We probably say this every year, but it feels as though the barrage of injuries that inevitably hits has occurred far sooner than normal. It’s only Week 3, and we have a bunch of every-week fantasy starters either out or at risk of not playing.
Philadelphia Eagles RB Kenneth Gainwell missed last week’s contest with a rib injury. There is good news, though. Josh Tolentino reported that Gainwell returned to practice on Thursday. Should fantasy football managers expect Gainwell to play on Monday night?
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Latest News Surrounding Kenneth Gainwell
The season couldn’t have started much better for Gainwell. After months of speculation as to how the Eagles would deploy their running backs, it was Gainwell in charge for Week 1.
He played 62% of the snaps and commanded 18 touches, totaling 74 yards. D’Andre Swift was a complete afterthought, touching the ball just twice. Rashaad Penny, meanwhile, was inactive.
Unfortunately, Gainwell sustained a rib injury. On a short week with the Eagles playing Thursday night in Week 2, he was unable to get ready. That resulted in Swift operating as a bell cow. He couldn’t have performed better, carrying the ball 28 times for 175 yards and a touchdown.
For Gainwell’s fantasy managers, it’s great news that he’s back at practice on a Thursday. We know “Wednesday” practices are largely meaningless in terms of players missing. But when previously injured players return on a Wednesday, that bodes extremely well for their chances of playing.
Yes, I’m aware today is Thursday. With the Eagles playing on Monday night, Thursday becomes their Wednesday, meaning it’s their first practice of the week. Thus, Gainwell practicing today is a fantastic sign for his availability. Now, the question becomes, what do fantasy managers do with him?
What Does This Mean for Gainwell’s Fantasy Ranking?
Sometimes, you just have to throw your hands up in the air and admit you have no idea. This is one of those times.
We’ve seen two games from the Eagles. Yet, we’re no closer to having clarity in this backfield than we were a month ago.
In the first game, Gainwell and Swift both played, with the former dominating the snaps and Swift being completely irrelevant. In the second game, Gainwell didn’t play, and Swift saw a 75% snap share as a result.
Given Swift’s performance, it’s hard to fathom the Eagles put him back in the box. He played too well to go back to being as irrelevant as he was in Week 1.
At the same time, I highly doubt we will see Gainwell’s role revert to what Swift’s was in Week 1. Monday night’s game against the Bucs is not going to be the D’Andre Swift show.
The answer, of course, will lie somewhere in the middle. Unfortunately, that could mean both see enough work to be startable, but neither is exciting. Or, one could be the lead over the other, making one an RB2 and the other a borderline Flex play. It’s impossible to know.
At the very least, after Monday night, we should have an idea of what the roles are for each back. The one thing we do know for sure is Penny doesn’t matter at all.
Swift opened at RB17 in our PFN Consensus Rankings, but I would be lying if I said it was a confident 17. Immediately after seeing the news that Gainwell was back at practice, I reviewed my Week 3 rankings, and the running backs below Swift are just so uninspiring. I couldn’t justify lowering him.
While Swift remains higher than my confidence in him would suggest, I do not have any confidence in Gainwell this week.
Tampa Bay is far more vulnerable through the air than on the ground. This could be a pass-heavy game plan for Philadelphia. Of course, that could benefit either Swift or Gainwell, as both are quality pass catchers.
Ultimately, the Eagles’ backfield simply remains a huge unknown for now. You may start or bench one and then lament your decision after the fact. But the most prudent course of action is to take a wait-and-see approach if your roster affords you the luxury of doing so.
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