Mon Oct 3 8:14pm ET
By KRISTIE RIEKEN
AP Sports Writer
Houston Texans coach Lovie Smith watches players warm up before an NFL football game against the Chicago Bears Sunday, Sept. 25, 2022, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)
Houston Texans quarterback Davis Mills (10) is sacked by Los Angeles Chargers defensive tackle Sebastian Joseph-Day (69) during the second half of an NFL football game Sunday, Oct. 2, 2022, in Houston. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
Houston Texans wide receiver Brandin Cooks (13) celebrates his touchdown catch against the Los Angeles Chargers during the second half of an NFL football game Sunday, Oct. 2, 2022, in Houston. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
HOUSTON (AP) The Houston Texans have had chances to win every game they've played, but they've yet to put together a complete performance.
It adds up to them being the NFL's only winless team.
Houston (0-3-1) started fast in each of its first three games but couldn't finish. Then, on Sunday against the Los Angeles Chargers, the Texans trailed by 20 at halftime before scoring 17 straight points to get within a field goal in the fourth quarter.
The defense couldn't get a stop after that with the Chargers adding a touchdown to seal the 34-24 victory.
''I like the way the team fought back, gave ourselves a chance to win at the end, but we didn't finish,'' coach Lovie Smith said. ''You need to finish the game, and we didn't finish the game the way we need to.''
The Texans allowed the Chargers to pile up 419 yards Sunday. They've given up big plays week after the week and rank 29th in the league in yards allowed.
Mike Williams had a 50-yard reception on Sunday to set up the Chargers' second touchdown and Austin Ekeler was wide open on a 21-yard reception on fourth down to keep the team's game-sealing drive going.
''Whenever you see a guy wide open like that, there's a breakdown in communication,'' Smith said. ''On two of those plays and that long run, it's really disappointing that happened. I felt like we were in a position where that shouldn't happen, but it did.''
Rookie Dameon Pierce has Houston's running game looking better than it has in years. The fourth-round pick from Florida had a career-high 131 yards rushing, highlighted by a 75-yard TD run Sunday.
He ranks 10th in the NFL with 313 yards rushing and is averaging 5.2 yards a carry.
''He's a guy that we need to continue to feature,'' Smith said.
WHAT NEEDS HELP
Quarterback Davis Mills continued to struggle Sunday, throwing two interceptions for the second straight week. His first one came on the third play of the game and led to the first touchdown by Los Angeles.
He played better in the second half but couldn't get the Texans in the end zone after they recovered a fumble on the Chargers 16 in the fourth quarter. He was sacked and fumbled on second down on that drive. The Texans recovered his fumble, but he threw an incompletion on third down that forced the team to settle for a field goal.
''We just have to find ways in those situations to execute at our jobs,'' Mills said. ''One little slip-up can end a drive, so we just have to make sure all 11 people out there on the field are doing their jobs every play.''
Smith knows Mills needs to improve, but he was quick to point out that the passing game is far from the team's only shortcoming.
''We're not where we need to be in our passing game, just like we aren't in anything else,'' Smith said.
Pierce has improved each week and should continue to be a focal point of Houston's offense. He is the third Texans rookie to rush for 130 yards or more in a game and his 75-yard TD was the third-longest run in franchise history.
In his second season, Mills doesn't seem to be progressing and has failed week after week to close out games when Houston has had chances late.
Smith bristled when asked Monday if the team had considered benching Mills.
''We're not making a change at the quarterback position. ... Davis Mills, he's our quarterback,'' Smith said.
LB Blake Cashman is in the concussion protocol after a head injury Sunday. Third overall pick Derek Stingley bruised his arm against the Chargers but returned to the game and said he was OK afterward.
42 - Tackles by safety Jonathan Owens, which ranks fifth in the NFL.
Mills and the Texans will need to clean up their miscues and find a way to finish if they hope to win at Jacksonville (2-2) on Sunday.
