Justin Jefferson has been placed on the injured reserve by the Minnesota Vikings. The talented wide receiver hurt his hamstring during Minnesota’s Week 5 loss to Kansas City. He did not return to the game, and now we understand just how severe the injury appears to be.
Justin Jefferson Injury Update
Jefferson was seen limping to the sideline during the fourth quarter and calling Brandon Powell onto the field to replace him.
On Monday, the Vikings announced they were still evaluating the injury, but Tuesday morning, we found out that he will miss at least the next four games.
#Vikings WR Justin Jefferson suffered a hamstring injury on this play.
He is questionable to return.
— Pro Football Network (@PFN365) October 8, 2023
Sean Walsh, Physical Therapist and Performance coach, who worked for TB12 Sports Performance Center, tells Pro Football Network:
“Justin Jefferson likely has a high-grade II or low-grade III hamstring strain. The hamstring is comprised of 3 muscles: the semimembranosus, semitendonosis, and the biceps femoris. Most commonly, the biceps femoris is injured in hamstring strains.
With this specific injury, I would expect one of these 3 muscles to have damage of >50% of the muscle fibers. A timetable of 4-6 weeks should be expected with his return to play with this significant damage. Rehabilitation will be a large factor in determining the return to play timeline. The last thing speed athletes need to worry about is a recurrence of injury.
The mechanism of slipping on the turf opens up the possibility of more damage to the muscle fibers than most traditional hamstring strains that occur with running. The slipping mechanism likely caused more force to be generated through the hamstring, ultimately leading to the failure of the muscle.
Turf has been a large talking point with many injuries, and a slipping mechanism of injury can certainly point towards the turf being a contributing factor. Travis Kelce also had a slipping-related injury at US Bank Stadium on Sunday.”
The Vikings will be hopeful that Jefferson just has to miss the regulation four games and not any longer. However, with the Vikings already at 1-4, there could be limited benefit to rushing Jefferson back if they lose two or more of the next four.
Jefferson is one of the most dangerous receivers in the NFL, if not the most. On Monday, head coach Kevin O’Connell talked about the need to protect Jefferson from himself. This move feels very much like that. Placing him on the IR removes any temptation to rush him back prior to that.
Jefferson will miss games on the road against the Chicago Bears, Green Bay Packers, and Atlanta Falcons, as well as a matchup with the San Francisco 49ers at home. Minnesota would hope to be able to go 3-1 in those four contests, which would at least keep them in the playoff hunt when Jefferson nears a return.
An additional element to consider is how this impacts the Vikings’ other plans. QB Kirk Cousins is in the final year of his deal and could now be a trade target. If the Vikings fail to win either of their next two games, teams could be interested in a veteran QB.
The New York Jets would be a logical destination while they remain in the playoff picture. At 2-3, they are still more than in play when it comes to the AFC. If Zach Wilson cannot get the offense going, maybe they turn to a veteran like Cousins. Additionally, we will have to keep an eye on any potential injuries to QBs of challenging teams over the next week or two.
Fantasy Fallout From Jefferson’s Injury
Jordan Addison has three top-25 weeks this week in playing alongside Jefferson this season and will now be counted on as the top receiver for at least the next month.
The uptick in usage is good for his fantasy stock, but the increased attention from opposing defenses could negate those fantasy gains. He will be a low-end WR2 or high-end Flex play in most weeks, carrying a wide range of outcomes as he acclimates to this new role.
K.J. Osborn slides into the clear WR2 role, though without a 50-yard game on his résumé this season, he’s still a fringe Flex option at best. T.J. Hockenson was an elite tight end option prior to this injury and will remain as much. If Travis Kelce misses time, Hockenson has a path to lead the position in fantasy points by season’s end.
Kirk Cousins tumbles outside of the top 10 at the position, both for Week 6 and the rest of the season. The potential for this injury to linger is enough to ding a pocket passer like Cousins. Alexander Mattison’s usage might trend up, but his fantasy ranking remains roughly the same (a middling RB2) due to a likely dip in overall offensive effectiveness.
— PFN Fantasy Analyst Kyle Soppe