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FFL: Week 15 | NFL: Week 15

Brees throws for 228 yards, 3 TDs as Saints beat Bucs 34-17

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By FRED GOODALL
AP Sports Writer

Players: Drew Brees, Ted Ginn Jr., Jared Cook, Julio Jones, Mike Evans, Michael Thomas, Jameis Winston, Peyton Barber, Alvin Kamara, Chris Godwin

New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees (9) throws a pass against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers during the first half of an NFL football game Sunday, Nov. 17, 2019, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)


Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston (3) reacts after throwing an interception to New Orleans Saints cornerback P.J. Williams during the second half of an NFL football game Sunday, Nov. 17, 2019, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Mark LoMoglio)


New Orleans Saints strong safety Vonn Bell (24) celebrates after intercepting a pass by Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston during the second half of an NFL football game Sunday, Nov. 17, 2019, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Jason Behnken)


New Orleans Saints running back Latavius Murray (28) gets pulled down by Tampa Bay Buccaneers linebacker Devin White (45) during the first half of an NFL football game Sunday, Nov. 17, 2019, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Jason Behnken)


New Orleans Saints running back Alvin Kamara (41) steps over a tackle by Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive back Sean Murphy-Bunting (26) during the first half of an NFL football game Sunday, Nov. 17, 2019, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Jason Behnken)


New Orleans Saints defensive end Cameron Jordan (94) sacks Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston (3) during the second half of an NFL football game Sunday, Nov. 17, 2019, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Mark LoMoglio)


New Orleans Saints wide receiver Ted Ginn Jr., (19) celebrates his touchdown against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers with wide receiver Michael Thomas (13) during the second half of an NFL football game Sunday, Nov. 17, 2019, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Jason Behnken)


New Orleans Saints wide receiver Michael Thomas (13) beats Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive back Sean Murphy-Bunting (26) on a 16-yard touchdown reception during the first half of an NFL football game Sunday, Nov. 17, 2019, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Jason Behnken)


TAMPA, Fla. (AP) The New Orleans Saints played with the urgency of a team determined to get back on track.

''You lose a game, you move forward. The next game can't come quick enough,'' coach Sean Payton said Sunday after the NFC South leaders rebounded from an ugly loss to last-place Atlanta with a 34-17 victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Drew Brees threw for 228 yards and three touchdowns, and NFL receptions leader Michael Thomas became the first player in league history with 90-plus catches in the first 10 games of a season for the Saints (8-2).

In addition to a 16-yard scoring pass to Thomas in the first half, Brees tosses TD passes of 3 yards to Jared Cook and 6 to Ted Ginn Jr. after New Orleans was held out of the end zone during the previous week's 26-9 loss to the Falcons.

Safety Marcus Williams put an exclamation point on a strong defensive performance, returning the third of New Orleans' four interceptions 55 yards for a touchdown that put the Saints up 34-17 with just over five minutes remaining.

Thomas, who also became the first player with at least 90 receptions in each of his first four NFL seasons, had eight catches for 114 yards. That boosted his totals for 2019 to 94 receptions for 1,141 yards. The previous high for most catches in the first 10 game of a season was 89 by Hall of Famer Marvin Harrison and Atlanta's Julio Jones.

Brees isn't surprised.

''It's just what we see every day in practice. Maybe it's one of those things that when it's all said and done you'll look back and you'll really appreciate it. I just love his mindset. He is a `I want the ball, I will get open, I will make the play for you' guy,'' Brees said.

''I've played with a lot of good ones, a lot of great ones, and the thing that's common with those guys is the trust factor,'' Brees added. ''You have to be able to anticipate certain things which allow you to play with confidence and be accurate and make a lot of those throws that others might not try to make.''

A battered Jameis Winston completed 30 of 51 passes for313 yards and two TDS for the Bucs (3-7), who have lost five of six following a 2-2 start. In addition to throwing four interceptions, Winston was sacked twice and pressured all day by a persistent pass rush that left him hobbling across the field on a sore ankle to try to make the tackle on Williams' long interception return up the New Orleans sideline.

''Too many mistakes to beat a good team,'' Tampa Bay coach Bruce Arians said.

''It's very frustrating. We've got the players. It's never been about the players since I've been here,'' said receiver Mike Evans, closing in on his sixth 1,000-yard season, said. ''It's just we've been very, very inconsistent. ... I don't know what we've got to do to overturn it, but we've got to do something because this feeling is awful.''

