Thu Oct 17 2:10pm ET
By DENNIS WASZAK Jr.
AP Pro Football Writer
New York Jets quarterback Sam Darnold throws during the first half of an NFL football game against the Dallas Cowboys, Sunday, Oct. 13, 2019, in East Rutherford, N.J. (AP Photo/Adam Hunger)
New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady passes under pressure from the New York Giants in the first half of an NFL football game, Thursday, Oct. 10, 2019, in Foxborough, Mass. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) Tom Brady and the New England Patriots are still rolling right along with a high-powered offense and a stingy defense that has their record blemish-free.
The New York Jets look a bit different, though, from the team Bill Belichick's bunch beat 30-14 less than a month ago. And, it all starts at quarterback.
Luke Falk was under center then, making his first NFL start and looking overwhelmed and overmatched. Sam Darnold is back this time around, fully recovered from mononucleosis and coming off one of the best performances of his young career.
''He's a big, strong kid that can stand in the pocket and he's hard to tackle,'' Belichick said. ''He's not an easy guy to bring down. He's big, he can see and find guys under pressure.''
Darnold showed no signs of rust after missing three games because of his illness, going 23 of 32 for 338 yards and two TDs with an INT in a 24-22 win over Dallas and being selected the AFC's offensive player of the week.
It was a big boost for what had been a badly struggling Jets offense. Darnold's day was highlighted by his 92-yard touchdown throw to Robby Anderson, the longest offensive play in the NFL this season and the second-longest in franchise history.
Now, Darnold and the Jets hope to use that momentum to get something going against the Patriots' top-ranked defense at MetLife Stadium in a prime-time showdown.
''You've got to continue to grind,'' Darnold said. ''We know that after a good win, you've got to come right back in here because we got a tough one Monday night against the Pats. We know what our job is, we've just got to come in and get back to work.''
The Patriots are off to a 6-0 start for the fourth time in team history, with a chance to get to 7-0 for just the third time. They also have a chance to sweep the two-game regular-season series against the Jets for the fourth straight year.
Brady is 28-6 against the Jets in the regular season, including seven straight wins. He's also 16-7 in Monday night games, including 2-0 against New York. Meanwhile, Belichick is 18-8 on Monday nights - but just 9-7 in those games on the road.
''Monday night is always a high-energy game,'' Belichick said. ''We'll point to that and know it's always tough down there in New York. So, we need to have a good week here and be ready to go.''
Here are some other things to know for the latest Patriots-Jets showdown:
BEEN A WHILE
The Jets and Patriots play on a Monday night for the eighth time, and New York leads those matchups 4-3.
The previous time the AFC East rivals squared off on ''Monday Night Football'' was in 2010, when New England cruised to a 45-3 victory.
It's also the first time the Patriots are playing a Monday night game on the road against the Jets since 2005, when they won 31-21.
The Patriots entered Week 7 allowing a league-low eight points per game. One of the reasons is how stingy their defense has been on third down.
New England has held teams to an NFL-low 10 of 73 (13.7 percent) conversion rate in those situations. The fewest third downs allowed in a 16-game season is 49 by the 1991 New Orleans Saints.
In their Week 3 win over the Jets, the Patriots did not allow a third-down conversion, which is something New England has accomplished five times since 2000. Only five teams have not allowed a third down twice in the same season - the Packers (2005), Eagles (2009), Giants (2010), Dolphins (2011) and Saints (2018).
Le'Veon Bell hasn't had a breakout-type game for the Jets, but the fluid quarterback situation certainly hasn't helped.
With Darnold back and the offensive line improving the past few weeks, the star running back could start seeing some more opportunities to make plays. He has 256 yards rushing and a TD on 85 carries for a 3.0 average, and 28 catches for 169 yards and a score.
''Hopefully we can open it up a little bit for him,'' coach Adam Gase said. ''We've seen a lot of loaded boxes, he's had a lot of tough runs. He's made the most of what he's had and probably gotten us more than what we should have.''
WELCOME BACK, WATSON
Tight end Ben Watson is back for another stint with the Patriots and it's right on time for an offense looking for some stability and more production from the position.
The 38-year-old Watson was re-signed by New England on Wednesday, less than a week after being released. Belichick left the door open for Watson to return, saying he was cut simply because there wasn't an available roster spot once he returned from serving a four-game suspension for a positive banned substance test following last season.
Circumstances changed when Matt LaCosse injured his knee during the Patriots' win over the Giants on Thursday.
Without Rob Gronkowski, the Patriots haven't gotten a ton of production in the pass game from their tight ends. LaCosse and Ryan Izzo have combined for only nine catches for 169 yards.
