Wed Nov 20 4:03pm ET
By KRISTIE RIEKEN
AP Sports Writer
Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson throws a pass against the Baltimore Ravens during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Nov. 17, 2019, in Baltimore. (AP Photo/Gail Burton)
Houston Texans tight end Darren Fells (87) taps quarterback Deshaun Watson (4) after Watson lost a fumble on a sack against the Baltimore Ravens during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Nov. 17, 2019, in Baltimore. (AP Photo/Gail Burton)
Houston Texans wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins (10) pushes forward after a catch as Baltimore Ravens free safety Earl Thomas (29), cornerback Jimmy Smith (22) and middle linebacker Josh Bynes (57) try to stop him during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Nov. 17, 2019, in Baltimore. (AP Photo/Gail Burton)
Indianapolis Colts quarterback Jacoby Brissett (7) prepares to throw during the first half of an NFL football game against the Jacksonville Jaguars, Sunday, Nov. 17, 2019, in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)
HOUSTON (AP) Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson learned from a high school coach that no matter how good or bad a game was, he had to move on to the next one quickly, or ''snap and clear,'' as his old coach used to say.
That mantra will be perhaps more important than usual this week as Watson and the Texans look to bounce back from an embarrassing loss to Baltimore when they host Indianapolis on Thursday night with the AFC South lead on the line.
''That was our theme all through my high school career where good or bad, you're always going on to the next play,'' Watson said. ''And OB (coach Bill O'Brien) always says you're only as good as your next game, you're only as good as your next play. So you've got to continue to have that mindset because you can never get too comfortable in this league.''
The Texans and Watson were anything but comfortable on Sunday when he was sacked six times and had two turnovers in a 41-7 dismantling by the Ravens.
The Colts are on the opposite end of the spectrum, entering this matchup of 6-4 teams after beating the Jaguars 33-13 last week. Like Watson, Colts quarterback Jacoby Brissett is looking forward instead of dwelling on the last game - especially with the short week.
''Everybody on the team understands the quick turnaround we have,'' he said. ''Everybody understands that they're going through the same thing we're going through. I think as one of the leaders you don't have to make a huge production about it. You just go out there ... and understand the focus we need because we're not going to get the same practice reps we would during a regular week.''
Houston receiver DeAndre Hopkins said he started looking ahead to Indianapolis in the fourth quarter against the Ravens when it was clear the game was out of reach. The Texans don't want to build up this game too much but know that losing to the Colts twice in one season would make it difficult to reach their goal of winning the division.
''It's a big game,'' Hopkins said. ''Some of the young guys have never been in this situation, but with me being here and being on this team for a while, I understand everything we want is still in front of us. So every game is big and important, but to me this is the biggest game of the year so far.''
Four-time Pro Bowl receiver T.Y. Hilton has missed three consecutive games with an injured calf.
Hilton anticipates his availability for Thursday will be a game-time decision but remains hopeful of being cleared to return to action. His return would give Indy a potentially gigantic boost. In 15 games against the Texans, he has 82 receptions, 1,519 yards and 10 TD catches.
''It's just if I can get back out there and help my team,'' he said. ''It has just been tough for me watching these last three games and I'm not accustomed to missing games.''
Houston defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel is convinced that Hilton won't miss this one.
''He's going to play,'' Crennel said. ''He's probably counting on it, and I'm - well not necessarily counting on it or looking forward to it, but you've got to prepare for him to play because he'll show up.''
FIRST DOWN HOP
Hopkins is tied for second in the NFL with 47 receptions for first downs, and 62.7% of his catches this season have gone for first downs.
''That's such a valuable part of what he does is that he can, whether it's a third-down catch or a second-down catch that goes for a first down where you don't have to deal with third down, he does a great job of that,'' O'Brien said.
Hopkins takes great pride in his ability to move the chains, and Watson appreciates that quality in his star receiver.
''It makes my job a lot easier for sure,'' he said. ''A guy that can go out there and catch every ball, knows what we need, especially on third down, and a guy that finds ways to get open even if he's doubled ... put the ball in his area he's going to make sure he catches it.''
HOUSTON POSES PROBLEM
Defensive end Justin Houston has found a perfect fit in Indy.
The league's 2014 sack champion leads the Colts with eight sacks and has recorded sacks in six consecutive games for the third time in his career. His current streak is the longest in the NFL, and as the Colts' defense continues to improve, teammates and coaches believe Houston has made a huge impact beyond his pass-rushing presence.
''He's been good in the run game,'' coach Frank Reich said. ''We've said this multiple times, but it is really true - his leadership. As the year has progressed, he has become a more vocal leader. When he talks, people listen. When he talks, people listen for sure.''
