Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Gardner Minshew speaks with the media following an NFL football game against the Carolina Panthers in Charlotte, N.C., Sunday, Oct. 6, 2019. (AP Photo/Brian Blanco)
Cincinnati Bengals head coach Zac Taylor works the sideline in the first half of an NFL football game against the Arizona Cardinals, Sunday, Oct. 6, 2019, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/Frank Victores)
Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Gardner Minshew (15) passes against the Carolina Panthers during the first half of an NFL football game in Charlotte, N.C., Sunday, Oct. 6, 2019. (AP Photo/Brian Blanco)
CINCINNATI (AP) A so-so showing against the Saints threw a little cold water on Minshew-mania. The rookie with the distinctive `stache has a chance to re-ignite it against one of the NFL's two winless teams.
Quarterbacks tend to have big games against these winless Bengals.
Gardner Minshew looked very ordinary during the Jaguars' 13-6 loss to New Orleans. Jacksonville (2-4) was held to a season-low 226 yards and a pair of field goals. Minshew threw for only 163 yards with an interception.
The sixth-round pick became an overnight sensation after Nick Foles got hurt in the opener. He leads all rookies with nine touchdown passes in six games and a passer rating of 97.5. A little of the luster came off in that ragged showing against the Saints.
Asked if it'll be easier to play at Paul Brown Stadium on Sunday without the mania, Minshew smiled and said, ''I don't listen to it much anyway. It's about the same.''
The past three quarterbacks who faced the Bengals had career days.
Cincinnati fell to 0-6 for the first time in 11 years when Lamar Jackson ran for a career-high 152 yards last Sunday in Baltimore's 23-17 win . A week earlier, Kyler Murray ran for a career-high 93 in the Cardinals' first win. Pittsburgh's Mason Rudolph had a good time during a 27-3 win the previous Monday night.
And things are only getting worse in Cincinnati. The Bengals are last in the league at stopping the run, and they're expected to be without their top two cornerbacks on Sunday.
The previous time the Bengals opened 0-7 was 2008, when they dropped their first eight under coach Marvin Lewis. As October starts to wind down, first-year coach Zac Taylor is still looking for that inaugural win.
''It's one of those things where we didn't expect it to look like this coming into the year, but it's where we are,'' quarterback Andy Dalton said. ''You still go to work, and you still love this game. It has been tough, though.''
Some things to watch Sunday at Paul Brown Stadium:
The Jaguars dealt top cornerback Jalen Ramsey to the Rams for three draft picks Tuesday, parting ways with a two-time Pro Bowl player who wanted out. Ramsey had requested a trade and missed the past three games with a back injury. Coach Doug Marrone addressed it with players as he got them focused for Cincinnati.
''We did a good job not letting that distract us,'' cornerback A.J. Bouye said. ''Now we just have to move forward.''
RUN TO DAYLIGHT
Nobody stands a better chance for a big game than Jaguars running back Leonard Fournette, who is second in the AFC with 584 yards rushing and is averaging 5.1 yards per carry. He'll be facing a defense that has allowed 5.3 yards per rush - worst in the league - and has already allowed three opponents to rush for more than 250 yards. Cincinnati has by far the worst run defense in the NFL, allowing 184.5 yards per game. Jackson had his big day in Baltimore's win last Sunday even though the Bengals focused on stopping his runs.
''When you've got a minimum of two guys on the guy and they don't make the plays, it is disconcerting,'' defensive coordinator Lou Anarumo said.
Dre Kirkpatrick and William Jackson III are expected to miss the game with injuries, leaving the Bengals in a tough spot at cornerback. Slot cornerback Darqueze Dennard returned to practice this week after being sidelined since knee surgery in March. Even though he hadn't played a snap in practice since last year, he's likely to see a lot of playing time.
''I'm kind of an even-keel guy,'' Dennard said. ''A lot of these games have been like roller coasters - high emotions and lows and all that type stuff. So I'm going to keep everybody calm.''
RUN THE BALL
Not only have the Bengals been unable to stop the run, they haven't had much of a running game themselves. They're also last in the league in that category, averaging only 56.5 yards per game. The lack of a running game has forced Dalton to throw the ball 243 times, third-most in the league. Joe Mixon will be going against a Jaguars run defense that ranks only 25th in the league.
HOW MANY WILL WATCH
After three straight losing seasons, the Bengals have struggled to sell tickets. Only 50,666 were distributed for their home opening loss the 49ers, and 46,012 were distributed for the second home game against the Cardinals. Paul Brown Stadium hasn't been much of a home-field advantage.
