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.
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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.
Chicago Bears quarterback Mitch Trubisky completed 34 of 54 passes for 251 yards and two touchdowns in the Bears 36-25 loss to the Saints in Week 7. Practically all of the third-year quarterback's stats came in the final moments after the Bears had fallen behind 36-10. The Bears offense was abysmal for three quarters and Trubisky showed plenty of rust. He was able to salvage his outing from a fantasy perspective but will not be a viable option until he can show sustained accuracy and efficiency.
San Francisco 49ers running back Matt Breida handled eight totes for 44 yards and added a one-yard grab in Week 7 against the Washington Redskins. Discouragingly, Breida was thoroughly out-touched 22-9 by backfield mate Tevin Coleman, who raced for 62 yards of his own. It was an all-around team effort for the Niners in sloppy conditions and they remain undefeated. Breidas become a clear second fiddle to Coleman since the latters return from injury and should be modestly downgraded for fantasy purposes. In a run-heavy offensive scheme, Breida still has the volume to be a weekly RB3/flex option. The Carolina Panthers weak rush defense awaits in Week 8.
Chicago Bears wide receiver Allen Robinson tallied 10 receptions for 87 yards and one touchdown in the Bears 36-25 loss to the Saints in Week 7. Robinson's final fantasy line looks a lot better thanks to two late-game garbage drives for scores. The Bears offense is really struggling right now but the veteran receiver continues to be the only consistent source of production. Despite the Bears offensive woes, Robinson will remain a solid WR2 heading into Week 8.
Minnesota Vikings running back Alexander Mattison carried seven times for 18 yards (2.6 yards per carry) in Week 7's 42-30 win over the Detroit Lions. Mattison took a clear back seat in this one as Dalvin Cook carried 25 times for 142 yards and two touchdowns. Mattison was also not targeted in the passing game. The rookie back out of Boise State has been productive this season (5.3 yards per carry) but remains more of a high-priority handcuff than a player to consider starting in re-draft formats. However, he could be worth a look as a sneaky RB3 option with higher expected volume in Week 8 against the Washington Redskins' porous run defense.
San Francisco 49ers running back Tevin Coleman converted 20 carries into 62 yards, also recording two catches for negative one yard in Week 7 against the Washington Redskins. Coleman wasnt efficient, but continued dominating touches over backfield mate Matt Breida by a 22-9 margin. Colemans been used as a workhorse since returning from an ankle injury, giving him a solid floor in a run-heavy offense. Hell be a high-end RB2 in Week 8 against a porous Carolina Panthers run defense.
Chicago Bears wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson returned a kickoff 102 yards for a touchdown in the Bears disappointing 36-25 loss to the Saints. Patterson flashed what makes him so valuable in the first quarter, taking a kick from the end zone all the way to the house. Patterson was used at times on the offensive side of the ball, racking up 23 yards on one carry and two receptions. Patterson is a threat and makes an above average fantasy defense better with his ability to produce on special teams.
Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Alex Erickson finished with a game-high eight receptions (14 targets) for 137 yards in the loss to the Jaguars on Sunday. Though Tyler Boyd received an equal amount of looks from quarterback Andy Dalton, his five catches for 55 yards opened the door for increased production from Erickson on a day where nothing was going right. With A.J. Green (ankle) expected back within the next week or so, the sell-high window is wide open for the 26-year-old as this type of performance won't happen too often moving forward, if at all.
The San Francisco 49ers Defense continued its dominant run, shutting out the Washington Redskins in Week 7. Aided by a wet field, the Niners limited the Skins to 154 meaningless yards, collecting three sacks and recovering a fumble in the process. A driving force behind the teams undefeated start, San Franciscos defensive unit continues to take care of business and serve notice to the football community. Theyve evolved into a weekly must-start fantasy squad. The Carolina Panthers await in Week 8.
Cincinnati Bengals running back Giovani Bernard finished with no yards on four attempts in addition to four yards off of two receptions against the Jaguars in Week 7. As the team's offensive woes continue, the veteran is having one of his worst seasons as a professional. As the Bengals continue to be plagued with a horrendous offensive line and a plethora of injuries, Bernard hasn't done much this season. He has little, if any, fantasy value at the moment, with that likely staying the same moving forward unless Joe Mixon loses his spot on the depth chart.
San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo completed 12 of 21 passes for 151 yards, no scores and an interception in Week 7 against the Washington Redskins. The Niners leaned on their defense and wet conditions to overmatch the Redskins in the 9-0 shutout. The nondescript performance from Garoppolo has become the norm, as hes managed the team to a sparkling 6-0 start to 2019. With the continued emphasis on the run game and Jimmy G yet to push the gas, hell remain a middling QB2 in Week 8 against the Carolina Panthers.
