In this Aug. 26, 2018, file photo, Cincinnati Bengals running back Giovani Bernard, left, is tackled by Buffalo Bills defensive end Jerry Hughes during the first half of a preseason NFL football game in Orchard Park, N.Y. The Bengals travel to Orchard Park this week for the Bills' home-opener. (AP Photo/Adrian Kraus, File)
ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) Andy Dalton fondly recalls the warm welcome he received a little over a year ago, when the Bengals traveled to Buffalo for a preseason game.
The Cincinnati quarterback drew several ovations after winning over Bills fans' hearts for his last-minute touchdown to beat Baltimore in the 2017 season finale. The Ravens' 31-27 loss propelled Buffalo into the postseason and snapped the team's 17-year playoff drought.
Dalton knows better than to listen for any cheers in facing the Bills (2-0) in Buffalo's home opener Sunday.
''Ha, ha, no,'' Dalton said with a healthy chuckle. ''I'm not expecting the same kind of ovation I got last time.''
Bills defensive end Jerry Hughes has made a point of personally informing Dalton that won't happen.
''It was such a big moment in our franchise's history and everything the fans did for him, which is really cool,'' Hughes said, recalling watching Dalton hit Tyler Boyd for a 49-yard touchdown pass to convert a fourth-and-12 with 49 seconds left against Baltimore. ''But we understand, and I tell him this every time I see him back in Texas, when we get on the football field, it's go-time.''
And Hughes is speaking as Dalton's long-time friend, after the two grew up in Houston and were college teammates at TCU.
Buffalo is on a roll in opening the season with two road wins, both at the Meadowlands, and in position to enjoy its first 3-0 start since 2011.
The Bills defense has allowed just 22 points - not including an interception returned for a touchdown and safety in a 17-16 season-opening win against the Jets.
And their new-look offense under second-year quarterback Josh Allen is finding its rhythm after engineering four 70-plus-yard touchdown drives in a 28-14 win over the Giants last weekend.
The Bengals (0-2) are still trying to find their identity under rookie coach Zac Taylor.
After a tightly contested 21-20 season-opening loss at Seattle, Cincinnati unraveled in giving up 572 yards - the fifth-most in franchise history - in a 41-17 loss to San Francisco.
''The loss is not something we're going to run from,'' Taylor said. ''We got blown out at home. We could say it was frustrating, but we will not allow our guys to hang their heads.''
Though Dalton leads the NFL with 61 completions and is second with 729 yards passing, the Bengals' running attack has stalled.
An injury depleted offensive line has been the biggest issue. Rookie left tackle Jonah Williams tore a labrum in offseason workouts. Backup Cordy Glenn - a former Bill - missed the first two games with a concussion. And third-string tackle Andre Smith hurt his groin against the 49ers but is expected back this week. Cincinnati is last in the league with 59 yards on 33 carries through two games.
Running back Joe Mixon resorted to posting a message on Twitter, apologizing to his fans.
''I promise I will get it right and we will be better,'' wrote Mixon, averaging 1.8 yards per carry.
Taylor was hired from the Rams to replace Marvin Lewis, who was fired after failing to win a playoff game in 16 seasons. The 0-2 start is ominous. It's the 17th time in franchise history that the Bengals have opened 0-2, and have never managed a winning record after such a start.
''We win this week, and the feeling in this building is a lot different,'' Dalton said.
TAP THE BRAKES
The Bills know better than to take a 2-0 start for granted. After starting 3-0 and eventually getting to 5-2 in 2011, Buffalo unraveled in closing the season 6-10. It was no different in 2008, when Buffalo opened 4-0 and finished 7-9.
''I'm just looking at one game right now, honestly,'' coach Sean McDermott said, when reminded Buffalo plays five of its next six at home.
Buffalo tight end Tyler Kroft is in position to make his season debut and against his former team. The Bills offseason free-agent addition has practiced the past three weeks after missing the entire offseason with a broken right foot.
''Another added threat that you're going to have to worry about in the passing game,'' Allen said of Kroft, who spent his first four seasons in Cincinnati.
Aside from applause, Dalton's win over Baltimore led to Bills fans donating more than $450,000 to the quarterback's charitable foundation. He returned a portion of it back with a donation to Buffalo's Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center.
