Cincinnati Bengals head coach Zac Taylor reacts during the second half of NFL football game against the Cincinnati Bengals, Sunday, Nov. 10, 2019, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/Frank Victores)
Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Ryan Finley (5) calls a play during the first half of NFL football game against the Baltimore Ravens, Sunday, Nov. 10, 2019, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/Gary Landers)
Oakland Raiders quarterback Derek Carr (4) celebrates after the Raiders defeated the Los Angeles Chargers 26-24 in an NFL football game in Oakland, Calif., Thursday, Nov. 7, 2019. (AP Photo/D. Ross Cameron)
Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers (17) is sacked by Oakland Raiders defensive end Clelin Ferrell during the second half of an NFL football game in Oakland, Calif., Thursday, Nov. 7, 2019. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)
OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) Derek Carr knows full well what the Cincinnati Bengals are enduring this season: nine straight losses to open the year.
Carr began his rookie season as starting quarterback for the Oakland Raiders with 10 consecutive defeats before finally breaking through with a win.
''You feel like everything is against you because for the fans, sometimes for older players, they don't see any light at the end of the tunnel,'' he said. ''They just see what's in front of them at the moment and it's hard man. It's tough and one thing I'll say though is, if you can grind through those moments, work really hard, stick to your process, when the good moments come around it makes you thankful for those other moments.''
Carr bounced back from the rough debut campaign to win 12 games and lead the Raiders to the playoffs in 2016. Two more down seasons followed, but Carr has Oakland (5-4) back in contention again this year heading into Sunday's home game against Cincinnati (0-9).
After two straight wins to open a homestand, Carr wants to make sure his team doesn't let up in the third game and squander a chance.
''I don't care about records, man,'' he said. ''I prepare every game as if this is the game and so there is no, 'They haven't won a game.' I don't care how many games they have or haven't won, they got Pro Bowlers all over their football team and they are going to bring it, that's for sure.''
The Bengals are trying to avoid falling to 0-10 for the second time after also doing it in 1993. First-year coach Zac Taylor believes things will get better soon even if it doesn't seem that way right now.
''There'll be a time - I can't wait to look back on it - and say, 'Remember when all that stuff happened?''' Taylor said. ''We'll get there. This is one of the things we have to go through right now, unfortunately. We're going to fight through it, and there are going to be some positive things as this season comes to an end.''
Rookie Ryan Finley made his debut and had two huge turnovers against the Ravens. His sideline pass was picked off and returned 89 yards for a touchdown, and he had a fumble also returned for a score. Finley finished 16 of 30 for 167 yards with a touchdown, one interception and a passer rating of 66.9. The Bengals expect him to be better now that he's experienced a game.
''He's getting used to playing NFL-caliber football and not preseason football, real starting football against a good defense,'' offensive coordinator Brian Callahan said. ''And so, his timing was a little bit off. I think you'll see a pretty dramatic leap for him in game two, understanding what it's like to play at that speed.''
The Raiders must replace a safety again after Karl Joseph went down with a season-ending foot injury last week while making the game-sealing interception against the Chargers. Oakland already lost rookie Johnathan Abram to a season-ending shoulder injury in the opener and now may need to turn to Curtis Riley, who got benched earlier this year, special teams player Dallin Leavitt and newly acquired D.J. Swearinger, who was cut earlier this year by Arizona.
''These last weeks have been great for me,'' Swearinger said. ''I needed this time off, to get myself together. I couldn't be more ready for this opportunity to get here and work hard.''
OH THAT DEFENSE
The Bengals began looking to next year when they benched Andy Dalton and went with Finley at quarterback. They started overhauling the defense this week by waiving linebacker Preston Brown, who had lost his starting job. The linebackers have been the biggest sore spot in the league's lowest-ranked defense.
The Raiders' much-maligned pass rush delivered in a big way last week with five sacks in a win over the Chargers. No. 4 overall draft pick Clelin Ferrell had by far his best game as a pro with 2 1/2 sacks after recording none since the season opener. Fellow rookie Maxx Crosby provided consistent pressure and a half-sack of his own and Benson Mayowa had 1 1/2 sacks, giving him a career-high seven this season.
Taylor signed with Oakland coach Jon Gruden's Tampa Bay team as an undrafted quarterback out of Nebraska in 2007. He was waived before the start of training camp, a move that surprised him then but makes sense now. Taylor was familiar with Tampa Bay's system because his college coach, Bill Callahan, was a close friend of Gruden's.
''I think they probably just brought me in because I could call the plays in the rookie minicamp,'' Taylor said. ''In hindsight, those are the things you start to figure out as you start coaching. That made a little bit of sense. They could evaluate the other players while I got out there and called the plays correctly. It's all good.''
