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Vikings WR Justin Jefferson injury: What status means for Week 15 vs. Bengals

Justin Jefferson is dealing with a chest injury heading into Week 15. We break down what it means for fantasy football and betting.

Justin Jefferson #18 of the Minnesota Vikings runs onto the field prior to the game against the Las Vegas Raiders at Allegiant Stadium on December 10, 2023 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Photo by Ian Maule/Getty Images

The Minnesota Vikings travel to face the Cincinnati Bengals to open the NFL’s Week 15 Saturday slate. Minnesota is firmly in the thick of the playoff race but is dealing with some turmoil as they switch starting quarterbacks, benching Joshua Dobbs and moving Nick Mullens into the starting lineup.

Mullens is going to be without running back Alexander Mattison, but he should have wide receiver Justin Jefferson at his disposal. Jefferson is listed as questionable with a chest injury after taking a big hit against the Las Vegas Raiders last week. He was taken to the hospital to check for broken ribs and internal bleeding, but it turned out to be a bruise. He was limited in practice on Tuesday and Wednesday but got in a full practice on Thursday. Jefferson said Wednesday that he expected to be good to go for Saturday.

Justin Jefferson injury

Fantasy football analysis

Jefferson is a must-start when healthy, and he appears to be healthy enough at this point. He missed seven games ahead of the team’s Week 13 bye due to a hamstring injury before returning in Week 14. He only caught two passes on three targets for 27 yards, but he was knocked out of the game in the second quarter.

This week, the Vikings face a Bengals defense that ranks 18th in opposing wide receiver fantasy points. Cincinnati ranks 23rd in opposing quarterback fantasy points allowed, which bodes well for Nick Mullens. Having Jefferson back is key. Given the number of quarterback injuries across the NFL, Mullens isn’t the worst starting option this weekend if you’re shorthanded at the position.

NFL DFS analysis

Minnesota’s passing game has struggled since Kirk Cousins got hurt. T.J. Hockenson has been the leading pass catcher in each of the past five games. If Jefferson can play the full game against Cincinnati, he will cut into Hockenson’s DFS value this week.

The most intriguing DFS plays for the Vikings are Mullens and running back Ty Chandler. With Mattison sidelined, Chandler will get the bulk of the starting RB work. Expect him to be a popular play this week. Mullens will get some run as well, but you might be able to sneak in a little extra value with him as he might not be quite as popular as Chandler this weekend.