Fantasy Football: Injury notes, actives/inactives for Week 14

East Rutherford, New Jersey, USA; New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley (26) warms up before a game against the Chicago Bears at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

  • Barkley's availability in doubt: New York Giants RB Saquon Barkley (neck) appears to be legitimately questionable. Matt Breida is his primary backup.
  • Injuries taking a toll on Seattle's backfield: Seattle Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll called both RB Kenneth Walker (ankle, questionable) and DeeJay Dallas (ankle, questionable) game-day decisions, but neither seems particularly likely to suit up after not practicing on Wednesday or Thursday.
  • Browns' No. 1 TE returns: Cleveland Browns TE David Njoku (ankle, not listed) is good to go and should be fired up as a top-eight option at the position ahead of Sunday's potential shootout against the Cincinnati Bengals.
Estimated reading time: 17 minutes


QB | RB | WR | TE


Quarterback

Miami Dolphins QB Tua Tagovailoa (ankle): Head coach Mike McDaniel assured everyone that Tua’s ankle isn’t expected to be a problem ahead of Sunday night’s likely shootout against the Los Angeles Chargers. Tua continues to sit atop the league in yards per attempt (nine), PFF passing grade (90.4) and a myriad of other efficiency statistics. Week 13 marked the first time since Week 7 that this offense was held under 30 points. Vegas doesn’t seem too worried: The Dolphins’ 27.75 implied team total is the second-highest mark in Week 14.

Expert Injury Analysis: Tagovailoa's ankle injury is minor and I do not expect any limitations for Week 14.

Baltimore Ravens QB Lamar Jackson (knee, doubtful): Tyler Huntley will be under center. Huntley hasn’t stood out as a particularly efficient passer during his six extended appearances over the past two seasons, but his rushing production has been borderline erotic from a fantasy football perspective, posting 7-40-0, 6-45-0, 13-73-2, 6-54-0, 12-72-0 and 10-41-1 rushing lines. Hutley has managed to average 205 pass yards per game during this stretch – slightly more than what Jackson (203) was at prior to suffering last week’s injury. Adjusting the rankings won’t be as easy as crossing out Jackson’s name and inserting Huntley’s, but just realize this backup has the profile of someone capable of being far better at *fantasy* football as opposed to real-life.

Expert Injury Analysis: Jackson suffered a PCL sprain in Week 13. I believe he is dealing with a Grade 1 sprain, return-to-play timeline is typically one to three weeks. I expect Jackson to be ready for the last two games of the season.

Jacksonville Jaguars QB Trevor Lawrence (toe, questionable): T-Law said earlier in the week that he expected to suit up Sunday against the Tennessee Titans. His ability to get in a limited practice on Friday is a good sign that this will be the case, which is great news considering the matchup against a Titans defense that has put forward lowly ranks in EPA allowed per pass play (+0.069, No. 26), yards per attempt allowed (7.4, No. 20), pass touchdown rate allowed (4.6%, No. 23) and passer rating allowed (105.9, No. 28) alike this season.

Expert Injury Analysis: Lawrence escaped what looked to be a serious injury in Week 13. He is dealing with a toe issue but I expect him to play without limitation in Week 14.

San Francisco 49ers QB Jimmy Garoppolo (foot, out): Brock Purdy (6.4-yard average target depth) was even less aggressive throwing downfield than Jimmy G (7.3) has been this season. It’d make sense if this offense leans more on the run and short passing game more than ever with Jimmy G sidelined. The 49ers-Buccaneers matchup boasts a hellaciously low 37-point game total, so don’t expect many (any) boom performances from Purdy down the stretch.

Expert Injury Analysis: Garoppolo suffered a foot injury in Week 13 and will miss the next six to eight weeks. He has a chance to return if the 49ers make a playoff run.

Seattle Seahawks QB Geno Smith (right shoulder, not listed): Mid-week downgrades are never good, but Smith tentatively appears good to go for Sunday’s matchup against the Carolina Panthers. Last Sunday’s comeback win over the Los Angeles Rams marked Smith’s 10th game with multiple touchdowns passes this season. Russell Wilson has one-such game for those counting at home. Credit to the Panthers for boasting a sneaky-solid defense, although even the league’s best units figure to have trouble fully slowing down Smith throwing to D.K. Metcalf and Tyler Lockett when they’re clicking.

Expert Injury Analysis: I have no concerns for Smith for Week 14.


