Thu Sep 19 6:25pm ET
By STEPHEN WHYNO
AP Sports Writer
Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Michael Gallup (13) looses control of the ball as Washington Redskins cornerback Josh Norman (24) looks on in the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 15, 2019, in Landover, Md. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
Washington Redskins quarterback Case Keenum (8) celebrates after throwing a touchdown pass to wide receiver Paul Richardson in the second half of an NFL football game against Dallas Cowboys, Sunday, Sept. 15, 2019, in Landover, Md. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
Chicago Bears quarterback Mitchell Trubisky (10) throws against the Denver Broncos during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 15, 2019, in Denver. (AP Photo/Jack Dempsey)
Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott (4) breaks away from Washington Redskins cornerback Josh Norman (24) to run downfield in the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 15, 2019, in Landover, Md. Also on the field is Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Michael Gallup (13). (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
LANDOVER, Md. (AP) Mitchell Trubisky wants the Bears to believe this will be the week their struggling offense gets going.
It might actually be that week because Chicago is facing a Washington Redskins defense that hasn't been able to stop much of anything.
The Bears (1-1) go into Monday night's matchup with the third-worst offense in the NFL through the first two weeks of the season. Fortunately for them, the Redskins (0-2) rank third-worst on defense and are dealing with some key injuries contributing to that disappointing start.
''They got some openings where we could have some success on offense this week,'' Trubisky said Thursday. ''We've got to believe that this offense can explode at any minute because of the playmakers and the special guys we have in the locker room.''
Chicago's offense has produced just one touchdown through two games - a 1-yard-run by David Montgomery last week - and Trubisky is a combined 42 of 72 for 348 yards and an interception. The 2017 second overall pick is near the bottom of the league at 4.8 yards a completion.
''Right now, it's just about getting into that rhythm and then understanding the execution of the plays,'' coach Matt Nagy said. ''And us as coaches, too, making sure that we're putting them in optimum position to make the plays with whatever play call is made. We're not running different plays. We're not running anything different than we did last year. It's a long season.''
That's the mantra inside the Redskins' locker room where injuries to defensive lineman Jonathan Allen and cornerbacks Fabian Moreau and Quinton Dunbar have contributed to them getting worn down as games go on. Coach Jay Gruden said it's not time to panic yet, but the defense underachieving is alarming.
Washington has allowed a combined 569 yards in the second half in losses to Philadelphia and Dallas .
''We're struggling a little bit, but it takes time,'' defensive tackle Tim Settle said. ''The more we work together as a team, the more we progress as a team, the better we're going to get. We're going to get things rolling. It's going to be pretty.''
Not much is pretty about the Redskins' defense or the Bears' offense so far. Settle mentioned communication as an issue, and first-year Washington middle linebacker Jon Bostic pointed to a lack of cohesiveness on the defensive side of the ball.
''Everybody's got to be on the same page,'' Bostic said. ''If you got 10 guys on the same page and one guy that's off it, it's going to lead to an explosive play. Explosive plays win ballgames for you.''
A big kick by Eddy Pineiro won the Bears their game last week at Denver, and they're still looking for the big plays that have eluded them.
''That comes down to everybody being locked in, making sure that everybody's on being on the same page - no miscues on any part of the offense,'' Chicago receiver Allen Robinson said. ''It just comes down to everybody being on the same page and executing.''
Some things to watch when the Bears visit the Redskins on Monday night:
MONSTERS OF THE MIDWAY
Unlike the Redskins, the Bears' defense is doing just fine. It's ranked fourth in the league and sixth against the run under new coordinator Chuck Pagano after Vic Fangio left to take the Broncos' head coaching job.
''They're physical in the middle and they have speed at linebacker,'' Gruden said. ''They have good edge play. They have a safety that's a ball hawk. Their corners are pretty good and experienced. They don't really have a weakness in their defense.''
Chicago has seven sacks through two games, two off the league lead.
KEENUM IN RHYTHM
Case Keenum won Washington's starting QB job essentially by default because longtime backup Colt McCoy is still injured and first-round pick Dwayne Haskins isn't ready. But Keenum is far from a problem for the Redskins, throwing for 601 yards and five touchdown passes with no interceptions.
''I'm well aware of Case Keenum and what he can do,'' Nagy said. ''He's obviously having a good year right now. Statically he's protecting the football. He's very, very football smart. So his football IQ is high. He gets the ball out.''
The Bears brought in a long line of kickers during the offseason after letting the embattled Cody Parker go following his double-doink miss in the playoff loss to Philadelphia at Soldier Field. They ultimately went with Pineiro, and he just might be winning them over.
He nailed a 53-yard winner as time expired last week after hitting from 40 and 52 earlier in the game and is 4 for 4 this season. The big boot against the Broncos came after Nagy chose to go for a first down on fourth-and-10 in the opener against Green Bay at home rather than try a 51-yarder.
''I'm trying to gain trust from them,'' Pineiro said. ''Now that he's seen me hit a couple 50-yarders, maybe he lets me try a few longer ones. So it's all a trust process. But we work for that moment behind the scenes at practice. Last-second kick, your team loses, we've been doing this for the past four months now.''
STILL NO REED
The Redskins hoped to get matchup nightmare tight end Jordan Reed back last week after being concussed Aug. 23. This is his fifth documented concussion in seven years, Reed didn't practice again Thursday and all possible caution being taken means he could miss the Bears game, too.
''This is all a part of the process of recovering from this ordeal,'' Gruden said. ''We're just taking it very slowly, making sure he goes through the right process to make sure it's right before he goes back on the field.''
New York Jets Le'Veon Bell will face a tough matchup Monday night when the Patriots elite defense heads to MetLife Stadium. New England allows the second-fewest fantasy points to opposing running backs so it's a tough matchup for Bell, but he should put up RB2 numbers based on volume. Bell has played 92.2 percent of the team's offensive snaps so far and has the second-most targets on the team. Bell should see his usual 20-25 touches and fantasy owners should start him with confidence he can put up a decent day even if he doesn't score a touchdown.
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.