Indianapolis Colts' Adam Vinatieri (4) kicks a field goal from the hold of Rigoberto Sanchez during the second half of the team's NFL football game against the Miami Dolphins in Indianapolis, Sunday, Nov. 10, 2019. (AP Photo/AJ Mast)
Indianapolis Colts head coach Frank Reich throws the challenge flag during the first half against the Pittsburgh Steelers in an NFL football game, Sunday, Nov. 3, 2019, in Pittsburgh. (AP Photo/Don Wright)
Indianapolis Colts quarterback Brian Hoyer (2) takes a snap against the Pittsburgh Steelers after Jacoby Brissett was injured in the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Nov. 3, 2019, in Pittsburgh. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
Houston Texans inside linebacker Zach Cunningham (41) tackles Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Gardner Minshew (15) during the second half of an NFL football game at Wembley Stadium, Sunday, Nov. 3, 2019, in London. (AP Photo/Ian Walton)
Jacksonville Jaguars head coach Doug Marrone walks the sidelines during the first half of an NFL football game against the Houston Texans at Wembley Stadium, Sunday, Nov. 3, 2019, in London. (AP Photo/Ian Walton)
Jaguars QB Nick Foles holds a ball during a NFL training session of the Jacksonville Jaguars at the at Allianz Park in London, Friday, Nov. 1, 2019. The Jacksonville Jaguars are preparing for an NFL regular season game against the Houston Texans in London on Sunday. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) Nick Foles’ long-awaited return will come with all the typical emotions Sunday.
The Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback is excited to play, eager to prove he’s healthy and optimistic about keeping his team in the playoff hunt. And, the most anticipated part for Foles might be his brief reunion with Colts coach Frank Reich, the man who helped revive his career.
“He’s a guy that I admire more than anything,” Foles said. “He’s a guy that has impacted my life so much, and he’s going to be on the opposing sideline, so that’s going to be fun.”
Foles entered the league as a third-round pick, full of promise. But after four seasons and 35 starts in Philadelphia and St. Louis, Foles found himself in the backup role in Kansas City and then Philadelphia, where Reich was in his second season as offensive coordinator.
Then, when MVP front-runner Carson Wentz went down with a late-season injury and the Eagles’ offense started to sputter, Reich made an adjustment for the playoffs and everything changed.
Foles led the Eagles to the Super Bowl title, was named Super Bowl MVP and Reich took the job in Indianapolis.
On Sunday, they’ll be on opposite sidelines in Indianapolis.
“I think it will be emotional seeing him because of what he means to me,” Foles said. “He’s one of the greatest people I’ve ever met, so when he went there, I was so excited for him. But I’m going to go out there and play.”
The Colts (5-4) don’t have much film on Foles.
He took only 11 snaps before breaking his left collarbone then turned the job over to rookie Gardner Minshew who became an instant sensation because of his moustache and his ability to win.
Now with the Jags (4-5) needing a division win, Foles returns - just in time for Reich to help give his defensive coaches a scouting report.
“I sat down and spoke with (defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus) about Nick’s abilities, mindset and that kind of thing - not a whole lot to be honest with you,” Reich said. “I told him what I thought about a few things, in detail about a few things.”
Indy is dealing with its own issues.
For the first time in 13 months, they’ve lost back-to-back games. They’ve fallen out of the AFC South lead and are dealing with their own quarterback situation as Jacoby Brissett tries to play with a sprained medial collateral ligament in his left knee. Brian Hoyer replaced Brissett each of the past two weeks but Brissett was a full participant in practice and is expected to reclaim his starting job Sunday.
But for Foles, this game comes with a personal touch.
“He’d get up in front of the team after a loss or tough time and he just kept it real and he kept it light, he was joyful,” Foles said of Reich. “There was something different in his heart. But seeing him handle his everyday life like he did, with the joy he had, and how he spoke to people and loved everyone, was the most impactful thing and it was really special to be around. And obviously, he’s an amazing coach, he knows football.”
Adam Vinatieri has missed six extra points and five field goals this season, and it was a hot topic all week in Indy.
The Colts brought in free agents for tryouts Tuesday before opting to stick with the 24-year veteran who is the league’s career scoring leader. Reich continues to insist he has full confidence in his kicker.
“I believe whatever we’re going through is just a phase and he is going to help us win games and get to where we want to go,” Reich said.
Indy won 11 of the first 14 games in this series, but lately Jacksonville has had the upper hand.
The Jags have won three of four under coach Doug Marrone and have not allowed a point in the past three halves against the Colts. Indy has only been shut out twice since 2003 - and both came against Jacksonville during Marrone’s tenure.
“We still have to keep developing, we still have to get these guys better,” Marrone said. “We need to get better and better each week.”
While Indy’s offense has languished the past few weeks, the defense has played well.
In the past five games, Indy is allowing an average of 18.2 points - a number that is even lower when an interception return for a touchdown is subtracted. But the difference isn’t just showing up on the scoreboard.
Reich and Eberflus say they see it on tape, play after play.