Running back

New York Giants RB Saquon Barkley (neck, questionable): Mid-week additions to the injury report are never good, and it sounds like Barkley does have a chance of missing Sunday’s game against the Philadelphia Eagles. If in, he’ll need to be started as his usual RB1 self. If not, Matt Breida will suddenly become a viable low-end RB2 option. Don’t expect Breida to receive a Barkley-esque featured role considering his inability to ever gain a role with Daboll in Buffalo, but he’s still been the clear-cut No. 2 back ahead of Gary Brightwell all season long.

Expert Injury Analysis: Barkley popped up on the injury report late in the week and missed practice Friday due to a neck injury. This is never a good sign and I am pessimistic about his availability for Week 14. Barkley will need to be monitored closely leading up to game-time.

Detroit Lions RB D’Andre Swift (ankle, not listed): Things are looking good for Swift after he managed to lead the backfield in snap rate for the first time since Week 8. Overall, Swift received just 10, five, seven, eight and nine touches in first five games after returning from injury before matching his season-high total with 18 combined carries and receptions in Week 13. Fire up Swift as a borderline RB1 now that he’s seemingly back to working as the Lions’ top back while Jamaal Williams is more of a touchdown-dependent RB2 in an offense that has been scoring plenty of touchdowns in recent weeks now that they are finally getting back to full health.

Expert Injury Analysis: Swift will have no limitation s for Week 14.

Cincinnati Bengals RB Joe Mixon (concussion, not listed): Mixon is fully expected to regain his starting job and get back to receiving something close to a workhorse role. The eye test certainly indicates that Mixon generally has more juice than Perine, but just realize the Bengals' “backup” running back has been the superior rusher in just about any efficiency metric that one wants to look at — PFF rushing grade: Mixon (74.9), Perine (78.6), yards per carry: Mixon (3.8), Perine (4.4), yards after contact per carry: Mixon (2.4), Perine (3.2) and missed tackles forced per carry: Mixon (0.11), Perine (0.16) — all tell the same story. Mixon has been the better receiver in terms of PFF receiving grade (79.6 vs. 69.4), but Perine continues to get plenty of third-down work thanks to his far superior pass-protection ability (65.5 vs. 26.9 PFF pass-blocking grade). Don’t expect the Bengals to take Mixon’s job away anytime soon once healthy enough to return to action, but just realize Perine is a tier-one handcuff with far too much best-case upside to be on many waiver wires.

Expert Injury Analysis: Mixon has been cleared from the five-step concussion protocol and will play in Week 14.

49ers RB Christian McCaffrey (knee, not listed): CMC’s 81% snap rate from last week indicates that his knee is either feeling better or the 49ers don’t believe they have much of a choice but to feature him with Elijah Mitchell (knee) sidelined and Deebo Samuel (quad) continuing to play through the pain. CMC has peeled off PPR RB3, RB11, RB12, RB38 and RB1 finishes in five full games since being traded to the 49ers. Fire him up as the top-five back he’s been whenever healthy for the last half-decade of action.

Expert Injury Analysis: McCaffrey's knee could always flare back up but I have no concerns for him in Week 14.

Ravens RB J.K. Dobbins (knee, IR): Head coach John Harbaugh said Dobbins is “in play” to return against the Pittsburgh Steelers. We’ll know by Saturday if they decide to activate him from the injured reserve list. At least two backs figure to maintain involvement in an offense that was already struggling to consistently move the ball with a healthy Lamar Jackson (knee) under center. Now there’s a lower-scoring floor for everyone involved inside of an offense that ranks 28th and 31st in team running back carries and targets this season. If anything, backup QB Tyler Huntley might be the safest fantasy bet on this offense outside of TE Mark Andrews.

Expert Injury Analysis: Dobbins in trending in the right direction to return from his recent knee procedure. If he does return I expect him to be limited and eased back into action.

Seahawks RB Kenneth Walker (ankle, questionable), DeeJay Dallas (ankle, questionable), Travis Homer (knee, not listed): This situation will likely need to be monitored up until Sunday morning. Head coach Pete Carroll called both Walker and Dallas game-day decisions, but neither managed to practice on Wednesday or Thursday. Walker will be his usual top-15 self if healthy enough to suit up, but be careful about overly trusting any other backup considering the likelihood that this turns into more of a committee without their starter. There’s a chance that Tony Jones is forced into a workhorse role, but just realize he’s only been on the team for two months and the team signed Wayne Gallman on Tuesday. Homer should be considered the favorite to lead the way in Walker's absence, but he’s not a must-start option by any stretch of the imagination.

