Wed Nov 25 7:53pm ET
By JOHN WAWROW
AP Sports Writer
ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) Stefon Diggs was preparing for the start of practice Wednesday when Buffalo Bills offensive line coach Bobby Johnson approached and asked how the receiver was doing.
Diggs surprised even himself with his quick and genuine response.
''I'm like, `I'm happy,''' Diggs said, recalling how a simple interaction grew into a personal revelation nine months into his first season in Buffalo.
''I said it with a smile because I've been busting my (rear) for a long time,'' he said. ''But mentally, being in the right place and pushing in the right direction: I've always been trying to be that guy, trying to have a positive energy. And I'm just happy to be where I am.''
Characterized rightly or wrongly as one of the NFL's many diva receivers for his several sideline outbursts during his first five seasons in Minnesota, Diggs has put his mercurial past behind by warming up to his new surroundings.
His production has certainly helped smooth the transition, with Diggs ranking second in the NFL with 73 catches and 906 yards.
But the receiver stresses his upbeat mood goes beyond numbers and instead reflects a shift in approach he demanded from himself this offseason during a personal re-evaluation which occurred well before being traded to Buffalo in March.
''Whether I was staying or whether I was leaving, I feel like my process after that year, I was going to handle things in a certain kind of way,'' Diggs said, referring in part to last season, when he drew more than $200,000 in fines for skipping two days of team activities following a dispiriting loss at Chicago.
''I feel like I learned so much from my previous situation that I kind of carried it over in trying to turn over a new leaf and try to handle things a lot differently than I did before,'' he said. ''I went into this new year trying to be the best player, best teammate. And it's been working out.''
The AFC East-leading Bills (7-3), who come out of their bye week off preparing to host the Chargers (3-7) on Sunday, have been the benefactors.
On the field, Diggs has played a key role in sparking a big jump in Josh Allen's development three seasons into the quarterback's career. Allen's 2,871 yards passing are 216 short from matching his career-high total last year, while his 68.4 percent completion rate is 12 points better than his combined total from his first two seasons.
Off the field, Diggs has earned praise for his work ethic and team-first approach. Whether with the media or in meeting rooms, he has often deflected attention to his teammates and voiced a willingness to share the ball.
''The yards, everyone can pull up and look on the computer and find the numbers, but I believe it goes beyond that,'' coach Sean McDermott said of Diggs' impact. ''Just the mentality, the attitude, the energy, the toughness, the unselfishness. You see other guys catch balls and he's blocking for them. You see our run game get going, he's blocking for them. As a head coach, I really appreciate that.''
Allen saw firsthand the type of teammate Diggs would become well before the Bills opened training camp.
It began shortly after Diggs was acquired, when Allen reached out and the two began playing video games together. It followed into a summer workout in Florida, which Allen helped organize with several offensive players.
''Typically, you're thinking of a guy who was portrayed by the media as a diva and this and that. I didn't really know what to expect,'' Allen recalled. ''But he was there on time. In the workout drills with us, going through everything we were going through, trying to learn. And then after, when we went out to dinner, he wanted to be there. It surprised me just how much of a team guy he was from the start.''
Diggs and Allen have become fast friends, with the receiver playfully referring to the quarterback as ''a goofball.''
Easy as they've made their instant chemistry appear, Diggs said it's the result of countless hours of discussions, practice and poring over the playbook to make up for a coronavirus pandemic-shortened offseason.
Diggs noted simply following the quarterback's lead by saying: ''Josh didn't make any excuses, and I damn sure would never make any excuse for myself.''
With six games left, Diggs shrugs off questions of being in position to break several single-season franchise records held by Eric Moulds, who had 1,368 yards receiving in 1998, and 100 catches in 2002.
''Whether they're broken or not, of course I'm going to be thankful. But I'm chasing something much bigger than that,'' he said.
Selected in the fifth round out of Maryland, Diggs is driven by the desire to measure himself against the player he believes he can become.
This season he said, represents an indication of how far he's come, which is a reason he can acknowledge being happy.
''I feel like I took the necessary time last year to grow and learn from all those years past so I can be prepared for my new opportunity,'' Diggs said. ''I'm thankful, I'd say, more than anything. I'm thankful to be here.''
