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Allen makes great jump in 2nd year for playoff-bound Bills

Tue Dec 31 7:47pm ET
By JOHN WAWROW
AP Sports Writer

Players: Ryan Fitzpatrick, Matt Barkley, Kelvin Benjamin, Nate Peterman, Josh Allen

In this Sunday, Dec. 29, 2019, file photo, Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen (17) throws a pass during the first half of an NFL football game against the New York Jets in Orchard Park, N.Y. In making his NFL playoff debut against the Texans this weekend, second-year Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen gets an opportunity to show how far he's come since his last trip to Houston 14 months ago. (AP Photo/David Dermer, File)


In this Oct. 14, 2018, file photo, Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen (17) is check on after he was injured during the second half of an NFL football game against the Houston Texans in Houston. In making his NFL playoff debut against the Texans this weekend, second-year Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen gets an opportunity to show how far he's come since his last trip to Houston 14 months ago. (AP Photo/Michael Wyke, File)


ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) Whatever bad memories Bills quarterback Josh Allen had of his first and only game NFL game at Houston have been pushed aside some 14 months later.

There's no need to remind the second-year player of leaving the game in the third quarter with a sprained throwing elbow that eventually led to him missing five weeks. And Allen doesn't need to hear of the telltale rookie awkwardness he displayed after being thrust into a starting role ahead of schedule as a result of Nathan Peterman's turnover-prone issues.

However raw Buffalo's first-round draft pick looked in the weeks leading up to a 20-13 loss to the Texans on Oct. 14, 2018, Allen believes he's made considerable strides in preparing to make his playoff debut in an AFC wild-card game at Houston on Saturday.

''Obviously, going through that game there's not great memories. Nobody likes getting hurt,'' he said following practice Tuesday.

''I feel like a different player from last year ... just as far as seeing things, seeing defenses, trusting the guys around me and not trying to make the big play all the time.''

Allen's progress has been apparent during a season in which he's posted five fourth-quarter comebacks and helped Buffalo (10-6) to its best finish in 20 years. He's doubled his touchdown passing total to 20; his completion percentage has jumped by 6 points to 58.6; and his 3,089 yards passing are the most by a Bills player since Ryan Fitzpatrick had 3,400 in 2012.

Having shown a flare for performing in national settings by beating the Cowboys at Dallas on Thanksgiving and the Steelers in Pittsburgh in prime-time, Allen can appreciate how the playoffs represent the next step in his development.

''It's a new game. It's a different situation,'' he said. ''All the marbles are on the table.''

No pressure, said Allen, who can become Buffalo's first quarterback to win a playoff game since Hall of Famer Jim Kelly oversaw a 37-22 wild-card victory over Miami on Dec. 30, 1995.

''I don't have to be the best quarterback out there,'' Allen said. ''I have to be the best quarterback for this team to help us win a football game regardless of the circumstances.''

Allen's comments echo what his coaches have emphasized on maintaining an even keel.

''The juices get flowing, it's a competitive time of year and you've got to do a good job of trying to stay as level-headed as you can,'' offensive coordinator Brian Daboll said. ''You want to win it so bad, but you've got to stay consistent with your routine and the things you've done all throughout the year.''

If there's a concern, it's Allen acknowledging he's experienced early game jitters, most recently following a 24-17 loss at New England two weeks ago. It was a game in which he went 6 of 13 for 62 yards and a touchdown in the first half, before finishing 13 of 26 for 208 yards and two touchdowns.

Slow starts have been an issue this season.

Buffalo's game-opening drives have produced just one touchdown and four field goals. And the Bills have combined to score just 12 points in the first quarter of their past eight games, and 43 overall.

''That's on my shoulders. We've got to go and start faster,'' Allen said.

As for the jitters?

''Just got to ride it,'' he said. ''It's OK to be hyped at times. It means that you care.''

Backup Matt Barkley credited Allen for showing growth and maturity. Barkley noted how Allen is no longer scrambling out of the pocket at the first sign of pressure, and has cut down on trying to force plays which lead to negative gains or turnovers.

That's different to the player Barkley saw when he first arrived in Buffalo two weeks after Allen was hurt against the Texans.

