There are plenty of injuries we're keeping track of this week, as you'll see shortly in today's newsletter, but the one we're watching most closely as of Thursday morning is in Los Angeles with the Chargers. Keenan Allen was placed on the COVID list earlier this week following a positive test, and then Wednesday we learned Mike Williams was added to the list as a close contact.
Now, because of the way the rules work, neither player is necessarily out for Week 14. Williams is unvaccinated, which requires a five-day absence as a close contact, but since the contact happened Monday, he could still be clear in time for Sunday's game against the Giants. Assuming he doesn't test positive before then, Williams should be good to go. Allen would need two negative tests at least 24 hours apart to be able to play Sunday.
Given how important Allen and Williams are to so many of your lineups at this time of the year, this is a tough situation to have to deal with, and if you've got lineup decisions to make tonight, you're in kind of an impossible spot. I would start Diontae Johnson and Justin Jefferson over either of them, of course, but someone like Chase Claypool is a tougher one -- I think I would roll the dice with him over Allen or Williams unless I have another similar player I can swap in Sunday. KJ Osborn wouldn't really enter the equation for me.
Those aren't the only tough start/sit decisions you'll have to make, obviously. Dave Richard answered a bunch of your questions for this week in his Starts and Sits, Sleepers and Busts column as he goes through every game on the schedule trying to help you figure out who should be in your lineup. We'll take a look at some of his calls in today's newsletter before getting to all of the injury news you need to know about and a preview of tonight's game.
And, in case you missed it, Jamey Eisenberg's Start 'Em & Sit 'Em column came out yesterday with all of his favorite picks to start and players to avoid. If you still have questions after all that, make sure to subscribe to the Fantasy Football Today YouTube channel and join Adam Aizer, Heath Cummings, and me at 2 p.m. ET today for our start/sit live stream, where we'll be answering as many of your questions as we can for Week 14. And, if you have any other questions, make sure you send them to me at Chris.Towers@ViacomCBS.com with the subject line "#AskFFT" to be included in Sunday morning's mailbag.
Get ready for Week 14 with our other preview content here:
- Week 14 Start 'Em & Sit 'Em: QB | RB | WR
- Week 14 Position Previews: QB | RB | WR | TE
- My Week 14 Rankings: Flex Top 150 | QB | RB | WR | TE
Keep an eye out for tomorrow's newsletter, where I'll preview every game this week, including full injury report updates from around the league. Here's what else today's newsletter will cover:
1️⃣4️⃣Dave Richard's Week 14 Preview
There are the obvious calls, and then there are the ones you need help with. Dave Richard goes through each game to identify the most interesting matchups and biggest lineup dilemmas for Week 14. Here are some of his top picks for this week. You can find the rest of his advice for Week 14 here.
- Devonta Freeman -- "With 15-plus PPR points in three of his past five and at least 11 PPR points in five of his past seven, Freeman is not only entrenched as a quality Fantasy staple but he's also the Ravens' most-utilized running back. There really shouldn't be much debate over whether or not to start Freeman -- unless you're comparing him to other running backs who live in the 15-touch range. To that end, Freeman isn't a slam-dunk. Cleveland's run defense was outstanding in its first game against the Ravens (credit rookie Jeremiah Owusu-Koramorah for stepping up) and chances are Freeman will see the workload we like but not necessarily be efficient with it. That's why he's still a reliable No. 2 Fantasy running back, but one who shouldn't get the nod ahead of other guys with similar workloads."
- Russell Wilson -- "Last week was the best Wilson's looked since coming back from finger surgery. And honestly, it was close to a best-case scenario with the Seahawks throwing 37 times, Wilson completing 81% of his throws and the run game stumbling. So why did he only have 20 Fantasy points? Easy answer: Gerald Everett. Everett had not one but two touchdowns in his grasp from Wilson but batted one pass up in the air for an interception and fumbled a second shovel pass, both from inside the 5-yard line in the second half. While he's an untrustworthy Fantasy tight end (maybe to the benefit of D.K. Metcalf), Wilson clearly did nothing wrong and should still be tasked with leading the offense against a punchless Texans defense. Making matters better is a still-suspect Seahawks run game that won't absolve Wilson from doing work. Besides, Metcalf is due for a big game. Wilson's a must-start."
