Sat Sep 14 5:00pm ET
By DENNIS WASZAK Jr.
AP Pro Football Writer
New York Jets head coach Adam Gase looks at the scoreboard during the second half of an NFL football game against the Buffalo Bills Sunday, Sept. 8, 2019, in East Rutherford, N.J. (AP Photo/Bill Kostroun)
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) Well, this isn't quite how the Cleveland Browns and New York Jets expected to start the season.
Both are coming off opening losses and look to avoid going 0-2 with a Monday night matchup loaded with juicy storylines, surprising twists and a slight hint of desperation.
And, it's only Week 2.
''I think every game is a must-win game,'' Jets running back Le'Veon Bell said, ''but obviously this game holds a lot of weight to it.''
The Browns didn't live up to the preseason hype that had some making them potential Super Bowl contenders.
Instead, Cleveland committed 18 penalties - the most by the team since 1951 - in a 43-13 loss to Tennessee that put early pressure on first-year coach Freddie Kitchens.
''I feel a lot of confidence with this team that we're going to get all the haters and naysayers out of here,'' cornerback Denzel Ward said, ''so I hope everybody's all gone now and we're just focused on us.''
Well, most of the Browns, that is.
Wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. returns to MetLife Stadium for the first time since being traded by the Giants in March. But that's not even the biggest headline.
Neither is all the attention on his expensive watch.
Beckham spiced things up Thursday when he called out former Browns defensive coordinator Gregg Williams - now in the same role with the Jets - and said the coach instructed players to hurt him in a preseason game in 2017. He sustained a severe ankle injury when Cleveland's Briean Boddy-Calhoun cut his legs out, something he says ''changed my life forever'' because he says it led to other injuries.
''Just got to watch out for the cheap shots and the dirty hits and all the things that he likes to teach,'' Beckham said.
Williams denied Beckham's accusations, and told reporters they should ignore the receiver's comments.
''We don't do that,'' Williams insisted. ''Never done it anywhere that I've been. We don't do anything to hurt the team.''
Williams, of course, is facing the Browns for the first time since leading them to a 5-3 record after taking over when Hue Jackson was fired - and then losing out to Kitchens for the vacancy.
''Obviously, he has a chip on his shoulder about this game,'' Jets safety Jamal Adams said. ''We're going to go out there and play for him. He's going to be all riled up.''
Adam Gase was plenty fired up this week himself after the Jets blew a 16-0 third-quarter lead last Sunday in his debut for New York and lost 17-16 to Buffalo.
WILD WEEK FOR JETS
Kicker Kaare Vedvik was waived after he missed an extra point and a 45-yard field goal, and Sam Ficken was signed to replace him.
Second-year defensive lineman Nathan Shepherd was suspended six games for two violations of the NFL's policy on performance enhancers.
They swung a rare trade with New England, acquiring wide receiver Demaryius Thomas for a 2021 sixth-round draft pick.
Wide receiver Quincy Enunwa was lost for the season with his second neck injury in just over two years.
And, then, the capper of `em all: Quarterback Sam Darnold was diagnosed with mononucleosis, likely sidelining him for several games. That means it'll be Trevor Siemian starting against Baker Mayfield, who appears OK after needing X-rays on his hand Sunday, and the Browns on Monday night.
''I guess maybe I'm messed up,'' Gase said, trying to put a positive spin on it all. ''I'm like, `Great, let's go. Trevor is up, let's go find a way to win the game.'''
On Saturday, the Jets ruled out linebacker C.J. Mosley and rookie defensive tackle Quinnen Williams for the game.
NEW YORK STATE OF MIND
Beckham dismissed any extra motivation in going back to his old, New Jersey stomping grounds.
''It is just another game,'' he said. ''It really is. `Monday Night Football' in the lights. Just trying to get wins.''
But Beckham is an entertainer and loves the big stage, so he'll undoubtedly try to put on a performance with the rest of the league watching.
And speaking of watching, Beckham said he'll sport the Richard Mille-designed watch: ''if I want to wear it, I'll wear it.'' The league told the Browns that Beckham is violating their policy on ''hard objects.''
BAKER & THE JETS
Mayfield has fond memories of the Jets. He made his NFL debut against them last season, coming off the bench in Week 3 and leading the Browns to a 21-17 win to end Cleveland's 19-game winless streak.
Following the game, fans streamed from FirstEnergy Stadium singing, ''Bak-er, May-field,'' feeling the Browns had finally found their franchise quarterback. Mayfield took off from there, setting the league rookie record with 27 touchdown passes while leading Cleveland to a 7-8-1 record.
Bell had a solid return in his first game action in nearly 20 months. He rushed for 60 yards on 17 carries and caught six passes for 32 yards and a TD in his Jets debut. He also caught a pass for a 2-point conversion.
