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.
MATT RYAN, ATLANTA FALCONS ($5,700)
Matt Ryan was a player I was showing keen interest in as a solid tournament play this week assuming that Julio Jones would be at his disposal in a plus-matchup. That’s why I listed him as a “start” in my Week 14 edition of start em’ or sit em’ — but consider that recommendation canceled.
In games without a fully healthy Julio this season, Ryan has averaged 11 fantasy points per game.
I’d also temper expectations on Hayden Hurst, who I also liked a lot in this matchup before the Jones news broke. This offense stalls as a whole when Jones doesn’t play. Hurst has averaged just 5.5 fantasy points per game with Jones sidelined.
DANIEL JONES, NEW YORK GIANTS ($5,500)
Coming off a hamstring injury, there should be some concern that Daniel Jones may not elect to the run ball as often, which hurts his fantasy ceiling. Fewer rushing attempts could lead to more passes, elevating the production for tight end Evan Engram ($4,300) and wide receiver Darius Slayton ($4,200).
The last time we saw Engram with Jones under center he commanded nine targets with an aDOT of 12.6. That mark more than doubled his seasonal average (6.1). Slayton also nearly hauled in a long touchdown with Jones back in Week 12, so he can also provide upside at a low price point.
The Cardinals have allowed the second-most catches to WRs over the past four weeks.
Jones also leads the league in passer rating (143.1) on passes of 20 yards or more this season, so expect him to hit on a few in Week 14.
TEDDY BRIDGEWATER, CAROLINA PANTHERS ($5,800)
It’s tough to press the lock-button on Teddy Bridgewater this week in DFS without D.J. Moore and Christian McCaffrey. Bridgewater only has two games this season with 24-plus fantasy points, so he can’t be viewed as anything more than safe QB2 play because of the plus-matchup.
RUSSELL WILSON, SEATTLE SEAHAWKS ($7,900)
Seahawks starting right tackle Brandon Shell looks to be making his return to the lineup this week, and it could not come at a better time. Shell is the second-highest graded tackle on the team (79.3). Without him, Russell Wilson has been under consistent pressure.
Wilson has faced the fifth-most dropbacks with pressure in Snell’s two missed games this season.
JOSH ALLEN, BUFFALO BILLS ($7,100)
Start Josh Allen this week. Yes, even against the “scary” Pittsburgh Steelers. That’s because their defense is banged up. Cornerback Joe Haden is out with a concussion, and the Steelers are extremely thin at linebacker/defensive end after losing Bud Dupree, Robert Spillane and Vince Williams in back-to-back weeks.
Haden owns the team’s best passer rating when targeted (72.0), and that trio of linebackers ranks second, third and fourth in pressures among the team’s linebackers and defensive ends.
Without Dupree for the first time last week, Alex Smith nearly threw for 300 passing yards.
DALVIN COOK, MINNESOTA VIKINGS ($9,400)
I’ve been hearing concerns throughout the Twittersphere about Dalvin Cook against the Buccaneers’ stout run defense this week. But with no Alexander Mattison, I don’t see how Cook isn’t seeing 20-plus touches.
Worried fantasy managers and DFS players also can’t overlook the fact that Cook is heavily relied on in the passing game. The Buccaneers have allowed the second-most receptions to RBs this season.
Also note that one of the Buccaneers’ primer run-stuffers, Steve McLendon, has been limited in practice all week. He replaced Vita Vea after the latters injury and owns the team’s highest run grade (72.0) among interior defensive linemen.
RONALD JONES II, TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS ($6,100)
Linebacker Eric Kendricks has been ruled out for the Minnesota Vikings — Week 14 will be his second consecutive missed game. Minnesota allowed 23.5 fantasy points to James Robinson without him last week.
He is their highest-graded defensive player (82.6) regardless of position.
D’ANDRE SWIFT, DETROIT LIONS ($6,500)
The Lions coaching staff expects D’Andre Swift to return to the lineup. The biggest question for fantasy players is about his workload. Lions beat reporter Tim Twentyman says this week differs from last week when interim head coach Darrell Bevell explicitly stated that Swift would have a limited role.
The rookie has been practicing all week and won’t be as limited as he would have been last week, per Twentyman. That’s enough justification for me to fire him up in GPPs as the perfect bring-back option in Green Bay stacks.
The Packers have allowed the third-most fantasy points and second-most receiving yards to RBs this season. With the Lions likely chasing points, they will have no choice but to unleash Swift to keep pace with an Aaron Rodgers-led aerial assault.
