Mon Oct 14 5:47pm ET
By ARNIE STAPLETON
AP Pro Football Writer
Denver Broncos running back Phillip Lindsay, center, runs with the ball during the first half of an NFL football game against the Tennessee Titans, Sunday, Oct. 13, 2019, in Denver. (AP Photo/Jack Dempsey)
Denver Broncos defensive back Kareem Jackson (22) reacts with teammates after intercepting a pass during the second half of an NFL football game against the Tennessee Titans, Sunday, Oct. 13, 2019, in Denver. (AP Photo/Jack Dempsey)
Denver Broncos defensive end DeMarcus Walker, left, hauls down Tennessee Titans quarterback Ryan Tannehill during the second half of an NFL football game Sunday, Oct. 13, 2019, in Denver. (AP Photo/Jack Dempsey)
Denver Broncos nose tackle Mike Purcell (98) reacts after a stop against the Tennessee Titans during the first half of an NFL football game Sunday, Oct. 13, 2019, in Denver. (AP Photo/Jack Dempsey)
ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (AP) Vic Fangio has settled on the right mix to restore Denver's defensive dominance even without pass rusher Bradley Chubb and cornerback Bryce Callahan.
The Broncos (2-4) collected seven sacks and three takeaways for the first time since 1984 in their 16-0 win over Tennessee on Sunday, putting them in prime position to get back into the AFC West race Thursday night when they host the Kansas City Chiefs (4-2) and their ailing quarterback Patrick Mahomes.
That seemed far-fetched two weeks ago when the Chiefs were rolling and the Broncos were reeling. The franchises' fortunes have flipped with KC losing twice at home and Denver ending four-game skids at home and on the road.
Plugging in players at all three levels is what helped Fangio get his first wins.
Up front, he put Mike Purcell at nose tackle and moved Shelby Harris to defensive end. He inserted inside linebacker Alexander Johnson into the lineup and he's collected 19 tackles, 1+ sacks, two QB hits and a forced fumble in his first two NFL starts.
The Broncos' biggest bugaboo has been their secondary because Callahan, who signed a three-year, $21 million deal in free agency to follow Fangio to Denver, reinjured his surgically repaired foot in July and hasn't played since.
''It's been frustrating for everybody, including him,'' general manager John Elway said, adding he was unsure ''if he'll be able to get back this year or not.''
Fortunately for Fangio, tone-setter Kareem Jackson is back from a sore hamstring and giving CB Davontae Harris his first NFL start Sunday was a spectacular success. Along with Chris Harris Jr. and Justin Simmons, Jackson played all 70 snaps.
The Broncos claimed him off waivers from Cincinnati on Sept. 1.
''What's that saying? One man's trash is another man's treasure. You know, he didn't make Cincinnati's squad, so we're glad to have him,'' Fangio said.
It was the secondary's sound play that Fangio credited with allowing Von Miller, DeMarcus Walker, Derek Wolfe, Shelby Harris and Johnson to get in on the sack party Sunday.
Accordingly, it was the pass pressure that helped produce the trio of takeaways .
''We're very excited in where we're at,'' Walker said. ''We fought adversity in the beginning of the year and it's not like our first few losses were blowouts. We had a chance in every single loss. We knew that we were capable and we just had to keep working.''
Walker had his first career multiple-sack game Sunday with a pair of takedowns on inside rushes, giving him a team-leading three sacks overall. ''I was picked two for a reason,'' said Walker, who had one sack in each of his first two seasons and is finally showing everyone why Elway selected the former Florida State star and rare inside pass rusher in the second round of the 2017 NFL draft.
WHAT NEEDS HELP
The offense. Since scoring TDs on their first two possessions at Los Angeles, the Broncos have reached the end zone just once in their last 22 drives, subtracting kneel-downs. Teams are doubling WR Courtland Sutton in the red zone and nobody's picked up the slack.
