Sun Dec 29 4:24pm ET
By JOHN WAWROW
AP Sports Writer
Buffalo Bills running back T.J. Yeldon (22) hurdles New York Jets strong safety Jamal Adams, bottom, during the second half of an NFL football game Sunday, Dec. 29, 2019, in Orchard Park, N.Y. (AP Photo/David Dermer)
New York Jets wide receiver Jamison Crowder (82) catches a pass for a touchdown in front of Buffalo Bills' Dean Marlowe (31) during the second half of an NFL football game Sunday, Dec. 29, 2019 in Orchard Park, N.Y. (AP Photo/Adrian Kraus)
New York Jets running back Le'Veon Bell (26) during the first half of an NFL football game against the Buffalo Bills Sunday, Dec. 29, 2019 in Orchard Park, N.Y. (AP Photo/David Dermer)
Buffalo Bills cornerback Levi Wallace (39) is carted off the field during the first half of an NFL football game against the New York Jets Sunday, Dec. 29, 2019 in Orchard Park, N.Y. (AP Photo/David Dermer)
New York Jets kicker Sam Ficken (9) reacts after missing a field goal during the first half of an NFL football game against the Buffalo Bills Sunday, Dec. 29, 2019 in Orchard Park, N.Y. (AP Photo/Adrian Kraus)
ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) Sam Darnold hit Jamison Crowder for a 1-yard touchdown pass in the fourth quarter, and the New York Jets avoided finishing their fourth consecutive season with double-digit losses in a 13-6 win over the Buffalo Bills' backups Sunday.
The Jets missed the playoffs for a ninth consecutive season, but finished at 7-9 under first-year coach Adam Gase for their best record since going 10-6 in 2015.
The playoff-bound Bills had very little to play for while resting most of their starters, including quarterback Josh Allen after the first quarter. Buffalo dropped to 10-6 - still its best finish since going 11-5 in 1999 - and entered the game already locked in as the AFC's fifth seed.
The Bills will travel to play AFC South champion Houston Texans in the wild-card playoff round next weekend. The Texans were assured of the No. 4 seed after Kansas City defeated the Los Angeles Chargers.
Otherwise, the game between the Jets and Bills was a defensive struggle that befitted the sloppy conditions, with a persistent drizzle falling for most of the afternoon.
With the score tied at 3, and following Jets kicker Sam Ficken missing two of his first three field-goal attempts, Darnold oversaw a nine-play, 75-yard touchdown drive, which he capped by hitting Crowder cutting across the middle on second-and-goal with 13:31 left.
The touchdown was Darnold's 19th of the season, and 36th of his career. The 2018 first-round draft pick fell one touchdown passing short of matching Joe Namath's record for most by a Jets player in his first two seasons.
Darnold and the Jets had a better finish to the season than their start. Beginning by squandering a 16-0 third-quarter lead in a 17-16 season-opening loss to the Bills, New York opened 1-7 during a stretch that included Darnold missed three games due to mononucleosis.
Darnold closed strong by going 6-2 in the second half of the season, in which he combined for 13 touchdowns passing and just four interceptions. Against Buffalo, he finished 23 of 36 for 199 yards, with an interception. He was sacked twice by Trent Murphy.
Allen lasted two series before backup Matt Barkley and the second stringers entered the game late in the first half.
Barkley was 18 of 35 for 232 yards with two interceptions and a lost fumble. In Barkley's defense, he was overseeing an offense that opened the game minus starters John Brown and Cole Beasley, and with just three active receivers, all backups.
The lack of chemistry showed on Barkley's second interception with 5:17 remaining. After gaining 45 yards on three plays, Barkley lobbed a pass directed toward T.J. Yeldon only to have the running back turn the wrong way, with the ball easily intercepted by Arthur Maulet.
The turnover led to Ficken hitting a 47-yard field goal to put the Jets up 13-3 with 2:05 left.
The Bills were unable to avoid injuries.
Starting cornerback Levi Wallace was carted off the sideline with a right ankle injury. He was hurt when his cleat got caught in the turf in intercepting Darnold's pass that caromed off the back of teammate Taron Johnson's helmet.
Bills right tackle Ty Nsekhe was also carted off the sideline after hurting his ankle on the opening drive of the third quarter. Nsekhe had just returned to the lineup after missing five games with an ankle injury.
In what could be his final home game, Bills linebacker Lorenzo Alexander stood with his family on Buffalo's sideline while his daughter, Zoie, sang the national anthem. The 36-year-old Alexander has said he intends to retire after completing his 13th NFL season.
