Fantasy Football: Dalvin Cook, Daniel Jones injuries highlight Week 14 news to know

The Fantasy playoffs are here, and there are a ton of relevant news stories to keep track of. 

There's a prevailing idea that you should dance with the ones who brought you, but I've always rejected that idea. Last season, we saw guys like Damien Williams and Jaylen Samuels be key pieces in the Fantasy playoffs, and help flexible managers take down championships. 

That said, there are still must-starts, including a banged-up superstar who left Week 13 early.

Will Dalvin Cook be ready?

Cook left Monday Night Football early after suffering a shoulder injury, and managers who have stashed Alexander Mattison all year started salivating. But those who rode Cook to a playoff spot don't need to panic, as Cook has said he will "definitely" be ready for Week 14. 

We'll still need word from the team, but it seems likely the Vikings will have their star back Sunday. But his workload could easily be culled, especially if Minnesota gets out in front as massive 13-point favorites at home against the Lions. If Cook's active, he'll still need to be in lineups, as even a partial workload could mean a huge day for a guy with his dual-threat ability and huge red zone role. 

But depending on reports, Mattison could be a sneaky option as well for desperate teams. The Lions have been hit hard by running backs all year, and it wouldn't be too much of a surprise if both put up usable Fantasy totals. Still, Mattison wouldn't be a preferred option as the clear backup to a healthy Cook. 

Chiefs RB mess

Already without Damien Williams, the Chiefs watched as Darrel Williams left their Week 13 game early, creating a scenario where a former logjam that featured four potential options became dire enough that they brought back Spencer Ware this week. 

The latest word on Damien Williams is that he has a chance to play Sunday against the Patriots, which only further muddies the waters. Darwin Thompson got his most extended run of the season in Week 13 while it seemed clear the team did not want to feature LeSean McCoy, opting instead to keep him in a limited role. If Damien Williams is active, we're likely looking at a committee approach in a tough matchup, something that would be tough to trust in the playoffs. 

If Damien Williams isn't able to go, and with Darrel Williams looking doubtful, there's a case to be made for either of McCoy or Thompson, as it would likely be a two-man backfield with Ware only sprinkling in. Ware's familiar with the Chiefs and Andy Reid's system, but it's hard to imagine he'd immediately contend for serious playing time given he's been a free agent for weeks and the Chiefs have been content with the options they had in-house. Still, McCoy and Thompson would not be strong options. 

Kalen Ballage to IR

The Dolphins claimed Zach Zenner off waivers and sent Kalen Ballage to IR, meaning we're looking at a major shakeup for a team that has gone through several backs. 

In Week 13, UDFA rookie Patrick Laird played 60% of the snaps as Miami mostly abandoned the run in a shootout with the Eagles. Laird has solid pass-catching chops and caught four of five targets, but he gained just five yards on 10 carries, including a touchdown. 

Meanwhile, seventh-round pick Myles Gaskin didn't see much of a usage increase from Week 12 — in fact, his snap share dipped a bit despite Ballage exiting early — but he did get two carries and rip off gains of 11 and 9 yards. Gaskin's probably more of a true runner than Laird, while Zenner is another early-down back. 

It wouldn't be shocking to see either Gaskin or Zenner lead the Dolphins in rush attempts, but the Jets have a stout front and are a difficult team to run against. There could be a cap on Laird's rush attempt potential, but we should probably expect Laird to lead snaps in what will likely again be a pass-focused offense. That makes him a sneaky option in PPR formats with some upside if he does see something close to workhorse duties with 10-12 carries plus his solid receiving role that has generated 12 receptions over the past four games as a mostly part-time player. 

Here are some more injury situations to monitor for Week 14:

  • Daniel Jones suffered a high-ankle sprain and it appears unlikely he'll start in Week 14. That should mean a return to action for Eli Manning against a beatable Eagles secondary. It would be difficult to start Eli this week, but it shouldn't be too much of a downgrade for any of the receiving options. 
  • Kyle Shanahan is optimistic Matt Breida will return in Week 14, which creates a disaster situation for Fantasy managers after Raheem Mostert went off as the hot hand in Week 13. The 49ers figure to still utilize Mostert in Week 14, and Tevin Coleman is likely to see his role bounce back a bit, so anything Breida gets will chop up the backfield touches into a three-man committee where there will almost certainly be production somewhere, but we'll have very little idea where it could come from. All three will have low floors, as well, making them avoids if Breida is active. 
  • John Ross has been activated from injured reserve, and coach Zac Taylor said he'll have a role in Week 14. That figures to help the whole offense, as Ross's speed should have a positive impact on the underneath throwing lanes for Andy Dalton. Ross himself is difficult to trust in his first game back without knowing more about his role, but he certainly carries a high ceiling if he can get loose for a long touchdown. Ross figures to displace Alex Erickson and perhaps impact Auden Tate's targets. 
  • Frank Reich is hopeful T.Y. Hilton will return this season, but it isn't looking good for Week 14. With Eric Ebron already on IR, Jack Doyle saw an expanded snap share and was targeted 11 times, while Zach Pascal — who has had flashes while Hilton has been out — saw 10 looks. Marcus Johnson has also been very involved as the second outside wide receiver of late. 
  • Mike Tomlin noted James Conner has a better chance to practice Wednesday than JuJu Smith-Schuster, which seems to suggest Smith-Schuster is still a week away and that Conner has a chance to return. If we get positive news on Conner, he's a worthwhile option against a Cardinals team giving up plenty of production to running backs. Conner would figure to return right to his starting role, displacing Benny Snell and moving Jaylen Samuels back to his secondary receiving duties. 
  • Bruce Arians confirmed Ronald Jones was benched in Week 13 for missing a blitz pickup. Arians outright blamed one bad rep for that decision, saying "RoJo missed a blitz pickup and that's it. You don't get to play no more.'' Peyton Barber rushed for 2.6 yards per carry, gaining just 44 yards on 17 totes even with a 15-yard touchdown waltz on a perfectly-blocked play. What a world.
  • Tony Pollard is reportedly banged up, and may not be ready for Thursday night. A date with the Bears looms, and teams have liked to attack them with the run. Ed Werder, long plugged into goings-on with the Cowboys, tweeted that Jerry Jones has taken notice of a perceived lack of Ezekiel Elliott touches. Expect plenty of Zeke Thursday night.  
  • The Panthers fired Ron Rivera. Former offensive coordinator Norv Turner is transitioning to a special assistant role while his son Scott Turner moved from quarterbacks coach to OC for the final four games. The offense shouldn't see much of a change from that realignment. 

So who should you sit and start this week? And which surprising quarterback could lead you to victory? Visit SportsLine now to get Week 14 rankings for every position, plus see which QB is going to come out of nowhere to crack the top 10, all from the model that out-performed experts big time last season.

Fantasy Football Today Podcast

Join our Free $1,000,000 Parlay Challenge

Our Latest Stories