Fantasy Football 2021: Latest Injury News and Expert Reaction

Joe Tansey@JTansey90Featured ColumnistAugust 25, 2021

Fantasy Football 2021: Latest Injury News and Expert Reaction

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    John Raoux/Associated Press

    The breakout fantasy football star of the 2020 NFL season is expected to be a high draft pick for the 2021 season after an injury took away his biggest competition for snaps. 

    James Robinson of the Jacksonville Jaguars had his fantasy value boosted by the season-ending injury suffered by rookie running back Travis Etienne.

    Jacksonville's selection of Etienne in the 2021 draft was a peculiar one when it happened because Robinson grabbed hold of the starting role out of nowhere and deserved to be the unquestioned No. 1 running back next to Trevor Lawrence. 

    After a summer long debate of how Etienne's presence would affect Robinson's fantasy status, the experts can now comfortably put him into the upper tier of fantasy draft picks. 

    The other carefully watched injury situation is down in New Orleans, where Michael Thomas is sidelined by an ankle injury.

    The preseason production of Marquez Callaway makes him an intriguing replacement not only in the New Orleans Saints offense, but as a fantasy contributor early on in the regular season.

Travis Etienne and James Robinson

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    John Raoux/Associated Press

    Etienne's unfortunate season-ending injury opens the door for Robinson to feature in a similar role as last season.

    Robinson will be the main ball-carrier for the Jaguars, and he should be a reliable asset for Lawrence to work with in the passing game. 

    When Etienne's Lisfranc injury was confirmed, most of Yahoo's fantasy football experts put him higher on their projected draft boards. 

    Robinson's overall projections easily put him in the third or fourth rounds of fantasy drafts as the No. 2 running back for most squads. 

    Of course, Robinson's fantasy stock will be met with some hesitancy because there are so many unknowns around him in the Jacksonville offense.

    Robinson should have the opportunity to match his 1,000-yard rushing season. If he develops chemistry with Lawrence through the air, he could come close to the 49 receptions and 344 yards he gained in his rookie season. 

Michael Thomas and Marquez Callaway

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    Derick Hingle/Associated Press

    A few weeks ago, New Orleans appeared to be in a less-than-ideal situation with Thomas down because of an ankle injury.

    Not having the team's No. 1 wideout to work with a new starting quarterback could have been seen as a brutal blow to the hopes of starting fast.

    Since then, Callaway has turned in a pair of promising performances that piqued the interest of fantasy football players. 

    As Yahoo's Andy Behrens wrote, "the secret is definitely out" on Callaway. That could lead to a dramatic rise in Callaway's average draft position over the next few weeks.

    Conversely, Thomas' draft stock could dip a bit because a return timetable still has not been given for his ankle injury.

    At his best, Thomas is a candidate to be the No. 1 fantasy wide receiver, but last season's injury absence and his current knock will affect his status.

    If you believe Thomas will come back at full strength sooner rather than later, he could still be one of the top wideouts off the board, but there may be opportunities for him to fall as well, which may lead to him being a value pick at some point in fantasy drafts. 

Clyde Edwards-Helaire

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    Clyde Edwards-Helaire suffered an ankle injury in the Kansas City Chiefs' second preseason game.

    The good news for the second-year running back is the issue does not appear to be serious and should not affect his fantasy draft status for now. 

    ESPN's Eric Karabell outlined what the potential reaction to the ankle sprain would be in the fantasy landscape. 

    "For now, unless we get word that Edwards-Helaire has to miss regular-season action, let's assume any reaction resulting in adjusted draft status is misplaced. Selecting [Joe] Mixon over Edwards-Helaire is fair, but if the latter slips behind Chicago Bears RB David Montgomery or Philadelphia Eagles RB Miles Sanders, each with their own issues questioning their value, then we have a draft-day bargain. Edwards-Helaire remains the top running back in an elite offense. He is certainly capable of improving on 1,100 yards from scrimmage over 13 games. An RB1 does lurk." 

    Edwards-Helaire is the clear-cut No. 1 running back in one of the NFL's best offenses, and he should be a high fantasy football point producer if he remains healthy. 

    His status inside the Kansas City offense should make him one of the first running backs off the board. Christian McCaffrey, Dalvin Cook and Alvin Kamara should all go ahead of him, but after that, a strong case could be made for selecting Edwards-Helaire in the first round.

    Edwards-Helaire has plenty of time to recover between now and Week 1, and he should not be rushed back for the final preseason game.

    Unless something drastic happens in the next few weeks, it appears that he will be good to go for the season opener.