Brees, meanwhile, was 28 of 35 with no interceptions in his third start since returning from a thumb injury that sidelined him five games. The Saints outgained the Bucs 195 yards to 11 while building an early 20-0 lead, controlling the ball for 20 of the game's first 25 minutes. An offensive line playing without injured guard Andrus Peat protected the 40-year-old quarterback, who was not sacked Sunday after Atlanta got to him six times the previous week.

''One of the things we felt like was going to be important in this game was a fast start on the road, and I thought we had that,'' Payton said. ''It wasn't our best game, but I thought we did a lot of good things to win.''

Winston threw TD passes of 6 yards to Peyton Barber and 30 yards to Chris Godwin. Tampa Bay ran the ball a franchise-low eight times for 36 yards, with Winston scrambling for a team-leading 23 on two attempts.

KAMARA FACTOR

Saints running back Alvin Kamara rushed for 75 yards on 13 carries. He also had a team-high 10 receptions for 47 yards.

''It's huge,'' Kamara said of getting back on track after losing to the Falcons. ''Any time you lose, it's just a little bit more of a heightened awareness to go into the next game, execute and ... come out with a victory.''

NICE ENCORE

The Saints beat the Bucs 31-24 in New Orleans in Week 5, holding Evans without a catch. While replicating that success figured to be difficult, even if injured cornerback Marshon Lattimore - the primary defender on Evans in the earlier meeting - had played Sunday, the Saints nevertheless did a nice job again of containing one of the league's top receivers with P.J. Williams filling in for Lattimore.

Evans had four catches for 69 yards and no touchdowns. The sixth-year pro boosted his season total to 58 for 993 yards - seven yards shy of joining Hall of Famer Randy Moss as the only players in NFL history to begin a career with six consecutive 1,000-yard seasons.

INJURIES

Saints: Played without Lattimore (hamstring) and Peat (forearm), who were injured during last week's loss to Atlanta. Team did not announce any injuries during the game.

Buccaneers: OLB Carl Nassib (groin) missed his second straight game, replaced in the starting lineup by Jason Pierre-Paul. ... Winston said he was hit in the ankle while throwing the interception that Williams returned for a touchdown. He added he doesn't expect it to be a problem or affect his status for next week.

UP NEXT

Saints: Return home to host Carolina on Sunday, continuing stretch of four consecutive games against NFC South rivals.

Buccaneers: at Atlanta on Sunday.

Player Notes
James Conner Dec 15 6:20am ET

Pittsburgh Steelers running back James Conner (shoulder) is expected to play against Buffalo on Sunday night. Conner has been dealing with the injury for a while now, but his return is good news for a team that will be without JuJu Smith-Schuster (knee) and Vance McDonald (concussion). With the 24-year-old back in the lineup, Jaylen Samuels should remain semi-relevant catching passes out of the backfield, while Benny Snell Jr. will likely be relegated to a few carries as the No. 2. All three backs are risky options, however, against a tough Bills Defense in Week 15 as the Steelers look to remain in the playoff picture.

From RotoBaller

Derrick Henry Dec 15 6:10am ET

Tennessee Titans running back Derrick Henry (hamstring) will play on Sunday in a crucial matchup against the Texans. Henry has been dealing with the injury over the last several weeks but has been able to play, so his status for Week 15 isn't a huge surprise. The 25-year-old has been on a roll as of late, compiling nine touchdowns over the last five games, while also rushing for at least 149 yards in three of his previous four outings. Even with the lingering effects of the ailment, he is a must-start across the board in Week 15.

From RotoBaller

JuJu Smith-Schuster Dec 15 5:40am ET

Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster (knee) won't play against the Bills on Sunday night. Schuster practiced in full on Wednesday, but after aggravating the injury on Thursday, he will now miss another one as the Steelers look to remain playoff relevant. In his absence, Diontae Johnson will likely get the most catches for those in PPR formats, with James Washingtonserving as the biggest threat on deep routes in Week 15.

From RotoBaller

Taylor Gabriel Dec 15 5:30am ET

Chicago Bears wide receiver Taylor Gabriel (concussion) will be out again and will not play against the Packers in Week 15. Gabriel has already missed a few games, and after making not practicing during the week, it will be Allen Robinson and Anthony Miller serving as the primary receivers for Mitch Trubisky as the Bears look to remain in the playoff picture.