New York Giants wide receiver Sterling Shepard (concussion) is still in the concussion protocol, but head coach Pat Shurmur said the team expects Shepard to be cleared by the end of the week. Despite not being cleared yet, Shepard has practiced in full the last two days. It's a sign that he will return to action in Week 12 against the Bears for the first time since Oct. 6 against the Vikings. It's great to see Shepard nearing a return, but he could have his snaps limited after a long layoff, and the matchup isn't a good one. Shepard will be a shaky flex if he's active, while his presence will also lower the upside of both Golden Tate and Darius Slayton against Chicago.
Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Nelson Agholor could play a big role again in Week 12 when the Eagles host the Seattle Seahawks. With Alshon Jeffery (ankle) questionable after missing Week 11, Agholor could again serve as an incredibly overmatched WR1 for Carson Wentz. Agholor had a hard time catching the football in Week 11 as has been a theme for his whole career, but he still drew nine targets. With a softer defense to go against in Week 12, that many targets could lead to fantasy relevance even for someone with hands like Agholor's. He'll almost certainly drop a touchdown, but he might catch one too.
Philadelphia Eagles tight end Zach Ertz hasn't had the season he, the Eagles, or his fantasy owners wanted, but he's a solid bet to have a strong Week 12 against the Seattle Seahawks. The Seahawks Defense does fairly well against opposing running backs and wide receivers, but tight ends have been able to exploit them a bit this season. After a slow start, Ertz has now gone two games in a row with 11 targets thrown his way. Another double-digit target load isn't out of the question in Week 12. Fire him up with confidence as a TE1 with upside to be the top scorer at the position.
Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Alshon Jeffery (ankle) will be an OK fantasy option in Week 12 if he recovers from his ankle injury. Jeffery was forced to miss Week 11's loss to the New England Patriots, but he was back at practice on Wednesday. If he is ultimately cleared to play, he'll be quarterbackCarson Wentz's top wide receiver in a game where the Eagles will likely need to make some passing plays. Jeffery has not been much of a ceiling play this season at all but has at least maintained a decent floor, and that should remain true in Week 12 if he can stay on the field.
Philadelphia Eagles running back Boston Scott may or may not have a fantasy significant role in Week 12. The Eagles take on the Seattle Seahawks in Philly, but whether or not Scott plays significant snaps depends on the availability of Jordan Howard (shoulder). Howard is questionable at best at this point after missing Week 11, where Scott got seven carries and gained 26 yards. He's a viable replacement for Howard if fantasy owners are desperate, but rookie Miles Sanders will be the featured back if Howard is forced to miss another game.
Philadelphia Eagles running back Jay Ajayi is likely to have some kind of a role on offense in Week 12. Ajayi was active in Week 11 but never saw the field. He was in uniform despite having signed with the team just two days earlier. With a full week of practice now, Ajayi should see the field for Sunday's matchup against the Seattle Seahawks. How much he plays will depend on whether or not Jordan Howard (shoulder) is cleared to play. Still, Ajayi's role is far too murky to be worth a start in any format, but he should be scooped up from any waiver wires where he's available just in case.
Philadelphia Eagles rookie running back Miles Sanders should have a significant role in Week 12's matchup with the Seattle Seahawks. With Jordan Howard (shoulder) questionable at best to play, Sanders will have a prominent backfield role once again. He was shut down by the Patriots in Week 11 with Howard out of the picture, running for just 38 yards and making two catches, but the Seahawks Defense won't pose a similar threat. Sanders makes for a solid RB2 play this week with a slight bump in PPR formats. Even if Howard is cleared to play, Sanders should still provide fantasy points in his role.
Philadelphia Eagles running back Jordan Howard (shoulder) is a risky choice in Week 12 fantasy lineups assuming he is cleared to play. Currently questionable at best after missing Week 11, Howard is set for a date with the Seattle Seahawks Defense. If fully healthy, Howard would be a middling RB2 for this contest, but given the injury and the possibility of a re-aggravation, he can't be treated as much more than an RB4. Desperate fantasy owners need to keep an eye on injury reports heading into Friday's practice and should be ready to pounce on Boston Scott or anyone else potentially available on the waiver wire.
Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz will be a QB2 for a Week 12 matchup against the Seattle Seahawks. Wentz is coming off an inconsistent performance against the Patriots in Week 11 in which he completed just 20 of his 40 pass attempts for 214 yards and one touchdown. The Seahawks Defense is not as talented as the Patriots Defense by any means, but they are coming off their bye week and have given some opposing quarterbacks trouble this season. Wentz has not been completely to blame, as his receivers drop his passes as if they burn their fingers. Alshon Jeffery (ankle) and Jordan Howard (shoulder) could be back in the lineup this week, which would help Wentz's outlook considerably.
The Dallas Cowboys Defense is not a highly recommended fantasy option for a Week 12 lineup. The Cowboys will be on the road to take on the New England Patriots, and it's always tough to recommend a fantasy defense against Tom Brady's squad. The Giants and Lions defensive units could be on some league's waiver wires and should make for better options in Week 12 matchups.