New York Giants wide receiver Sterling Shepard will see a downtick in value with both Golden Tate (concussion) and Evan Engram (foot) returning on Monday night. Shepard will move to the boundary receiver role with Tate back, which is actually a boost to his value, but there just simply might not be enough targets to go around. Eli Manning is also not able to buy time in the pocket for deep passes like Daniel Jones was, so Shepard may be less likely to hit on the big play. He's still viable as a WR4 or WR3 in deeper leagues, but he's far less reliable than he had been.
New York Giants wide receiver Darius Slayton is off the fantasy radar with Eli Manning back under center and Evan Engram (foot) and Golden Tate (concussion) back on the field. Slayton will now be the 4th option in the passing game (perhaps 5th behind Saquon Barkley) with a quarterback who hasn't played many games with him and isn't as prone to taking deep shots down the field. It all makes Slayton way too risky for fantasy lineups.
Tennessee Titans quarterback Ryan Tannehill has quietly been producing consistent QB1 numbers since his insertion in the starting lineup six weeks ago. Tannehill has the Titans 5-1 since that time and firmly in the playoff picture, but Week 14 represents a crucial matchup. Tannehill and the Titans will face an exploitable Oakland Raiders Defense this week, where he can safely be counted on for the first round of the fantasy playoffs. Tannehill is the QB6 overall since becoming the starter, and it would not be surprising to see him flirt with that status this week as well.
Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield (hand) threw without a wrap on his hand at Friday's practice and "looked good" according to beat reporters covering the session. It was also reported that there is no visible bruise on the back of the quarterback's hand after he dinged it on a defender's facemask during Week 13's loss. Mayfield has ramped up his activity as the week has gone on, a good sign for his availability for Sunday's matchup against the Cincinnati Bengals. If Mayfield does suit up, which looks likely, he can be treated as a high-upside QB2 for the first week of the fantasy playoffs.
New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley figures to see a boost playing alongside former, and new, starter Eli Manning. It's not because Manning will make the Giants offense more effective, but because he's essentially a statue in the pocket. The Eagles run defense is 9th in PPR-points allowed to running backs, so Barkley isn't likely to carve them up on the ground, but Manning's lack of mobility has historically lead to more dump-off passes to running backs. While Daniel Jones would use his legs to create yardage, Manning will likely use Saquon Barkley more. Barkley's lack of receiving game usage has lowered his fantasy ceiling, but its return may now bump up his fantasy floor. You're starting him in season-long leagues, and he might be a sneaky captain for DFS tournaments in a showdown slate with the Giants figuring to be trailing often in this game.
The Cleveland Browns Defense draws an excellent Week 14 matchup at home against the Cincinnati Bengals. Cleveland comes into the game installed as seven-point favorites in a game with a low 41.5-point over/under. The Bengals have not been very effective on offense, while their leaky offensive line has allowed 40 sacks this season, seventh-most in the league. Cleveland is without the suspended Myles Garrett but Olivier Vernon is plenty capable of taking advantage of Cincy's QB protection issues. Treat Cleveland as a top-five fantasy defense in Week 14.
New York Giants wide receiver Golden Tate (concussion) figures to be back in the lineup just in time for a juicy matchup against an Eagles secondary that has been susceptible to big plays to slot wide receivers. However, Tate has never played a game with Eli Manning under center since Manning was benched before Tate was activated from suspension. Eli likes to throw the ball underneath and over the middle, so Tate figures to be a good security blanket, but their lack of comfort with one another, and the return of Evan Engram (foot), may cap Tate's upside. He's more of a low-end WR3 in PPR and half-PPR leagues.
Cleveland Browns wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. draws an excellent Week 14 matchup against a weak Cincinnati Bengals secondary. Cincinnati's pass defense ranks 31st in DVOA while allowing the 18th-most fantasy points per game to the wide receiver position. Beckham draws an excellent matchup as he will see primary coverage from Cincy cornerback B.W. Webb. Webb has struggled in coverage this season, giving Beckham a decided advantage on Sunday. Treat Beckham as a high-upside WR2 for Week 14.
New York Giants quarterback Daniel Jones was seen at practice on Friday no longer wearing a boot on his injured ankle. However, he is still not participating but is on the bike and doing strength work. This provides even further confirmation that Eli Manning will likely be under center for the Giants this week. However, with the game on Monday night, Jones could still play if he is able to return to full practice tomorrow. It just seems unlikely.
