Wed Nov 13 4:24pm ET
By DAVID GINSBURG
AP Sports Writer
Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson (8) celebrates his touchdown during the second half of NFL football game against the Cincinnati Bengals, Sunday, Nov. 10, 2019, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/Frank Victores)
Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson, center, laughs on the sidelines during the second half of NFL football game against the Cincinnati Bengals, Sunday, Nov. 10, 2019, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/Gary Landers)
Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson passes during the second half of NFL football game against the Cincinnati Bengals, Sunday, Nov. 10, 2019, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/Gary Landers)
Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson (8) runs the ball for a touchdown against Cincinnati Bengals defensive end Carlos Dunlap (96) during the second half of NFL football game, Sunday, Nov. 10, 2019, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/Frank Victores)
OWINGS MILLS, Md. (AP) There are times when Lamar Jackson displays the style and exuberance of a youngster playing football on the street with friends.
Seemingly unaffected by the responsibility of being an NFL starting quarterback, Jackson relishes the opportunity to run, pass and match wits with opposing defenses. And when he's all done, the Baltimore Ravens star just might flip on a pair of sunglasses and pose on the sideline with his teammates.
Such was the case last Sunday, when the versatile Jackson achieved a perfect quarterback rating and peeled off a can't-top-this 47-yard touchdown run in a 49-13 rout of the Cincinnati Bengals.
For a new generation of NFL quarterbacks, staying in the pocket is merely an option.
''It's pretty cool,'' Jackson said Wednesday. ''We're just doing our thing: playing ball, having fun, doing what all of us did when we were just little kids.''
With Jackson as the driving force, the Ravens (7-2) have won five straight and established themselves as a Super Bowl contender. Now in his second season, the former Louisville standout is 13-3 as a starter and the focal point of a team that leads the league in scoring, rushing and with a 76.9% conversion rate on fourth down.
Jackson is the only player in NFL history to amass 2,000 yards passing and 700 yards rushing through a season's first nine games. In the high-stakes world of pro football, Jackson is keeping it low key.
''Obviously, Lamar is our leader. We follow him,'' tight end Mark Andrews said. ''He's done a great job of staying humble. With all the spotlight and the buzz and people kind of catching on to the type of player he can be, he's done a great job of staying true to himself and playing for his teammates.''
Jackson stepped out of character against the Bengals, grabbing a pair of sunglasses from head athletic trainer Ron Medlin and hamming it up in a hilarious photo with teammates Marlon Humphrey, Ron Stanley, Mark Ingram and Marquise Brown.
''When you're winning and guys are making plays, it's just contagious, the happiness, the joy,'' Ingram said. ''We all love playing football, we love winning and we love watching our teammates making plays. I don't know how we got those glasses on, but this team is a special group.''
And, to be sure, Jackson is a unique quarterback. His second perfect quarterback rating of the season (15 for 17, 223 yards, 3 TDs, 0 INTs) was impressive, but that 47-yard frolic through the Cincinnati defense might be the play that all past and future quarterback runs will be measured against.
Ingram was right there when it happened, and he's watched it so many times on film that he can describe the action from memory.
''It was crazy,'' Ingram said. ''He made the right read, got away from (defensive end) Carlos Dunlap, hit the safety, dead-legged him, three guys pursuing, he spun inside of them and then the acceleration just to get to the end zone. Yeah, you've got to go into the archives to see something better than that. It was wild.''
That was the Lamar Jackson that won the Heisman Trophy in 2016 and the one his mom appreciated from an early age.
''She just said I'm finally playing how I used to play,'' Jackson said.
Truth is, Jackson's improvement from his rookie year can be attributed to his prowess at passing. If a team dares to stack the line to make him throw, Jackson will gladly accept the invitation and make the defense pay.
''That's where hard work comes in. That's where dedication is,'' he said.
Jackson is the toast of Baltimore these days. The fans swarm him at shopping malls, fast-food joints, anywhere he might happen to be.
''Baltimore loves the players and we appreciate it. We love them back,'' Jackson said. ''So it's all good.''
Until it isn't.
