Every injury is an opportunity for Fantasy Football value to be unearthed, but in the case of some injuries, it's an opportunity we'd rather not have to consider. That's the case with Christian McCaffrey's injury in Week 7, as the best player in Fantasy exited Sunday's game with an oblique injury.
That's a potentially massive injury, both for the 49ers offense and for Fantasy Football players, if it requires McCaffrey to miss significant time. The 49ers have plenty of weapons, but with McCaffrey and Deebo Samuel leaving Sunday's game, they looked suddenly thin on playmakers as they lost 19-17 to the Browns. And, for Fantasy players, there wasn't necessarily an obvious beneficiary from McCaffrey's injury – Jordan Mason saw a few more carries than Elijah Mitchell, who was playing for the first time in a few weeks because of a knee injury of his own. Mitchell has been a very good Fantasy option in the past, his inability to stay healthy could make this a committee if McCaffrey has to miss time, which would make it a lot harder to trust him.
Injuries have played a huge part in Fantasy Football over the past few weeks, David Montgomery was also forced out of Sunday's game with a rib injury, knocking out two of the five best running backs in Fantasy so far this season. We don't know how much time either is expected to miss, if any, as of Sunday evening, but we've got to prepare for them missing at least Week 7, so let's take a look at some of the top waiver-wire options at running back heading into Week 7. Just in case:–
Jeff Wilson, Dolphins (75%)
Wilson isn't too widely available, but he could be well worth adding wherever available. He didn't get back from IR in Week 6, but he's close and could be back next week. Wilson certainly won't be the lead back for the Dolphins, given how well Raheem Mostert is playing, but this offense has plenty of room for a second running back to be relevant – even with De'Von Achane out Sunday, Salvon Ahmed had 34 yards, a touchdown, and 12.4 PPR points alongside Mostert. Wilson could be in line for double-digit touches in an elite offense in Week 7 if he comes back from IR.
Jordan Mason/Elijah Mitchell, 49ers (9%/56%)
The tough thing here is the lack of clarity. If we knew McCaffrey was going to be sidelined and Mitchell was going to be the lead back, he'd probably be a top-15 RB for Week 7 against the Vikings; if we know Mason was going to be the lead back, he wouldn't rank quite as highly, but he'd be in the RB2 discussion, for sure. As it is, we have a back in Mitchell who has been incredibly effective when healthy (he rushed for 963 yards on 4.7 yards per carry as a rookie in 2021), but whose inability to stay healthy may have cost him the trust of the coaching staff, and a former undrafted free agent who has never had more than 11 carries in a game, making it tough to know if they'd trust him as the lead rusher. At this point, I'm viewing both as potential RB3s for Week 7 if McCaffrey is out, with a lean toward Mitchell, given his track record.
Craig Reynolds, Lions (6%)
Reynolds could be in line to be the Lions lead back if Montgomery is out in Week 7, though there's also Jahmyr Gibbs to account for – Gibbs has missed the past two games with a hamstring injury, but would obviously be the lead runner if Montgomery is out. As it stands, Reynolds looks next in line, and we have seen some solid performances from him when his number has been called – in 2021, he had consecutive games with 117 and 99 total yards, with a third game at the end of that stretch with 8.1 PPR points. Reynolds isn't on Montgomery or Gibbs' level, but if he's the lead back for the Lions, that would be enough to put him in the RB2 even in a tough matchup against the Ravens.
Kareem Hunt, Browns (59%)
Jerome Ford is still the lead runner for the Browns with Nick Chubb sidelined, but Hunt is playing a solid role now. Sunday, he was actually the better Fantasy option of the two, scoring 16.1 PPR points as the team's No. 2 option. The Browns have had a pretty brutal stretch of opposing defenses so far this season, but with the Colts, Seahawks, and Cardinals on the way over the next three weeks, it's about to get significantly easier, and there could be room for Hunt to be an RB3 alongside Ford.
Chuba Hubbard, Panthers (74% rostered)
If you play in one of the 26% of CBS Fantasy leagues where Hubbard is available, Hubbard could have been the top priority on waivers ahead of Week 7 … except the Panthers don't play in Week 7. They've got their bye coming up, which means Hubbard won't be any help to those of you who need to replace Montgomery or McCaffrey next week. Hubbard did look solid Sunday, rushing for 88 yards and a touchdown in helping the Panthers get out to a surprise early lead, and it could have been an even bigger game if the Panthers hadn't fallen behind by multiple scores in the second half. However, with the Panthers on a bye this week, Sanders could be back in time for their next game, which would be a real obstacle to Hubbard being a must-start Fantasy option. I could still see Hubbard being a decent starter even if Sanders is back, given Sanders' struggles, but that won't be the case in Week 7.
Here's who else we're going to be looking at adding heading into Week 7 of the Fantasy Football season.
DET Detroit • #9
Age: 22 • Experience: 2 yrs.
Williams still isn't a full-time player, or anything close to it, but I'm always going to take note when the No. 12 pick in last year's starts to make plays. Sunday, he made the most of his three targets, catching two of them for 53 yards, including a 45-yard touchdown. He hasn't shown the ability to do much more than hit on the occasional deep pass in the NFL, but the hope is he can start to carve out a bigger role coming off a key play like that. Williams is a ways away from being a dependable Fantasy option, but if you're chasing upside on waivers, he still has plenty of it.
LV Las Vegas • #87
Age: 22 • Experience: Rookie
Speaking of upside, we might be starting to see Mayer tap into his. The second-round rookie made a couple of players in Week 5 and then had his breakout showing Sunday, catching five passes for 75 yards on six targets. That only came out to a 19% target share on the day, but it was also the first time all season a player on the Raiders not named Davante Adams, Jakobi Meyers, or Josh Jacobs had more than four targets, which is a pretty bonkers stat. Mayer is following a fairly standard trajectory for a young tight end, with his role growing as the season goes on, and that could make him a viable Fantasy option moving forward.
NE New England • #84
Age: 28 • Experience: 7 yrs.
Bourne has seen his playing time rebound over the past couple of weeks, and his production followed Sunday. It wasn't his best Fantasy game of the season – he had 24.4 PPR points in Week 1 – but Sunday might have been his most promising performance of the season. Bourne was targeted 11 times on Mac Jones' 33 passes, catching 10 of them for 89 yards, nearly half the team's total passing yardage. The Patriots offense remains pretty unimpressive, but Bourne has been their only playmaker through the air, and I think he's gotta remain a focal point moving forward.
Malik Willis QB
TEN Tennessee • #7
Age: 24 • Experience: 2 yrs.
Willis was a disaster in three starts for the Titans last season, completing just 25 of 49 passes and failing to reach even 100 passing yards in any of those starts. So, it was kind of surprising that he managed to beat out second-round pick (and presumed QB of the future) Will Levis in training camp for the QB2 job with the Titans. It looks like he's going to get another chance to start for the Titans after Ryan Tannehill was spotted on crutches after Sunday's game, and if Willis can be even decent as a passer, his rushing abilities could make him a viable Fantasy option. The complication here is that the Titans are on a bye in Week 7, so Tannehill will have an extra week to get healthy. If he can't, Willis will likely rank as a top-20b QB for Week 8.