Sun Sep 8 4:35pm ET
By TOM WITHERS
AP Sports Writer
Cleveland Browns tight end David Njoku celebrates after scoring a 3-yard touchdown during the second half in an NFL football game against the Tennessee Titans, Sunday, Sept. 8, 2019, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Ron Schwane)
Tennessee Titans inside linebacker Rashaan Evans (54) and strong safety Kenny Vaccaro (24) celebrate a safety during the first half in an NFL football game against the Cleveland Browns, Sunday, Sept. 8, 2019, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/David Richard)
Tennessee Titans head coach Mike Vrabel, left, congratulates running back Derrick Henry after Henry scored a 1-yard touchdown during the first half in an NFL football game against the Cleveland Browns, Sunday, Sept. 8, 2019, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/David Richard)
Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield (6) scrambles during the first half in an NFL football game against the Tennessee Titans, Sunday, Sept. 8, 2019, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/David Richard)
Cleveland Browns wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. (13) avoids Tennessee Titans cornerback Adoree' Jackson (25) during the first half in an NFL football game Sunday, Sept. 8, 2019, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Ron Schwane)
Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield (6) throws under pressure from Tennessee Titans cornerback Logan Ryan (26) during the first half in an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 8, 2019, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Ron Schwane)
Tennessee Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota (8) hands off the ball to running back Derrick Henry (22) for a 1-yard touchdown during the first half in an NFL football game against the Cleveland Browns, Sunday, Sept. 8, 2019, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/David Richard)
Tennessee Titans running back Derrick Henry rushes for a 1-yard touchdown during the first half in an NFL football game against the Cleveland Browns, Sunday, Sept. 8, 2019, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/David Richard)
Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield throws during the first half in an NFL football game against the Tennessee Titans, Sunday, Sept. 8, 2019, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/David Richard)
Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield looks to throw during the first half in an NFL football game against the Tennessee Titans, Sunday, Sept. 8, 2019, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/David Richard)
Cleveland Browns wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. is introduced before an NFL football game against the Tennessee Titans, Sunday, Sept. 8, 2019, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Ron Schwane)
CLEVELAND (AP) Maybe Marcus Mariota and the Titans deserved all the hype.
Tennessee's quarterback threw three touchdown passes - one a stunning 75-yarder to big back Derrick Henry - and the Titans rolled to a 43-13 rout Sunday over the Cleveland Browns, who fell flat on their faces in their highly anticipated opener.
Titans tight end Delanie Walker had two TD catches in the fourth, and Tennessee's defensive backs intercepted Baker Mayfield three times in the fourth period.
Cameron Wake sacked Mayfield in the end zone for a safety in the first half, and the Titans dominated the undisciplined and perhaps overblown Browns, picked by some to contend for a Super Bowl title after adding Odell Beckham Jr.
The Browns committed 18 penalties for 182 yards, a poor reflection on first-year coach Freddie Kitchens. Cleveland also had a player ejected for kicking a Titans defender. The performance left Cleveland fans and wondering if they've been duped.
The Browns are 1-19-1 in openers since 1999.
The Titans always seem to be overlooked, but after just missing the playoffs last season, coach Mike Vrabel had his team ready.
Mariota finished 14 of 24 for 248 yards, completing his two scoring passes to Walker in a span of 3:29 of the final quarter when the Titans opened a 23-point lead.
Mayfield, who took several big hits while playing behind a patchwork line, brought Cleveland within 15-13 with a 3-yard TD pass to David Njoku. But the Titans countered immediately as Henry, who sat out the preseason with a calf injury, took a short pass, picked up a few blocks and rumbled down the sideline for the long score.
Kevin Byard picked off Mayfield moments later, and Mariota connected with Walker for an 11-yard score. The three-time Pro Bowler was making his return after suffering a season-ending broken leg in last year's opener.
Mayfield was then picked for the second time and Tennessee's Logan Ryan led the entire defense to the far end of the field, where they taunted Cleveland's rabid Dawg Pound section.
Mayfield went 25 of 38 for 285 yards, with his last throw returned 38 yards for a TD by Malcolm Butler. Beckham finished with seven catches for 71 yards in his Cleveland debut.
The first half was a mess for the Browns, flagged 10 times, saw starting left tackle Greg Robinson get tossed, and had his backup, Kendall Lamm, go down with a knee injury on Wake's sack.
Robinson was booted for booting safety Kenny Vaccaro in the head.
Tennessee's Cairo Santos, signed earlier this week, made two field goals, from 53 and 37 yards. Santos was brought in after Ryan Succop was placed on injured reserve.
Browns: RB Dontrell Hilliard left with a concussion in the first half. ... Lamm never returned after going down. ... TE Demetrius Harris left briefly with a right shoulder injury.
Titans: host Indianapolis on Sunday. The Colts won both meetings last season by an average of 22 points.
