The 2023 Fantasy Football season has been defined by injuries, and in Week 11, attrition hit the running back position Aaron Jones suffered what looked to be a serious knee injury, in what could be the most significant injury of Sunday's games, but he wasn't alone; Dolphins running back De'Von Achane's return from a knee injury was spoiled as he apparently aggravated the injury, while Bears back D'Onta Foreman exited early with an ankle injury. And then, in the 4 pm window, Seahawks running back Kenneth Walker suffered an oblique injury he couldn't return from.?
As of Sunday afternoon, we don't know the full extent of any of these injuries, though we did get a couple of promising notes. Let's go through every situation, what we know as of around 5:30 pm Sunday afternoon, and take a look at what each situation would look like if the injured player had to miss time.?
Aaron Jones leaves with a knee injury
Jones' injury looked to be the most serious during the game, as he had to be carted off the field after his leg got caught under him on a second-quarter carry. However, that one may not have been as serious as it initially appeared. After the game, Packers coach Matt LaFleur told reporters, "I don't think it's long term."
Now, that doesn't necessarily mean Jones isn't going to miss any time at all. It's all relative, and if the injury initially looked like it might have been a season-ender, even a three-week absence would be viewed as good news. As of Sunday afternoon, we just don't know the extent of the injury, though if Jones does have to miss time, this is a very uncomplicated situation: AJ Dillon will step into an every-down role, as he did early in the season when Jones was out.
Of course, as we saw early in the season, that doesn't necessarily mean Dillon would be a must-start Fantasy option. Across three starts with Jones out earlier, Dillon had 164 yards on 46 carries, with one touchdown, while adding just one catch for 8 yards on three targets. Dillon was once viewed as one of the very best handcuffs in the league, but the Packers offense has been pretty mediocre this season, and Dillon hasn't shown much ability to overcome that.?
One thing that helps Dillon's chances is the fact that the Packers play on Thursday in Week 12 against the Lions. It's not a great matchup, but it isn't a definite stay-away situation either. Dillon would be in the RB2/3 range if Jones is out.?
Kenneth Walker leaves with an oblique injury
Walker has dealt with a bunch of nagging injuries in recent weeks, and I do wonder if this oblique injury is related to the chest injury that limited him in practice last week. Either way, oblique injuries can be tricky, both in how long they can linger as well as the risk of re-injury if you come back too quickly. He left Sunday's game after four carries and one catch.?
This is another one that is fairly straightforward. Zach Charbonnet had already been playing more snaps than Walker in recent weeks, though largely as a passing downs option and occasional change-of-pace back. He might get a chance to be a whole lot more than that, and while we'd hate to see Walker miss time, it's a potentially exciting situation for Charbonnet.
Charbonnet was a second-round pick for the Seahawks out of UCLA in the most recent draft, and he's been pretty effective so far, averaging 5.6 yards per carry entering Sunday. He's also been the preferred passing downs option ahead of DeeJay Dallas, though I suspect we'd see more of Dallas if Walker has to miss some time. Still, Charbonnet is an exciting talent with three-down skills, and if Walker has to miss some time, he could absolutely emerge as a must-start Fantasy option.?
The bad news is the Seahawks have an incredibly tough upcoming schedule, unfortunately; their next four games see them take on the 49ers, Cowboys, 49ers, and Eagles. I would still likely rank Charbonnet as a top-24 RB if Walker is out, though the schedule could make it tough for him to be a true difference maker. And, like the Packers, the Seahawks have a quick turnaround to their Thursday game in Week 12, which makes it tougher for Walker to come back without missing more time.?
De'Von Achane aggravates knee injury
Achane got just two touches before someone landed on the knee he previously injured. That knee injury landed Achane on IR for four games, but it doesn't sound like it's as serious this time around, as coach Mike McDaniel told reporters after the game that Achane was held out because the team wanted to be cautious with the previously-injured knee.
However, McDaniel did note that the training staff gave "positive feedback," per reporters, and Achane tried to push to return to the game. Given Achane's struggles staying healthy in the NFL (he missed time in the preseason as well), that caution makes a ton of sense. Moving forward, we've got two questions that need to be answered about Achane. The first should come fairly quickly: Is he going to miss time? Achane will likely be evaluated further Monday, and hopefully we'll have a sense of the extent of the injury Monday or Tuesday. If it is as minimal as McDaniel made it seem after the game, hopefully that'll mean no time missed.?
Which will then lead to the next question: What does Achane's role look like moving forward? Achane's struggles staying healthy could lead the Dolphins to be careful with his workload, and might mean he's just a role player for them moving forward. Given his explosiveness, Achane could still be a very good Fantasy option even with just 10-12 touches per game, but it would probably foreclose the possibility of that super-high-end, top-five type of outcome. He's got the talent for it; he just might not get the opportunity.?
If Achane has to miss time, I'd expect we'll see more of Salvon Ahmed, who had three carries for 6 yards and three catches for 25 yards and a touchdown Sunday. Ahmed would be a backup to Raheem Mostert, but if the Dolphins opt to keep Jeff Wilson as a healthy scratch or just don't get him involved, Ahmed could be a fringe starting option if you're desperate.
D'Onta Foreman leaves with ankle injury
Foreman was in a split with Khalil Herbert before the injury, as expected, leading the team with five carries in the first half, albeit for just 1 yard (and a touchdown). However, he opened the second half with his best run of the game, scampering for 13 yards on the second play of the half.?
However, he went down on that run with an ankle injury, and while he was announced as questionable to return, he never saw the field again. That forced Herbert into a lead role, and while he didn't do much with it against a tough matchup against the Lions, he was still the clear top option – making his return from an ankle injury that landed him on IR, Herbert led the team with 12 second-half carries, while Roschon Johnson had five.?
And that's pretty much what I would expect from the Bears backfield moving forward if Foreman has to miss time. It's pretty much exactly what the backfield looked like before Herbert's injury, as Foreman was a healthy scratch for much of the first two months of the season. Herbert was the clear lead runner, while Johnson handled more third-down work, while working in occasionally as a change-of-pace back. It seems safe to assume that'll be the way the Bears approach things moving forward if Foreman has to miss time.?
Herbert would be in the RB2/3 range for Week 12 against the Vikings, while Foreman would be more like a desperation flex – though it's worth noting that the Bears do have a Week 13 bye, so even if Foreman does have to miss time, it might only end up being one game.?
Johnson is worth adding where available as an upside play, especially if Foreman's injury ends up being more serious than it first appeared. However, he would likely still be the No. 2 back here, so don't plan on breaking the bank for him. He'd still need a Herbert injury to have a chance to be worth starting for Fantasy.?