MIKE DAVIS, CAROLINA PANTHERS ($6,400)
Just when fantasy managers thought it was safe to finally put Christian McCaffrey back in the starting lineup, he gets hurt…AGAIN. At this point, it’s hard to imagine Carolina not shutting down CMC altogether. In the meantime, fantasy gamers can feel good about playing Davis in Week 14.
Davis has averaged 19.5 touches and a 66% snap share in the team’s last two games and gets a plus matchup this week versus an extremely beatable Denver run defense. They have allowed the third-most rushing yards (4.8 yards per attempt) over the past four weeks.
And even with the return of stud interior defensive linemen Shelby Harris (90.0 PFF grade), the Broncos allowed 55 yards on nine carries with him on the field (6.1 yards per attempt).
Just keep in mind that Davis hasn’t scored more than 16 DraftKings fantasy points since Week 5, so a true GPP-winning ceiling might be unlikely. He might be best suited for just RB2 status in traditional leagues.
MELVIN GORDON III, DENVER BRONCOS ($5,200)
The Carolina Panthers are dealing with a plethora of COVID issues coming out of their bye week, but one lesser-known player involved is defensive linemen Zach Kerr. He is the team’s highest-graded run-defender (76.2).
Carolina already owns PFF’s 27th-ranked run-defense, and they have allowed the seventh-most fantasy points to RBs with Kerr, so it should be a productive day for Melvin Gordon III.
In Gordon’s last two games that didn't involve a practice-squad WR at quarterback, he has averaged 15 carries and 17.8 fantasy points per game.
EZEKIEL ELLIOTT, DALLAS COWBOYS ($6,600)
Elliott has seen less than a 65% snap share over his last two games, and his most recent calf injury has me concerned. That’s because Zeke’s recent injuries are leading to Tony Pollard seeing more and more snaps.
Pollard has had season-highs in snaps played in each of the past two weeks.
Needless to say, Elliott is just not worth his price tag despite the great matchup when DFS players could pay $100 less for David Montgomery. Not to mention that stud lineman Zack Martin is on IR and their next-best tackle, Cam Erving, is trending doubtful.
KENYAN DRAKE, ARIZONA CARDINALS ($5,500)
Giants linebacker Blake Martinez is questionable for Sunday’s action, and his loss would surely be felt by the defense. He ranks second in the NFL in tackles (88) and is the team’s second-highest graded run defender (77.1) among the front seven.
Managers on the fence about Kenyan Drake can let Martinez’s final status sway their decision.
GIOVANI BERNARD, Cincinnati Bengals ($5,000)
Cowboys safety Donovan Wilson ranks second on the team in tackles over the past four weeks, so his absence could further open up chunk rushing plays for the Bengals. Fantasy managers are worried about the absence of Bengals left tackle Jonah Williams, but that’s hardly worth the concern.
The Bengals were without Williams Back in Week 8 versus the Titans — among other starters across the OL — and Bernard still scored 23 fantasy points.
MYLES GASKIN, MIAMI DOLPHINS ($5,600)
I talked up Gaskin big-time as a prime candidate to produce big fantasy numbers this week in my high-value opportunities article for Week 14.
DUKE JOHNSON JR., HOUSTON TEXANS ($4,900)
David Johnson might not make the trip to Chicago due to a personal issue that forced him to miss practice. This would lead to Duke Johnson Jr. being slotted back into the workhorse role that he commanded while David was on IR.
DEVONTAE BOOKER, LAS VEGAS RAIDERS ($5,300)
Devontae Booker was a massive bust for fantasy managers who were forced to play him with Josh Jacobs inactive in Week 13. Jacobs’ status is up in the air for Sunday, so Booker is probably going to be the starter for a second straight week.
He is hardly a player I would target in DFS because the Colts’ run defense is a wall with DeForest Buckner, but in traditional formats he should be viewed as a low-end RB2. He has 17 total touches in Week 13 and under-performed in fantasy points versus expectation.
Booker has a solid chance to find the end zone, considering the Colts have allowed the sixth-most rushing touchdowns from inside the 10-yard line.
The Raiders’ running game could see a massive boost with the return of tackle Trent Brown, who has played just two games this season. In his two starts, Jacobs has scored five touchdowns and rushed for 170 yards.
TY JOHNSON, NEW YORK JETS ($4,700)
Fantasy managers could do worse than turning to running back Ty Johnson, who rushed for 104 yards on 22 carries for the Jets in Week 13. Frank Gore is still in the concussion protocol, so Johnson could offer some sneaky fantasy value against the Seattle Seahawks — they've allowed the fifth-most fantasy points to RBs over the past four weeks.
Running backs with a pass-catching profile, 4.45-second 40-yard dash speed and a chance to flirt with 20-plus touches are hard to rank outside the top-30 RBs.