From RotoBaller

Adam Humphries Dec 15 5:20am ET

Tennessee Titans wide receiver Adam Humphries (ankle) will not play on Sunday in a critical matchup against the Texans. This will be Humphries second-straight absence, and while he does have the potential to have the occasional effective performance, this isn't a huge fantasy loss as he is likely listed as a free agent in most leagues anyway. Nonetheless, it should be business as usual for the Titans in Week 15, with Derrick Henry, A.J. Brown, and Corey Davis getting the bulk of the opportunities on the offensive side of the ball.

From RotoBaller

A.J. Green Dec 15 5:10am ET

Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver A.J. Green (ankle) will not play against New England in Week 15. Green has yet to play this season after sustaining an ankle injury during training camp, and while the veteran hopes to suit up at some point over the final two games, it is also realistic to assume that he may not play at all in 2019. With Auden Tate (knee) recently landing on injured reserve, look for Tyler Boyd and John Ross to serve as the primary wideouts for Andy Dalton on Sunday against a tough Patriots Defense.

From RotoBaller

Greg Olsen Dec 15 5:00am ET

Carolina Panthers tight end Greg Olsen (concussion) will not play against the Seahawks. Olsen did practice, albeit in a limited fashion, during the week, but is still not ready to make his return. With Carolina having already been eliminated from playoff contention, it is possible that the 36-year-old may not return this season, making Ian Thomas, who caught five of his 10 targets for 57 yards and a score against the Falcons in Week 14, a suitable streaming option on Sunday.

From RotoBaller

Evan Engram Dec 15 4:50am ET

New York Giants tight end Evan Engram (foot) will not play against the Dolphins. Engram was able to practice in a limited capacity during the week, but with the team having virtually nothing to play for, it is realistic to assume that he may not return this year. With the team also down No. 2 Rhett Ellison (concussion), rookie Kaden Smith, who had two catches (five targets) for nine yards against the Eagles in Week 14, should draw the start. For fantasy managers in deeper formats, Smith does have streaming potential in Week 15, but only for those willing to take a chance.

From RotoBaller

Daniel Jones Dec 15 4:30am ET

New York Giants quarterback Daniel Jones (ankle) will not play against Miami in Week 15. Jones was able to practice in a limited fashion during the week, but the team will take it slow as he works his way back from the high ankle sprain that he suffered during the matchup against the Packers a few weeks back. In his place, Eli Manning, who threw two touchdowns, while completing 50 percent of his passes during the overtime loss to the Eagles, will get the start against the Dolphins, with the potential for a solid outing against one of the worst defensive units in the league being a realistic possibility.

From RotoBaller

Matthew Stafford Dec 15 4:20am ET

Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford (back) will sit out once again and will not play on Sunday against Tampa Bay. Stafford is progressing, but still doesn't feel well enough to play, with the potential for a return this season unlikely, albeit still possible. Nonetheless, David Blough, who has thrown three touchdowns and three picks this season, will get another start against a weak Buccaneers Defense. For those in need of a quarterback in Week 15, the rookie does have upside, but also an equally low downside.

From RotoBaller

Jacob Hollister Dec 15 2:10am ET

Seattle Seahawks tight end Jacob Hollister has been a revelation this season, but he's come back to Earth recently. He'll be facing another uphill battle this weekend when Seattle visits Carolina, one of the stingiest defenses in the game versus opposing tight ends. Hollister has been held without a TD for three straight weeks, and he hasn't cracked 50 yards receiving during the stretch either. Meanwhile, the Panthers have allowed the third-fewest fantasy points to opposing tight ends this season, and they haven't allowed a tight end touchdown in nearly a month. Hollister is still a talented receiver, but other teams have caught on to some of his moves and he'll be in for another challenge in Week 15.

From RotoBaller

Jason Myers Dec 15 2:10am ET

Seattle Seahawks kicker Jason Myers has cranked it up recently, and he'll look to continue his stellar ways in the cool, crisp air of Charlotte on Sunday. Myers hasn't missed a field goal in over a month, he's been better on the road than in his wet and windy home stadium, and he'll be facing a Carolina team that does an excellent job of locking down opposing offenses only after they've gotten in field goal range. Carolina has allowed the second-most fantasy points to opposing kickers this year, and it should be a perfect day for booting the ball on Sunday. If there was ever a day to roll the dice on Myers, this is probably going to be the day.

From RotoBaller

Chris Carson Dec 15 2:00am ET

Seattle Seahawks running back Chris Carson is set to face a Carolina Panthers Defense that has been plagued by the run all year. Carolina is the most generous run defense in the game for opposing running backs, and Carson will now shoulder nearly the entire load since Rashaad Penny has been lost for the season with a torn ACL. With Seattle's defense being beat up and their wide receivers still recovering from a flu epidemic that spread through the locker room, it's a perfect situation for Carson. Owners should be confident starting him, and he could be looking at a huge week.

