Fantasy Football: Thursday Night Football preview and injury updates for Dalvin Cook, Adam Thielen, more
Who can you trust on Thursday night? Chris Towers breaks down the Bears and Cowboys, and wraps up all the Fantasy relevant news you need to know from around the league.
Thursday's game between the Bears and Cowboys thankfully features a pretty light injury report, which makes some of the decisions we'll have to make on this island game a bit easier. Tony Pollard (ankle) is the only questionable player for the Cowboys, while Taylor Gabriel (concussion, out) is the only significant offensive name for the Bears. Injuries won't play a part in your lineup decisions, which is always nice.
Of course, that doesn't mean you won't have tough decisions to make on both sides of this one, especially since this one pits strength vs. strength — Cowboys offense vs. Bears defense.
There probably isn't a scenario where you are really considering sitting Ezekiel Elliott, who had 96 total yards and 13.6 PPR Fantasy points against the Patriots in Week 12. I'm sure you didn't need me to tell you not to sit Ezekiel Elliott, of course, but I'm sure it's nice to get validation.
The more interesting questions come from the passing game. The good news is, this Bears defense isn't quite as fearsome as it was a year ago, and this Cowboys passing game has tons of upside. Dak Prescott is ranked anywhere from fifth to eighth in our expert rankings, so it's pretty unlikely you've got a better option for this one. The same goes for Amari Cooper, who has been a bit of a disappointment lately while batting a knee issue, but who had eight catches for 85 yards last week. The tougher questions concern Michael Gallup and Randall Cobb. While there is plenty of upside for this offense to sustain three viable Fantasy wide receivers, both are more like No. 3 Fantasy WR for this one. Jason Witten is just a low-end desperation play at tight end — he has basically no upside if he doesn't score a touchdown.
On the other side of the game, the possible options are a bit less varied. Mitchell Trubisky is playing better of late, but is hard to trust in any given week — you probably have better options. However, his better play has coincided with a more dense target distribution, which has helped both Allen Robinson and Anthony Miller emerge as viable Fantasy options. Robinson is enjoying his best season since 2015 and should be in your lineup, while Miller has really come alive of late, catching 21 passes on 33 targets over the last three games for 271 yards. He is a recommended option in a game where the Bears could be chasing points.
In the running game, it's hard to get away from David Montgomery given his consistent workload — at least 15 touches in six straight games. He hasn't been particularly effective in his rookie season, but running backs who get that many touches — including typically a few targets each week — are worth trusting. It's a tougher call with Tarik Cohen, but he has at least four catches in four straight while playing 50% or more of the team's snaps, and is at least a PPR starter.
Here's the news you need to know about for Week 14 beyond Thursday's game from around the NFL:
- Daniel Jones (ankle) did not practice Thursday — Eli Manning is expected to start in Week 14 against the Eagles, so this doesn't come as much of a surprise.
- Darrel Williams (hamstring) was placed on I.R. — It's not quite clear what the Chiefs' backfield will look like in Week 14, but we know Darrel Williams won't be there. That still leaves the question of Damien Williams' availability open — he didn't practice Wednesday as he recovers from a rib injury, though there is still a chance he plays this week. Spencer Ware was brought in as a familiar face for the Chiefs offense, but LeSean McCoy is still expected to lead this backfield, with Darwin Thompson mixing in if Damien Williams isn't able to return.
- Dalvin Cook (chest/shoulder) was limited at practice — Cook continues to say he will play, and that he was out there at practice seems like a good sign. It sounds like this issue is more about pain tolerance, and there is certainly a risk of re-injury to be concerned about. However, if Cook is active, it will be just about impossible to go away from him in a great matchup against the Lions. The more interesting question is how to handle Alexander Mattison, this week's top waiver priority. He is in the discussion for a FLEX role for Fantasy if the Vikings get up big and look to limit Cook's exposure. For what it's worth, Vikings coach Mike Zimmer told reporters Wednesday, "We'll see how it goes during the week and then make a decision. We're not going to play a guy that's hurt."
- Marlon Mack (hand) was back at practice — Mack had a large pad on his fractured hand, but the fact he was out there at all is a good sign. We'll keep an eye on his status throughout the week, but if he does return, you can safely cut Jonathan Williams and Jordan Wilkins — both of whom are risky plays given their inconsistent usage in Mack's absence.