- Tyler Conklin -- "Conklin saw eight targets from Kirk Cousins last week following Adam Thielen's ankle injury, second-most on the Vikings. He didn't do anything special with them, but the opportunity to continue seeing work in the passing game makes him interesting for Fantasy. And even though he's done well against zone coverage and the Steelers have played the ninth-most zone coverage this season, the matchup is still a huge strike against him. Mark Andrews, Jared Cook and T.J. Hockenson combined for 78 yards on seven catches against the Steelers over the past three weeks. I have a hard time believing Conklin will crush it. At best he's a low-end streaming tight end who you'll hope for a 5-50-0 stat line from.1"
- Derek Carr -- "Carr has 11 or fewer Fantasy points in three of his past five overall and hasn't exceeded 22 Fantasy points since Week 6. The Chiefs pass defense has become one of the best in football, pressuring quarterbacks into mistakes and giving up eight passing touchdowns over its past seven. Carr has a nasty track record at Arrowhead, save for last season when he leaned on two speedsters who are no longer on the team in a mostly empty stadium. You should be able to find a better option than Carr."
- Cam Newton -- "Against Miami, Newton averaged 1.86 seconds to throw, the lowest mark for any offense in any game this season. But the week before against Washington, Newton had 2.7 seconds to throw on average and looked just fine quickly and accurately dispersing the ball. If pressure makes the difference then Newton should be fine against the Falcons, who have held opposing passers to under 2.3 seconds to throw on average just twice this year. Atlanta has also held only three teams to zero passing touchdowns this year. To be fair, one of the games where the Falcons did pressure the quarterback to get rid of the ball quickly and not allow any passing touchdowns was versus Sam Darnold's Panthers in Week 8. By then, Darnold was playing poorly and was ultimately benched. With Christian McCaffrey done for the year and a new voice calling plays, expect the Panthers offense to revolve around Newton. He should find one rushing and one passing score."
- Kyle Pitts -- "Last week, double-teams weren't solely to blame: Pitts saw tighter coverage on two of five Matt Ryan red-zone pass attempts, but he was also kind of open on one other pass and as wide open as a human could be on another. Ryan just didn't look in his direction. A thoughtful Twitter follower suggested Ryan has lost faith in Pitts because he's made mistakes on four Ryan interceptions this year, and that's possible. Maybe that's part of the reason why Russell Gage has led the Falcons in targets for three straight weeks. Another reason: teams aren't worried about getting beat by Gage. Either way, Pitts remains tough to trust, even against a Panthers pass defense that not only did a great job limiting him in Week 8 but has also held receivers and tight ends to five total touchdowns and two 100-yard games in four straight (since the first matchup with Atlanta). It's not the scariest matchup in the world, but Pitts' dwindling upside makes him tough to trust."
- Jamaal Williams -- "I was convinced last week that Williams was going to have a good game, so maybe I'm not the perfect person to listen to on this. I expected Williams to dominate touches for the Lions, which he technically did but still didn't get the heaping volume or valuable targets that was expected against a depleted defense. In total, he played just 48% of the snaps and had one target. There's little reason to believe the Lions will change their approach this week with their running backs (they won last week, after all), but there's plenty of reason to buy into Williams struggling again. In the last five weeks the Broncos have allowed zero rushing scores and one receiving touchdown to running backs. The Chiefs runners did a nice job racking up numbers on the ground, but a lot of that had to do with the style of defense the Broncos played, effectively daring the Chiefs to run. It's more likely they'll dare Jared Goff to throw this week. Williams makes me nervous as anything more than a low-end starter."
🚑Week 14 Injury Watch
The Rams and Cardinals play on Monday night, so we didn't get a practice report for them Wednesday. We'll get our first idea about Chase Edmonds (ankle) and Darrell Henderson (thigh) and their chances of playing with Thursday's practice, but at this point, it seems like both have a pretty good chance of being active. What their roles might look like is a different story altogether, as Sean McVay sounded like he wanted to have both Henderson and Sony Michel involved coming out of Week 13, a dramatic change from Henderson's domination of snaps and touches for much of the season.
On the Cardinals side, I'm a bit more confident Edmonds is going to get his role back, but that's not 100% guaranteed -- James Conner has actually been pretty good in the passing game, which is where Edmonds derived much of his value from before the injury. Hopefully, we get some clear signals about how these backfields are likely to play out well before Sunday, but I could see a scenario where all four backs are hard to trust heading into lineup locks, leading to some really difficult decisions.
49ers backfield questions
Elijah Mitchell is in the concussion protocol, but he might be in doubt for Week 14 even if he wasn't, after undergoing an MRI on his knee in recent days. That MRI came back clean, but Mitchell is dealing with "irritation" in his knee, which is less than ideal. The 49ers added Brian Hill to their practice squad Wednesday, as Jeff Wilson (knee) and Trenton Cannon (concussion) are also in question for this week. That leaves JaMycal Hasty as the only healthy back on the official roster, and he could be in line for a significant role in a very good running game if that remains the case.
