Fantasy Injury Updates: Christian McCaffrey, Austin Ekeler, Sony Michel affecting Week 11 RB rankings

For the eighth time in nine games, it looks like Christian McCaffrey is going to be unavailable for fantasy football owners. Likewise, both Austin Ekeler (hamstring) and Sony Michel (quad) are still on IR and have been since the first month of the season. Fantasy owners need to know the latest updates on these injuries ahead of their Week 11 waiver pickups and start ’em, sit ’em decisions.

For updates on Chris Carson, Joe Mixon, and Carlos Hyde, click here. For all the latest fantasy news, follow us on Twitter @SN_Fantasy.

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Is Christian McCaffrey playing this week? 

In his first game back from an ankle injury that sidelined him for six weeks, McCaffrey suffered a shoulder injury that held him out last week against the Buccaneers. While there was originally hope that McCaffrey would return from that problem in Week 11, it doesn’t look likely at this point.

ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported that McCaffrey is unlikely to suit up against the Lions and that the Panthers are treating his absence as a multi-week one. This is tough news for McCaffrey owners given that the Lions are one of the weaker run defenses in the NFL, but their attention will now turn to Week 12 barring a surprising change in McCaffrey’s status.

With McCaffrey likely out again, Mike Davis will be the lead back for the Panthers. Davis has slowed down a bit in recent weeks, but he is still averaging 16.3 touches for 75 yards over the course of his past eight games. He should have a chance to put up big numbers against Detroit and is an RB1 in our Week 11 RB rankings.

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Is Austin Ekeler playing this week?

Ekeler (hamstring) has been on IR since suffering a hamstring injury in the Chargers’ Week 4 loss to the Buccaneers, but it appears that he is close to returning from IR. According to Ekeler himself on Twitter, “the time draws near” for his return. He posted a video of him running a straight-line sprint, which is a good sign that his hamstring injury isn’t lingering.

Now, the only question is, when will Ekeler come back? Ekeler’s video was posted Nov. 12, ahead of Week 10, but the Chargers haven’t yet designated him to return from IR. Once that happens, he’ll have a 21-day practice window, and he can be activated to the active roster at any point once that practice window opens. That hasn’t happened yet, but it’s something to keep an eye on in the coming weeks.

As long as Ekeler and Justin Jackson (knee) are both out, Kalen Ballage will likely lead the Chargers’ backfield while Troymaine Pope and Joshua Kelley rotate in to spell him. Ballage will be a fringe-RB2 in a solid matchup against the Jets, and given that he is averaging 93 yards and has scored once during his brief, two-game tenure with the Chargers, he is certainly worth starting.

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

Is Sony Michel playing this week? 

Michel (quad) was placed on IR following a 100-yard outing against the Raiders in Week 3 and the Patriots back has been there ever since. He did practice for the team ahead of their Week 10 game against the Ravens, but his timetable for return is still unclear.

Patriots coach Bill Belichick was non-committal about a potential return for Michel in Week 11. According to WEEI’s Ryan Hannable, Belichick said that Michel has been working hard but “we’ll see how things go this week.” Michel won’t officially be on the injury report since he’s on IR, but his status will be one to watch nonetheless.

If Michel is active against Houston, he could work his way into the flex range because of the Texans’ poor run defense. However, he’s still likely to work behind Damien Harris, who’s established himself as the lead back. Stash Michel if you have the roster space available, but even in a matchup this good, it’s hard to recommend trusting him if he does return.

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