It's been a tough year for running backs (and fantasy RB rankings), as top picks like Christian McCaffrey and rotational guys like Melvin Gordon, Tevin Coleman, and Leonard Fournette have all missed time in recent weeks with injuries and illnesses. Ahead of Week 7, fantasy football owners will need to know the latest injury updates on these guys so they can consider various waiver wire pickups.
Is Christian McCaffrey playing in Week 7?
UPDATE: According to NFL Network's Mike Garafolo, McCaffrey won't play in Week 7 but could play in Week 8 against the Falcons. The Panthers play on Thursday night in Week 8, so McCaffrey will need to be watched closely ahead of that game.
McCaffrey (ankle) is eligible to come off IR at any time now, so fantasy owners will be closely watching the top pick before he's cleared for action. That said, it doesn't look likely that McCaffrey will be ready to play in Week 7 against the Saints.
ESPN's David Newton said last week that returning in Week 8 is "more realistic" for McCaffrey, and head coach Matt Rhule said that he doesn't know if McCaffrey will play this week, next week, or the week after, per Panthers reporter Joe Person. So, at the very least, it seems that McCaffrey will be set to miss one more game in his return from the ankle injury.
With McCaffrey out, Mike Davis will continue to be the top fantasy contributor in the Carolina backfield. Davis has averaged just over 100 scrimmage yards and a TD per game as a starter, so he will be a high-end RB2 for at least one more week.
Is Melvin Gordon playing in Week 7?
Gordon (illness) missed last week's game against the Patriots but should be on track to play in Week 7. His illness is non-COVID-related -- it's reportedly strep throat -- so after giving him last week to get healthy, Gordon should be able to return to the practice field this week.
It's also worth noting that the Broncos won't be suspending Gordon for a DUI that he picked up early last week. According to NFL Network's Tom Pelissero, the Broncos were pleased with how he handled the aftermath of the situation and that he alerted the team about it immediately after it occurred. Gordon could still be disciplined by the NFL for the DUI, but that may not come until further down the road. Thus, Gordon should play in Week 7.
Gordon's return will make for a potentially frustrating carry split in Denver. Phillip Lindsay ran for over 100 yards against the Patriots, but he and Gordon could see a true 50-50 split against the Chiefs. Check out our Week 7 RB rankings to find out which player we prefer in Week 7.
Tevin Coleman injury update
Coleman has been on IR since injuring his knee against the Jets in Week 2. Coleman was expected to miss a month with his injury, and that timetable was supposed to set him up for a potential Week 7 return.
It's unclear at the moment if Coleman will return, but the 49ers could certainly use him. Raheem Mostert (ankle) was just placed on IR and is expected to be out for three-to-four weeks, while Jeff Wilson Jr. (calf) missed the 49ers' win over the Rams in Week 6. Right now, Jerick McKinnon and undrafted free agent JaMycal Hasty are the only healthy backs on the 49ers roster, so if Coleman can return, he would provide a boost to the San Francisco backfield.
We'll keep an eye on Coleman this week but if he is, in fact, healthy, he will have a chance to emerge as a low-end RB2 against a Patriots defense that just allowed Phillip Lindsay to rush for over 100 yards.
Leonard Fournette injury update
Fournette (ankle) was expected to be active in Week 6 against the Packers after being active as an emergency option on Thursday night against the Bears in Week 5, but the Bucs elected to keep him inactive and give him extra time to heal.
Given that Fournette was close to being "active but limited" in the words of ESPN's Adam Schefter, it would stand to reason that Fournette should be able to suit up in Week 7 against the Raiders. He'll be behind Ronald Jones, who has three consecutive 100-yard games, in the Bucs' backfield rotation, but he can still be used as a flex play in case the Bucs look to keep Jones fresh or give Fournette some goal-line touches.