We have a jam-packed weekend boys and girls! The NFL postseason is set to kick off tomorrow with six games on the weekend slate. It’s the end of the season, everyone is hurting but it’s time to figure out whose injury will lower their performance. I’m here to break this down and provide injury updates all the way until kickoff! Welcome to the Wild Card Weekend fantasy football injury report!
Wild Card Weekend Fantasy Football Injury Report
Darren Waller (TE) Las Vegas Raiders
IT Band Syndrome, Initial Injury: 11/25/21
Against all odds, the Las Vegas Raiders have made it to the postseason. The odds will be stacked against them again, being underdogs against Cincinnati. The Raiders are receiving some positive news via the Wild Card Weekend injury report, however. Their star TE Darren Waller carries no injury designation this week despite a week of limited practices. Waller returned to the field last week for the first time since suffering a hip injury in Week 14. The return was a big boost for this Raiders offense but he was clearly affected by the injury, only reeling in two catches.
The Raiders TE’s hip injury is being called an IT band strain or syndrome. An IT band refers to the connective tissue that connects the muscles of your outer hip to your outer knee. The IT band can become inflamed, which causes pain with repetitive motions such as running. Unfortunately, this injury can take four to eight weeks to fully heal based on severity. I would still expect Waller to be limited some this week but the expectation is he will be healthier than last week. Las Vegas’ star TE at about 75% is still a huge lift for the offense, but he will be easier to contain while fighting through his injury.
Waller is dealing with a hip injury but will play this weekend.
Cam Akers (RB) Los Angeles Rams
Achilles Tear, Initial Injury: July 2021
Now, this is some of the craziest news on the Wild Card Weekend injury report. Cam Akers was set to be the lead RB for the Rams coming into the 2021 season. Unfortunately, Akers tore his Achilles late in the offseason and was expected by everyone to be out for the entire season. However, to everyone’s surprise, the Rams activated him off the IR two weeks ago.
On the other hand, there are reports that Akers is practicing and looks close to being able to play. With only five months of recovery, this seems almost unthinkable. An Achilles tear is one of the worst injuries because it’s a grueling rehab process that takes around a year to return from. I am still not expecting Akers to play a major role in this offense in the regular season but it is worth monitoring.
Akers made his magical return to the field last week against San Francisco. It’s an incredible feat for him to just return to the field in such a short amount of time. However, as expected, there was not much to show in the stat sheet. The young RB had five carries and three catches for a total of thirteen yards. There are reports that Akers is feeling “100 percent” and ready to light it up this postseason. Although I can see him having better performances than last week, I’m still not expecting much from Akers at this point. This is a serious injury he is coming back from and most players do not showcase their normal level of burst until a year later.
Cam Akers is likely to play this week but is unlikely to have a full workload.
Najee Harris (RB) Pittsburgh Steelers
Elbow Injury, Initial Injury: 1/9/22
After squeaking into the playoffs, Pittsburgh’s most important offensive player is on the Wild Card Weekend injury report. Rookie RB Najee Harris has quickly proved to be a great asset to his team and he was the centerpiece of the offense this year. Harris is a key contributor in both the running and passing games. Unfortunately, last week the Steelers RB was knocked out of the game early with an elbow injury. Harris did return later in the game with an elbow brace but he was clearly limited and affected by the injury.
Najee spoke on the injury this week, reporting that his elbow is “feeling better” after some soreness. The nature of his injury remains undisclosed but based on his description it appears to be a muscle or ligament issue. The fact that Harris was able to tough it out and play through the injury last week is a great sign for his availability this week. Harris rested the first two days of the week and returned to practice on Friday (1/14). His official injury designation should be given shortly but his return to practice to end the week is a positive sign. I expect Harris to be available this week but to be limited some in his running ability. He will have to focus extra effort on securing the football and his catch radius may be affected as well.
The Steelers have removed their star RB from the injury report. Najee Harris is officially good to go and will play tomorrow. This is great news for Pittsburgh but I still Harris to not be 100% by Sunday night.
Harris is expected to play this week but will be limited some with an elbow injury.
