Sun Nov 29 8:51pm ET
By ARNIE STAPLETON
AP Pro Football Writer
Denver Broncos quarterback Kendall Hinton (2) is hit after the throw by New Orleans Saints defensive end Marcus Davenport during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Nov. 29, 2020, in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
New Orleans Saints outside linebacker Demario Davis (56) and outside linebacker Kwon Alexander (58) celebrates a defensive stop against the Denver Broncos during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Nov. 29, 2020, in Denver. (AP Photo/Jack Dempsey)
Denver Broncos quarterback Kendall Hinton (2) is tackled by New Orleans Saints outside linebacker Demario Davis (56) during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Nov. 29, 2020, in Denver. (AP Photo/Jack Dempsey)
New Orleans Saints quarterback Taysom Hill (7) is tackled by Denver Broncos outside linebacker Jeremiah Attaochu (97) and defensive end Dre'Mont Jones during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Nov. 29, 2020, in Denver. (AP Photo/Jack Dempsey)
New Orleans Saints safety Chauncey Gardner-Johnson (22) celebrates his interception against the Denver Broncos during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Nov. 29, 2020, in Denver. (AP Photo/Jack Dempsey)
DENVER (AP) Taysom Hill didn't look much like an NFL quarterback Sunday when the Denver Broncos held him to 78 yards passing, intercepted him once and sacked him three times.
Despite a paltry passer rating of 43.2, it wasn't Hill who looked out of position in a game New Orleans won handily 31-3 for their first win over the Broncos since Dec. 24, 1994.
It was Broncos QB Kendall Hinton who looked lost - and for good reason: until Sunday he was a practice squad receiver, and he was forced into action when all of Denver's quarterbacks were disqualified over coronavirus concerns.
By comparison, Hill looked like Tom Brady.
''Taysom played this thing just how I wanted him to play it, and it doesn't have to be aesthetically pleasing to be effective,'' Saints coach Sean Payton said. ''The job is to win and he did a good job of that.''
In a grind-it-out slugfest like from pro football's early days, the Saints won their second straight game with Hill subbing for the injured Drew Brees. But Hill wasn't nearly as sharp as a week earlier against the Falcons, when he completed 18 of 23 passes for 233 yards and a 108.9 passer rating.
Hill did run for 44 yards and two touchdowns against the Broncos and Latavius Murray rushed for 124 yards and two scores to help the NFC-leading Saints (9-2) overcome a slow start and win for the eighth straight time.
''The game plan changed the last 24 hours. So, my mindset changed as well and I really became a game manager at that point and certainly the way Sean called the game reflected that,'' Hill said. ''We're not going to take any unnecessary risks and put the defense in a bad situation.''
The Broncos (4-7) were forced to play without any of their four quarterbacks because of coronavirus concerns, so they promoted Hinton from their practice squad two hours before kickoff.
''When I got the call it was pure excitement,'' Hinton said. ''Of course, there was nerves and disbelief but the encouragement the team gave me ... made it a lot easier for me.''
The former Wake Forest quarterback who converted to wide receiver his senior year went just 1-for-9 for 13 yards with a sack, two interceptions and a passer rating of zero.
''He did everything he could,'' Broncos coach Vic Fangio said. ''That was a big, big ask.''
The Broncos (4-7) also sprinkled in some wildcat snaps to running backs Royce Freeman and Phillip Lindsay, who left in the second half with a knee injury.
The Broncos were thrust into this quarterback quandary when their passers failed to wear masks as mandated by the NFL's COVID-19 protocol last week.
Starting quarterback Drew Lock, backup Brett Rypien and practice squad veteran Blake Bortles were disqualified over the weekend when the NFL discovered the three weren't wearing masks around each other before No. 3 QB Jeff Driskel tested positive for the coronavirus on Thursday.
The Broncos managed 37 yards and a single first down before heading into halftime down 17-0 after the Saints scored twice off turnovers in the final 2:22 of the second quarter.
Center Lloyd Cushenberry III's low snap skittered past Lindsay and Kwon Alexander was headed for the end zone after scooping it up. Broncos left tackle Garett Bolles, who signed a four-year, $68 million extension Saturday, tripped him up at the 23.
