It has not been a memorable rookie season for New York Jets quarterback Sam Darnold, expected to be the future of the franchise after he was selected with the No. 3 overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft.
The same applies to Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen, who was drafted four spots behind Darnold but has seen his first NFL season derailed by an elbow injury.
Neither rookie quarterback is expected to be in the lineup in what would have been their first meeting in the NFL when the slumping Jets host the reeling Bills on Sunday afternoon in a matchup of AFC East rivals.
Darnold was hurt in Sunday's 13-6 loss at Miami and was unable to practice Wednesday. Dealing with a sprained right foot, Darnold watched Wednesday's practice in a walking boot and is not expected back until after the team's Week 11 bye.
Veteran Josh McCown, who was having a career year in 2017 before suffering a broken hand in December, is expected to get the start in place of Darnold, who had his worst game as a pro with four interceptions against the Dolphins.
McCown took only 19 snaps in preseason, but Jets coach Todd Bowles expressed no worries about the preparation of the 39-year-old, who started 13 games last season and tossed a career-high 18 touchdowns against only nine interceptions before he was injured.
"I'm not concerned," Bowles said. "He practices every time, takes reps all the time. He's a true professional."
What does have Bowles concerned is an offense that has produced one touchdown in the last eight quarters and been outscored 74-33 during a three-game losing streak.
"It's the team, period," Bowles said Monday. "Yesterday was mainly the offense. There were tweaks here and there, but we just have to play better and execute as a whole. It's not just Sam. It's based upon the whole team."
Buffalo's offense is in even worse shape than New York. The Bills have dropped four in a row, have scored an NFL-worst 96 points and been outscored 103-20 in the three games since Allen was knocked out of the lineup in Week 6.
"It's frustrating not playing for me," Allen said. "I'm a competitor and I'm sure a lot of people who don't get to play because of an injury, whether it's their pride or their ego, whatever it is, they want to be out on the field. The reason I want to be out on the field is to help my team, whatever which way possible I can. When I can't do that, it hurts me."
Bills coach Sean McDermott was asked if there was a chance Allen could play Sunday against the Jets, and while he wouldn't answer the question directly, it seems prudent for the team not to rush their franchise quarterback back. Allen was able to return to practice and he's throwing again, but with Buffalo's bye week coming up, the extra rest and rehab would probably be wise.
"Yeah, that's certainly something that we discussed," McDermott said. "We've talked about that. At the end of the day, our docs give us, really, whether that would help or not. That's one of the factors that we've talked about."
The frustration in Buffalo is not limited to Allen's injury or the play of quarterbacks Derek Anderson and Nathan Peterman, who have combined to throw zero touchdowns and seven interceptions since Allen was hurt.
Bills running back LeSean McCoy declined to speak to the media yet again Wednesday amid rumors that he is disappointed not only with his play and the team's standing, but that he was not traded at the deadline to a place where he would have a semblance of a chance to succeed.
McCoy is enduring the worst year of his career. He has just 267 yards rushing and a 3.1 average per carry with no touchdowns. In his last three games, he has 24 yards on 24 carries behind an offensive line that has been unable to open holes.
"We've got to do a better job starting up front," McDermott said. "You can have all the different plays that you want, but at the end of the day, it's a man versus man game and you've got to move a guy off the ball. You've got to play with great fundamentals and technique, and that's really where it starts. It's a mindset."
New York's ground game also has flat-lined. Isaiah Crowell has rushed for 533 yards and is averaging 5.0 yards per carry, but 321 of those yards came in two games. Crowell has been limited to 143 yards on 50 carries in the past four games.
Oakland Raiders wide receiver Tyrell Williams is poised for a stellar season in his debut year with the Silver and Black. Lining up across the field from Antonio Brown, Williams will serve as the deep threat for the offense and will undoubtedly get his share of targets with Brown drawing most of the attention from opposing defenses. The 6-foot-4 wideout is a boom or bust player on a weekly basis but has the potential to surpass his value on his current 156 ADP. Williams caught 41 balls for 653 yards and five touchdowns with the Chargers last season despite being nearly non-existent in the second half of the year. He does own a 1,000-yard season under his belt, so he has sneaky potential on a team lacking a depth of weapons. As the bonafide number two receiving option for quarterback Derek Carr, Williams is a good late-round target, but the week-to-week consistency is a question mark.
