This was a bad week for injuries, and our prayers go out to Redskins quarterback Alex Smith in particular. Exactly 33 years after Redskins legend Joe Theismann broke two bones in his right leg, Smith suffered the same injury. It was a career-ender for Theismann, but we sincerely hope it won’t be for Smith. We’re wishing him a speedy recovery (as we do for all injured players), and we hope to see him on the field again next year. Nevertheless, it’s our job to analyze the fantasy impact of injuries like this, so that’s what we’re going to do. Here’s everything we know about this week’s injuries, along with the fantasy impact:
Alex Smith, QB, Washington Redskins
Smith left Sunday’s game against the Texans with a right leg injury, which he suffered when Texans cornerback Kareem Jackson sacked him in the third quarter. Smith was diagnosed with a broken fibula and tibia, and he was immediately taken to the hospital to undergo surgery. His season is over.
With Smith done for the season, ninth-year quarterback Colt McCoy will be Washington’s starter for the foreseeable future. In his four-and-a-half-year tenure with the Redskins, McCoy has been a fairly reliable backup when called upon, completing 104 of 151 passes (68.9 completion percentage) for 1,239 yards, six touchdowns, and three interceptions. He’ll likely be a step down from Smith, but he’s a decent enough player to keep his team in some games. Since no Redskins wideout has accumulated even 300 yards this season, tight end Jordan Reed — who has 462 receiving yards this year — is really the only valuable fantasy asset in this receiving corps. In the last quarter and a half of Sunday’s game (after Smith got injured), Reed caught three passes for 20 yards and a touchdown from McCoy, suggesting that he should still be a decent option moving forward. With tight end being such a shallow position, you can rate Reed as a low-end TE1.
Jimmy Graham, TE, Green Bay Packers
Graham left Thursday’s game against the Seahawks with a thumb injury in the first half. He appeared to suffer the injury when his hand got caught in a defender’s facemask during a block, and he did not return to the game. Tests on Friday revealed that Graham broke his thumb, and the Packers have not given a timetable for his return.
While the Packers have not closed the door on Graham’s Week 12 availability, the lack of a timetable suggests that he could miss some games. If he is forced to miss time, eighth-year tight end Lance Kendricks would become the starter, with Marcedes Lewis and Robert Tonyan also likely seeing some snaps. Although Kendricks and Lewis have had fantasy relevance in the past, neither of them (nor Tonyan, who had a touchdown catch on Thursday) are likely to get enough targets to warrant a roster spot. Kendricks is the preferred option of the bunch, but he’s nothing more than a boom-or-bust TE2. As for the wideouts, Davante Adams is still the only one you can trust, but Marquez Valdes-Scantling and Randall Cobb (when healthy) should still be top-40 options at the position.
Kerryon Johnson, RB, Detroit Lions
Johnson left Sunday’s game against the Panthers with a left knee injury in the third quarter, and he did not return to the game. After the game, NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported that the initial indication is that Johnson suffered a knee sprain, but he’ll undergo an MRI on Monday for an official diagnosis.
While Johnson’s injury doesn’t appear to be season-ending, we’ll need to wait for the MRI results to have a better idea of his recovery timetable. However, the Lions play on Thanksgiving this week, so the quick turnaround could prevent him from returning immediately. If he is unable to play on Thursday, then LeGarrette Blount, Theo Riddick, and Zach Zenner will be Detroit’s remaining running backs. Blount would be the favorite to lead the team in carries, but he has averaged a horrendous 2.35 yards per carry this season, making him a mere desperation option in a tough matchup against the Bears. Riddick, on the other hand, has been a decent flex option in PPR leagues over the last few weeks, so he’s probably your best bet if you’re looking for value in this backfield.