This week’s injury report is highlighted by two high-profile quarterbacks. Here’s a list of all the fantasy-relevant Week 2 injuries, along with the fantasy impact:
Drew Brees, QB, New Orleans Saints
Brees left Sunday’s game against the Rams with a right thumb injury in the first quarter. He suffered the injury when his hand hit defensive tackle Aaron Donald’s hand as he was following through on a pass attempt. He was listed as questionable to return, but he did not re-enter the game. After the game, Brees told reporters that he is concerned about the injury and plans to see a hand specialist on Monday.
We’ll have to wait for Brees to meet with that hand specialist before we’ll know the extent of the injury, but his inability to return to the game certainly casts doubt on his future availability. If Brees is sidelined for any amount of time, then sixth-year quarterback Teddy Bridgewater will be under center. Bridgewater had a fairly lackluster performance in three quarters against the Rams, completing 17 of 30 passes for 165 yards and no touchdowns in the loss. Bridgewater has proven to be a capable, if gun shy, quarterback in the past, so there’s no reason to panic on all of New Orleans’ weapons. Alvin Kamara and Michael Thomas, in particular, would still be top-12 options at their respective positions, although neither would have the top-5 ceiling that they had with Brees. Tight end Jared Cook, who has been fairly quiet through two games this season, would move down to fringe starting territory. All of the team’s other skill players, including Latavius Murray and Tre’Quan Smith, are best left on your bench if Brees is out.
Ben Roethlisberger, QB, Pittsburgh Steelers
Roethlisberger suffered a right elbow injury in Sunday’s game against the Seahawks. His elbow appeared to start bothering him in the second quarter, but he finished the drive before going to the locker room. He did not return to the game thereafter. NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported that Roethlisberger will have an MRI on Monday.
We won’t know the extent of Roethlisberger’s injury until the MRI results come in, but the fact that he didn’t return in a close game is concerning. If Roethlisberger is forced to miss time, then second-year quarterback Mason Rudolph will take the reins. Rudolph played well in one half against the Seahawks, completing 12 of 19 passes for 112 yards, two touchdowns, and one interception, and he kept the Steelers in the game in a tight loss. JuJu Smith-Schuster, who caught five passes for 84 yards on Sunday, would still be a top-15 wide receiver with Rudolph under center, and James Connor (if healthy) would also still be a top-15 running back. Vance McDonald, who caught both of Rudolph’s touchdown passes, would remain a low-end TE1 option. No one else on the Steelers is worth starting at this point (regardless of the quarterback), but you should keep an eye on James Washington, who played at Oklahoma State with Rudolph and showed a good rapport with him during the preseason.
James Conner, RB, Pittsburgh Steelers
Conner left Sunday’s game against the Seahawks with a left knee injury in the fourth quarter. He limped off the field after suffering the injury, and he did not return to the game. After the game, Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin said that Conner’s knee is “being evaluated.”
The severity of Conner’s injury is unclear at this point, so we’ll have to wait for the Steelers to provide more information. If Connor is forced to miss Week 3 against the 49ers, then second-year back Jaylen Samuels would become the starter, with rookie Benny Snell Jr. likely getting work as well. In the three games Conner missed in 2018, Samuels averaged 109 yards from scrimmage per game, although he only scored one touchdown during that span. That type of production suggests that he should at least be a top-25 play if Conner is out, although his receiving chops give him upside for much more. Meanwhile, Snell, who has looked like a plodder so far for the Steelers, is probably best left on waivers.