Expert Injury Analysis: Walker III and Dallas have been DNPs all week and I do not expect them to be ready in time to play in Week 14.

Panthers RB D’Onta Foreman (foot, not listed): The biggest potential concern for Foreman is an extremely negative game script that forces the Panthers to largely abandon the run game. This happened in Week 9 (9 touches for 21 yards) and to a lesser extent in Week 11 (11 touches for 24 yards), but Foreman has racked up 100-plus rushing yards in his other four games since Christian McCaffrey was traded to the 49ers. The Seahawks are relatively modest 3.5-point favorites so fire up Foreman as a low-floor and touchdown-dependent RB2 who is a far better play in non-PPR formats.

Expert Injury Analysis: Foreman gave fantasy owners a scare early in the week but they have nothing to fear as he will play in Week 14 without limitation.

Steelers RB Najee Harris (oblique, not listed): The Steelers have fed Harris 15-plus carries and targets in all but three games this season, so he’s always very involved in the gameplan. Still, this is the same guy who was second to only Derrick Henry (20.5 vs. 19.7) in expected PPR points per game last season. This year, Harris (13.7, RB20) simply hasn’t had a large enough workload to make up for his lack of efficiency. There’s no receiving floor here: Harris has one or fewer receptions in three of his last four games. His average of 5.5 targets per game in 2021 has fallen to 3.1 this year. This means Harris needs to make the most out of his rushing workload, which seems like a bit of wishful thinking inside the league’s 28th-ranked scoring offense against a Ravens defense that has allowed 44, 48, 36, 38 and 88 rushing yards in their last five games. 

Expert Injury Analysis: I have no concern for Harris in Week 14.

New England Patriots RB Damien Harris (thigh): Harris isn’t more than a touchdown-dependent RB3 even if healthy enough to suit up. Meanwhile, Rhamondre Stevenson has earned every-week must-start treatment thanks to his status as one of just six running backs averaging at least 17 expected PPR points per game this season. Fire up the Patriots’ full-time back as a top-eight option at the position against an Arizona Cardinals defense that has allowed bottom-10 marks in receptions and receiving yards allowed to opposing running backs this season.

Expert Injury Analysis: Harris was a DNP all week and I expect him to miss his second straight week.


Wide receiver

Dolphins WR Tyreek Hill (illness), Jaylen Waddle (leg): Both receivers are good to go for Sunday night’s likely shootout against the Chargers. Hill is on pace for a ridiculous 136-1,953-7 receiving line this season while Waddle (leg) ranks fifth in receiving yards this season and also needs to be started in fantasy lineups of all shapes and sizes whenever healthy enough to suit up.

Expert Injury Analysis: I expect both to play without limitation in Week 14.

Chargers WR Mike Williams (ankle, not listed): Look for Williams to catch shadow coverage from No. 1 Dolphins CB Xavien Howard. Howard (6 feet, 201-pounds) might be able to physically match up with Williams (6-foot-4, 218 pounds) better than most, although the Chargers’ $60 million wide-out is capable of winning anyone when right. That’s the biggest question here: Any downgrade for Williams should be based on his potentially iffy health more so than this matchup. Close start/sit questions involving anybody from this (hopefully) ascending Justin Herbert-led offense should generally lean toward the Charger involved ahead of a potential shootout with the Dolphins.

Expert Injury Analysis: Williams is set to return from reinjuring his high-ankle sprain. Do not expect him to be 100% in Week 14.

Cardinals WR DeAndre Hopkins (illness), Rondale Moore (groin): The next three weeks aren’t exactly layups against the Patriots, Denver Broncos and Tampa Bay Buccaneers, although it’d also make sense if Kyler Murray plays some of his best ball of the season down the stretch now that he’s close to having a fully healthy wide receiver room. Continue to fire up Hopkins as a no-doubt WR1 whenever healthy enough to suit up while Marquise Brown is more of a mid-tier WR2 at the moment who will slide down just a tad should Moore wind up being active.

Expert Injury Analysis: I expect Hopkins to play in Week 14 but I am not as optimistic for Moore. Rondale has not been a DNP all week and is likely another week or two away.

