Fri Dec 4 1:04pm ET
By TOM WITHERS
AP Sports Writer
Tennessee Titans running back Derrick Henry (22) salutes fans as he walks off the field following an NFL football game against the Indianapolis Colts in Indianapolis, Sunday, Nov. 29, 2020. The Titans defeated the Colts 45-26. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)
Cleveland Browns running back Nick Chubb (24) rushes during the second half of an NFL football game against the Philadelphia Eagles, Sunday, Nov. 22, 2020, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Ron Schwane)
CLEVELAND (AP) Nick Chubb's runner-up finish to Tennessee's Derrick Henry for the NFL rushing title last season still irks the Browns.
Except for one.
''I think it bothers everybody else besides Nick Chubb, just to be quite honest,'' quarterback Baker Mayfield said this week.
Chubb won't dethrone Henry this season after missing four games with a sprained right knee. But he'll get a chance to showcase his skills in a matchup with the Titans' titan on Sunday as the Browns (8-3) play a game that will serve as a good measuring stick for a Cleveland team lacking quality wins.
Chubb, in his reserved, no-frills-just-play-ball nature, said being second to Henry was somewhat irritating but nothing that lingers.
''A little bit, but it is nothing personal against him,'' he said. ''It is more of just myself. I am not mad at Derrick Henry for getting the rushing title last year.''
Chubb's teammates, on the other hand, haven't quite gotten over it.
''I was just crushed for him because I just know how hard Nick works, how hard he runs and the type of guy he is and more for him as a person,'' left guard Joel Bitonio said, recalling he was seated next to Chubb on the team's flight from Cincinnati when he learned Henry passed his teammate. ''The difference was what, 50 yards or something like that?
''An NFL rushing title and things of that nature are things that you can look back on in 10, 15 or 20 years and tell your grandkids you led the NFL in rushing. It was tough.''
The Browns, with a strong tradition rooted at running back, haven't had a player lead the league since Hall of Famer Leroy Kelly in 1968.
Chubb was positioned to win the crown last season. He led Henry with two games left, but only picked up 86 yards in his last two games and finished with 1,494.
Henry, who sat out Week 16 with a nagging hamstring injury, went into the finale with 1,329 yards and broke free for 211 against Houston. Henry's 1,540 made him the rushing king, and this week he stood by his story that he didn't know how much he needed to overtake Chubb.
''I was focused on what we needed to do,'' he said.
Chubb and Henry have similar running styles with some subtle differences.
''We do not do a lot of dancing. Just kind of north-to-south guys,'' Chubb said.
Both have the ability to turn a short gain into a long touchdown with a stiff arm or broken tackle. Chubb may be a little shiftier, while Henry is more of a punishing runner.
Neither is super fast, but it's rare for either Chubb or Henry to get caught from behind. There's speed, and then there's game speed.
''Sometimes we get wrapped up in that 40 (yard dash) time from Indianapolis,'' Browns coach Kevin Stefanski said, referencing one of the rookie standards at the NFL combine. ''When you have a guy like Nick, when you have a guy like Derrick Henry, they play very fast, faster than I'm sure whatever their times are.
''When you play in the fourth quarter and teams have been tackling those guys the whole game, it obviously takes its toll on the defenders as well.''
Titans coach Mike Vrabel said Sunday's matchup will pit the game's two best backs.
''Both those guys are excellent,'' Vrabel said. ''Vision, strength, lower-body strength, they break tackles. They stretch, cut, they have the ability to get the edge. Sitting there watching them, you forget sometimes that you have to find ways to stop them because you kind of like the way they play and the way that these guys are blocking for them in front.''
Jack Conklin has blocked for them both.
After four seasons in Tennessee, Conklin signed as a free agent with Cleveland in March. He helped open holes for Henry and is now doing the same for Chubb, who enters Sunday's game with 719 yards - and a robust 6.3 yards per carry average.
Conklin didn't need long to appreciate Chubb's persona on and off the field.
''He's not a vain guy in the way about how he goes to work,'' Conklin said. ''He wants to be the best, but he is not going to go talk about it and talk about his stats or anything like that. He is the exact teammate you would want on any team and the type of person you would want to be around every day.''
