Thu Oct 17 5:20pm ET
By KEITH JENKINS
AP Sports Writer
Chicago Bears quarterback Chase Daniel (4) is sacked by Oakland Raiders defensive end Benson Mayowa (91) during the first half of an NFL football game at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, Sunday, Oct. 6, 2019, in London. (AP Photo/Tim Ireland)
Oakland Raiders head coach Jon Gruden shouts during the first half of an NFL football game against the Chicago Bears at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, Sunday, Oct. 6, 2019, in London. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)
Green Bay Packers wide receiver Allen Lazard makes a catch for a first down while being defended by Detroit Lions cornerback Justin Coleman during the second half of an NFL football game, Monday, Oct. 14, 2019, in Green Bay, Wis. Green Bay won 23-22. (AP Photo/Mike Roemer)
Oakland Raiders running back Josh Jacobs (28) is tackled during the second half of an NFL football game against the Chicago Bears at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, Sunday, Oct. 6, 2019, in London. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)
Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (12) and head coach Matt LaFleur, third from left, talk during a timeout in the first half of an NFL football game against the Detroit Lions, Monday, Oct. 14, 2019, in Green Bay, Wis. (AP Photo/Mike Roemer)
Oakland Raiders head coach Jon Gruden, front right, talks with quarterback Derek Carr (4) during the first half of an NFL football game against the Chicago Bears at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, Sunday, Oct. 6, 2019, in London. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)
GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) Next man up: Allen Lazard.
Lazard caught his first pass from Aaron Rodgers on Monday night. He ended up catching three more, including one for a 35-yard touchdown in the Packers' win over Detroit. It was the biggest moment of the undrafted second-year receiver's career.
''Anybody can do it one time, and that's what we say, but now you gotta do it each and every time,'' coach Matt LaFleur said. ''That's the expectation and that's the standard. But, again, he puts in the work and he does a great job in practice. So I'm excited to see him put together back-to-back-to-back (productive games) and see where it goes.''
Lazard will try for an encore on Sunday when Green Bay (5-1) hosts the Oakland Raiders (3-2), a team the Packers have defeated seven straight times, going back to 1990.
''Monday was great and all, but our focus is on Miami in February (site of the Super Bowl). So we still gotta get to there,'' Lazard said.
Despite being an All-Big 12 performer in three seasons at Iowa State, the 6-foot-5 Lazard went undrafted last year and wound up on the Jacksonville Jaguars practice squad. He used that time to learn from one of the game's best.
''I was going against Jalen Ramsey every single day,'' Lazard said. ''And so just to be able to sit there and go against him, and really, I was studying, watching him, how he reacted against me and how he played me. I sat there and talked to him, asked him questions. What was he doing here? What was he thinking?''
That preparation made Lazard an attractive option for the Packers, who snatched him from the Jaguars toward the end of last season.
Injuries to receivers Davante Adams and Geronimo Allison and a vote of confidence from Rodgers created an opportunity for Lazard to showcase his skills. Now, Lazard is another weapon for Rodgers in an offense that Raiders coach Jon Gruden and his staff have to figure out how to stop.
''They are doing a lot of different things with the structure of their plays, but Rodgers is still working the snap count,'' Gruden said.
''You see him beat Denver with the hard count. His magnificent scrambling, creating offense is uncommon, it's just unbearable to watch. I hate watching this guy, he's fun to watch but he's really not fun to watch when you got to play against him. He still has a very quick trigger, deadly accurate, a lot of overall athleticism and a great competitor. You saw it again the other night.''
The Packers announced the signing of receiver Ryan Grant on Wednesday. The 6-foot, 194-pound six-year veteran was with the Raiders from the offseason through the first two games this year. Grant, who worked out with Adams during the offseason, will wear No. 11 for Green Bay.
''I just want to come in and help as much as possible,'' Grant said. ''Whether it's on offense or special teams. Anyway, anywhere I can help.''
FRIEND OR FOE?
No. 11 previously belonged to Trevor Davis, whom the Packers traded to Oakland following their Week 2 win over the Vikings. Davis had four catches for 42 yards and a 52-yard kickoff return in the Raiders' Week 5 win over Chicago in London.
Oakland also has Rodgers' former backup, DeShone Kizer. Kizer played in three games for the Packers last season and threw for 273 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions for Green Bay during the preseason before not making the team's 53-man roster.
The Raiders have been searching for a consistent pass rush ever since trading away Khalil Mack before last season. The rush is showing signs of progress. Oakland had four sacks in its last game against Chicago for its most since 2017. Benson Mayowa leads the team with 4+ sacks, second-year defensive tackle Maurice Hurst had two against the Bears, and rookie Maxx Crosby got his first and has been disruptive the past two weeks.
