Fri Oct 7 6:01am ET
By PAT GRAHAM
AP Sports Writer
Denver Broncos quarterback Russell Wilson (3) looks to pass against the Indianapolis Colts during the second half of an NFL football game, Thursday, Oct. 6, 2022, in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
Denver Broncos quarterback Russell Wilson (3) talks with head coach Nathaniel Hackett during the second half of an NFL football game against the Indianapolis Colts, Thursday, Oct. 6, 2022, in Denver. (AP Photo/Jack Dempsey)
Denver Broncos quarterback Russell Wilson (3) is tackled by Indianapolis Colts defensive tackle DeForest Buckner (99) during the second half of an NFL football game, Thursday, Oct. 6, 2022, in Denver. (AP Photo/Jack Dempsey)
DENVER (AP) Russell Wilson had a chance to put the game away late.
He threw an interception in the end zone.
The Denver Broncos quarterback had another shot to win the game in overtime.
He threw a game-ending incompletion on fourth-and-short while never looking at an uncovered receiver.
Brought in for moments such as this - and rewarded with a $245 million extension before taking his first snap in Denver - Wilson couldn't deliver in a 12-9 loss to the Indianapolis Colts on Thursday night.
''I let the team down tonight,'' said Wilson, who threw two interceptions, including one that set up Indy's game-tying field goal with 5 seconds left in regulation. ''When you play this game, the one thing you're going to know is that you're going to go through adversity.''
Once again, Wilson and offense struggled to stay on the field, much less find the end zone. This has become a recurring theme for the Broncos (2-3), who are averaging just 15 points a game.
''At the end of the day, I've got to be better,'' said Wilson, who came to Denver after a decade in Seattle. ''I've got to play better. We had some good drives. We moved the ball into the red zone and we didn't capitalize on some of them. There's some plays here and there that we can capitalize on.''
The turning point occurred just before the two-minute warning. Leading by a field goal, the Broncos faced third-and-4 at the Indy 13. A field goal seemed assured, which, in this low-scoring affair, loomed large.
Instead of running the ball, though, the Broncos tried to put the game away. But Wilson's pass was picked off in the end zone by Stephon Gilmore. It allowed the Colts to drive down and tie it on Chase McLaughlin's 31-yard field goal with 5 seconds remaining.
''Just can't throw that,'' Wilson said. ''Got to throw it out of bounds if he's not there.''
In overtime, after Indy turned the opening possession into a field goal, the Broncos quickly moved the ball deep into Indy territory again.
On fourth-and-1 at the 5, however, Wilson overlooked a wide-open KJ Hamler and instead tried to force the ball to Courtland Sutton in the end zone. It was broken up by Gilmore.
Game over. Let the second-guessing begin.
''If we score that touchdown, everyone thinks it's the best call in the world,'' left guard Dalton Risner said. ''We just couldn't finish.''
Wilson's teammates picked him after the game. Melvin Gordon offered words of comfort, the same way Wilson did for him Sunday when his fumble was returned for a 68-yard touchdown in a loss at Las Vegas. Courtland Sutton talked to him, too. So did defensive leader Bradley Chubb, who had 2 1/2 sacks.
''It's on me,'' Wilson said. ''The one thing I know is I've gone through tough times before, gone through obstacles, gone through challenges. Gone through highs and gone through lows, lot of highs, lot of highs. Several lows.
''No one's ever going to get me discouraged - ever.''
Asked about the final play, Sutton simply responded: ''It got batted down.''
He made sure he had his quarterback's back.
''We are all here for each other,'' Sutton said. ''As a collective, we go win games and we go lose games. As a collective, we lost one today.''
Broncos rookie head coach Nathaniel Hackett made sure the game was in the hands of Wilson. Maybe it was a lesson learned from a season-opening loss at Seattle when the Broncos skipped a fourth-and-short to try a 64-yard field goal by Brandon McManus. It veered left, and the Broncos trudged away 17-16 losers in Wilson's harsh homecoming.
Now, it's all Wilson all the time.
''It starts with me, to get him in that rhythm with all of the wide receivers and tight ends,'' Hackett said. ''Again, there were a couple of opportunities. I think we had a couple of drops again, a couple of penalties. We keep continually hurting ourselves, and I think that's the thing that's frustrating.''
At 2-3, the Broncos have a bumpy road to break a string of six straight seasons without a playoff appearance.
''I'm looking forward to turning it around,'' Wilson said. ''Because when we do, it's going to be a special story. There's no other way to think because that's all I know.''
San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, who is averaging 225 yards per game in his two starts, faces a middle-of-the-pack Carolina Panthers defense in Week 5. The Panthers rank No. 12 in limiting opposing teams' passing yards and No. 13 in completion percentage, but they are only No. 30 in sacks. Garoppolo has completed just 61% of his passes this season, his lowest completion percentage in four years. While his play against the Rams last week left much to be desired, he did look better than he did in his first start against the Broncos. In Week 5, Garoppolo projects as a low-end QB2 in superflex leagues.