Elijah Mitchell (RB) San Francisco 49ers
Knee Injury, Initial Injury: 12/5/21
San Francisco’s lead RB will again be on the injury report for Wild Card Weekend. Rookie RB Elijah Mitchell made his return to the field in Week 17 and has been very productive since his return Unfortunately, the nature of the injury is undisclosed at this time but he did receive an MRI recently. The results reportedly came back “clean” but showed some “irritation.” This provides some insight that Mitchell is dealing with a lingering injury but there is no severe structural damage. After not practicing Wednesday, Mitchell returned for a limited practice Thursday. This is typical for a player dealing with a lingering issue and the expectation as of now is he will play this weekend. I would expect the rookie RB to continue receiving the bulk of the carries for this run-heavy offense as well.
Mitchell is expected to play this week and receive a full workload.
Tee Higgins (WR) Cincinnati Bengals
Foot Injury, Initial injury: 1/12/22
The Bengals passing game is one of the league’s top performers this season, and WR Tee Higgins is a key component. Higgins made some headlines this week after showing up on the Bengals injury report on Wednesday. After a full practice Tuesday and seemingly no issues, he logged limited practices Wednesday and Thursday with a foot issue. The nature of the injury is undisclosed and head coach Zac Taylor downplayed it saying he only took a few less reps in practice. The biggest news is Higgins carries no injury designation going into the game. The Bengals expect him to be good to go for Saturday and ready for his usual workload. Luckily, with WRs Ja’Marr Chase and Tyler Boyd on the same field, there would be capable players to pick up any unexpected slack.
Higgins has no injury designation for Saturday despite a couple of limited practices.
Damien Harris (RB) New England Patriots
Hamstring Strain, Initial Injury: 12/6/21
Head coach Bill Belichick clearly misses the “probable” injury designation. Despite RB1 Damien Harris being listed as questionable on the Wild Card Weekend injury report, he is expected to play. The young RB practiced in a limited fashion all week in his typical fashion since injuring his hamstring. The Patriots RB has played the last three weeks despite taking some rest during practices.
Harris injured his hamstring against Buffalo in Week 13. Hamstring injuries are very difficult injuries to manage due to their high re-injury rate. These injuries will severely hinder a player’s lower body power and ability to accelerate through a hole. Barring any setbacks, Harris is expected to suit up against Buffalo, a team he has enjoyed success against. In two games this season, he is up to over 200 rushing yards and four TDs on the ground.
Harris is officially questionable this week but expected to see a full workload.
Jakobi Meyers (WR) New England Patriots
Thigh Injury, Initial Injury: 11/28/21
Patriot’s WR Jakobi Meyers carries a questionable injury designation into Saturday’s game. However, this should be one of the least concerning injuries on this Wild Card Weekend injury report. Meyers has practiced in a limited fashion and has been questionable going into the game for three weeks now. He has played over 75% of snaps the past two weeks and his production has remained high. Barring any unusual setbacks, Meyers is expected to play this week and assume his usual WR1 role. Thigh strains typically respond well to some rest during the week which is likely the reason for his continued limited practices.
Meyers is expected to play as usual despite his thigh injury.
Miles Sanders (RB) Philadelphia Eagles
Broken Hand, Initial Injury: 12/26/21
The Philadelphia Eagles are currently sitting in a playoff spot after turning their season around. A major reason for this has been their running game. This running game suffered a major blow last week. Lead RB Miles Sanders is currently dealing with a broken hand after taking a hit last week against the Giants. Sanders is not being placed on the IR as there is still hope he can return at some point this season. His exact recovery timeline will depend on the specific bone injured and the severity of the fracture which is currently unknown.
Eagles RB Sanders missed the final two weeks of the regular season due to his hand injury. Reports are now surfacing that he received hand surgery immediately after Week 16 to try to be back for the playoffs. This approach seems to have paid off as the RB heads into Wild Card Weekend with no injury report designation. Sanders practiced throughout the week and felt good enough to be able to play in this pivotal playoff game. There is not much concern for Sanders as he has been medically cleared but ball control is always in question following a hand injury. This will be something to monitor as the RB returns from his two-week absence.
Sanders is playing this week and I have mild concerns for his ball-carrying ability.
Leonard Fournette (RB) Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Hamstring Strain, Initial Injury: 12/19/21
The Buccaneers lead RB is dealing with a hamstring strain that he picked up in Week 15’s game. Leonard Fournette was quickly ruled out of the game and unable to return. At this time, the expectation is he is likely out for the rest of the regular season and will be placed on the injured reserve list. Tampa Bay has also signed veteran RB Le’Veon Bell to add some depth to the now depleted backfield.
