Sun Jan 6 4:47pm ET
By HOWARD FENDRICH
AP Pro Football Writer
Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson recovers a fumble that he made in the first half of an NFL wild card playoff football game against the Los Angeles Chargers, Sunday, Jan. 6, 2019, in Baltimore. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
Teammates help Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson to his feet after a play in the second half of an NFL wild card playoff football game against the Los Angeles Chargers, Sunday, Jan. 6, 2019, in Baltimore. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)
Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson (8) is sacked by Los Angeles Chargers defensive end Melvin Ingram in the second half of an NFL wild card playoff football game, Sunday, Jan. 6, 2019, in Baltimore. (AP Photo/Gail Burton)
Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson, left, and running back Kenneth Dixon chase after a loose ball in the first half of an NFL wild card playoff football game against the Los Angeles Chargers, Sunday, Jan. 6, 2019, in Baltimore. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
BALTIMORE (AP) Of all the discouraging stats for Lamar Jackson in the rookie sensation's NFL playoff debut, this was probably the worst: At halftime Sunday, his combined total of fumbles and interceptions (three) was higher than his number of completions (two).
A day before his 22nd birthday, Baltimore's Jackson became the youngest quarterback to start a postseason game, and aside from getting in gear late, he sure looked like someone not quite ready for the big stage in the Ravens' 23-17 loss to the Los Angeles Chargers in an AFC wild-card game.
The Heisman Trophy winner from Louisville had a passer rating of 0.0 early in the fourth quarter before finishing at 78.8 by going 14 for 29 for 194 yards, two fourth-quarter TDs, one pick and one lost fumble. He was sacked seven times.
Coach John Harbaugh stuck with him instead of switching to Joe Flacco - ignoring chants for the past Super Bowl MVP from spectators near Baltimore's sideline, who drew a rebuke from one Ravens player that told fans not to waver in their support of Jackson.
While the Chargers (13-4) advanced to play the New England Patriots next Sunday, the AFC North champion Ravens (10-7) had their first trip to the playoffs since 2014 end quickly.
Jackson led them there since replacing Flacco at QB by going 6-1, thanks to a strong running game and the league's No. 2 scoring defense. The sprint to a division title included a 22-10 victory at the Chargers two weeks ago. Rather than a harbinger, that game seemingly provided a scouting report for LA, the first club to face Jackson twice.
In that regular-season win against the Chargers, Jackson threw for a career-high 204 yards and put up a 101.3 rating that was his best in an NFL start.
It was clear from the outset Sunday this was not going to go as well. The Ravens fumbled on three of their first eight plays from scrimmage, two by Jackson that were recovered by Baltimore. The third, by running back Kenneth Dixon, led to the first of Chargers kicker Michael Badgley's five field goals.
At the half, Jackson was 2 for 8 for 17 yards passing. The Ravens had only 69 total yards and a paltry three first downs.
Baltimore finally put some points up in the third quarter via Justin Tucker's 33-yard field goal as a result of a 6-yard ''drive'' - that's how far Jackson took the Ravens after C.J. Mosley's fumble return set the hosts up at the LA 21. There were jeers from the crowd of 70,432 after Jackson was stuffed for no gain on third down before the kick.
That cut Baltimore's deficit to 12-3, and not long after that, it had a great chance to get closer. That's because Javorius Allen's partial block resulted in an 11-yard punt, giving the Ravens the ball at the LA 40. But another get-nowhere possession led to a field-goal attempt by Tucker, this one from 50 yards - and the most accurate kicker in NFL history produced his first postseason miss in 10 tries.
The next Ravens drive featured a sack on first down, and another on third down - and more boos. Flacco remained on the sideline, standing, his helmet on. After the Ravens trailed 23-3, Jackson delivered TD passes to Michael Crabtree from 31 yards with 6+ minutes remaining, and from 7 yards just before the two-minute warning.
With one last possession in the closing minute, Jackson lost his third fumble of the game - and this one was recovered by the Chargers with 19 seconds left to seal the outcome.
Approaching training camp, the San Francisco 49ers first two picks of 2019 remain unsigned. Defensive end Nick Bosa, the second overall pick, and wide receiver Deebo Samuel represent two of the eight total 2019 NFL draftees that have not reached a deal. Bosa, who many experts expect to make an immediate impact, could lift the Niners defense from its 28th-ranked fantasy DST. More worrisome is Samuel, who will miss valuable reps with quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo if hes unable to report to camp on time. With a crowded receiving corps, the rookie could conceivable sink on the depth chart, severely negating any redraft value he currently possesses.
Philadelphia Eagles CB Jalen Mills (foot) is unlikely to be ready when training camp opens.
Philadelphia Eagles CB Sidney Jones could wind up being trade bait for a team that is patient as Jones develops in the weight room.
Detroit Lions CB Darius Slay and DT Damon Harrison's agent, Drew Rosenhaus, will meet with the Lions this week to discuss contract extensions for both players.
Baltimore Ravens linebacker Matt Judon said this week that his representatives have opened contract extension talks with the team. He is entering the final season of a four-year, $2.595 million rookie deal, and he can be an unrestricted free agent after the 2019 season. Judon has registered 131 total tackles with 19 sacks, three forced fumbles and seven passes defensed in three NFL seasons, and he has 15 sacks over the past two campaigns. He is a key member of a Ravens defense which will be a Top 5 fantasy DST again this season.
