action:  

Top targets:

  1. Garrett Wilson, WR, Jets 
  2. Chris Olave, WR, Saints
  3. Curtis Samuel, WR, Commanders
  4. Raheem Mostert, RB, Dolphins
  5. Eno Benjamin, RB, Cardinals

For the rest of my top early priorities and why I’m targeting them, head here

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