Dynasty | Treylon Burks has been diagnosed with turf toe after being carted off the field in Sunday's game. Dynasty Analysis: The injury looked to be much worse than turf toe, but this is going to keep Burks off the field for a while. This is one of the most difficult injuries to return from during a season, so we'll keep an eye on his rehab starting this week. This is just the latest setback for Burks, who has struggled to stay on the field during his rookie season, let alone produce at a high level. He's in danger of falling out of the top ten rookies should others continue to step up while he's out of the lineup. Dynasty managers have no choice but to hold on to him for the moment.
Dynasty | Tua Tagovailoa will not play for the Dolphins this week against the Jets. Dynasty Analysis: It seems the Dolphins may have received the memo from the rest of America wondering why he was ever on the field last week in the first place. Tua is dealing with a significant concussion and while his date to return to the field is unknown, there is little to no chance we see him until he's more than 100% ready to play. Miami has come under fire for how they've handled his injuries this season and are clearly under the microscope. As for Tua, his ranking of QB16 is secure, but we'll need to see him back on the field before moving him up.
Dynasty | With Brian Robinson set to return from IR, Antonio Gibson's grasp on the starting running back job is tenuous at best. Dynasty Analysis: Robinson was clearly in the lead for the job this summer and Gibson hasn't really done anything to likely convince the Washington coaches he should be the answer. While Robinson may be eased into the job, it seems unlikely Gibson will hold him off for long. Gibson has posted just 173 yards this year, averaging averaging a pedestrian 3.3 yards per carry in the process. At this point, savvy owners are likely looking to peddle him before his ranking of RB21 starts to tank.
Denver Broncos defensive end Randy Gregory (knee) is undergoing arthroscopic knee surgery and will be sidelined anywhere from two to six weeks, depending on how he recovers, according to a source. The good news for Gregory is that his ACL is still intact, so he'll be able to return after a few weeks of rest and recovery. The 29-year-old pass-rusher has been a big force on Denver's defensive line through the first four weeks, compiling two sacks, nine tackles (six solo), seven QB hits and two forced fumbles, so his absence is surely bad news for a Broncos defense that got dominated by the division-rival Las Vegas Raiders in their Week 4 loss. The Broncos defense/special teams unit won't be anything more than a low-upside streaming option in Week 5 against the Indianapolis Colts.
Washington Commanders defensive end Chase Young (knee) will not be activated from the Physically Unable to Perform list this week, according to head coach Ron Rivera. Young will miss at least one more game and probably more as he continues to recover from ACL and MCL tears in his right knee last November. The 23-year-old former first-rounder made the Pro Bowl in his rookie season in 2020 when he had 7.5 sacks and 44 tackles (32 solo), but he played in only nine games in 2021 and finished with just 1.5 sacks and 26 tackles (15 solo). At full health, he will be a big boost to the Commanders' pass rush and he should be worth a look in IDP formats down the stretch as well.
Denver Broncos head coach Nathaniel Hackett said quarterback Russell Wilson (shoulder) would have been limited on Monday if the team had a real practice. Hackett said Wilson "got dinged up a little bit" in the Week 4 loss to the Las Vegas Raiders on Sunday. It's something to keep an eye on, but Wilson doesn't appear to be in any danger of missing the Week 5 contest against the Indianapolis Colts on Thursday night. The 33-year-old QB accounted for three touchdowns on Sunday (two passing, one rushing), but he threw for only 237 yards on a season-low 25 attempts. Against a Colts defense that's allowing 16.2 fantasy points per game to signal-callers through four weeks, Wilson will be in play as a low-end QB1 in fantasy.
Washington Commanders head coach Ron Rivera said that rookie running back Brian Robinson (knee) will come off the Non-Football Injury list and the team will start his 21-day clock to return on Wednesday. Robinson was cleared by doctors to practice, and Rivera said it looks "very promising" that the 23-year-old could make his NFL debut in Week 5 against the Tennessee Titans. It wouldn't be surprising if the Commanders take it slow with Robinson, but once he is ready to contribute, it will be bad news for both Antonio Gibson and pass-catching back J.D. McKissic. Before being shot in an attempted robbery in D.C. just before the start of the regular season, Robinson was trending towards leading Washington's backfield. If he remains available on your league's waiver wire, scoop him up now and stash him.
