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Indianapolis Colts quarterback Philip Rivers (17) walks off the field after the Jacksonville Jaguars intercepted a pass he threw during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 13, 2020, in Jacksonville, Fla. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)


Indianapolis Colts running back Nyheim Hines (21) celebrates his touchdown against the Jacksonville Jaguars with teammate wide receiver Zach Pascal (14) during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 13, 2020, in Jacksonville, Fla. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)


Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver Laviska Shenault Jr., left, scores a touchdown on a 16-yard pass play in front of Indianapolis Colts defensive end Justin Houston during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 13, 2020, in Jacksonville, Fla. (AP Photo/Stephen B. Morton)


INDIANANPOLIS (AP) The Indianapolis Colts drafted Jonathan Taylor to complement their ground game.

Now he's the starter - and perhaps the finisher, too. On Sunday, the Colts are giving a 21-year-old rookie his chance to play a familiar part: workhorse back.

''Jonathan, I think has been in this mindset of he's been a star and a starter all his life,'' coach Frank Reich said. ''So for him to step into this role I think is a pretty easy transition.''

Taylor is the perfect fit.

At 5-foot-10, 226 pounds, he's powerful enough to be effective inside. His breakaway speed makes him dangerous outside. And in last weekend's pro debut he had six catches for 67 yards. He excelled in the job at Wisconsin, too, where he logged 926 carries and became the first Football Bowl Subdivision player to top 6,000 yards in three seasons.

But with the injured Marlon Mack handing off the starting job, the Colts need Taylor to take on a heavier workload against a Minnesota defense that has typically ranked among the league's best.

The Vikings (0-1) certainly didn't look the part last week.

Minnesota allowed 43 points, the most in coach Mike Zimmer's seven-year tenure, 522 yards, the second most of the Zimmer era. They can't afford to let it happen again or the Vikings could leave town with their first 0-2 start since 2013.

What needs to change?

''I just feel like we came out flat, you know what I mean?'' recently acquired defensive end Yannick Ngakoue said. ''People want to say, I guess, not having fans and things like that, but at the end of the day it's just like playing backyard football. We didn't have any fans back then. We just went out there and had fun.''

The Colts have other problems.

New quarterback Philip Rivers threw two interceptions and Pro Bowl receiver T.Y. Hilton dropped the last two passes of the game - a feeling that has gnawed at him all week.

One possible solution is a more balanced offense, with the spotlight shining on Taylor.

''You're excited for Jonathan,'' Reich said. ''This will be a great opportunity for him.''

ROAD TRIP

After last week's strange home opener, the Vikings make their first road trip of the COVID-19 era to Indianapolis, where a crowd of up to 2,500 fans could congregate.

Indy opened the season at Jacksonville, where fans were socially distanced.

''This might be a little bit more `normal' now that we've been through this one time,'' Zimmer said. ''We just have to be focused on our job and what we're going to do, and we can't worry about crowds and protocols and anything like that.''

But the Colts have been inhospitable to Minnesota, which has lost all 11 games played in Baltimore or Indy. The Vikings own at least one road win against the other 30 franchises.

MILESTONE WATCH

Philip Rivers remembers hanging posters of some quarterback greats in his bedroom. This week, he could be joining some and surpassing another.

Rivers needs two touchdown passes and 366 yards to become the sixth member of the 400-TD and 60,000-yard clubs, and 24 completions to pass Hall of Famer Dan Marino (4,967) for fifth in NFL history. If he makes consecutive start No. 226, he'll tie Terrell Suggs for the league's 11th longest streak.

And one more win will give him 124, tying Hall of Famer and former Vikings great Fran Tarkenton for No. 8.

''That's what matters most, finding a way to help lead the team to a win,'' he said. ''If that means 80 yards passing and handing it off 55 times, then let's do that. If it means something different, then let's do that.''

FAMILIAR FOE

The Vikings' last trip to Indy was for Andrew Luck's home debut.

But Ngakoue played at Lucas Oil Stadium four times with Jacksonville before he was traded. In eight career games against the Colts, Ngakoue has 6 1/2 sacks, 15 quarterback hits, three forced fumbles and one interception. The Colts were eager to get him out of the division - but not happy to see him back so soon.