Five Hot Plays: Week 13
Miami Dolphins wide receiver DeVante Parker has rebounded nicely after a few rough performances earlier in the season. Last week, Parker hauled in eight receptions for 119 yards in the win over the New York Jets. He'll head into a favorable matchup against the Cincinnati Bengals secondary in Week 13. Fantasy managers should be able to trust Parker as a reliable WR2 option if quarterbackRyan Fitzpatrick makes his second straight start with rookie Tua Tagovailoa (thumb) being a game-time injury. Parker will probably be pushed into WR3 territory if Tagovailoa makes his return after being sidelined in Week 12.
Miami Dolphins wide receiver Jakeem Grant Sr. has struggled to produce over the last few weeks. Grant has 27 total receiving yards over his last two games heading into the Week 13 contest versus the Cincinnati Bengals. At times, Grant has held low-end WR3 value, but those days might be over. Possibly, he could put himself on the low-end flex radar in PPR leagues, assuming Ryan Fitzpatrick gets the start under center. However, Grant is most likely going to be an avoidable option this week.
Miami Dolphins tight end Mike Gesicki has been able to somewhat produce decent fantasy value over the last few weeks. He'll head into a favorable matchup against the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 13. A secondary that has allowed the fifth-most fantasy points to tight ends this season. Gesicki might be able to push himself into low-end TE1 territory, assuming quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick gets the start at quarterback. Otherwise, Gesicki will remain a TE2 with Tua Tagovailoa (thumb) under center.
Miami Dolphins running back DeAndre Washington (hamstring) was unable to suit up for practice on Thursday. He has missed two straight practices and it sounds unlikely that he'll suit up against the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 13. He saw 13 carries versus the New York Jets last week, but his fantasy value might be gone now. Both Salvon Ahmed (shoulder) and Myles Gaskin (knee) could see carries over him, assuming they suit up. The Dolphins backfield situation is chaos right now. Fantasy owners in desperate need of running back help should hold Washington in case he does become the lead back this week.
Miami Dolphins running back Matt Breida has looked awful this season and it's unlikely going to get better for him going forward. Last week, Breida saw eight carries for 36 yards in the win over the New York Jets. He has basically been a non-factor in fantasy leagues all season long. However, there is a small chance he becomes the lead back against the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 13. Somehow, DeAndre Washington (hamstring), Salvon Ahmed (shoulder), and Myles Gaskin (knee) are all banged up heading into this game. Breida might have fantasy value, assuming all three of them sit out, which is highly unlikely to happen.
Houston Texans RB C.J. Prosise (illness) will miss the Week 13 game due to a stomach illness.
Miami Dolphins running back Salvon Ahmed (shoulder) was limited during Thursday's practice, which makes the picture in the backfield a little cloudy. Myles Gaskin (knee) has been practicing, but remains on the injured reserve right now. DeAndre Washington (hamstring) is not practicing at the moment. Ahmed could very well find himself with low-end RB2 value versus the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 13. However, his value is dependent on both Gaskin and Washington missing this contest.
Miami Dolphins running back Myles Gaskin (knee) has been practicing for two weeks, but remains on the injured reserve heading into Week 13. The team has until Saturday afternoon to activate Gaskin for the matchup against the Cincinnati Bengals. Gaskin has missed four straight games, but was a reliable lead back when healthy. It's unclear what kind of role he could have, assuming Salvon Ahmed (shoulder) is cleared to play as well. It might be a timeshare, which would pretty much make both of them unfavorable options.
Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa (thumb) was limited during Thursday's practice, so it's unclear if he'll suit up versus the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 13. He sat out last week in the victory over the New York Jets, but it sounds like it's a 50/50 chance right now. This would be a favorable matchup for Tagovailoa, but he hasn't shown much fantasy value through his first few starts. Most fantasy owners should probably play it safe and use someone else unless you're that desperate. Head coach Brian Flores is unlikely to announce the starter until Sunday.
Miami Dolphins quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick has surprisingly been a reliable fantasy option this season for basically the first time in his career. He'll head into a favorable matchup against the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 13. However, head coach Brian Flores has not decided who is going to be the starting quarterback for that contest. Tua Tagovailoa (thumb) has been limited during practice, but will be the starter, assuming he's 100 percent healthy. Fitzpatrick has looked much better under center and holds decent streaming appeal, assuming Tagovailoa sits out on Sunday.
New York Jets wide receiver Jamison Crowder looked like a superstar through the first half of the season, but he has been unable to do much of anything lately. Crowder has six total receptions over his last three games. Breshad Perriman and Denzel Mims have looked like better fantasy options lately. Obviously, there's plenty of upside for Crowder against the Las Vegas Raiders secondary. However, he'll be a risky WR3/flex for Week 13, because there's a good chance he produces another dud in this brutal Jets offense. In his last three games against the Patriots, Chargers and Dolphins, Crowder has totaled six catches for 73 yards and a touchdown.
