Joe Burrow has become one of the very few elite quarterbacks in the NFL in just three short years in the league. But Joe Cool is currently sitting on the sidelines while his team works through training camp and preseason games. What are the options for the Cincinnati Bengals if Burrow continues to miss time? Let’s take look at what Cincinnati can do and discuss the fantasy football implications for this big-name injury.
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What Happened to Joe Burrow?
The football community collectively held its breath when Burrow collapsed to the ground after a scramble during Bengals practice in late July. The initial video was quite scary for Bengals fans and fantasy owners alike; a non-contact injury that had the Cincy signal-caller grimacing and reaching for his lower leg.
The initial fears were given a bit of a reprieve when the news broke that Burrow’s injury was a strained calf. While still an injury that can linger and take time to heal, the news was much better than the alternative of Burrow having a season-ending injury.
Since the injury, Burrow has not been able to practice with the team or participate in drills. But videos have surfaced of the quarterback jogging before Cincinnati’s first preseason game and getting some passing reps in from a stationary position.
The Bengals are, rightfully, being cautious with their franchise QB and not rushing his return. It’s unknown how long Burrow will be sidelined for at this point, leaving his availability for Week 1 of the NFL regular season in question.
What Are the Bengals’ Options If Burrow Misses Time?
Behind Burrow in the Bengals’ depth chart, Cincinnati’s quarterbacks are nothing to marvel at. Trevor Siemian is currently in line for starts if Burrow were to miss time. A journeyman who has played in Denver, New York (Jets), New Orleans, and Chicago, Siemian is not a player that any franchise with Super Bowl aspirations is hoping to rely on.
With Burrow hopefully only missing a week or two (if any time at all), I don’t expect the Bengals to make any major moves in free agency at quarterback. Names such as Carson Wentz, Joe Flacco, and Nick Foles are available, but Cincinnati hopes to have Burrow on the field sooner than later. A signing like this doesn’t seem very likely.
From a fantasy perspective, Siemian is likely available in most leagues. However, I wouldn’t be rushing to pick him up. Handcuffing a franchise QB isn’t a reliable way to find fantasy value. You’re better off finding a quarterback that has the chance to be a long-term starter than just a spot-start player.
Cincinnati may be in a pickle the first few weeks if Burrow takes time to heal. This is a dangerous prospect for the team as they open the season in Cleveland and return home in Week 2 against the Ravens. With two divisional opponents to start the season, the Bengals may be scratching and clawing for wins if Burrow is out.
What Does This Mean for Burrow’s Fantasy Ranking?
From a redraft perspective, there may be some hesitation in taking Burrow early in your fantasy drafts. Burrow has landed right around QB3/QB4 in most fantasy rankings.
However, this injury could cause Burrow to miss time or not be as effective early in the season as it lingers. Managers may want to aim in another direction if they are investing early in their draft on a QB.
Jalen Hurts, Lamar Jackson, Justin Fields, and Justin Herbert are all QBs who have finished above or within two points per game of Burrow in recent years. If Burrow is going to be battling through a calf injury for a portion of the year and potentially missing time, all of these quarterbacks are intriguing alternatives. The best ability is availability for your fantasy teams.
From a dynasty or keeper perspective, Burrow’s value doesn’t move for me at all. He’s still 26 years old and in an offense with weapons like Ja’Marr Chase and Tee Higgins. He’s played in two AFC Championship Games and a Super Bowl in his first three years in the NFL. There’s no reason to be getting shaky on Burrow’s value if you’re invested in him for the long haul. He’s still an elite talent and a cornerstone for your team.