- James Conner (shoulder) will not play in Week 14 — Conner had made enough progress that coach Mike Tomlin told reporters he had a chance to play in Week 14 against the Cardinals earlier in the week, but Conner told reporters Thursday he will not play. That means Benny Snell and Jaylen Samuels should continue to see plenty of playing time, with Snell handling the rushing downs and Samuels seeing more . time as a pass-catcher.
- Josh Jacobs is playing through a shoulder injury — Apparently Jacobs fractured his shoulder in Week 7 and has been playing through it since. We haven't seen much evidence that it is limiting him on the field, as Jacobs rushed for 124 yards in Week 7 and has 100-plus yards in three of six games since, but you might want to snag Jalen Richard just in case Jacobs does further injure the shoulder.
- Jordan Howard (shoulder) still hasn't been cleared for contact — Howard's injury stretches back to mid-November, when he was surprisingly on the injury report coming out of the team's bye. He is dealing with a stinger, and it seems extremely unlikely he will play in Week 14, making Miles Sanders a suggested start yet again.
- The Dolphins placed Kalen Ballage on I.R. — This may not mean we see more of Patrick Laird, considering he already played 60% of the team's snaps in Week 13 against the Eagles. He has an obvious pass-catching role, but it's not clear if the team views Laird as a three-down back, so expect to see Myles Gaskin and possibly even recent signee Zach Zenner in rushing downs. Laird is in the No. 3 RB discussion, while Gaskin could be worth a look on waivers as a stash candidate.
- Ronald Jones got the vote of confidence — Despite benching him for missing a blitz pickup early in Week 13, Bruce Arians told reporters Wednesday Jones is still the starter. Of course, that doesn't mean you can trust him in your Fantasy lineup for a pivotal Week 14 matchup — we just can't trust his role, and he hasn't been so good that you feel like you are missing out on significant upside by sitting him.
- Adam Thielen (hamstring) did not practice Wednesday — It's not clear if Thielen suffered a setback, but after seeming to be on track to play in Week 13, he was surprisingly ruled out. The fact that he hasn't been able to practice obviously isn't a good sign given that, so we'll have to keep a close eye on his status heading into Sunday's game against the Lions.
- It is "very unlikely" JuJu Smith-Schuster (knee) will play in Week 14 — CBS Sports NFL Insider Jason La Canfora reported Thursday morning that Smith-Schuster is unlikely to return this week. Smith-Schuster ran for the first time since suffering the injury Wednesday, but did not practice, and has yet to be able to cut. He has not played since Week 11, and James Washington figures to remain Devlin Hodges' top target for Week 14's game against the Cardinals.
- T.Y. Hilton (calf) isn't sure if he will return this season — Hilton talked about shutting down for the season Wednesday, but also said he is doing everything he can to get back on the field. Hilton has played just one game since Week 8, but clearly wasn't right, playing just 37% of the team's snaps and hauling in three passes for 18 yards before suffering a setback. At this point, it's getting hard to hold Hilton, though obviously there is enough upside here to hang on to him if you have the roster space.
- A.J. Green (toe) is out for Week 14 — The Bengals have stubbornly refused to place Green on I.R. or give him anything more than a week-to-week designation, but at this point, it's hard to see him playing this season. That's not to say he won't, but Green is an easy drop candidate if you need the roster spot — he is still rostered in 69% of CBS Fantasy leagues.
- Evan Engram (foot) is making progress — Engram was back at practice Thursday, and there seems to be a chance he can make his return for Week 14's matchup against the Eagles. A lot will have changed for the Giants since the last time he played in Week 9, including Manning likely being back at QB. Still, Engram is arguably the Giants most talented receiving threat, and figures to be a must-start option assuming he plays.
- Austin Hooper (knee) is back at practice — Another bit of good news for tight end, Hooper has practiced three times this week. He was limited in each session, but seems to be trending toward his own return from a three-game absence, and would similarly be a must-start option for Fantasy as long as he is active.
- Greg Olsen (concussion) did not practice Thursday — Olsen is in the concussion protocol and is trending toward not playing at this point. Ian Thomas is a recommended start if Olsen is out in Week 14.
- Gerald Everett (knee) did not practice Wednesday — Tyler Higbee went off against the Cardinals in Week 14, and while the matchup helped, the Rams are using their tight ends more than ever this season. We saw Everett emerge as a useful starter when Higbee was out, and the same should be true for Higbee if Everett cannot play again.
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