Five Waiver Wire Adds: Week 12
Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan is a low-end QB1 against the Raiders this weekend. Ryan has been a bit streaky this season and posted 232 yards and two picks last week. Overall, he has thrown for over 300 yards in only three of 10 games this season and only has four games with multiple passing touchdowns. The Raiders allow the ninth-most points to fantasy QBs, so this is a good week to start Ryan if you have him.
Cincinnati Bengals DT Andrew Brown was signed off the practice squad to the active roster of the Houston Texans Wednesday, Nov. 25. Texans RB Scottie Phillips was also signed off the Houston practice squad to the active roster.
Jacksonville Jaguars DB Doug Middleton was signed off the practice squad to the active roster Wednesday, Nov. 25.
Denver BRoncos LB Mark Barron (hamstring) was activated to the active roster from the Reserve/Injured list Wednesday, Nov. 25.
Houston Texans DT Corey Liuget and WR Steven Mitchell were elevated from the practice squad to the active roster Wednesday, Nov. 25.
We still don't know who the Chicago Bears will start at quarterback between Nick Foles (hip) and Mitchell Trubisky (shoulder) -- Foles didn't practice on Wednesday but Trubisky practiced in full -- but either way, the Packers Defense will be a strong start in all fantasy formats in Week 12. The Bears seem to be leaning towards Trubisky, who hasn't started since Week 3 and was benched for Foles in the same game. Chicago's offense ranks 31st in the NFL in total offense and scoring and 25th in passing, having failed to score more than 23 points in a game since Week 3. Both Foles and Trubisky have struggled under center in this offense in 2020, but Trubisky could give desperate managers in superflex leagues a bit more upside because of his rushing ability if he starts.
Dallas Cowboys DB Deante Burton and DB Rashard Robinson were promoted from the practice squad to the active roster Wednesday, Nov. 25.
Miami Dolphins G Solomon Kindley (foot) didn't practice Wednesday, Nov. 25. DT Raekwon Davis (thumb) and LB Kyle Van Noy (hip) were limited. LB Andrew Van Ginkel (wrist), CB Jamal Perry (foot), DE Shaq Lawson (shoulder) and S Kavon Frazier (shoulder) practiced in full.
Tennessee Titans head coach Mike Vrabel said that wide receiver Adam Humphries (concussion) and safety Kenny Vaccaro (concussion) were both scheduled to practice on Wednesday. It gives both players a chance to suit up in Week 12 against the division-rival Colts. Humphries hasn't played suffering his head injury in Week 8 against the Bengals. The 27-year-old from Clemson has been a fantasy afterthought this year with just 22 receptions for 219 yards and two touchdowns in six games. In this run-first offense, he's third on the receiving pecking order behind A.J. Brown and Corey Davis. If Humphries returns this weekend, he should be avoided against the Colts Defense, one of the top units in the NFL.
New York Jets quarterback Sam Darnold (shoulder) was expected to be a limited practice participant on Wednesday in his return, with head coach Adam Gase saying Darnold will do "quite a bit." Darnold has missed the last two games with a right shoulder injury, but his return to practice bodes well for his chances of making a return this weekend against the division-rival Dolphins. The Jets would love to see what he can do with wide receivers Breshad Perriman, Jamison Crowder and rookie Denzel Mims all finally healthy, but Darnold remains questionable for Week 12 for now. Veteran Joe Flacco actually hasn't been terrible in losses to the Patriots and the Chargers, but Darnold will be the starter when healthy. If Darnold returns this week, he'll be a low-end QB2 for desperate fantasy managers.
Jacksonville Jaguars WR DJ Chark Jr. (ribs) didn't practice Wednesday, Nov. 25.
Fantasy Spin: Chark could be headed toward a questionable tag due to the nature of the injury. He'll need to be in lineups if active in what should be a pass-heavy matchup for the Jaguars.
