Javonte Williams’ injury dominated the headlines on Sunday and has fantasy football managers scrambling ahead of the Denver Broncos Thursday Night Football game in Week 5. Let’s examine the latest updates regarding Williams’ knee injury and what it means for the Broncos’ backfield from a fantasy perspective in Week 5 and beyond.
Javonte Williams Injury Update Heading Into Week 5
Immediately, the knee injury Williams suffered against the Las Vegas Raiders did not look good. That concern was then compounded by Williams being very quickly downgraded from questionable to out. When players are downgraded that quickly, it often indicates there is a serious concern from the medical staff for them to make a decision in a speedy manner.
After the game, ESPN’s Jeff Legwold reported that Williams left the locker room on crutches and that head coach Nathaniel Hackett said he would have an MRI on Monday morning. About an hour later, NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported that the fear was of a serious knee injury for Williams.
The analysis from injury analysts on social media was hope Williams avoided an ACL injury based on the video footage. However, there were concerns for sprains to both the PCL and LCL, as well as other issues such as bone bruising and tearing of the meniscus. Unfortunately, on Monday, NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero reported that Williams had indeed suffered a torn ACL and will miss the rest of the season.
With the Broncos set to face the Indianapolis Colts on Thursday, let’s examine the fantasy implications of this injury for the rest of the backfield.
Fantasy Implications for Melvin Gordon III and Mike Boone in Week 5
A few weeks ago, an injury to Williams would have had fantasy managers of Melvin Gordon III jumping up and down. Unfortunately, Gordon’s status as the clear backup to Williams appears to have changed.
After Gordon was limited in practice with a neck injury, his Week 4 usage was almost non-existent for a large part. He did not have his first rushing attempt until late in the first half, and on that carry, he fumbled for the fourth time this season.
After Williams got hurt on the first play of the second half, it was Mike Boone that handled the next three rushing attempts. However, while Boone saw three targets after that, it was Gordon who handled the only other two RB carries in the remainder of the game. Gordon also visited the medical tent during the game, so his health is less than certain.
We will get an idea of the situation when the Broncos release their Week 5 practice report on Monday. While it will likely only be an estimation based on a walkthrough, it will give us some idea of Gordon’s health. If Gordon is not listed, then it is intriguing for Week 5.
We do not know if his lack of usage against the Raiders was injury related or a loss of confidence from Hackett after his fumbling issues. Nevertheless, the fact we saw him handling more carries and snaps in the second half after Williams’ injury would suggest he is not completely out of favor.
The ultimate implications here are that Gordon should be rostered in 100% of fantasy leagues. Unless we hear he is limited by injury and might not play, he is in Flex-starting contention for Thursday against the Colts. The problem is that we cannot be sure, even if he’s not injured, that Gordon will see more than 50-60% of the opportunities.
Boone is also a solid waiver wire target in all leagues. At the very least, he should be expected to be involved in some capacity for Week 5. Additionally, with Williams missing time, Boone has a chance to gain a significant portion of touches if Gordon cannot stop fumbling the ball.
While Gordon and Boone are the only two other backs on the Broncos’ depth chart, they do have Devine Ozigbo on the practice squad. We could see him elevated for game day, and in very deep leagues, he could be an intriguing waiver wire stash this week. If Boone and Gordon struggle, Ozigbo could remain on the roster and have a role down the line.