We are reaching that time in the year when fantasy football managers’ windows to have their IR stashes return from injury may help them. With the fantasy playoffs just around the corner, can fantasy managers expect reinforcements to be headed their way anytime soon?
Let’s take a look at the latest updates for the likes of J.K. Dobbins, Michael Thomas, Cooper Kupp, and Darren Waller, as well as other players who could yet return this week.
Latest Injury IR Updates: J.K. Dobbins Set To Return This Week?
If you drafted and stashed Dobbins this season, then there is a chance the Baltimore Ravens RB could be heading back to help you with your push to the fantasy playoffs and to championship glory. On Monday, head coach John Harbaugh told reporters that Dobbins was returning to practice this week, opening the 21-day window with which to activate him to the 53-man roster.
However, Harbaugh went on to add that Dobbins would practice to “some degree” and that he was “not sure exactly what they will let him do.” That is less than conclusive on whether Dobbins will be back on the field when the Ravens play the Denver Broncos this week.
With Gus Edwards and Kenyan Drake having done a nice job in recent weeks, Baltimore will likely look to ease Dobbins back in, ensuring he is healthy for their playoff run. In terms of time frame, the Ravens could feasibly not activate Dobbins until the start of Week 16. It’s not that common to see teams use the whole 21-day practice window, but it does occasionally happen.
This puts fantasy managers in a tricky situation. If you have Dobbins, and your trade deadline has not passed, you could use this good news to try and sell him right now. Even when he returns, there’s no guarantee Dobbins will take on a major role in the backfield, especially if Edwards and Drake keep producing solid performances as a pair.
This whole backfield is one that is best suited for Underdog Fantasy Best Ball formats. Projecting touches and health week-to-week of this group has been tricky. In season-long leagues, if you can sell either Dobbins or Edwards now, you might very well be doing so at their ceiling.
Michael Thomas Injury Update
Michael Thomas is eligible to return this week, but there has been no indication that he will. When Thomas was placed on IR, New Orleans Saints head coach Dennis Allen indicated that Thomas could be out for the remainder of the season. However, with the Saints still in contention in the NFC South, that plan might change.
It would be a surprise to see Thomas play in Week 13 against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. New Orleans then has a Week 14 bye, so we wouldn’t see Thomas until at least Week 15, which is into the fantasy playoffs for most leagues.
Cooper Kupp Injury Update
It seems extremely unlikely that Cooper Kupp will return this season. A four-week minimum IR stay would have had him out until Week 15. However, the diagnosis was for a six- to eight-week absence. That would put Week 17 as the earliest we would expect to see Kupp, but even that seems unlikely.
The Rams will almost certainly be completely out of contention by then, so activating Kupp would have little benefit. If you’re on track to make the fantasy playoffs and have an IR spot available, it’s worth stashing him just in case he returns for your championship, but don’t count on it.
Darren Waller Injury Update
Darren Waller could be eligible to return with his teammate Hunter Renfrow next week. The pair were placed on IR ahead of Week 10, so their four-game mandatory stint is over after this week.
Hopefully, we will get an update this week from the Las Vegas Raiders on whether Waller is on track. The tight end dealt with a nagging hamstring injury that ultimately saw him require an IRT stent. We’ve seen other hamstring injuries cause issues this season, and Waller appears to be the latest.
With the Raiders’ season seemingly hanging by a thread at 4-7, there’s a chance we don’t see Waller return. If they lose to the Los Angeles Chargers this week, the Raiders staff may feel it makes more sense for Waller to miss the remainder of the year and hopefully return healthy in 2023.
Mike Boone and Irv Smith Jr. Could Both Return in Week 13
As well as Dobbins, both Mike Boone and Irv Smith Jr. are eligible to be activated this week. On Monday, Denver head coach Nathaniel Hackett said Boone could be close to returning from his ankle injury. With Melvin Gordon III released and Chase Edmonds on the IR, Boone could yet have a solid role in this offense going forward.
Last week, Latavius Murray led the Broncos’ backfield, with Marlon Mack seeing two carries and one target. Boone could have a reasonably significant role for Denver as the secondary option to Murray. It might not be enough to have consistent 12-team fantasy relevance, but he could be a name to look at adding on waivers this week.
Smith has a less clear path to relevance after T.J. Hockenson arrived in Minnesota. Smith was a tough player to trust when he was healthy before, and that seems unlikely to change now.
Other Potential Return Dates This Season
- Darrel Williams, ARI, RB | Week 14
- Mecole Hardman, KC, WR | Week 15
- J.D. McKissic, WAS, RB | Week 15
- Chase Edmonds, DEN, RB | Week 16
- Clyde Edwards-Helaire, KC, RB | Week 16
- Khalil Herbert, CHI, RB | Week 16
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