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.
Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Adam Thielen (hamstring) has been ruled out of his team's Thursday night game against Washington. Thielen injured his hamstring while making a diving touchdown catch during Week 7. There was some optimism that Thielen would be able to suit up on Thursday but the team instead will pay it safe with their star receiver. Considering how poorly Washington has played this season, the Vikings can probably manage without him. Rookie wideout Olabisi Johnson will step in as the team's No. 2 receiver behind Stefon Diggs. Johnson makes for an interesting dart throw in DFS tournaments on Thursday evening. Thielen's fantasy owners can tentatively expect him back for his Week 9 road showdown against the Kansas City Chiefs.
Arizona Cardinals running back David Johnson (ankle) won't practice Wednesday, but the team wants to see where he's at by the end of the week. The team signed running backs Zach Zenner and Alfred Morris for depth, but Johnson still has a chance to play. The breakout of running back Chase Edmonds doesn't give them any urgency to run Johnson out there. Edmonds is averaging 5.6 yards per carry, and he went off last week with 27 carries for 126 yards and three touchdowns against a weaker opponent. The New Orleans Saints are a tougher matchup. If Johnson is able to play, he'll be a high-end RB2, and Edmonds would fall to flex status. Conversely, if Johnson is out, Edmonds is the high-end RB2.
Updating an earlier report, Kansas City Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes (knee) will throw the ball today at practice, and they'll see if he can make it through the individual period.
Fantasy Spin: We'll need to see more to believe he's going to play this weekend. Obviously, he should be in your lineups if he goes.
Arizona Cardinals RB David Johnson (ankle) is out of practice Wednesday, Oct. 23.
Fantasy Spin: The team signed Zach Zenner and Alfred Morris to shore up their depleted backfield, but Johnson has a chance to play. However, it's trending toward Chase Edmonds being an RB2 against the New Orleans Saints.
Kansas City Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes (knee) will practice Wednesday, Oct. 23, but QB Matt Moore will take the majority of team repetitions. Head coach Andy Reid didn't rule out Mahomes playing in Week 8.
Fantasy Spin: We'd put Mahomes on the wrong side of questionable this week and look toward other options. Moore isn't worth consideration unless you play two quarterbacks.
Philadelphia Eagles kicker Jake Elliott has made every single kick so far this season, but his fantasy value has suffered due to an all-around struggling offense. Elliott has only attempted eight field goals and 17 extra points, and while he's made all of them, he currently ranks as just the 20th best kicker in standard scoring leagues. Most waiver wires will have a kicker who, while perhaps less consistent himself, will have more consistent scoring opportunities. Elliott's fantasy owners may need to consider moving on.
The Philadelphia Eagles Defense is not a strong fantasy option for a Week 8 road matchup against the Buffalo Bills. While the 5-1 Bills have mostly been winning games thanks to their defense, they have an offensive unit with the potential to put up big numbers at times. The Eagles are coming off a rough 37-10 loss to the Cowboys, and the offense has not been able to do the defense any favors. Despite getting a bit healthier in the secondary, the Eagles defense is not even on the streaming radar this week.
Detroit Lions RB Paul Perkins was added to the 53-man roster Wednesday, Oct. 23.
Fantasy Spin: Perkins is worth the deeper-league pickup with Kerryon Johnson (knee) hitting IR. Ty Johnson takes over as the lead back, and Perkins could become a factor quickly.
Cincinnati Bengals WR A.J. Green (ankle) is unlikely to suit up in Week 8.
Fantasy Spin: Continue to stash Green, but at 0-7, there is little reason to rush him back. Auden Tate continues to show flashes on the awful team, and he's a flex option against the Los Angeles Rams.