On the season, Seattle has allowed the fourth-most receptions to running backs, and Johnson already has a game this season with six targets under his belt. That performance was back in Week 11 when New York fell behind the Chargers 24-6.
The Seahawks are favored by nearly two touchdowns at home, so Johnson should see some opportunities as a receiver in a negative game script.
CHRIS CARSON, SEATTLE SEAHAWKS ($6,900)
Chris Carson is operating as the team’s primary runner, but both he and Carlos Hyde don’t seem anywhere near 100%. The team has spoken out about not trying to overload him, and that’s enough for me to jump off in DFS against PFF’s third-highest graded run defense (78.1).
The Jets are a “pass funnel” defense, so target Russ and his wide receivers.
J.D. MCKISSIC, WASHINGTON FOOTBALL TEAM ($4,900)
The most sought after player in DFS this weekend for Washington will surely be J.D. McKissic at $4,900 — he'll be in line for a heavier workload with Antonio Gibson sidelined with turf toe. In McKissic’s last five games, he has seen 10-plus targets three times.
Fantasy managers shouldn’t be concerned about Peyton Barber out-touching McKissic on the ground — those are just empty touches between the 20s. The targets and receptions earn fantasy points in PPR leagues, so that’s what we need to chase.
A negative game script would essentially lock in McKissic’s upside, as the majority of his high-end target games have come in losses. They are currently 3-points dogs on the road this week.
He’s a cash-game lock on DraftKings at just $4.9K. The 49ers rank 29th in yards per target (7.0) and dead-last in explosive pass play percentage (18.5%) to running backs this season.
KAREEM HUNT, CLEVELAND BROWNS ($5,000)
The major factor that can’t be overlooked for Hunt’s fantasy prospects in Week 14 is the potential loss of PFF’s highest-graded guard, Wyatt Teller. The Browns own PFF’s highest team run-blocking grade (85.7) with him on the field. Without him, that run-blocking grade falls to 26th (56.4).
Teller was placed on the Reserve/COVID-19 list earlier this week, so fantasy managers should be looking to fade the Browns’ offense if he can’t play.
ROBBY ANDERSON, CAROLINA PANTHERS ($6,200)
CURTIS SAMUEL, CAROLINA PANTHERS ($5,200)
D.J. Moore was placed on the Reserve/COVID-19 list to start this week and will not play in Sunday’s game. Without him, expect Robby Anderson to become extremely popular in DFS at $6,200 in a matchup that favors the Panthers’ pseudo-No. 1.
Curtis Samuel was activated off the Reserve/COVID-19 list on Friday, so he have a role in the game plan despite missing practice. Samuel has been averaging 17.3 fantasy points per game since Week 8.
We have seen the Broncos play two games without stud cornerback Bryce Callahan this season. They have allowed over 177 yards per game and an extremely high deep-ball pass rate (28.2%).
Denver will also be without recently suspended cornerback A.J. Bouye and injured slot-man Essang Bassey, so it’s easy to see why Anderson is projected to be the fourth-highest owned receiver on the main slate. I expect Samuel’s ownership to rise as well.
The Broncos’ banged-up secondary and Moore's absence also creates a trickle-down effect for Brandon Zylstra ($3,000). who figures to line up opposite Anderson on the outside.
Zylstra filled in for injured Moore in Week 17 of the 2019 season and posted six catches for 96 yards on eight targets (13.6 aDOT). He’s chalking up to be the Week 14 version of Houston’s Chad Hansen from Week 13.
COREY DAVIS, TENNESSEE TITANS ($5,700)
A.J. Brown was out-shined by Corey Davis in Week 13, and we could see a repeat performance here in Week 14. I say this because the Jaguars might return cornerback Sidney Jones, who is by far their highest-graded cornerback this season (77.3 PFF coverage grade).
He lines up primarily at RCB, so that would have him matchup with Brown, per PFF’s WR/CB matchup chart. That also means Davis would face the likes of Tre Herndon or Luq Barcoo at LCB, which can only lead to more fantasy production.
Herndon has allowed the most yardage of any Jags DB this season and Barcoo has allowed a 143.3 passer rating in coverage.
KEKE COUTEE, HOUSTON TEXANS ($5,000)
Brandin Cooks is dealing with a neck/toe injury from Week 13 and is questionable for Week 14’s contest versus the Chicago Bears. If Cooks were to be out, Keke Coutee’s ownership would skyrocket — it currently sits at a shocking sub-4%.
In cash games, Coutee would be hard to pass up on, but in GPPs he would probably be a solid fade. Expecting him to go from the No. 4 WR all the way to the No. 1 option in just three weeks is probably too much to expect from a slot receiver who occasionally goes downfield.