The Bills also called timeout before the Jets second series to allow Alexander to come off the field for one final time on defense.
Buffalo Bills running back Frank Gore played his 226th career regular-season game, tying Emmitt Smith for most by a running back in NFL history.
Gore was coming off his first career game in which he had no yards from scrimmage. Starting in place of rookie Devin Singletary, the 36-year-old Gore was limited to playing the first half in which he finished with six carries for 26 yards and three catches for 16.
Jets: season over.
Bills: AFC wild-card playoff at Houston Texans.
Five Waiver Wire Adds: Week 7
Carolina Panthers quarterback Teddy Bridgewater is a QB2 for this week against the Saints. From a fantasy perspective, the QB has been mostly mediocre aside from Week 5 against the Falcons and overall has six passing touchdowns to five interceptions thus far. Though the Saints allow the fourth-most fantasy points to quarterbacks, Bridgewater hasn't proven that he can be an explosive fantasy option. Only consider him in two-QB leagues for this week but there are certainly better options based on matchup.
Carolina Panthers running back Mike Davis is a low-end RB1 this week against the Saints. Davis is coming off a modest week in which he had 52 rushing yards and three receiving yards. Nevertheless, the volume is there in both the rushing and passing game, as he has seen at least 13 carries and anywhere from three to 10 targets in the past four games. The Saints allow the 11th-most points to fantasy RBs, giving Davis a generally favorable matchup.
New York Giants wide receiver Golden Tate is coming off his worst performance of the season last week and will look to bounce-back versus Philadelphia. In Week 6, Tate caught just one pass for 11 yards as the New York offense was stuck in neutral most of the game. Tate is yet to have more than five catches in a game this season and is yet to eclipse the 50-yard mark or score a touchdown. Most fantasy managers should be able to find a better WR option on the waiver wire.
San Francisco 49ers CB Richard Sherman (calf) isn't expected to return to the field until closer to the team's Week 11 bye, according to head coach Kyle Shanahan Wednesday, Oct. 21. 'Now he's in a boot just taking care of it, making sure it heals and let those take course,' Shanahan said. 'I thought it would be, I'd have more answers this week, but I still think it's going to be a few weeks on that. ... It's obviously going a little longer than we expected. (We've) got to play it smart with him, but I don't see it being week-to-week right now. I see it being probably until around our Bye week.'
New York Giants wide receiver Darius Slayton has been the best receiving option in New York this season and will look to continue his success versus the Eagles in Week 7. In their first matchup last season, Slayton torched Philadelphia for 154 yards and two touchdowns. The Auburn Tiger was quieter in their second meeting, but has had had splash performances this season including a two-touchdown game and two 100-yard efforts. While Slayton has had his ups, he has had quiet games as well and will draw the coverage of Pro Bowl cornerback Darius Slay in this matchup. The Giants only completed 12 passes last week so there is risk in starting Slayton, but he does have big-game upside as a WR3.
New York Giants running back Devonta Freeman has seen his workload increase in each week with the team since signing after Week 2. Freeman has been the clear lead-back for Big Blue, but faces a quick turnaround this week with a Thursday night game against the Eagles. Freeman handled 17 and 18 touches in the past two games and has reached 60 yards in each game. Neither Wayne Gallman nor Dion Lewis handled a carry last week but could be more involved with the Thursday matchup this week. Philadelphia gives up the eighth-fewest fantasy points per game to opposing running backs. Freeman is startable as a flex based on his volume, but does carry some risk in Week 7.
Seattle Seahawks WR Tyler Lockett (non-injury) received a 'load management' day Wednesday, Oct. 21, and didn't participate in practice.
Fantasy Spin: Nothing to see here. Make sure Lockett is in your lineups for Week 7.
Arizona Cardinals WR DeAndre Hopkins (ankle) did not participate at practice Wednesday, Oct. 21.
Fantasy Spin: Hopkins caught just two of eight targets but still racked up 73 yards against the Dallas Cowboys in Week 6. The blowout victory allowed for a little extra rest, as he played just 77 percent of the offensive snaps, and he should be good to go by later this week.
Arizona Cardinals OL Kelvin Beachum (ankle) and DE Jordan Phillips (foot) didn't participate in practice Wednesday, Oct. 21. LB Kylie Fitts (hamstring) and LB Dennis Gardeck (foot) were limited. S Budda Baker (thumb) and LB Jordan Hicks (wrist) practiced in full.
Seattle Seahawks RB Carlos Hyde (shoulder) was limited at practice Wednesday, Oct. 21.
