Mon Oct 22 6:55pm ET
By DENNIS WASZAK Jr.
AP Pro Football Writer
New York Jets quarterback Sam Darnold (14) is helped up by teammate Eric Tomlinson (83) after rushing for a touchdown during the second half of an NFL football game Sunday, Oct. 21, 2018, in East Rutherford, N.J. (AP Photo/Howard Simmons)
NEW YORK (AP) Sam Darnold's final numbers looked every bit like those of a rookie quarterback who struggled through adversity all over the field.
Bad decisions, receivers' slippery fingers, a cold, blustery wind and a swarming defense all contributed to the worst game of the Darnold's young career. Still, the face of the New York Jets franchise refused to be flustered.
''Obviously, I learned a lot from that game,'' Darnold said Monday, ''and learned a lot from just watching tape.''
Darnold was 17 of 42 for 206 yards with a touchdown and three interceptions in New York's 37-17 loss to Minnesota on Sunday.
After going 6 of 9 for 87 yards and a touchdown with a 135.0 quarterback rating in the opening quarter, Darnold finished with a dismal 34.4 rating. The second and third quarters were the worst, when Darnold was a combined 2 of 13 for minus-1 yard.
New York was 2 of 13 in third-down situations, and the running game - which lost Bilal Powell to a neck injury early - couldn't get off the ground while finishing with 71 yards.
''It's not just Sam,'' coach Todd Bowles said. ''It's the offense, defense and special teams. Our team has to do better, it's not about just Sam. It's about us coaching better. It's about us playing better in all three phases.''
Through the first seven games of his NFL career, Darnold's overall statistics are hardly eye-popping. And, really, they're barely mediocre.
He has thrown for 1,552 yards with 10 touchdowns and an NFL-high 10 interceptions. Darnold's 56.1 completion percentage is near the bottom of the league, with fellow rookies Josh Rosen of Arizona (55.0) and Josh Allen of Buffalo (54.0) the only QBs with at least 100 attempts lower than his. His 74.3 quarterback rating is also among the worst.
But there's no panic in Darnold or the Jets , particularly because the No. 3 overall pick in the draft is getting a crash course in life as an NFL quarterback.
''On the positive side, I thought I was on time with a lot of the routes I was throwing,'' Darnold said of his performance against the Vikings. ''On the two touchdown drives, I thought we played really well. I thought I was able to hit the open guy.
''The negative, I think just continuing to really lock in on my progressions and really stick on one side of the field and understand what the safeties are doing and what the defense is doing a little bit better. So, just really continuing to grow that way.''
Darnold insisted the conditions at MetLife Stadium - 46 degrees at kickoff, swirling 16 mph winds and a wind chill of 39 - weren't a factor in his performance. The California kid from USC will have to get used to days like this in the Northeast, though, especially because the only other game in which he played below 50 degrees was at Utah in 2016 when it was 45.
And, by the way, Darnold's numbers Sunday were much better when he had the wind at his back.
''I think that might have been just a coincidence,'' he said. ''I feel like I threw the ball really well in the wind, whether we were going against it or with it. I didn't really feel like that was much of an issue at all.''
Drops, however, were. The Jets had five against the Vikings. The last of Darnold's interceptions came late in the fourth quarter when his perfectly placed pass went off the hands of Charone Peake and right to Minnesota's Trae Waynes.
''Whether I throw it to the right guy or whether I made the wrong read,'' Darnold said, ''every single ball I throw I've got to throw it with confidence, and if I do that I think we'll have a better chance.''
The Jets were also short-handed at receiver, something the team might need to address in the next few days.
Quincy Enunwa is out for a few weeks with a sprained ankle, and Terrelle Pryor was cut over the weekend while dealing with a groin injury. That left Jermaine Kearse, Robby Anderson and Andre Roberts - primarily a returner - as the only experienced players at the position, with Peake and just-promoted Deontay Burnett the others.
Kearse, who led the team in receptions last season, finished with none on Sunday and had only two balls thrown his way.
''Credit to them, they did a great job scheming and their players did an outstanding job executing their scheme,'' Darnold said of the Vikings. ''I think from that aspect, they got us. They did a great job of playing Jermaine and having a plan for him.
''We will be better. We will learn from it and grow from it.''