Seahawks WR D.K. Metcalf (hip, questionable): Mid-week downgrades are never good, but Metcalf tentatively appears to be on track to suit up Sunday against the Panthers’ sneaky-solid defense after head coach Pete Carroll said he’s expected to play. Of course, even the league’s best units figure to have trouble fully slowing down Geno Smith throwing to Metcalf and Tyler Lockett when they’re clicking. Fire up both Metcalf (WR17 in PPR points per game) and Lockett (WR13) as the upside WR2 options they have been virtually all season long.

Expert Injury Analysis: Metcalf popped up on the injury report late in the week but I do not believe it is serious. I expect Metcalf to be ready for Week 14.

49ers WR Deebo Samuel (quad, not listed): Samuel, Brandon Aiyuk and George Kittle are all great players who will likely still find a way to boom on occasion despite the downgrade under center, but just realize volume was already hard enough to come by in this crowded passing game, so a dropoff in efficiency could produce some surprisingly average results. Deebo is more of a borderline WR2 moving forward while Aiyuk is a boom-or-bust WR3 and Kittle is more of a mid-tier TE1.

Expert Injury Analysis: I expect Samuel to look better than he did last week. I have no concerns for hi min Week 14.

Browns WR Amari Cooper (hip, questionable), David Bell (thumb, not listed): Cooper is expected to play through the pain ahead of Sunday’s matchup against the Bengals. This matchup certainly has the feel of a shootout should Deshaun Watson manage to catch his stride.  I’m drinking the Kool-Aid and riding with Cooper as a legit WR1 coming off an impressive 41% target share in his first game with Watson. Donovan Peoples-Jones is also someone who shouldn’t be shied away from, as the third-year receiver has gained at least 40 yards in all but one of his last nine games and profiles as a Cleveland version of Will Fuller with Watson under center.

Expert Injury Analysis: Cooper is dealing with a minor hip issue and I believe he will be good to go in Week 14. Bell is ready to go for Week 14.

Bengals WR Tee Higgins (hamstring, not listed): Mid-week downgrades are never good, but Higgins doesn’t have a final injury designation and appears just fine ahead of Sunday’s matchup against the Browns. Absolutely egregious drops by Tyler Boyd aside, this passing attack has been clicking better than ever in recent weeks and should only get better with a healthy Ja’Marr Chase back in action. Don’t be surprised if they manage to connect on more than a few deep shots against a secondary that has struggled mightily against the deep ball this season. Fire up Chase and Higgins as their usual top-15 selves against the Browns’ 27th-ranked scoring defense.

Expert Injury Analysis: I expect no limitations for Higgins in Week 14.

Steelers WR Diontae Johnson (hip, questionable): At least he managed to get in a limited practice on Friday after being downgraded to a DNP on Thursday. Sadly, Johnson has zero top-24 finishes this season after regularly ripping off those sorts of performances in 2019 (four), 2020 (seven) and 2021 (12) alike. George Pickens has managed to finish inside the position’s top-24 options on four separate occasions this season but also has seven games with a finish outside of the week’s top-50 wide receivers. This Ravens secondary isn’t exactly a unit to overly fear, but the same thing can be said for this Steelers passing game. Rookie Kenny Pickett has shown some improvement in recent weeks against a softer schedule. That said, the Ravens-Steelers matchup presently boasts a week-low 37-point game total. Don’t feel like you need to start anybody involved with the Steelers’ 28th-ranked scoring offense.

Expert Injury Analysis: Johnson is trending up following his DNP with a limited session. I expect him to be a game-time decision but I am optimistic he gives it a go.

Kansas City Chiefs WR Kadarius Toney (hamstring, questionable): Toney is shaping up as a true game-time decision and probably shouldn’t be trusted to carry a full-time workload in his first game back from injury. JuJu Smith-Schuster has been the only pass-catcher other than Travis Kelce to establish any sort of consistent high-end fantasy production. Expect better days ahead for the same man that peeled off PPR WR7, WR4 and WR8 finishes in three games prior to being concussed back in Week 10.

Expert Injury Analysis: I am optimistic Toney returns from his hamstring injury in Week 14. I expect him to be eased back into things.

Houston Texans WR Brandin Cooks (calf, out), Nico Collins (foot, out): The Texans are implied to score a week-low 14.5 points, so it’s probably not a bad thing if your starting fantasy lineup doesn’t have anybody from this sad excuse for an NFL team in it. Phillip Dorsett profiles as the lead wide receiver with both Cooks and Collins sidelined, but even then, he’s nothing more than a low-floor WR4 option.

Expert Injury Analysis: Cooks and Collins will miss Week 14 but I do expect them back in the next week or two.