Cincinnati Bengals running back Joe Mixon rushed for just two yards on 10 attempts against the Jaguars on Sunday. While he was able to bring in a two-yard touchdown reception from quarterback Andy Dalton, it was a disappointing outing overall for those who were hoping for a turnaround in Week 7. With the Bengals unable to get anything going behind one of the worst offensive lines in the league, Mixon's outlook moving forward doesn't look promising, especially in Week 8 against the Rams Defense.
Neither San Francisco 49ers wide receivers Dante Pettis nor Marquise Goodwin caught a pass in Week 7 against the Washington Redskins. The two receivers garnered three total targets in a sloppy contest dominated by the Niners defense. After a week of fantasy buzz, Pettis will fall back with Goodwin in fantasy obsolescence as zero-floor WR5s in Week 8 against the Carolina Panthers.
San Francisco 49ers tight end George Kittle recorded 38 yards on three catches in Week 7 against the Washington Redskins. The Niners managed just 151 pass yards in a wet and sloppy contest, resulting in Kittles lowest production of 2019. His five targets still led the squad. The Niners return home in Week 8 to host the Carolina Panthers where Kittle will be a premium TE1 against a tough pass defense.
Minnesota Vikings tight end Kyle Rudolph caught 5-of-6 targets for 58 yards and a touchdown in Week 7. Rudolph connected with Kirk Cousins on a 15-yard score in the fourth quarter, Rudolph's first touchdown catch of the year. Adam Thielen (hamstring) left the game early, meaning guys like Rudolph, Olabisi Johnson, and Irv Smith Jr. were asked to step up in the passing attack. To their credit, they all put up solid performances. That being said, Rudolph remains an uninspiring low-volume option at tight end and should only be played as a touchdown-dependent TE2 in Week 8 against the Washington Redskins.
Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton wasn't able to get anything going against Jacksonville in Week 7. While the veteran was able to accumulate 276 yards and two total touchdowns on the day, the Jaguars Defense was relentless by recording interceptions on three-straight drives, with one of those picks being returned for a score. Dalton is having one of his worst seasons in the league, though he can't take all of the blame as the team has been plagued with injuries across the board. Things likely won't get any easier in Week 8 as the Bengals will look for their first win of the year against the newly revamped Rams Defense.
Los Angeles Rams tight end Gerald Everett caught four receptions for 50 yards and a touchdown against the Atlanta Falcons in Week 7. Everett was targeted a team-high 10 times in the game. He'll have a tough matchup against the Cincinnati Bengals next week. The Bengals have only allowed tight ends to grab 13 balls for 183 yards and no touchdowns in the last three weeks. Everett will be a low-end TE1 option.
The Los Angeles Rams Defense had a big day against the Atlanta Falcons with five sacks, two fumble recoveries, one that went for a touchdown, an interception and just 10 points allowed. They have upside next week against the Cincinnati Bengals and are a midrange start for Week 8.
Los Angeles Rams linebacker Dante Fowler had seven tackles (six solo), three sacks and a pass defense against the Atlanta Falcons in Week 7. His tackles and sacks were both team highs. Fowler is a fringe player to own in individual defensive player leagues, but this might put him over the hump and onto rosters.
Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Stefon Diggs caught 7-of-8 targets for 142 scoreless yards in Week 7's win over the Detroit Lions. Adam Thielen (hamstring) leaving the game in the first quarter concentrated targets to Diggs, but the four receiving touchdowns went to Thielen, C.J. Ham, Kyle Rudolph, and Olabisi Johnson. Diggs got dragged down just before the goal-line on a 67-yard catch (set up by some beautiful play-action) late in the game. Diggs is back to seeing WR2-worthy targets and has exceeded 100 receiving yards in three of his last four games. Start him as a top-end WR2 in Week 8's Thursday night tilt against the Washington Redskins.
Minnesota Vikings running back Dalvin Cook tallied 25 carries for 142 yards and two touchdowns in Week 7's 42-30 win over the Detroit Lions. He also added one catch for seven yards. This was Cook's league-leading fifth 100-yard rushing game and he now has six touchdowns on the ground in what's becoming a breakout campaign for the third-year back out of Florida State. Cook has been absolutely dynamic all season and his ceiling is raised even higher with the form that Kirk Cousins and the play-action passing game is in. Cook is a surefire RB1 and will arguably be the top option at running back in Week 8 against the Washington Redskins.