NOTES: The Jets fear S Doug Middleton has a torn pectoral muscle and could miss the rest of the season. He was starting in place of Marcus Maye, who's out with a broken right thumb. ... C Spencer Long has been dealing with an injured finger on his right hand that has contributed to some bad snaps, but he also limped off the field late against Minnesota. Bowles declined to provide an update.
Pittsburgh Steelers running back Le'Veon Bell will not join the team for their Week 8 game against the Cleveland Browns. There had been a report a few weeks earlier that Bell would be back after the Week 7 bye. NFL Network's Ian Rapoport hinted on Monday that Bell may not join the team until after the October 30 trade deadline. Bell has missed all six of the Steelers' games this season to show his displeasure over the lack of a long-term contract. James Conner will remain the team's lead back in Week 8.
Oakland Raiders running back Marshawn Lynch is headed to Injured Reserve, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network. Lynch was ruled out for about a month last week after their game against the Seahawks and now officially on IR. He is able to return in 8 weeks, but until then the backfield work will be split by Doug Martin, Jalen Richard and potentially Deandre Washington, but their roles are unclear as of now.
The Jacksonville Jaguars released running back Jamaal Charles on Monday after he had only six carries in two games. With the team acquiring Carlos Hyde last Friday, there's no need for Charles on the roster with Leonard Fournette (hamstring) likely sidelined through the team's Week 9 bye.
Indianapolis Colts head coach Frank Reich said kicker Adam Vinatieri (groin) has been dealing with a groin injury, and the team will work out kickers in the next few days. However, no decision on whether Vinatieri will play in Week 8 against the Raiders will be made until later in the week. The ageless wonder made a 36-yard kick in the 37-5 blowout win over the Bills but missed two of his four extra-points attempts and aggravated his injury. The 45-year-old will remain a strong fantasy kicker against Oakland's porous defense if he's active, but it's looking like he might be held out.
Miami Dolphins quarterback Brock Osweiler has already been confirmed as the starter for the Dolphins Week 8 matchup against the Houston Texans. Quarterback Ryan Tannehill (shoulder) has been ruled out for the third-consecutive game. Osweiler has played well as a starter having thrown for over 600 yards and five touchdowns in the past two weeks. Osweiler is an option at QB2 but isn't an excellent option as the Dolphins receiving core continues to be littered with injuries.
While Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles will start in Week 8 in London against the Eagles after being benched in Week 7, backup Cody Kessler will receive practice repetitions with the first-team offense, according to a source. If Bortles struggles early again in London, the team could turn to Kessler again. Bortles has earned the short leash with his poor play this year. He's gone over 300 yards in a game three times but also has under 200 yards passing in three other contests, not counting Week 7. Bortles has nine touchdowns and eight interceptions and a 60.6 completion percentage. It hasn't helped that running back Leonard Fournette (hamstring) hasn't played in a full game this year. Bortles will be a low-end QB2 for Week 8 across the pond.
Free-agent QB Tom Savage (49ers) was re-signed to an undisclosed deal by the San Francisco 49ers Monday, Oct. 22.
Denver Broncos rookie wide receiver Daesean Hamilton (knee) is dealing with an MCL sprain after being injured in the Week 7 game against the Cardinals last Thursday. Hamilton has been serving as a punt returner and No. 4 wideout behind Demaryius Thomas, Emmanuel Sanders and rookie Courtland Sutton, so he doesn't have any immediate fantasy value to speak of. Expect Hamilton to be sidelined for a few weeks.
Buffalo Bills head coach Sean McDermott announced that quarterback Derek Anderson will start in Week 8 against the Patriots on Monday night with rookie Josh Allen (elbow) set to miss another week. In his first start for Buffalo after signing the previous week, Anderson was pitiful, going 20-for-31 for 175 yards, no touchdowns, three interceptions and a lost fumble. Although New England's defense has been giving up a ton of yards and points, Anderson isn't a starting option, even in two-QB leagues. The Patriots defense/special teams will be a popular streaming option this week.
Dallas Cowboys WR Amari Cooper was pursued by the Philadelphia Eagles before being traded to the Cowboys. Whether or not the Colts made an offer was not disclosed.
