Sun Oct 20 1:20pm ET
By DENNIS WASZAK Jr.
AP Pro Football Writer
New York Jets quarterback Sam Darnold, left, celebrates with Le'Veon Bell after Bell scored a touchdown during the first half of an NFL football game against the Dallas Cowboys, Sunday, Oct. 13, 2019, in East Rutherford, N.J. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)
FLORHAM PARK, N.J. (AP) The New York Jets have been looking up at the New England Patriots in the AFC East for nearly two decades.
Since 2002, actually.
That's the previous time the Jets won the division that Tom Brady's bunch has had a stranglehold on for what seems like forever. And, consider this: Current New York quarterback Sam Darnold was only 5 years old then.
Yeah, it has been a while.
''I think winning the AFC East comes along with beating the Patriots,'' Darnold said. ''But you've also got to beat other teams as well and have a good season. And to make that happen, you have to take it one week at a time.''
The undefeated Patriots (6-0) head to MetLife Stadium on Monday night to face Darnold and the Jets (1-4), looking for their fourth straight season sweep of the AFC East rivals.
Well, not so fast, says Le'Veon Bell.
''It's going to be a fun game,'' the Jets running back said. ''And I think we have a really great opportunity to shock the world in a sense.''
That's because few are giving New York much of a chance in this one, with New England opening as a 12-point favorite on the road. There's also the not-so-distant memory of the Patriots rolling over the Luke Falk-led Jets 30-14 four weeks ago.
The difference this time, of course, is Darnold is back under center after missing that game while recovering from mononucleosis. After leading the Jets to a 24-22 victory over Dallas last week and being selected the AFC offensive player of the week for his performance, Darnold sees plenty of reasons to be optimistic.
And, not only that. Confident, too.
''Once all the guys are back together, I think we're unstoppable as an offense, or we can be,'' Darnold said. ''It's up to us how much we execute or how well we go out there and play. It's really up to us how many points we score. I think we're capable of scoring so many points and our offensive line too, the way they played last game.
''With the way we've been running the ball and the way they've been protecting, I think the sky is the limit for us.''
The Jets had been struggling mightily without Darnold at quarterback, particularly in the two games Falk started when New York had just 233 total yards against New England and Philadelphia.
Darnold's return allowed Adam Gase to open some things up against Dallas as the Jets put up 382 yards. Darnold was 23 of 32 for 338 yards and two touchdowns - a 92-yarder to Robby Anderson and a 5-yarder to Ryan Griffin - and an interception.
''He looked great last week, just knowing what he wanted to do, getting the ball down the field,'' Patriots defensive back Devin McCourty said of Darnold. ''So, we've just got to be aware it's going to be different from just that aspect of the first time we played them, we really had their third quarterback in there.''
The Jets are still waiting to get second-year tight end Chris Herndon back. He was suspended the first four games by the NFL for violating the league's substance abuse policy. Then, on the verge of returning to the team two weeks ago, he injured a hamstring while working out on his own. He's expected to miss the game against the Patriots, but will eventually give Darnold another target he developed chemistry with last season.
The offensive line is dealing with some injuries, too, with Gase having to shuffle things up front.
New York could get linebacker C.J. Mosley back from a groin injury that has sidelined him since the season opener. Gase likened his impending return to getting a starting quarterback back.
''We're moving in the right direction,'' Bell said. ''I've been talking about getting the ship sailing in the right direction. We're starting to slowly turn that ship. I remember three or four weeks ago, everybody was saying I was crazy.''
It might already be too late this season for the Jets to dethrone the Patriots, who have won the AFC East for 10 straight years and 15 of the past 16.
But the Jets know pulling off a victory Monday could provide a building block for their own future - which someday could include them sitting atop the division again.
''When you get locked in on trying to break the dynasty or tear them down, that's when you start losing control of yourself and losing control of your emotions during the game,'' Darnold said. ''For us, it's continuing to take it one game at a time and just focus on this game plan, what we need to do, the certain looks that we get, how we're going to adjust to those and go about the game that way.
''Because if we get outside of ourselves, and try to take down Tom Brady, take down (Bill) Belichick, those are all legit things. But for us, it's really just about focusing on what we need to do and how we need to execute.''
Atlanta Falcons RB Brian Hill played 51 percent of the offensive snaps Sunday, Nov. 10, in the win over the New Orleans Saints. The bulk of Hill's work came with RB Devonta Freeman (foot) out of the game.
