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SHOW ME WHERE IT HURTS: Week 1 Injury Fallout

Week 1 finally arrived, and it came with all the emotional highs and lows that we’ve come to expect from fantasy football. If you started Kareem Hunt during his record-breaking performance on Thursday night, congratulations! If you started Andy Dalton and witnessed his four interceptions, I’m sorry. But there’s one thing that may be worse than starting a quarterback who scores negative points: watching your star player get injured.

The injury gods claimed the muscles, bones, and ligaments of a few fantasy-relevant players this weekend, including the guy who went first overall in most fantasy drafts. Let’s take a look at who got injured, what we know so far, and how it impacts fantasy.

All stats are from Pro Football Reference.

Injury

David Johnson, RB, Arizona Cardinals

It was a tough day for Johnson, who overcame one injury scare, only to give us another. On a 24-yard reception, Johnson got hit hard and was seen holding his midsection in pain. He appeared okay on the sideline afterward and re-entered the game on the next drive, but he injured his wrist and fumbled on his next carry. X-rays on his wrist came back negative, but Johnson will undergo an MRI today to determine the extent of the damage.

Impact

At this point, we don’t know how much time Johnson will miss, but Arizona is likely to fill his void with a combination of Kerwynn Williams and Andre Ellington. Williams (5-foot-8, 196 pounds) and Ellington (5-foot-10, 199 pounds) are both a bit too small to receive a bell-cow workload, so you shouldn’t expect either one to put up huge numbers in Johnson’s absence. However, both players could play important roles in Arizona’s offense going forward, so they should be on your fantasy radar. To better understand the role that each running back will play, let’s take a look at some of their career stats: 

David Johnson Kerwynn Williams Andre Ellington
Position on Depth Chart First Second Third
Yards Per Carry 4.4 5.6 4.3
Yards Per Catch 11.5 6.6 8.9

Kerwynn Williams, RB, Arizona Cardinals

Williams is listed second on the depth chart and, with 5.6 yards per carry, he has shown good efficiency as a three-year backup in Arizona. After Johnson came out of the game clutching his midsection, Williams scored a 3-yard touchdown on the next play. And after Johnson fumbled and injured his wrist, Williams got all of the work on the next drive. Williams finished the day with only 12 yards on six touches, but all the signs suggest that he will get the most usage while Johnson recovers. Williams isn’t a world-beater, but volume alone should make him FLEX-worthy in 12-team leagues or larger.

Andre Ellington, RB, Arizona Cardinals

Ellington has been inconsistent throughout his four years in Arizona, posting a yards-per-carry average over 5.5 in 2013 and 2015, while failing to even surpass 3.5 yards per carry in 2014 and 2016. However, the one thing he has been very good at is pass-catching. While no one on Arizona’s roster could possibly replace Johnson’s ridiculous 11.5 yards per catch, Ellington’s 8.9 yards per catch is still well above average among running backs. Ellington is likely to see a decent amount of passing-down work, which means he’s at least worth a pickup in deep PPR leagues. In standard leagues, he’s best left on the waiver wire.

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.