In this Feb. 3, 2019, file photo, New England Patriots' Tom Brady (12) passes under pressure from Los Angeles Rams' Aaron Donald (99) during the first half of the NFL Super Bowl 53 football game in Atlanta. The Rams, the defending NFC champions, with an offense teeming with talent and defense led by incomparable star tackle Donald, will visit Cleveland in the Browns first nationally televised Sunday night game in 11 years. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster, File)
CLEVELAND (AP) The Browns passed their first prime-time test. The second one won't be nearly as easy.
Here come Aaron Donald and those big, bad Los Angeles Rams.
The defending NFC champions, with an offense teeming with talent and defense led by incomparable star tackle Donald, will visit Cleveland in the Browns' first nationally televised Sunday night game in 11 years.
On Monday night, the Browns (1-1) bounced back from a dreadful 30-point loss in their season opener to Tennessee by bullying the New York Jets, who were already missing quarterback Sam Darnold when his replacement, Trevor Simiean, went down with a season-ending injury.
The uber-hyped Browns, who have gone from winless two years ago to somewhat overexposed in 2019, get a chance to see how they stack up to a legitimate Super Bowl contender, one fixated on winning an NFL title this season.
''It'll be a challenge and we'll be able to really measure where we're at as a team,'' said Browns guard Joel Bitonio. ''Now it's a true team, a true playoff team, a team that was in the Super Bowl, a team that we can see, `Hey, how are the Cleveland Browns this year?'''
It's hard to gauge them to this point. The Browns were undisciplined in Week 1, committing 18 penalties and allowing the Titans to score 28 unanswered points in the second half. Cleveland cleaned things up considerably against the Jets, but quarterback Baker Mayfield had his second straight shaky performance and the Browns suffered a couple major injuries that may force first-year coach Freddie Kitchens to play rookies in key spots.
That could help the Rams (2-0), not that they really need any.
Quarterback Jared Goff and the Los Angeles offense have had some issues, but Donald and the rest of the defense are playing at a high level already. They shut down New Orleans last week, helped by Donald inadvertently sidelining Saints quarterback Drew Brees with a thumb injury.
Browns star Odell Beckham Jr. said Donald will have everyone's attention.
''There's no way to even go around him,'' said Beckham. ''He's probably the best player in the league. If not the best player in the league, one of the most disruptive players I've ever seen. So, yeah, No. 99 has to be accounted for. The game plan starts right there. They have a lot of other stars, a lot of very, very talented, great players, but it starts with 99.
''So we have to get that handled, and we're going to be tested in every position.''
The two-time AP Defensive Player of the Year, Donald has no sacks and just two tackles through two games. The numbers are deceiving as teams are scheming to stay clear of Donald. The Browns will probably do the same.
''Everybody is sliding to him,'' defensive end Michael Brockers said. ''He's going to get a lot of attention, and that's what's happening now. It's leaving a lot of opportunities for other guys to make plays. As the season goes on, they're going to have to pick their poison on which guys to block, and that's when it's going to get really fun.''
It didn't get fun for Donald until Week 4 last year. He have record a sack in his first three games and still finished with 20 1/2.
Mayfield has been guilty of holding onto the ball too long, and not taking advantage of receivers being open while trying to complete long passes.
He's still getting into a rhythm with Beckham, who sat out the preseason but showed why he's elite on Monday by scoring on an 89-yard play.
''It's a learning curve,'' said Mayfield, who while not as accurate as usual has still completed 60 percent of his throws. ''Needing to know when I can take my shots and check the ball down to get completions. It's a little difficult at times but, like I keep harping on, I just need to get completions.''
The Browns could exploit inexperience up front for the Rams, who are likely to have three untested starters on their offensive line.
Right guard Austin Blythe is unlikely to play due to a left ankle sprain. If he becomes the first starting offensive lineman to miss a game due to injury in McVay's tenure, sixth-round pick Jamil Demby is expected to make his first start alongside fellow 2018 draft choices Brian Allen at center and Joe Noteboom at left guard.
Allen and Noteboom will be making their third career starts. Left tackle Andrew Whitworth and right tackle Rob Havenstein haven't been spectacular so far this season, either.
Rams running back Todd Gurley has fond memories of the team's last meeting with the Browns: Gurley scored his first two NFL touchdowns against Cleveland during a 128-yard performance as a rookie in St. Louis in 2015.
Gurley is a quiet ninth in the league this season with 160 yards rushing on 30 attempts. Backup Malcolm Brown has 17 carries as the Rams attempt to lessen the load on Gurley, who leads the NFL in yards rushing since the start of the 2017 season. Gurley has insisted his knee is fine and he's ready for any workload.