Philadelphia Eagles tight end Zach Ertz is looking at another tough matchup in Week 8. The Eagles will be in Buffalo to take on the Bills and their difficult defense. Ertz is coming off a disappointing two-catch, 38 yard performance in Week 7 and could put up a similar performance this week. With the Eagles offense struggling to move the ball in general and especially struggling to stretch the field, opposing defenses have been able to zone in on Ertz and remove him from a lot of plays. He's still a TE1 this week, but that speaks more to the lack of depth at the position.
Philadelphia Eagles tight end Dallas Goedert is not a good bet to put up big numbers in Week 8. The Eagles travel to Buffalo to take on the Bills and their tough defense. Goedert led the team in receiving in Week 7 and scored a touchdown, but that's unlikely to happen again this week. Goedert is a middling option in two-tight end leagues at best and should not be started in single tight end formats.
Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Nelson Agholor is not a good idea in fantasy starting lineups for Week 8. The Eagles will be on the road going up against the Buffalo Bills and their stingy defense. Agholor has made just seven catches since Week 3, and appeared to completely give up on a very catchable pass last week. He's got NFL speed, but severely lacks NFL hands and is only an average route runner. Even if DeSean Jackson (abdomen) misses another game, Agholor is just a zero-floor WR5 dart throw.
Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Mack Hollins is completely off the fantasy radar for Week 8. The Eagles will be in Buffalo to take on the Bills, and Hollins has not made a catch since Week 4 despite starting in three-wide sets in place of the injured DeSean Jackson (abdomen). He's droppable in all but the deepest fantasy formats.
Philadelphia Eagles rookie wide receiver J.J. Arcega-Whiteside came into the season with plenty of hype, but he has not even seen a pass thrown his way since Week 3. Arcega-Whiteside remains an intriguing dynasty/keeper player, but doesn't belong on a redraft league roster and shouldn't be anywhere close to a starting lineup. Almost all waiver wires will have more useful wide receivers for Week 8, even in the deepest leagues.
Philadelphia Eagles rookie running back Miles Sanders is not a particularly eye-opening option in a Week 8 fantasy lineup. With the Eagles on the road taking on a tough Buffalo Bills Defense, Sanders and the whole Eagles offense could struggle on Sunday. Last week against the Cowboys, Sanders ran for just 21 yards and caught three passes for 11 yards. He's looking at a potentially similar stat line this week, making him no better than a mid-range RB3.
Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Alshon Jeffery will be in a rough spot in Week 8. The Eagles will be on the road in Buffalo to battle their tough defense. With DeSean Jackson (abdomen) possibly looking at another missed game, Jeffery will receive top wideout attention from the Bills secondary. He's coming off a two-catch, 38 yard performance against the Cowboys, and more of the same can be expected in this one. Jeffery is a moderate-upside, low-floor WR2/3 this week.
Carolina Panthers QB Cam Newton (foot) is out of practice Wednesday, Oct. 23, as expected.
Philadelphia Eagles running back Jordan Howard might only play a fantasy relevant role in Week 8 if he is able to score a touchdown. Howard and the Eagles travel to Buffalo to take on a tough Bills Defense. While Howard has handled almost all early-down and goal line work lately, he has not put together many yards and is a complete non-factor in the passing game. He's looking at another game that could possibly be similar to his 50-yard performance in Week 7. Howard is a risky RB3 with a concerning floor this week.
Pittsburgh Steelers RB James Conner (quadriceps) is expected to play in Week 8 against the Los Angeles Chargers.
Fantasy Spin: Conner is averaging just 3.2 yards per carry, but he has scored touchdowns in two games straight. The Chargers are a good matchup for the RB2.
Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz could have a hard time in Week 8 on the road against the Buffalo Bills. The Eagles offense looked like a mess in Week 7 against the Cowboys, with Wentz throwing for just 191 yards on 16 completed passes. The Bills Defense poses another threat to Wentz and the whole Philly offense. With DeSean Jackson (abdomen) still not a sure thing to suit up, it looks like a week to fade every fantasy-relevant Eagle a bit. Wentz is more of a high-end QB2 this week.