New York Giants tight ends Evan Engram (foot) and Rhett Ellison (concussion) are not practicing on Wednesday. It seems unlikely at this point that Engram will be ready to play on Sunday against the Bears. You should be making plans to be without Engram again in Week 12. If Ellison is also out, Scott Simonson and rookie Kaden Smith would likely split playing time in a tough matchup with Chicago. Neither one of them would be very attractive as a TE2 streamer in deeper leagues.
Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Alshon Jeffery (ankle) and running back Jordan Howard (shoulder) are doing individual work in practice on Wednesday and are limited. Jeffery didn't practice at all last week before he was inactive in Week 11, so it's progress for him. Still, both players should still be considered questionable to face the Seahawks in Week 12. Nelson Agholor would have some fleeting flex appeal once again if Jeffery misses another game, while tight ends Zach Ertz and Dallas Goedert would both remain involved in the passing game. Rookie Miles Sanders would have RB2 upside if Howard misses his second straight game. Keep an eye on their practice status the rest of the week.
Dallas Cowboys kicker Brett Maher is a decent but not particularly high-upside kicking option in Week 12. The Cowboys will be on the road to face the New England Patriots and could struggle to score, limiting Maher's chances. There's always the possibility that the Patriots Defense causes the Cowboys to stall on offensive drives, leading to more field goals for Maher, but that's a risky situation to bank on. Fantasy owners who have been trotting out Maher all season might as well keep him there for another week, but streamers should look elsewhere on the waiver wire.
Atlanta Falcons tight end Austin Hooper (knee) won't play in Week 12 against the Buccaneers, but he could try to run a little in practice on Thursday. There's a chance that Hooper could be ready to return in Week 13 against the Saints. Keep Hooper stashed on your benches, especially if you're looking good to make the fantasy players, as Hooper could come in handy down the stretch as a high-end TE1. Luke Stocker and Jaeden Graham should continue to split playing time this Sunday, but you can avoid both for fantasy purposes.
Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Tyreek Hill's (hamstring) injury was deemed minor after he underwent an MRI exam, according to a source. Hill is being considered day-to-day, and there's a real chance he won't miss any time with the team's bye in Week 12. He tried to go back into the Monday night game against the Chargers. Hill was held catchless on his two targets before leaving the game and not returning, so it was a blow to his fantasy owners. The good news is that Hill should be back in Week 13 in the final week before the fantasy playoffs begin in most leagues. As long as he's on the field, Hill will be a must-start.
Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster (concussion, knee) remains in the league's concussion protocol on Wednesday and is also wearing a significant brace on his left knee. Smith-Schuster isn't off to a good start to the week, and he won't be a guarantee to play in Week 12 against the Bengals even if he's cleared from the protocol later this week. You should be planning on being without him this weekend. With Diontae Johnson (concussion) also questionable to play, the Steelers could be rolling with James Washington, Johnny Holton and Tevin Jones in three-receiver sets against the winless Bengals. Washington would be the best DFS streamer if both JuJu and Johnson are inactive. Tight end Vance McDonald would have more upside as well.
Dallas Cowboys tight end Blake Jarwin is not a starting option in most fantasy lineups in Week 12. Jarwin and the Cowboys will be in New England to take on the Patriots and their great defense. Jarwin has yet to catch more than three passes in a game this season and despite his occasional touchdowns and chunk gains, is still too unpredictable to trust in fantasy lineups.
Dallas Cowboys tight end Jason Witten is no more than a floor play, at best, in Week 12 and is better left on most fantasy benches. With the Cowboys in New England to face the Patriots, Witten could end up with something like his two-catch, 17-yard performance against the Vikings. Witten is one of the least likely tight ends in the NFL to put up zero fantasy points, but he's also not very likely to put up double-digit points most weeks. Tight end is a very weak fantasy position this season, but most leagues will still have someone with at least more upside than Witten in Week 12.
Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Michael Gallup is a strong WR2 play despite a tough matchup in Week 12. The Cowboys will be in New England to take on the Patriots and their top-tier defense. With Amari Cooper (knee) at less than 100 percent, Gallup could be asked to pick up some of the slack. He led the team in receiving in Week 11, catching nine passes for 148 yards. He's unlikely to rack up that much yardage against the New England secondary in Week 12, but he's as likely as any wide receiver on the field to score a touchdown. Fire him up as a solid WR2 with some nice upside and a bankable floor.
Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Randall Cobb has been excellent for two games in a row and will look to keep in going in Week 12 against the New England Patriots. Cobb has two straight weeks of over 100 yards receiving and a touchdown. Despite the excellent defense of the Patriots, Cobb has a chance to keep it going this week, as top New England corners Stephon Gilmore and Jason McCourty will focus on Amari Cooper and Michael Gallup. Cobb comes into this one as a high-ceiling, middling-floor option and can be fired up as a lower end WR3 with WR2 upside.