Baltimore Ravens tight end Hayden Hurst had just one catch for four yards during the win over the Bengals on Sunday. Even with Marquise Brown (ankle) out of the lineup, Hurst continued to be a non-factor in the team's offensive attack. He likely won't have a consistent role moving ahead, especially with Mark Andrews in the mix, but he will be good for an occasional touchdown from time-to-time.
Baltimore Ravens running back Justice Hill had 31 yards on five carries in the win over Cincinnati on Sunday. With Lamar Jackson going crazy on the Bengals Defense by rushing for 152 yards and a touchdown on 19 attempts, Hill continued to play second fiddle to Gus Edwards, who had just three more yards than the former. Nonetheless, outside of dynasty formats, Hill has relatively no fantasy value at the moment, with that likely to continue until either Mark Ingram or Edwards goes down with an injury.
Baltimore Ravens running back Gus Edwards finished with 34 yards on six carries during the win over the Bengals on Sunday. Averaging just over seven touches per game, this type of performance has been the norm for the 24-year-old this season. He should continue to outpace Justice Hill but don't expect much of anything from a fantasy standpoint unless Mark Ingram goes down with an injury.
Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Seth Roberts pulled in both of his targets against the Bengals on Sunday, finishing with just 23 yards in a game that was highlighted by the play of quarterback Lamar Jackson, who rushed for 152 yards on 19 carries. While Marquise Brown (ankle) wasn't in the lineup, Roberts wasn't able to get anything going. Continue to not expect much from 28-year-old, however, even if Hollywood misses more time in the weeks ahead.
Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Miles Boykin had two catches (three targets) for 28 yards against the Bengals in Week 6. Though Marquise Brown (ankle) wasn't in the lineup, quarterback Lamar Jackson virtually monopolized the team's offensive attack by rushing for 152 yards on 19 carries. Don't expect much from Boykin moving forward in all formats, even if Hollywood misses some more time.
Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Willie Snead had three catches for 18 yards on Sunday. With Lamar Jackson and company running all over the Bengals Defense, Snead was unable to get involved despite the absence of Marquise Brown (ankle), who was ruled out for the week. The 26-year-old continues to be included as the No. 3 receiving option outside of Brown and tight end Mark Andrews, often picking up the duo's leftovers from week-to-week. He still has value in deeper PPR formats, with his stock rising if Hollywood misses more time.
Carolina Panthers wide receiver Jarius Wright pulled in just one catch for six yards against the Buccaneers in London. With Christian McCaffrey, D.J. Moore, and Curtis Samuel gobbling up most of the targets from week-to-week, Wright has relatively no fantasy value at the moment. If one of those guys gets injured, his stock may rise, but not enough to make a difference from a fantasy standpoint.
Cleveland Browns wide receiver Antonio Callaway caught two of his four passes for 22 yards in a 32-28 loss to the Seattle Seahawks in Week 6. A week after dropping a would-be touchdown in the end zone, Callaway again struggled to hold onto the ball. He dropped two catchable passes, including one that would have gone for a long gain in the first quarter. The second-year receiver was suspended for the first four games of the season, so it is possible that he is still shaking off the rust. Even so, he will have a tough time making an impact in fantasy as long as Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry are healthy. Callaway has his bye in Week 7 before a tough road matchup against the New England Patriots in Week 8.
Houston Texans tight end Jordan Akins pulled in three receptions for 39 yards on Sunday against the Chiefs. With DeAndre Hopkins and Will Fuller getting the majority of looks from quarterback Deshaun Watson throughout the season, Akins continues to be virtually an afterthought as he received fewer targets than fellow tight end Darren Fells, who finished with seven on the day. Akins still has value in deeper formats, but his success is dependent on whether he can find the end zone, while also hinging on the health of Fells moving ahead.
Jacksonville Jaguars WR Marqise Lee (ankle) is considered week-to-week after suffering a sprained ankle that has been described as 'minor to moderate' in Week 6 versus the New Orleans Saints, according to a source.
Tennessee Titans QBs Marcus Mariota and Ryan Tannehill are expected to find out Monday, Oct. 14, who will start in Week 7 versus the Los Angeles Chargers. Head coach Mike Vrabel announced the decision will be made sometime Monday evening.