Houston Texans wide receiver Will Fuller (ACL) is expected to be ready to go for the start of the 2019 season. Fuller's played just 17 games over the past two seasons, but when he's on the field he's one of the NFL's best downfield weapons and has developed great chemistry with quarterback Deshaun Watson. Even with serious injury concerns, the upside is too great with Fuller to pass up on him in the middle rounds of the draft. He has 11 touchdown catches over the past two seasons and with DeAndre Hopkins playing across the field from him, defenses aren't able to double Fuller, allowing him to get open deep on a routine basis.
Houston Texans running back D'Onta Foreman had a disastrous 2018 season, rushing for negative yardage on seven carries while adding two catches for 28 yards and a touchdown. Recovering from an Achilles tear, Foreman appeared in just one regular season game, playing 31 snaps in a loss to the Eagles. Foreman is expected to play a much bigger role this year now that Houston's long time backup, Alfred Blue, is gone, and Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle expects 2019 to be an audition of sorts for Foreman in preparation for Lamar Miller's impending free agency, with Foreman seeing a decent amount of work this season. Foreman makes sense as a late round pick for this reason, though questions about how he'll play after the Achilles injury loom large.
The Denver Broncos have signed running back David Williams, who the team originally drafted in 2018 before letting go. Williams was a Jaguar last season, but carried the ball just eight times for 36 yards with Jacksonville. It's hard to imagine a situation where Williams has fantasy value in a Broncos backfield that already has Royce Freeman and Phillip, but stranger things have happened. He's not draftable in any format, but a good training camp could put him in the mix for some of Devontae Booker's snaps as the number-three back.
The NFL will not suspend Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Tyreek Hill for violating the league's player-conduct policy. Hill was under investigation for an incident in which his son's arm was broken. With Hill cleared to be on the field, the Chiefs wideout is once again on track to be one of the league's top receivers thanks to his speed and the prolific passing of quarterback Patrick Mahomes. Hill's a second-round fantasy pick at worst now, and will be a huge value for fantasy owners who drafted early and took him at his lower offseason ADP.
Kansas City Chiefs WR Tyreek Hill is unlikely to resume contract talks for several weeks or months with the team.
Kansas City Chiefs WR Tyreek Hill will not be suspended by the NFL as the league found that he did not violate the personal conduct policy. He will be able to attend training camp and participate in all team activities.
Fantasy Spin: The news has a big impact on the fantasy landscape as Hill immediately returns to WR1 status with the cloud clearing over him. Hill had an 87-1,479-12 breakout last season, and talks on a long-term deal could also rekindle.
Rival teams believe the Buffalo Bills could release someone from the group of RBs LeSean McCoy, Frank Gore and T.J. Yeldon, according to MMQB's Albert Breer, who notes that McCoy is set to earn far more money than Gore or Yeldon.
Fantasy Spin: Barring injury, Devin Singletary is going to make the 53-man roster. Beyond that, training camp will sort things out, though Yeldon seems the most like casualty at this stage.
Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster is now the top receiver on his team but still has to prove to some that he belongs among the league's elite. After finishing top six in the NFL last year in both receptions (111) and receiving yards (1,426), the third-year pass catcher is in a position to repeat his breakout season. Without Antonio Brown in town, Smith-Schuster will be Ben Roethlisberger's first look. In half-PPR mocks, he's been going in the early-to-middle of the second round. The talent and opportunity are certainly there for the 22-year-old to be considered a top eight receiver in fantasy drafts.
Denver Broncos TE Troy Fumagalli spent time with the first-team offense during training camp Thursday, July 18.
Oakland Raiders RB Jalen Richard could lose a 'good chunk' of his snaps on receiving downs to RB Josh Jacobs, according to Vic Tafur of The Athletic.