Cleveland Browns wide receiver Jarvis Landry has been on quite the hot streak over his past six games, having hauled in 40 catches and five touchdowns over that span. Landry has overtaken Odell Beckham Jr. as the team's No. 1 wide receiver and should see a healthy target share against the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 14. Cincinnati doesn't allow many points to opposing wideouts but their pass defense ranks just 31st in the league in DVOA. This is most likely a result of teams building big leads and running the ball heavily in the second half of games. Landry can be trusted as a rock-solid WR2 in all formats for the first week of the fantasy playoffs.
New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning will likely be under center when the Giants take on the Eagles on Monday night. Manning was not particularly good when he played early in the season and lacks Daniel Jones' mobility. He's also playing against an Eagles team looking to make up for an embarrassing loss to the Dolphins and still fighting for the playoffs after the Cowboys loss on Thursday. All logic suggests that Manning will not be fantasy relevant. However, a fading star given one last chance against a rival on primetime TV has all the makings of fantasy and Hollywood drama, so Eli could simply torch the Eagles' suspect secondary. He's not a recommended play in one QB leagues or DFS cash games, but if you wanted to throw him in a GPP lineup or slide him into the starting spot in a two-quarterback league, it might be a fun night.
Cleveland Browns running back Kareem Hunt draws a mouth-watering Week 14 matchup against the Cincinnati Bengals. The Bengals have struggled to stop the run this season, ranking 27th in run-defense DVOA while allowing the seventh-most fantasy points per game to the running back position. Hunt has basically established himself as the No. 3 wide receiver in Cleveland, in addition to the handful of carries he has been seeing on a weekly basis. Fantasy GMs can tab Hunt as a low-end RB2 for the first round of the fantasy playoffs this Sunday.
Cleveland Browns running back Nick Chubb draws a fantastic matchup against a struggling Cincinnati Bengals Defense in Week 14. Chubb should see at least 20 touches against a Cincy run defense that ranks 27th in DVOA and is allowing the seventh-most fantasy points per game to the running back position. The Browns are likely to jump out to a big lead in this one, which means there should be plenty of second-half, clock-killing carries on tap for Chubb. Fire him up as a locked-in RB1 for the first round of the fantasy playoffs.
Chicago Bears LB Roquan Smith (pectoral) is feared to have suffered a torn pectoral muscle Thursday, Dec. 5. If the MRI confirms the injury, he would be out for the season.
Chicago Bears wide receiver Anthony Miller recorded just three catches for 42 yards against the Cowboys but hauled in a touchdown toss from Mitch Trubisky midway through the third quarter. Though the 25-year-old had a much more efficient outing on Thanksgiving against the Lions, he continued to benefit from the absence of Taylor Gabriel (concussion), who has now missed the last two games. Keep on eye on Gabriel's status moving ahead, and if he is out against the Packers in Week 15, Miller should continue to have a place on fantasy rosters in deeper formats.
Chicago Bears wide receiver Allen Robinson had five catches for 48 yards and two touchdowns during the win over Dallas on Thursday. Robinson picked up both of his touchdowns in the second quarter and has now scored four times over the last three weeks while also combining for 30 targets during that span. He should continue to benefit from the absence of Taylor Gabriel (concussion), who has sat out the last two games, so keep an eye on his status leading up to the Week 15 matchup against Green Bay.
Chicago Bears running back Tarik Cohen pulled in all six of his targets for 24 yards in the win over the Cowboys. He also had seven yards off of three carries. Once again, Cohen did little on the ground as David Montgomery served as the workhorse on Thursday by logging 86 yards on 20 attempts. After scoring a touchdown in each game against the Lions and Rams, the 24-year-old hasn't done much over the last three weeks outside of picking up the scraps left over by Montgomery, Allen Robinson, and Anthony Miller. He is good for the occasional score, but don't expect much against the Packers in Week 15 or throughout the remainder of the year, for that matter.
Chicago Bears LB Nick Kwiatkoski had 10 tackles (eight solo) against the Dallas Cowboys on Thursday, Dec. 5.
Updating a previous report, Chicago Bears LB Roquan Smith (pectoral) sustained a pec injury during the team's Week 14 win over the Dallas Cowboys that 'does not look good,' according to head coach Matt Nagy.
Chicago Bears running back David Montgomery ran for 86 yards on 20 carries during the win over the Cowboys on Thursday night. Montgomery once again outpaced Tarik Cohen, who had just three carries for seven yards, and maintained a respectable 4.3 yards per carry against a Cowboys Defense that has played decently against opposing backs this season. Next up for him is a Week 15 matchup against Green Bay, with the 22-year-old rushing for just 18 yards on six carries against the Packers back in Week 1.