Fantasy Spin: It's a pretty good indication Tannehill will be named the starter, as most coaches have no problem shooting down any such speculation immediately when they feel strongly about the man holding the job. Mariota was playing turnover-free ball until Week 6, but the Titans have seemingly been trying to hide him for the better part of the season - if not longer. However, it's debatable whether Tannehill will provide much of a spark to the offense, leaving him firmly in QB2 territory.
Having not played since suffering a calf injury in a Week 1 loss to the Ravens, Miami Dolphins wide receiver Albert Wilson returned to action in a 17-16 loss to the Washington Redskins on Sunday, finishing with five receptions on six targets. Wilson's six targets tied him with Preston Williams for the most among Miami wide receivers, which should be a good sign for his usage going forward. Unfortunately, that ends the good news of his stat line, as Wilson's five catches were good for a total of only 15 yards, with eight of those coming on one play. Until Miami's offense becomes something less than terrible and until Wilson starts using his elite speed to get looks down the field, "Fast" Albert needs to stay parked on the waiver wire. Hey-hey-hey.
Washington Redskins wide receiver Trey Quinn saw just four targets in Sunday's win over the Dolphins, collecting two of them for a total of eight yards. This was the third consecutive game in which Quinn was targeted only four times, and also the third straight contest in which he failed to break 20 yards receiving. On the rare occasions the Redskins offense has functioned well, it's been with Case Keenum at the helm. Assuming the veteran holds onto the starting job for the foreseeable future, he figures to provide his pass-catchers with the best chance at producing. Quinn's usage rate unfortunately suggests he's not going to see many opportunities regardless of who is throwing the ball. He can continue to be ignored in all formats.
Indianapolis Colts S Clayton Geathers (concussion) and LB Darius Leonard (concussion) have been cleared from the league's concussion protocol.
Miami Dolphins wide receiver Preston Williams was a popular sleeper heading into a favorable Week 6 matchup, as the Washington Redskins were bringing in one of the league's worst defenses. However, those bold owners who took a chance on Williams were rewarded with a dud, as he caught just two passes for 31 yards and no touchdowns in a 17-16 Miami loss. While his six targets were tied with Albert Wilson for the most among wide receivers, Williams has received more than seven targets just once this season and has only one touchdown and 232 yards in Miami's five games. Given his lack of production and with Miami's offense a total mess, Williams is just one of many Dolphins who should not be on anyone's fantasy roster.
Free-agent TE Benjamin Watson (Patriots) is expected to re-sign with the New England Patriots after the team released him last week. Per ESPN's Mike Reiss, the Patriots did not have a roster spot for him at that time, but injuries have altered the picture.
Fantasy Spin: It seems unlikely Watson is going to make much of a fantasy impact upon his (likely) return, but the tight end position is so weak in fantasy at the moment that anything is possible. Most owners can probably afford to sit back and wait to see how this thing plays out, but it's not out of the question Watson becomes a starter for New England in short order and able to contribute three or four catches per game.
Denver Broncos wide receiver Daesean Hamilton struggled once again in Week 6, as he continues to scratch and scrap for any production that he can carve out of Denver's offense. The 2nd-year Penn State product hauled in both targets thrown his way for a total of 25 yards against the Tennessee Titans on Sunday afternoon. Hamilton has yet to have a solid performance this year and there is not much indicating a change in that regard. He takes the field next in a Thursday night matchup against the Kansas City Chiefs.
Philadelphia Eagles WR DeSean Jackson (abdomen) is reportedly making progress but not expected to practice Wednesday, Oct. 16.
Fantasy Spin: It's getting harder and harder for fantasy owners to hold onto Jackson, who made an early exit in Week 2 and hasn't played since. With that said, he should be able to return to game action within the next week or two given the fact the team seems close to declaring him ready to practice. It might take some time for him to get his conditioning back, but it is clear the offense needs him. He will likely be worth the wait once he does return and should still be considered a high-upside WR3 in fantasy.
Philadelphia Eagles CBs Jalen Mills (hamstring) and Ronald Darby (foot) are expected to resume practicing Wednesday, Oct. 16, and could play Week 7 versus the Dallas Cowboys.
Miami Dolphins wide receiver Devante Parker made the last of his three receptions count on Sunday, with an 11-yard touchdown catch with just six seconds remaining in Miami's 17-16 loss to the Washington Redskins. Parker has now caught a touchdown in his last two games but was only targeted a total of eight times in those two, after averaging just under seven targets in his previous three. The speedy receiver only received four targets on Sunday, putting him behind five other players, all of whom received at least six looks. Getting less and less attention in an offense that's going nowhere fast, there are few reasons to take a flyer on Parker with Miami facing Buffalo's top-ranked pass defense in Week 7.