As we head toward the midway point of the 2022 fantasy football season, there are some intriguing injury updates for players on injured reserve that we need to consider. With the likes of Elijah Mitchell and Cordarrelle Patterson on the NFL IR, there is a lot of fantasy talent not available right now.
Let’s examine when Mitchell, Patterson, as well as the likes of Kyren Williams, Sammy Watkins, Treylon Burks, and Van Jefferson might be able to return to the field.
Latest Injury IR Updates for Week 7
Is Elijah Mitchell Set to Return This Week?
When Mitchell was put on the IR following Week 1 of the 2022 NFL season, there was some hope he might be able to return as soon as Week 6. That was the earliest the San Francisco 49ers could activate him, with an IR stint ensuring a player must miss at least four games. However, we saw that Week 6 window pass, and now all eyes are on whether Mitchell might be able to return to the field in Week 7.
Unfortunately, that seems unlikely to be the case. During an interview ahead of their Week 6 game against the Atlanta Falcons, head coach Kyle Shanahan told NBC Sports Matt Maiocco the team is targeting a return for Mitchell after the bye week.
The 49ers have a Week 9 bye, so the news is somewhat mixed. We know that Mitchell will likely not be available for at least the next three weeks for fantasy managers. However, it does seem as though managers could hope to have him back for the end of the fantasy regular season and the playoffs.
That could provide a nice boost for fantasy teams, assuming Mitchell returns as the lead back. Jeff Wilson Jr. led the way in Mitchell’s absence with 400 yards and two touchdowns on 81 rushing attempts. However, he struggled in Week 6, with just 25 yards on seven rushing attempts, and lost his second fumble of the year.
We don’t know for sure if Mitchell will return as the starter. However, four weeks is a long time in the NFL, and things with the 49ers’ offense may look very different. For now, you should look to stash Mitchell on your roster, hopefully on an IR spot. If he returns as a starting back, then his fantasy value will most likely exceed the value you would get from anyone on the waiver wire right now.
When Could Cordarrelle Patterson Return for the Falcons?
Unfortunately, fantasy managers will be without Patterson for at least another two weeks. Patterson is not eligible to return from the IR until Week 9 as he deals with his knee injury. He played through the knee injury in Week 4 but was placed on IR almost immediately after that game. As soon as he returns, Patterson should be a player that fantasy managers look to plug back into their lineup.
In Patterson’s absence, we’ve seen Tyler Allgeier and Caleb Huntley carry the load. Allgeier has 28 carries for 96 yards in the past two weeks, while Huntley has 25 carries for 93 yards. Both are splitting touches and neither is seeing targets, so it’s tough to rely on either of them for fantasy managers.
Additionally, we could see Damien Williams return from a rib injury as soon as this week. After being placed on IR with the injury after Week 1, Williams was eligible to return last week. However, it appears the Falcons were cautious with the veteran last week against the 49ers.
When Williams returns, he likely takes up some level of role in the committee we are seeing. What that role will be and who he takes touches from is tough to predict. His potential presence in Week 7 makes starting any of these backs even tougher for fantasy managers.
Could We See Kyren Williams or Van Jefferson Soon for the Rams?
The Los Angeles Rams are on a bye in Week 7, but their RB position has been very much in focus. With the news that Cam Akers could be traded, they appear to have an open spot for the second RB behind Darrell Henderson Jr. Right now, Malcolm Brown and Ronnie Rivers are fighting for that role, but rookie RB Kyren Williams could be a player to watch.
On Monday, Rams’ head coach Sean McVay told reporters that Williams may be able to practice after the team’s bye week. Williams is currently dealing with an ankle injury, and his timeline seems less certain than some other Rams options. Once LA designates Williams to return, they will have a 21-day window to activate him. Therefore, even if we see Williams back at practice in Week 8, we may not see him active until Week 9 or 10.
The news on Van Jefferson seems more promising as he deals with his knee injury. Jefferson was added to the IR with a knee injury prior to Week 3. Therefore, he’s served his four-game period on the IR and is eligible to return immediately after the bye in Week 8.
On Monday, Oct. 17, McVay told reporters he believes Jefferson could be one of five players returning after the bye. With the Rams’ offense struggling and desperately in need of a consistent secondary pass-catching option, Jefferson could have fantasy value down the line.
If you have a spare IR spot, Jefferson could be a player to stash after the waiver wire runs this week. He’ll be on IR through Week 7, so he won’t take up a spot on your active roster while LA is on a bye.
Which Other IR Players Should We Be Keeping an Eye on?
There are three other players on IR who could potentially return and have fantasy value. Sammy Watkins put up a couple of solid performances before a hamstring injury forced him onto IR. Watkins is eligible to return in Week 7 and was seen running on the field before the Green Bay Packers game in Week 6. He was designated to return to practice on Oct. 9, and the Packers’ have 21 days to activate him back to the active roster.
While he was an intriguing fantasy option before his injury, Watkins may have seen Romeo Doubs assume his starting spot while he’s been away. Therefore, despite the loss of Randall Cobb to an injury, fantasy managers should not assume Watkins will return to playing 60+ percent of the offensive snaps in Green Bay.
We will have to wait until at least Week 10 to see Treylon Burks back on the field as he deals with a turf toe injury. Burks’ fantasy value was limited through the first four weeks, so he’s not a high-priority stash if you have lots of competition for your IR spots or need the space on your bench as you deal with bye weeks.
An RB that fantasy managers should keep an eye on in the coming weeks is Ty Montgomery. With Damien Harris dealing with a hamstring injury, the Patriots are leaning on Rhamondre Stevenson, with Kevin Harris and Pierre Strong Jr. providing support.
We could see Montgomery return to practice as soon as this week. He was eligible to return last week but was not quite ready to return to practice. When he’s back on the field, Montgomery could have Flex value in 14-team leagues if Harris remains absent.