Jacksonville Jaguars CB Sidney Jones IR (Achilles), CB Chris Claybrooks (core), OL Andrew Norwell (forearm), WR Chris Conley (hip) and OL Cam Robinson (illness) didn't practice Wednesday, Nov. 25. TE James O'Shaughnessy (knee), TE Tyler Eifert (concussion), S Jarrod Wilson (shoulder), LB Dakota Allen (ankle), LB Shaquille Quarterman (knee) and DT Abry Jones (ankle) were limited.
Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray (shoulder) was a limited practice participant on Wednesday, while wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins (illness) sat out. Murray suffered the shoulder injury in last Thursday's loss to the Seahawks, but he played through it and should be fine to face the Patriots in Week 12. Hopkins is dealing with a non-COVID-19-related illness, so he should also be fine to play Sunday. The All-Pro receiver has had some down games for his fantasy managers and will be facing a tough matchup with All-Pro cornerback Stephon Gilmore this weekend, but he's still a top-five fantasy option at his position. Similarly, Murray should be treated as a top-five fantasy signal-caller.
Los Angeles Chargers RB Kalen Ballage (ankle, calf) was limited during practice Wednesday, Nov. 25.
Fantasy Spin: Ballage has received at least 15 carries in all three games since joining the Chargers active roster. He likely will see a similar workload this week is Austin Ekeler remains sidelined but probably is only a flex option in deeper leagues.
Tennessee Titans TE Jonnu Smith (ankle) practiced in full Wednesday, Nov. 25.
Fantasy Spin: Smith hasn't topped 50 receiving yards since Week 3, but he has a touchdown in two of his last three games. He's a low-end, touchdown-dependent TE1 with WRs A.J. Brown and Corey Davis dominating the Titans' passing attack.
Los Angeles Chargers CB Casey Hayward (groin), DE Melvin Gordon (knee) and DE Uchenna Nwosu (chest, shoulder) did not participate in practice Wednesday, Nov. 25. OT Bryan Bulaga (knee) fully participated in practice.
Tennessee Titans CB Adoree' Jackson (knee) and OT Dennis Kelly (knee) didn't participate in practice Wednesday, Nov. 25. CB Malcolm Butler (ribs), C Ben Jones (knee) and G Rodger Saffold III (ankle) were limited. WR Adam Humphries (concussion), DL Larrell Murchison (ribs), TE MyCole Pruitt and S Kenny Vaccaro (concussion) practiced in full.
The Philadelphia Eagles Defense is not a recommended option for Week 12 fantasy lineups. With a matchup against the Seattle Seahawks on Monday Night Football on tap, the Eagles could easily find themselves in a shootout with Russell Wilson and the Seahawks to close out Week 12. The Eagles defense has had its moments this season, finishing as a top-nine fantasy defense five times, but then also finishing outside of the top-20 five times. This week is much more likely to be of the "outside of the top-20" variety.
The Miami Dolphins designated running back Myles Gaskin (knee) to return from Injured Reserve on Wednesday. The club also activated defensive tackle Christian Wilkins from the Reserve/COVID-19 list. Gaskin practiced in a non-contact jersey on Wednesday, but his activation from IR doesn't necessarily ensure that he'll play in Week 12 against the Jets. In fact, fantasy managers probably shouldn't expect the 23-year-old back in a featured role for Miami until Week 13 against the Bengals. Check to make sure he's not on your league's waiver wire. If he is available, pick him up now, as he should be the team's most fantasy relevant back when he's back to full health. Rookie Salvon Ahmed should retain RB2 upside in an excellent matchup this weekend if Gaskin is inactive for another game.
The Baltimore Ravens placed defensive end Calais Campbell and offensive linemen Patrick Mekari and Matt Skura on the Reserve/COVID-19 list on Wednesday. Because of a COVID-19 outbreak in the Ravens organization this week, the NFL moved the Ravens-Steelers Thursday night Thanksgiving matchup to Sunday afternoon. It's unclear if these three players actually tested positive for the virus, but if they did, they will be out for Week 12 against Pittsburgh. Campbell, a five-time Pro Bowl pass-rusher, has been out since Week 9 due to an injury. Baltimore's defense could really use the veteran to slow down the undefeated Steelers offense. The Ravens Defense is still a fringe starting unit in fantasy, but this would surely be the week to fade them if you have better options.