Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan (2) throws in the pocket against the Philadelphia Eagles during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 15, 2019, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Amis)
Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones (11) makes a touchdown catch against Philadelphia Eagles cornerback Ronald Darby (21) during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 15, 2019, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Amis)
Indianapolis Colts cornerback Quincy Wilson (31) breaks up a pass intended for Tennessee Titans wide receiver A.J. Brown (11) to end the Titans' final drive in the final seconds of the fourth quarter of an NFL football game Sunday, Sept. 15, 2019, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Wade Payne)
Tennessee Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota (8) flips as he is hit by Indianapolis Colts defenders including Clayton Geathers (26) and Pierre Desir (35) in the first half of an NFL football game Sunday, Sept. 15, 2019, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/James Kenney)
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) Indianapolis Colts cornerback Kenny Moore II understands this week's challenge each time he pops in an Atlanta Falcons tape.
He sees quarterback Matt Ryan, the 2016 league MVP, adjusting on the fly to new wrinkles posed by defensive coordinators. He sees Julio Jones , the fast, physical two-time All-Pro receiver, and the emerging Calvin Ridley, who posted his second career 100-yard game last weekend, stressing secondaries. He sees Mohamed Sanu, the perfect complementary piece to Atlanta's home-run hitters, and tight end Austin Hooper exposing the middle of the field.
It helps Moore recognize what he and his teammates must do to keep Ryan and his receivers under control Sunday.
''They're very talented, very crafty receivers,'' Moore said. ''Everybody knows what Julio brings to the table. We just have to be on point.''
For Moore and most of Indy's young defense, game tapes are all they have. Only six players have ever faced Ryan up close and personal, and safety Clayton Geathers is the only one in the Colts' back seven to experience it.
Moore recognizes it may take a few series to adapt to the Falcons' potentially high-scoring offense at game speed.
But that's only one potential problem for the Colts (1-1). They could be short-handed, too.
All-Pro linebacker Darius Leonard spent this week in the concussion protocol. Indy's top cornerback, Pierre Desir, was limited in practice by a bruised right knee. Starting defensive end Jabaal Sheard, who has played Ryan twice including in New England's fifth Super Bowl win, returned for a light practice Wednesday after missing eight weeks with a knee injury.
If the defense can't slow down Falcons receivers, there could be other options.
Indy could rely on its suddenly strong ground game to control the clock. The Colts could use a vastly improved pass rush to make Ryan uncomfortable as they did the last two weeks with Phillip Rivers and Marcus Mariota. Or, perhaps they'll take advantage of the Falcons' biggest early season bugaboo: turnovers.
After throwing seven interceptions all of last season, Ryan already has five this year, including two in the red zone.
''It's not the start you want, but it's like that sometimes,'' said Ryan, now in his 11th season. ''You've just got to weather the storm and keep making good decisions and be aggressive.''
And keep finding Jones and Ridley, Sanu and Hooper.
''It's going to be a big test,'' Colts cornerback Quincy Wilson said. ''We just have to make sure we're staying on our details, making sure our techniques are on point and don't walk past any mistakes.''
With Andrew Luck and Peyton Manning both retired, the Colts have taken advantage of a run-first philosophy that's reflected in fashionably impressive numbers.
Indy and Minnesota are tied for second this season in yards rushing, Marlon Mack ranks No. 3 among all runners and Indy's 370 yards are the franchise's highest for two games to start a season since 1971. Equally strange is the fact Indy ranks No. 32 in passing offense.
Nobody minds. All-Pro guard Quenton Nelson keeps a hat with the phrase ''Run The Damn Ball'' in his locker and quarterback Jacoby Brisset t appreciates the impact the running game has had.
''Our guys up front sense that and they like when that happens,'' Brissett said when asked about seeing defenses wearing down. "They ask for more runs, so they get more runs.''
The Falcons, in contrast, are 28th in rushing at 65 yards per game. Devonta Freeman has only 41 yards with no run longer than 9. Freeman looked quick early in last week's win over the Eagles when he had three carries for 18 yards in Atlanta's first five plays. But after he was tackled for losses twice, Atlanta changed course.
Injuries, which derailed Freeman last season, don't seem to be the problem, either.
''He showed the speed, the burst, the finish,'' coach Bob Quinn said. ''He looked stronger in a lot of ways.''
CHANGE OF DIRECTION
Indy returns to Lucas Oil Stadium for the first time since Aug. 24, when fans booed as Andrew Luck left the field before announcing his retirement.
Players acknowledge it will seem strange without Luck on the sideline or field.
''I hadn't really thought about that but it will be different,'' longtime left tackle Anthony Castonzo said. ''I think it will be a good atmosphere, I think it will be rockin'.''