Browns: visit the New York Jets on Sept. 16 in matchup of first teams to play on Monday night.
New York Jets wide receiver Robby Anderson will look to change his fortunes against the Patriots in a tough matchup Monday. In seven career games against New England, Anderson hasn't scored a touchdown and his 39.5 percent catch rate is by far his lowest mark against any team he's faced more than once. This season, the Patriots are as daunting a matchup as there is in the NFL allowing the fewest fantasy points against to wide receivers. There is always the chance Anderson grabs a long touchdown, like the 92-yard score he had last week, so he has some appeal as a flex in deeper leagues. However, where possible, owners should look to steer clear of Anderson in this matchup.
New York Jets quarterback Sam Darnold will face a tough challenge Monday night against the Patriots, the team that has given up the fewest fantasy points this season to opposing quarterbacks. Darnold, who missed three games with mono, had a strong showing in his return to the field Sunday when he put up 338 yards and two touchdowns. Fantasy owners shouldn't expect that type of performance Monday against arguably the best defense in the NFL, especially with two starters on the offensive line unlikely to play. Darnold is best left on the bench this week, however, the Jets schedule gets very soft after the game vs New England so Darnold is a good bench stash for those matchups.
Miami Dolphins wide receiver Jakeem Grant (hamstring) and cornerback Xavien Howard (knee) were limited in practice this week and are questionable for Week 7 against the Bills. Even if Grant plays this weekend, he's nowhere close to being fantasy relevant behind Devante Parker, Preston Williams and Albert Wilson on the depth chart. Grant has only nine catches (19 targets) for 52 scoreless yards in four games this year. Howard is the team's best cornerback, but the Dolphins Defense/special teams is also well off the fantasy radar. If Howard sits, it'll be good news for Bills wideout John Brown.
Jacksonville Jaguars rookie tight end Josh Oliver (hamstring) practiced in full the last two days and isn't on the Week 7 injury report against the Bengals. Oliver has yet to play in his rookie season, but this weekend would be good timing for him to make his debut with Geoff Swaim out and James O'Shaughnessy on Injured Reserve. There's no guarantee that Oliver is heavily involved in the offense in his first game, but he's one to watch for those that are desperate at the position.
Green Bay Packers tight end Jimmy Graham (ankle) was limited in practice on Friday and was removed from the Week 7 injury report against the Raiders. With Davante Adams (toe) out, Geronimo Allison (concussion) doubtful and Marquez Valdes-Scantling (ankle, knee) questionable, Graham could see his biggest workload of the season this weekend. The Packers will continue to lean on the running game with their receivers beat up, but Graham could easily be quarterback Aaron Rodgers' favorite target against Oakland. The Raiders have also allowed the sixth most fantasy points per game (9.7) to tight ends. Graham has clear WR1 upside in Week 7.
Green Bay Packers wide receiver Geronimo Allison (chest, concussion) missed practice all week and is doubtful to play in Week 7 against the Raiders. The Packers are holding out hope that Allison can get cleared from the concussion protocol, but it doesn't look like it's happening. Davante Adams (toe) has already been ruled out and Marquez Valdes-Scantling (ankle, knee) will be a game-time decision. Green Bay could be without their top three wideouts, so Jake Kumerow, Allen Lazard and rookie Darrius Shepherd could be their three receivers on Sunday. Kumerow and Lazard will be in play as DFS sleepers and flex options in deeper leagues, but expect the Packers to lean heavily on their ground game.
Los Angeles Chargers kicker Michael Badgley (groin) practiced in full the last two days and is listed as questionable for Week 7 against the Titans. Badgley has been out all season but looks to have a good chance to make his season debut on the road in Tennessee. As usual, the Bolts have had a nightmare on special teams in the kicking game this year and were using their punter, Ty Long, for field-goal duties earlier this year with Badgley sidelined. They've been using rookie Chase McLaughlin in recent weeks, but he's predictably been unreliable in the kicking game. The Chargers will give Badgley a shot to win his job back, but he should be avoided in fantasy for the time being if he's active.
Following two straight close losses, the Jacksonville Jaguars enter their contest against the Cincinnati Bengals needing a victory to remain in AFC playoff conversation. At the crux of securing that win will be their defensive unit, which has been largely hit or miss over the first six weeks of the year. Despite All-Pro cornerback Jalen Ramsey being shipped to the Los Angeles Rams earlier in the week, the team has become accustomed to playing without him. While many owners may overreact to Ramseys departure, Jacksonville is coming off holding New Orleans to 13 points last week, and now squares off with a much-maligned Bengals offense. Andy Dalton and the rest of the offensive unit are averaging just 16.2 points per game and their 56.5 average rushing yards per contest enters the week as the lowest in the league. The Jaguars defense is not the same dominant group that has been in years past, but should be a serviceable fantasy unit in Week 7.
