In recent weeks, the wide receiver position has been dealing with a lot of injuries across the NFL, but in Week 6, receivers stayed mostly unharmed. Instead, it was quarterbacks and tight ends that represented the bigger injuries that will impact Week 7 fantasy rankings and waiver wire strategy. Baker Mayfield, Zach Ertz, and Jonnu Smith all exited their games early, and while there’s some debate over whether Mayfield’s absence was truly injury-related, Ertz and Smith definitely were banged up. Add in DeVante Parker, and four important fantasy football contributors will be questionable moving forward — all of whom could have an impact on lineup decisions for their fantasy owners.
Is Baker Mayfield playing in Week 7?
Mayfield was deemed questionable coming into Week 6 with a rib injury, but he suited up against the Steelers. However, the results were disastrous, as Mayfield threw multiple picks, was sacked four times, and was ultimately benched in the third quarter of the loss as the coaching staff turned to Case Keenum to replace Mayfield.
At the time of Mayfield’s benching, there were a couple of questions. Was this benching injury-related? Was it temporary? Browns head coach Kevin Stefanski answered both questions in a postgame press conference. Stefanski confirmed that Mayfield would be the starter against Cincinnati in Week 7 provided that he’s healthy (“I think he will be”, said Stefanski, per Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com).
Stefanski also acknowledged that Mayfield was sore and the team didn’t do a good enough job of protecting him and his banged-up ribs.
So, it seems that Mayfield will be fine for Week 7, but as long as he’s dealing with the lingering effects of the rib injury, it will be tough to trust him as anything more than a risky streamer for fantasy purposes. He has a favorable matchup against the Bengals in Week 7, and they don’t have a great pass rush, so perhaps Mayfield will stay clean and play better this week. Until we know he’s fully healthy, he’ll get a stock down while the weapons surrounding him (Odell Beckham Jr., Jarvis Landry) will have slightly lower ceilings overall.
Zach Ertz injury update
UPDATE: Ertz reportedly suffered a high-ankle sprain and will miss at least a month.
Ertz suffered an ankle injury in the Eagles’ loss to the Ravens and eventually left the game after playing hobbled for most of the contest. According to Fox Sports’ Jay Glazer, Ertz is scheduled to have an MRI on Monday that will help determine the severity of his injury.
Because the Eagles are playing on Thursday night, it seems possible that Ertz may miss time pending the results of this injury. That wouldn’t be ideal for the Eagles given that Ertz has been one of their most consistent weapons over the past few seasons and saw 10 targets against the Ravens on Sunday despite his injury.
If Ertz can’t play in Week 7 and beyond, Travis Fulgham would likely see more targets at WR while DeSean Jackson and Alshon Jeffery could also see plenty of action if they return from injury. The same could be said of tight end Dallas Goedert (ankle), who is eligible to return from IR this week.
If both Ertz and Goedert are out, Richard Rodgers could be an effective streamer against the Giants on Thursday night football after catching all three of his targets for 31 yards. He may not be an ideal play in year-long fantasy formats, but he could be an excellent option in NFL DFS showdown/single-game lineups.
Jonnu Smith injury update
UPDATE: Smith’s injury is considered “minor,” according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, so it’s possible Smith can suit up this week against Pittsburgh.
Smith suffered an ankle injury in the Titans’ overtime win over the Texans in Week 6. He was deemed questionable to return after suffering the injury, but he never made it back onto the field.
It’s unclear what the extent of Smith’s injury might be at this point, but the good news is that the Titans found a capable replacement for him in Anthony Firkser. He led the team with nine targets, eight catches, and 113 yards while finding the end zone once. In the event that Smith needs to miss time, Firkser can be trusted as a top-tier replacement for the athletic TE, as Ryan Tannehill loves targeting his tight ends, especially in the red zone.
DeVante Parker injury update
Parker left the Dolphins’ win over the Jets with a groin injury in the second half and didn’t return. Parker’s groin injury will be something to watch, but it’s worth noting that the Dolphins were up big on the Jets in a shutout win at the time Parker exited, so they may have just been exercising caution in a game that looked like it had already been decided.
The Dolphins are on bye in Week 7, so that should give Parker plenty of time to heal up from the groin injury and other nagging injuries that have taken a toll on him early in the season (hamstring). If this turns out to be more serious than initially anticipated, then Parker’s status for Week 8 would be called into question and Preston Williams and Mike Gesicki would get a stock up. For now, Parker’s injury is just something to monitor.