Fantasy Spin: With Freeman expected to miss multiple games and backup Ito Smith (neck) already out for the year, Hill will have a big role in a nice matchup against the soft Carolina Panthers run defense. He should be a top waiver priority this week.
Kansas City Chiefs RB Damien Williams played 72 percent of the offensive snaps in the Week 10 loss against the Tennessee Titans Sunday, Nov. 10. RB Darrel Williams played just 21 percent with RB Darwin Thompson getting a total of five offensive snaps. RB LeSean McCoy was a healthy scratch.
Fantasy Spin: Williams' 109 yards from scrimmage were the second-most he's racked up in a game and came on the heels of a season-high 125 rushing yards last week. He didn't find the end zone for the first time in three weeks, but it was a heavy workload and he lived up to the task. Fantasy managers who took a chance on him this year seem like they'll be rewarded down the stretch run.
Miami Dolphins RB Kalen Ballage played 82 percent of the offensive snaps Sunday, Nov. 10, against the Indianapolis Colts. RB Patrick Laird played just eight offensive snaps with RB Myles Gaskin playing five total snaps (all on offense).
Fantasy Spin: Ballage ran the ball 20 times but for a very disappointing 43 yards. He caught all four of his targets but for just two yards. It was the Dolphins' second straight win but it remains highly doubtful there'll be many more of these. If he wasn't successful in Week 10, it's unlikely he will be.
Cleveland Browns RB Kareem Hunt played 54 percent of the offensive snaps against the Buffalo Bills Sunday, Nov. 10, but starter Nick Chubb played a three-week high of 81 percent in the 19-16 victory. RB Dontrell Hilliard played just eight offensive snaps for his lowest total since Week 5.
Fantasy Spin: Chubb ran 20 times for 116 yards while catching two of four targets for just five yards. Hunt totaled 74 yards from scrimmage on 11 touches with seven receptions and four carries. It's quite possible both could be effective fantasy options in the same games, but Chubb remains the definitive No. 1 option.
Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Diontae Johnson has put together a solid rookie campaign with 30 receptions, over 360 yards, and three touchdowns. In Thursday night's game against the Cleveland Browns, Johnson will work to stay in the sights of quarterback Mason Rudolph. However, Rudolph has been favoring shorter routes recently, which puts Johnson at a bit of a disadvantage. Although Johnson's big-play ability gives him value as a touchdown-dependent WR4 in Week 11.
Cleveland Browns WR Jarvis Landry drew criticism from head coach Freddie Kitchens Tuesday, Nov. 12, for the 15-yard taunting penalty he took Sunday, Nov. 10 against the Buffalo Bills. 'I don't like penalties,' said Kitchens. 'I don't like penalties. I want him playing with passion, though, not emotion, but passion.'
Fantasy Spin: Landry had one of his best games of the season by catching nine of 10 targets for 97 yards and finding the end zone for the second straight week, but the penalty set up the missed 48-yard extra point by PK Austin Seibert.
Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster has just 12 receptions for 170 yards and one touchdown in his last four games. With a Thursday Night football matchup against the Cleveland Browns in Week 11, Smith-Schuster shouldn't be considered the reliable option many drafted him as. Quarterback Mason Rudolph has been favoring shorter to intermediate routes, which should favor the USC product, but the numbers haven't followed. Look at Smith-Schuster as a touchdown-dependent WR2 against Cleveland.
Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver James Washington is coming off the best consecutive performances of his young career. He's hauled in 10 of 11 targets for 159 yards and a touchdown in the last two games, and he seems to be redeveloping a connection with his college quarterback Mason Rudolph. He'll face off against the Cleveland Browns on Thursday night and has a chance to build himself more opportunities in the offense. View Washington as nothing but a WR4 in deeper leagues, as he still has some room to prove his fantasy worth.
Pittsburgh Steelers running back James Conner (shoulder) was a full participant in Tuesday's practice, all but confirming he's good to go for Thursday night's road game against the Cleveland Browns. After missing the last two contests, Conner has been missed on offense, as the Steelers have combined for just 132 rushing yards in that span. Against the Browns, Conner should help open up the offensive gameplan by reassuming the lead-back role. Look at the 24-year-old as an RB2 against a defense that allows 19 fantasy points per game to running backs.