From RotoBaller

D.K. Metcalf Dec 15 2:00am ET

Seattle Seahawks wide receiver D.K. Metcalf stepped into the primary role quite well while Tyler Lockett was banged up and ill, and he'll look to continue that growth this weekend as he faces a Carolina squad that has allowed the third-most yards to opposing wide receivers this year. The Panthers have proven quite adept at limiting touchdowns, but their bendy secondary has allowed some big weeks on the outside. Expect Metcalf to push the field and look for the home run ball, and his improved catching should keep him on the scoreboard even if he can't land the big one.

From RotoBaller

Russell Wilson Dec 15 1:50am ET

Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson had a rough game last week against the improved Rams Defense as he was held to zero touchdown passes for the first time in a year. Now he'll face off against another strong defense in Carolina. Though Wilson has usually found a way to have success against the Panthers, they always present a solid defense and make the games close. Wilson has won three of their last four matchups, but the games have only been decided by more than four points once. Wilson will have his full complement of receivers, and hopefully Tyler Lockett will finally be fully healthy and ready to resume his role as Wilson's favorite target.

From RotoBaller

Seattle Seahawks Dec 15 1:40am ET

Seattle Seahawks defensive end Jadeveon Clowney (flu) was officially ruled out of Sunday's game on Saturday afternoon, and the Seahawks Defense is starting to look a little thin. Linebacker Mychal Kendricks (hamstring) was ruled out for the second week in a row, defensive end Ziggy Ansah is questionable with a neck injury, and cornerback Shaquill Griffin, one of the team's breakout stars, is questionable with a hamstring injury of his own. The good news is that the Seahawks defense will be facing a rookie quarterback that has thrown 12 interceptions this season, but they'll also be facing Christian McCaffrey, an MVP finalist. It's not a great week to bet on the Seahawks defense.

From RotoBaller

Michael Badgley Dec 15 1:00am ET

Los Angeles Chargers kicker Michael Badgley is back in sunny southern California for Sunday's game against the Vikings, and he's been on a bit of a hot streak. Badgley isn't known for his power, but his accuracy has returned after a shaky start. Badgley is 10-for-12 from less than 50 yards over the last five weeks, pushing his season stats up closer to his career numbers now that he's healthy. Badgley's groin injury put him behind when he returned to the team, but the further he gets away from the issue, the better he's getting. He should be considered a highly accurate kicker from here on out.

From RotoBaller

Derwin James Dec 15 1:00am ET

Los Angeles Chargers safety Derwin James will get his first opportunity to face former teammate and friend Dalvin Cook when LA squares off against the Vikings on Sunday. James has faced Cook plenty of times in practice, but this will be the first game against one of the NFL's leading rushers. To go along with Cook, Pro Bowl wide receiver Adam Thielen will be returning to the field, and Kirk Cousins will be working on padding his resume as he's looking like one of the top passers in the league. The Chargers Defense has been better lately, but this matchup looks like a beastly one for the squad. Owners are probably able to make a better choice with a different one this week.

From RotoBaller

Mike Williams Dec 15 12:50am ET

Los Angeles Chargers wide receiver Mike Williams is carrying quite the streak, and he'll be looking to add to it with another deep pass on Sunday. Williams has a reception of 40 or more yards in six straight games, though amazingly, only one of those bombs has turned into a touchdown. The third-year wideout is at 841 yards receiving, but it wasn't until last week's blowout against Jacksonville that he recorded his first score of the season. Facing off against a stingy Minnesota secondary, Williams will be hard-pressed to find an opening for another big play, but owners can bet he'll be trying and Rivers will give him a chance.

From RotoBaller

Hunter Henry Dec 15 12:50am ET

Los Angeles Chargers tight end Hunter Henry has put up 60 or more receiving yards or a touchdown in seven of his nine games this season, and he'll get another opportunity on Sunday when he faces a Minnesota defense that is surprisingly soft against opposing tight ends. Though the Vikings are above average in just about every defensive category, opposing tight ends have been particularly successful in the fat part of the field. Minnesota has allowed the 10th-most yards to opposing tight ends this season, but they have done a good job of clamping down once they get close to the end zone. Expect Henry to get some opportunities, and he'll probably be able to keep his good games going with some decent numbers.

From RotoBaller