Baltimore Ravens head coach John Harbaugh said that wide receiver Rashod Bateman (foot) was dealing with a foot injury in the second half of the Week 4 loss to the Buffalo Bills, which is why he was not on the field in the fourth quarter. The Ravens are listing Bateman as day-to-day for now, so fantasy managers will need to keep an eye on his practice status throughout the week leading up to a Week 5 matchup against the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday Night Football. Unless the 22-year-old suffers a setback this week, he should be on track to suit up this week. He played a season-low 44 percent of the snaps on Sunday and caught just three of six targets for 17 yards. With better health in Week 5, fantasy managers will be hoping he can bounce back after scoring touchdowns in each of the first two weeks.
With Denver Broncos running back Javonte Williams (knee) out for the season due to a torn ACL, the Broncos will have to rely more on Melvin Gordon III, who has fumbled five times in his last 44 carries over five games. Sunday's Week 4 loss to the Las Vegas Raiders marked the third time a Gordon fumble has been returned for a touchdown in the Broncos' last 12 games. The 29-year-old was listed as limited on Monday's practice estimate with a neck injury, but he should be fine ahead of Thursday night's Week 5 game against the Indianapolis Colts, where he should lead Denver's backfield despite his fumbling issues. Mike Boone might be involved as well the rest of the way, but Gordon should be Denver's primary back, giving him RB2 upside moving forward.
San Francisco 49ers rookie wide receiver Danny Gray (hip) and defensive tackle Javon Kinlaw (knee) are both officially inactive on Monday night against the division-rival Los Angeles Rams. The Niners also placed linebacker Azeez Al-Shaair (knee) on Injured Reserve. Tight end Ross Dwelley (rib) and defensive tackle Arik Armstead (foot), who were questionable, are officially active. Gray wasn't able to practice all week and came into this one doubtful to play. Deebo Samuel and Brandon Aiyuk will continue to work as the team's top pass-catchers, as well as tight end George Kittle. Jauan Jennings and Ray-Ray McCloud will battle for scraps against a tough Rams defense Monday night.
The San Francisco 49ers promoted wide receivers Willie Snead IV and Malik Turner and running back Tevin Coleman from the practice squad to the active roster for Monday night's game against the division-rival Los Angeles Rams. Snead and Turner will be battling for a depth role among the likes of Jauan Jennings and Ray-Ray McCloud behind Deebo Samuel and Brandon Aiyuk on Monday night. Meanwhile, Coleman will provide depth to a banged-up Niners backfield with Elijah Mitchell (knee) on Injured Reserve and rookie Tyrion Davis-Price (ankle) out for another week. Jeff Wilson Jr. will remain the team's primary back against the Rams, with rookie Jordan Mason and Marlon Mack behind him.
The Los Angeles Rams elevated running back Malcolm Brown and offensive tackle Chandler Brewer from the practice squad to the active roster for Monday night's contest against the division-rival San Francisco 49ers. The 29-year-oLD Brown won't have much of a role at all on Monday behind Cam Akers, Darrell Henderson Jr. and Jake Funk. Browns spent the first six seasons of his NFL career with the Rams before playing in seven games (three starts) for the Miami Dolphins last year, when he had just 33 carries for 125 yards and one touchdown while adding three catches for 10 yards. Unless LA's backfield is decimated by injuries on Monday night, it's highly unlikely that we'll see Brown on the field.
The Pittsburgh Steelers are expected to move forward with rookie first-round quarterback Kenny Pickett, according to sources, after Pickett took over for the benched Mitch Trubisky in the Week 4 loss to the New York Jets. Pickett took over at halftime and head coach Mike Tomlin said, "we needed a spark." Pickett went 10-for-13 passing for 120 yards with three interceptions, but he also added two rushing scores and will see plenty of opportunities moving forward, beginning in Week 5 in a very tough matchup against the Buffalo Bills on the road. It shouldn't come as a huge surprise that the Steelers are sticking with Pickett over the ineffective Trubisky. The 24-year-old rookie will have his growing pains, but he proves the Steelers and fantasy managers with more upside, especially with his legs. He'll be a low-end QB2 option in superflex leagues in his first career start this week.
