Football is back! Unfortunately, that also means that injuries are back. There were a handful of injuries this week, including a couple potentially serious ones to two high-profile tight ends. Still, injury can also mean opportunity in fantasy, so I’m here to help you sort through the mess. Here’s a rundown of all of this week’s injuries, including the fantasy impact:
Delanie Walker, TE, Tennessee Titans
Walker left Sunday’s game against the Dolphins with a right ankle injury in the fourth quarter. He suffered the injury when safety T.J. McDonald landed on him awkwardly, and he was carted off the field with an air cast around his leg. NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported that the injury was a dislocated ankle with an associated fracture, which will most likely end his season.
This is devastating news for one of the league’s most durable tight ends, and it means that second-year player Jonnu Smith will become Tennessee’s top option at the position. Smith only had 18 catches in his rookie season, but he flashed some quickness and athleticism, and the Titans seem interested in making him Walker’s successor. A combination of volume and talent could move Smith toward the middle of the TE2 tier, but that still only makes him worth a pickup in deep leagues.
Greg Olsen, TE, Carolina Panthers
Olsen left Sunday’s game against the Cowboys with a right foot injury in the first quarter. The injury occurred when Olsen stepped on a defender’s foot, and he did not return to the game. In the second half, he was wearing a walking boot on the sideline.
The Panthers haven’t released any information regarding the injury, but the need for a walking boot is obviously concerning. What makes this even more troubling is that this is the same foot that Olsen injured last season, when he missed nine games. It’s still unclear if Olsen’s current injury is related to the one he suffered in 2017, but it wouldn’t be surprising if he is held out for some period of time. If that happens, fourth-round rookie Ian Thomas would likely see a significant increase in snaps. Thomas is an athletic prospect who could have some big games, although he’s probably still too raw to be anything more than a streaming option. Instead, Devin Funchess — who had 41 catches for 507 yards and six touchdowns in the nine games Olsen missed last season — is likely to be the biggest beneficiary once again.
Doug Baldwin, WR, Seattle Seahawks
Baldwin left Sunday’s game against the Broncos with a right knee injury. He initially returned to the game after leaving in the first quarter, but he left the game again in the second quarter and did not return. In the postgame press conference, Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll said that Baldwin is dealing with an MCL sprain.
The severity of Baldwin’s injury is unclear at this point, but it’s the type of injury that would force him to miss time if it’s a medium or severe sprain. If Baldwin does miss time, then Tyler Lockett and Brandon Marshall would both become starting options in fantasy. Lockett, who caught three passes for 59 yards (including a 51-yard TD) in Week 1, would be the preferred option, as his big-play ability gives him WR2 upside. Marshall, who caught three passes for 46 yards (including a 20-yard TD), would probably be in low-end WR3 territory, although his 6-foot-5 frame could make him a popular red zone target. Both players are worth an add if they’re available in your league, and they’re legitimate starting options if Baldwin is out.