Last week, the NFL lost two of its biggest names when Odell Beckham and J.J. Watt were declared out for the season. This week, the league may have lost an even bigger name. Star quarterback Aaron Rodgers — arguably the best player in the NFL — is going to miss most or all of the season. The fallout could be devastating (for the Packers and for fantasy leagues), so I’m here to help you sort through this mess, along with all the other Week 6 injuries. Here’s everything we know, including the fantasy impact:
Aaron Rodgers, QB, Green Bay Packers
Rodgers left Sunday’s game against the Vikings with a right shoulder injury in the first quarter. He landed on his throwing shoulder when Vikings linebacker Anthony Barr drove him to the ground hard, and he did not return to the game. The Packers later announced that Rodgers has a broken collarbone and that he could miss the rest of the season.
It goes without saying that this is a huge loss for the Packers, although backup quarterback Brett Hundley will attempt to keep the team afloat while Rodgers recovers. From a fantasy perspective, Rodgers can be dropped in all formats that don’t include an IR spot, and the entire Packers offense will now be difficult to trust.
Green Bay’s receivers take the most obvious hit. Jordy Nelson and Davante Adams were both top-10 fantasy receivers entering Week 6, but Rodgers’ injury knocks them down to FLEX territory. Nelson finished Sunday’s game with six catches for 60 yards on 10 targets, while Adams hauled in five catches for 54 yards and a touchdown on 10 targets. Those numbers suggest that Hundley will at least provide ample opportunity for both receivers, so Nelson and Adams should still be serviceable.
Randall Cobb, on the other hand, only received three targets in Sunday’s game, catching all three for 28 yards. Cobb was already a risky play when Rodgers was healthy, so it would be difficult to justify starting him now that Hundley will be under center. Hold on to Cobb until we see how the Packers offense functions, but keep him on your bench unless you’re desperate.
The Packers will most likely lean more heavily on the run game going forward, so Ty Montgomery and Aaron Jones are interesting fantasy assets. However, Montgomery (10 carries for 28 yards) and Jones (13 carries for 41 yards) completely split the workload against the Vikings, so both running backs are dicey plays at this point. It’s possible that either Montgomery or Jones could assert himself as the lead back, but they should both stay on your bench until the situation gains some clarity.
Jameis Winston, QB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Much like Rodgers, Winston injured his right shoulder after landing on it following a tackle. Winston was taken out of Sunday’s game against the Cardinals in the second quarter, and he did not return. ESPN’s Adam Schefter later tweeted that X-rays on Winston’s shoulder were negative and that he will undergo an MRI today.
We won’t know the severity of Winston’s injury until his MRI results come in, but if he has to miss time, Tampa Bay’s offense should be fine. Backup quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick filled in beautifully for Winston, completing 22-of-32 passes for 290 yards, three touchdowns, and two interceptions. Mike Evans, DeSean Jackson, and Cameron Brate were the recipients of those touchdowns, and it appears that all three players can retain their value if Fitzpatrick is the quarterback going forward. Fitzpatrick won’t always be as efficient as he was on Sunday, but he’s willing to sling the ball, which will lead to plenty of fantasy production.
Emmanuel Sanders, WR, Denver Broncos
Sanders left Sunday night’s game against the Giants with a right ankle injury in the third quarter. As Sanders was running his route, Giants safety Landon Collins dove for the ball and collided with his lower leg. Sanders needed to be helped off the field, and he was carted to the locker room soon after. Broncos head coach Vance Joseph later said that X-rays on Sanders were negative and that he will undergo an MRI today.
The MRI results will give us a better idea of the severity of Sanders’ injury, but his inability to walk under his own power certainly casts some doubt over his future availability. After Sanders left the game, Demaryius Thomas was the biggest beneficiary, finishing with 10 catches for 133 yards. However, Thomas struggled through his own lower leg injury as he constantly went in and out of the game, so you’ll want to monitor his health as well. If Sanders and Thomas are both sidelined or limited in the future, Bennie Fowler would be next in line. Fowler — who has 13 receptions for 140 yards and two touchdowns through five games this season — is worthy of deep-league consideration if both Sanders and Thomas can’t go next week. Still, Fowler would be a risky option due to Denver’s inconsistent offense.