- Checking in on James Conner, Melvin Gordon and other injured fantasy football stars.
Week 13 was particularly brutal on the injury front. A.J. Green will undergo season-ending surgery on his toe, while Matt Breida has already been ruled out for Week 14 after aggravating his ankle injury. In the fantasy world, the biggest injury may have occurred late in the Steelers’ 33-30 loss to the Chargers on Sunday night, and that’s where we start in the Week 14 version of the SI.com Training Room. As always, we’ll give you the injury nuts and bolts, provided by 4for4’s Russell Manalastas, a physical therapist and strength coach based in New York, and the fantasy spin to go with them.
James Conner, RB, Steelers
Injury: Bruised Ankle
Injury take: At first look, it appeared Conner suffered a high ankle sprain as he was rolled up from behind. The Steelers initially indicated that the injury wasn't serious, but ruled him out on Tuesday. Not only is that terrible news for this week, but it suggests that he could miss more than just one week. Teams generally don't rule players out so early if there's any chance they could be healthy enough to play, and if the injury is that serious, it's certainly possible that it will cost Conner multiple games.
Fantasy spin: If Jaylen Samuels is on your waiver wire, you absolutely must have a claim in for him right now. He's a slam-dunk fantasy starter for as long as Conner is out.
Mitch Trubisky, QB, Bears
Injury: Sprained AC Joint (Shoulder)
Injury take: This situation is becoming more worrisome at the wrong time of the season. Trubisky has resumed throwing, which is a key step in his return, but there are still hurdles that he’ll need to clear in order for him to be ready for Sunday night against the Rams. Considering the magnitude of the game, Trubisky might attempt to play even if he isn’t 100%, as he gives the Bears a much better chance to win than Chase Daniel. Head coach Matt Nagy keeps saying the right things about Trubisky, but the quarterback’s actions speak much louder. If he’s practicing on Thursday and Friday, then he’ll be a good bet for Sunday.
Fantasy spin: Should Trubisky get back on the field this week after missing the last two games, he’d be right on the QB1/2 border. Trubisky has put up QB1 numbers this year, but it would be a stretch to expect that in his first game back from an injury to his throwing shoulder. If he does play, every fantasy-relevant player on Chicago’s offense would get a boost.
Melvin Gordon, RB, Chargers
Injury: Sprained MCL
Injury take: Gordon looks to be making great progress from the sprained knee he suffered in Week 12. There are reports that Gordon might make his return as soon as this week, though that seems a bit aggressive. To avoid any risk of aggravation, especially this late in the season, the Chargers would be best served to hold Gordon out another week in hopes he can be as close to 100%, if not fully healthy, for the stretch run. If the Chargers are serious about him potentially playing this week, he’ll need to practice in some fashion in order to feel confident that he’ll be productive if he plays.
Fantasy spin: Russ is the doctor here, not me. Having said that, I’ll be shocked if Gordon plays this week. The Chargers are just about locked into a playoff berth and harbor legitimate Super Bowl aspirations. They’re clearly better with Gordon on the field, and he has dealt with multiple leg injuries this season. Why would they chance his health in a home game against the Bengals where they’ll be favored by two touchdowns even without him? Plan on Gordon being out this week, and both Austin Ekeler and Justin Jackson carrying flex value.
Kerryon Johnson, RB, Lions
Injury: Sprained MCL
Injury take: Johnson has missed the last two games with his sprained knee, and while he was listed questionable for Week 13 against the Rams, there was never any question that he would sit. Keep an eye on if he’s able to return to practice this week. If he is, then it potentially puts him on track to play Week 14, but if he’s not practicing early in the week, he still might be another week or so away from returning to the field.
Fantasy spin: The Lions are at the opposite end of the spectrum from the Chargers, though it could produce the same result: the team taking it easy on its starting running back. The Lions will not be making the playoffs this year, but it’s clear they’ve found a key piece of the future in Johnson. Why compromise his future health for a couple of games that are essentially meaningless to them? If Johnson is out again this week, LeGarrette Blount would be on the RB2 and flex radars.