Hill, who scored from 1 yard in the first quarter, added a 2-yard TD run to make it 14-0. Two plays later, Janoris Jenkins intercepted Hinton's underthrown pass to DaeSean Hamilton, and that set up Wil Lutz's 40-yard field goal as the clock expired.
It took Brandon McManus' 58-yard field goal to keep the Broncos from getting shut out at home for the first time ever - 465 games.
The field goal was set up by another undrafted Wake Forest rookie, cornerback Essang Bassey, who returned an interception 26 yards to the Saints 40-yard line in the third quarter.
Hinton's last touchdown pass came on Oct. 7, 2017, against Clemson, which is more recently than Hill, whose last TD throw was on Nov. 26, 2016, for BYU against Utah State.
An hour before kickoff, Lock tweeted an explanation and a mea culpa in which he admitted the QBs weren't wearing their masks when they gathered last week.
After the game, Fangio said, ''For our quarterbacks to put us in this position was disappointing and I'm disappointed that I didn't do a good enough job selling them on the importance of the protocols.''
While some players such as tight end Noah Fant were incredulous over the league forcing Denver to play a game without any of its QBs, other Broncos took the news in stride.
Von Miller and Bradley Chubb both made posts comically suggesting they could play quarterback, and the team's Twitter account even had a mock request inquiring if Nuggets supreme passer Nikola Jokic might be available.
Saints placed backup G Derrick Kelly on the reserve/COVID-19 list Sunday. KR Marquez Callaway (knee) and Jenkins (knee) also got dinged.
Broncos CB/PR Bryce Callahan (foot) and Lindsay (knee) were hurt in the second half.
Saints: visit Atlanta.
Broncos: visit Kansas City.
Sunday Morning Update: Week 12
New York Jets wide receiver Denzel Mims has been one of the few bright spots for this winless team. He has recorded five straight games with 40 receiving yards or more, but sadly the Jets continue to lose. He hauled in four of his eight targets for 67 yards in the loss to the Miami Dolphins in Week 12. The second-round rookie has looked good over the last few weeks, but doesn't hold great fantasy value. He'll be a low-end WR3 versus the Las Vegas Raiders next week.
Cincinnati Bengals running back Giovani Bernard was held in check by the Giants on Sunday, rushing for 32 yards on just eight carries. Even with third-string quarterback Brandon Allen making the start, Bernard received just ten touches (having added two receptions) as Cincinnati struggled to produce on offense. With Joe Mixon (foot) on injured reserve and potentially done for the season, Bernard should be in line to lead the backfield moving forward despite his finicky production. No other Bengals running back saw multiple carries in the contest, indicating Bernard's unimpeded access to RB1 duties for the team. While he remains a cog in the passing game, he has now received single-digit carries in each of his last three contests and will be a tough season-long asset when facing a Dolphins Defense in Week 13 that has broken out as an above-average unit.
New York Jets running back Frank Gore had the backfield all to himself during the Week 12 matchup against the Miami Dolphins. The veteran back rushed 18 times for 74 yards in the loss. He also hauled in three receptions for 12 yards through the air. The 74 yards were a season high for Gore, but fantasy owners shouldn't get too excited. It's unlikely that Gore carries anything more than a low-end flex option for the rest of the season.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers tight end Rob Gronkowski hauled in six of seven targets for a season-high 106 yards against the Chiefs. He looked like vintage Gronkowski out there, as he and Tom Brady connected on a few big plays down the field, including a 48-yard, catch-and-run play. There probably won't be many weeks where the veteran tight end leads his team in receiving yards, particularly with all the threats at wide receiver. However, it's safe to say that Gronkowski has solidified himself as a TE1 with the fantasy playoffs approaching. A Week 13 bye is up next, followed by a matchup with a struggling Vikings' pass defense.
New York Jets wide receiver Breshad Perriman was expected to see a decreased role, but that not was not the case in this one. He hauled in four of his eight targets for 79 yards in the Week 12 loss to the Miami Dolphins. He tied with Denzel Mims with a team-high eight targets, so clearly the Jets want to get him involved. Sadly, Perriman has not been able to make much happen with his chances. He'll be a low-end WR3 in PPR formats for the Week 13 matchup with the Las Vegas Raiders.