The star running back sat out practice Wednesday and had an MRI on a shoulder, but it came up clear and he should play against the Browns.
It was an emotional week for the Browns following the tragic death of defensive end Chris Smith's girlfriend.
Petara Cordero, who gave birth to the couple's daughter last month, was struck by a car as she stood on a highway roadside Wednesday. She was a passenger in Smith's Lamborghini, which blew a tire and spun out. The 26-year-old Cordero had exited the car when another car, driven by a 47-year-old woman who admitted to police she had been drinking, smashed into her.
''It's a tough situation,'' guard Joel Bitonio said. ''You forget about things when you're in this building, sometimes the outside world you forget. We love this game and this game does a lot for us, but football comes second to a lot of things sometimes. We're trying to pick Chris up and his family, his little baby and all those things. We're thinking about him every chance we get.''
Baltimore Ravens running back Mark Ingram rushed 13 times for 52 yards and a touchdown in Week 6 against the Bengals. The Ravens play a Seahawks Defense that has allowed 557 rushing yards and given up six touchdowns to opposing backs in 2019. In Week 6 Seattle allowed the Browns to rush for 157 yards and three touchdowns. Ingram has rushed for at least 44 yards in every game this season, but is becoming a touchdown-dependent option. He hasn't even come close to his outlier performance against Kansas City when he rushed for 103 yards and three touchdowns. Baltimore still hosts a run-first offense so expect Ingram to get his touches, but he's in RB2 territory for Week 7.
Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson posted 236 passing yards, 152 rushing yards and a rushing touchdown against the Bengals in Week 6. Baltimore plays a Seahawks Defense in Week 7 that's allowed the eighth-most passing yards in the league through six games (1,602). Seattle has allowed at least 15 fantasy points every week to opposing quarterbacks in 2019 and let Baker Mayfield run for a touchdown in Week 6. Receiver Marquise Brown is still questionable to play with an ankle injury. If Hollywood is unable to go on Sunday, expect tight end Mark Andrews to get the bulk of targets and for Jackson to use his legs to get the ball moving. Jackson has firmly placed himself as a top-three QB start for the rest of the way.
New York Jets WR Demaryius Thomas (hamstring) was a limited participant in practice Saturday, Oct. 19, and is questionable for Monday Night Football.
Fantasy Spin: Thomas may not get to face his former team in the New England Patriots. He's coming off his best game of the season in Week 6, catching all four of his targets for 62 yards. He's a flex option at best as a bye-week replacement if active.
New York Jets TE Chris Herndon (hamstring) didn't practice Saturday, Oct. 19, and is considered doubtful for Monday, Oct. 21's game against the New England Patriots.
Fantasy Spin: Herndon is yet to play this season following suspension and now injury. WRs Jamison Crowder and Robby Anderson will remain the target hogs in New York's passing game.
New York Jets LB Albert McClellan (concussion) didn't practice Saturday, Oct. 19, and is out for Monday, Oct. 21's game against the New England Patriots. DE Henry Anderson (shoulder), OL Kelvin Beachum (ankle), RB Trenton Cannon (foot/ankle), LB Neville Hewitt (neck/knee) and G Kelechi Osemele (shoulder) also didn't practice and are considered doubtful. OL Alex Lewis (neck), CB Nate Hairston (knee), LB C.J. Mosley (groin), DT Steve McLendon (hamstring), CB Darryl Roberts (ankle) and Brian Winters (shoulder/knee) were limited participants and are questionable. C Ryan Kalil (shoulder) didn't practice and is also questionable.
New England Patriots WR Phillip Dorsett (hamstring) was limited in practice Saturday, Oct. 19, and is considered questionable for Monday, Oct. 21's games against the New York Jets.
Fantasy Spin: Dorsett is at risk of missing a second straight game after he left the Week 5 contest against the Washington Redskins with just four snaps played. WR Josh Gordon (ankle) has already been ruled out and WR Julian Edelman (chest) is also questionable. Expect plenty of work for RBs James White and Sony Michel in the passing game.
New England Patriots RB Rex Burkhead (foot) was a limited participant in practice Saturday, Oct. 19, and is considered questionable for Monday Night Football against the New York Jets.
Fantasy Spin: Burkhead hasn't been noteworthy this season outside of a surprise Week 3 start with RBs James White and Sony Michel inactive. Expect his two teammates to see plenty of work this week.
New England Patriots TE Ryan Izzo (concussion) didn't practice Saturday, Oct. 19, and has been ruled out for Monday night's game against the New York Jets. TE Matt LaCosse (knee) also didn't practice and has been ruled out. S Patrick Chung (heel/chest) and WR Gunner Olszewski (hamstring) were limited and are questionable for Monday.
New England Patriots WR Josh Gordon (ankle) was ruled out for Monday, Oct. 21's game against the New York Jets.