''Football starts with the quarterback,'' coach John Harbaugh said. ''That's what he signed up for. That team has Lamar's back. But just as quickly as (the fans) pat you on the back, they're going to slice your Achilles just like that.''
Unless, of course, Jackson continues to improve. He is, after all, only 22 years old.
''He's just a special talent. Never complacent,'' Ingram said. ''He's only going to get better.''
Notes: The Ravens signed former Denver DT Domata Peko, who will turn 35 later this month and has not played this season. Peko, along with DT Justin Ellis (signed Tuesday), provide Baltimore with options if Michael Pierce (ankle) can't go Sunday against Houston. ... Baltimore released KR Cyrus Jones and placed rookie DT Daylon Mack (knee) on injured reserve.
Arizona Cardinals wide receivers Christian Kirk (ankle) and Andy Isabella (shoulder) were both limited in practice on Wednesday. Both players should be on track to play in Week 15 against the Browns, but we'll keep an eye on their status the rest of the week. Kirk had eight catches on nine targets for 85 yards in the loss to the Steelers last week. He'll be an upside WR2 if he's able to play this weekend against Cleveland alongside Larry Fitzgerald. Other than his 88-yard touchdown catch on Halloween against the 49ers, Isabella has done very little (8-185-1) in his rookie season. He's purely a dynasty stash for his long-term upside.
Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson was officially listed as questionable with a quadriceps injury for Week 15 but confidently confirmed Tuesday that he would start against the Jets on Thursday night. The Ravens face a Jets Defense that conceded 245 passing yards and 65 rushing yards from quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick in Week 14, but did not allow the Dolphins to find the end zone. The Jets defense has allowed 21 total touchdowns and an average of 19 fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks in 2019. At this point in the season, it's not looking like any team will be able to stop the Lamar Jackson train. Jackson could produce high-ceiling numbers in the best matchup he's had in weeks. It would be wise to throw him in your starting lineups in a game where he will likely break Michael Vick's single-season rushing record for a quarterback.
New England Patriots running back James White will take on a Bengals Defense in Week 15 that is allowing the eighth most fantasy points to opposing backs this season. The Patriots offense is in quite a slump right now but White has emerged as the lead back over the past few games. Teammate Sony Michel simply is not a threat in the passing game and White brings more versatility to the position. The Bengals have allowed 16 different running backs this season to post 10 or more fantasy points against them and look for quarterback Tom Brady to target White plenty in this contest. White will be a RB2/3 option in Week 15 with a solid chance at 100 total yards from scrimmage against the Bengals.
Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Nelson Agholor (knee) remained out of practice on Wednesday after sitting out on Monday night against the Giants. Agholor has a chance to be fantasy relevant as the team's No. 1 receiver with Alshon Jeffery (foot) now done for the year in the final three games, but there's no guarantee that Agholor will play this Sunday against the Redskins. He had just two catches for 11 yards in the season opener against Washington. If Agholor is out for his second straight game, rookie J.J. Arcega-Whiteside and tight ends Zach Ertz and Dallas Goedert would be the top three pass-catchers for Carson Wentz.
Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster (knee) and running back James Conner (shoulder) were both full participants in practice on Wednesday. The Steelers are expecting to get both players back for Week 15 against the Bills on Sunday night. Smith-Schuster and Conner have both been out since Nov. 14 and will return to a difficult matchup against a strong Bills Defense. Their pending returns are bad news for Benny Snell Jr. and James Washington mostly. It's likely that Bills shutdown cornerback Tre'Davious White will shadow Smith-Schuster in his return on Sunday evening. This whole offense will receive a boost with both players on track to return, but it's still somewhat limited with Devlin Hodges leading the charge under center.
New England Patriots wide receiver Mohamed Sanu (ankle) was listed as limited at practice on Wednesday. Sanu returned to the field last week but caught only one pass and it is clear that the ankle injury is hampering his ability to play at full speed. The Patriots will take on a Bengals Defense that is allowing the 10th fewest fantasy points to opposing receivers this season and have allowed only two touchdowns to receivers since Week 10. Sanu should be considered on course to suit up in Week 15 but the injury, combined with the state of the Patriots offense, makes him unusable in most fantasy formats.
