Sat Sep 14 5:00pm ET
By DENNIS WASZAK Jr.
AP Pro Football Writer
New York Jets head coach Adam Gase looks at the scoreboard during the second half of an NFL football game against the Buffalo Bills Sunday, Sept. 8, 2019, in East Rutherford, N.J. (AP Photo/Bill Kostroun)
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) Well, this isn't quite how the Cleveland Browns and New York Jets expected to start the season.
Both are coming off opening losses and look to avoid going 0-2 with a Monday night matchup loaded with juicy storylines, surprising twists and a slight hint of desperation.
And, it's only Week 2.
''I think every game is a must-win game,'' Jets running back Le'Veon Bell said, ''but obviously this game holds a lot of weight to it.''
The Browns didn't live up to the preseason hype that had some making them potential Super Bowl contenders.
Instead, Cleveland committed 18 penalties - the most by the team since 1951 - in a 43-13 loss to Tennessee that put early pressure on first-year coach Freddie Kitchens.
''I feel a lot of confidence with this team that we're going to get all the haters and naysayers out of here,'' cornerback Denzel Ward said, ''so I hope everybody's all gone now and we're just focused on us.''
Well, most of the Browns, that is.
Wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. returns to MetLife Stadium for the first time since being traded by the Giants in March. But that's not even the biggest headline.
Neither is all the attention on his expensive watch.
Beckham spiced things up Thursday when he called out former Browns defensive coordinator Gregg Williams - now in the same role with the Jets - and said the coach instructed players to hurt him in a preseason game in 2017. He sustained a severe ankle injury when Cleveland's Briean Boddy-Calhoun cut his legs out, something he says ''changed my life forever'' because he says it led to other injuries.
''Just got to watch out for the cheap shots and the dirty hits and all the things that he likes to teach,'' Beckham said.
Williams denied Beckham's accusations, and told reporters they should ignore the receiver's comments.
''We don't do that,'' Williams insisted. ''Never done it anywhere that I've been. We don't do anything to hurt the team.''
Williams, of course, is facing the Browns for the first time since leading them to a 5-3 record after taking over when Hue Jackson was fired - and then losing out to Kitchens for the vacancy.
''Obviously, he has a chip on his shoulder about this game,'' Jets safety Jamal Adams said. ''We're going to go out there and play for him. He's going to be all riled up.''
Adam Gase was plenty fired up this week himself after the Jets blew a 16-0 third-quarter lead last Sunday in his debut for New York and lost 17-16 to Buffalo.
WILD WEEK FOR JETS
Kicker Kaare Vedvik was waived after he missed an extra point and a 45-yard field goal, and Sam Ficken was signed to replace him.
Second-year defensive lineman Nathan Shepherd was suspended six games for two violations of the NFL's policy on performance enhancers.
They swung a rare trade with New England, acquiring wide receiver Demaryius Thomas for a 2021 sixth-round draft pick.
Wide receiver Quincy Enunwa was lost for the season with his second neck injury in just over two years.
And, then, the capper of `em all: Quarterback Sam Darnold was diagnosed with mononucleosis, likely sidelining him for several games. That means it'll be Trevor Siemian starting against Baker Mayfield, who appears OK after needing X-rays on his hand Sunday, and the Browns on Monday night.
''I guess maybe I'm messed up,'' Gase said, trying to put a positive spin on it all. ''I'm like, `Great, let's go. Trevor is up, let's go find a way to win the game.'''
On Saturday, the Jets ruled out linebacker C.J. Mosley and rookie defensive tackle Quinnen Williams for the game.
NEW YORK STATE OF MIND
Beckham dismissed any extra motivation in going back to his old, New Jersey stomping grounds.
''It is just another game,'' he said. ''It really is. `Monday Night Football' in the lights. Just trying to get wins.''
But Beckham is an entertainer and loves the big stage, so he'll undoubtedly try to put on a performance with the rest of the league watching.
And speaking of watching, Beckham said he'll sport the Richard Mille-designed watch: ''if I want to wear it, I'll wear it.'' The league told the Browns that Beckham is violating their policy on ''hard objects.''
BAKER & THE JETS
Mayfield has fond memories of the Jets. He made his NFL debut against them last season, coming off the bench in Week 3 and leading the Browns to a 21-17 win to end Cleveland's 19-game winless streak.
Following the game, fans streamed from FirstEnergy Stadium singing, ''Bak-er, May-field,'' feeling the Browns had finally found their franchise quarterback. Mayfield took off from there, setting the league rookie record with 27 touchdown passes while leading Cleveland to a 7-8-1 record.
Bell had a solid return in his first game action in nearly 20 months. He rushed for 60 yards on 17 carries and caught six passes for 32 yards and a TD in his Jets debut. He also caught a pass for a 2-point conversion.
The star running back sat out practice Wednesday and had an MRI on a shoulder, but it came up clear and he should play against the Browns.