Fantasy Spin: Gordon made just one seven-yard catch against the New York Giants last Thursday night. His absence should open up playing time and targets for Phillip Dorsett and Jakobi Meyers. Both are desperation flex plays as bye-week replacements.
New England Patriots WR Julian Edelman (chest) was a limited participant in practice Saturday, Oct. 19, and is considered questionable for Monday, Oct. 21's game against the New York Jets.
Fantasy Spin: Edelman had season highs with 15 targets, nine receptions and 113 yards last Thursday against the New York Giants. He should suit up Monday, but don't expect such high volume with added work for the running backs and WR Jakobi Meyers likely on the way.
Free-agent DT Mike Pennel was signed by the Kansas City Chiefs Saturday, Oct. 19. DT Terrell McClain was released in a corresponding move.
Despite being the starting tight end last week, Luke Willson was only able to scrape together three targets. Baltimore is a neutral-to-slightly bad matchup for TE's, but even in a plus matchup, Willson will only be relevant if he's able to break the plane. Until he builds a track record of decent usage, Willson isn't even worth a speculative add at this point.
Arizona Cardinals CB Patrick Peterson was added to the 53-man roster Saturday, Oct. 19, following his six-game suspension. OL Brett Toth (illness) was placed on the non-football injury list in a corresponding move.
No team in football has yielded more rushing yards per contest than the Cincinnati Bengals during 2019, who have allowed the opposition to storm down the field for over 184 yards per contest. What does all that mean? Leonard Fournette, the Jaguars unquestioned No. 1 option on the offensive side of the ball should be in line to feast. Not only has Fournette seen at least 20 carries in each of his last three contests, he has recorded at least four receptions in five of six games this year. While a lot of the talk surrounding Fournette has been focused on his aversion to finding the end zone through the first six weeks, the combination of one of the leagues top rushers facing the one of the leagues most permeable run defenses should equal big things for No. 27.
Jacksonville Jaguars second-year wide receiver D.J. Chark might wind up being the unlikeliest member of the Pro Bowl roster if he continues his dominant 2019 campaign. Through six games, Chark has totaled 528 yards and five touchdowns, bringing that hot stretch into a matchup against a Cincinnati Bengals Defense that has yielded the fewest points to opposing wide receivers entering this week. The 23-year-old has recorded four or fewer catches in two of his past three games, but the targets havent been an issue Chark has combined to see 26 balls thrown his way in that span. Hes a reasonably priced asset in DFS and should likely be roster in most traditional formats.
Houston Texas running back Duke Johnson is still drawing snaps and making the most of his time on the field, but has seen Carlos Hyde erupt over the past few weeks as a ball carrier. Johnson found the end zone as a receiver last week, his first receiving touchdown since Week 10 of last season. The former Miami (FL) standout is yet to record double-digit carries in a contest this season, limiting his fantasy value significantly. Despite averaging a gaudy 6.5 yards per carry through the first six weeks, owners will need to see Johnson consistently tip the scales as it pertains to a timeshare in the backfield before deploying him in lineups.
Houston Texans CB Bradley Roby (hamstring) on Saturday, Oct. 19, was downgraded to out for the Week 7 game against the Indianapolis Colts. Roby did not travel with the team.
Houston Texans wide receiver Will Fuller erupted onto the scene as a legitimate fantasy weapon in Week 5 with his 15-reception, three-touchdown game. He followed it up by a pedestrian outing last week, but he did see nine targets, with finding the end zone on multiple occasions very nearly coming to fruition. The Colts pass defense is nothing to be scoffed at, but Fullers boom/bust potential seems to be at its apex with his recent output. With quarterback Deshaun Watson under center, Fuller presents a definite traditional fantasy option and a great upside DFS play.
He may have been acquired in the wake of the Lamar Miller injury, but Houston Texans running back Carlos Hyde is making his impact felt with his new franchise. Houston is fifth in the league with nearly 140 yards gained on the ground per game, with Hyde now having established himself as the bell cow of the group. He carried the ball a season-high 26 times last week, resulting in his first performance that exceeded 100 yards since Week 2 of the 2017 year. In addition, he has found the end zone in three of his past four games, aiming to continue that trend against a middle of the pack Colts rush defense.
The primary concern surrounding Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver Dede Westbrook is a shoulder ailment that has kept his status for Sundays contest up in the air. While owners wouldnt be blamed for shying away with the injury lingering enough to keep the questionable tag on him, Westbrook has seen a combined 19 targets from quarterback Gardner Minshew over the past two weeks. The former Oklahoma standout has only pulled in one touchdown reception this season but has had numerous opportunities since then. A matchup against a thin Cincinnati secondary could lead to a high-volume passing afternoon for all those involved in the Jacksonville offense.