Indianapolis Colts' Adam Vinatieri (4) kicks a field goal from the hold of Rigoberto Sanchez during the second half of the team's NFL football game against the Miami Dolphins in Indianapolis, Sunday, Nov. 10, 2019. (AP Photo/AJ Mast)
Indianapolis Colts head coach Frank Reich throws the challenge flag during the first half against the Pittsburgh Steelers in an NFL football game, Sunday, Nov. 3, 2019, in Pittsburgh. (AP Photo/Don Wright)
Indianapolis Colts quarterback Brian Hoyer (2) takes a snap against the Pittsburgh Steelers after Jacoby Brissett was injured in the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Nov. 3, 2019, in Pittsburgh. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
Houston Texans inside linebacker Zach Cunningham (41) tackles Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Gardner Minshew (15) during the second half of an NFL football game at Wembley Stadium, Sunday, Nov. 3, 2019, in London. (AP Photo/Ian Walton)
Jacksonville Jaguars head coach Doug Marrone walks the sidelines during the first half of an NFL football game against the Houston Texans at Wembley Stadium, Sunday, Nov. 3, 2019, in London. (AP Photo/Ian Walton)
Jaguars QB Nick Foles holds a ball during a NFL training session of the Jacksonville Jaguars at the at Allianz Park in London, Friday, Nov. 1, 2019. The Jacksonville Jaguars are preparing for an NFL regular season game against the Houston Texans in London on Sunday. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) Nick Foles’ long-awaited return will come with all the typical emotions Sunday.
The Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback is excited to play, eager to prove he’s healthy and optimistic about keeping his team in the playoff hunt. And, the most anticipated part for Foles might be his brief reunion with Colts coach Frank Reich, the man who helped revive his career.
“He’s a guy that I admire more than anything,” Foles said. “He’s a guy that has impacted my life so much, and he’s going to be on the opposing sideline, so that’s going to be fun.”
Foles entered the league as a third-round pick, full of promise. But after four seasons and 35 starts in Philadelphia and St. Louis, Foles found himself in the backup role in Kansas City and then Philadelphia, where Reich was in his second season as offensive coordinator.
Then, when MVP front-runner Carson Wentz went down with a late-season injury and the Eagles’ offense started to sputter, Reich made an adjustment for the playoffs and everything changed.
Foles led the Eagles to the Super Bowl title, was named Super Bowl MVP and Reich took the job in Indianapolis.
On Sunday, they’ll be on opposite sidelines in Indianapolis.
“I think it will be emotional seeing him because of what he means to me,” Foles said. “He’s one of the greatest people I’ve ever met, so when he went there, I was so excited for him. But I’m going to go out there and play.”
The Colts (5-4) don’t have much film on Foles.
He took only 11 snaps before breaking his left collarbone then turned the job over to rookie Gardner Minshew who became an instant sensation because of his moustache and his ability to win.
Now with the Jags (4-5) needing a division win, Foles returns - just in time for Reich to help give his defensive coaches a scouting report.
“I sat down and spoke with (defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus) about Nick’s abilities, mindset and that kind of thing - not a whole lot to be honest with you,” Reich said. “I told him what I thought about a few things, in detail about a few things.”
Indy is dealing with its own issues.
For the first time in 13 months, they’ve lost back-to-back games. They’ve fallen out of the AFC South lead and are dealing with their own quarterback situation as Jacoby Brissett tries to play with a sprained medial collateral ligament in his left knee. Brian Hoyer replaced Brissett each of the past two weeks but Brissett was a full participant in practice and is expected to reclaim his starting job Sunday.
But for Foles, this game comes with a personal touch.
“He’d get up in front of the team after a loss or tough time and he just kept it real and he kept it light, he was joyful,” Foles said of Reich. “There was something different in his heart. But seeing him handle his everyday life like he did, with the joy he had, and how he spoke to people and loved everyone, was the most impactful thing and it was really special to be around. And obviously, he’s an amazing coach, he knows football.”