It was an emotional week for the Browns following the tragic death of defensive end Chris Smith's girlfriend.
Petara Cordero, who gave birth to the couple's daughter last month, was struck by a car as she stood on a highway roadside Wednesday. She was a passenger in Smith's Lamborghini, which blew a tire and spun out. The 26-year-old Cordero had exited the car when another car, driven by a 47-year-old woman who admitted to police she had been drinking, smashed into her.
''It's a tough situation,'' guard Joel Bitonio said. ''You forget about things when you're in this building, sometimes the outside world you forget. We love this game and this game does a lot for us, but football comes second to a lot of things sometimes. We're trying to pick Chris up and his family, his little baby and all those things. We're thinking about him every chance we get.''
New York Giants kicker Aldrick Rosas is on the verge of being streamable this week against the Lions. The former Pro Bowler hasn't had much success this year and has yet to make more than one field goal in a game all season. However, he's in a good matchup. The Giants figure to move the ball against a banged-up Lions Defense, and they will need to push the tempo to keep up with quarterbackMatthew Stafford and the Lions offense. Rosas still isn't a recommended option, but he can be considered in deep leagues.
Indianapolis Colts wide receiver Zach Pascal has seen his stock consistently grow over the past few weeks. He's still not a player that you can have a ton of confidence in starting, but he does have some flex consideration this week. His size allows him to be a mismatch against most corners, and the Denver Broncos don't have a guy that can match up with him consistently in that regard if cornerback Chris Harris Jr. shadows wide receiver T.Y. Hilton. If you're missing wideouts due to injuries or bye weeks, Pascal gives you upside thanks to his touchdown production and big-play ability.
Indianapolis Colts quarterback Jacoby Brissett went off on the Houston Texans in Week 7. In Week 8, his matchup gets more difficult against the Denver Broncos. Through seven games, Denver has yet to allow a player to clear 300 passing yards, and no quarterback has thrown for more than two touchdowns against them. The Colts have a lot of pieces on offense, especially with the emergence of wide receiver Zach Pascal, but expectations for Brissett should be tempered this week. He's still a starter in two-quarterback leagues, but you have better options at QB in standard formats.
Indianapolis Colts wide receiver T.Y. Hilton has a bad matchup this week, but you have to start him anyway. He's scored five touchdowns in the five games that he's played, and he's averaging an impressive 17.2 PPR points per game this season. He has 15 more targets than any other Indianapolis pass-catcher, and quarterback Jacoby Brissett looks his way whenever he needs a reliable receiver. He's gotten at least nine targets in three out of his five games, and those looks will continue to be there for him against the Denver Broncos.
Indianapolis Colts running back Marlon Mack got shut down in Week 7, but he has a good bounce-back spot in Week 8. Teams like the Green Bay Packers, Oakland Raiders and Jacksonville Jaguars have beaten the Denver Broncos by running the ball at them all game to control the clock. Mack does his best work when he gets a ton of volume, and that's how the Colts like to win games. If the passing game struggles, which is possible against a solid passing defense, they could lean on Mack throughout the game, especially down in the red zone.
Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Stefon Diggs is in line for an increased workload on Thursday night with target-hog Adam Thielen (hamstring) sitting out for the first time in his career. Week 8's matchup against the Washington Redskins is a favorable one as Diggs should be able to take advantage of coverage by either Quinton Dunbar or a struggling Josh Norman. Cousins and the play-action passing game have been on point as of late, as has Diggs with 14 catches for 310 yards and three touchdowns over his last two games. They remain a run-first team and are likely to lean on Dalvin Cook as they're favored by over 15 points at home, but Diggs needs to be started as a WR1/WR2 with upside considering Thielen's absence.
Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford absolutely feasted on the Vikings secondary in Week 7, and the feast may not be over with the New York Giants coming to town in Week 8. The Giants currently allow 8.92 yards per attempt, which trails only the Dolphins, so fantasy owners could be in for another huge performance from the 31-year-old signal-caller. The Giants don't present much in the way of run defense either, but with Kerryon Johnson recently being placed on IR a more pass-heavy approach can be expected. With top quarterbacks Lamar Jackson and Dak Prescott on byes this week, and with Matt Ryan still yet to practice, Stafford vaults up the charts as one of the top quarterback options in Week 8 no matter the fantasy format. Get him in your lineups.
Seattle Seahawks QB Russell Wilson (knee) fully participated in practice Wednesday, Oct. 23.
Fantasy Spin: Wilson threw his first interception last week but still has posted 15 passing touchdowns in seven games. He should have success against the Atlanta Falcons this week and can be a No. 1 quarterback in all fantasy leagues.
Seattle Seahawks WR Tyler Lockett (non-injury) was limited during practice Wednesday, Oct. 23.
