Fantasy Injury Updates: Latest news on Austin Ekeler, Elijah Mitchell, Damien Harris, more affecting Week 16 RB rankings

Austin Ekeler, Elijah Mitchell, Damien Harris, Kareem Hunt, and D’Andre Swift all could be “questionable” heading into Week 16, and at such a crucial time in the fantasy football playoffs, their statuses will mightily affect Week 16 rankings at a highly important position. Get the latest injury updates on each player below.

For updates on RBs Joe Mixon and Leonard Fournette, click here; for the latest on banged-up pass-catchers Chris Godwin, Mike Evans,ย Julio Jones, and Pat Freiermuthย go here; for news on A.J. Brown, Antonio Brown, and Calvin Ridley,ย click here;ย for more onย Lamar Jackson,ย Darren Waller, andย Adam Thielen, click here.ย For all the latest fantasy news, follow us on Twitter @SN_Fantasy.

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Is Austin Ekeler on the COVID list?

Ekeler was reportedly placed on the reserve/COVID list on Monday, but according to the official NFL transaction wire, he wasn’t among the group of Chargers on the list. NBC Sports Edge writes: “The team’s top beat writers have said Ekeler will be placed on the COVID list. It could also be that the test was inconclusive or something. We should know more within the next 24 hours. It’s a little bit confusing, but we assume he’ll ultimately need up on the list and will have to clear COVID protocols.

Heading into a matchup with Houston, Ekeler would be in a position to be the overall RB1, but if he can’t go, Justin Jackson could certainly end up in the RB1 conversion facing the fifth-worst defense against fantasy RBs. For now, we have Ekeler as the RB2 in standard and PPR leagues. Jackson would be placed among high-end RB2s, at worst, and Joshua Kelley would have potential flex value.

Quarterback | Running back | Wide receiver | Tight end | D/ST | Kicker

Elijah Mitchell injury update

Michell (knee) has cleared concussion protocol but is still dealing with the nagging knee injury. Kyle Shanahan has already said he’s not optimistic about Mitchell’s chances to play in Week 16 on Thursday night, so we’ll have to monitor this closely. Last week, Jeff Wilson Jr. delivered 21 carries for 110 yards and a touchdown in a great matchup with the Falcons. In Wilson’s two starts before that, he was quiet and unproductive. Since Tennessee has the No. 2 defense against fantasy RBs, it’s tough to think he’ll have a ton of success. Just last week, the Titans held Najee Harris to just 26 yards on 14 touches.ย 

Tennessee’s front seven is immensely stronger than its secondary, so this feels more like a Deebo Samuel-Brandon Aiyuk-George Kittle game than a ground-and-pound game. For those reasons, Mitchell would be a mere low-end RB2 if he plays at the RB27 in standard and PPR leagues, while Wilson is more of a flex consideration without a safe floor.

Quarterback | Running back | Wide receiver | Tight end | D/ST | Kicker

Damien Harris injury update

Harris (hamstring) was limited all last week, but it looked like he was a close call to play against the Colts. He was ultimately ruled out, but he has a good chance to return to the Pats’ backfield in Week 16 in a matchup with Buffalo. Obviously, we’ll have to stay tuned for official word, but he’s more likely to play than he is to miss more time.

Buffalo was once a worrisome matchup for RBs, but Harris, Leonard Fournette, and Jonathan Taylor are some names that come to mind who have ripped off huge runs and fantasy days against it. The Bills are more of a neutral matchup at this point, but we still have concerns about Harris. It’s tough to see him completely taking the backfield away from Rhamondre Stevenson, especially if he’s limited to any extent. That said, we rank him as the RB34 in standard and PPR leagues. He always has a chance to end up in the RB1 range thanks to his touchdown equity, though.

Kareem Hunt injury update

Hunt (ankle, reserve/COVID list) is dealing with two things that could complicate his Week 16 status, and since he’s not in the Browns’ building right now, it’s tough to get a gauge on his ankle injury. We know how the COVID protocols work by now, but we’ll have to stay tuned on the ankle.

Ultimately, we think his ceiling is lower than it usually is, even if he does play against Green Bay. He’s far from healthy, and Nick Chubb is fresh and effective as of late. If Hunt is out, it’s clear Chubb takes on the full workload, so we’re not interested in D’Ernest Johnson. If Hunt is active, view him as a mid-tier flex option in PPR leagues, but again, his floor and ceiling appear to be lower than we usually expect and Green Bay is a top-12 defense against fantasy RBs.

D’Andre Swift injury update

Swift (shoulder) has not participated in a game or practice since getting banged up on Thanksgiving, and the possibility exists that we’ve seen the last of him on this field this season. Since he hasn’t been placed on IR, that’s obviously not official, but with the Lions’ clearly out of contention, you wonder whether the Lions think about shutting him down. If he remains out, we have a tricky backfield to sort out. On one hand, Craig Reynolds has come out of nowhere and played good football, but Jamaal Williams (reserve/COVID list) should be back for Week 16 against Atlanta.

Last week, Lions coach Dan Campbell did express some optimism about a potential Swift return, and right now, he’s ranked as our RB21 in standard and PPR leagues for a favorable matchup against Atlanta. If he’s out and Jamaal Williams, who’s finally off the reserve/COVID, is starting, we’re going to assume he’ll serve as the primary back, but Reynolds will get some work, too. Williams should be viewed as a low-end RB2 in that case, but Reynolds could have some flex value. It’s worth noting Jared Goff is on the reserve/COVID list, and laugh if you want, but his absence could bring the offense down as a whole. All in all, it’s a tough situation to navigate this early in the week.

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