Hunter Henry will be out indefinitely due to a fractured left knee, the Chargers announced on Wednesday afternoon. ESPN’s Adam Schefter has reported that a Chargers source expects Henry to be out four-to-six weeks. The injury-plagued TE is coming off a four-catch, 60-yard Week 1 performance. He missed nearly all of last season due to a torn ACL, though he returned to play in the postseason for the Chargers. Henry was one of the auto-start tight ends in fantasy football rankings, and his absence will surely cause his owners to head to the waiver wire in search of a Week 2 (and beyond) TE sleeper.
We’ll break down all the fantasy fallout of Henry’s injury below. For more updates, follow us on Twitter @SN_Fantasy.
How long is Hunter Henry out?
Based on Schefter’s report, Henry’s absence is a tricky one for fantasy owners to handle. You definitely drafted him as your starting tight end, and that four-to-six-week timetable would bring him back between Week 6 and Week 8. For what it’s worth, the Chargers’ bye isn’t until Week 12, so you won’t gain a week of game action for Henry, as he’ll still have his bye coming up when he returns.
For now, you should hold on to Henry and find a stopgap option at TE. Because of the relative dearth of quality TE options, you won’t be crushed on a week-to-week basis without Henry, and he’ll almost certainly be your best tight-end option when he returns.
Hopefully your league has IR spots to put injured players in, but if not, it might be worth sacrificing a backup quarterback or backup defense to stash Henry as an every-week top-10 TE upon his return.
Who’s the Chargers’ backup TE?
Enter Virgil Green. The 31-year old tight end has been around the league and is in his second year with the Chargers. It will be the first extended stretch of his career as a starting TE, so there aren’t too many examples to point to for how he might do. Green isn’t a total plodder, averaging a decent 11.2 yards per catch in his NFL career.
Green is also a big-bodied, 6-5, 255-pound receiver, who should provide Rivers a decent target in the red zone.
Henry’s absence should elevate the value of Keenan Allen and Mike Williams slightly, along with the pass-catching usage of Austin Ekeler and Justin Jackson. L.A.’s third receiver, Travis Benjamin, may also see the field a bit more, although he doesn’t have fantasy value except in the deepest of leagues.
Hunter Henry fantasy replacements
Green isn’t your best choice to replace Henry long-term, though. Here’s a list of options that are less than 50-percent owned in Yahoo leagues:
- Jack Doyle, Colts
- Noah Fant, Broncos
- Jason Witten, Cowboys
- Vernon Davis, Redskins
- Mike Gesicki, Dolphins
- C.J. Uzomah, Bengals
The best overlap with Henry’s absence could be Davis, who will fill in for Jordan Reed as long as the Redskins’ starter is out with concussion issues. Maybe Reed eventually returns and supplants Davis, but until then, the veteran is at worst the third-best receiving target Washington has. You could also stash Chris Herndon or Benjamin Watson, both of whom are suspended until Week 5. Obviously, they won’t help the next three weeks, but they could be valuable contributors if Henry is out for longer than expected.
If you’re going to play the matchups on a week-to-week basis, some of our favorite under-the-radar Week 2 plays are Davis (vs. DAL), Uzomah (vs. SF), and Ryan Griffin (vs. CLE).