Adam Vinatieri has missed six extra points and five field goals this season, and it was a hot topic all week in Indy.
The Colts brought in free agents for tryouts Tuesday before opting to stick with the 24-year veteran who is the league’s career scoring leader. Reich continues to insist he has full confidence in his kicker.
“I believe whatever we’re going through is just a phase and he is going to help us win games and get to where we want to go,” Reich said.
Indy won 11 of the first 14 games in this series, but lately Jacksonville has had the upper hand.
The Jags have won three of four under coach Doug Marrone and have not allowed a point in the past three halves against the Colts. Indy has only been shut out twice since 2003 - and both came against Jacksonville during Marrone’s tenure.
“We still have to keep developing, we still have to get these guys better,” Marrone said. “We need to get better and better each week.”
While Indy’s offense has languished the past few weeks, the defense has played well.
In the past five games, Indy is allowing an average of 18.2 points - a number that is even lower when an interception return for a touchdown is subtracted. But the difference isn’t just showing up on the scoreboard.
Reich and Eberflus say they see it on tape, play after play.
Oakland Raiders wide receiver Tyrell Williams has disappointed fantasy owners so far in the second half of the season. He's been held to under 50 receiving yards in five of his last six games, and hasn't eclipsed triple-digits since Week 1. Williams has also gone six straight games without a touchdown, making him hard to trust versus the Jaguars this week. The Jacksonville defense has allowed the 13th fewest points to the position this season and has notably been burned on the ground in recent weeks. The Raiders will undoubtedly keep their run-first mentality, creating even less volume for the team's pass-catchers. Williams is a TD-dependant WR4 for Week 15, and shouldn't be trusted for the fantasy playoffs.
Oakland Raiders tight end Darren Waller has put together back-to-back productive games after a disappointing month and a half. He's caught 13 of 15 targets for 172 yards in the two-game sample, proving to be the only fantasy relevant pass-catcher on the offense. The Jaguars are a middle of the pack defense versus the position, but did give up two touchdowns to the Chargers last week. The Raiders, however, are expected to attack on the ground and play with a comfortable lead for the final home game ever in Oakland. This could affect Waller's volume, but his high-target share keeps him in the TE1 discussion.
Oakland Raiders quarterback Derek Carr will take the field for the final time in front of the hometown Oakland fans this Sunday versus the Jaguars. Emotions will be running high with an electric stadium expected, but Carr shouldn't be trusted for your fantasy playoffs. His matchup is on the favorable side, but the offense funnels through the run game, which makes it difficult for the 28-year-old to receive enough opportunities to be trusted. The Raiders are also 6.5 favorites against the worst-run defense over the last four weeks, so expect the Raiders could run away with this one. The stars are aligning for a low-volume game for Carr, making him a desperation QB2 for Week 15.
Baltimore Ravens QB Lamar Jackson (quadriceps) is officially active for the team's Week 15 game.
Fantasy Spin: Jackson has been one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL all season and is a must-start option in all fantasy leagues.
San Francisco 49ers DT D.J. Jones (ankle) was placed on the Reserve/Injured list Thursday, Dec. 12.
Baltimore Ravens TE Mark Andrews (knee) is officially active for the team's Week 15 game.
Fantasy Spin: Andrews suffered the injury last week but likely will receive his normal workload in Week 15. He should be a starting option in all leagues this week.
The New York Jets have declared DL Quinnen Williams, OL Chuma Edoga, RB Bilal Powell, CB Brian Poole, WR Demaryius Thomas, S Jamal Adams and CB Arthur Maulet inactive for Week 15.
New York Jets WR Demaryius Thomas (hamstring, knee) was declared inactive against the Baltimore Ravens Thursday, Dec. 12.
Fantasy Spin: Thomas scored his first touchdown of the season last week, but he isn't a safe enough option to be a consideration during the fantasy playoffs, even if he's able to return for Week 16.