GROUND AND POUND
Rookie Josh Jacobs is showing why the Raiders drafted him in the first round. His 430 yards rushing is the second most for a Raiders rookie through five games to Bo Jackson's 475 yards in 1987. He had 26 carries for 123 yards and two TDs against the Bears and has been a bigger factor in the passing game of late with five catches his past two games. The running game should get a boost this week with the expected return of right guard Gabe Jackson, who has been out since training camp with a knee injury.
WHERE ARE THE WIDEOUTS?
Oakland will be without its projected top four wide receivers heading into the season this week. Antonio Brown was expected to be the focal point of the offense before getting released two days before the opener.
Tyrell Williams got off to a strong start this year but is expected to miss his second straight game with a foot injury. Grant and J.J. Nelson have both been released in recent weeks. That leaves Davis, fifth-round rookie Hunter Renfrow and recently acquired Zay Jones as the top options for quarterback Derek Carr.
''We've had a lot of things happen to our wide receiver corps, so we've been on the lookout to acquire some good, young players,'' Gruden said. ''To get Zay for what we feel like we gave up is a risk worth taking and we'll see if it pays any dividends, but he's a good young player. He's got some size and speed and was a very, very productive receiver, so we're happy to have him.''
Philadelphia Eagles running back Jordan Howard is dealing with a stinger and has not been cleared for contact yet. With the Eagles facing off against the Patriots on Sunday, Howard's availability is in serious jeopardy. Darren Sproles was just ruled out for the rest of the season with a torn hip flexor, leaving rookie Miles Sanders and special teamer Boston Scott as the only healthy running backs on the Eagles roster. Free agent Jay Ajayi visited the Eagles and could be signed and even see some action as early as Sunday. It's a mess for the Eagles offense. Howard's fantasy owners should be making alternate plans.
Philadelphia Eagles running back Darren Sproles will miss the rest of the 2019 season due to a torn hip flexor. The veteran back suffered the injury originally in Week 5 but was able to return in Week 9. Sproles missed most of last season due to injury as well, which led him to return for one more year. After two straight injury-plagued seasons, however, this could be it for the former Saint and Charger. Jordan Howard, Miles Sanders, and Boston Scott remain on the Eagles running back depth chart.
Cincinnati Bengals DT Geno Atkins (knee) is expected to play in Week 11.
Pittsburgh Steelers tight end Vance McDonald caught three passes for 33 yards on Thursday during the loss to the Cleveland Browns. McDonald led the team with seven targets on the night after James Conner (shoulder), Diontae Johnson (concussion), and JuJu Smith-Schuster (concussion) all suffered injuries. McDonald, who has been targeted 21 times over the last three games, could be more involved against the Bengals in Week 12 if any one of those three mentioned aren't able to go. Keep on an eye on things heading into next Sunday's matchup with Cincy.
Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver James Washington finished with a team-high 49 yards during the loss to the Browns on Thursday. With JuJu Smith-Schuster (concussion), James Conner (shoulder), and Diontae Johnson (concussion) all getting banged up in this one, Washington received five targets while managing to catch just three of them. The 23-year-old could see his fantasy stock rise before the Week 12 showdown with the Bengals if any of those guys aren't able to suit up, especially for those playing in deeper formats.
Pittsburgh Steelers running back Trey Edmunds finished with just three carries for 11 yards during the loss to the Browns. Edmunds yielded carries to Jaylen Samuels, who finished with five attempts for 26 yards, and while both men didn't fully capitalize on the ground after the premature departure of James Conner (shoulder), they were involved on the receiving end to some degree. If Conner is unable to suit up against the Bengals in Week 12, Edmunds has some value, but only as a desperation play in deeper leagues as Samuels will likely be more involved against Cincinnati.
Cleveland Browns LB Joe Schobert had 10 tackles (seven solo), a sack, two tackles for loss, four passes defensed and a pair of interceptions during the team's Week 11 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Cleveland Browns WR Jarvis Landry had four receptions, 43 yards and a touchdown during the team's Week 11 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Fantasy Spin: That's three games in a row with a touchdown for Landry, who has statistically been the team's top wideout for weeks now, being targeted 40 times over the last four contests (for 24 receptions). His weekly upside isn't as high as Odell Beckham, but Landry seems like a steadier play as a WR2.
Pittsburgh Steelers running back Jaylen Samuels finished with five attempts for 26 yards in addition to five receptions for 19 yards and a touchdown against the Browns in Week 11. Samuels stepped up after James Conner was ruled out on Thursday night after re-injuring the same shoulder that kept him out over the last few weeks. Look for 23-year-old to once again be a popular waiver wire target, especially in PPR formats, heading into Week 12 against the Bengals if Conner is forced to miss another one.
Cleveland Browns WR Odell Beckham Jr. (groin) had four receptions for 60 yards against the Pittsburgh Steelers on Thursday, Nov. 14.
