Fri Jan 15 5:47pm ET
By CHARLES ODUM
AP Sports Writer
Tennessee Titans offensive coordinator Arthur Smith watches during NFL football training camp Thursday, Aug. 20, 2020, in Nashville, Tenn. (George Walker IV/Pool Photo via AP)
ATLANTA (AP) The Atlanta Falcons have agreed to terms with Tennessee Titans offensive coordinator Arthur Smith to become the team's head coach.
The Falcons announced the agreement on Friday. Smith held a virtual interview with the team on Monday and he also interviewed with the New York Jets and Detroit Lions. The Jets reached an agreement with Robert Saleh on Thursday night to be their coach.
The 38-year-old Smith has served on the Tennessee staff for 10 seasons, including two as offensive coordinator. The Titans finished this season tied for second in the NFL in total yards.
Under Smith's leadership, the Titans finished behind only Kansas City in total offense with 396.4 yards. They had the NFL's second-best rushing offense as Derrick Henry became only the eighth back to rush for at least 2,000 yards.
The Titans' offensive success, especially on the ground, may have been especially appealing to the Falcons, who finished ahead of only five teams in rushing this season.
The Titans went 11-5 to win the AFC South, but were eliminated from the playoffs Sunday with a 20-13 loss to Baltimore. It was Tennessee's fewest points of the season.
The Falcons also are seeking a replacement for general manager Thomas Dimitroff, who was fired along with coach Dan Quinn following an 0-5 start that led to a 4-12 finish. Quinn was hired as the Dallas Cowboys' defensive coordinator on Monday.
Quinn left Atlanta with an overall record of 43-42, including a 14-23 mark since the beginning of the 2018 season. He was 3-2 in two postseason appearances.
Smith was one of seven candidates to interview with Atlanta, including interim coach Raheem Morris.
Other offensive coordinators to interview with the Falcons were Green Bay's Nathaniel Hackett, Carolina's Joe Brady and Kansas City's Eric Bieniemy. Saleh and Tampa Bay defensive coordinator Todd Bowles also interviewed for the job.
Morris went 4-7 as the interim coach.
Smith coached Tennessee's tight ends before his promotion to offensive coordinator.
He worked under four head coaches at Tennessee after he was hired as a defensive assistant and quality control coach in 2011.
In 2019, Smith helped the Titans rebound from a 2-4 start to advance to the AFC championship game for the first time in 17 years.
Smith helped the Titans offense gain momentum with quarterback Ryan Tannehill as the starter. Over the final 11 weeks of the 2019 season, Tennessee ranked third in the league in total offense and scoring.
Smith, a native of Memphis, Tenn., worked under coach Joe Gibbs as Washington's defensive quality control coach from 2007-08. He spent 2010 as an administrative assistant at Mississippi before returning to the NFL.
Interview with a Champ
Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back Leonard Fournette will be in for a tough test against the Saints' stingy defense this weekend. Fournette will get the start after teammate Ronald Jones II (quad, finger) was deemed a game-time decision. The veteran back is coming off a season-high 19 carries against Washington, though the Saints Defense is a much different beast against the run. They were one of just five teams to allow under 100 rushing yards per game this season, and they held Tampa Bay to just 94 rushing yards in two regular-season games. Even if Fournette gets the backfield to himself, this is far from an ideal matchup. He should be avoided this week in DFS.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady gets a tough matchup against the Saints in the divisional round on Sunday. Brady is coming off of a 381-yard, two-touchdown performance against the league's second-best pass defense last week- and gets another top-five unit in New Orleans this weekend. The veteran signal-caller tossed five interceptions in two regular-season losses against the Saints, though the Buccaneers' offense is more dangerous lately- having scored 30-plus points in each of their last four games. Brady will be motivated to prove that the regular-season losses were flukes and may have to use his arm to do so. He's a good fantasy option in what could be a very competitive game.
Denver Broncos linebacker Von Miller is the subject of a police investigation in Parker, Colorado, although police haven't specified why they are investigating the former Super Bowl MVP. Miller missed the entire 2020 season after suffering a season-ending ankle injury in practice just days before the season opener. The 31-year-old was suspended for six games in 2013 for violating the league's substance-abuse policy and also had an arrest warrant issued that same summer after a failure to appear in court after multiple traffic violations. The Broncos face a decision on the pass-rusher, as he is heading into the final year of his six-year, $114.5 million deal he signed in 2016. If they release Miller, the team would face a dead-money charge of $4.125 million against the salary cap for 2021.
Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Sammy Watkins (calf) and linebacker Willie Gay (ankle) missed practice all week and will not play in the Divisional Round against the Browns on Sunday. Watkins suffered a calf injury in Week 16 and was held out of the Week 17 regular season finale, but two weeks of rest wasn't enough to allow him to play in the Chiefs first playoff game this year. With the 27-year-old inactive, Demarcus Robinson and Mecole Hardman have a better chance of exploding for a big play against Cleveland's shaky secondary this weekend. While both pass-catchers should see increased targets, they are both still boom/bust fantasy options in an offense with plenty of other weapons. If KC advances past the Browns, Watkins won't be guaranteed to be available for the AFC Championship game.
Kansas City Chiefs rookie running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire (ankle, hip) missed practice on Thursday and Friday and is questionable to play against the Browns in the Divisional Round on Sunday. Tight end Deon Yelder (groin) and cornerback Rashad Fenton (ankle, foot) are also questionable. It's disappointing for Edwards-Helaire after he was limited in practice back on Wednesday. It's looking like the promising rookie will be a game-time decision on Sunday, and even if he's active, he could split more of the workload with veteran Le'Veon Bell against Cleveland. Another one to worry about is Darrel Williams, who looked more explosive than Bell when CEH was out in Week 16. The bottom line is that Edwards-Helaire is shaping up to be one to avoid for fantasy lineups in the Divisional Round.
Cleveland Browns tight ends David Njoku (hamstring) and Stephen Carlson (groin), offensive tackle Jack Conklin (hamstring, knee) and linebacker B.J. Goodson (shoulder) are questionable for the Divisional Round against the Chiefs on Sunday. Carlson was the only one of the four who was not able to practice on Friday, so the other three should have a good chance of being available against Kansas City. Njoku caught his only target for just seven yards in the wild-card upset over the division-rival Steelers and will continue to take a back seat to Austin Hooper if he's active for the Divisional Round. Njoku has played second fiddle all season, catching only 19 passes (29 targets) for 213 yards and two touchdowns in 13 games (five starts). You can ignore him for fantasy lineups.
Kansas City Chiefs WR Sammy Watkins (calf) did not practice again Friday, Jan. 15, and will be be ruled out for Sunday's divisional playoff matchup with the Cleveland Browns.
Fantasy Spin: This will be the seventh game Watkins will miss this season, meaning more targets for WRs Demarcus Robinson, Mecole Hardman and Byron Pringle likely are in store.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians said that running back Ronald Jones II (calf, finger) was feeling better on Friday, but he will be a game-time decision against the Saints in the Divisional Round on Sunday. Leonard Fournette will start the game. Jones was limited in practice on Thursday after not playing in the wild-card win over Washington. It sounds like Jones has a chance to see some action against New Orleans, but he won't start and will be an extremely risky fantasy selection in the Divisional Round. Fournette saw the lion's share of backfield work last weekend and had a season-high 19 carries for 93 yards and a touchdown on the ground, adding four catches for 39 yards. He'll have a much tougher go of it this weekend, though, against a Saints Defense that allowed the fewest fantasy points per game to RBs in 2020.
Buffalo Bills tight end Dawson Knox has picked it up during the second half of the season. Since Week 12, Knox has hauled in four touchdowns, including one against the Indianapolis Colts last week. Sadly, the Bills have so many weapons on offense that Knox doesn't see a significant amount of targets. It's tough to believe he'll be able to do much damage against the Baltimore Ravens this weekend. He'll be a low-cost option, but doesn't have much upside heading into this matchup.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers RB Ronald Jones (quadriceps) is expected be a game-time decision Sunday, Jan. 17, for the divisional playoff game against the New Orleans Saints.
Fantasy Spin: Jones was active but didn't play in the wild-card win over Washington last week, and it's certainly going to be tough to trust him if he's active this time around as Leonard Fournette already has been declared the starter Sunday in New Orleans.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers RB Leonard Fournette is expected to start in the team's divisional-round playoff game Sunday, Jan. 17, against the New Orleans Saints, head coach Bruce Arians said Friday.
Fantasy Spin: Fournette got the start in the wild-card round against Washington and had a season-high 132 total yards and a touchdown on 23 touches. The matchup is much tougher this week against the Saints, but Fournette figures to see plenty of work again with fellow RB Ronald Jones iffy with a quadriceps injury.
