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    Fantasy Football IR Week 9 Injury Report: Justin Jefferson, James Conner, and De’Von Achane Nearing Return

    What is the latest update on the fantasy football players currently on the IR, including Justin Jefferson, James Conner, De'Von Achane, and others?

    Once we reach Week 9 of any NFL season, the injured reserve can become quite crowded. This season hasn’t been too bad, but that does not mean there are not some big names on the IR for fantasy football managers to consider. Let’s take a look at the latest updates on when we might see the likes of Justin Jefferson, James Conner, De’Von Achane, and Kyren Williams back on the field.

    Week 9 IR Injury Report: Who Is Close To Returning?

    Justin Jefferson, WR | Minnesota Vikings

    We have now gone three weeks without the Minnesota Vikings star WR on the field, and fantasy managers are starting to get excited. Jefferson could return as early as Week 10, but there has been some discussion that the Vikings may delay that slightly. The initial diagnosis of the injury was a 4-6 week absence, so the Vikings will look to test the recovery once the four-week timeframe is up.

    Therefore, we could see Jefferson held out until after the Vikings’ bye in Week 12. The likelihood of the Vikings taking extra caution with their star increased when QB Kirk Cousins went down with an Achilles injury that will rule him out for the rest of the season. Without their starting QB, the Vikings are going to struggle to remain competitive in 2023 and may decide their star WR is better off taking a longer path to recovery this year.

    This is bad news for fantasy managers who could find themselves without Jefferson right up until the playoffs. If you are fighting for your playoff life, then trading Jefferson to someone willing to bet on his return in Week 10 could be a savvy move. If you are looking set for the fantasy playoffs, it is worth either holding on or making a move for Jefferson. He will likely see some value downgrade without Cousins, but he should still be a starting option.

    James Conner, RB | Arizona Cardinals

    Conner is another player on the IR who is now three-quarters of the way towards a potential return. His knee injury did not have an exact timeframe, but there appeared to be optimism surrounding four weeks as the timeframe. However, we will need to wait to hear from head coach Jonathan Gannon on whether Conner remains on track.

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    One sticking point for fantasy managers could be the performance of the Cardinals. Sitting at 1-7 with the playoffs likely out of reach, Arizona would unlikely be in a hurry to get Conner back for 2023. The veteran RB remains under contract for one more year with the team, so there is an advantage to not putting extra miles on his legs in a losing cause.

    However, with a cap number in excess of $8 million, Conner will likely be itching to get back when he is ready. A potential cap casualty this offseason, he will want to make sure to remind the Cardinals of his worth heading into the offseason. If you need a boost this week, trading Conner, who has a bye in Week 14, could get a return that can help you right now and on your playoff run.

    De’Von Achane, RB | Miami Dolphins

    Achane makes it three players who are only one more game away from serving their mandatory four-game minimum. However, in this case, fantasy managers know they will be without the rookie RB until at least Week 11. The Miami Dolphins have a bye in Week 10, so when he was placed on the IR, we knew it would be a five-game absence.

    The Dolphins run game has slowed down a little in the past couple of weeks, largely due to offensive line concerns. That could make Achane a player to consider selling over the next two weeks. Raheem Mostert remains a central part of the offense, and veteran option Jeff Wilson Jr. is back from his own IR stint. Therefore, Achane could see more competition for his spot when he returns.

    Achane was so good in his three-game tear that it will be hard for fantasy managers to part with him. Rightly so, as the rookie RB was an explosive and dynamic runner early in the season. He should only be traded for an immediate fantasy starter if you are desperate for points and a win in Weeks 9 and 10.

    Khalil Herbert, RB | Chicago Bears

    Herbert is also eligible to return in Week 10 following his Week 5 ankle injury. Based on the diagnosis of a high-ankle sprain, a four-week window would seem about right, so we should plan as if Herbert will be back in Week 10. That will be a relief to fantasy managers, as he had been establishing himself as a solid starting option before the injury.

    Unfortunately, the situation has clouded somewhat in his absence. D’Onta Foreman was inactive when Herbert was healthy but proved his value with a three-touchdown performance in Week 7. We have also seen Darrynton Evans flash while rookie RB Roschon Johnson is waiting.

    Therefore, we could see Herbert come back into a two or three-man committee situation, which would severely hamper his fantasy value. If anyone will trade you starting level value for him right now, it could be worth taking that deal before his value takes a potential hit in Week 10.

    Kyren Williams, RB | Los Angeles Rams

    Williams has only missed two games after going on the IR ahead of Week 7. His ankle injury is expected to keep him out for the minimum term of five weeks, with the Rams bye falling in Week 10. That means he will not be able to return until Week 12, which feels a long way away.

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    Darrell Henderson and Royce Freeman have proven themselves more than capable in his absence, so there is also no guarantee that Williams will return as the starter in Week 12. Out of all the options here, Williams is the one I would advise most actively shopping. You can get a solid return on a player many view as a starting RB option while only giving up a small window of production.

    Kyler Murray, QB | Arizona Cardinals

    The excitement grew throughout the week that Arizona Cardinals QB Kyler Murray could have played in Week 8. However, that was not the case, as the Cardinals chose not to activate him ahead of the game. From the beginning, Arizona had targetted Week 10 as the return date for Murray, and Gannon was non-committal on Sunday about changing that.

    Arizona Cardinals QB Kyler Murray (1) prior to a game.
    Nov 27, 2022; Glendale, Arizona, USA; Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray (1) against the Los Angeles Chargers at State Farm Stadium.

    From a fantasy perspective, we have no idea what we are going to see from Murray when he returns. Coming off a major knee injury, there is every chance we may see the diminutive QB be less willing to let loose with his legs. That would have a huge impact on his short-term fantasy value. However, with the recent spate of injuries at the position, Murray should have every chance to be a top-10-to-12 QB upon his return.

    Other Fantasy Options on the IR

    • Aaron Rodgers, QB, NYJ | Week 6
    • Damien Harris, RB, BUF | Week 11
    • Pat Freiermuth, TE, PIT | Week 11
    • Greg Dulcich, TE, DEN | Week 12
    • Zach Ertz, TE, ARI | Week 12
    • Ronnie Rivers, RB, LAR | Week 12

    Every week, it seems like we could see Rodgers again before the end of the season, which would have been a tremendous surprise in Week 1 when he suffered the injury. Whether he will be back in time to have fantasy relevance is debatable, but he is a player to now have on the radar as a potential fantasy playoff contributor.

    Harris and Freiermuth are still three weeks away from returning and have relatively limited fantasy value. Harris is potentially dropping down the pecking order, with Leonard Fournette now heading to Buffalo. Meanwhile, Freiremuth’s value is hurt by his role as a tight end and the uncertainty that position brings.

    Dulcich, Ertz, and Rivers are a further week behind. Dulcich is really struggling with his hamstring and might even need an extended time out. Ertz has largely slipped out of fantasy relevance but could still be worth a stash in deeper leagues. Rivers is a fringe fantasy option in Los Angeles, especially with Henderson and Freeman looking good in his absence.

    Fantasy-Relevant Players Ruled Out for 2023

    • Nick Chubb, RB, CLE
    • Anthony Richardson, QB, IND
    • JK Dobbins, RB, BAL
    • Kirk Cousins, QB, MIN

    Looking to make a trade in your fantasy league? Having trouble deciding who to start and who to sit? Setting DFS lineups? Check out PFN’s Free Fantasy Football Trade Analyzer, Start/Sit Optimizer, and DFS Lineup Optimizer to help you make the right decision!

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