''It shows the game's bigger than just football,'' Dalton said.
Another $100,000 was donated to Boyd's cause of choice, which went to funding a youth sports league in his hometown of Clairton, Pennsylvania.
Baltimore Ravens tight end Hayden Hurst had one reception for 10 yards on two targets in Sunday's Week 7 win against the Seahawks. Hurst has 14 receptions for 141 yards and one touchdown in 2019 and hasn't seen the end zone since Week 2. With Mark Andrews seeing the bulk of Lamar Jackson's targets, Hurst is best left off your bench unless Andrews misses time.
Baltimore Ravens running back Gus Edwards carried the ball 8 times for 35 yards in Sunday's Week 7 win against Seattle. Edwards has 52 rushing attempts for 234 yards but has failed to get into the end zone in 2019. Edwards is the clear handcuff to Mark Ingram with Justice Hill barely getting touches, but he isn't worth a spot in your lineup unless Ingram misses time.
Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Willie Snead did not record a catch on his only target and rushed once for two yards in Sunday's Week 7 win against the Seattle Seahawks. Snead has 15 receptions for 223 yards and two touchdowns in 2019. Even with receiver Marquise Brown recovering from an ankle injury, Snead hasn't proven himself to be fantasy relevant at this point in the season. Leave him off your rosters for now.
Baltimore Ravens running back Justice Hill returned two kicks for 21 yards but did not record a carry in Sunday's Week 7 win against the Seahawks. Hill has 18 rushing attempts for 78 yards in 2019 and has been a non-factor in fantasy. In the event that running back Mark Ingram misses time, it will be Gus Edwards who will see the bulk of carries. Keep the rookie off your rosters moving forward.
Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Adam Thielen (hamstring) is unlikely to suit up for Thursday Night Football against the Washington Redskins in Week 8. The 29-year-old seems to think he is capable of playing, but the Vikings will likely rest their ailing star against a mediocre opponent on a short week. In his absence, rookie Olabisi Johnson will likely serve as the WR2. Johnson, who had 40 yards and a touchdown in Week 7, is a viable streaming option for fantasy managers that are desperate for a receiver in Week 8.
Houston Texans wide receiver Will Fuller is expected to miss several weeks with a significant hamstring strain, per Ian Rapoport. Fuller suffered the injury against the Indianapolis Colts in Week 7. With Fuller sidelined, Kenny Stills becomes a must-add asset in almost all formats. The 27-year-old produced 105 yards on four catches against the Colts after Fuller exited the game. Stills can be considered a mid-tier WR3 against the Oakland Raiders in Week 8.
Seattle Seahawks S Bradley McDougald (back) sat out of practice all week after suffering from back spasms and was unable to play in Week 7 against the Baltimore Ravens, but head coach Pete Carroll told reporters during his postgame press conference that he believes McDougald will be able to make it back for Week 8 versus the Atlanta Falcons.
Los Angeles Chargers wide receiver Keenan Allen only hauled in 4-of-11 targets for 61 yards during a 23-20 loss to the Tennessee Titans in Week 7. Despite having a positive pass-catching game script, Allen and Philip Rivers failed to connect on several deep balls. Luckily, due to the Chargers' uninspiring defensive unit, the game script is almost always positive for the passing attack. Allen remains a mid-tier WR1 against the Chicago Bears in Week 8.
Updating a previous report, New Orleans Saints CB Eli Apple (knee) likely suffered a hyperextended knee late in the team's Week 7 game versus the Chicago Bears, although more tests are scheduled to determine the extent of his injury Monday, Oct. 21.
Updating previous reports, Houston Texans WR Will Fuller (hamstring) is expected to miss 'several weeks' after suffering 'a rather significant hamstring pull,' according to a source via NFL Network's Ian Rapoport.
Fantasy Spin: Fuller hasn't come close to playing a full season in four years in the NFL, so fantasy owners can't exactly be shocked by this development. While the Texans will miss his ability to stretch the field, Fuller's lack of durability was probably one of the biggest reasons Houston made sure to land Kenny Stills in the Laremy Tunsil trade this summer. Stills should be able to fill in nicely and serve as a high-upside WR3 for however long Fuller is sidelined.