Fantasy Spin: Beckham had a 42-yard catch but was otherwise quiet on Thursday night. This seems to be the sweet spot for OBJ right now as he has posted between 50 and 60 receiving yards in three of his last four games. That's not terrible production, but it's certainly not what fantasy owners were expecting as Beckham hasn't scored since Week 2. His upside dictates he remain in that WR2 area even if his numbers don't.
Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Mason Rudolph struggled in Week 11 in the loss to the Browns, finishing with 221 yards on 23-for-44 passing to go along with four interceptions. While the 24-year-old did throw a touchdown, the four picks he threw offset any chance for an adequate fantasy performance. He hasn't played well over the last three weeks, however, compiling only 654 yards and three scores, while throwing five interceptions. There is light at the end of the tunnel for Rudolph, nonetheless, as the Steelers will look to get back on track against the Bengals in Week 12, with his stock increasing if either JuJu Smith-Schuster (concussion) or James Conner (shoulder) are able to play after suffering in-game injuries on Thursday night.
Cleveland Browns RB Kareem Hunt ran six times for 12 yards against the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 11. He also caught six passes for 46 yards.
Fantasy Spin: For one week at least, Cleveland's passing game flowed through three players: Odell Beckham, Jarvis Landry and Hunt. That trio was targeted on 25 of the team's 32 passes. It certainly looks like Nick Chubb will be their bruiser, and Hunt will chip in on passing downs. In that role he holds some flex appeal.
Cleveland Browns RB Nick Chubb had 27 carries for 92 yards against the Pittsburgh Steelers on Thursday, Nov. 14.
Fantasy Spin: Chubb's 92-yard effort puts him over 1,000 yards for the season, and his 27 carries marked the seventh time this year he's had 20 or more. The return of Kareem Hunt has had no negative effects on Chubb to this point, and Chubb remains an RB1.
Cleveland Browns QB Baker Mayfield completed 17 of his 32 passes for 193 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions in a Week 11 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers. Mayfield also ran for a one-yard touchdown.
Fantasy Spin: Mayfield wasn't spectacular, but he did enough and avoided the mistakes that doomed counterpart Mason Rudolph. After throwing INTs in each of his first seven games, the Oklahoma product has gone three straight without one. He's not putting QB1 fantasy numbers right now, but he's worth carrying as your backup.
Pittsburgh Steelers TE Vance McDonald caught three passes for 33 yards on Thursday, Nov. 14, against the Cleveland Browns.
Fantasy Spin: McDonald entered 2019 as a top-10 tight end, but he hasn't topped 40 yards receiving in a game this season. Any optimism that was generated by him catching two TDs in Mason Rudolph's first game petered out long ago, and McDonald isn't worth owning outside of deep leagues.
Pittsburgh Steelers WR James Washington caught three passes for 49 yards during the team's Week 11 loss to the Cleveland Browns.
Fantasy Spin: Washington's numbers weren't great Thursday night, but he still led the team. It's a continuation of the second-year pro's maturation and development into a nice complement to JuJu Smith-Schuster. While Pittsburgh's passing offense is anything but prolific, Washington still holds potential WR3 value down the stretch.
Indianapolis Colts kicker Adam Vinatieri has been one of the NFL's worst kickers this year, but head coach Frank Reich remains confident in him. However, in Week 11 with the fantasy playoffs looming, you can't trust him in your lineups. He's missed five field goals and six extra points this season. He's below 80 percent accuracy in both categories, and this figures to be a low-scoring game. You just can't trot him out this week, as there are likely several options available that are better than him.
Indianapolis Colts running back Marlon Mack has only cleared 100 scrimmage yards in a game twice this season. One of those was all the way back in Week 1 against the Los Angeles Chargers. In Week 11, he has a good matchup that could see that number grow to three. The Jacksonville Jaguars, Indy's Week 11 opponent, have been decent against the pass, but they're allowing over 120 yards per game on the ground. Mack is still in the RB2 conversation every week because he gets good volume, and this week he has a fair bit of upside.
Indianapolis Colts quarterback Jacoby Brissett (knee) is expected to start after missing last week's loss to the Miami Dolphins. After being a consistent QB2 for much of the season, he can't be trusted this week. He'll be without three of his top four wide receivers due to injuries, and he's playing against a defense that still has a fair bit of talent to make life difficult for him. With only four teams on a bye, there should be better streaming options available for this week than Brissett. Expect the Colts to lean heavily on the running game even with Brissett back in the fold.
Indianapolis Colts wide receiver Zach Pascal was quiet last week, and he'll see an uptick in his stock this week with quarterback Jacoby Brissett (knee) expected to start. However, he still can't be relied on for anything consistent. He's been boom-or-bust wideout nearly every week since he showed up on the scene in Week 3. He'll also have to deal with cornerback A.J. Bouye a fair bit in this game, which further downgrades him. Unless you have no other options, look elsewhere at wide receiver in shallow leagues. The Colts should lean more on the run this week once again.