The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

The fantasy football fallout from Aaron Rodgers’ injury, Adrian Peterson’s breakout and more

Anthony Barr’s hit on Aaron Rodgers resulted in a major hit for fantasy owners. (Adam Bettcher/Getty Images)
Placeholder while article actions load

Another week, another major injury that knocks out one of the NFL’s brightest stars and alters the fantasy landscape. Last Sunday, it was Odell Beckham Jr. (plus J.J. Watt, but that’s less relevant for fantasy) going out for the season, and this Sunday saw none other than Aaron Rodgers go down.

Early in a game against the Vikings, Rodgers broke his collarbone, and he could be out for the rest of the regular season, almost certainly so for the fantasy season. His understudy, Brett Hundley, looked shaky, throwing three picks while completing 18 of 33 passes for 157 yards, one touchdown and a 39.6 rating, but he has looked good in preseason action and should benefit from a full week’s practice as the starter.

Even if Hundley is competent, though, which is the most anyone could reasonably ask of him, Rodgers’s loss downgrades the entire Packers attack. Think of it as lowering everyone by a tier — if Jordy Nelson was a WR1, he’s now a WR2, Davante Adams goes from a WR2 to a WR3 (at least until we get a sense of to whom and/or to which routes Hundley likes to throw) and a muddled RB situation gets, well, even more muddled.

Subscribe to the Fantasy Football Beat on iTunes | Stitcher | Google Play

It’s possible that Aaron Jones, who split carries Sunday with Ty Montgomery, could be the one beneficiary, if Green Bay goes to run-heavy attack to mask Hundley’s presumed deficiencies. As we wait to find out, here are the other top takeaways from Week 6.

In other QB-injury news: Jameis Winston was forced from the Buccaneers-Cardinals game with an injury to his throwing shoulder, and owners of Mike Evans, Cameron Brate and DeSean Jackson can only hope that Monday’s MRI exam brings good news. Sure, Ryan Fitzpatrick (he of the uncanny curse) looked good in relief, but we’ve seen his act before, and the “Fitzmagic” has a way of wearing off all too quickly.

In other Bucs-Cards news: So, Adrian Peterson, how are you liking that change of scenery? After being mostly ignored in New Orleans, and rushing for just 81 scoreless yards on 27 carries when he did see the field, the 32-year-old exploded in his Arizona debut, trampling the previously stout Tampa Bay run defense for 134 yards and two TDs on 26 carries. It remains to be seen whether Peterson can keep this up, but if he’s even solid, that will be a game-changer for a Cards offense that was an inefficient, pass-happy attack, allowing defenses to tee off on immobile QB Carson Palmer.

Aaron Rodgers injury, Ezekiel Elliott suspension blow up the NFC playoff picture

In other Peterson-related news (last time, I promise): After the Saints made that trade, there was much speculation that the deal would also be very good for Mark Ingram. Sure enough, he wasted no time taking advantage of his lock on early-downs work, rumbling for 114 yards and two scores on 25 carries, and adding five catches for 36 yards in a win over the Lions. This may well go down as his best game of the season, and Alvin Kamara is very much still in the picture, but Ingram could solidify fringe-RB1 status with a big game next week against the Packers.

Buy-low alert: Julio Jones submitted another just-okay effort against the Dolphins, catching six of seven targets for 72 yards. More significantly, he has yet to score a TD this season, and his owners could be growing impatient with his lack of studliness. If you can snag Jones for anything less than another WR1 or a similar asset, you should do so. Sure, Jones may be Andre Johnson 2.0, an athletic marvel who doesn’t lack for targets except when his team gets anywhere near the end zone, but he came into this season averaging 0.5 TDs per game. Some end zone trips, as well as a few huge-yardage efforts, are more than likely coming for Jones.

A Viking to your liking: Jerick McKinnon’s apparent victory Monday in the post-Dalvin Cook RB battle with Latavius Murray was confirmed Sunday. While Murray labored for 28 yards on 15 carries, McKinnon turned 16 carries into 69 yards and a TD, adding another 30 yards and a score on five receptions and adding to the enormous regrets of those who spent big free agent cash on Murray. While McKinnon has become a must-start in all formats, the ex-Raider Murray is already trending dangerously close to droppable status, particularly if he continues to lose goal-line carries.

What’s up with Washington?: We’re at the point where the only Redskins receiver you can start with any confidence is … Chris Thompson. And he’s not even a receiver. It’s not even clear that Jordan Reed is the most fantasy-friendly TE on his own team, given the exploits of Vernon Davis, who is far better at blocking and staying healthy, two traits that tend to endear players to coaches. Kirk Cousins’s ability to spread the ball around also likely meets with Jay Gruden’s approval, but it’s been rough for Terrelle Pryor and Jamison Crowder, who have 24 catches between them since Week 1.

The Kevin “anything is possible” Garnett award: The Broncos’ league-leading run defense had held Melvin Gordon (54), Ezekiel Elliott (8), LeSean McCoy (21) and Marshawn Lynch (12) to a combined 95 rushing yards, so naturally Orleans Darkwa went into Denver and gained 117 yards on 21 carries. You know, the same Darkwa who had 21 carries all season, and whose Giants had lost all semblance of a credible passing attack (also the same Darkwa whom I’ve repeatedly championed on the Fantasy Football Beat podcast, but I digress). He’ll still be shackled to a weak offense, but Darkwa looks like the undisputed top RB for New York and should get plenty of work going forward.

Possible waiver guys: Orleans Darkwa, Brett Hundley, D’Onta Foreman, Chris Ivory, Dion Lewis.

Read more on the NFL:

Adrian Peterson stars in Cardinals debut: ‘The opportunity I’ve been waiting for’

The NFL doesn’t know what a catch is and now seems confused about fumbles, too

Colin Kaepernick files grievance accusing NFL teams of colluding against him

The ‘Ryan Fitzpatrick curse’ claims Jameis Winston as its latest victim

As NFL owners wrestle with national anthem demonstrations, protests continue Sunday