The IR injury update for Week 14 has a similar feel to it for fantasy football managers with limited fantasy-relevant options returning last week. Among the options able to return this week are J.K. Dobbins, Darren Waller, and Michael Thomas, while fantasy managers are patiently waiting to see if Cooper Kupp, Dallas Goedert, or Mecole Hardman can give their fantasy team’s a boost this year.
Let’s take a look at the latest injury updates for those options and whether we might see any of them anytime soon.
Latest Injury IR Updates: J.K. Dobbins Could Return in Week 14
Last week saw Dobbins return to practice for the first time since his knee procedure earlier in the year. The Ravens chose not to activate him ahead of their Week 13 game against the Broncos, despite Dobbins reportedly looking good in practice on Wednesday.
When speaking to the media on Friday, head coach John Harbaugh told reporters that Dobbins “looked good, and I’m looking forward to seeing him next week.” Harbaugh went on to add that the Ravens will be “having a conversation with both those guys [Dobbins and Marcus Williams] in terms of whether they can play or not.” While not fully committing to Dobbins’ return, the door is at least open that Week 14 could be the time.
Whether Dobbins returns to a fantasy-relevant role in Week 14 is a completely different matter. Trying to predict the Ravens’ backfield in the last two weeks has been tough to do.
Kenyan Drake looked good before Gus Edwards’ return, but in Week 12, it was Edwards who carried the ball 16 times to just one rush for Drake. Last week, Drake had 10 opportunities, Edwards had six, and Justice Hill had three.
Dobbins is going to be another body added to that complicated picture. Baltimore has played it super cautious with Dobbins this year, so it would be a surprise if they just throw him out there for 15+ touches upon his return.
With Edwards, Drake, and Hill, the Ravens have the luxury of easing Dobbins back in before turning the backfield over to him in the playoffs if they desire. Therefore, it’s incredibly tough to start Dobbins in fantasy leagues this week.
If you want to take a late-round shot on him in Underdog Fantasy Best Ball leagues when he is activated, that makes sense. However, we just don’t know what his workload will look like for the first few weeks or where he will be getting the opportunities in a crowded backfield.
Darren Waller Injury Update
When Darren Waller went on the IR ahead of Week 10, some fantasy managers wondered if we would see him again this year. When the Raiders slipped to 2-7, those fears grew with the season on a thread and a lot of money having been committed to the tight end. Three wins later, the picture looks a lot different as Las Vegas heads into Week 15.
At 5-7, the Raiders have a real chance to get to 6-7 against the Los Angeles Rams on Thursday Night Football. With games coming against the New England Patriots and Pittsburgh Steelers, the Raiders have a chance to get to eight wins with two games to spare.
It won’t be easy, but the Raiders are still in the race right now, and that bodes well for Waller’s potential return. The question now with Waller is perhaps more a case of when he will return than if he will return.
The short week into Thursday Night Football complicates things a little. The Raiders did not designate Waller to return Monday, so they would have just two days of practice ahead of a return. For a player returning from a hamstring issue, that is not ideal.
When he spoke to the media on Monday, head coach Josh McDaniels said the team was “going to talk about that” and called it a unique situation. He also spoke about getting a handle on “where our team is relative to the health of it.”
That potentially refers to Foster Moreau, who briefly left the game against the Chargers for a concussion evaluation. However, he returned to the game and is not on the first injury report of the week. Jesper Horstead is listed with a concussion and, therefore, we could see Waller on Thursday, but it would likely be in a very limited capacity.
The Raiders being in the playoff hunt is good for fantasy managers in terms of meaning Waller will come back, but it also means the team needs to be careful bringing him back. Waller has not played since Week 5, so throwing him straight in there could be dangerous in terms of a potential re-injury.
Last year, Waller missed Weeks 13 to 17 and returned with two receptions on nine targets in Week 18 before having 76 yards on seven receptions in the playoffs. Week 15 is a realistic target for Waller to be back in fantasy lineups, which for many, could coincide with the start of their playoffs.
Cooper Kupp Injury Update
Not much has changed here when it comes to Cooper Kupp. The Rams WR is eligible to come off IR in Week 15 but is unlikely to. The original timeframe given for the recovery from his surgery was six to eight weeks. That would put Week 17 or 18 as a potential return date.
However, with a loss on Thursday, the Rams could be eliminated from the playoffs. They could even be eliminated if they win and both the Seahawks and Giants win. Therefore, it seems unlikely we see Kupp again this season. If you can trade him for even a couple of FAAB dollars, go ahead.
Michael Thomas Injury Update
The New Orleans Saints’ somewhat disastrous loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Monday has potentially changed the picture for a potential return for Michael Thomas. If the Saints had won, they’d be 5-8, and just half a game behind the Buccaneers heading into their bye. Instead, they’re now 2.5 games back, leaving their season on the verge of being over.
Thomas also does not appear to be endearing himself to his teammates with his actions on social media. A tweet this week insinuating his less-than-stellar play was the fault of Jameis Winston is not exactly an act of a player trying to make a return.
While it’s possible Thomas returns, it’s not something that fantasy managers should be counting on heading into Week 14.
Hunter Renfrow Injury Update
The situation with Hunter Renfrow is very similar to Waller’s. Renfrow is looking to return from an oblique injury, but time is against him with the short week. Even if he does return this week, it would likely be in a limited fashion.
However, a return in Week 15 could be well-timed for Renfrow to be close to 100%. He would still be a 14-team option more so than anything, but in those size leagues, he could be a valuable addition, especially in PPR.
Are Darrel Williams, Dallas Goedert, and Mecole Hardman Nearing Returns?
A few weeks back, Arizona Cardinals head coach Kliff Kingsbury said that Darrel Williams was expected to return sometime this year. He is eligible to return this week, but until the Cardinals open practice on Thursday, we may not get a clear picture of whether he is on track to return this week. Even when Williams returns, he’ll likely be buried on the depth chart behind James Conner, limiting his output.
Last week, Philadelphia Eagles tight end Dallas Goedert told reporters he feels good and appeared to be targeting Week 15 when he is first eligible to return. At tight end, Goedert would be a player that fantasy managers could look to throw back into their lineups immediately.
We got an update last week that Mecole Hardman was back lifting weights following his abdominal injury. He is on track for a potential Week 15 return, but we should get a clearer picture early next week.
Other players who could potentially return in the coming weeks include:
- Clyde Edwards-Helaire | Week 16
- Khalil Herbert | Week 16
- Chase Edmonds | Week 16
- J.D. McKissic | Week 16
- Zach Ertz | Week 17