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SHOW ME WHERE IT HURTS: Week 4 Injury Fallout

Here is a list of all of the fantasy-relevant Week 4 injuries, along with the fantasy impact:

Austin Ekeler, RB, Los Angeles Chargers

Ekeler left Sunday’s game against Tampa Bay with knee and hamstring injuries in the first quarter. He suffered the injuries when he slipped a tackle on a run to the outside, hyper-extending his left knee and coming up limping. He immediately grabbed his hamstring after the play, and he wasn’t able to put any weight on his left leg. He was eventually carted to the locker room, and he did not return to the game. After the game, Ekeler was seen sporting crutches and a knee brace. ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported that he is expected to miss multiple weeks and will have an MRI on Monday.

Impact

The MRI should give us more detailed information about Ekeler’s injury, but all signs currently point to a likely extended absence. If that ends up being the case, then rookie Joshua Kelley and third-year back Justin Jackson would take over most of the backfield work. It’s difficult to project how the workload would be split since Kelley and Jackson have barely been on the field together (due to Jackson’s previous quad injury), but the usage after Ekeler’s injury slightly favored Kelley. Nevertheless, Kelley fumbled for the second week in a row, so he could be on a short leash going forward. For Week 5 against New Orleans, it’s best to consider Kelley a Top 30 running back, while Jackson should be stashed on your bench in case he takes over the lead role.

Nick Chubb, RB, Cleveland

Chubb left Sunday’s game against Dallas with a right knee injury in the first quarter. He suffered the injury when defensive tackle Trysten Hill was pushed into his leg while he was pass blocking, causing his knee to bend awkwardly. After staying on the ground for a couple minutes, he was able to gingerly walk off the field. Chubb did not return to the game, and Cleveland head coach Kevin Stefanski said that he would undergo an MRI on Monday.

Impact

Cleveland has indicated that it doesn’t know the severity of the injury at this point, so we’ll have to wait for the MRI results before we know anything about Chubb’s future availability. If Chubb is forced to miss Week 5 against Indianapolis, then Kareem Hunt would be the team’s unquestioned starter, although D’Ernest Johnson could also get significant work. Hunt was already a Top 20 option when Chubb was healthy, so he easily jumps into the Top 10 conversation for as long as Chubb is sidelined. Johnson’s value is less clear, as he only had five career carries heading into Week 4, although he rushed 13 times for 95 yards on Sunday. You don’t need to rush to the waiver wire to add Johnson, but he’s worth a pickup in deeper leagues if Chubb is expected to be out for a while.

Kenyan Drake, RB, Arizona

Drake left Sunday’s game against Carolina with a chest injury in the fourth quarter. He suffered the injury when he took a hard hit at the end of a run, and he remained on the ground for a couple minutes. He was ultimately able to jog off the field, but he did not return to the game. After the game, ESPN’s Josh Weinfuss reported that Arizona head coach Kliff Kingsbury doesn’t believe the injury to be major.

Impact

Initial indications suggest that Drake didn’t suffer a serious injury, and it’s possible that the team was simply playing it safe by holding him out of a game that was already lost. Nevertheless, you should monitor the practice reports this week to see if Drake is trending toward playing in Week 5. If he is unable to play in that game against the New York Jets, then Chase Edmonds would be the team’s top back. Edmonds is on the smaller side, but he has been solid when called upon, especially in the receiving game. Consider him a Top 20 option if Drake is sidelined.

About Jay Devineni

A journalist by trade, Jay is in St. Louis and still a loyal Rams fan. He earned a Master's Degree in Journalism from Columbia University and is a published sports writer.