Fantasy Spin: Richard's value was already limited to PPR formats, and now that Jacobs is in the mix and potentially headed for an every-down role, Richard is slipping into handcuff territory. Meanwhile, Jacobs looks like a RB2 candidate as a rookie.
New York Giants quarterback Daniel Jones remains unsigned with one week remaining before training camp opens. He is one of five first-round picks yet to agree to terms with his organization. Jones is still scheduled to arrive to training camp on Monday when all rookies and select veterans report. He is expected to sign a four-year, $25.5 million contract, with a $16.6 million guarantee, when he arrives, or even shortly before. That is the financial slot for the No. 6 overall pick in the draft. Last season RB Saquon Barkley signed a day before he arrived at camp, so there isn't cause for alarm with Big Blue.
Kansas City Chiefs WR Demarcus Robinson will be expected to take over the role that Jacksonville Jaguars WR Chris Conley filled for the offense last season.
Fantasy Spin: Conley finished last season with 32 catches for 334 yards and five scores while Robinson logged 22 grabs for 288 yards and four scores. Combine those numbers on top of a potential suspension for Tyreek Hill, and Robinson could be worth a late-round flier as a WR5.
Denver Broncos WR River Cracraft's chances of earning a spot on the 53-man roster have improved following the retirement of WR Aaron Burbridge, according to Benjamin Allbright of 104.7 FM Denver.
New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley rolled up 261 carries, 1,307 rushing yards while adding 91 receptions last season. Beat writer John Schmeelk expects the number of receptions for Barkley to drop by as many as 15-20. Early in the season Barkley had many non-consequential dump-off receptions, posting 58 grabs in the first half and 33 in the second half. Barkley likely will have more impactful plays that gain more yardage, even if his catch total declines. Running backs coach Craig Johnson expects the improvement in Year 2 for Barkley to be in his attention to detail, including pass protection, more precise route running, technique and perfect execution of the playbook. Barkley remains a sure-fire Round 1 selection in all fantasy formats, and is a consideration for No. 1 overall pick in PPR formats.
New York Giants placekicker Aldrick Rosas booted 32 field goals in 2018, the fifth-most in franchise history. He connected for a 97.0 field-goal percentage, setting a franchise record. His only missed field-goal attempt was a 52-yard try with 28 seconds remaining in the first half in Week 6 against the Philadelphia Eagles. He also hit a 57-yarder against the Chicago Bears, setting a new franchise record. Rosas has emerged as a fantasy option after a rough first season for Big Blue. And the team should struggle at times on offense, settling for more field-goal attempts than point-after tries, which is always good for fantasy.
Houston Texans tight end Jordan Akins expects to be used in various spots on the field in 2019. While the battle for playing time at the tight end position will be tough between Akins, Jordan Thomas, and rookie Kahale Warring, Akins being able to be used in the backfield and in the slot can help him carve out a role. Still, with wide receiver Keke Coutee expected to see most of the slot minutes, Akins' versatility isn't enough to make him a trustworthy fantasy player in 2019 unless injuries hit in Houston.
New York Giants safety Jabrill Peppers was the main kick and punt returner man for the Cleveland Browns, and beat writer Lance Medow expects him to reprise that role with the Giants in 2019. However, since he is the team's starting safety, too, his usage will likely be managed at times. "It's a lot of different scenarios, and it's good to have options," special teams coach Thomas McGaughey said last month. Peppers is considered the front runner for the job, however, and others like wide receivers Corey Coleman, Bennie Fowler, Golden Tate, Cody Latimer and Brittan Golden have also see time in the return game in the past. Rookie Darius Slayton could also factor in.
New York Giants undrafted rookie tight end C.J. Conrad turned heads during organized team activities, making a lot of plays and rarely dropping passes, according to beat writer Dan Salomone. He has plenty of size at 6-foot-4 and 248 pounds and he could emerge as an option in the red zone, and Conrad could be used in two tight end sets with fellow TE Evan Engram as more of a hybrid wideout-tight end, running fly patterns and working out of the slot. At this point he doesn't warrant fantasy consideration, but he is a name to watch as he head into camp.