San Francisco 49ers running back Jeff Wilson Jr., who is having the best season of his career, goes to Carolina to take on the Panthers in Week 5. Wilson is averaging 77.7 yards per game in his three starts. The 49ers as a team rank ninth in the league in rushing yards per game and No. 17 in yards per attempt. The 49ers offensive line is banged up, with tackles Trent Williams and Colton McKivitz both going down in the past two weeks, but that didn't hurt Wilson against the Rams. Wilson projects as a top 24 RB in Week 5.
Pittsburgh Steelers running back Najee Harris will head on the road to take on the Buffalo Bills in Week 4. Harris is off to a slow start in 2022, averaging just 3.48 yards per carry through the first four games. The Bills have been tough on opposing running backs this season, allowing the 10th-fewest fantasy points per game to the position thus far. The installation of Kenny Pickett at quarterback should help open up the offense in Pittsburgh, which helps Harris, but this is a tough matchup for him. Treat Harris as a low-end RB2 in fantasy for Week 5.
Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Kenny Pickett took over for the benched Mitch Trubisky at halftime of a Week 4 loss to the New York Jets and wound up completing 10 of his 13 passes for 120 yards and three interceptions while rushing for two touchdowns. Now installed as the Pittsburgh starting quarterback moving forward, the rookie faces a tough Week 5 road matchup against the Buffalo Bills. Buffalo's defense has been tough on quarterbacks, allowing the eighth-fewest fantasy points per game to the position through four games. Pickett showed that he has some rushing upside but the matchup makes this a tough week to trust him outside of deeper, two-quarterback formats. Treat him as a high-end QB3 for Week 5.
The Cleveland Browns defense has underperformed at times through the first four games of the 2022 season. Things won't get much easier for them in Week 5 as they welcome the Los Angeles Chargers to First Energy Stadium. The Chargers have an explosive offense, which has led to them allowing just the 23rd-most fantasy points per game to opposing D/STs thus far. Cleveland could be getting Myles Garrett and Jadeveon Clowney back from injury this week but this is still a tough spot to use their defense in fantasy. Treat them as a bottom-10 fantasy option for Week 5.
Cleveland Browns wide receiver Donovan Peoples-Jones has been up-and-down in 2022, posting two big games and two games where he essentially disappeared. He will look to make a difference in the box score in Week 5's home matchup against the Los Angeles Chargers. The Chargers have struggled against opposing receivers, allowing the 10th-most fantasy points per game to the position thus far in 2022. Peoples-Jones' two productive games this season have come when Amari Cooper struggled with a difficult cornerback matchup. Cooper draws a tough matchup against J.C. Jackson in Week 5, so Peoples-Jones could be in line for an increased role if Jackson can shut down his man in coverage. Treat Peoples-Jones as a boom/bust flex option in Week 5.
Cleveland Browns tight end David Njoku has been on a hot streak of late, having caught 14 passes for 162 yards over his past two games. Njoku has emerged as the No. 2 option in the Cleveland passing game, behind only Amari Cooper. He will look to keep the hot streak going in a Week 5 home matchup against the Los Angeles Chargers. The Chargers have been tough on enemy tight ends in 2022, allowing just the 20th-most fantasy points per game to the position thus far. Despite the tough matchup, treat Njoku as a low-end TE1 for Week 5 in what could be a high-scoring game.
Cleveland Browns kicker Cade York will face off against the Los Angeles Chargers at home in Week 5. York has been solid for Cleveland thus far, having hit all eight of his field goals and nine of his 11 extra points through four games. The rookie kicker should be busy in Week 5 in what could be a high-scoring game against an explosive Los Angeles offense. The Chargers haven't done much to limit fantasy kickers in 2022, allowing the 11th-most fantasy points per game to the position. Treat York as a top-10 option in fantasy for Week 5.
Cleveland Browns wide receiver Amari Cooper is coming off a slow game that saw him catch just one ball for nine yards in a Week 4 loss to the Atlanta Falcons. Despite changing teams in the offseason, Cooper has been as inconsistent as ever, catching just four balls in two of his games while combining for 202 yards and two touchdowns in the other two contests. He will take on the Los Angeles Chargers at home in Week 5. The Chargers are allowing the 10th-most fantasy points per game to opposing receivers in 2022, although Cooper is expected to run the majority of his routes against J.C. Jackson in what will be a tough matchup for him. Treat Cooper as a boom/bust WR3 in fantasy for Week 5.
Cleveland Browns quarterback Jacoby Brissett will take on the Los Angeles Chargers at home in Week 5. Brissett has played well for Cleveland in 2022, posting 830 passing yards, four touchdowns, and two interceptions through four games. The Chargers represent a decent matchup for him as they are allowing the 13th-most fantasy points per game to opposing quarterbacks in 2022. The Chargers also have an explosive offense, so Brissett could be asked to throw more than usual to keep up with Los Angeles on the scoreboard. Treat Brissett as a high-end QB3 for Week 5.