''He has a relentless motor,'' coach Frank Reich said. ''He's a fierce competitor. That was a very good pickup for the Vikings.''

Ngakoue had only four full practices with the Vikings before his debut last week against Green Bay. He was a nonfactor in the loss and acknowledged this week he was rusty.

REUNITED

Xavier Rhodes spent seven seasons with Minnesota before signing with Indianapolis as a free agent in March. He's not bitter, just excited to hit some old friends.

''When I was practicing against those guys when I was there, we were competing each and every play, so it's going to be the same right there on the field,'' Rhodes said. ''But I'm going to be able to tackle them this time.''

Player Notes
Teddy Bridgewater Oct 29 10:40pm ET

Teddy Bridgewater, after being tripped while trying to scramble, took a shot to the head as he fell to the ground against the Falcons. Obviously, the first concern after a hit to the head is a concussion. Bridgewater's head abruptly twisted to the side and he went into the tent shortly thereafter. The Panthers' backup tonight is XFL sweetheart, P.J. Walker.

From RotoBaller

Calvin Ridley Oct 29 10:10pm ET

Calvin Ridley has been ruled out for the Falcons' Week 8 game against the Panthers. He was tackled by a defender and his left foot got caught under the defender. Ridley immediately grabbed his left foot and went to the locker room. His status for Week 9 will now be in question.

From RotoBaller

La'Mical Perine Oct 29 9:50pm ET

New York Jets running back La'Mical Perine has been buried on the depth chart for most of the season. However, head coach Adam Gase mentioned last week that he wants to get Perine more involved. Perine was on the field for 70 percent of the offensive snaps during the Week 7 loss to the Buffalo Bills. He saw 11 carries for 40 yards and a touchdown in the loss. He'll get a decent matchup here against the Kansas City Chiefs who are average against the run this season. Perine could be worth looking at as a desperation option for owners in need of a running back.

From RotoBaller

Jamison Crowder Oct 29 9:50pm ET

New York Jets wide receiver Jamison Crowder (groin) was able to go through limited practice on Thursday. That is actually an upgrade since Crowder sat out of practice the day prior. Crowder has been basically the only bright spot for this team all season long. His absence would doom the Jets chances of doing anything at all on offense versus the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 8. Crowder has seen 10 or more targets in each game that he has played in this season. He'll be a reliable WR2, assuming he suits up here.

From RotoBaller

Frank Gore Oct 29 9:40pm ET

New York Jets running back Frank Gore has seen a significant role in the backfield this season. The departure of Le'Veon Bell has opened up lead back duties for Gore over the last few weeks. Sadly, the Jets offensive line and team as a whole is horrible this season. Gore has done what he can, but will likely see his role decrease going forward. Head coach Adam Gase wants to see La'Mical Perine more involved in the offense. That means, Gore is going to be a tough option to trust versus the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 8.

From RotoBaller

Sam Darnold Oct 29 9:30pm ET

New York Jets quarterback Sam Darnold showed no signs of life during the loss to the Buffalo Bills last week. Darnold returned after a two-game absence, but was torn apart by the Bills Defense in Week 7. He finished with 120 passing yards with zero touchdowns and two interceptions in the loss. To be fair, Darnold doesn't have many weapons on the Jets, but his play under center has been difficult to watch. It won't get any easier for Darnold as he'll face off with the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 8. A secondary that has allowed the ninth fewest amount of fantasy points to quarterbacks this season. There is no reason to start Darnold unless you absolutely have no other options. Hopefully Ben DiNucci is available because he's a better fantasy option this week than Darnold.

From RotoBaller

Calvin Ridley Oct 29 9:30pm ET

During the second quarter, Calvin Ridley was tackled from behind and immediately grabbed his left foot. Common injuries in the foot and ankle include lateral ankle sprains, high ankle sprains, mid-foot sprains, and turf toe. His status to return to the game is unknown at this time but considering this is a divisional game, the Falcons will do everything in their power to get him back on the field. His practice availability leading into Week 9 will be worth monitoring.

From RotoBaller

Gabriel Davis Oct 29 9:20pm ET

Buffalo Bills wide receiver Gabriel Davis has put together a few decent performance this season. Sadly, his production has been inconsistent and it's tough to predict when he's going to see a significant role in the offense. Last week, Davis saw three targets and caught one of them for 11 yards in the victory over the New York Jets. Davis is not expected to be a reliable streaming option against the top-10 secondary of the New England Patriots in Week 8. Fantasy owners might be able to use him as a low-end desperation deep league option, but that's about it.