Chicago Bears wide receiver Allen Robinson had five catches for 48 yards and two touchdowns during the win over Dallas on Thursday. Robinson picked up both of his touchdowns in the second quarter and has now scored four times over the last three weeks while also combining for 30 targets during that span. He should continue to benefit from the absence of Taylor Gabriel (concussion), who has sat out the last two games, so keep an eye on his status leading up to the Week 15 matchup against Green Bay.
Chicago Bears running back Tarik Cohen pulled in all six of his targets for 24 yards in the win over the Cowboys. He also had seven yards off of three carries. Once again, Cohen did little on the ground as David Montgomery served as the workhorse on Thursday by logging 86 yards on 20 attempts. After scoring a touchdown in each game against the Lions and Rams, the 24-year-old hasn't done much over the last three weeks outside of picking up the scraps left over by Montgomery, Allen Robinson, and Anthony Miller. He is good for the occasional score, but don't expect much against the Packers in Week 15 or throughout the remainder of the year, for that matter.
Chicago Bears running back David Montgomery ran for 86 yards on 20 carries during the win over the Cowboys on Thursday night. Montgomery once again outpaced Tarik Cohen, who had just three carries for seven yards, and maintained a respectable 4.3 yards per carry against a Cowboys Defense that has played decently against opposing backs this season. Next up for him is a Week 15 matchup against Green Bay, with the 22-year-old rushing for just 18 yards on six carries against the Packers back in Week 1.
Chicago Bears quarterback Mitch Trubisky finished with 244 yards on 23-for-31 passing while adding four touchdowns and an interception during the win over the Cowboys on Thursday. Trubisky shook off an early interception by tossing three touchdowns on the night, two of which went to Allen Robinson in the second quarter, before running one in off of a 23-yard attempt early in the fourth. While turnovers have been an issue (at times) for the 25-year-old, he has now compiled seven total touchdowns over the last two games. Nonetheless, things will get tougher in Week 15 against Green Bay, with Trubisky going 26-for-45 for 228 yards and a pick against the Packers back in Week 1.
Detroit Lions rookie quarterback David Blough will get the start in Week 14 when the Lions travel to Minnesota to take on the Vikings. With Matthew Stafford (back) unlikely to return this season and Jeff Driskel (hamstring) placed on the injured reserve, it looks like it will be all Blough from here on out. Those who advanced to the fantasy playoffs are likely not going to be putting their hopes into a rookie quarterback starting for just the second time of his career, but the Lions quarterback situation is terrible news for Kenny Golladay and Marvin Jones going forward. Both receivers caught touchdown passes with Blough under center last week, but that cannot be expected on a weekly basis. Blough's performance was impressive, especially given the circumstances, but removing the first quarter of last week's game from the equation paints a much uglier picture, as he was only able to lead the Lions to two field goals the rest of the way. Blough is not a recommended start this week.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston is coming off a very disappointing performance in Week 13, but that shouldn't hold fantasy owners back from going right back to him in Week 14 against the Indianapolis Colts. Winston was only able to pass for 268 yards with no scores last week, but he should have no problem moving the ball against a bend-but-don't-break defense that gives up plenty of yards. Prior to last week's flop, the fifth-year signal-caller was averaging 324 passing yards and two scores per game since the Bucs bye and has put up QB1 numbers the entire season. Winston will comfortably slot in as a QB1 heading into the first week of the fantasy playoffs.
The Dallas Cowboys Defense struggled mightily in a Week 14 loss to the Chicago Bears. The Cowboys defense seemed unable to stop the Bears on any third down play. Eternally struggling Bears quarterback Mitchell Trubisky threw three touchdown passes and ran for 63 yards and another touchdown. The Cowboys defense only intercepted him once and recorded just two sacks. A previously hyped fantasy unit, the Cowboys defense should probably be avoided for the remainder of the fantasy playoffs.
Dallas Cowboys tight end Blake Jarwin caught six passes in Week 14, gaining 50 yards. Jarwin was targeted seven times, finishing third on the team. Jarwin's usage this season has been very unpredictable, but he has shown the ability to play a decent game when given the chance. He could have more fantasy relevance next season if Jason Witten were to retire again.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back Peyton Barber rewarded fantasy owners who were brave enough to start him in Week 13, but a repeat of his two-touchdown performance, or even something close to it, is hard to envision heading into the first week of the fantasy playoffs. The Bucs backfield is a weekly guessing game with head coach Bruce Arians still refusing to commit to Barber or Ronald Jones. That makes it extremely hard to trust Barber, especially in a do-or-die situation for fantasy owners. Barber has a tough task on his hands regardless this week with the Indianapolis Colts coming to town. The Colts have given up the seventh-fewest fantasy points to running backs this season, with only one back going over the century mark on the ground. Barber is not a recommended start this week.