Hamstring injuries are among the most concerning for NFL players. They are difficult to manage as they reinjure easily and greatly hinder a player’s ability. The hamstring muscle generates most of the power for a player’s lower body and allows them to run and jump. Fournette is expected to be back for the postseason but will need to be diligent and careful with his rehab.
All of Tampa Bay is monitoring the Wild Card Weekend injury report closely and a big reason is to see if Playoff Lenny will make his return. RB Leonard Fournette returned to practice this week and according to reports is moving around well. Head coach Bruce Arians stated Fournette is a game-day decision based on warm-ups and how he feels. Tampa Bay did NOT activate Fournette off the IR today, meaning he is OUT this week.
Fournette returned to practice this week but is OUT this week.
Tony Pollard (RB) Dallas Cowboys
Plantar Fascia Tear, Initial Injury: 12/2/21
The Dallas Cowboys have enjoyed a dynamic 1-2 punch in their backfield for most of the year. However, this was disrupted when RB Tony Pollard injured his foot weeks ago against the Saints. Recently, reports surfaced that Pollard tore the plantar fascia of his one foot and he was unable to play in Week 14. Your plantar fascia refers to a thick band of tissue that runs from the heel of your foot to the base of your toes. This band works to support the arch of your foot and aids in running and jumping activities. This injury typically will take around two months to fully heal but Pollard is trying to play through the injury.
The young Cowboys RB has been doing well to manage the pain and still produce despite his injury. This injury is not going away however and will be something he has to deal with for the rest of the season. After three limited practices last week, the Cowboys chose to rest Pollard to prepare for the playoffs. Pollard logged a full participation in practice to start the week on Wednesday. He is expected to be available this week and the rest should help improve his production on the field.
Pollard is expected to play this Sunday after resting last week.
Clyde Edwards-Helaire (RB) Kansas City Chiefs
Collarbone Injury, Initial Injury: 12/26/21
The holidays have treated Kansas City quite well. After a dominating victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers, they will also receive good news via the Week 17 injury report. Chiefs RB Clyde Edwards-Helaire landed hard on his shoulder suffering a collarbone injury last week. Initially, the fear was a broken collarbone which would have been a lengthy absence. However, X-ray and MRI imaging showed that there is no structural damage to his collarbone. There is some swelling in the area but no fracture or ligament sprain is huge here.
After some initial optimism with the injury, the young Chiefs RB finds himself missing three straight games to finish the season. In a bit of surprising news, Edwards-Helaire is officially ruled out via the Wild Card Weekend injury report. He practiced Wednesday but after not being able to practice Thursday or Friday, he was ruled out. Reports are that the shoulder did not feel or look as good as it was expected to at this point. The Chiefs will look to replace him through an RB committee of Darrel Williams, Derrick Gore, and Jerrick McKinnon.
CEH is officially out this week with a collarbone injury.
Juju Smith-Schuster (WR) Pittsburgh Steelers
Shoulder Dislocation, Initial Injury: 10/10/21
Juju may have played his last snap for the city of Pittsburgh. In the second quarter of the game against the Broncos, he took a hard hit to his shoulder and instantly walked off the field. The Steelers WR dislocated his shoulder and required season-ending surgery. Let’s not forget that Smith-Schuster tested the free agency market before signing just a 1 year deal with Pittsburgh. Juju will have to work hard this off-season to build some stability in his shoulder as dislocations can become a chronic issue for players. Luckily for the Steelers, WRs Chase Claypool, Diontae Johnson, and James Washington are all capable playmakers.
In a bit of a surprise, WR Smith-Schuster returned to practice this week. The Steelers opened up his 21-day window to return from the injured reserve. There have been some reports stating that the practice went really well for the young WR and he is “trending towards playing”. However, there is also some sentiment that practicing only two days late in the week after three months of rehab is not enough time. Juju is officially activated off the IR and is expected to play Sunday.
Juju is back at practice and is expected to play this week.
This injury report updates until Wild Card Weekend ends. Make sure to stay up to date on all the latest injuries this season over on Twitter @SGPNFootballDoc!