Pittsburgh Steelers running back Jaylen Samuels steps away from the lead-back role with the expected return of James Conner (shoulder) in Week 11 against the Cleveland Browns. Over the last two games, Samuels turned 38 touches into just 123 yards and no touchdowns, so it's clear he's not suited for four-down work in this offense. Against the Browns on Thursday, the NC State product isn't very fantasy appealing as Cleveland has allowed just 40 receptions to running backs this season, the ninth-fewest in the NFL. Since Conner is likely returning, Samuels is best left on fantasy benches in Week 11.
Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Mason Rudolph gets a favorable matchup for Thursday Night Football when the Steelers travel to take on the Cleveland Browns. Rudolph has been gaining more confidence with each start, and his 242 yards passing last week were the second highest of his short career. Against the Browns, the second-year signal caller faces a defense that allows an average of 23 fantasy points per game. Rudolph can be considered a low-end QB2, especially in the early game of the week. You could do worse, but you could certainly do better for a streaming option.
Free-agent QB Colin Kaepernick (49ers) shared a message on Twitter Tuesday, Nov. 12, addressing the previous reports of the league-arranged free-agent workout Saturday, Nov. 16. 'I'm just getting word from my representatives that the NFL league office reached out to them about a workout in Atlanta on Saturday. I've been in shape and ready for this for 3 years, can't wait to see the head coaches and GMs on Saturday,' Kaepernick wrote.
San Francisco 49ers running back Matt Breida (ankle) will seek a second opinion on his reaggravated sprained ankle. Breida only accrued 25 yards on 12 touches in Week 10 before exiting in the second half. Breida is no stranger to playing injured but NFL Networks Tom Pelissero believes he could miss some time to let it heal. Breidas absence would benefit third-string back Raheem Mostert who flashed promise earlier this season when Tevin Coleman was hurt. Mostert would be a risky but upside flex play in Week 11 against the Arizona Cardinals if Breida is inactive.
San Francisco 49ers WR Dante Pettis is running out of time to prove his worth in head coach Kyle Shanahan's offense. 'The more he doesn't take advantage of his opportunities, the less opportunities he gets,' Shanahan said Tuesday, Nov. 12.
Fantasy Spin: Pettis, a second-year pro, has caught just 11 of 24 targets this season for 109 yards and two touchdowns. He shouldn't be on rosters in anything shallower than 14- or 16-team leagues.
Seattle Seahawks TE Luke Willson (hamstring) has a 'legit' hamstring injury, according to head coach Pete Carroll Tuesday, Nov. 12.
Seattle Seahawks TE Ed Dickson (knee) was close to being activated off of injured reserve this past week and will return for Week 12 following the team's bye, according to head coach Pete Carroll Tuesday, Nov. 12.
San Francisco 49ers tight end George Kittle (knee, ankle) and wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders (ribs) are considered day-to-day and shaping up as game-time decisions in Week 11 against the Arizona Cardinals. Kittle and Sanders figure to practice minimally this week, if any. Kittle missed Week 10 and his injury appears serious but head coach Kyle Shanahan refrained from ruling out the warrior. Sanders suffered a rib cartilage injury on Monday night and the severity is unknown. Without their top aerial playmakers, the biggest gainer could be wideout Deebo Samuel. The rookie amassed 112 yards on eight catches in Week 10 and was clearly the most electric player amongst Kendrick Bourne, Marquise Goodwin and Dante Pettis. Samuel will be a hot waiver commodity and slots as a WR3 if both Kittle and Sanders cant go.
Updating a previous story, San Francisco 49ers DL Ronald Blair (knee) will undergo season-ending surgery for his torn ACL, according to head coach Kyle Shanahan Tuesday, Nov. 12.
Denver Broncos QB Drew Lock (thumb) returned to practice Tuesday, Nov. 12. A decision will need to be made by Dec. 3 to activate him from injured reserve. CB Bryce Callahan (foot) also returned to practice Tuesday. He has remained on the 53-man roster.
San Francisco 49ers TE George Kittle (knee) is day-to-day, although head coach Kyle Shanahan is 'hopeful' Kittle will be able to play in Week 11 against the Arizona Cardinals.
Fantasy Spin: Expect the third-year tight end to be held out of practice early in the week, although it sounds like Kittle's fantasy owners need to be prepared for the possibility of another missed game. If he can make it through a limited practice by Friday, he'll have a chance to suit up and be worth a start in fantasy. If he can't go, Ross Dwelley and Garrett Celek figure to see the bulk of work on passing downs in his absence.