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Bills' Allen shows growth since last start against Chargers

Fri Nov 27 6:23pm ET
AP Sports Writer

In this Nov. 1, 2020, file photo, Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen (17) throws a pass during the first half of an NFL football game against the New England Patriots in Orchard Park, N.Y. Allen and the AFC East-leading Bills prepare to host the rookie Justin Herbert-led Chargers on Sunday in a showdown of the NFLs two leaders in yards passing. (AP Photo/John Munson, File)

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) As much as he'd like, Josh Allen can't change the past when the topic of the Bills quarterback's first career start was mentioned this week.

''Obviously, very nervous, and things didn't turn out so great,'' Allen said, when asked to recall any lingering memories of Buffalo's 31-20 loss to the Los Angeles Chargers two weeks into the 2018 season.

''I should've, could've done a better job if I could go back and do it all over now,'' he added. ''But it did teach me some valuable lessons. ... It helped me. It really did, and I think you need to go through some of the bumps and bruises.''

In finishing 18 of 33 for 245 yards with a touchdown in the final minute, and two interceptions, Allen's outing was typically reflective of a raw rookie thrust into action after Nathan Peterman unraveled in Buffalo's season opener.

The signs of growth have become undeniably apparent some 2 1/2 years later as Allen and the AFC East-leading Bills (7-3) prepare to host the Chargers (3-7) on Sunday.

In playing a key role in Buffalo winning at least seven of its first 10 games in consecutive seasons for the first time since 1995 and '96, Allen has shed many of his erratic tendencies to be considered one of the NFL's top young quarterbacks.

His 2,871 yards passing rank eighth in the NFL, his 68.4 completion percentage stands ninth, as does his 103.2 passer rating in a season he has thrown 21 touchdowns - one more than last year - versus seven interceptions.

It helps that Buffalo spent the past two offseasons upgrading the talent around Allen, including this year's addition of Stefon Diggs to fill out an established group of receivers featuring Cole Beasley and John Brown.

And yet, coach Sean McDermott said Allen deserves credit for his ability to learn from his mistakes.

Chargers coach Anthony Lynn has seen a difference.

''He's grown tremendously,'' Lynn said.

''It's what you would expect from a young quarterback of his skillset and football IQ,'' he added. ''These guys don't come into the league hall of famers. They get developed, and they get better every single year. This year, he's looking like the league MVP to me.''

The Chargers, for all their flaws in blowing second-half leads, have the makings of a young, promising star of their own in Justin Herbert.

The first-round pick out of Oregon ranks 10th with 2,699 yards passing, and has already topped 300 yards five times, one short of matching the NFL rookie record in just nine starts. With 22 touchdown passes, he's three short of becoming the NFL's fourth rookie to reach 25. And he's 301 yards passing from joining Patrick Mahomes in becoming just the NFL's second player to reach 3,000 in his first 10 career starts.

What encourages Lynn is how much room Herbert still has to develop after being forced to start after Tyrod Taylor was sidelined with a rib injury in Week 1.

''There's a lot he doesn't know, and we're still putting more on his plate every single week,'' Lynn said. ''I love the way he's handling that, especially under the circumstances.''


The Chargers could get a big jolt to their running game if Austin Ekeler can return to action.

The running back led the AFC in scrimmage yards after three games before suffering a hamstring injury in Week 4 at Tampa Bay. In the six-plus games since, the running game has been inconsistent with Justin Jackson, Troymaine Pope and Kalen Ballage taking the lead at various points. Ballage has been the top back recently, topping 70 yards from scrimmage in each of the past three games.


Chargers receiver Keenan Allen leads the league with 81 receptions, which is eight ahead of Diggs, who is second.

Allen has five games with nine or more receptions, including last week against the Jets when he set a team record with 16. With 605 catches, he needs 18 in the next four games to pass Antonio Brown's mark for most through a player's first 100 games.


The Bills had their bye week to get over the disappointment of a 32-30 loss at Arizona, which Kyler Murray sealed with a 43-yard touchdown pass to DeAndre Hopkins with 2 seconds remaining.

''It's got to be behind us,'' McDermott said. ''One pass is not going to define our season. One pass, in particular that type of pass, is not indicative of who we are as a team.''


The Chargers defense has allowed a league-low average of 134.3 yards offense in the first half. The second half is another story. The 209.7 yards allowed average after halftime is fourth worst.