New England Patriots running back Sony Michel will take on a Bengals Defense in Week 15 that is allowing the eighth most fantasy points to opposing backs this season. But Michel has completely fallen off the fantasy map as of late, totaling only 15 carries for 53 yards over his last two games. Matters got so bad for Michel last week that James White, Brandon Bolden and Rex Burkhead all saw more carries in the game than him. The second-year running back has been a major disappointment this season and pinning your fantasy hopes on him as a starter in Week 15 would be a mistake.
New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady will have an excellent chance to get his offense back on track this week against an awful Bengals team in Week 15. Brady and the Patriots offense has severely struggled the past few weeks and Brady has passed for only nine touchdowns over his last eight games. New England is trying to incorporate young receivers into the offense on the fly and Brady will go up against a Bengals Defense that is allowing the ninth most fantasy points to passers this season. The Bengals haven't allowed a substantial amount of touchdowns but certainly are lenient in passing yards allowed. This is a perfect opportunity to have a positive offensive day against an inferior opponent and Brady has a shot at top-10 numbers among QB's for Week 15.
New England Patriots wide receiver Julian Edelman (knee, shoulder) did not take part in practice on Wednesday. Edelman has been on the injury report pretty much all year with nagging injuries, but he manages to play every week and remains quarterback Tom Brady's favorite aerial target. Edelman had eight catches on 12 targets for 95 yards and a touchdown in the Week 15 loss to the Chiefs. He's found paydirt in back-to-back weeks and has seen double-digit targets in every game since Oct. 6 against the Redskins. Expect him to return to practice later this week and play against Cincinnati, where he'll be a must-start in the fantasy playoffs.
New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning is likely to make his second straight start in Week 15 against the Dolphins despite rookie Daniel Jones (ankle) returning to a limited practice on Wednesday, according to a team official. It could be the 38-year-old Manning's final home start for the G-Men. The decision will ultimately be head coach Pat Shurmur's, but the Giants will be cautious with Jones. Jones insisted he's improving and is pushing to play, but he's just hoping he can play in one of the final three games of the season. Manning was 15-for-30 for 203 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions in the overtime loss to the Eagles on Monday night. Even in a juicy matchup with Miami, Manning would be a low-end QB2 for fantasy if he starts again.
Atlanta Falcons running back Devonta Freeman (knee) was held out of practice on Wednesday. The Falcons are likely just giving Freeman some rest early in the week after he went for 84 yards and his first rushing touchdown of the season on 17 carries in Week 14 against the Panthers. It was a breath of fresh air for his fantasy owners, but he could go right back to being a disappointment in Week 15 against a tough Niners defensive front. Consider Freeman more of a low-end RB2/high-end RB3 for this Sunday at San Francisco. He's one to fade in DFS.
Seattle Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll thinks that wide receiver Tyler Lockett (illness, shin) is "really back" and ready to go for Week 15 against the Panthers. Since his 152-yard, two-touchdown performance against the Buccaneers on Nov. 3, Lockett has been missing in action for his fantasy owners. He hasn't gone over four catches or 43 yards in four games since, including a donut in Week 13 against the Vikings. Lockett had four catches for 43 yards in the Sunday night win over the Rams. There's always top-shelf upside here, but he's become more of a boom/bust WR3 in Seattle's run-first offense of late.
The Chicago Bears Defense will take on the Packers in Week 15 and Green Bay is allowing the sixth fewest fantasy points to opposing defenses. The Bears defense is loaded with talent but have been extremely disappointing from a fantasy perspective this season. They currently rank outside of the top-15 in fantasy points scored among defenses and have 10 or more fantasy points only once over their last nine games. The biggest issue for the team has been a steep decline in turnovers and sacks from the previous season. The Packers offense hasn't lit up the league this season but the Bears defense lacks enough fantasy appeal to keep them on the bench in Week 15.
Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver John Ross (foot) was limited in practice on Wednesday. In his return from Injured Reserve in Week 14 against the Browns, Ross was pretty much invisible, catching two of three targets for just 28 yards. The speedster is now dealing with a foot injury, but he should be able to play this Sunday against the Patriots at home. Ross can always break away for a touchdown as a deep-threat specialist, but he just can't be trusted in the fantasy playoffs in a tough matchup with New England. He'll be more of a boom-or-bust WR4/5, but his targets could go up with Auden Tate (knee) on Injured Reserve and A.J. Green (ankle) still nowhere close to returning.
Chicago Bears running back Tarik Cohen will take on a Packers Defense in Week 15 that is allowing the fifth most fantasy points to opposing backs this season. Green Bay has allowed 13 different running backs to post 11 or more fantasy points against them and 13 rushing touchdowns. The matchup is appealing but Cohen lacks value as a fantasy starter for Week 15. He has a role in an improving offense but his touches have decreased as the season has gone along. Cohen has taken on more of a change-of-pace role in the offense and his touches have been capped in the 8-to-12 range. Cohen has game-breaking talent but his fantasy floor should be keep him on the bench in most leagues in Week 15.
Chicago Bears wide receiver Allen Robinson will face the Packers for the second time this season in Week 15. The veteran posted seven receptions for 102 yards in Week 1 and is having a Pro Bowl-type season with 76 receptions for 898 yards and seven touchdowns. The Bears will face a Packers Defense that is allowing the ninth fewest fantasy points to opposing wide receivers and possess some of the more talented cornerbacks in the league. But this shouldn't scare fantasy owners from starting Robinson, who continues to deliver solid performances weekly. Robinson is a solid WR2 with WR1 upside in Week 15 as the Bears season is on the line.
Chicago Bears wide receiver Taylor Gabriel (concussion) and tight end Ben Braunecker (concussion) are still in the league's concussion protocol and didn't practice on Wednesday. Wide receiver Javon Wims (knee) also missed practice. Gabriel and Braunecker are questionable, at best, and obviously shouldn't be counted on in fantasy lineups for Week 15 against the Packers. Allen Robinson and Anthony Miller are the only Chicago pass-catchers worthy of being in fantasy lineups this Sunday. Rookie Jesper Horsted is the best bet at tight end if Braunecker misses another game, but he's off the fantasy radar.
Chicago Bears wide receiver Anthony Miller will try and keep his resurgent second half of his season going against a tough Packers secondary in Week 15. Miller has emerged as a streaming option over the last month, posting 24 receptions for 313 yards and one touchdown over his last four games. He will have a tough test in Week 15 against a Packers Defense that is allowing the ninth fewest fantasy points to opposing receivers this season. Secondary receivers have enjoyed modest success, at times, against Green Bay but the Bears offense will need to stay hot if they intend on keeping their playoff hopes alive. Miller's fantasy stock is rising but will be a dicey start during the fantasy playoffs.
Chicago Bears quarterback Mitch Trubisky will try and stay red-hot against a tough Packers Defense in Week 15. The Bears season is on the line and Trubisky has delivered in recent weeks, averaging 286 passing yards and racking up nine total touchdowns (two rushing, seven passing) over his last three games. Trubisky now will go up against a Packers defense that is allowing the seventh fewest fantasy points to quarterbacks, surrendering only 10 touchdown passes over their last nine games played. Only one quarterback (the Cowboys Dak Prescott) has posted more than 20 fantasy points against the Packers but they haven't faced a passer with the ability to run like Trubisky. The third-year quarterback's arrow is pointing up but fantasy owners should hesitate throwing him into starting lineups during the fantasy playoffs. Trubisky has an decent chance at top-12 numbers among quarterbacks for Week 15.
The New York Jets Defense had a nice run of solid matchups, making them an attractive streaming option in fantasy. That portion of the schedule is over and so is the Jets defense's usability in fantasy. The Jets will take on MVP candidate Lamar Jackson and the high-flying Ravens on Thursday night in Baltimore in what is arguably the worst matchup for fantasy a defense could possibly face. The Jets defense may also be without star safety Jamal Adams (ankle), who will be a true game-time-decision Thursday night. Regardless of Adams' status, the Jets defense belongs back on waivers.