The RB tandem of Phillip Lindsay and Royce Freeman. Lindsay ran for 70 yards and the game's only TD and Freeman led the team with five catches for 42 yards to go with 34 yards rushing. Lindsay (544) and Freeman (429) are the only pair of running back teammates with at least 400 yards in 2019.
RG Ronald Leary has surpassed grabby LT Garett Bolles for the team lead in penalties. Leary has two false starts to go with six holding calls - and that doesn't count his holding back of LG Dalton Risner, already the best O-lineman on the roster, from doing too many interviews lest the rookie get too much pub.
Unknown is the status of WR Emmanuel Sanders (knee) and RT Ja'Wuan James (knee).
0 points. ''Shutouts are hard to come by in this league,'' Fangio said. ''We need somebody to do an analytics study about how often they do come.'' OK, there's about seven in a season of 256 games, or 2.7% of the time. Intriguingly, Fangio worked 32 seasons as an NFL assistant and his teams posted 14 shutouts in 512 games, exactly the league average.
The Broncos need to keep their ground game rolling Thursday night, not only to keep Mahomes & Co. off the field but to capitalize on KC's biggest weakness . Over their last four games, the Chiefs have allowed an average of 190 yards a game and 4.97 yards a carry. They've also allowed eight rushing TDs in those games.
Kansas City Chiefs WR Tyreek Hill (shoulder) fully participated in practice Monday, Oct. 14. The Chiefs did not practice Monday, so this is an estimation.
Fantasy Spin: Hill returned from injury last week and posted two touchdowns. He is the main option in the passing game for the Chiefs and is a weekly starting option in all fantasy leagues.
Kansas City Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes (ankle) fully participated in practice Monday, Oct. 14. The Chiefs did not practice Monday, so this is an estimation.
Fantasy Spin: Mahomes was held under 300 yards for the first time this season in Week 6 but still threw for three touchdowns. He has been completing less than 60 percent of his passes over the last three weeks but is still a must-start option in fantasy leagues.
Kansas City Chiefs WR Sammy Watkins (hamstring) was limited during practice Monday, Oct. 14. The Chiefs did not practice Monday, so this is an estimation.
Fantasy Spin: Watkins was not able to play in Week 6 but may have a chance to play this week. He would be facing a solid Denver Broncos defense but could still be at least a No. 3 receiver in fantasy leagues.
New York Jets DT Steve McLendon (hamstring) and LB Neville Hewitt (stinger) are considered day-to-day because of injuries.
Baltimore Ravens LB Patrick Onwuasor (ankle) is considered day-to-day because of his ankle injury. Head coach John Harbaugh said Onwuasor likely will play in Week 7 if he is able to practice this week.
New York Jets TE Chris Herndon was activated from the Reserve/Suspended list Monday, Oct. 14. The team also waived LB Frankie Luvu.
Fantasy Spin: Herndon is currently dealing with an injury but should have a role in the passing game when he is healthy. He should be owned in most fantasy leagues and can become a starter at some point this season.
New York Jets LB C.J. Mosley (groin) may be able to participate in practice this week, according to head coach Adam Gase.
Buffalo Bills OT Cody Ford (concussion) and DE Trent Murphy (concussion) participated in practice Monday, Oct. 14.
Cincinnati Bengals WR A.J. Green (ankle) continues to make progress from his preseason ankle injury, but head coach Zac Taylor offered only a 'we'll see' when asked about Green's potential availability for Week 7 against the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Fantasy Spin: While there is always a chance the Bengals could hold him out until after the Week 9 bye in what is quickly becoming a lost season, there is definitely some incentive for him to give him some time to knock off the rust. There is also no question Cincinnati's offense needs Green, if only because Tyler Boyd has been held in check in three of the last four games. Although the second-half schedule is not particularly favorable for Green, he remains a nice buy-low candidate - albeit with obvious injury risk.
Updating a previous report, Washington Redskins RB Chris Thompson (foot) underwent an MRI on his injured foot Monday, Oct. 14. The team is reportedly still awaiting the results.
