Monitoring players' injury status is crucial to fantasy football — from draft preparation to in-season roster moves, sit/start decisions and DFS plays. In this week's injury report cheat sheet, I'll comb through the official injury reports for each game and offer updates and analysis for not just fantasy-relevant players, but for all players whose availability could influence another player’s fantasy rankings.
Injuries matter, folks.
PHILIP RIVERS, INDIANAPOLIS COLTS ($5,900)
Rivers was the headline of my waiver wire article piece this week, but fantasy managers should look for potential pivot options because left tackle Anthony Castonzo isn’t going to play. He is crucial to the success of the team’s offense.
Per Landry Locker, who retrieved these stat points from Colts reporter Kevin Bowen, Indy is 2-11 when Castonzo doesn’t play, averaging just 19 points per game. The team has only scored on 30% of its drives this season without Castonzo versus 46% with him.
The stud left tackle was also available on both of the Colts' first two scoring drives last week. Following his injury, the Colts didn’t score on their next seven drives, and the most yards they gained was 15.
Castonzo has missed only one full game this year (Week 5 versus Cleveland), and that game was a disaster for Rivers and company. The Browns are hardly a tough matchup yet Rivers threw for 243 scoreless yards and two interceptions.
Jonathan Taylor ($5,700) was fine (12 carries, 57 yards, one touchdown) but might not have GPP-winning upside should Castonzo be ruled out.
TAYSOM HILL, NEW ORLEANS SAINTS ($6,300)
Taysom Hill is a fine starting option in traditional leagues because of his rushing upside, but he won’t be a player I target in DFS.
We have so many quarterbacks available this week. Hill's ugly passing performance last week (41.3 PFF passing grade) coincided with the absence of stud left tackle Terron Armstead — that's enough for me to look for other options. Armstead is still on the COVID/reserve list and is doubtful for Sunday.
COLT MCCOY, NEW YORK GIANTS ($4,800)
I don’t expect Daniel Jones to play this week, so the New York Giants will be forced to start McCoy. His price in DFS is enticing considering that the Seahawks’ improvement on defense over the past four weeks ties directly with their addition of pass-rusher Carlos Dunlap.
In four games with Seattle, he has compiled a league-leading six sacks and forced more pressures than any other Seahawk. Dunlap has missed practices this week — his loss would make it much easier for the Giants to stick around, which makes the Seattle players more desirable to target because their offense might not have the luxury of just sitting on the ball if McCoy has all day to throw.
Per Ryan McDowell, Seattle has given up a league-high 10 WR1 games this year, but none in their past four games. That timeline matches up with when Dunlap showed up in Seattle.
If 2020 has taught me anything, it's never bury WRs after they put up a goose-egg, so right back to Darius Slayton ($4,600) in DFS and his 14.7 aDOT that ranks sixth among players with 65 targets.
DALVIN COOK, MINNESOTA VIKINGS ($9,500)
Dalvin Cook tweaked his ankle in last week’s game but should be full-go for Sunday. His limited practices are just the team’s way of limiting his reps so he can be firing on all cylinders come game day. He needs to be priority in DFS lineups as a core player to build around. Cook is PFF’s No. 1-ranked running back this week.
NICK CHUBB, CLEVELAND BROWNS ($7,700)
The Titans' best defensive player against the run, Jeffery Simmons (88.7 overall grade), is questionable for Week 13. If he doesn’t play, Chubb might rush for 200 yards and put up a Derrick Henry from Week 12 type of performance. Get Chubb into those DFS lineups.
AARON JONES, GREEN BAY PACKERS ($7,200)
Packers starting center Corey Linsley isn’t going to play, and that hurts the Green Bay run game. He is the team’s highest-graded run-blocker — in a bad matchup, Aaron Jones ($7,200) is not a priority target for me in DFS.