Michael Bennett will be missing from the Patriots' defensive huddle on Monday night.
The defensive end was suspended for what he said in a statement to ESPN was a ''philosophical disagreement'' with defensive line coach Bret Bielema. Bennett also offered an apology for any distraction it might have created.
Belichick declined to comment when asked about the suspension this week.
The Patriots traded for the 11-year veteran in March, but his usage has steadily decreased over New England's first six games. Bennett has started just once and played a season-low 11 snaps in the Patriots' win over the Giants in Week 6.
The Bills Defense had an ideal matchup against the lowly Dolphins in Week 11, but came out with a somewhat underwhelming fantasy day. The highlight was their ability to come up with seven sacks on Dolphins quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick. However, they allowed 20 points in the game, the third-most points they've allowed all year. Additionally, they only came up with one turnover, a fumble recovery. Next up for the Bills is a home game against another struggling offense, the Broncos, so make sure to keep them in your lineup.
Minnesota Vikings tight end Irv Smith Jr. caught all three of his targets for 20 yards and a touchdown in a 27-23 win over the Denver Broncos in Week 11. The touchdown was a 10-yarder in the third quarter and it was the first career touchdown for the rookie tight end out of Alabama. He's seeing 4.8 targets per game in his last five games and has been a decent desperation streaming option with Adam Thielen (hamstring) out. The Vikings have their bye next week and Thielen should be back for Week 13, but Smith Jr. has put himself in the TE2 conversation moving forward with his recent production.
Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver Chris Conley caught six passes for 58 yards in Sunday's loss to the Indianapolis Colts. He was targeted eight times, making it the fourth game in a row where Conley saw at least seven targets. Conley's not going to light the world on fire, but he's got some deep league appeal based on his current target share. With Nick Foles back at quarterback, the Jaguars offense should be trending upwards, so maybe we'll see some more solid performances out of Conley moving forward.
Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver Dede Westbrook (neck/shoulder) returned to the field in Week 11, but he wasn't able to get much going. Westbrook caught four passes for 32 yards in the loss to the Colts. His six targets were fourth on the team, and it's become apparent that Westbrook isn't the top fantasy receiver that many guessed in the preseason that he might be this year. He's got appeal in deeper PPR leagues, but it's looking like it's time to fade Westbrook in shallower formats.
In Week 11, Buffalo Bills tight end Dawson Knox found the end zone for the first time since Week 3. He caught two of his three targets for 32 yards against the Dolphins in Week 11. Meanwhile, fellow tight end Tyler Kroft caught his only target for six yards. Knox has only exceeded two receptions in a game once since Week 4 and has only topped 40 receiving yards three times all year. He could be a low-end starting tight end option in deep leagues going forward but he's very risky with a very low floor. His next matchup is at home against the Broncos in Week 12.
Minnesota Vikings running back Alexander Mattison was pretty much silent in Week 11 as he had just three carries for five yards in a comeback win over the Denver Broncos. Mattison was just not involved in the game plan and lost work due to the Vikings playing from behind for almost the entire contest. Mattison has had some nice outputs backing up star Dalvin Cook this season, but Week 11's tough matchup against the Broncos Defense wasn't the spot to stream the rookie. He won't be a recommended start when the Vikings return from their bye in Week 13 against the Seattle Seahawks, but he remains a high-priority handcuff.
Dallas Cowboys kicker Brett Maher made all of his kicks in Week 11, making two field goals and three extra points. He wasn't needed for any long kicks this time, making a long of just 34 yards, but he still showed the consistency that makes him one of the better kickers in fantasy football.
Buffalo Bills wide receiver Isaiah McKenzie was second on the team in targets with six in Week 11. He had two more targets than Cole Beasley and only trailed John Brown, who had a whopping 14 targets in the game. Unfortunately, McKenzie did very little with his six targets, catching just three for 21 yards. Duke Williams was inactive for the game and Robert Foster went without a catch. So McKenzie appears to be the team's de facto No. 3 receiver for now. He can be left on waivers in all leagues until he shows he can do something productive with his workload.
The Dallas Cowboys Defense was disappointing again in Week 11. They managed a win, 35-27 over the Detroit Lions, but with Matthew Stafford (back) out for the Lions, the Cowboys defense was one of the top predicted units of the week. Instead, they allowed 27 points and did not record an interception or a fumble recovery. They were only able to sack backup quarterback Jeff Driskel three times. The Cowboys are unlikely to be a recommended fantasy defense next week against the New England Patriots.
Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver D.J. Chark was the bright spot for the Jaguars in Sunday's loss to the Indianapolis Colts, catching a pair of touchdowns and finishing with 104 yards on eight catches. He led the team with 15 targets. There was question about whether or not Chark would remain Jacksonville's top wide receiver with Nick Foles back, but Sunday provided some evidence that Chark's role is safe. He's a strong WR2 option moving forward.
Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Nick Foles returned on Sunday from a collarbone injury that had kept him out since Week 1. His first game back didn't go greats for the Jags on the scoreboard, but Foles did end up with some solid numbers. He was 33-for-47 throwing the football, finishing with 296 yards, two touchdowns, and an interception. Foles should have a higher fantasy ceiling than Gardner Minshew had, but he's likely no more than a mid-tier QB2 at best moving forward.
Dallas Cowboys tight end Jason Witten caught five passes in a Week 11 win over the Detroit Lions, gaining 33 yards. Witten did his usual thing, catching the ball then falling to the turf. Second tight end Blake Jarwin gained 38 yards on his two targets, but Witten was still clearly quarterback Dak Prescott's first choice for short gains. Witten will continue to be a low-ceiling option but should maintain his decent non-zero floor each week.
Buffalo Bills wide receiver Cole Beasley caught all four of his targets in Week 11 against the Dolphins for 38 yards. He was third on the team in targets behind John Brown, who went for a whopping 137 receiving yards in the game, and Isaiah McKenzie, who earned six targets. This was the second straight week in which Beasley caught exactly four passes. He hasn't had more than four catches since Week 4, when he caught seven against the Patriots. He's a WR3 or flex option in PPR leagues but his upside is limited due to his low yardage outputs.
Jacksonville Jaguars running back Leonard Fournette struggled to get going on Sunday against the Colts, finishing with just 23 yards on eight carries. He also added 34 receiving yards on seven catches. The receiving total helped make up for the slow rushing game in PPR leagues, but owners in standard scoring leagues can't be happy about Fournette's lack of production. The game script didn't favor the run, though Fournette should still be a high-end RB2 with RB1 upside moving forward.
Dallas Cowboys tight end Blake Jarwin was targeted twice in Week 11, catching both passes for 38 yards. He fell significantly behind starter Jason Witten, who saw seven targets and caught five passes. Jarwin can do way more after the catch than Witten at this point in their respective careers, but Witten has proven to still be the safety valve for Dak Prescott. Jarwin could have a fantasy significant role if Witten were to miss time, but unless that happens, Jarwin's role is too unpredictable to trust in any fantasy format.
Minnesota Vikings running back Dalvin Cook carried 11 times for 26 yards (2.4 yards per carry) and a touchdown in Week 11 against the Denver Broncos. He tacked on five catches for 31 yards in the 27-23 comeback win, but he was just not that involved in the offense as his 16 touches were the lowest he's had all season. His three-yard rushing touchdown was his 11th of the year and it saved what was an otherwise nondescript fantasy day for the third-year back. Look for Cook to rebound in a big way against the Seattle Seahawks and their below-average run defense in Week 13 after the bye.
Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Michael Gallup caught nine of his 13 targets in a Week 11 victory over the Detroit Lions. He gained 1448 yards, leading the team in receptions and yards by a wide margin. Amari Cooper wasn't able to do much in this one, leaving Gallup to run wild through the Lions secondary. Gallup will have a tough matchup against the Patriots next week, but he's moving further and further up the WR2 ranks.
Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Randall Cobb played another great game in a Week 11 win over the Detroit Lions. He caught four of his seven targets, gaining 115 yards and scoring a touchdown. Cobb's touchdown came on a 19-yard pass at the end of the first half. Cobb has been racking up yards lately and could have another significant role next week if Amari Cooper is still not at 100%.
Buffalo Bills running back Frank Gore received 11 carries in Week 11 against the Dolphins, but failed to do much with them, gaining just 27 yards, good for only 2.5 yards per carry. His biggest offensive contribution on the day was an 18-yard reception, his only reception in the game. Devin Singletary led the team in carries (15) and rushing yards (75), but he had two fumbles in the game, which likely led to Gore's increased workload. Gore is the clear No. 2 back on the team for now and would need either an injury to Singletary or quite a few more Singletary fumbles in order to regain fantasy value.
Buffalo Bills wide receiver John Brownwent wild against the Dolphins in Week 11, catching nine of his 14 targets for 137 yards and two touchdowns. Nearly half of quarterback Josh Allen's 33 passing attempts went in Brown's direction and no other Bill had more than 38 receiving yards in the game. Brown is a solid WR2 going forward who should be locked into your lineup on a weekly basis. His next matchup is at home against the Broncos in Week 12.