Jacksonville Jaguars WR Zay Jones (chest, questionable): He is tentatively expected to suit up Sunday after practicing in a limited fashion all week. Both Christian Kirk and Jones are in play ahead of this winnable matchup. Kirk (14.3 expected PPR points per game, WR19) and Jones (14.1, WR20) have surprisingly had nearly identical usage, but the former (15.6, WR15) has been far better than the latter (11.4, WR40) at converting his opportunities into actual fantasy points.

Expert Injury Analysis: I am optimistic Jones plays in Week 14 with his chest injury.

Broncos WR Courtland Sutton (hamstring, out), Jerry Jeudy (ankle, not listed): There hasn’t been much – any? – good from the league’s 32nd-ranked scoring offense, but at least Jeudy is the last man standing in this injury-riddled wide receiver room. Fire him up as a low-ceiling WR3 option against the Chiefs’ 28th-ranked defense in PPR points per game allowed to the position.

Expert Injury Analysis: Sutton will miss Week 14 with a hamstring injury, return-to-play timeline for a Grade 1 strain is typically one to three weeks.  Jeudy will make his return from his ankle injury but I expect him to be eased back in.

Titans WR Treylon Burks (concussion, out): Don’t be surprised if there’s less pass-game production than ever ahead of a stretch run tailor-made for Derrick Henry to feast against the Jaguars, Chargers and Texans over the next three weeks. Rookie TE Chigoziem Okonkwo is an intriguing low-cost DFS punt and deeper-league flyer at the position; otherwise, try to avoid having much exposure to any of the pass-catchers involved in the league’s third-most run-heavy offense in non-garbage time situations.

Expert Injury Analysis: Burks suffered a brutal head injury last week. He will miss Week 14 but I expect him to be ready for Week 15.

New York Jets WR Corey Davis (illness, not listed): Ultimately, Garrett Wilson has 22 targets over the past two weeks with Mike White under center, and Davis is the only other pass-catcher in the double-digits (12). Fire up the potential offensive rookie of the year as a legit top-20 option at the position thanks to his blend of elite volume and playmaking ability while Davis is more of a low-end WR4 than anything against the Bills’ 10th-ranked defense in team PFF coverage grade.

Expert Injury Analysis: No concerns for Davis in Week 14.

Patriots WR Jakobi Meyers (concussion): Expect DeVante Parker, Nelson Agholor, Kendrick Bourne and Tyquan Thornton to rotate as the offense’s top-four receivers, with Parker being the only one seeing a true full-time role. Mac Jones and the Patriots’ 20th-ranked scoring offense don’t exactly represent the most pristine offensive environment to target, but TE Hunter Henry deserves top-10 treatment this week thanks to his combination of 1.) a great matchup against the Cardinals’ league-worst defense in PPR points per game allowed to opposing tight ends, and 2.) increased volume with Meyers potentially sidelined.

Expert Injury Analysis: Meyers has been a DNP all week and I expect him to miss Week 14 with a concussion.


Tight end

Browns TE David Njoku (knee, not listed): Seems far closer to 100% after not suiting up in Week 13. Njoku has been a consistent TE1 in fantasy land when healthy enough to suit up with Jacoby Brissett under center. He could very well have an even higher untapped ceiling that will hopefully be shown down the stretch with Deshaun Watson under center. Njoku is a legit top-eight option at the position this week with a whopping six teams on bye.

Expert Injury Analysis: I expect Njoku to return in Week 14 with no limitations.

Bengals TE Hayden Hurst (calf, out): Mitchell Wilcox (64% route rate) worked ahead of Devin Asiasi (19%) as a pass-catcher with Hurst last week. Neither are recommended fantasy options with Joe Burrow likely to simply focus more of this attention on the team’s plenty-viable wide receivers and running backs.

Expert Injury Analysis: Hurst will miss Week 14 with a calf injury, return-to-play timeline is typically one to three weeks.


Other

Chargers S Derwin James (quad, doubtful): The Chargers run defense has already been a complete liability without DL Joey Bosa (groin, IR)). James' absence could render the group as one of the league’s worst units ahead of Sunday night’s likely shootout with the Dolphins.

49ers DL Nick Bosa (hamstring, questionable): Bosa’s hamstring injury is being called “legit” ahead of the team’s matchup against the Buccaneers. The absence of arguably the defensive player of the year would certainly be good news for Tom Brady and company.

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