The Jacksonville Jaguars will stick with Blake Bortles as the team's starting quarterback for the Week 8 meeting with the Philadelphia Eagles. Though the team benched Bortles during a rough Week 7 performance against the Texans for backup Cody Kessler, they'll keep Bortles in the starting lineup for at least another week. Don't expect much from Bortles in this matchup, and continue to monitor the situation to see if the Jaguars turn to Kessler if Bortles has another bad week.
Miami Dolphins wide receiver Kenny Stills (groin) has been ruled out for Week 8 on Thursday against the Texans and could possibly be out longer. It's been downhill ever since Stills caught four passes for 106 yards and two touchdowns in the season opener. He hasn't had more than three catches or 61 yards in any game since then and can now be dropped in most leagues. With Albert Wilson now possibly out for the season as well, Danny Amendola, Jakeem Grant and Devante Parker will be featured in three-wide sets on Thursday. Amendola is the most attractive fantasy option in PPR leagues and will be a popular waiver pickup this week.
In an estimation of the injury report, Miami Dolphins wide receiver Danny Amendola (shoulder) and rookie tight end Mike Gesicki (shoulder) would've both been limited in practice on Monday. Both should be fine to play this Thursday against the Texans. With Albert Wilson (hip) and Kenny Stills (groin) both out, Amendola and Gesicki could see bigger roles in the passing game. Amendola will be a WR3/flex for PPR leagues as a waiver pickup, while Gesicki remains a desperation TE2. Tight end A.J. Derby (foot) missed practice again and seems unlikely to play this week.
Jacksonville Jaguars QB Blake Bortles will return as starting quarterback in Week 8, according to head coach Doug Marrone. Marrone said he believes Bortles gives the Jaguars the best chance to win.
Fantasy Spin: Bortles has played abysmally in his last three contests, throwing two touchdowns and five interceptions. His rushing ability makes him more fantasy relevant, but he simply can't be trusted as a starting fantasy quarterback at this juncture.
Carolina Panthers wide receiver Torrey Smith followed up his performance against the Washington Redskins in Week 7 with a decent showing against the Philadelphia Eagles. Smith finished the game with four receptions for 61 yards. Smith has largely been ineffective for fantasy so far this year, however, it cannot be ignored that Smith has had two good performances back to back. Smith isn't yet considered to be a good addition to fantasy rosters as of yet with receiving options Christian McCaffrey, D.J. Moore and Greg Olsen looking to try and compete with the current team leading receiver Devin Funchess
Carolina Panthers rookie wide receiver D.J. Moore had a quiet week against the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 7. Moore had seen an increase in this opportunity over the previous weeks since his bye week, finishing the Eagles game with 29 yards from three receptions. Moore will continue to struggle for fantasy relevance with quarterback Cam Newton preferring the passing options of Devin Funchess and Christian McCaffrey regularly.
Carolina Panthers wide receiver Devin Funchess was able to take this team-high 11 targets to have a productive game against the Eagles. Funchess finished the game with six receptions for 62 yards and a touchdown. Funchess by far and away had the biggest opportunity in the game, attracting around a third of all of the pass attempts by quarterback Cam Newton.
Carolina Panthers tight end Greg Olsen finished his game against the Philadelphia Eagles with a touchdown which enabled him to have some fantasy relevance. Olsen had a difficult outing in his second week from injury. Olsen finished the game with just two receptions for five yards and a sole touchdown. Olsen attracted five targets in the game, which was far off the team's target leader Devin Funchess but Olsen will attract enough targets to be fantasy relevant going forwards.
Miami Dolphins QB Brock Osweiler will be under center again this week as QB Ryan Tannehill (shoulder) remains sidelined.
Fantasy Spin: Osweiler has held his own in the two games he has started in place of Tannehill, throwing for 609 yards and five touchdowns in that span. Despite the recent success, he's not a recommended start versus the Houston Texans Thursday night.
Miami Dolphins WR DeVante Parker (quadriceps) is expected to play in Week 8, according to head coach Adam Gase.
Fantasy Spin: Despite Parker's tenure to forget in Miami, the Dolphins need him with both Kenny Stills and Albert Wilson nursing injuries. However, it is best to wait at least a week before deploying Parker into starting lineups. He has played sparingly in 2018 as he has not been able to stay healthy.