The 49ers Defense had one of their strongest efforts of the year so far in Week 12 against the Los Angeles Rams. They forced a total of four turnovers in the game. Rams quarterback Jared Goff threw two interceptions, including one that was returned for a defensive touchdown by Javon Kinlaw. Goff was sacked twice in the game and lost a fumble. The 49ers also recovered a fumble by Rams running back Malcolm Brown. The Rams only managed 182 passing yards in the game and put up just 20 points on the scoreboard. It was an all-around great effort by the 49ers Defense. They'll look to stay hot in a tough matchup against the Buffalo Bills in Week 13.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Chris Godwin caught a team-high eight of nine targets for 97 receiving yards in a loss to the Chiefs. Aside from a big, 44-yard catch, Godwin continued to operate as Tom Brady's safety blanket over the middle of the field. Godwin's shorter routes out of the slot seem suited to Brady's game at this point, as the star wideout has been peppered with 19 targets over the last two contests. He has the highest floor of any Buccaneers' receiver and should continue to be a safe WR2 every week. Godwin could have upside for even more in a Week 14 matchup against the Vikings' leaky secondary after the bye.
New York Jets quarterback Sam Darnold continued his cold streak versus the Miami Dolphins in Week 12. He completed 16 of 27 passing attempts for 197 yards with zero touchdowns and two interceptions in the loss. It was the fourth straight game that Darnold has finished without a touchdown pass. To be fair, he was playing against one of the best defenses in the league and the Jets offensive line is banged up. There honestly is no reason to own Darnold in basically any fantasy formats going forward.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Antonio Brown had a quiet game in a Week 12 loss against Kansas City. Brown caught two of three targets for 11 receiving yards, as he took a backseat to fellow wideouts, Mike Evans and Chris Godwin. The former All-Pro receiver was involved in the game plan up to this point, which makes this effort a bit puzzling. Still, it's best to consider this a blip on the radar, considering he had seen at least five targets in each game before this one. Brown gets an excellent matchup after his team's Week 13 bye against a bad Minnesota defensive backfield.
Las Vegas Raiders tight end Darren Waller had a disappointing day as did the rest of the team, catching just four passes on seven targets for 27 yards. His seven targets was second-most on the team, but it did not amount to a performance that fantasy owners would like to see out of one of the top tight ends in football. With that being said, he has at least five targets in nine of 11 games this season and is still a must-start tight end despite this poor performance. He takes on a Jets Defense next week that allowed a touchdown to Miami's Mike Gesicki in Week 12.
San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Kendrick Bourne caught three of his five targets for 34 yards in Week 12 against the Los Angeles Rams. Bourne was second on the team in receiving yards in the game, trailing only Deebo Samuel, who compiled 133 receiving yards. Samuel was also the only wide receiver with more targets than Bourne. However, tight end Jordan Reed was second on the team overall in targets with six. This was a relatively standard game for Bourne, who has been right around three or four catches most weeks, rarely going over 50 receiving yards. He's a low-upside player who isn't worth owning in fantasy leagues.
San Francisco 49ers tight end Jordan Reed had a disappointing showing in Week 12 against the Los Angeles Rams. He was second on the team in targets with six, trailing only Deebo Samuel, who had 13. However, Reed was only able to catch two passes for 18 yards in the game. The Rams boast one of the league's top pass defenses and Samuel, who had 11 catches for 133 yards, was the only 49ers pass-catcher to find any success. Reed should remain a low-end TE1 option going forward. Next week, he'll have a more favorable matchup against the Buffalo Bills.
San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Richie James Jr. reeled in his only target, a 29-yard reception, in Week 12 against the Los Angeles Rams. The 49ers weren't able to do much through the air this week when any pass-catcher not named Deebo Samuel was involved. Samuel led the team with 11 catches for 133 yards while no other 49er had more than 35 receiving yards. James is behind Samuel, Kendrick Bourne and tight end Jordan Reed in the pecking order. That's not to mention the team's running backs, who are heavily involved in the passing game, or rookie receiver Brandon Aiyuk (COVID), who should be back next week. James can remain on waivers in all fantasy leagues at this point.