The Indianapolis Colts activated defensive tackle DeForest Buckner from the Reserve/COVID-19 list on Friday, and he's eligible to play in Week 13 against the Texans. Without Buckner and sack leader Denico Autry on the defensive line last week, Derrick Henry and the Titans ran all over the Colts Defense and imposed their will. Both Buckner and Autry have been taken off the COVID-19 list and will play on Sunday, so Indianapolis' defense will be much more attractive as a fringe fantasy unit in 12- and 14-team leagues this weekend. Buckner has recorded 40 tackles (23 solo), 16 QB hits, one fumble recovery and 2.5 sacks in his first 10 games for the Colts this year after being a Pro Bowler with the 49ers in 2018. You can insert him back into starting lineups in IDP leagues.
New York Jets wide receiver Denzel Mims has shown promising upside since debuting in Week 7. Mims finished with 42 receiving yards or more in every game he's played in this season. The Jets have been making an effort to get Mims involved in the gameplan on a weekly basis. He should continue seeing targets against the Las Vegas Raiders in Week 13. They have a questionable secondary, so Mims might be able to hold WR3 value in PPR formats this week.
New York Jets running back Frank Gore is expected to remain the lead back through the rest of the regular season. Last week, he rushed 18 times for 74 yards and hauled in three receptions for 12 yards in the loss to the Miami Dolphins. The Jets continue to pound the ball with Gore, so he could hold minimal value in fantasy leagues. He'll get a favorable matchup against the Las Vegas Raiders defense in Week 13. A defense that has allowed the fourth-most fantasy points to running backs this season. Gore can be considered a low-end flex option in PPR formats this week.
New York Jets wide receiver Breshad Perriman (shoulder) was limited during Wednesday's practice, but is expected to play versus the Las Vegas Raiders in Week 13. This isn't anything new since Perriman has been playing through pain all season long. He finished with four receptions for 79 yards in the loss to the Miami Dolphins last week. Fantasy owners should be able to trust Perriman as a low-end WR3 in PPR formats against the shaky Raiders secondary.
New York Jets quarterback Sam Darnold has been an awful fantasy option all season long and that's not going to change anytime soon. The young QB has not thrown a passing touchdown since Week 3. Sadly, that's not a joke, but it's not all Darnold's fault. He has been banged up and the Jets didn't give him many weapons on offense. He'll head into a matchup against the Las Vegas Raiders who have struggled to stop the passing attack this season. However, Darnold has continued to show that he is not a fantasy option in just about any format.
Indianapolis Colts DT DeForest Buckner was activated from the Reserve/COVID-19 list Friday, Dec. 4.
Kansas City Chiefs rookie running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire will look to get back on track versus the Denver Broncos in Week 13. The rookie hasn't been putting up big numbers of late, but much can be attributed to game flow and the Chiefs favoring a pass game over run game. The rookie was able to put up 46 yards on eight carries with a catch for 17 yards in a Week 7 battle and even facing a Broncos Defense allowing 105 rushing yards a game, managers shouldn't be valuing CEH as more than a low-end RB2 or flex option at this point of the season due to his limited opportunities and veteran running back Le'Veon Bell continuing to see around a third of the snaps in the Chiefs backfield.
Kansas City Chiefs running back Le'Veon Bell will continue to see backfield looks versus the Denver Broncos in Week 13. The Chiefs have been giving Bell around a third of the backfield looks with rookie running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire receiving around 60% of late. Bell will face a Broncos team allowing 105 yards per game to opposing rushers, but managers shouldn't expect much out of the veteran. The Chiefs have been pass heavy with quarterback Patrick Mahomes at the helm and that has limited both Bell and Edwards-Helaire in the backfield. Bell is worth holding onto as an insurance policy to Edwards-Helaire, but he remains a shaky flex option with limited opportunities.
Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce will look to continue his strong season versus the Denver Broncos in Week 13. Kelce will look for revenge against a Broncos Defense that limited him to just three catches for 31 yards in Week 7. The Broncos have been holding opposing tight ends to just 46 yards and under five receptions a game, but Kelce is in a class of his own when it comes to the tight end position and remains a huge part of the Chiefs offense. Managers shouldn't worry about his performance in Week 7 and can safely fire up Kelce as a TE1 in Week 13 and beyond.