Tennessee Titans running back Derrick Henry (hamstring) said "I'll be ready to go" for Week 15 against the Raiders. Henry has been rested early in the week recently as he navigates a nagging hamstring injury, but he should be fine for this Sunday and is a must-start in all fantasy lineups. The bruising 25-year-old back is once again carrying teams in the fantasy playoffs in 2019 with four straight 100-yard performances. We see no reason why that shouldn't continue against Oakland this weekend as long as Henry plays the entire game.
Atlanta Falcons kicker Younghoe Koo has certainly risen to the occasion since joining the team in November. He's hit 16 of his 18 field goal attempts on the year, with three made field goals in four of the five games he's played with the Falcons. This week, the Falcons face the 49ers and both teams should be able to put some points on the board. Expect Koo to get around three field goal attempts in the game with a few extra-point opportunities to boot, making him a solid starting kicker option once again this week.
The Falcons Defense faces an extremely tough task in Week 15. They're up against a 49ers team that has put up 36-or-more points in three of the past four weeks. The only time they were held under that number was against the Ravens. Needless to say, the Falcons don't have quite as formidable of a defense as the Ravens. The Falcons will likely cede over 30 points in this game and they may struggle to come up with a turnover, let alone multiple turnovers, to save their day. They should be avoided in all formats.
Indianapolis Colts wide receiver T.Y. Hilton (calf) is returning to practice on Thursday. It gives him a chance to suit up on Monday night against the Saints. Hilton hasn't seen game action since Nov. 21 against the Texans, though, so he could have his snaps limited if he returns against New Orleans. That would obviously make him a pretty risky fantasy option, especially on a Colts team that is usually run-first. Making the decision even tougher for fantasy owners is that the game is on Monday. Zach Pascal is Indy's No. 1 receiver with Hilton out, so he'd be the plug-and-play option if you take your decision all the way to Monday.
Atlanta Falcons rookie wide receiver Olamide Zaccheaus made waves with his first NFL catch last week. It went for 93 yards and a touchdown. Unfortunately, it was his only catch of the game. There might be more opportunities for Zaccheaus going forward as Calvin Ridley (abdominal) is out for the season and Julio Jones (shoulder) is currently questionable for Week 15 as well. Zaccheaus was fourth on the team in offensive snaps amongst receivers in Week 14, behind Jones, Ridley and Russell Gage. If Jones sits this week, Zaccheaus could be a worthwhile dart throw in DFS or as a WR4 in deep leagues. If Jones plays, it's probably best to just keep Zaccheaus on your watch list or add him to your bench.
Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Russell Gage should see his role increase going forward with Calvin Ridley (abdominal) out for the year. Gage has earned at least four targets in each of his past six games, with nine-plus targets in three games over that stretch. Julio Jones (shoulder) and Devonta Freeman (ankle) have been dealing with injuries this week and are both questionable for Week 15 against the 49ers. If one or both of them sit, Gage's upside becomes even higher, making him a must-start in PPR and a more realistic non-PPR option as well. Regardless of Jones and Freeman, Gage is a great WR3 or flex play in PPR as he should have a great chance to catch about five passes for 60-plus yards.
Atlanta Falcons tight end Austin Hooper has had an absolutely exceptional season with 58 catches for 640 yards and six touchdowns over 10 games. Last week, in his return from a three-game absence, he had one of his weaker showings of the year, catching just two passes for 32 yards. However, it was a rare off-game in an otherwise top-end season. Plus, the team just lost Calvin Ridley (abdominal) for the season and there's a chance they could be without Julio Jones (shoulder) and/or Devonta Freeman (ankle) this week as well. Hooper should see at least six or seven targets regardless of the availability of Jones and Freeman, and we've seen him turn in high-end tight end numbers with targets like those all year, so make sure to get him in your lineups.
Indianapolis Colts WR T.Y. Hilton (calf) is expected to be a limited participant in practice Thursday, Dec. 12, as the Colts return to the field. Head coach Frank Reich said the team plans to take it careful with Hilton, and he will play in Week 15 on Monday night only if the Colts feel he's 100 percent.
Fantasy Spin: Hilton has played in only one game with three receptions for 18 yards since Week 8, and it would be a nice early Christmas for his fantasy teams if he were able to return. That still seems like more of a longshot at this point, but we'll have to monitor Indy's practice reports over the next few days to get a better gauge.
Atlanta Falcons running back Qadree Ollison is currently third on the team's depth chart behind Devonta Freeman (ankle) and Brian Hill. Freeman has been dealing with an ankle injury this week and is currently questionable for Week 15, but even if he sits, it would be Hill who stands to benefit more than Ollison. In Week 14, Freeman earned 17 carries, while Hill had nine and Ollison had only four. If Freeman plays, Ollison's playing time will be greatly limited and if Freeman sits, Ollison will be a touchdown-or-bust option. He's best to avoid in all formats.
Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones (shoulder) has been limited in practice this week and is currently questionable for Week 15 against the 49ers. It was recently announced that Jones's teammate and fellow wide receiver Calvin Ridley (abdominal) would miss the rest of the season. So now, Jones figures to see an even heavier workload as Ridley had been seeing around 10 targets per game the past month. Jones is a must-start if he plays this week. He's had a disappointing season by his lofty standards with only four 100-yard games and no touchdowns since Week 3. However, he's been essentially a lock for five-plus catches and 60-plus yards all year, which is a fantastic baseline and we all know how high his ceiling is.
Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan is coming off a solid game against the Panthers in which he threw for 313 yards and two touchdowns without an interception. This week, the Falcons face a tougher matchup against the 49ers, but Ryan should still have ample opportunities to pile up yardage. The team will be without Calvin Ridley (abdominal) this week and for the rest of the season, but Ryan should have the rest of his primary arsenal intact. Expect him to throw for over 300 yards with two touchdowns on the day. He might throw one or two interceptions or lose a fumble, which makes him a low-end QB1 option this week as opposed to mid-tier or high-end.
Atlanta Falcons running back Brian Hill had a strong showing in Week 14 against the Panthers. He rushed the ball nine times for 62 yards and a touchdown playing as a backup to Devonta Freeman (ankle). There's a chance Freeman is out this week as he's dealing with an ankle injury and is currently questionable. If Freeman suits up, he's likely to receive around 20 touches and greatly limit Hill's workload. However, if Freeman is out, Hill becomes a potential RB3 or flex play against the 49ers. He doesn't have high upside as a starter, but could pull through with another touchdown or a few big plays.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston (thumb) is throwing tennis balls in practice on Thursday. Winston suffered a fractured thumb in Week 14 against the Colts but played through it. He's listed as day-to-day this week, but it's far from a guarantee that he'll even play in Week 15 against the Lions. Even if Winston is active, the thumb ailment could hamper his production, especially now that he no longer has talented wideout Mike Evans at his disposal the rest of the season. Winston has high-end QB1 potential against the Lions, but there's far more risk with him this week because of his fractured thumb. If he can't go, Ryan Griffin would get the nod and would be a weak QB2 play.
Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver D.J. Chark (ankle) will miss his second straight practice of the week on Thursday. Chark is considered week-to-week and is looking like a long shot to play in Week 15 against the Raiders. The 23-year-old has had an excellent season with 67 catches for 956 yards and eight touchdowns, but he's in danger of missing the final three games with his injury. Dede Westbrook, Chris Conley and Keelan Cole should be in three-wide sets if Chark misses any games. Westbrook is your best bet in fantasy, although Conley is also worth a look as a boom/bust type against a weak Raiders Defense this weekend if Chark is out.
Atlanta Falcons running back Devonta Freeman (ankle) was held out of Wednesday's practice and is currently questionable for Week 15 against the 49ers. Freeman had 21 touches in Week 14 against the Panthers and gained 94 yards and scored a touchdown in the game. As long as he suits up, he should be set for around 20 touches against the 49ers, which makes him a solid RB2 option in most leagues. He has more value in PPR as he has 46 receptions on the year.
Buffalo Bills running back T.J. Yeldon has been inactive for seven straight weeks. The team has been rolling with the combination of Devin Singletary and Frank Gore at running back and it has worked well for them as Singletary has flourished. Yeldon will likely be inactive for the eighth straight week as the team faces the Steelers in Week 15. He should remain on waivers in all leagues.
The Bills Defense finds itself in a great spot going into Week 15. They face a Steelers offense that has been riddled with injuries surrounding rookie quarterback Devlin Hodges. While the rookie quarterback has performed decently the past two weeks, he was up against the Cardinals and Browns, two defenses that pale in comparison to Buffalo's. Expect the Bills to make things difficult all day for Hodges. They should record multiple sacks and force a few turnovers while holding the Steelers under 20 points in the game. They're an excellent starting option this week.
Miami Dolphins wide receivers Devante Parker (concussion) and Albert Wilson (concussion) will remain in the league's concussion protocol at least "through the end of the week," according to head coach Brian Flores. Parker is having the best season of his career and has become pretty close to a must-start in fantasy because of it, but both he and Wilson are in serious danger of sitting out in Week 15 in a very nice matchup with the Giants secondary. Allen Hurns is also dealing with an injury, so Miami's offense could be severely undermanned this weekend. Parker is the only one of Miami's pass-catchers that needs to be in fantasy lineups if he's active, but you'll have to check back on Friday to get a better read on his status.
Miami Dolphins WR DeVante Parker (concussion) will be in the concussion protocol 'at least through the end of the week,' according to head coach Brian Flores.
Fantasy Spin: It's unknown if he meant through the weekend or just the practice week Friday. Either way, Parker isn't expected to play in light of this news. Albert Wilson (concussion) is in the same boat with Parker. Trevor Davis and Isaiah Ford could be thrust into significant action, but they're relative unknowns. They could be decent DFS flyers at basement prices, but they aren't much as flex options in traditional fantasy.