Los Angeles Rams running back Darrell Henderson could have some luster as a flex option against the Atlanta Falcons. Running back Malcolm Brown (ankle) is doubtful this week, but Todd Gurley (thigh) is expected back. Gurley's workload could be spotty, and Henderson could see extended run. He rushed six times for 39 yards in Week 6, but he lost a key fumble to open the second half. He'll have a chance at redemption against the midrange matchup.
Los Angeles Rams wide receiver Brandin Cooks has been irrelevant for a couple of weeks for fantasy owners. He left the Oct. 3 game with a concussion, and the entire Rams offense was plugged up last week. He had four catches for 47 yards in the two games combined. He has an awesome matchup against the Atlanta Falcons this week. They are the worst at defending the position in the league. They've allowed just over 15 catches for 219 yards and nearly two touchdowns per game to receivers over the last five games. Cooks is a low-end WR2 option for Week 7.
Los Angeles Rams wide receiver Cooper Kupp broke a four-game string with 100 receiving yards last week as the entire offense was shut down by the San Francisco 49ers. The good news, though, is the Rams face the leaky Atlanta Falcons Defense, which is the worst at defending receivers the last five weeks. Kupp is sixth in the league in fantasy points over the last five weeks at the position despite having four catches for 17 yards last week. He'll return to the WR1 section this week.
Los Angeles Rams wide receiver Robert Woods has been Jekyll and Hyde in the matter of a couple of weeks. He busted out with 13 catches for 164 yards three weeks ago and didn't catch a last on four targets last week. He'll have a brighter matchup against the Atlanta Falcons, who are the best matchup for opposing receivers the last five weeks. The Rams spread the ball around a lot, though, and Woods is limited to a flex option in point-per-reception formats.
Los Angeles Rams tight end Tyler Higbee has been an afterthought in the offense this season with 16 catches for 154 yards and a touchdown in five games. He has a good matchup against the Atlanta Falcons this week, but he is too spotty to rely on in traditional leagues. He'd be someone to take at a basement price in daily formats, though.
Jacksonville rookie signal caller Gardner Minshew hit a significant bump in the road last week for the first time as a starter. The cure for that skid? It may just prove to be a matchup against a Bengals Defense yielding greater than 425 yards per game. Minshew failed to toss a touchdown last Sunday against New Orleans, the first time he did not record one in six games. While his 240.3 passing yard per contest average is far from gaudy, he has tossed nine touchdowns to just two interceptions, making him a safe option in traditional fantasy, as well as a high-upside low-priced option in DFS.
Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver DeSean Jackson (abdomen) and running back Darren Sproles (quadriceps) both missed practice all week and have officially been ruled out for Week 7 against the Cowboys on Sunday night. Jackson is closer to returning than Sproles, but there remains no timetable for either player. D-Jax has been out since getting hurt in Week 2, and the Eagles offense is surely missing their deep threat, as Mack Hollins hasn't come close to replicating Jackson's production as a field-stretcher. Alshon Jeffery, Nelson Agholor and Hollins will continue to operate in three-receiver sets in the big divisional showdown on Sunday evening.
The Los Angeles Rams Defense shouldn't be played against the Atlanta Falcons this week. They've had their issues on the ground, but they still put up points and air it out. The Rams are amidst a tough portion of their schedule and really haven't played well enough to hang onto in traditional formats.
Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray has a good matchup against the New York Giants in Week 7. Murray has been hot lately, and he's fifth in fantasy points among quarterbacks over the last three weeks. Murray has tossed for 834 yards, three touchdowns and one interception, but his legs have been the difference. He has rushed 25 times for 152 yards and two touchdowns during that stretch. The Giants allow the eighth-most fantasy points to the position on average over the last five weeks. Murray is a mid-to-low QB1 this week.
Arizona Cardinals running back Chase Edmonds has been a sneaky contributor over the last two games, but it's because he found the end zone each game. He had 12 carries for 102 yards and five catches for 51 yards combined in the games, and he scored on the ground and through the air. Starting running back David Johnson (ankle) is a game-time decision this week, but he practiced more than he did before he played with a back injury last week. The matchup against the New York Giants is a solid one with the Giants averaging the seventh-most points allowed to the position the last five weeks. Edmonds has flashed the big play on limited touches, but he relies on those touchdowns heavily if you use him as a flex.
Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Keesean Johnson has just 14 catches for 131 yards on the season despite a number of injuries that opened doors in the offense. He has a good matchup against the New York Giants this week, but he simply hasn't produced enough to warrant owning outside of dynasty formats.
Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald has a great matchup against the New York Giants this week. The Giants allow the fifth-most fantasy points per game over the last five weeks. Wide receiver Christian Kirk (ankle) and running back David Johnson (ankle) are both game-time decisions, which could put more emphasis on Fitz. He's averaging around five catches for 60 yards per game, but he has just two touchdowns on the year. He'll be a low-end WR2 in point-per-reception leagues and a WR3 in others.