The Falcons may make a late decision on the status of punter Matt Bosher, who strained his groin in warmups before last week's game. Atlanta signed Matt Wile to the practice squad as a possible backup on punts and kickoffs.
Matt Bryant handled kickoffs last week. Wile was with Minnesota in 2018 and Atlanta briefly in 2016.
Baltimore Ravens tight end Hayden Hurst had just one catch for four yards during the win over the Bengals on Sunday. Even with Marquise Brown (ankle) out of the lineup, Hurst continued to be a non-factor in the team's offensive attack. He likely won't have a consistent role moving ahead, especially with Mark Andrews in the mix, but he will be good for an occasional touchdown from time-to-time.
Baltimore Ravens running back Justice Hill had 31 yards on five carries in the win over Cincinnati on Sunday. With Lamar Jackson going crazy on the Bengals Defense by rushing for 152 yards and a touchdown on 19 attempts, Hill continued to play second fiddle to Gus Edwards, who had just three more yards than the former. Nonetheless, outside of dynasty formats, Hill has relatively no fantasy value at the moment, with that likely to continue until either Mark Ingram or Edwards goes down with an injury.
Baltimore Ravens running back Gus Edwards finished with 34 yards on six carries during the win over the Bengals on Sunday. Averaging just over seven touches per game, this type of performance has been the norm for the 24-year-old this season. He should continue to outpace Justice Hill but don't expect much of anything from a fantasy standpoint unless Mark Ingram goes down with an injury.
Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Seth Roberts pulled in both of his targets against the Bengals on Sunday, finishing with just 23 yards in a game that was highlighted by the play of quarterback Lamar Jackson, who rushed for 152 yards on 19 carries. While Marquise Brown (ankle) wasn't in the lineup, Roberts wasn't able to get anything going. Continue to not expect much from 28-year-old, however, even if Hollywood misses more time in the weeks ahead.
Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Miles Boykin had two catches (three targets) for 28 yards against the Bengals in Week 6. Though Marquise Brown (ankle) wasn't in the lineup, quarterback Lamar Jackson virtually monopolized the team's offensive attack by rushing for 152 yards on 19 carries. Don't expect much from Boykin moving forward in all formats, even if Hollywood misses some more time.
Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Willie Snead had three catches for 18 yards on Sunday. With Lamar Jackson and company running all over the Bengals Defense, Snead was unable to get involved despite the absence of Marquise Brown (ankle), who was ruled out for the week. The 26-year-old continues to be included as the No. 3 receiving option outside of Brown and tight end Mark Andrews, often picking up the duo's leftovers from week-to-week. He still has value in deeper PPR formats, with his stock rising if Hollywood misses more time.
Carolina Panthers wide receiver Jarius Wright pulled in just one catch for six yards against the Buccaneers in London. With Christian McCaffrey, D.J. Moore, and Curtis Samuel gobbling up most of the targets from week-to-week, Wright has relatively no fantasy value at the moment. If one of those guys gets injured, his stock may rise, but not enough to make a difference from a fantasy standpoint.
Cleveland Browns wide receiver Antonio Callaway caught two of his four passes for 22 yards in a 32-28 loss to the Seattle Seahawks in Week 6. A week after dropping a would-be touchdown in the end zone, Callaway again struggled to hold onto the ball. He dropped two catchable passes, including one that would have gone for a long gain in the first quarter. The second-year receiver was suspended for the first four games of the season, so it is possible that he is still shaking off the rust. Even so, he will have a tough time making an impact in fantasy as long as Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry are healthy. Callaway has his bye in Week 7 before a tough road matchup against the New England Patriots in Week 8.
Houston Texans tight end Jordan Akins pulled in three receptions for 39 yards on Sunday against the Chiefs. With DeAndre Hopkins and Will Fuller getting the majority of looks from quarterback Deshaun Watson throughout the season, Akins continues to be virtually an afterthought as he received fewer targets than fellow tight end Darren Fells, who finished with seven on the day. Akins still has value in deeper formats, but his success is dependent on whether he can find the end zone, while also hinging on the health of Fells moving ahead.
Jacksonville Jaguars WR Marqise Lee (ankle) is considered week-to-week after suffering a sprained ankle that has been described as 'minor to moderate' in Week 6 versus the New Orleans Saints, according to a source.
Tennessee Titans QBs Marcus Mariota and Ryan Tannehill are expected to find out Monday, Oct. 14, who will start in Week 7 versus the Los Angeles Chargers. Head coach Mike Vrabel announced the decision will be made sometime Monday evening.
