Mon Nov 23 2:53pm ET
By STEPHEN WHYNO
AP Sports Writer
Washington Football Team quarterback Alex Smith (11) passing during the first half of an NFL football game against the Cincinnati Bengals and Washington Football Team, Sunday, Nov. 22, 2020, in Landover. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
Washington Football Team quarterback Alex Smith (11) throws the ball before the start of an NFL football game against the Cincinnati Bengals, Sunday, Nov. 22, 2020, in Landover, Md. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
Members of the Washington Football Team taking the field, from l-r., offensive guard Wes Schweitzer (71), quarterback Alex Smith (11) and offensive guard Brandon Scherff (75) before the start of the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Nov. 22, 2020, in Landover. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
Alex Smith is showing why Ron Rivera wanted an experienced quarterback to start for Washington, and has the team in position to compete for a division title because the NFC East is so weak.
Smith calmly guided Washington to a 20-9 comeback victory against Cincinnati on Sunday after No. 1 overall draft pick Joe Burrow went down and sapped the Bengals' energy and efficiency. Smith's first victory since breaking his right leg almost exactly two years earlier was the perfect example of how the 36-year-old quarterback can still win games in the NFL if he has enough talent around him.
''We're an incredibly young team that is still kind of finding out who we are: our strengths, finding out how to win, trusting in each other,'' Smith said. ''It's important for us to kind of continue to keep getting better.''
The next step in that comes Thursday with a short turnaround before visiting the Dallas Cowboys for a annual Thanksgiving Day game. After Smith had a career-high 38 completions and 390 passing yards at Detroit the previous week and managed the game against Cincinnati, Washington is hoping momentum carries more weight than fatigue.
''You try to have as much carryover from the last couple weeks as possible,'' Rivera said Monday.
Washington's offense is getting the job done with Smith throwing to second-year star Terry McLaurin, receivers Steven Sims and Cam Sims, and third-down back J.D. McKissic. Rookie running back Antonio Gibson has eight rushing touchdowns after playing receiver for most of college at Memphis.
''Having a vet at the quarterback position changes (things) dramatically,'' Gibson said. ''He's been there and done that, so there's not too much pressure on him. He relaxes in the huddle. I feel like for me, anyway, having a vet there just helps in that situation.''
WHAT NEEDS HELP
The defense didn't force Cincinnati to punt once in the first half while Burrow was at quarterback. A couple of Bengals drives ended with missed field goals and another a fumble forced by No. 2 overall draft pick Chase Young near the goal line, but staying on the field so long and giving up yards is a matter of concern.
It got easier when Burrow injured his left knee and gave way to inexperienced backup Ryan Finley. The defense swarmed at that point, which might be a source of confidence moving forward.
''We gave up some yardage early in the game in the first half (and) ultimately bent but didn't break,'' veteran defensive end Ryan Kerrigan said. ''Then in the second half, I felt like I liked what I saw a lot more. We got off the field more quickly, a bunch of three-and-outs, and hopefully we can continue that.''
Cornerback Ronald Darby might've been Washington's best defensive player against Cincinnati, batting down four passes and blanketing receivers in coverage.
''I thought he put himself in the position to make plays,'' Rivera said. ''The most important thing is just being where you need to be when the ball arrives. He was there.''
Tight end Logan Thomas was targeted five times by Smith and finished with just two catches for 3 yards. Thomas was a popular weapon for previous starter Kyle Allen but has a smaller role in the offense now.
Morgan Moses fared well moving from right tackle to left in place of injured starter Cornelius Lucas, and the secondary handled the absence of safety Deshazor Everett. It remains to be seen if ankle injuries to Lucas and Everett heal in time for either or both to play at Dallas.
4 - Sacks in the second half for Washington, which can have a fearsome pass rush if it gets the lead and can send Young, Kerrigan, Montez Sweat and Co. flying at opposing quarterbacks.
A lot of virtual meetings and rest before taking on Andy Dalton and the Cowboys, who open as 1-point favorites after beating Minnesota. First place in the NFC East, at least temporarily, is at stake.
Five Fantasy Takeaways from Week 11
Baltimore Ravens running backs Mark Ingram II and rookie J.K. Dobbins have tested positive for COVID-19 and will go on the Reserve/COVID-19 list on Monday, according to sources. With Baltimore playing on Thursday night against the undefeated Steelers in Week 12, both Ingram and Dobbins will be inactive. That means that Gus Edwards and Justice Hill will be the two primary backs in the Ravens backfield for the important divisional matchup this week. Edwards had just three carries for six yards in the Week 11 loss to the Titans in overtime, but he figures to be the featured back against Pittsburgh. The Steelers allow the second-fewest fantasy points per game to the running back position, but Edwards will have RB2 upside with both Ingram and Dobbins sidelined.