Dallas Cowboys tight end Jason Witten caught five passes in Week 14, gaining 37 yards. It was a classic late-career Jason Witten game, where he caught most of the balls thrown his way right before falling to the ground. Witten saw seven targets, tied with fellow tight end Blake Jarwin for third on the team. Jarwin was able to come up with one more catch and gain 13 more yards, however. Witten has shown a consistent non-zero floor, which is at least something in the thoroughly empty fantasy position that is 2019 tight end, but he's been unable to establish any sort of ceiling in the meantime.
Dallas Cowboys kicker Brett Maher, already leading the league in missed field goals, missed another one in a Week 14 loss to the Chicago Bears. Maher made all three of his extra points and did make a 31 yarder at the end of the fourth quarter. The Cowboys tried out kickers last week and might do a bit more of that this coming week. Maher may not be long for the Cowboys roster.
Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Michael Gallup had a strong game in Week 14, catching six passes for 109 yards. He led the team in yardage and with the 10 targets thrown his way, and tied for the team lead with six catches. Gallup did a lot of work after the catch in this one, and was a touchdown away from an enormous game in the first week of the fantasy playoffs. He'll continue as a strong WR2 through Week 17.
Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Amari Cooper scored a fourth quarter touchdown in a Week 14 loss to the Chicago Bears. Cooper caught six passes for 83 yards on a total of eight targets. Cooper's six catches tied for the team lead, and his was the only receiving touchdown of the night for Dallas. His score came on a nice 19-yard pass from Dak Prescott near the end of the fourth quarter. Cooper showed some signs of still working through the injuries that have limited him of late, but he was still able to get work done against a strong Chicago defense.
Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Randall Cobb was targeted five times in Week 14, but was only able to come down with two catches. He gained a respectable 43 yards with the two catches, but in a game that he was predicted as a sneaky fantasy option, he ended up disappointing. While Amari Cooper and Michael Gallup were able to do their work on the field, Cobb fell behind and looks to be over his recent hot streak. He'll likely fall back into fantasy irrelevance in most standard leagues.
Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott performed decently in fantasy terms in Week 14 despite losing to the Chicago Bears. Prescott attempted 49 passes, completing 27 of them for 334 yards and a touchdown. Prescott's only touchdown came on a 19-yard pass to Amari Cooper near the end of the fourth quarter. It wasn't a great performance in general from Prescott, but given a strong Bears Defense on the other side, things could certainly have been worse.
Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott scored two touchdowns on the ground in a Week 14 to the Chicago Bears. Elliott ran the ball 19 times, gaining 81 yards. He added two catches for 12 yards on five targets. Elliott stayed on the field the whole game with Tony Pollard (ankle) inactive. Elliott's first touchdown was a two-yard run in the first quarter, and his second was another two-yard run at the end of the third.
Oakland Raiders tight end Darren Waller broke out of a five-game drought in Week 13, recording his first 100-game since Week 7. He'll have a good opportunity to repeat his seven-catch performance from last week versus a Titans Defense that has allowed the seventh-most points to the TE position this season. They were burned by Jack Doyle (6/73/1) and Travis Kelce (7/75/1) in recent weeks, while Waller has remained the favored target of Derek Carr all season long. With Josh Jacobs questionable for Sunday's game, the offense may need to rely on the air attack to win this game, which would be excellent news for Waller owners. Treat the 26-year-old as a high-volume TE1 for Week 14.
Oakland Raiders wide receiver Tyrell Williams is coming off his worst game of the season (1/9/0), and his Week 14 matchup doesn't appear that encouraging either. The Titans have allowed the sixth-most passing yards in the league (260.1 YPG), but have kept opposing WRs out of the end zone in five of their last seven contests. Quarterback Derek Carr has also struggled of late, which has limited Williams to five consecutive games without a score and no 100-yard games since Week 1. Treat the veteran as a WR4 as we enter the first week of fantasy playoffs.
Oakland Raiders quarterback Derek Carr is coming off back-to-back underwhelming performances as the Tennessee Titans come to town for a pivotal matchup this weekend. With both teams in the hunt for a Wild Card spot, the Raiders will need Carr to improve on his recent play with Josh Jacobs questionable for this Sunday. The Titans give up the sixth-most passing yards in the league (260.1 YPG), but have only allowed opposing quarterbacks to reach 20+ fantasy points three times through 13 games. Carr has just two of these games to his credit this season, so the stars aren't exactly aligning for a big performance. With a 3:4 TD to INT ratio over his past four games, treat the veteran as a low-end QB2 for Week 14.
Los Angeles Rams tight end Gerald Everett (knee) missed his second straight practice this week on Thursday. Everett is on his way to missing his second straight game unless he can return to practice on Friday. If you've been using Everett at the tight end spot, you need to look elsewhere in the first week of the fantasy playoffs. Tyler Higbee filled in admirably in a great matchup against Arizona last weekend and went for over 100 yards and a touchdown. He'd be on the TE1/2 borderline again in Week 14 against the Seahawks on Sunday night if Everett misses another game.