However, it is worth noting that Wilson was at least able to practice on a limited basis Wednesday -- neither Mitchell nor Cannon got on the field. If Wilson is able to play, he'd be a low-end RB2, while Hasty would be in the same range if everyone is out.
Here are the rest of the injuries we're keeping an eye on for Week 14:
Injuries to watch for Week 14
It's not clear what these injuries mean quite yet.
- Joe Burrow (finger/knee) -- Did not practice. The expectation is Burrow will play through these injuries, so this was probably just a day off. It wouldn't be a surprise if he was limited at practice moving forward.
- Justin Fields (ribs) -- Full practice. Fields was cleared to return and will start for the Bears in Week 14 against the Packers. Andy Dalton is dealing with a hand injury, but it seems like Fields would have been named the starter either way. He does still have some lingering pain from the injury after missing two games, so there's some risk of re-injury, but he'll be out there when the game kicks off. Fields was showing some signs of figuring things out before the injury, with 47.4 points in his last two games, so hopefully he can build on that down the stretch.
- Daniel Jones (neck) -- Limited practice. Jones was limited throughout practice last week before being ruled out, and reports indicate the same is likely to happen this week unless he is cleared for contact. With Mike Glennon dealing with a concussion, the recently signed Jake Fromm, who has never thrown a pass in an NFL regular season game, is likely to start for the Giants.
- Jared Goff (illness) -- Did not practice. The Lions just held a walkthrough Wednesday due to a flu outbreak on the team. That should give Goff enough time to get back for Sunday's game, but that isn't 100% guaranteed -- we saw Lamar Jackson miss a game with a non-COVID illness last week.
- Joe Mixon (illness) -- Did not practice. This is also a non-COVID illness for Mixon, so it also shouldn't keep him out this week, but we'll want to keep an eye on it over the next few days just to make sure. The good news is that Mixon wasn't listed on the practice report with a neck injury after leaving Sunday's game briefly, so that doesn't seem to be an issue. If Mixon were to miss Week 14's game against the 49ers, Samaje Perine would be a low-end RB2.
- David Montgomery (shoulder/groin/glute) -- Did not practice. It sounds like Montgomery is pretty beat up, and these are new injuries, so it's something to keep an eye on. We don't have any reason to think this is a serious issue right now, but if Montgomery misses Thursday's practice, it would be time to worry. Make sure Khalil Herbert isn't available just in case, because he proved he can be a must-start Fantasy RB when Montgomery missed time earlier in the season.
- James Robinson (heel/knee) -- Limited practice. Robinson has been playing through these injuries for a few weeks, and I expect that to remain the case moving forward.
- Tony Pollard (foot) -- Did not practice. This is a new injury for Pollard, and seeing as it forced him to miss practice, a potentially concerning one. Right now, we'll just monitor it, but if he misses Thursday's practice as well, then it would be time to consider alternatives. Pollard is an RB3 when healthy, and his absence could mean a bigger role for Ezekiel Elliott.
- Alex Collins (abdomen) -- Limited practice. The Seahawks expect Collins back this week, but it will be interesting to see what kind of role he has waiting for him after Rashaad Penny and Adrian Peterson handled the main RB work without him. I think I would probably prefer Penny if I had to start a Seattle RB this week, though none would be top-30 options.
- Tee Higgins (ankle) -- Did not practice. It isn't clear how serious this injury is at this point, so we'll want to keep a close eye on his status over the next few days. Higgins has broken out in a big way with 100-plus yards in two straight games and would be a must-start WR against the 49ers if healthy.
- Elijah Moore (quad) -- Did not practice. As with Higgins, Moore will be a must-start option if healthy, so this is a concern. Jets coach Robert Saleh told reporters he is hopeful that Moore can play against the Saints, but wouldn't commit to it yet. We'll see what Thursday holds.
- Kenny Golladay (ribs) -- Did not practice. Golladay played through the injury after suffering it last week, so you would assume he'll do the same this week. However, that's no guarantee, and even if he does, Golladay wouldn't be much more than a desperation play with Fromm at QB.
- Sterling Shepard (quad) -- Limited practice. Shepard didn't practice last Wednesday, so this seems like a good sign. It'll be interesting to see what his role looks like given that he hasn't played since Week 8. Shepard was a target hog early in the season, but we can't just assume Fromm will use him the same way, so I would be wary of using Shepard even if he does play. However, I do think he's a good stash candidate just in case he does come out with a 30% target share.
Trending up for Week 14
This doesn't mean they will play, but we got good news about them Wednesday.
- Taysom Hill (finger) -- Full practice. We knew Hill was going to try to play through the injury, and it looks like it won't be much of a concern. He'll need to pass better than he did when he had four interceptions in his first start, but the fact that he had 25 Fantasy points despite that is a sign of how valuable Hill's rushing production makes him. That's why he's Jamey Eisenberg's Start of the Week.