''I do think there was a drastic change from the first half of the season and when he came back,'' he added.

Allen was hurt while being struck from both sides by Whitney Mercilus and Jadeveon Clowney. Mercilus hit the quarterback's arm just after he released the ball for a 39-yard completion to Kelvin Benjamin.

Difficult as it was to miss five weeks, Allen credited the time off as providing him perspective and time off to watch and learn.

''It was a blessing in disguise,'' he said, before looking forward to his second trip to Houston.

''Having that experience of playing there, seeing a familiar stadium, that's some experience we can take into that game,'' Allen said, while noting there's much more on the line this time. ''We want to win. We don't want to go home.''

Player Notes
Russell Wilson Oct 20 7:40pm ET

Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson has made each of the five defenses that he has faced 2020 look rather pedestrian on his way to becoming the favorite to claim the NFLs MVP trophy this season. On paper, his matchup Sunday versus Arizona should be another such instance, which is backed up by his gaudy DFS price tag. But gleaning his numbers against the Cardinals over the past two seasons tells a different story; over their last four matchups, he has exceeded the 200-yard passing threshold just once and has not rushed for a touchdown in any of those outings. The Cardinals Defense ranks in the top half of the league in passing yards allowed per game this season (226.5), another notch in the belt of why DFS fantasy managers may want to consider other QB options during Week 7.

From RotoBaller

Keenan Allen Oct 20 7:30pm ET

Los Angeles Chargers wide receiver Keenan Allen (back) was last seen dealing with back spasms when he took the field versus the Saints last Monday. Despite that, head coach Anthony Lynn has reiterated that Allen will not be hampered come Sunday versus Jacksonville, a matchup that is set to work in Allens favor due to the 270.7 passing yards per game that the Jaguars Defense is allowing. With the emergence of Justin Herbert as both a downfield threat and consistent pocket passer, Allens season-long fantasy outlook is only on the rise after having averaged 12 targets through his first four games. His recent injury should give DFS fantasy managers pause, but so long as he is given the green light to suit up, season-long managers should consider starting him in most formats where he is rostered.

From RotoBaller

Chris Carson Oct 20 7:20pm ET

Seattle Seahawks running back Chris Carson should continue to see an unimpeded path to RB1 duties this Sunday against the Cardinals with both Carlos Hyde (shoulder) and Rashaad Penny (knee) unlikely to suit up. Carson was limited to just eight carries in his most recent outing, but that was primarily due to the nature of the game flow; fantasy managers can expect to see him rack up his usual workload and then some against Arizona. Having amassed three rushing and three receiving scores so far this season, Carson has retained a considerable role in the Seattle offense, with Travis Homer a distant second to cutting into his workload. Carson is a must-start in season-long formats and should have some considerable DFS appeal.

From RotoBaller

Josh Jacobs Oct 20 7:10pm ET

Las Vegas Raiders running back Josh Jacobs is likely fresh after having his week off, but that wont change the fact that hell be squaring off with the NFLs premier run-stuffing unit Sunday in the form of the Buccaneers Defense. Tampa Bay has yielded an average of just 64.3 rushing yards per contest to begin the year, while Jacobs has amassed an average of 75.4 all by himself. Having carried the ball an average of 21.2 times per game, season-long fantasy managers needn't shy away from Jacobs, but those eyeing him on the DFS market may want to tread lightly. Despite his five rushing scores, Jacobs has yet to compile a 100-yard game on the ground this season after having racked up five such performances as a rookie in 2019.

From RotoBaller

Alvin Kamara Oct 20 7:00pm ET

New Orleans Saints running back Alvin Kamara costs a pretty penny in DFS for those fantasy managers who are attempting to slot him into lineups, and with good reason. Kamara is facing off against a Panthers Defense that ranks dead last in the NFL in DraftKings points per game allowed, making him arguably the top running back to target on the slate. Even with Michael Thomas (ankle) scheduled to return to the offense, Kamara should continue to see a sizable role as New Orleans makes the run game a primary focus. Looking ahead, hell face stouter competition in the form of Chicago and Tampa Bay over the following two weeks, yet he still remains one of the premier season-long fantasy assets due to his consistent pass-catching role.