Buffalo Bills wide receiver Cole Beasley (knee) was limited during Thursday's practice, but will suit up against the Baltimore Ravens this weekend. The veteran slot receiver has found a perfect home in Buffalo. He hauled in seven receptions for 57 yards in the win over the Indianapolis Colts last week. Slot receivers have been fairly decent against the Ravens secondary this season. Beasley makes for an intriguing fantasy option for this weekend's slate.
Buffalo Bills wide receiver Gabriel Davis has surprisingly pushed his way into a significant role in this offense. Davis didn't make much of an impact during the first half of the season, but has been a solid contributor since then. He hauled in four receptions for 85 yards in the playoff victory over the Indianapolis Colts. Obviously, Stefon Diggs and Cole Beasley are ahead of him on the depth chart. However, the Bills continue to find ways to get Davis involved. He could make for a low-cost DFS option against the Baltimore Ravens this weekend.
Buffalo Bills wide receiver John Brown was a ghost against the Indianapolis Colts last week. He failed to haul in any of his four targets in the win over Indy. At this point, Gabriel Davis is looking like he surpassed Brown on the depth chart. Brown looked solid during their regular season finale, but the Bills have too many options on offense. It's unlikely that Brown does anything significant against the Baltimore Ravens secondary this weekend.
Buffalo Bills running back Devin Singletary has seen limited fantasy value throughout most of the regular season because of the timeshare in the backfield. However, running back Zack Moss (leg) won't be suiting up for the playoff matchup against the Baltimore Ravens. Singletary will get an increased workload, but the Ravens aren't exactly an easy team to run against right now. Sometimes in the regular season, Singletary saw touches in the mid-teens and still didn't have much value. Expect that to be a similar result versus the Ravens this weekend.
Buffalo Bills wide receiver Stefon Diggs (oblique) has been putting up video-game numbers for the majority of the season. He hauled in six receptions for 128 yards and one touchdown in the win over the Indianapolis Colts last week in the wild-card round. Diggs was a little banged up heading into this week but has been removed from the injury report. It sounds like he'll be healthy enough to suit up against the Baltimore Ravens in the Divisional Round. This is obviously a tough matchup, but Diggs continues to exceed expectations, so he'll remain an elite fantasy option for this weekend.
Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen looked seemingly unstoppable versus the Indianapolis Colts last week. He threw for 324 yards with two touchdowns and rushed for 54 yards and another score. Allen has put himself into the MVP conversation and should remain a strong fantasy option against the Baltimore Ravens. The young dual-threat quarterback has shown no signs of slowing down, so continue believing in him.
The Kansas City Chiefs Defense finished the 2020 regular season ranked 21st against the run, allowing 122.1 rushing yards per game. The Browns, led by running backs Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt, averaged 148.4 yards per game. Chubb had his second straight 1,000-yard rushing season and another Pro Bowl selection, averaging a career-high 5.6 yards per carry and a team-high 12 rushing scores. Hunt had 2,150 rushing yards and 15 touchdowns, adding 833 receiving yards and 10 touchdowns in 25 games with the Chiefs before moving to Cleveland. The two-headed Browns rushing monster can get it done on the ground and through the air, so the Chiefs defense will have their work cut out for them. Despite the threat, Kansas City's D will be one of the more popular DFS targets in the Divisional Round.
The Cleveland Browns activated offensive guard Joel Bitonio from the Reserve/COVID-19 list on Friday. Bitonio should be active for the team's Divisional Round game against the Chiefs on Sunday after he sat out of the wild-card upset win over the division-rival Steelers last weekend. A Pro Bowler each of the last three seasons, Bitonio's return to Cleveland's strong offensive line is a huge upgrade for running backs Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt and quarterback Baker Mayfield as they try to pull off the unthinkable and upset the defending Super Bowl-champion Chiefs. Bitonio's return will be even more important if offensive tackle Jack Conklin cannot play after aggravating an injury last week against Pittsburgh. The 29-year-old Bitonio has been with the Browns since 2014 and will be playing in his first career postseason game this Sunday.
The Buffalo Bills Defense is confident that they can contain Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson in the Divisional Round matchup on Saturday night. Buffalo held Jackson to only 40 rushing yards on 11 carries last year. "We're pretty confident in being able to contain him," said linebacker Matt Milano. The Bills defense held opponents to just under 19 points a game in the final five games of the season, too, so they're coming in confident. Jackson threw for just 145 yards in his meeting against the Bills in 2019, but three of his 16 completions went for touchdowns through the air. Buffalo's defense has stiffened late in the season, but they'll face a very tough task this weekend, and fantasy managers should temper expectations in DFS.