Lions RB Kerryon Johnson was placed on injured reserve after undergoing a procedure on his right knee Tuesday. It’s been an uphill battle to stay healthy for the sophomore running back, whose rookie season ended on IR with a left knee injury. He’s got a chance to return in mid-December, but until then, fantasy owners will need to make other plans.
Johnson’s injury is big news for fantasy owners who likely spent a second or third-round pick to acquire him in 2019 drafts. Unfortunately, head coach Matt Patricia offered no solid advice for fantasy football owners. He expressed Tuesday that he’ll use a running back by committee approach moving forward.
After Johnson exited Sunday’s game, sixth-round rookie Ty Johnson took the bulk of the team carries and offensive snaps. He didn't do much with them, averaging just 2.9 yards per carry, but he did see four targets in limited snaps. Johnson himself had seen a maximum of four targets in any game so far in 2019, a surprise after veteran RB pass-catching specialist Theo Riddick was cut back in July.
It's worth noting that complementing Ty Johnson was veteran J.D. McKissic, who saw five carries and did more with them at that. It wouldn't be surprising to see the Lions make a move prior to the trade deadline that makes either of these players less relevant. C.J. Anderson remains a free agent after spending the offseason program with the Lions and being cut after Week 2, they will potentially make a move to re-sign him given his familiarity with the playbook.
Those looking to replace Johnson in their fantasy lineups, a player who was the RB23 prior to Week 7, may need to look elsewhere if they didn't have the top waiver-wire priority this week. Miami RB Mark Walton is an interesting option, as he saw a career-high 14 carries in Week 7 against the Buffalo Bills. Other notable fliers include Ronald Jones, owned in just 48% of Yahoo! leagues and seemingly just on the verge of a breakout in Tampa Bay. Sophomore RB Rashaad Penny is also an interesting speculative add approaching the trade deadline, as he continues to see minimal work in Seattle, even working behind complementary back C.J. Prosise.
NFL Trade Deadline Approaches
The NFL trade deadline is nearly here, and two teams made some notable moves on Tuesday that could have an impact on your fantasy seasons.
First up on the day, veteran wideout Mohamed Sanu was traded from the Atlanta Falcons to the New England Patriots in exchange for a second-round pick early Tuesday morning. The move comes after the Falcons lost handily to the Rams at home. It’s a smart move for the Patriots, whose wide receiver corps has been thin, particularly with Josh Gordon and Phillip Dorsett banged-up as of late. They also haven't quite found their replacement for tight end Rob Gronkowski, who accounted for a 16% target share in 2018 before retiring at the end of the season.
Sanu spent most of his snaps in the slot in Atlanta, managing to eclipse the 50-yard mark three times already through 2019. He will take some pressure off of Julian Edelman, who also plays out of the slot, and RB James White who has received fewer than seven targets just once so far in 2019.
On the Falcons side of things, it will be interesting to see who emerges as the primary beneficiary of Sanu's absence. He's averaged six targets per game through 2019, so there's certainly room for someone to emerge to absorb his workload. The move is certainly a bump for TE Austin Hooper, who sometimes plays out of the slot, and could be a chance for WR Calvin Ridley to see more snaps.
Just as the dust settled in New England, we received another trade alert: Emmanuel Sanders was sent from the Broncos to the 49ers in exchange for a third- and a fourth-round pick. Sanders provides San Francisco some much-needed depth and a veteran force in the locker room.
Though this is an outstanding move for the 49ers, it's one with fewer fantasy implications for your fantasy football rosters. Sanders should have an instant role in San Francisco, but as we've seen historically, it's incredibly difficult for wide receivers to transition midseason. The new playbook, new quarterback and new opportunity are bound to amount to some shaky starts and inconsistencies.
Sanders owners may be able to sell high on the news and promise of an offense that hasn't gone up in flames (yet). He got off to a hot start in 2019 in his initial return from a ruptured Achilles but has since cooled, soaking up just three targets per game since Week 5.
For those left back in Denver, it will be interesting to see how the offensive snaps shake out in Sanders' absence. He has largely played out wide, a role we can likely expect Tim Patrick to fill upon his return from IR. In the meantime, it's possible that sophomore WR DaeSean Hamilton may see more looks on the outside until Patrick is cleared. Also worth noting, the Denver Broncos rank sixth in the number of targets to the running back position, so it's possible that we'll continue to see those roles for Phillip Lindsay and Royce Freeman grow while the Broncos are short-staffed.
Editor's Note: Drafting is only half the battle. Dominate all season long with our Season Pass! Use our NEW Start/Sit Tool, Trade Analyzer, Consensus Rankings, Projections and more on your way to a championship! Click here for more!
Running Back Slants
Adrian Peterson was officially diagnosed with a mild high ankle sprain and low ankle sprain after an MRI on Monday. Peterson is on a short week as the Redskins travel to Minnesota for Thursday Night Football, but he’s said he’ll play. In Weeks 6 and 7, Peterson has seen the fourth-most rushing attempts among running backs, averaging 4.6 yards per attempt. … Speaking of the Redskins backfield, pass-catching back Chris Thompson did not practice again on Tuesday, a sign indicating that he’ll miss yet another game with turf toe. It’s a backfield riddled with injuries, as sophomore RB Derrius Guice and 2019 rookie Bryce Love are both on injured reserve with knee injuries. … The Cardinals made a move for some depth today by signing veteran RB Alfred Morris. David Johnson has been battling an ankle injury that limited him to just one snap Sunday, much to the chagrin of fantasy owners. Third man up, D.J. Foster is also listed with a hamstring injury, so while Morris might be considered as a mere depth piece, the news isn’t inspiring for the health of David Johnson. If he gets another start, Edmonds is an easy RB2 with RB1 upside. … Steelers RB Jaylen Samuels returned to practice in a limited fashion after having a knee scope two weeks ago. Samuels has seen an expanded role in the offense as Pittsburgh continues to emphasize the run under less experienced quarterbacks and is worth a speculative add in fantasy leagues through the next week.
Wide Receiver Slants
Adam Thielen did not practice Tuesday with a hamstring injury. Thielen left Sunday’s contest versus the Detroit Lions after scoring a toe-tap touchdown, looking uncomfortable. Though he’s been optimistic about his Week 8 status, it will be tough to go on a short week. WR Olabisi Johnson stepped up to amass a 24% target share Sunday. Should Thielen not be ready to go on a short week, it’s likely that we’d see continued involvement from Johnson and TE Kyle Rudolph, who’s coming off a season-high five targets. … Former Packer WR J’Mon Moore worked out for the Seahawks on Tuesday. After being taken in the fourth round of the 2018 NFL Draft, Moore was easily outshined by Marquez Valdes-Scantling and Equanimous St. Brown, who is on season-ending IR with an ankle injury. … Tim Patrick of the Denver Broncos is expected to return after the Week 10 bye. Patrick suffered a broken hand in Week 1 but could emerge to some relevance with the trade of Emmanuel Sanders. During a brief stint of production in Weeks 14-17 in 2018, Patrick was the WR37 in PPR leagues.