From RotoBaller

Dallas Cowboys Oct 20 6:50pm ET

Dallas Cowboys defensive end Randy Gregory is set to make his NFL return Sunday against Washington after he was removed from the commissioners exempt list Tuesday. Dallas immediately added the pass-rusher to its active roster, hoping to reclaim some of the six-sack production that he delivered for the team back in 2018. Gregory had been suspended indefinitely by the NFL in February 19 due to repeated violations of the leagues substance abuse policy, but is now cleared to return to action. Even with the pass-rushing stylings of Gregory in the mix, the Cowboys Defense cannot be counted upon as a fantasy asset after having allowed at least 34 points in each of their last six games. In the best-case scenario, the unit can be used as a contrarian DFS play in hopes of honing in on their sack upside.

From RotoBaller

Carolina Panthers Oct 20 6:30pm ET

Carolina Panthers safety Juston Burris (ribs) was placed on injured reserve Tuesday, but is expected to return at some point during the 2020 year. Burris has become an integral part of the Carolina secondary in his first season with the team, playing 100 percent of defensive snaps in four of his first five games. Without Burris in the mix, Jeremy Chinn should see a step up in usage, while Kenny Robinson was signed off of the practice squad and Sean Chandler was brought in from the Giants. With matchups versus the Saints, Falcons, and Chiefs, over the next three weeks, the Panthers Defense provided little fantasy intrigue regardless. The next chance that Burris could rejoin the mix comes Week 10 versus Tampa Bay.

From RotoBaller

Tae Crowder Oct 20 6:10pm ET

New York Giants linebacker Tae Crowder (hamstring) has been ruled out for at least the next three contests after he was placed on injured reserve Tuesday due to a hamstring injury. Crowder delivered the game-winning touchdown during Sundays win over Washington on a 42-yard fumble recovery, and he has compiled 18 tackles over his first five career games. His absence will give the Giants Defense a hole in its depth at the linebacker position, but irrespective of Crowders presence, the unit does not likely merit much fantasy consideration at this stage. The next chance that Crowder has to suit up will be Week 10 against Philadelphia.

From RotoBaller

Marcus Mariota Oct 20 5:10pm ET

The Las Vegas Raiders designated quarterback Marcus Mariota (pectoral) to return from Injured Reserve and also signed former Cowboys defensive lineman David Irving to the practice squad on Tuesday. Mariota was brought in during the offseason to push Derek Carr for the starting gig, but the former Tennessee Titan got hurt before the start of the regular season. The 26-year-old former Oregon Duck should return to being a high-priced backup to Carr when he's healthy enough to return, pushing Nathan Peterman down to No. 3 on the depth chart. Carr has been solid for the Raiders, completing a career-high 73.1 percent of his passes for 1,442 yards, 11 touchdowns and one interception through five games in 2020, so it'll likely take an injury for Mariota to see the field before the season ends.

From RotoBaller

Timmy Jernigan Oct 20 4:33pm ET

Denver Broncos DT Timmy Jernigan was released Tuesday, Oct. 20.

From TheHuddle

Kentrell Brice Oct 20 4:23pm ET

Arizona Cardinals RB D.J. Foster (quad) and TE Justin Johnson (ankle) were activated from the practice squad Reserve/Injured list Tuesday, Oct. 20. OL Rick Leonard was also re-signed to the practice squad. To make room, Arizona released S T.J. Ward, S Kentrell Brice and CB Jalen Davis from the practice squad.

From TheHuddle

MyCole Pruitt Oct 20 4:23pm ET

Tennessee Titans TE MyCole Pruitt was activated from the Reserve/COVID-19 list Tuesday, Oct. 20.

From TheHuddle

Christian McCaffrey Oct 20 4:13pm ET

Carolina Panthers RB Christian McCaffrey (ankle) isn't expected to play in Week 7 against the New Orleans Saints, but he 'has a shot' to play in Week 8 versus the Atlanta Falcons, according to NFL Network's Mike Garofolo.