Dynasty | Washington running back Brian Robinson has been designated to return off the IR. Dynasty Analysis: His return can't come soon enough as Antonio Gibson had his smallest snap share of the season this week and simply hasn't done enough to look like the long-term answer at running back. Robinson was clearly the top choice going into the season and the window to buy is closing rapidly. At this point, he's creeping up on first round rookie pick value. Plan accordingly.
Dynasty | Jamison Crowder suffered a broken ankle in week four against Baltimore. Dynasty Analysis: He's likely headed to injured reserve, but nothing is official. It's been a rough go for the slot dynamo who seemingly lost his job to Isaiah McKenzie in the off-season. With just six catches for 60 yards, this was turning into a lost season prior to the injury anyway. Now 29, Crowder will look to rehab and hopefully land in a better situation next season should he fail to come back and make an impact with Buffalo this year. Our WR97, Crowder is a tough hold in a dynasty leagues and is more of a roster clogger than anything else at this point.
Tests on Indianapolis Colts running back Jonathan Taylor (ankle) came back negative on Monday and he has a chance to play on Thursday night in Week 5 against the Denver Broncos, according to a source. The team initially feared that Taylor had suffered a high-ankle sprain in the Week 4 loss to the Tennessee Titans, but it's now looking like he may have avoided a long-term injury. He was listed as DNP on the team's estimated practice report on Monday, and fantasy managers will have to keep a close eye on his status over the next couple of days. Even if Taylor is active, he could see fewer snaps, which would make him an extremely risky RB1. If Taylor is inactive this week, Nyheim Hines and Deon Jackson would share backfield duties, with Phillip Lindsay likely being added to the active roster as additional depth.
If Indianapolis Colts running back Jonathan Taylor (ankle) is unable to play on Thursday night in Week 5 against the Denver Broncos, pass-catching back Nyheim Hines would likely have an increased role out of the backfield. He has 17 catches through four games but has only eight carries for 11 yards on the ground. The Colts could also turn to Phillip Lindsay, who has spent the first four weeks on the practice squad. Deon Jackson would also see an elevated role behind Hines, but Indy's ground game has been abysmal to start the year, ranking just 27th despite the presence of Taylor, who ranks sixth in the league in rushing with 328 yards. If Taylor is inactive this week, Hines would be the most attractive Colts RB in fantasy, mostly in PPR formats.
Dynasty | Kenny Golladay has a knee injury and is likely out for week five. Dynasty Analysis: Golladay's season can only be described as a nightmare thus far. With a new coaching staff failing to have any semblance of belief in his abilities, he's been used sparingly all season, posting just two catches for 22 yards. This injury will likely keep him off the field for a bit, but it honestly doesn't matter at this point. Golladay badly needs a change of scenery, but his contract is next to impossible to move. It simply looks like a lost year for Kenny G, who has fallen off the map as our WR93. He's droppable.
Dynasty | With Javonte Williams out for the season, Mike Boone is in line for an increased role. Dynasty Analysis: While many dynasty managers are going to be on the hunt for shares of Melvin Gordon, Boone is going to come much cheaper and could end up being the waiver wire darling of 2022 in the process. Gordon has had fumbling problems again this season and Boone actually played more snaps than Gordon this week after Williams went down with his knee injury. Boone's ADP is going to skyrocket over the next few days as he's currently outside the top 90 running backs.
Dynasty | With Javonte Williams out for the season, Melvin Gordon is the de facto starting running back in Denver yet again. Dynasty Analysis: The Broncos were widely booed for re-signing Gordon this off-season, but it looks like a great move at this point. With Javonte Williams out for the year with a torn ACL and LCL, Gordon should have a golden opportunity ahead of him. However, he's been less than impressive thus far and his four fumbles are a serious issue. There's little doubt Gordon will get the first crack at the lion's share of vacated carries and catches, Mike Boone is also in the fold and actually outplayed Gordon this past weekend. His ADP of RB45 is sure to go up, but savvy dynasty owners aren't going to be overpaying for his services quite yet.