Baltimore Ravens tight end Hayden Hurst had just one catch for four yards during the win over the Bengals on Sunday. Even with Marquise Brown (ankle) out of the lineup, Hurst continued to be a non-factor in the team's offensive attack. He likely won't have a consistent role moving ahead, especially with Mark Andrews in the mix, but he will be good for an occasional touchdown from time-to-time.
Baltimore Ravens running back Justice Hill had 31 yards on five carries in the win over Cincinnati on Sunday. With Lamar Jackson going crazy on the Bengals Defense by rushing for 152 yards and a touchdown on 19 attempts, Hill continued to play second fiddle to Gus Edwards, who had just three more yards than the former. Nonetheless, outside of dynasty formats, Hill has relatively no fantasy value at the moment, with that likely to continue until either Mark Ingram or Edwards goes down with an injury.
Baltimore Ravens running back Gus Edwards finished with 34 yards on six carries during the win over the Bengals on Sunday. Averaging just over seven touches per game, this type of performance has been the norm for the 24-year-old this season. He should continue to outpace Justice Hill but don't expect much of anything from a fantasy standpoint unless Mark Ingram goes down with an injury.
Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Seth Roberts pulled in both of his targets against the Bengals on Sunday, finishing with just 23 yards in a game that was highlighted by the play of quarterback Lamar Jackson, who rushed for 152 yards on 19 carries. While Marquise Brown (ankle) wasn't in the lineup, Roberts wasn't able to get anything going. Continue to not expect much from 28-year-old, however, even if Hollywood misses more time in the weeks ahead.
Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Miles Boykin had two catches (three targets) for 28 yards against the Bengals in Week 6. Though Marquise Brown (ankle) wasn't in the lineup, quarterback Lamar Jackson virtually monopolized the team's offensive attack by rushing for 152 yards on 19 carries. Don't expect much from Boykin moving forward in all formats, even if Hollywood misses some more time.
Baltimore Ravens CB Maurice Canady (hamstring) reportedly suffered a hamstring injury of unknown severity in Week 6 versus the Cincinnati Bengals.
Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Willie Snead had three catches for 18 yards on Sunday. With Lamar Jackson and company running all over the Bengals Defense, Snead was unable to get involved despite the absence of Marquise Brown (ankle), who was ruled out for the week. The 26-year-old continues to be included as the No. 3 receiving option outside of Brown and tight end Mark Andrews, often picking up the duo's leftovers from week-to-week. He still has value in deeper PPR formats, with his stock rising if Hollywood misses more time.
Carolina Panthers wide receiver Jarius Wright pulled in just one catch for six yards against the Buccaneers in London. With Christian McCaffrey, D.J. Moore, and Curtis Samuel gobbling up most of the targets from week-to-week, Wright has relatively no fantasy value at the moment. If one of those guys gets injured, his stock may rise, but not enough to make a difference from a fantasy standpoint.
Cleveland Browns wide receiver Antonio Callaway caught two of his four passes for 22 yards in a 32-28 loss to the Seattle Seahawks in Week 6. A week after dropping a would-be touchdown in the end zone, Callaway again struggled to hold onto the ball. He dropped two catchable passes, including one that would have gone for a long gain in the first quarter. The second-year receiver was suspended for the first four games of the season, so it is possible that he is still shaking off the rust. Even so, he will have a tough time making an impact in fantasy as long as Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry are healthy. Callaway has his bye in Week 7 before a tough road matchup against the New England Patriots in Week 8.
Houston Texans tight end Jordan Akins pulled in three receptions for 39 yards on Sunday against the Chiefs. With DeAndre Hopkins and Will Fuller getting the majority of looks from quarterback Deshaun Watson throughout the season, Akins continues to be virtually an afterthought as he received fewer targets than fellow tight end Darren Fells, who finished with seven on the day. Akins still has value in deeper formats, but his success is dependent on whether he can find the end zone, while also hinging on the health of Fells moving ahead.