Miles Sanders suffered an ankle sprain in Week 7 against the Raiders, knocking him out of the game after collecting 30 yards on 6 rushing attempts, as well as 1 reception. A fairly reliable RB2 in 2019 and 2020, Sanders’ injury comes in the midst of a disappointing campaign in which he has not earned the touches he’s accustomed to. What is his playing status in the near term, and what might fantasy football managers expect when he returns?
Miles Sanders’ injury update
Earlier this week, Philadelphia head coach Nick Sirianni shared that Sanders would be “week-to-week,” adding, “it’s a stretch for him to be up this week, but we’re not ruling anything out yet.” Sanders’ absence would open the door for rookie Kenneth Gainwell against a beatable Detroit defense. This is not what fantasy managers rostering Sanders want to see, as Gainwell has a great chance at duplicating or surpassing last weekend’s 14.1-point output. Of course, Boston Scott and perhaps even Jordan Howard could get into the mix.
But Gainwell is the clear upside play and is the biggest fantasy threat to Sanders based on usage (45 touches) and scoring opportunities (3 touchdowns). A strong showing Sunday could turn this backfield into a 50/50 timeshare when Sanders returns.
Sanders’ fantasy outlook
Meanwhile, Sanders has been more impressive on the field than he has in fantasy circles. He’s averaging an excellent 4.8 yards per carry on 300 rushing yards, along with 19 catches for 118 receiving yards. Yet, he has not found the end zone, which is why he’s the RB34. One big difference between him and running backs with comparable yardage like Melvin Gordon (RB20) is his lack of TDs.
Another difference concerns Sanders’ usage. He’s averaging only 9 carries per game, which seems bizarre for a lead back — even one splitting touches. The fact is, Sanders is the 1A in this backfield. Nevertheless, Jalen Hurts has more carries, more yards, and 5 more touchdowns. With Gainwell getting one more target per game than Sanders, the latter’s ceiling appears to be capped unless Philadelphia’s coaching staff alters its game plan to feature their lead RB more prominently.
For now, Sanders is a fantasy hold. It’s hard to imagine many managers wanting to trade for him. If you have Sanders, the best hope is that he returns healthy no later than Week 9 and that his goal-line looks and overall usage increase. Barring that, Sanders will remain a weekly RB3 with an RB2 ceiling and an RB4/5 floor.