The Baltimore Ravens are expected to sign former Jets cornerback Pierre Desir once he goes through the league's COVID-19 testing protocols, according to a source. Desir signed a one-year deal with the Jets for up to $5.5 million in the offseason, but the struggling cornerback was released last week. Before the 2020 season, Desir had been a three-year starter for the Colts after previously playing with the Browns and Chargers. The 30-year-old struggled in coverage with Gang Green this year, though, recording 47 tackles (37 solo), a career-high three interceptions (one returned for a touchdown) and eight passes defensed in nine games (eight starts). For now, he'll serve as cornerback depth for a talented Ravens secondary.
Cincinnati Bengals rookie quarterback Joe Burrow's (knee) MRI exam revealed that he tore his ACL, MCL and suffered other structural issues to his left knee in the Week 11 loss to the Washington Football Team. Burrow will undergo season-ending reconstructive surgery on his knee and could be out anywhere from nine to 12 months, which would put his status for the beginning of the 2021 season in question. It could make him a risky high-end QB2 for fantasy managers going into draft season next year. The 23-year-old had his ups and downs in his first year before suffering the season-ending injury, but he also showed great poise and plenty of upside in the long-term for both fantasy and real life. Ryan Finley is expected to take over under center moving forward, which should lower the fantasy value of the rest of Cincy's offensive pieces.
Chicago Bears quarterbacks Nick Foles (hip) and Mitchell Trubisky (shoulder) are still dealing with injuries, and head coach Matt Nagy has declined to name a starter for Week 12 against the division-rival Packers, saying that a quarterback change is still "on the table." Foles didn't suffer a major hip injury in last Monday night's loss to the Rams, but he wasn't playing well before his injury and the Bears could decide to make a change under center in order to turn their season around. If neither QB can go against Green Bay, it would likely be Tyler Bray receiving the start, which would be bad news for Chicago's pass-catchers. The Packers Defense will be a popular streaming option this week, while fantasy managers should treat Chicago's starter at QB, whoever that may be, as a desperation low-end QB2.
Denver Broncos wide receiver Tim Patrick had a team-high five receptions on eight targets for a team-high 119 receiving yards in the 20-13 win over the Dolphins in Week 11. His eight targets were also tied for the team lead on Sunday. It marked the third time this season that Patrick has gone over 100 yards receiving after doing it in back-to-back weeks in Weeks 4 and 6 against the Jets and Patriots. The 27-year-old has been targeted seven-plus times in each of the last three weeks, and he should continue to see a steady diet of targets in Week 12 against the Saints. New Orleans defense has been much more vulnerable through the air, and Denver will likely need to throw to stay in the game. Patrick will be a WR3/flex with some upside in Week 12.
Denver Broncos running back Phillip Lindsay had a team-high 16 carries for 82 yards (5.1 yards per carry) in the Week 12 victory over the visiting Dolphins. Denver's rushing attack was the story in this game, as Lindsay and Melvin Gordon combined for 166 yards on the ground to control the clock. Lindsay had one more carry than Gordon, but Gordon managed to find the end zone twice. Still, it was a positive development for Lindsay. The 26-year-old saw his second-highest carry total of the season on Sunday after rushing the ball just 12 times in the previous two games combined. He'll be a low-upside RB3/flex next week against the Saints, though, as they've allowed a league-low three rushing scores all season. Plus, Lindsay hasn't been a factor in the passing attack with just two catches in seven games.
Denver Broncos running back Melvin Gordon III was the offensive star of the game for Denver in the 20-13 Week 11 upset win over the Dolphins. The Broncos won with their rushing attack and their defense, and Gordon was a big part of that, rushing 15 times for 84 yards (5.6 yards per carry) and both of the team's touchdowns. The 27-year-old saw just 50 percent of the offensive snaps, but he made the most of his chances while still splitting time pretty evenly with teammate Phillip Lindsay. It was a great showing for Gordon, especially since he hadn't given his fantasy managers a touchdown since Week 7 against the Chiefs. But he'll go back to being a low-end RB2/high-end RB3/flex in Week 12 against a Saints Defense that has allowed the fewest fantasy points per game to opposing running backs in 2020.
Denver Broncos quarterback Drew Lock was 18-for-30 for 270 yards passing, no touchdowns and one interception in the Week 11 win over the Dolphins. He added two carries for 23 yards on the ground. The Broncos played with positive game script all day, meaning that Lock didn't need to attempt 40-plus passes for the first time since Week 6 against the Patriots. The second-year signal-caller threw an interception for the sixth straight week and has 11 interceptions and seven touchdowns through eight games. The 24-year-old will probably have to throw more often in a Week 12 meeting with the Saints, but Lock will still be a turnover-prone, low-end QB2 option for fantasy managers in superflex leagues.
Atlanta Falcons WR Julio Jones (hamstring) left in the second quarter of the Week 11 game due to a hamstring injury and missed most of the game. He'll have tests Monday, Nov. 23, to assess the injury.
Fantasy Spin: Jones has been hamstrung all season due to his limbs, and he's the WR27 in PPR formats - albeit in eight games. This is what you're going to have to deal with if you own him in his aging state. Check back later to see if we can get a clearer picture on his status.
