There weren’t a ton of injuries this week, but there was one that could cause a stud running back to miss time. Here’s everything we know about that injury (among others), along with the fantasy impact:
Melvin Gordon, RB, Los Angeles Chargers
Gordon left Sunday’s game against the Cardinals with a right knee injury in the third quarter. He suffered the injury on a reverse, when defensive lineman Robert Nkemdiche hit him in the knee during the tackle. Gordon did not return to the game, and he has initially been diagnosed with an MCL injury. He will receive further evaluation on Monday.
We’ll have to wait for more information before we’ll know if Gordon’s future availability is at risk, but this injury is definitely worth monitoring (it’s also worth noting that this injury occurred on the opposite knee than the one that had been bothering him last week). If Gordon is forced to miss Week 13 against the Steelers, second-year back Austin Ekeler would likely take most of the backfield snaps, although rookies Justin Jackson and Detrez Newsome could also get mixed in. Ekeler had a lackluster outing when he started in place of Gordon in Week 7, but his overall production has been solid this season (especially in the passing game), so he would be in the RB2 conversation if Gordon sits. If Gordon’s injury begins to look like a long-term issue, then Jackson would also be worth a speculative pickup in deep leagues. The seventh-round rookie is still a raw player, but he had seven carries for 57 yards on Sunday, and he displayed strong lateral ability at Northwestern. If Gordon is out for a while, Jackson could have a shot at double-digit touches in a high-powered offense, making him a potential flex option in the future.
Andy Dalton, QB, Cincinnati Bengals
Dalton left Sunday’s game against the Browns with a right thumb injury in the third quarter. He suffered the injury when he was chasing after a bad snap that got behind him, and he did not return to the game. NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported that X-rays on Dalton’s thumb were negative, while Bengals.com writer Geoff Hobson reported that Dalton will visit a hand specialist on Monday.
We won’t know much about Dalton’s outlook until he sees the hand specialist, but any injury to his throwing hand is concerning. If Dalton is forced to miss Week 13 against the Broncos, then third-year quarterback Jeff Driskel would get the start. Driskel had only thrown seven career passes entering Sunday, but he had a solid outing against the Browns, completing 17 of 29 passes for 155 yards and a touchdown, while also scoring on a 2-yard run. It’s difficult to discern much from Driskel’s performance since the Bengals were trailing by a lot, but he did make some impressive plays, including a beautiful 28-yard touchdown strike to Tyler Boyd. Still, it’s safest to assume that Driskel would be a downgrade from Dalton, making Boyd and A.J. Green (when healthy) riskier plays if Dalton is out.
Marlon Mack, RB, Indianapolis Colts
After taking a big hit in the fourth quarter, Mack left Sunday’s game against the Dolphins to be evaluated for a concussion. He was able to walk off the field under his own power, although he was eventually ruled out for the rest of the game.
Since Mack was ruled out for the game, we’d have to imagine that he did indeed suffer a concussion. If that’s the case, he’ll need to clear the league’s concussion protocol in order to play in Week 13. If he is unable to play in that game, then rookies Nyheim Hines and Jordan Wilkins would once again share backfield duties (as they did early in the year). Hines has out-snapped Wilkins in every game since Week 3, so he would be the preferred option — especially in PPR leagues. Still, the Colts face a tough Jaguars run defense, so Hines would be nothing more than a flex play.