- Alvin Kamara (knee) -- Full practice. Kamara was a game-time decision before being ruled out for last Thursday's game, so it's no surprise that he is in line to return coming off the extra time off. It'll be interesting to see what his role looks like in the passing game especially with Hill around, but with Mark Ingram placed on the COVID list Wednesday, Kamara is going to be a must-start RB as long as he doesn't suffer a setback.
- Melvin Gordon (hip) -- Limited practice. Gordon didn't practice at all last week, so this is definitely an improvement. He figures to return to a timeshare with Javonte Williams, though it's fair to wonder if Williams' 178-yard performance in Gordon's absence might not have put him in the lead. I would view both as top-25 RB against the lowly Lions if Gordon plays.
- David Johnson (thigh/illness) -- Full practice. Johnson was held out last week, but it looks like he'll be back. He's just a fringe Fantasy option, but could see more targets with Davis Mills starting.
- Jeremy McNichols (concussion) -- Full practice. McNichols looks like he's back, but the question is what does that mean? Dontrell Hilliard showed some nice things in McNichols' absence, and it wouldn't be a surprise if he just didn't have much of a role waiting for him. However, unless we get confirmation of that, I would probably just avoid both for Fantasy, with D'Onta Foreman looking like the best option in this backfield given his expected locked-in role as the lead rusher.
- Allen Robinson (hamstring) -- Limited practice. Robinson hasn't practiced since Week 9, so this is a positive sign. Not that it should make you want to start Robinson even if he does play -- he needs to do a lot to earn our trust back, and I'm not sure there's enough time for that at this point.
Trending down for Week 14
This doesn't mean they won't play, but they aren't moving in the right direction yet.
- D'Andre Swift (shoulder) -- Did not practice. Swift is doing better, but the fact that he wasn't able to return to practice yet means he's probably still unlikely to play. Jamaal Williams will be a low-end RB2 against the Broncos, but his disappointing passing game role in Week 13 makes him a risky play.
- Tevin Coleman (concussion) -- Did not practice. It's going to be tough for Coleman to get cleared for Sunday's game, so Ty Johnson could be in line for a significant role with Michael Carter still out. Austin Walter would also likely see an expanded role against the Saints, though he wouldn't be a recommended start and Johnson would be just a fringe option for that one.
- Deebo Samuel (groin) -- Did not practice. The 49ers haven't ruled Samuel out for Week 14 against the Bengals, but he looks like a long shot at this point.
- Kadarius Toney (oblique) -- Did not practice. After missing several weeks with a quad injury, it looks like the oblique is the more serious issue now. He probably isn't going to play this week either.
- Randall Cobb (core) -- Did not practice. Missing the first practice back from a bye week usually isn't a good sign.
- Darren Waller (knee/back) -- Did not practice. Waller hasn't been ruled out, but you have to be pessimistic about his chances at this point. Foster Moreau will remain a borderline starter if Waller is out against the Chiefs.
🆚TNF Preview: Steelers at Vikings
All lines from Caesars Sportsbook
- Line: Vikings -3; 43.5 O/U
- Implied totals: Vikings 23.25-Steelers 20.25
- Key injuries: Adam Thielen (ankle) -- ... Dalvin Cook (shoulder) -- Cook is listed as questionable for the game, but it would be pretty shocking if he played. Initial reports indicated a Week 15 return was the most likely outcome, and it just wouldn't make much sense for the Vikings to be aggressive with it given Cook's history of shoulder issues -- not to mention Alexander Mattison's consistent excellence in Cook's absence. If Cook did play, I would probably view him as more of an RB2, because I think there would be real risk of re-injury.
- Steelers big question: Can they get Chase Claypool going? -- There aren't many places the Steelers can wring value from at this point, but Claypool is one. Consistency has been the issue for Claypool, mostly due to targets -- when he's had more than five targets, he's generally been pretty good, but it has only happened twice since JuJu Smith-Schuster's injury. Claypool is a heck of a playmaker, and his lack of touchdowns this season has been a big shock. If he can find the end zone a few times down the stretch, he could be a big difference maker for Fantasy.
- Vikings big question: Can KJ Osborn step up in Adam Thielen's absence? -- I'm not too worried about the Vikings moving the ball down the field, because, at 57.2 yards per game and 7.5 per target, it's not like Thielen was picking up huge chunks of yardage routinely. However, he has once again been dominant in the red zone, with 40% of Kirk Cousins' passing touchdowns. Osborn has a big opportunity here with Thielen out, but I'm wary of trusting him given his lack of a track record. He's just a WR4 for me.