Las Vegas Raiders wide receiver Henry Ruggs III was mostly absent in a Week 11 matchup against the Chiefs, catching one pass on his only target for five yards and getting one rushing attempt that went for 12 yards. Ruggs played in over half the team's snaps, but Derek Carr clearly did not look his way for the majority of the game. Ruggs has seen five targets in just one game this season, and he has failed to catch more than three passes in any game. He takes on a bad Falcons secondary next week, but he is mostly off the fantasy radar at this time.
Las Vegas Raiders wide receiver Hunter Renfrow caught just two passes for 37 yards in a Sunday night loss against the Chiefs. This marks three straight games where Renfrow has had only two receptions. He also played in just 34 percent of snaps, which was his lowest since Week 8. Renfrow is a solid possession receiver that can move the chains, but his fantasy ceiling is incredibly low. He is averaging just three catches for about 43 yards per game and has found the end zone just two times all year. Renfrow will take on the Falcons next week, and it is reasonable to expect a similar performance.
Cleveland Browns pass-rusher Myles Garrett will miss the Week 12 game against the Jaguars after going on the COVID-19 list, according to head coach Kevin Stefanski. Garrett was put on the COVID-19 list several days ago and also missed the Week 11 win over the Eagles. He'll now be hoping to return for a Week 13 matchup with the Titans on Dec. 6. Despite missing the game against the Eagles this past Sunday, Garrett remains No. 1 among defensive lineman in fantasy points. The 24-year-old has 31 combined tackles, seven tackles for loss, 14 QB hits, a league-high four forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries and a league-high 9.5 sacks in nine games. Cleveland's defense will miss him again this week, but they are still a prime fantasy unit while facing Jacksonville.
Cleveland Browns DE Myles Garrett (illness) will miss Week 12 on the Reserve/COVID-19 list.
Fantasy Spin: Keep Garrett stashed as he's a top-five player at the position in IDP leagues.
The Philadelphia Eagles officially signed running back Jordan Howard to their practice squad on Monday. Howard was cut by the Dolphins last week after he rushed for 33 yards and four touchdowns on just 28 carries in five games for Miami after signing a one-year deal last offseason. He'll return to Philadelphia where he had 119 carries for 525 yards and six touchdowns in 10 games during the 2019 campaign. The 26-year-old has familiarity with the Eagles offense and will provide depth behind Miles Sanders, Boston Scott, rookie Jason Huntley, Corey Clement and Elijah Holyfield. Howard is strictly a depth piece for Philly right now and can be left on fantasy waiver wires.
Updating a previous report, free-agent RB Jordan Howard (Dolphins) signed with the Philadelphia Eagles' practice squad Monday, Nov. 23.
Green Bay Packers LB Christian Kirksey was credited with 11 tackles (six solo) and an interception against the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday, Nov. 22. He also initially looked to have returned a fumble for a touchdown, but the play was changed to an incomplete pass upon further review.
Green Bay Packers WR Marquez Valdes-Scantling had three catches for 55 yards against the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday, Nov. 22. He also lost a fumble.
Fantasy Spin: Valdes-Scantling made two big plays: 1) drawing a lengthy pass interference just before halftime that set up a Packers touchdown, and 2) a 47-yard catch to jumpstart their game-tying drive in the final minute. He also made one terrible mistake, however, as he fumbled the ball on the second play of overtime, leading to Indy's game-winning field goal. MVS' ability to work deep gives him decent upside potential from a flex slot most weeks.
Kansas City Chiefs WR Demarcus Robinson caught six of his eight targets for 44 yards in Week 11 against the Las Vegas Raiders.
Fantasy Spin: The Raiders did a good job of keeping the Chiefs in front of them for the majority of the game, and Robinson was no exception. Robinson also benefited from Mecole Hardman missing some time over the last two weeks due to being placed on the COVID list and Sammy Watkins (hamstring) being ruled out. Both players figure to be more active in practice this week, meaning Robinson can probably go back on the waiver wire in the majority of leagues.
Green Bay Packers WR Davante Adams had seven receptions for 106 yards and a touchdown in Week 11 against the Indianapolis Colts.
Fantasy Spin: In six games since returning from injury, Adams has posted a 51-655-8 line; if you put that production on a 16-game pace you'd get 136-1,747-21. You can flip a coin between Adams and DeAndre Hopkins as to who is the top overall fantasy WR, but Adams is a weekly WR1.
Las Vegas Raiders TE Darren Waller pulled in all seven of his targets for 88 yards and a touchdown in Week 11 versus the Kansas City Chiefs.
Fantasy Spin: Waller needs to average five catches per game over the last six contests to match last year's total of 90. He has enjoyed positive touchdown regression this season, scoring for the fifth time this year in this one after posting three during last season's breakout. With George Kittle out indefinitely and players like Mark Andrews disappointing more often than not, Waller has emerged as the clear TE2 in fantasy behind Travis Kelce. He needs to remain in lineups in Week 12 against the Atlanta Falcons.