The Baltimore Ravens signed rookie wide receiver Miles Boykin to a four-year contract this week. Boykin signed his four-year rookie deal, the team announced on Wednesday, and the club now has all of its rookies signed just in time for them to report to training camp. Boykin, a third-round pick out of Notre Dame, missed time during offseason training activities (OTAs) due to a hamstring injury. He will be jockeying with Willie Snead, Seth Roberts and Chris Moore for a meaningful role in the Baltimore offense to start.
The Atlanta Falcons brought in free-agent tight ends Logan Paulsen and Luke Stocker during the offseason to provide depth behind Austin Hooper, who is in a contract year. Stocker, who signed a two-year, $5.5 million deal in the offseason, received a $1.5 million signing bonus. He might also see some time at fullback in addition to tight end, but neither is expected to move the needle in terms of fantasy appeal unless disaster strikes Hooper. TE Jaeden Graham has also seen some time at fullback during offseason practices.
Atlanta Falcons tight end Eric Saubert was one of the team's three players at the position in 2018, but team re-signed Logan Paulsen while adding Luke Stocker in free agency. And Austin Hooper is the unquestioned starter and one of the more productive tight ends in the NFC. Saubert might be the odd-man out heading into training camp and the preseason unless they elect to keep four tight ends on the 53-man roster. Either way, Saubert isn't someone to bother with in fantasy football.
Atlanta Falcons head coach Dan Quinn feels tight end Austin Hooper might be primed and ready to step up his play in 2019. Hooper, who is in a contract year, posted career highs across the board with 71 grabs, 660 yards and four touchdown in 2018 while being targeted 88 times. "Now, he's ready to go to another level, and I'm looking forward to seeing him make that growth," Quinn said. "The addition of having (tight ends coach Mike Mularkey) here, he's done everything that Mike has asked in terms of getting him ready." Hooper is worth targeting as a low-end TE1 in most fantasy leagues heading into 2019.
The Atlanta Falcons and middle linebacker Deion Jones have agreed to a four-year contract extension worth $57 million, with $28.5 million guaranteed. The deal comes on the heels of a long-term pact with defensive tackle Grady Jarrett, who inked a four-year, $68 million deal earlier in the week. Jones bounced back to record 53 tackles in six games after suffering a broken foot in the regular-season opener. While the Falcons have some key components on their defense locked up for the long haul, they're still nothing more than a streamer DST in most fantasy formats heading into 2019.
Atlanta Falcons TE Eric Saubert could be released if the team elects to carry just three tight ends on its 53-man roster, in the opinion of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution's D. Orlando Ledbetter.
Detroit Lions RB Zach Zenner could challenge veteran RB C.J. Anderson for the No. 2 spot behind RB Kerryon Johnson, in the opinion of The Detroit News' Justin Rogers, who notes that Zenner's north-south running style is a good fit for the team's blocking scheme.
Fantasy Spin: At this point, Johnson is the only sure thing in the Lions backfield, so you'll need to keep an eye on the preseason to see how Anderson, Zenner and Theo Riddick slot in behind him to see if anyone other than Johnson warrants a selection in fantasy drafts.
Tennessee Titans running back Derrick Henry finished the 2018 season on a tear, rushing for 625 yards and eight touchdowns in the month of December alone. New Titans offensive coordinator Arthur Smith has stated that he plans to "ride" Henry going forward, but perhaps expectations should be tempered. While the Titans did improve their offensive line through free agency and the draft this offseason, Henry's involvement should remain game-script sensitive with receiving back Dion Lewis still in Tennessee. Henry is likely going to win you some matchups this season with his big play ability and touchdown upside, but he is also likely to lose you some weeks should the Titans fall behind early, making Henry a risky pick in the late second or early third rounds of fantasy drafts.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers TE Cameron Brate could see 60 targets in 2019 while working as the backup to starter O.J. Howard, according to Taylor Jenkins of PewterReport.com.
Fantasy Spin: Jenkins projected just 45 targets for RB Peyton Barber, leaving extra work in the passing game for Brate. The 28-year-old has been a reliable red-zone threat over the past four years, but the chance for more catches and yards could make him a more reliable option in fantasy leagues. He's best left to the waiver wire, but he'll be worth starting as a bye-week replacement.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers RB Peyton Barber will receive close to 45 targets in 2019, according to Taylor Jenkins of PewterReport.com.
Fantasy Spin: Jenkins projects Barber to be the every-down back for the Bucs this season. The 25-year-old caught 20 of 29 targets while starting all 16 games last year, but he went for just 92 yards and one touchdown through the air. He's an adequate RB3 play in standard leagues if he's able to hold off Ronald Jones II in training camp, but Jones has the higher upside.
Atlanta Falcons LB Deion Jones agreed to terms on four-year contract extension with the Falcons Wednesday, July 17, worth $57 million. The deal includes $34 million in guaranteed money.
Free-agent CB Rashard Robinson (Jets) has been suspended for the first 10 games of the 2019 season.
Denver Broncos WR Aaron Burbridge was waived Wednesday, July 17.
Cincinnati Bengals rookie running back Rodney Anderson (knee) is expected to open the 2019 season on the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list. If he does, Anderson will have to miss the first six games of the season and will be significantly behind in the battle for backup minutes in Cincinnati. This news likely means that Anderson's rookie season is going to be a fantasy nonfactor, though he still has value in dynasty leagues, where he has a chance to be the future number-two back behind Joe Mixon.