Fantasy Spin: Lockett has posted at least 50 yards in each of the last six games and has been targeted 12 times over the last two weeks. He should have a favorable matchup in Week 8 and can be a No. 2 or No. 3 receiver in all leagues.
Seattle Seahawks S Lano Hill (elbow), DE Quinton Jefferson (oblique) and S Bradley McDougald (back) did not participate in practice Wednesday, Oct. 23. OT Duane Brown (biceps), OT George Fant (shoulder), CB Tre Flowers (neck), DE Ziggy Ansah (ankle) and S Quandre Diggs (hamstring) were limited during practice. OG D.J. Fluker (hamstring) fully participated in practice.
Seattle Seahawks RB Chris Carson (non-injury) was limited during practice Wednesday, Oct. 23.
Fantasy Spin: Carson has received at least 20 carries in each of the last four games and has posted three 100-yard games in that span. He will continue to be the focal point in the running game for the Seahawks and is a must-start option in all fantasy leagues.
Detroit Lions running back Ty Johnson, arguably this week's hottest waiver wire pickup after Kerryon Johnson was put on IR Tuesday, has a real chance to establish himself as the Lions lead back against a porous New York Giants squad in Week 8. Johnson should see most of the action out of the Lions backfield Sunday and can be expected to be involved in the passing game even with J.D. McKissic likely suiting up as the Lions passing-down back. Johnson's small stature does put into question whether he can be an every-down back, but with the Giants nonexistent run defense standing in his way this week fantasy owners should get some clarity as to whether Johnson can truly take over this backfield. Johnson will be considered a mid-range RB2 this week in a matchup where the game script should work to his benefit.
San Francisco 49ers RB Raheem Mostert (knee) was limited during practice Wednesday, Oct. 23.
Fantasy Spin: Mostert appears to have a chance to play in Week 8, but fantasy players will know more about his status later in the week. He will see a handful of touches if he is active for the game but can be avoided in most leagues.
San Francisco 49ers FB Kyle Juszczyk (knee), OT Mike McGlinchey (knee) and CB Ahkello Witherspoon (foot) did not participate in practice Wednesday, Oct. 23. DE Dee Ford (quadriceps), DT D.J. Jones (hamstring) and OT Joe Staley (leg) were limited during practice.
Arizona Cardinals WR Christian Kirk (ankle) was limited during practice Wednesday, Oct. 23.
Fantasy Spin: Kirk has been limited during practice over the last two weeks but has also been inactive for the last two games, so his status for Week 8 is uncertain. Fantasy players may want to look at other options since he would have a tough matchup if he plays in the game.
Arizona Cardinals DE Zach Allen (neck), RB D.J. Foster (hamstring), LB Jordan Hicks (calf), DT Corey Peters (non-injury) and LB Terrell Suggs (non-injury) did not participate in practice Wednesday, Oct. 23. LB Dennis Gardeck (ankle), LB Haason Reddick (knee), LB Zeke Turner (hamstring) and TE Maxx Williams (ankle) were limited during practice. DT Zachariah Kerr (ankle) and S Charles Washington (shoulder) fully participated in practice.
San Francisco 49ers TE George Kittle (groin) was limited during practice Wednesday, Oct. 23.
Fantasy Spin: Kittle has been on the injury for the last few weeks but is in no danger of missing the Week 8 game. He should continue to be a weekly starting option in all fantasy leagues.
Green Bay Packers OT Bryan Bulaga (non-injury), TE Marcedes Lewis (non-injury) and CB Tramon Williams (knee) were limited during practice Wednesday, Oct. 23. S Adrian Amos (shoulder), CB Tony M. Brown (hamstring), LB Oren Burks (chest), DT Kenny Clark (shin), LB B.J. Goodson (shoulder), LB Blake Martinez (wrist), S Will Redmond (ankle), S Darnell Savage (ankle) and TE Robert Tonyan (hip) fully participated in practice.
Arizona Cardinals WR Larry Fitzgerald (non-injury) did not participate in practice Wednesday, Oct. 23.
Fantasy Spin: Fitzgerald is coming off a disappointing Week 7 performance but has still be targeted at least seven times in five of the seven games this season. He will be facing one of the better defenses this week but still has a chance to be a flex option in leagues.
Green Bay Packers wide receiver Marquez Valdes-Scantling (ankle, knee) put in a full practice on Wednesday after being questionable for Week 7 against the Raiders. MVS ultimately played, albeit limited snaps, and finished with over 100 yards and a touchdown with No. 1 wideout Davante Adams (toe) sidelined again. Adams missed practice on Wednesday and could very well sit out again this Sunday night against the Chiefs. Against a porous secondary, Valdes-Scantling would be a boom/bust WR3/flex. Geronimo Allison, Jake Kumerow and Allen Lazard should all continue to see more run if Adams misses anymore time, but they're all hard to trust as anything more than low-ceiling flexes in deeper formats.