Fantasy Spin: Garofolo is speculating the Panthers don't want to bring back McCaffrey from a month-long absence to have him play twice in five days and it makes sense. Of course, it would also make sense for Carolina to not put McCaffrey back on the field on a short week (Week 8) and give him even more time to recover from his high-ankle sprain. Fantasy owners should view Week 7 as the last time they'll get to use Mike Davis - presumably for the remainder of the season - barring an in-game aggravation of the injury down the road. McCaffrey will obviously return to the RB1 ranks as soon as he returns to the field.

From TheHuddle

DeSean Jackson Oct 20 4:13pm ET

Philadelphia Eagles OT Jack Driscoll (ankle), TE Zach Ertz (ankle), DT Malik Jackson (quad), RB Miles Sanders (knee) and S K'Von Wallace (shoulder) did not participate in practice Tuesday, Oct. 20. S Marcus Epps (rib), WR DeSean Jackson (hamstring), WR Alshon Jeffery (foot), OT Lane Johnson (ankle), CB Avonte Maddox (ankle) and LB Duke Riley (rib) were limited. The Eagles held a walkthrough Tuesday, so the report is an estimation.

From TheHuddle

MyCole Pruitt Oct 20 4:10pm ET

The Tennessee Titans activated tight end MyCole Pruitt and defensive back Breon Borders from the Reserve/COVID-19 list on Tuesday. Pruitt will rejoin the 53-man roster and is eligible to play in Week 7 against the Steelers. In his three games with Tennessee in 2020, Pruitt has caught all three of his targets for 17 yards and a touchdown. The team's tight end depth could be tested this Sunday with Jonnu Smith (ankle) questionable due to a mild ankle injury, but even if Smith doesn't play, Pruitt will be a desperation tight end streamer with Anthony Firkser and Geoff Swaim also fighting for playing time against the undefeated Steelers.

From RotoBaller

Dion Lewis Oct 20 3:53pm ET

New York Giants WR C.J. Board (concussion), DB Adrian Colbert (shoulder) and LB Tae Crowder (hamstring) did not participate in practice Tuesday, Oct. 20. DB Darnay Holmes (neck) and WR Darius Slayton (foot) were limited. RB Dion Lewis (hand) practiced in full. The Giants held a walkthrough Tuesday, so the report is an estimation.

From TheHuddle

Christian McCaffrey Oct 20 3:50pm ET

Carolina Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey (ankle) isn't expected to play in Week 7 against the Saints, which will be the fifth game he's missed since suffering a high ankle sprain in Week 2, according to sources. The Panthers are being cautious with their star running back, but McCaffrey is getting closer to a return and he could be back next Thursday against the Falcons. Carolina still needs to activate McCaffrey from Injured Reserve, and from there fantasy managers can monitor his practice status. Continue to be patient with the All-Pro running back, who was the No. 1 overall pick in the majority of fantasy leagues. Mike Davis continues to see a heavy workload in the absence of McCaffrey, and he'll remain in RB1 territory this Sunday against the Saints.

From RotoBaller

Juston Burris Oct 20 3:23pm ET

Carolina Panthers S Juston Burris (ribs) was placed on the Reserve/Injured list Tuesday, Oct. 20.

From TheHuddle

Dak Prescott Oct 20 3:10pm ET

The Dallas Cowboys sit at 2-4 after a Monday night drubbing at the hands of the Cardinals, and the players are starting to voice their discontent with head coach Mike McCarthy and his coaching staff. An anonymous player said, "Totally unprepared. They dont teach. They dont have any sense of adjusting on the fly." Another anonymous player said that "they just arent good at their jobs." Losing quarterback Dak Prescott (ankle) for the season was a big blow, but Dallas' defense ranks 26th in yardage allowed per game and are dead last in points allowed after six weeks. They have a chance to take control of the weakest division in football the next two weeks with games against Washington and Philadelphia, but this is a situation to watch if things continue to go downhill in Dallas.

From RotoBaller

David Irving Oct 20 2:53pm ET

Free-agent DE David Irving (Cowboys) signed an undisclosed contract with the Las Vegas Raiders on Tuesday, Oct. 20.

From TheHuddle