DEVONTAE BOOKER, LAS VEGAS RAIDERS ($5,500)
Josh Jacobs is out for Week 13. With him inactive, Booker will see the majority of snaps on early-downs — so far this season, he has performed well on the ground. Booker has rushed for 5.5 yards per attempt (third in the league), 3.17 yards after contact per attempt (16th) and ranks third in PFF’s breakaway percentage metric (43.6%).
In seasonal leagues, Booker is a solid RB2, but don’t just plug him into lineups over more established running backs or go crazy for him in DFS. That’s because Jalen Richard will also be returning to the lineup after a two-week hiatus. He is going to see work in the passing game, and that hurts Booker’s ceiling in a bad matchup.
The Jets are the quintessential “pass funnel” defense — they own PFF’s fourth-highest graded run defense (7.54) but also bear the 31st-ranked coverage unit (35.9).
D’ANDRE SWIFT, DETRIOT LIONS ($6,500)
I highlighted D’Andre Swift as a strong play in my Week 13 rankings overview, but his current injury needs to be discussed. He was cleared from the concussion protocol but seems to still be feeling lingering effects from the brain injury. This is obviously a tricky subject to navigate, but if the team is overly worried about him he probably won't suit up.
The team just fired its coach, is sitting at 3-7 and interim head coach Darrell Bevell probably wants to show out on offense to be held in high regard for the head coaching gig next year.
But with the recent news that coming that Swift will only have a limited role — this from the coach who calls the plays — it has to be an avoid situation for me.
The Bears defense could be without interior defensive lineman Akiem Hicks for a second-straight week. Without him in Week 12, the defense gave up seven rushes of 10-plus yards and 5.5 yards per attempt.
If Hicks doesn’t go, I’d feel much better about Peterson ($4,900). Peterson rushed for a season-high 93 yards versus the Bears back in Week 1 and has the goal-line work seemingly locked down.
MYLES GASKIN, MIAMI DOLPHINS ($5,900)
The Dolphins’ RB backfield is just filled with injuries. Salvon Ahmed and Matt Breida (COVID/reserve list) both didn’t practice Friday, leaving the backfield between Myles Gaskin and DeAndre Washington. If Gaskin is activated, I am supremely confident playing him with no workload concerns.
Miami has run a one-back system almost all season, so I fully expect them to go right back to Gaskin in a plus-matchup versus the Bengals, who have allowed over 5.0 yards per carry to RBs this season.
But if for some reason Gaskin can’t go and Washington ($4,000) is active, I think that he would be the free-square play among running backs. He played a 47% snap share and compiled 15 total touches, playing ahead of Breida.
DAVID MONTGOMERY, CHICAGO BEARS ($5,500)
The Detroit Lions’ run defense has been awful all season as they have allowed the most fantasy points to the position in 2020. They placed nose tackle Danny Shelton on IR this week — he has played the most snaps for their defensive line this season. In theory, this should be a “smash spot” for Montgomery, but we have seen Monty dud out in solid matchups before.
Still, at his price he is a fine play in DFS because it’s hard to find running backs in that tier who see the touches he does. All five of his career 20-plus DraftKings fantasy points performances — including two this year — have come with Mitchell Trubisky under center.
CHRIS CARSON, SEATTLE SEAHAWKS ($6,300)
Chris Carson has been limited in practice throughout the week, but that’s more than what Carlos Hyde has been doing — he hasn't participated in practice at all. Hyde played the majority of snaps (41 vs 25) on Monday night, but considering Hyde isn’t practicing, I expect Carson to reclaim the lead on this backfield.
After all, he was much more impressive as a rusher — on his eight carries, he compiled more yards (41) than Hyde (22).
Carson’s ability as receiver also gets undersold. His target rate on routes run (23%) ranks second on the team, and he is heavily involved in the passing game on early downs. Ninety-seven percent of Carson’s targets this season have come on early downs — the Giants have allowed the fourth-most targets to RBs on early-downs this season. Fire up the Russell Wilson to Carson stacks.