The second-half collapses are why the Chargers have lost four games after having double-digit leads. They had an 18-point lead in a 34-28 win over the Jets last week. New York pulled within one score late in the fourth quarter and drove into Chargers territory before Gus Bradley's unit finally held.


The Bills have lost four straight to the Chargers, and haven't led at any point since a 23-14 win on Oct. 19, 2008.

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Rob Gronkowski Nov 27 6:20pm ET

Tampa Bay Buccaneers tight end Rob Gronkowski prepares to face off with the defending champion Chiefs in a Week 12 battle. Gronkowski has been giving to fantasy owners in all formats lately, as he's scored at least 10 standard points and 13 PPR points in four of his last six games, averaging 5.8 targets per contest. With the tight end position more of a dice roll than usual, Gronkowski offers something of good value- he checks in among the leaders at the position in red-zone targets. That's worth starting him as a solid TE1 in a game that could end up with a high point total.

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Irv Smith Jr. Nov 27 6:20pm ET

Minnesota Vikings tight end Irv Smith Jr. (groin) is doubtful to play in Week 12 against the Panthers. Smith missed practice the last two days, so fantasy managers need to remove him from their starting lineups. The second-year tight end hasn't gone over four receptions or 64 yards receiving in a single game this year and has just two touchdowns, so he's been more of a TE2 in 2020. Kyle Rudolph should benefit from Smith's absence, as he saw a season-high five targets in the only other game in which Smith didn't play this year. Rudolph could also benefit from extra looks with wide receiver Adam Thielen unlikely to play because of COVID-19. Rudolph can be considered a TE2 sleeper in DFS and deeper single-year formats.

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Gardner Minshew II Nov 27 6:10pm ET

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Davante Adams Nov 27 6:10pm ET

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Tevin Coleman Nov 27 6:00pm ET

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Jakeem Grant Nov 27 6:00pm ET

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Antonio Brown Nov 27 6:00pm ET

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Chris Godwin Nov 27 5:50pm ET

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Jeff Wilson Nov 27 5:50pm ET

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Mike Evans Nov 27 5:40pm ET

Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Mike Evans faces a Chiefs Defense that has been stingy to opposing wideouts. The Chiefs have allowed the fourth-fewest fantasy points per game to the position, though there's a good chance this game turns into a battle between Tom Brady and Patrick Mahomes. If that happens, Evans would surely be one of the beneficiaries. Over the last four games, he's averaging 8.3 targets and 61.3 receiving yards- he has three touchdowns in that span. He has remained a steady producer despite the addition of Antonio Brown to the offense. Keep Evans in the lineup as an upside WR2 despite the seemingly tough matchup.

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Matt Ryan Nov 27 5:30pm ET

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Leonard Fournette Nov 27 5:10pm ET

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Darren Waller Nov 27 5:10pm ET

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Hunter Renfrow Nov 27 5:00pm ET

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Ronald Jones II Nov 27 5:00pm ET

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New York Giants Nov 27 4:50pm ET

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Mitch Trubisky Nov 27 4:50pm ET

Chicago Bears head coach Matt Nagy announced on Friday that quarterback Mitchell Trubisky will start in Week 12 against the division-rival Packers. However, with Nick Foles (hip) doubtful to play, Nagy made no assurances that Trubisky would keep the starting job beyond this Sunday. Trubisky started the year under center but was benched in favor of Foles in Week 3. He played one snap in Week 8 and injured his shoulder, causing him to miss the last two games. Trubisky has been extremely inconsistent throwing the football, but his rushing ability could give the Bears offense and fantasy managers more upside against Green Bay. Still, the Packers Defense has been pretty tough against opposing QBs this year, and Trubisky is nothing more than a low-end QB2 in superflex leagues as he returns to the starting role.

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Tom Brady Nov 27 4:40pm ET

Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady is poised to face off with Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs in Week 12. Brady comes into the contest licking his wounds a bit, as he has five touchdown passes and as many interceptions in his past three games. However, the Tampa Bay offense will have to put up points to keep up with the defending champs, who lead the league in points per game. The 46-point explosion a couple of weeks ago against Carolina showed the kind of upside the Buccaneers have when everything is clicking. Two of Brady's last three meetings with the Chiefs have been high-scoring affairs with at least 70 points put up on the board. At worst, the veteran signal-caller will be a low-end QB1, though he has some serious upside his week.

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Kyler Murray Nov 27 4:40pm ET

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