From RotoBaller

Chris Carson Oct 29 8:30pm ET

The Seattle Seahawks will have a running back active Sunday versus San Francisco, although whether it's any of the trio of Chris Carson (foot), Carlos Hyde (hamstring), or Travis Homer (knee) remains to be seen. None of the aforementioned trio practiced in any capacity Thursday, furthering the notion that DeeJay Dallas may be heavily relied upon for the game versus the 49ers. Of the three, Carson seems the most likely to miss the contest after initially being deemed week-to-week with a foot injury. Should Hyde or Homer suit up (with the other being ruled out), they'd immediately garner RB2/Flex intrigue due to the lack of depth in the Seattle backfield. Check back over the coming days to get a better idea of how the Seahawks' backfield woes will shake out.

From RotoBaller

Trey Burton Oct 29 8:30pm ET

Indianapolis Colts tight end Trey Burton has emerged as a legitimate weapon over the past two games. Over the last two games, he has nine catches for 91 yards and a touchdown on 11 total targets. However, he is matching up against a Lions Defense that ranks second against opposing tight ends. Burton is also sharing snaps with Jack Doyle, but Burton is seeing many more targets in the passing game. The Lions have one of the worst run defenses in the league, so there's a chance that the Colts will not have a heavy passing attack unless they get behind early. Burton has been productive, but all this data points to him having some bust potential this week. He may have TE2 or flex potential, but he is certainly a risky play.

From RotoBaller

Chris Jones Oct 29 8:20pm ET

Kansas City Chiefs defensive tackle Chris Jones (groin) was able to record a full practice session Thursday, a likely sign that he'll ultimately be given the green light to play Sunday against the Jets. The Chiefs Defense was already in a golden spot even with Jones' availability up in the air, but having the reigning Pro Bowler patrolling the line only enhances their value. Having accrued 21 tackles, nine quarterback hits, and 4.5 sacks in six games, Jones' presence should wreak havoc against a Jets offense that has struggled to muster much lightning in 2020. Despite Kansas City's struggles at stopping the run (149.9 yards per game) this year, they should be rostered in all season-long leagues on a streamer basis with the news of Jones likely being in the mix.

From RotoBaller

Emmanuel Sanders Oct 29 8:10pm ET

New Orleans Saints wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders (COVID-19) will be absent from Sunday's contest versus Chicago, marking his second consecutive game out of the mix. Prior to hitting the COVID-19 list, Sanders reeled off his best performance of the year with a 12-catch, 122-yard outing versus the Chargers, with his absence creating an opening in the WR ranks for the Saints. With Michael Thomas (hamstring) returning to practice Thursday, New Orleans may have some reinforcements against a stout Bears Defense, but Sanders' next chance to return to action comes next Sunday against Tampa Bay. The nature of the virus puts Sanders' availability up in the air, so check back for updates on his status as they emerge.

From RotoBaller

T Y Hilton Oct 29 8:10pm ET

Indianapolis Colts wide receiver T.Y. Hilton has been unreliable so far this season, so it may be difficult to insert him in a fantasy lineup against the Lions this week. Philip Rivers threw the ball for over 370 yards in Week 6 against the Bengals, but Hilton caught just one pass for 11 yards. He has just one game all season with more than five catches. He also has not been able to salvage any poor fantasy days by finding the end zone. Rivers seems to have a new receiving option he likes to go to every week, so it has been incredibly difficult to find any bright spots for Hilton. It is hard to consider him a fringe flex option at this point, so he is probably best suited on the bench in Week 8.

From RotoBaller

Kareem Hunt Oct 29 7:50pm ET

Cleveland Browns running back Kareem Hunt (ribs) and wide receiver Jarvis Landry (hip/ribs) were both limited during practice Thursday, marking the second consecutive day that their workload was managed. Despite the limited practice time, there's no reason to believe that either is in danger of not suiting up Sunday against the Raiders for what should be an advantageous matchup for both. With Nick Chubb (knee) still out of the equation, Hunt should remain the bell cow out of the backfield, while Landry should see an increase in targets in the wake of Odell Beckham Jr.'s (knee) season-ending knee injury. Check back prior to kickoff Sunday just to make sure that both eventually get the green light, but something would have to go sideways over the coming days for either to be held out.