KENYAN DRAKE, ARIZONA CARDINALS ($5,700)
Drake has been getting fed in the Cardinals’ offense over the past three weeks. He could see more success on the ground should the Rams be without a key defender in Sebastian Joseph-Day — the team's second-highest graded run defender (75.9) and team leader in run stop percentage (13.9%). Terrell Lewis is also banged up — he is the team’s third-highest graded run defender (68.3).
Lewis missed the first four weeks of the season. During that span, the Rams ranked 28th in yards per attempt allowed (5.0), 27th in explosive run percentage allowed (15.4%) and 28th in rushing yards before contact (1.9).
L.A. has only allowed three running backs to score more than 15 fantasy points. They faced those running backs Weeks 1-3 when Lewis was not in the lineup.
Chase Edmonds ($4,900) might also be able to provide some FLEX appeal for desperate fantasy managers, as he had three catches in the slot last week with Larry Fitzgerald on the COVID/reserve list. The Rams rams 30th in receiving yards allowed after the catch per reception (5.4) to pass-catchers from the slot.
DAVID JOHNSON, HOUSTON TEXANS ($5,400)
David Johnson should reclaim his role as the team’s lead back in Week 13 because he is on track to come off IR. He can’t be viewed as anything more than a RB2 — that’s what his production was pre-injury — and expectations should be tempered versus the Indianapolis Colts with DeForest Buckner back from the COVID/reserve list.
Duke Johnson Jr. ($5,800) is still going to have a role as a receiver, so this is backfield to avoid in DFS.
DAMIEN HARRIS, NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS ($5,200)
Damien Harris was listed as “start” in the Week 13 start em' or sit em' column, and that designation is further cemented with the news that Chargers linebacker Denzel Perryman didn’t practice Friday. Perryman is PFF’s second-highest graded linebacker in run defense (87.3) this season.
Cam Newton has also been dealing with an abdomen injury. Like we've seen in Arizona with Kyler Murray, that could limit Cam’s rushing attempts. At the same time, it could also boost Harris’ total workload and perhaps get him more involved in the passing game, as Drake has been in Arizona.
LE’VEON BELL, KANSAS CITY CHIEFS ($4,400)
Clyde Edwards-Helaire missed practice the last two days with a stomach illness, so fantasy managers need to keep tabs on Le’Veon Bell. He would be slated to take the majority of early-down work, and that workload could turn into a solid fantasy outing.
As such heavy home favorites (14 points) Chiefs RBs should see some solid run against an extremely pitiful Broncos defense that has allowed the second-most rushing yards and fantasy points to RBs over the past four weeks.
MELVIN GORDON III, DENVER BRONCOS ($5,100)
Even if Phillip Lindsay is active in this game, it won’t change my stance on starting Melvin Gordon III. Though Gordon has not been involved in the passing game lately, he still owns that role and will surely be peppered with check-downs as the Broncos try to crawl their way back while trailing.
The Chiefs have allowed the fifth-most receptions and yards to running backs over the past four weeks — that’s why they've allowed the third-most fantasy points to RBs in that same time span.
ANTONIO GIBSON, WASHINGTON FOOTBALL TEAM ($6,800)
The matchup versus the Steelers looks tough, but with all the injuries this defense has sustained in recent weeks, it’s now not so scary. Specifically, the loss of Stephon Tuitt across the defensive line could be a big boost for the Washington run game. He leads the team in stopped runs (19).
Stay tuned to whether or not he is activated off the COVID/reserve list before Monday.
TEVIN COLEMAN, SAN FRANCISO 49ERS ($4,400)
Coleman almost always works ahead of Jeff Wilson Jr., so it’s not outlandish to see him flirt with double-digit carries in a plus-matchup for the Bills based on Wilson seeing 12 carries last week. But he’s nothing more than a Hail Mary play — despite his coach’s affinity for him, Raheem Mostert is still the clear lead back.