Cleveland Browns running back Nick Chubb is off to an excellent start in 2022, racking up 459 rushing yards and five touchdowns through four games. He will look to keep rolling in a home game against the Los Angeles Chargers in Week 5. The Chargers have struggled against running backs in 2022 as they are allowing the third-most fantasy points per game to the position through the first four weeks of the season. Chubb has been the backbone of the Cleveland offense thus far and he should get another healthy workload against Los Angeles. Treat him as a top-six running back in fantasy for Week 5.
Cleveland Browns running back Kareem Hunt kicked his season off with a two-touchdown game back in Week 1. The talented running back has yet to find the end zone again, however, as teammate Nick Chubb has scored five touchdowns in Weeks 2 to 4. Hunt is still plenty involved in the Cleveland offense as he is averaging 11.5 carries and 2.75 catches per game in 2022. He will look to get back in the end zone in Week 5 against the Los Angeles Chargers in a home game. Los Angeles has struggled against opposing running backs this season, allowing the third-most fantasy points per game to the position thus far. Treat Hunt as an upside flex option in fantasy for Week 5.
Indianapolis Colts wide receiver Michael Pittman Jr. was expected to be the focal point of this offense heading into this Week 5 matchup. The Colts were without star running back Jonathan Taylor (ankle), which means Pittman would be their next best player on offense. Sadly for fantasy managers, the Broncos secondary was able to contain Pittman fairly well on Thursday. He finished with five receptions on eight targets for 59 yards in the win. It wasn't the game everyone expected from Pittman, but at least it wasn't a complete bust. Hopefully things will get better, but Pittman probably won't be anything more than a low-end WR2 going forward.
Indianapolis Colts wide receiver Alec Pierce has been surprisingly solid for this offense over the last few weeks. He continued his strong stretch of play against the Denver Broncos in Week 5. The rookie wideout hauled in eight of his nine targets for 81 yards in the win over the Broncos on Thursday Night Football. It was an ugly game, but at least Pierce was able to make the most out of it. He is quickly putting his name of the fantasy radar with his solid play. He could be a possible low-end flex option heading into Week 6.
Seattle Seahawks running back Kenneth Walker III (shoulder) was limited during Thursday's practice session. The rookie back is reportedly nursing a shoulder injury, but the fact he was limited means it might be minor. Fantasy managers will have to wait and see what happens during Friday's practice with Walker. Regardless, he has been off to a very slow start with only 58 rushing yards on 15 attempts in his first three games. He won't be a recommended streaming option this week anyway.
Indianapolis Colts quarterback Matt Ryan was coming off one of his better performances of the season heading into Week 5. Despite that, Ryan looked horrendous during the Week 5 win over the Denver Broncos. He completed 26-of-41 passing attempts for 251 passing yards and two interceptions without a touchdown. To be fair, the offensive line was not helping Ryan at all during this contest. However, Ryan was making awful passes even when the wideouts were open. There's really not much streaming appeal left in Ryan at this point with a matchup against the Jacksonville Jaguars next week.
New England Patriots quarterback Brian Hoyer (concussion) has been placed on the injured reserve. That means, Hoyer will miss at least the next four weeks of action. Mac Jones (ankle) is still banged up as well, so Bailey Zappe could be asked to start in Week 5. At this moment, it sounds like the Pats are leaning towards starting Zappe versus the Detroit Lions this week. That being said, fantasy managers should be able to find a better streaming option than Zappe for this upcoming week.
The Los Angeles Chargers have added kicker Taylor Bertolet to their practice squad on Thursday. The team did this as insurance in case Dustin Hopkins (quad) is unable to play in Week 5 against the Cleveland Browns. Bertolet has never played in an NFL game, which makes him tough to trust as a streaming option. However, he made 11-of-15 field goals for the New Orleans Breakers earlier this season. Fantasy managers will have to check back to see if Hopkins does get ruled out for Week 5.
Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Rondale Moore (knee) has been added to the injury report after getting in a limited practice session on Thursday. This sounds like a new injury since Moore was dealing with a hamstring problem prior to this injury. Fantasy managers will have to wait and see what happens during Friday's practice. Greg Dortch could be worth a look as a streaming option with the Cardinals still banged up at wideout. However, they have a tough task against the Philadelphia Eagles secondary in Week 5.
Chicago Bears tight end Cole Kmet will try and turn his season around Week 5 against the Vikings. It has been a rough start for the third-year tight end and he has amassed only five catches for 56 yards with zero touchdowns through the first four games. Kmet is a solid blocker but the Bears anemic passing game has cratered fantasy value for Chicago's collection of pass-catchers. Kmet should remain on the bench for Week 5 against the Vikings.