From RotoBaller

Jonathan Taylor Oct 29 7:40pm ET

Indianapolis Colts running back Jonathan Taylor will have a great opportunity to put up a good fantasy performance against the Lions this week. The Lions rank 30th against opposing running backs, and Taylor continues to improve on his yards per carry. The Lions Defense is giving up 4.5 yards per carry and have surrendered nine rushing touchdowns so far this season. Taylor is averaging 16 carries per game since being name the starter, and he has picked up three rushing touchdowns in those five games. He has mostly put up respectable fantasy performances, and he should be able to again this week. Taylor is a must-start option in Week 8.

From RotoBaller

Jalen Reagor Oct 29 7:40pm ET

Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Jalen Reagor (thumb) is in line to play Sunday against Dallas, making his first appearance since Week 2. Reagor sustained a torn UCL in his right thumb, but is expected to revamp the team's wide receiving corps after losing DeSean Jackson (ankle) to injured reserve. Taken with the team's first-round selection in the 2020 NFL Draft, Reagor combined to make five catches for 96 yards in his first two games, logging 60 snaps in his final outing before hitting IR. With limited consistent options in the passing game for Carson Wentz to target, Reagor carries WR3/Flex potential this Sunday, especially when considering his matchup against an exploitable Cowboys secondary.

From RotoBaller

Mason Crosby Oct 29 7:30pm ET

Green Bay Packers kicker Mason Crosby (calf/back) was held out of practice Thursday for the second consecutive day, a worrisome note that may force Green Bay to get creative Sunday against Minnesota. Crosby has been the team's kicker for every game since Week 1 of the 2007 season, continuing to excel this year while going 9-for-9 on field-goal attempts. Special teams coach Shawn Mennenga is confident that he'll have Crosby at his disposal, but even if that's the case, current weather projections have the wind gusts in Green Bay expected to approach 40 MPH. The combination of injury concerns and bad weather opens the door for season-long fantasy managers to consider another placekicking option Sunday despite Crosby's sustained excellence.

From RotoBaller

Phillip Lindsay Oct 29 7:20pm ET

Denver Broncos running back Phillip Lindsay (concussion) was able to practice in a limited capacity Thursday, leaving the door open that he could be cleared from the league's concussion protocol in time to suit up Sunday against the Chargers. Lindsay has reclaimed his prior form over his last two games, having compiled 180 yards rushing on 32 carries. The return of Melvin Gordon III is sure to complicate Denver's backfield situation moving forward, but when given the green light, Lindsay holds RB2/Flex appeal due to past success. With that being said, his matchup Sunday against a Chargers Defense that has allowed just one rushing touchdown all year -- when combined with his injury -- makes for an avoidable DFS spot. Check back to get updates on Lindsay's status as they become available.

From RotoBaller

Philip Rivers Oct 29 7:20pm ET

Indianapolis Colts quarterback Philip Rivers will face off against the Lions in Week 8. Rivers is coming off his best performance of the season against the Bengals, but he will likely to revert back to what he was prior to Week 6. The Lions Defense has actually been fairly good against the pass, currently ranking ninth against opposing quarterbacks. They are allowing less than two passing touchdowns per game, and opposing quarterbacks have a passer rating of just 94. Week 6 was the only game of the year where Rivers threw multiple touchdown passes, and that is largely due to them falling behind early. Fantasy owners can feel comfortable with Rivers on the bench this week.

From RotoBaller

Indianapolis Colts Oct 29 7:10pm ET

Indianapolis Colts linebacker Darius Leonard (groin) is moving in the right direction as it pertains suiting up Sunday versus Detroit, as he was a full practice participant Thursday. Leonard has been out of the mix for the past two games due to a groin ailment, but the Colts Defense has still soared out into elite company through its first six games. In the three full contests that he has appeared this season, Leonard already has two double-digit tackle efforts, while also having defended two passes. Having led the NFL in tackles as a rookie in 2018 before being named an All-Pro last year in just 13 games, Leonard's addition to the Colts linebacking core makes them an even more vaunted unit moving forward.

From RotoBaller