If anything, I would be all over tight end Jordan Akins ($2,900), who trails only Coutee and Cooks in routes run over the past two weeks. The Bears also present a much better matchup for the lumbering Texan — they have allowed the third-most fantasy points to TEs this season.
Assuming Cooks does play, Coutee should continue to see targets and thrive as the No. 2 from the slot because Bears’ top slot CB Buster Skrine is out with a concussion. Per the Chicago Tribune, this is Skrine’s sixth-documented concussion.
The Bears don’t have another cornerback that has played more than 13 snaps from the slot this season.
CALVIN RIDLEY, ATLANTA FALCONS ($7,500)
Julio Jones has been ruled out of Sunday’s matchup against the Los Angeles Chargers, making Calvin Ridley one of the safest wide receivers available on the main slate. Ridley has averaged over nine targets per game and has three 90-yard-plus performances this season without a healthy Jones.
JUSTIN JEFFERSON, MINNESOTA VIKINGS ($7,400)
Tampa Bay Buccaneers starting cornerback Jamel Dean has been listed as doubtful, which means it could be another big day for rookie sensation Justin Jefferson. Tampa’s secondary — or, more specifically, Carlton Davis — got ripped to shreds by Tyreek Hill without Dean in the lineup, so I’d expect Jefferson to deliver a “boom” fantasy performance.
T.Y. HILTON, INDIANAPOLIS COLTS ($5,100)
Jeff Heath is PFF’s highest-graded safety (77.0) for the Raiders, and Johnathan Abram is one of the league’s worst-graded safeties (38.1). Heath is dealing with a concussion and has been ruled out, which spells disaster for the Raiders’ passing defense.
T.Y. Hilton has been on a hot streak, so go right back to him. The veteran posted season-highs in targets (11), receptions (eight) and yards (110) in Week 13.
D.J. Chark Jr., JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS ($5,400)
COLLIN JOHNSON, JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS ($3,700)
Cornerback Breon Borders is the Titans’ highest-graded cornerback this season (71.0) and has been ruled out for Sunday’s game. Tye Smith will start in his place — he has posted an abysmal 33.7 PFF coverage grade on 12 targets this season. Get ready for the Mike Glennon air show.
BRESHAD PERRIMAN, NEW YORK JETS ($3,900)
In the games Mims missed earlier this season, Crowder averaged 11.5 targets. In those same games, Perriman averaged five targets and had two games with less than 18 receiving yards.
Keep in mind that Crowder missed practice Friday, so if Perriman is probably a safe bet if he's the only show in town. Braxton Berrios would also be in play as the team’s fill-in slot WR.
JONNU SMITH, TENNESSEE TITANS ($3,900)
Smith missed Week 13 but looks to be back in action after a one-week hiatus. His presence further muddies a three-man tight end room that can only be viewed as boom-or-bust.
Smith ran 15 routes and saw zero targets in Week 12. He spent 70% of his offensive snaps blocking. Not ideal for fantasy tight ends.
The only way I can see playing a tight end like Smith would be as a leverage play off of Derrick Henry. Henry busted hard the last time the Titans played the Jaguars because Smith siphoned two touchdowns. Should he continue to keep finding the end-zone versus Jacksonville, it would clearly come at the expense of the Big Dog.
IRV SMITH JR., MINNESOTA VIKINGS ($3,100)
Kyle Rudolph is doubtful for Sunday, which pushes ISJ firmly in play as a tight end punt option. Tampa has allowed the 10th-most fantasy points to tight ends this season.
ROBERT TONYAN, GREEN BAY PACKERS ($4,200)
The fact is that Tonyan’s recent spike in production — 10 catches for 106 yards and two touchdowns — has come with Jace Sternberger running just two routes over the past two weeks.
Those two routes both came in Week 12 because Sternberger missed Week 13 altogether. With his status in question for Sunday, my confidence in Tonyan only grows.
ARIZONA CARDINALS ($2,700)
Daniel Jones at quarterback means great things for the Arizona Cardinals’ defense. Jones has been the most pressured quarterback to not play for the Jets this season, and pressure leads to fantasy points for opposing DSTs.
LAS VEGAS RAIDERS ($2,500)
The Raiders generated pressure on a whopping 64% of the Jets’ dropbacks in Week 13. The duo of Clelin Ferrell and Maxx Crosby wreaked havoc on poor Sam Darnold. Ferrell is PFF’s 12th-highest graded edge defender this season.
Next up is a Colts offense that is going to likely be without stud left tackle Anthony Castonzo.