Updating a previous report, Washington Redskins S Montae Nicholson (ankle) was seen walking around in a boot Monday, Oct. 21, after injuring his right ankle in Week 7 against the San Francisco 49ers.
Free-agent CB Kayvon Webster (Saints) worked out for the New Orleans Saints on Monday, Oct. 21.
Los Angeles Chargers tight end Hunter Henry caught six passes for 97 yards during a 23-20 loss to the Tennessee Titans in Week 7. The 24-year-old has seen 17 targets over his past two games. Now fully healthy, Henry is unquestionably a top-tier tight end for the remainder of the season. He has a tougher matchup against the Chicago Bears in Week 8, but he is still an undisputed TE1 for the contest.
Cincinnati Bengals tight end Tyler Eifert pulled in just two receptions for 10 yards against Jacksonville in Week 7. The veteran has been a huge fantasy disappointment this season, and with rumblings of a trade before the deadline, Eifert's days in Cincy may be over soon. He has the potential to produce, and if you're able, he is worth a stash in deeper formats, at least for now.
Cleveland Browns RB Kareem Hunt (abdomen) has been cleared by the NFL to rejoin the team and begin practicing with them Monday, Oct. 21.
Fantasy Spin: Hunt has been sidelined all season recovering from sports hernia surgery and serving an eight-game suspension for domestic abuse for an incident that occurred during his time with the Kansas City Chiefs. The former rushing champion is not eligible to return to game action until Week 10, so Nick Chubb will serve as a team's featured back for at least two more weeks. It's expected Hunt will serve as the change-of-pace back when he returns.
Los Angeles Chargers running back Austin Ekeler only produced seven rushing yards on five carries in Week 7, but he salvaged the day by catching seven passes for 118 yards and a touchdown. Melvin Gordon had 16 carries in the contest despite being outplayed by Ekeler, but the Chargers continue to let Gordon dominate the ground game. Nevertheless, Ekeler's ability as a receiver continues to give him value as a fantasy asset. He is an above-average flex option against the dominant Chicago Bears' defense in Week 8.
Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Auden Tate finished with three catches (six targets) for 65 yards against Jacksonville in Week 7. After getting 11 looks from quarterback Andy Dalton against the Ravens in Week 6, Tate's production was yielded by Alex Erickson, who hauled in eight receptions for 137 yards on the day. With A.J. Green (ankle) expected to return soon, Tate will likely be relegated to backing up Green and Tyler Boyd moving forward. Keep an eye on Green's status for Week 8 and plan accordingly.
Updating previous reports, Minnesota Vikings WR Adam Thielen (hamstring) is scheduled to undergo an MRI on Monday, Oct. 21, but he faces the 'real possibility' of not playing in Week 8 against the Washington Redskins.
Fantasy Spin: While everyone around the team believes the injury is not serious, the Vikings play on Thursday, making it an almost impossible turnaround for Thielen. In theory, Minnesota should not need him against the Redskins, but the Vikings' passing attack is not so deep and talented that it can just assume it will thrive without Kirk Cousins' favorite receiver. If Thielen sits, it will be the first game he's missed in his NFL career. Fantasy owners should feel free to bump up Stefon Diggs in their weekly rankings as well.
Los Angeles Chargers running back Melvin Gordon produced 32 yards on 16 carries during a 23-20 loss to the Tennessee Titans in Week 7. While he caught a one-yard touchdown pass, he also lost a fumble at the goal line in the final seconds of the game to drop the Chargers to 2-4 on the season. The 26-year-old continues to be outplayed by Austin Ekeler, but Gordon continues to get the majority of the touches. As long as he remains the workhorse in the offense, he is a worthy RB2 in fantasy formats. Unfortunately, he has a tough matchup in Week 8 against the daunting Chicago Bears Defense, which likely makes him a flex play at best.
Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Tyler Boyd finished with five receptions for 55 yards against Jacksonville on Sunday. With 14 targets on the day, which was tied with Alex Erickson, who hauled in eight catches for 137 yards, Boyd wasn't able to get anything going against a Jaguars Defense that was all over quarterback Andy Dalton. A.J. Green (ankle) is expected to return within the next week or so, and while it may decrease Boyd's looks, Green's presence back in the lineup may open things up for 24-year-old moving forward.