James Conner, Clyde Edwards-Helaire, D’Andre Swift, Jordan Howard, and Elijah Mitchell have missed a season’s worth of combined games, and they could all be close-calls for the final week of the fantasy season. Those who have made it to the championship have largely done it with Howard, Swift, and Mitchell out of the lineups, so their returns could give some teams a huge boost in their most crucial matchups of the year. We have the latest update on each player and how fantasy outlooks and Week 17 start ’em, sit ’em calls will be affected.
For updates on ailing QBs Lamar Jackson, Jimmy Garoppolo, and Carson Wentz, click here; for news on injured pass-catchers Darren Waller, Mike Evans, Pat Freiermuth, and Elijah Moore, click here. For all the latest fantasy news, follow us on Twitter @SN_Fantasy.
James Conner injury update
Conner (heel) did not practice Wednesday but returned on Thursday, and it looks like he’ll be a game-time decision for the matchup with Dallas. Even though the Cowboys have allowed the third-fewest fantasy points to RBs, this Arizona offense has one of the highest ceilings in the league, and Conner has made his living at the goal line this season. Especially in standard and half-PPR leagues where touchdowns carry the most weight, it will be tough to bench him. However, that doesn’t mean he couldn’t bust. If he’s limited, Chase Edmonds could handle a more significant workload, though he’s dealing with a sore back, so it’s a tough call all around. We’ll see how Conner progresses later in the week.
We view Conner as a low-end RB2 with the injury and matchup concerns, but again, his touchdown upside makes his ceiling higher. He could be completely limited, but if he gets the high-value red-zone touches, he’ll pay off. If he’s out, Edmonds is virtually a must-start, assuming he’s healthy. This game has shootout potential, so there’s a good chance Edmonds gets a ton of passing game work. In PPR leagues, he’s an attractive starter whether Conner players or not.
Clyde Edwards-Helaire injury update
Edwards-Helaire (collarbone), didn’t suffer any serious damage against the Steelers, and Ian Rapoport reports he “should return shortly.” However, he still seems likely to miss Week 17 after being called “week-to-week,” so we’ll have to monitor this situation. Cincinnati is a neutral matchup for RBs, and CEH has been productive enough to warrant real starting consideration as the Chiefs’ lead back. However, if Darrel Williams gets the start, his upside is high, as he’s produced very well in CEH’s absence this season. He’s more productive in the passing game and dominates touches outside of a few Derrick Gore handoffs.
We like Williams as a low-end RB2 if he gets the start, and CEH will be viewed in a similar spot if he plays.
D’Andre Swift injury update
Swift (shoulder) hasn’t played since Thanksgiving, despite the thought he could be back in each of the past two weeks. The Lions have refused to place him on IR and shut him down, so surely, Dan Campbell thinks he’ll play before season’s end. We finally have some good news for Swift fantasy owners, as he practiced in full Wednesday and is expected to play in Week 17 against Seattle. This is a top-five matchup for fantasy RBs, so hopefully, plenty of people made it to the final without him and will now be rewarded with a potential monster performance.
In PPR leagues, Swift has RB1 upside, and we rank him as such. In standard leagues, he’s a top-10 play, but obviously, some big receptions and a touchdown or two will mean he pays off regardless of format. He’s already had Jamaal Williams eat into his workload this season, but his efficiency in the passing game and his home run potential had him as a top-six RB on the season before his injury. We know his rushing upside is limited, but expect Jared Goff to go right back to feeding him the ball. If he’s out, Jamaal Williams has a lot of upside, and Craig Reynolds is a solid flex play.
Elijah Mitchell injury update
Mitchell (knee) was limited in practice on Wednesday, and his status is still very much up in the air. However, if he starts against Houston, you have to start him in a top-four matchup for RBs. The same goes for Jeff Wilson Jr. if he gets the start. In the past couple of weeks, we saw Rashaad Penny and Justin Jackson eclipse 20 fantasy points against the Texans, so any decent RB can get it done here. Of course, there’s a risk Mitchell could be in more of a committee, but it almost doesn’t matter. The efficiency should be there, and the Niners could have two productive RBs.
If you’re in a bind, you could even consider starting Wilson Jr. if Mitchell plays, but it would be risky. Mitchell has RB1 upside if he returns to action. Don’t overthink it too much here. Play whoever the Niners start at RB.
Jordan Howard injury update
UPDATE: Howard returned to practice on Thursday.
Howard (stinger) did not practice Wednesday, and he’s likely going to be a close call heading into a matchup with Washington. Washington is statically OK against RBs based on its season-long numbers, ut we know it hasn’t been able to stop the run or pass in recent weeks. In the first matchup between these two teams in Week 15, the Eagles rushed for 238 yards. With Miles Sanders (hand) out, Howard’s upside is strong and he should get work near the goal line if he plays.
However, we know Philadelphia is difficult to predict, as Boston Scott has taken plenty of goal line work and Jalen Hurts vultures a lot of the rushing TDs in that area, too. All that said, we’re willing to roll the dice with Howard as a low-end RB2 in this matchup. He’s more attractive in standard leagues but can be considered heavily in PPR leagues, as well.
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