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Hill leads Saints to 31-3 rout of QB-challenged Broncos

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 DEBUT

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.

BRONCOS' REACTIONS

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.

INJURIES

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.

UP NEXT

Saints: visit Atlanta.

Broncos: visit Kansas City.

Player Notes
A.J. Green Nov 29 9:00pm ET

Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver A.J. Green was able to haul in his first touchdown of the year last week versus Washington, but his production against the Giants on Sunday was the drastic opposite. Green figured to see his numbers take a downturn in wake of the injury to Joe Burrow (knee), which has paved the way for Brandon Allen to take over at QB, but the seven-time Pro Bowler went without a catch on three targets versus New York in Week 12. Green's performances in 2020 have fluctuated wildly even when Burrow was available, with his DFS price having cratered ahead of Sunday's contest. At this stage, Green is no longer a season-long commodity even in the deepest of season-long formats due to the lack of consistency under center.

From RotoBaller

Taysom Hill Nov 29 9:00pm ET

New Orleans Saints quarterback Taysom Hill finished Week 12 by going 9-for-16 for 78 yards and a pick along with 10 carries for 44 yards and two rushing touchdowns. Hill once again had two rushing touchdowns, and his value this week relied more on that. The QB is certainly a dual-threat and while it's likely Hill won't have huge numbers in the passing game each week, his rushing abilities keep things balanced. As a result, the QB should remain in the streaming conversation each week.

From RotoBaller

Tua Tagovailoa Nov 29 9:00pm ET

The Miami Dolphins turned to veteran quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick to help them beat the Jets on Sunday due to the thumb injury sustained by Tua Tagovailoa (thumb) earlier in the week. After Fitzpatrick was removed from the starting gig earlier this year, and in light of his strong performance Sunday, head coach Brian Flores was asked whether he had reconsidered who would be the team's starting signal caller down the stretch; his answer was that when healthy, Tagovailoa undisputedly would be under center. There is a chance that Tagovailoa is able to be cleared in time ahead of a Week 13 matchup against Cincinnati, although how effective he is remains to be seen. Fitzpatrick and Tagovailoa represent DFS contrarian plays rather than season-long assets, although fantasy managers will want to check back throughout the week to see how the practice reps are divided.

From RotoBaller

DeAndre Washington Nov 29 9:00pm ET

Miami Dolphins running back DeAndre Washington was given the lead back role for the Week 12 matchup against the New York Jets. This was the first time that Washington was active since being traded. He rushed 13 times for 49 yards and hauled in two receptions for 11 yards in the victory. The Dolphins backfield is banged up, so Washington might carry some streaming appeal, assuming the team doesn't get healthy by next week.

From RotoBaller

Jamison Crowder Nov 29 8:50pm ET

New York Jets wide receiver Jamison Crowder has been in a slump over the last few weeks. He started off red-hot, but can't seem to produce anymore. He finished with three receptions on five targets for 31 yards in the loss to the Miami Dolphins. The return of Sam Darnold didn't make much of an impact on Crowder's performance. Crowder has pushed himself into possible bench territory versus the Las Vegas Raiders in Week 13.

From RotoBaller

Janoris Jenkins Nov 29 8:50pm ET

New Orleans Saints cornerback Janoris Jenkins (knee) left Sunday's contest versus Denver shortly before halftime due to a knee injury before eventually being marked questionable to return. He never did make it back to the field, but it appears that he has avoided a serious knee injury, with Nick Underhill of NewOrleans.football reporting that Jenkins will be "fine." Jenkins logged one pass defended before his departure, with the Saints Defense finishing with a dominant performance in their Week 12 win, primarily due to its matchup against a practice squad wide receiver masquerading at quarterback. With Jenkins likely in the mix down the stretch, fantasy managers can continue to rely on a New Orleans defensive unit that entered Sunday having allowed the third-lowest yards per game average in the NFL.

From RotoBaller

Ryan Fitzpatrick Nov 29 8:50pm ET

Miami Dolphins quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick had little difficulty dealing with the New York Jets Defense in Week 12. He completed 24 of 39 passing attempts for 257 yards and two touchdowns in the win. Tua Tagovailoa (thumb) is expected to miss multiple weeks, so Fitzpatrick could be the starter going forward. The Dolphins offense has looked solid when Fitzpatrick is under center. He'll be an interesting streaming option versus the Cincinnati Bengals next week, assuming he starts.

From RotoBaller

Denzel Mims Nov 29 8:40pm ET

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.

From RotoBaller

Giovani Bernard Nov 29 8:40pm ET

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.

From RotoBaller

Frank Gore Nov 29 8:30pm ET

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.

From RotoBaller

Rob Gronkowski Nov 29 8:30pm ET

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.

From RotoBaller

Breshad Perriman Nov 29 8:30pm ET

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.

From RotoBaller

San Francisco 49ers Nov 29 8:20pm ET

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.

From RotoBaller

Chris Godwin Nov 29 8:20pm ET

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.

From RotoBaller

Sam Darnold Nov 29 8:20pm ET

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.

From RotoBaller

Antonio Brown Nov 29 8:20pm ET

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.

From RotoBaller

Darren Waller Nov 29 8:20pm ET

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.

From RotoBaller

Kendrick Bourne Nov 29 8:10pm ET

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.

From RotoBaller

Jordan Reed Nov 29 8:10pm ET

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.

From RotoBaller

Richie James Nov 29 8:10pm ET

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.

From RotoBaller