Austin Ekeler, Terry McLaurin, Kareem Hunt, Emmanuel Sanders, and Rex Burkhead all exited Sunday's games early. They present varying degrees of importance in the fantasy football world, but with the playoffs set to begin in Week 15, all of their statuses will affect waiver wire pickups and start 'em, sit 'em decisions. We have the latest injury updates on each player below.
For more on ailing RBs Darrell Henderson, Jamaal Williams, D'Andre Swift, Elijah Mitchell, and Chase Edmonds, go here; for the latest on Darren Waller, Keenan Allen, T.J. Hockenson, Tyler Higbee, and Adam Thielen, click here; for updates on banged-up QBs Lamar Jackson, Josh Allen, and Taylor Heinicke, click here; for news on ailing players coming off a bye, including Jalen Hurts, Miles Sanders, Damien Harris, and Myles Gaskin, click here; for the latest on Calvin Ridley and Michael Carter, go here. For all the latest fantasy news, follow us on Twitter @SN_Fantasy.
Austin Ekeler injury update
UPDATE: Chargers coach Brandon Staley said Monday that Ekeler is "fine." That tells us nothing about Ekeler's availability for Thursday night, but it would seem to indicate that he didn't suffer a serious injury that will keep him out multiple weeks. Stay tuned for more updates.
UPDATE 2: Ekeler did not practice Monday.
Ekeler (ankle) was knocked out of the game in the second half against the Giants, but it's unclear just how severe the injury is. It's been speculated he suffered a high ankle sprain, which would likely keep him out multiple weeks. With the Chargers set to play the Chiefs on Thursday, we'll have to watch this situation very closely. If Ekeler is out for any time, Justin Jackson and Joshua Kelley will likely split touches like they did on Sunday. We give Jackson the slight nod because of his superior receiving skills, but it wouldn't be surprising to see either get more touches. In deep leagues, you might even want to take a flier on rookie Larry Rountree III.
For now, we don't have Ekeler in our rankings because of the quick turnaround. Jackson is ranked as the RB29 in standard and RB25 in PPR leagues. Put simply, he's a must-start if Ekeler is out. Kelley might have some flex appeal, and we view him as a high-end RB3.
Terry McLaurin injury update
After suffering a concussion against the Cowboys, McLaurin will have to clear the league's concussion protocol in order to play against the Eagles this week. We've seen plenty of guys suit up just a week after a head injury, but we've also seen players miss at least one game. That said, we'll just have to keep our eyes and ears peeled for his updates later in the week.
The Eagles have the No. 2 defense against fantasy WRs, but since McLaurin is just about the only solid pass-catcher for Washington, we rank him as the WR16 in standard and in PPR leagues. If he's out, Adam Humphries, DeAndre Carter, Curtis Samuel, and Ricky Seals-Jones should see more targets, but it's tough to know who will be the most desirable WR to start. Given that we're in the fantasy playoffs, Seals-Jones is the player we'd consider.
Kareem Hunt injury update
UPDATE: Kevin Stefanski said Hunt is "unlikely" to play in Week 15 against the Raiders.
UPDATE 2: Hunt did not practice Thursday.
Hunt (knee) could've returned to the game against the Ravens if needed, according to Kevin Stefanski, so that's obviously a good sign for his Week 15 status against Green Bay. Of course, that doesn't mean he's definitely ready to go, as injuries can get worse throughout the week. If he misses more time, D'Ernest Johnson would serve as Nick Chubb's top backup, but as we've seen this year when Hunt is out, Johnson usually doesn't get enough touches to help in fantasy leagues.
Green Bay is a top-12 unit against fantasy RBs, so if Hunt does play, view him as a low-end RB2 or flex option who is most attractive in PPR leagues. If he's out, expect Nick Chubb to get an even larger workload, but he's already a must-start.
Emmanuel Sanders injury update
UPDATE: Sanders suffered a knee sprain and is expected to miss Week 15.
Sanders (knee) was ruled out quickly after leaving the game against the Buccaneers in the first half, so his status will need to be monitored later in the week heading into a matchup with Carolina. If he's fine for Week 15, he's a low-end flex option in a tough matchup. If he's out, Gabriel Davis will take his spot in the Bills' offense and be ranked in a similar spot.
Ultimately, Davis will draw starting consideration in the tough matchup, but he'll be a pure boom-or-bust play.
Rex Burkhead injury update
UPDATE: Johnson was activated off the reserve/COVID list on Monday.
Burkhead (groin) was banged up against the Seahawks, leaving Royce Freeman as the only available back for the Texans in the second half. We don't know the severity of Burkhead's injury, but since David Johnson (reserve/COVID) could miss another game, Freeman is a worthwhile waiver add this week. We understand if you refuse to take a chance on a Texans' RB, but he'll face the Jags in Week 15, so view him as an RB3 if Burkhead and Johnson have to miss Week 15.
Ultimately, it's tough to know what the split would be if all three guys were active, so you might want to avoid this backfield altogether if you can help it.