Las Vegas Raiders wide receiver Nelson Agholor had a decent performance in a 43-6 loss against the Falcons. He hauled in five passes on six targets for 54 yards. Agholor now has back-to-back games with at least five catches. He did not connect on a deep ball as he has done many times this year, but it was a fairly respectable performance. Agholor is still a very inconsistent player and tough to trust from week to week. He has four games with at least four catches, but he has gone for two or less receptions in the other seven games. Agholor will look to connect on a couple deep balls next week against a Jets Defense that is prone to big plays.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Mike Evans hauled in three of nine targets for 50 yards and two scores in a loss to Kansas City. Evans was having a relatively quiet day- and then the fourth quarter happened, where he caught a beautiful, 31-yard deep ball from Tom Brady for his first score. He grabbed a seven-yard touchdown to bring the Buccaneers within three points. Evans continues to be a magnet for the end zone, as he has 11 touchdown receptions this year. He's compiled at least 50 receiving yards in four of his last five games and will be a WR1/2 against the Vikings' poor secondary coming out of the Week 13 bye.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back Ronald Jones II carried the ball nine times for 66 rushing yards and caught one pass for 37 receiving yards and a touchdown. The Buccaneers were playing from behind for much of their loss to Kansas City, which explains why Jones only saw 10 touches. Still, he showcased some serious explosive ability, ripping off a 34-yard run and a 37-yard, catch-and-run touchdown up the sidelines. The 23-year-old has out-touched fellow back Leonard Fournette 44-24 over the last three weeks, though he proved in this game that he doesn't necessarily need the touches to produce. Jones will get a Week 13 bye before a favorable matchup against the Vikings.
San Francisco 49ers running back Jerick McKinnon has a quiet game against the Los Angeles Rams in Week 12. He carried the ball three times for 21 yards and caught two of his three targets for 11 yards. The team got both Raheem Mostert and Jeff Wilson Jr. back in this game. Both players had been sidelined over a month. Mostert and Wilson received 16 and 12 carries, respectively, which led to the minimal workload for McKinnon. On the bright side, McKinnon was the team's most effective pass-catching running back in the game. He's tough to trust for fantasy purposes now that the team is more healthy at running back.
Las Vegas Raiders wide receiver Henry Ruggs III was featured a bit more in the offense in Week 12, catching three passes on five targets for 56 yards in a loss to the Falcons. This broke a streak of five straight games where Ruggs failed to go for over 40 receiving yards. It was just the third game of the season where Ruggs had at least three catches, so he will still be tough to trust going forward. His five targets was tied for the most he has seen all season, so it is hopefully a sign of things to come. Ruggs likely is not a viable fantasy option for his next game, but he will look to build on this performance in Week 13 against the Jets.
Kansas City Chiefs rookie running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire received 61% of the backfield snaps in Week 12 versus the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, but was limited to just 11 carries for 37 yards and one catch for two yards. The rookie continues to see a limited amount of carries with the Chiefs preferring to pass the ball with MVP Patrick Mahomes. CEH has yet to over 14 carries in a game since the Chiefs signed Le'Veon Bell and Bell has been getting around 30% of the backfield snaps. Edwards-Helaire is still worth rostering and should be considered a RB2 against a Broncos Defense that the rookie scored against in Week 7.
San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Deebo Samuel had a fantastic game in his return to action in Week 12 against the Los Angeles Rams. Samuel, who had been sidelined for about a month with a hamstring injury, led the team in all primary receiving categories this week, catching 11 of 13 targets for 133 yards. No other 49er had more than three catches or more than 35 receiving yards in the game. Samuel flourished despite a tough matchup against a stingy Rams pass defense that included coverage from star cornerback Jalen Ramsey. Going forward, Samuel should be considered a solid WR3 most weeks, though his target share is bound to go down when the team gets Brandon Aiyuk (COVID) back, which will likely be next week.