Raheem Mostert's Injury, Other News and Notes

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Week 1 is behind us; we're onto Week 2. Tuesday isn't exactly the most eventful day of the week for football purposes – no games, no injury reports, etc. – but it's still helpful to summarize all of the news and notes from around the league. Let's get right to it.

Raheem Mostert Out for Season

Initial reports indicated Raheem Mostert would miss eight weeks with a knee injury suffered in Week 1, but he announced on Tuesday that he won't return this season and will instead shift his focus to 2022. That's big news for 49ers running backs, who were already the talk of the town after the first Mostert report.

Elijah Mitchell is the waiver wire add of the week after notching 104 yards and a touchdown on 19 carries in Mostert's absence. The sixth-round rookie out-snapped JaMycal Hasty 37-18, although both players ran 12 routes and the latter handled the majority of snaps in passing situations.

Regardless, Mitchell's impressive debut and the wide-open state of the San Francisco backfield make him a perfect addition for RB-needy teams. Despite underwhelming draft capital, Mitchell boasts impressive athletic chops (depicted below) and averaged 6.2 yards per attempt during his time at Louisiana.

Elijah Mitchell predraft athletic testing profile
Elijah Mitchell predraft athletic testing profile

Trey Sermon, of course, is the elephant in the room. The 49ers traded up to draft him in Round 3 of the 2021 NFL Draft and then made him inactive in Week 1. That decision came out of nowhere after they treated him as their RB2 all summer long. There are rumors that something happened behind the scenes with Sermon, but 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan said that he simply fell behind Mitchell and Hasty in the pecking order as the offseason went on, although he did add that there is "no firm hierarchy" in their running back room. Sermon's career got off to the worst start imaginable, but he's a hold or even a buy with so much volume available for the taking post-Mostert news.

With that being said, Mitchell is likely the most desirable 49ers back in Week 2 following his performance against the Lions.

Ronald Jones Named Week 2 Starter

Ronald Jones played six early snaps in Week 1, fumbled, and didn't see the field for the rest of the game. It was all Leonard Fournette and Giovani Bernard for the Buccaneers after Jones' early gaffe, and it wasn't the first time Jones got sent to the doghouse after making a mistake.

Buccaneers coach Bruce Arians then made the predictable move on Tuesday: He announced Jones would start in Week 2 against the Falcons. Arians said last Friday that he didn't think Jones mentally got over the fumble during Tampa Bay's Week 1 game, but he is apparently "ready to roll" now. Still, it's difficult to trust either Jones or Fournette given the tricks Arians has pulled with this backfield in the past. Bernard has the most established role as the third-down back, but the Buccaneers should have their way with the Falcons (they are 12.5-point favorites) and may not need to pass much in the second half. Even if they come out pass-heavy against a woeful Atlanta secondary, most of the targets should go to Chris Godwin, Antonio Brown, Mike Evans, or Rob Gronkowski.

Basically, Bernard isn't a starting-caliber option in Week 2, while fantasy players will have to pick their poison between Jones and Fournette. The correct decision will likely be whoever gets goal-line work, which is a toss-up after they split almost evenly in 2020.

Broncos Send Jerry Jeudy to IR

Jerry Jeudy was on track for a productive day before a high ankle sprain forced him out of the game. He's out for the foreseeable future, and high ankle issues are always a roll of the dice. Courtland Sutton played 80% of snaps and recorded an 80% route rate in Week 1, so if he's not fully healthy after tearing his ACL in Week 2 of 2020, he's really close. While he only saw three targets on Sunday, he's one of the primary benefactors of Jeudy's injury. Consider Sutton a low-end WR2 moving forward. Noah Fant should also see an uptick in volume without Jeudy. Both Sutton and Fant are established assets with values that intuitively increase with less target competition.

Tim Patrick was the next man up after Jeudy's injury in Week 1, reeling in all four of his targets for 39 yards and a touchdown. He also ran a route on 66% of dropbacks, second-best among Denver wideouts behind Sutton. He's worth picking up with Jeudy set to miss significant time. KJ Hamler is also worth a dart throw and probably possesses more upside than Patrick as an unknown entity with breakout potential. The Penn State product dropped an open touchdown after getting behind the defense on Sunday, but the more important takeaway is that he now has a path to fantasy-viable usage as the WR3. Hamler was a fun prospect coming out of college, recording a 25% Dominator Rating as a 19.4-year-old before officially breaking out (32% DR) in the following season. He didn't run at the NFL Combine, but numerous sources peg him with a sub-4.4 40-yard dash. Simply put, he's fast and had strong college production.

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Other News and Notes

  • Ladies and gentlemen, Josh Gordon is (almost) back. The NFLPA recommended the reinstatement of Gordon, so it's now up to the league to officially bring back the ageless wonder. At this stage of his career – he's now 30 years old – Gordon isn't in the fantasy mix, but it's a nice feel-good story to see him try to earn his way back into the league.

  • The Ravens cut Trenton Cannon on Tuesday. Cannon played nine offensive snaps and 15 snaps on special teams in Baltimore's Week 1 loss to the Raiders. This news likely means they're going to elevate either (or both) Devonta Freeman or Le'Veon Bell to the 53-player roster. As it stands right now, Ty'Son Williams and Latavius Murray are the only two active backs on the team.

  • Eric Bieniemy reportedly has told those close to him that he may be interested in the vacant USC head coaching gig. That wouldn't impact the Chiefs' offense in a fantasy-relevant way given Andy Reid's genius, but it's potentially important for NFL teams that could be in the market for a new coach after the season.

  • Giants coach Joe Judge said tight end Evan Engram has a chance to play on Thursday night against Washington. Engram didn't practice at all last week due to a calf injury, so it's still a longshot he's active. Even if he is, it would be difficult to trust that he's not in a limited role.

  • Seattle has already ruled out Rashaad Penny for Week 2. It's not a good sign that they didn't even give him a chance to practice during the week. DeeJay Dallas will serve as Chris Carson's backup until Penny is back to full health.

  • The 49ers added Kerryon Johnson to their practice squad after Mostert announced he's out for the year with a knee injury.