Immediate fantasy football takeaways from NFL Week 14 Thursday Night Football

Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings running back Dalvin Cook (33) celebrates his touchdown during the second quarter against the Pittsburgh Steelers at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

The Minnesota Vikings defeated the Pittsburgh Steelers 36-28 to kick off Week 14. 

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The big storyline before the game was Dalvin Cook’s availability, as he returned from his separated shoulder earlier than anticipated. He remained the story throughout the first half, gaining 153 yards on 14 carries and two touchdowns in the first half alone. Pittsburgh’s drives were often derailed by sacks, leading to several punts. The Steelers eventually found their offense and made it interesting in the fourth quarterback, but it was too little too late.

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Table Notes
  • Snaps include plays called back due to penalties like offensive holding or defensive pass interference. The other three stats have these plays removed.
  • Targets may differ from official NFL sources. The most likely discrepancy would be from a clear thrown away pass, where the NFL may give the target to the nearest receiver, while this data will not.
  • Carries are only on designed plays. Quarterback scrambles won’t count for the total number of carries in the game.

Pittsburgh Steelers at Minnesota Vikings

  • Dalvin Cook: 26 carries, 206 yards, 2 TDs (6 explosive runs), 1 reception, 17 yards
  • Najee Harris: 20 carries, 94 yards, 1 TD (7 avoided tackles), 3 receptions, 10 receiving yards, 1 receiving TD
Minnesota Vikings Snaps Routes Run Targets Carries
Justin Jefferson 67 33 15 1
K.J. Osborn 60 29 8 0
Dede Westbrook 29 18 0 0
Ihmir Smith-Marsette 3 3 0 0
Dan Chisena 2 0 0 0
Tyler Conklin 49 27 2 0
Luke Stocker 16 2 0 0
Chris Herndon 9 6 1 0
Dalvin Cook 54 20 3 27
Alexander Mattison 13 5 1 6
Total 70 33 30 35
Pittsburgh Steelers Snaps Routes Run Targets Carries
Diontae Johnson 62 36 7 1
Ray-Ray McCloud III 53 31 5 0
Chase Claypool 35 17 6 1
James Washington 29 19 5 0
Pat Freiermuth 45 23 2 0
Zach Gentry 26 4 0 0
Kevin Rader 1 0 0 0
Najee Harris 61 20 2 20
Benny Snell Jr. 3 1 0 1
Total 64 36 27 23

Return of Dalvin Cook: The Vikings RB dominated the Steelers' defense in his return with one of the most notable first halves by any player this season. His snap share was lower than usual, but it’s normal for any running back to get taken out for a play or two to recover after a long run. He can be safely put back into starting lineups going forward while Alexander Mattison is back to just being a handcuff.

Replacing Adam Thielen: Thielen injured his ankle on Sunday, which kept him out of the game Thursday. Minnesota elevated K.J. Osborn to an every-down role, and Dede Westbrook played in three-receiver sets. This is the same strategy the Vikings used when Thielen initially went down last week. Osborn was heavily targeted, which eventually led to a big 62-yard touchdown catch. This also allowed Cook and Justin Jefferson to take a higher percentage of Minnesota's offensive opportunities than usual. Osborn would remain a borderline flex play in deeper leagues next week against the Chicago Bears if Thielen misses another game.

Monitor Chase Claypool‘s injury: Claypool has been dealing with a toe injury that has been costing him some playing time. The Steelers used him less than usual last week and prevented him from practicing on Monday. He was again limited Thursday, as he was taken out for entire drives. He also missed five snaps after committing a penalty. He played fewer snaps as the game progressed. Ray-Ray McCloud was typically the Steelers' third wide receiver in three-receiver sets while James Washington was Claypool's replacement. Monitor how much the second-year receiver practices next week before placing him in your starting lineup.

Dynasty watch on Pat Freiermuth: The Steelers' rookie tight end disappointed with one catch for 17 yards over the first 55 minutes, but his fantasy value was saved by a late touchdown. He was consistently on the field for passing plays, but he was forced to pass block more often than usual. Minnesota recorded five sacks, which is why the Steelers needed more help in pass protection. Luckily, Pittsburgh has the Tennessee Titans and Kansas City Chiefs on the schedule for the next two weeks, and they have two of the bottom four team PFF pass-rush grades. This should help Freiermuth run more routes over the next two weeks, leading to more catches and yards.


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