Fantasy Spin: Hyde hasn't played since Week 3 and has a total of just 16 carries on the season. He's purely a handcuff for Chris Carson but should be rostered for that reason.
Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott has lost four fumbles this season after losing just five in the first four years of his career, and his giveaways this year have turned into 28 points for the opposition. Elliott has more fumbles lost in 133 carries than all nine of the league's top-10 rushers combined in 1,104 touches, according to ESPN Stats & Information. Head coach Mike McCarthy said Elliott might have to prioritize ball security over fighting for extra yards to correct the issue. Dallas has 15 turnovers on the year and are an NFL-worst minus-12 in turnover differential. Despite the 25-year-old's fumbling issues and the fact that he hasn't had a 100-yard rushing game yet, he remains a must-start, high-end RB1 because he'll remain firmly in the game plan with quarterback Dak Prescott (ankle) out for the year. Elliott has six total touchdowns and 32 catches through six weeks and should rebound in Week 7 against Washington.
New Orleans Saints wide receiver Michael Thomas (ankle, hamstring) was listed as a limited participant in practice on Wednesday with ankle and hamstring injuries. The hamstring injury is new and is something to watch, but Thomas' high ankle sprain is what has kept him out of action since the season-opener. It was believed that the All-Pro wideout would return in Week 5 before the team's bye, but the Saints sat him for disciplinary reasons after he punched a teammate in practice. Unless the 27-year-old has a setback this week, he should make his return against Carolina in Week 7. The Panthers Defense has allowed the fourth-fewest fantasy points to wideouts this year, but Thomas is a target hog and reception machine and is a must-start, high-end WR1 if he's active.
Defensive end Aaron Lynch has unretired and has been reinstated to the Jacksonville Jaguars exempt list on Wednesday. Lynch must go through five days of COVID-19 testing before he's eligible to return to the team's facilities. He signed a one-year contract with the team in May but retired on Aug. 18 due to personal reasons. Nose tackle Al Woods and linebacker Lerentee McCray both opted out of the season, and defensive end/tackle Rodney Gunter (heart) has been out, so Lynch's return will give Jacksonville some much-needed depth on that side of the ball. Lynch has 20 sacks and 10 pass breakups in 73 career games with the 49ers and Bears. The Jaguars Defense is well off the fantasy radar, however, ranking 31st out of 32 NFL defenses in fantasy points.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers Defense is a solid streaming option this week against the Raiders. In a highly anticipated matchup between Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers last week, the Tampa defense stole the show and got after Rodgers all day, compiling five sacks and two picks. Though the Raiders are a capable offense, the Bucs' defense can generate turnovers and put immense pressure on the QB. After that encouraging and dominant performance last week, they are a great starting option for this week.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers kicker Ryan Succop is a streaming option in standard leagues this week against the Raiders. Succop has been mostly reliable this season, going 10-for-12 in field-goal attempts and 19-for-20 in extra-point attempts. The Raiders offer the 10th-most points to fantasy kickers, which puts him in the starting tier.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers tight end Rob Gronkowski is a low-end TE1 for this week's clash against the Raiders. Gronk had his best game of 2020 last week, posting five receptions for 78 yards and a score on eight targets. This was an encouraging performance by the veteran, one that may have instilled hope in managers because he looked his dominant New England version. The Raiders are middle-of-the-pack in points allowed to fantasy TEs, which means Gronk is a good streaming option this week.
New England Patriots DT Beau Allen (undisclosed), C David Andrews (hand) and LB Josh Uche (foot) were designated for return from the Reserve/Injured list Wednesday, Oct. 21.
Seattle Seahawks DB Lano Hill (back) was placed on the Reserve/Injured list Wednesday, Oct. 21.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Mike Evans is a low-end WR1 this week against the Raiders, if active. Evans has been dealing with an ankle injury and his status for the game is unclear. Nevertheless, the WR has been quite streaky this year, as he has posted monster games along with contests where he only had one or two catches going for touchdowns. Evans is too talented to bench, so managers can only hope for more consistency. The Raiders offer the fifth-most points to fantasy WRs, making this a solid matchup for Evans if he plays.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Chris Godwin is a low-end WR1 against the Raiders this week, if active. The WR has been dealing with a hamstring injury and has overall missed three games this season. He returned last week and grabbed five receptions for 48 yards on seven targets. Godwin has immense potential, but he hasn't been able to showcase it due to setbacks this season. The Raiders allow the fifth-most points to fantasy WRs, meaning Godwin could have a great game if active.