DEVANTE PARKER, MIAMI DOLPHINS ($6,400)
It’s looking more and more likely that Ryan Fitzpatrick is going to start — that makes DeVante Parker a priority for me in DFS lineups. He has a 40% target share with Fitzmagic under center, and the Bengals have not been able to stop any WRs over the past four weeks, allowing the fourth-most fantasy points to the position over that time span. PFF’s Jarad Evans is also on board the Parker-hype train.
A.J. BROWN, TENNESSE TITANS ($7,600)
COREY DAVIS, TENNESSE TITANS ($5,100)
ADAM HUMPHRIES, TENNESSE TITANS ($3,200)
Cleveland Browns top cornerback Denzel Ward and highest-graded safety Ronnie Harrison (72.7) are out. Mike Glennon threw all over this team without Ward last week, and backup safety Karl Joseph has been atrocious in coverage this season.
He and fellow safety Andrew Sendejo have allowed 10 passing touchdowns combined this season, which is the most for any safety duo in the league. The Titans passing game should be in for an efficient outing.
Also, don’t overlook the fact that Humphries has been cleared and the Browns have been one of the worst teams versus slot wide receivers. They have faced the second-most targets and allowed the fourth-most catches to pass-catchers from the slot.
DENZEL MIMS, NEW YORK JETS ($4,100)
The Las Vegas Raiders have allowed the fourth-most catches to WRs over the past four weeks, and their current injury report doesn’t make it likely they'll improve in Week 13. Starting safety Jonathan Abram and cornerbacks Damon Arnette and Isaiah Johnson have been limited or missed practices — their absences could open up the passing game for Sam Darnold.
Arnette is the starting RCB, with Johnson being his direct backup. Johnson earned a 30.1 PFF coverage grade last week filling in after Arnette was forced out of action.
Nevin Lawson could also be a candidate to see snaps at right cornerback after he filled in a slot CB the last two weeks because normal slot cornerback LaMarcus Joyner was placed on the COVID/reserve list. It’s unclear whether Joyner will rejoin the lineup, but his presence dampens Jamison Crowder’s already depressed outlook, as he's the Raiders’ best corner inside.
Lawson owns a PFF coverage grade of 27.5 on 15-plus pass attempts in his coverage, so it's wheels up for Mims, who ranks seventh in air yards share over the past two weeks. PFF’s WR/CB matchup chart projects Mims to line up at RWR, but over the past two weeks — playing alongside Breshad Perriman — Mims has played more LWR.
He also has eight targets lined up on the left side versus Perriman’s two targets.
CALVIN RIDLEY, ATLANTA FALCONS ($7,200)
Julio Jones was downgraded to a DNP status on Thursday, so it’s looking shaky at best he suits up this week. I have voiced my opinion about this game as a stay-away without Jones playing because both teams' offensive production is likely going to stall.
Still, Ridley can’t be entirely ignored because he averaged over nine targets per game and has three 90-yard-plus performances this season without a healthy Jones. The Saints’ highest-graded cornerback, Janoris Jenkins, (76.9) is also out with a knee injury.
Olamide Zaccheaus was also placed on IR this week, which should immediately slot Christian Blake ($3,000) into the starting role on the outside opposite Ridley without Jones. In his one start versus the Saints last season, he commanded nine targets and compiled six catches for 57 yards — good for 11.7 fantasy points. His expected fantasy points in that matchup were 16.2.
D.J. CHARK, JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS ($5,400)
D.J. Chark Jr. has been priced down to 5.4K on DraftKings because of his injury. But the third-year wideout has an interesting track record coming off rest weeks — he has four games with 95-plus yards after not playing the previous week.
Chark is expected to play, but Keelan Cole ($3,800) still remains an intriguing pay-down option among WRs based on his high-value targets in Week 12. The Vikings have allowed the most touchdowns this season to slot WRs, so we might see Cole find paydirt in Week 13.