The Baltimore Ravens have declared WR Jaleel Scott, CB Anthony Averett, OT Ronnie Stanley, OG Ben Powers, DL Justin Ellis, QB Trace McSorley and DB Chris Board inactive for Week 15.
Dallas Cowboys LB Sean Lee (pectoral, thigh) and LB Leighton Vander Esch (neck) didn't participate in practice Thursday, Dec. 12. DT Antwaun Woods (knee), G Zack Martin (elbow, ankle), P Chris Jones (abdomen), CB Byron Jones (hip), OT La'el Collins (knee) and DL Michael Bennett (foot) were limited. S Jeff Heath (shoulder), RB Tony Pollard (ankle), OT Tyron Smith (Achilles) and S Darian Thompson (biceps) participated in full.
San Francisco 49ers TE Garrett Celek (back), DL Dee Ford (quad, hamstring), DL D.J. Jones (ankle), CB Richard Sherman (hamstring), S Jaquiski Tartt (ribs), DT Jullian Taylor (elbow) and CB K'Waun Williams (concussion) didn't practice Thursday, Dec. 12. WR Dante Pettis (knee) was a full participant.
Arizona Cardinals WR Larry Fitzgerald (non-injury) fully participated in practice Thursday, Dec. 12.
Fantasy Spin: Fitzgerald has been a solid option in the passing game over the last month and should see a handful of targets this week. He could be a possible flex option in deeper leagues.
Dallas Cowboys QB Dak Prescott (hand) remained a full participant in practice Thursday, Dec. 12.
Fantasy Spin: Prescott should be good to go for the game Sunday, Dec. 15, against the Los Angeles Rams. He's a mid-tier QB1 against the Rams.
Dallas Cowboys WR Amari Cooper (knee) participated in full at practice Thursday, Dec. 12.
Fantasy Spin: Cooper will likely face the defensive coverage of Los Angeles Rams CB Jalen Ramsey, and we've already seen him completely shut down by a top corner in New England Patriots CB Stephon Gilmore earlier this season. Fantasy managers should expect a below-average performance.
Buffalo Bills LB Lorenzo Alexander (non-injury), RB Frank Gore (illness), DE Jerry Hughes (non-injury) and OT Ty Nsekhe (ankle) did not participate in practice Thursday, Dec. 12. DT Corey Liuget (knee) and DT Jordan Phillips (knee) were limited during practice.
Cleveland Browns WR Jarvis Landry (hip) was limited during practice Thursday, Dec. 12.
Fantasy Spin: Landry has been a consistent option for fantasy players this season and will continue to receive plenty of targets in the passing game. He should be at least a No. 3 receiver this week.
Los Angeles Chargers LB Thomas Davis Sr. (non-injury) didn't practice Thursday, Dec. 12. LB Uchenna Nwosu (ankle) was limited. LB Drue Tranquill (elbow) practiced in full.
Cleveland Browns TE David Njoku (knee) fully participated in practice Thursday, Dec. 12.
Fantasy Spin: Njoku will have a favorable matchup this week against the Arizona Cardinals and can be a low-end No. 1 tight end in fantasy leagues.
Arizona Cardinals WR Christian Kirk (ankle) was limited during practice Thursday, Dec. 12.
Fantasy Spin: Kirk should have a decent chance to play in the Week 15 game, but fantasy players should keep an eye on the situation over the next few days. He can be a No. 3 receiver or flex option in leagues if he plays.
San Francisco 49ers rookie wide receiver Deebo Samuel has lived up to his second-round billing in recent weeks and remains a steady WR3 in Week 15 against the Atlanta Falcons. Over his last five contests, Samuel has either surpassed 100 scrimmage yards or scored a touchdown, becoming an instrumental piece of the offense. Even with veteran wideout Emmanuel Sanders reassuming No. 1 receiver status, Samuel has continued finding ways to make an impact. Against an Atlanta Falcons Defense ranked 26th in DVOA, there should be ample opportunities for all Niners playmakers.