Like most other exercises, they do have a utility, and CAN cause injury if performed incorrectly. I don’t necessarily agree that they are a useless or outdated exercise with no real merit. In my opinion, with the correctly limited ROM they can be useful, and add variety to an exercise routine.
The upright row works the deltoids and upper trapezius as well as some bicep. You can focus more on the trapezius by changing the grip to a more narrow one.
While I do believe they can be risky if performed incorrectly, they can be added (like other exercises) occasionally for some variety in good form. I agree with LaRue on this one.