TIM PATRICK, DENVER BRONCOS ($4,200)
Jerry Jeudy is dealing with an ankle injury, which could be the reason behind his recent lackluster play. My Broncos wide receiver of choice this week would be Tim Patrick — he leads the Broncos and ranks fifth in the NFL in catches of 20 yards or more this season. Patrick is my highest ranked Broncos’ wide receiver for Week 13.
ANTHONY MILLER, CHICAGO BEARS ($3,100)
Miller’s best game of the season came in Week 1 versus the Lions when he caught four passes for 76 yards and a touchdown. He has two 120-plus-yard games versus Detroit in his short three-year career, and I expect more targets to come his way if Darnell Mooney can’t play on Sunday. Mooney missed practice on Friday, which is usually a tall-tale sign he will be a no-go for game day.
SAMMY WATKINS, KANSAS CITY CHIEFS ($4,800)
MECOLE HARDMAN, KANSAS CITY CHIEFS ($3,400)
Sammy Watkins led the team in snaps (61%) and Mecole Hardman saw four of his five targets from the slot in Week 12. This alignment is important because the Broncos will be without stud slot cornerback Bryce Callahan (IR), essentially erasing any hope Denver had of slowing down the Chiefs passing attack.
Tyreek Hill obviously plays a large role from the slot as well, so he is likely to benefit the most, but look to pay down with Watkins and Hardman for cheaper DFS options. Watkins brings a safer floor and Hardman brings the boom potential from the slot.
DARREN WALLER, LAS VEGAS RAIDERS ($6,100)
Nelson Agholor has not practiced this week (ankle) — his absence would likely be a huge boost for Henry Ruggs III ($4,500). In Week 12, the rookie saw his most targets since Week 1 and saw two targets inside the 10-yard line.
But an underlying winner of an Agholor inactive is Darren Waller, who could flirt with 10-plus targets without the Raiders’ leading WR in the lineup. In the three games Waller has seen double-digit targets this season, Agholor has averaged fewer than three targets per game. New York gives up the sixth-most fantasy points to the TE position.
DALLAS GOEDERT, PHILADELPHIA EAGLES ($4,300)
Zach Ertz ($3,900) should make his return this week, but that should not shy fantasy managers away from using Goedert. We have seen both Goedert and Richard Rodgers be plenty involved in the offense in recent weeks.
Also, two of Goedert’s best games of the season came with Ertz in the lineup Weeks 1-2. If anything, I would be wary to go back to Ertz in DFS — he is no longer the TE1 in that offense.
KYLE RUDOLPH, MINNESOTA VIKINGS ($3,400)
Three straight DNPs for Irv Smith Jr. means Christmas is coming early for fantasy managers scrambling to find a tight end of consequence.
Kyle Rudolph had seven catches for 68 receiving yards on seven targets in Week 12, and there’s a chance for successful repeat performance in the form of touchdowns.
Jacksonville is tied with two other teams for the most touchdowns allowed to tight ends this season.
Outside of Jordan Akins ($2,900), Rudolph is the next-best punt option at tight end on DraftKings.
ANTHONY FIRSKER, TENNESSE TITANS ($2,500)
Firsker is the stone-min on DraftKings this week and could be the team’s No. 1 tight end with Jonnu Smith ruled out for Week 13. Firsker has five catches on seven targets over the past three weeks and had a huge game back in Week 6 (8-113-1) when Smith got hurt.
The Browns have also been terrible versus TEs this season, which is why I listed Smith as a “start” in the Week 13 start em’ or sit em’.
LAS VEGAS RAIDERS ($3,400)
Clelin Ferrell should be making his return off the COVID/reserve list this week to boost a Raiders defense that has allowed 36 points per game in two games without him. He ranks second on the team in total pressures and is the Raiders’ highest-graded run defender (79.4). Ergo, this probably isn’t a ceiling game for Frank Gore ($4,400).