Fantasy Spin: It's a pretty good indication Tannehill will be named the starter, as most coaches have no problem shooting down any such speculation immediately when they feel strongly about the man holding the job. Mariota was playing turnover-free ball until Week 6, but the Titans have seemingly been trying to hide him for the better part of the season - if not longer. However, it's debatable whether Tannehill will provide much of a spark to the offense, leaving him firmly in QB2 territory.
Having not played since suffering a calf injury in a Week 1 loss to the Ravens, Miami Dolphins wide receiver Albert Wilson returned to action in a 17-16 loss to the Washington Redskins on Sunday, finishing with five receptions on six targets. Wilson's six targets tied him with Preston Williams for the most among Miami wide receivers, which should be a good sign for his usage going forward. Unfortunately, that ends the good news of his stat line, as Wilson's five catches were good for a total of only 15 yards, with eight of those coming on one play. Until Miami's offense becomes something less than terrible and until Wilson starts using his elite speed to get looks down the field, "Fast" Albert needs to stay parked on the waiver wire. Hey-hey-hey.
Washington Redskins wide receiver Trey Quinn saw just four targets in Sunday's win over the Dolphins, collecting two of them for a total of eight yards. This was the third consecutive game in which Quinn was targeted only four times, and also the third straight contest in which he failed to break 20 yards receiving. On the rare occasions the Redskins offense has functioned well, it's been with Case Keenum at the helm. Assuming the veteran holds onto the starting job for the foreseeable future, he figures to provide his pass-catchers with the best chance at producing. Quinn's usage rate unfortunately suggests he's not going to see many opportunities regardless of who is throwing the ball. He can continue to be ignored in all formats.
Indianapolis Colts S Clayton Geathers (concussion) and LB Darius Leonard (concussion) have been cleared from the league's concussion protocol.
Miami Dolphins wide receiver Preston Williams was a popular sleeper heading into a favorable Week 6 matchup, as the Washington Redskins were bringing in one of the league's worst defenses. However, those bold owners who took a chance on Williams were rewarded with a dud, as he caught just two passes for 31 yards and no touchdowns in a 17-16 Miami loss. While his six targets were tied with Albert Wilson for the most among wide receivers, Williams has received more than seven targets just once this season and has only one touchdown and 232 yards in Miami's five games. Given his lack of production and with Miami's offense a total mess, Williams is just one of many Dolphins who should not be on anyone's fantasy roster.
Free-agent TE Benjamin Watson (Patriots) is expected to re-sign with the New England Patriots after the team released him last week. Per ESPN's Mike Reiss, the Patriots did not have a roster spot for him at that time, but injuries have altered the picture.
Fantasy Spin: It seems unlikely Watson is going to make much of a fantasy impact upon his (likely) return, but the tight end position is so weak in fantasy at the moment that anything is possible. Most owners can probably afford to sit back and wait to see how this thing plays out, but it's not out of the question Watson becomes a starter for New England in short order and able to contribute three or four catches per game.
Denver Broncos wide receiver Daesean Hamilton struggled once again in Week 6, as he continues to scratch and scrap for any production that he can carve out of Denver's offense. The 2nd-year Penn State product hauled in both targets thrown his way for a total of 25 yards against the Tennessee Titans on Sunday afternoon. Hamilton has yet to have a solid performance this year and there is not much indicating a change in that regard. He takes the field next in a Thursday night matchup against the Kansas City Chiefs.
Philadelphia Eagles WR DeSean Jackson (abdomen) is reportedly making progress but not expected to practice Wednesday, Oct. 16.
Fantasy Spin: It's getting harder and harder for fantasy owners to hold onto Jackson, who made an early exit in Week 2 and hasn't played since. With that said, he should be able to return to game action within the next week or two given the fact the team seems close to declaring him ready to practice. It might take some time for him to get his conditioning back, but it is clear the offense needs him. He will likely be worth the wait once he does return and should still be considered a high-upside WR3 in fantasy.
Philadelphia Eagles CBs Jalen Mills (hamstring) and Ronald Darby (foot) are expected to resume practicing Wednesday, Oct. 16, and could play Week 7 versus the Dallas Cowboys.
Miami Dolphins wide receiver Devante Parker made the last of his three receptions count on Sunday, with an 11-yard touchdown catch with just six seconds remaining in Miami's 17-16 loss to the Washington Redskins. Parker has now caught a touchdown in his last two games but was only targeted a total of eight times in those two, after averaging just under seven targets in his previous three. The speedy receiver only received four targets on Sunday, putting him behind five other players, all of whom received at least six looks. Getting less and less attention in an offense that's going nowhere fast, there are few reasons to take a flyer on Parker with Miami facing Buffalo's top-ranked pass defense in Week 7.