Wed Nov 7 9:59 pm
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.
Miami Dolphins wide receiver Albert Wilson (hip) has progressed in his rehab without setbacks since suffering a hip injury in October, according to a league source. Doctors have ruled out surgery once and for all for Wilson and has raised hope that he will be able to get back on the field this spring. The belief is that Wilson will be ready for the start of the offseason program in April. Wilson ranked third on the team in touchdowns (four receiving and one passing) despite missing nine games, and his yards-per-catch average (15.0) led the team. Although Miami's quarterback situation is up in the air, Wilson should have a prominent place in the team's offense next year regardless.
The New York Jets officially hired Dowell Loggains as their next offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach on Wednesday. Loggains has worked under head coach Adam Gase in both Chicago and Miami. With Gase likely running the show on offense, Loggains' main task will be to continue the development of quarterback Sam Darnold, who was very up and down in his rookie season. The Jets ranked 29th in yards per game (299.2), 25th in passing yards (197.8), 26th in rushing yards (101.4) and 23rd in the league in points per game (20.8) in 2018.
The Arizona Cardinals signed veteran wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald to a one-year deal on Wednesday so that he can return for a 16th season. Terms of the deal weren't disclosed. Fitzgerald will turn 36 at the end of August but will remain the No. 1 wideout on the team because of his experience. His numbers took a hit in one of the worst offenses in the NFL in 2018, but he still led the team in receptions (69), receiving yards (734) and touchdowns (six). While Fitz can still make an impact on the field, he'll be returning to his third head coach in three years, but the addition of Kliff Kingsbury could improve the offense moving forward. We won't say for sure that Fitzgerald will return to the 1,000-yard mark, but he should be a serviceable WR3 at the very least.
Former Ohio State defensive coordinator Greg Schiano is expected to land with the New England Patriots in a top defensive role when linebackers coach Brian Flores heading to the Miami Dolphins.
Former New York Giants defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo has emerged as the favorite to be hired as Kansas City Chiefs defensive coordinator, according to sources.
Arizona Cardinals WR Larry Fitzgerald announced Wednesday, Jan. 23, that he'll return for the 2019 season.
Fantasy Spin: Fitz had a 69-734-6 season, which was well below the 100-catch, 1,000-yard seasons the three years previously. The rookie quarterback was part of the problem, but he doesn't have much more upside next season. He's still a PPR asset, but he'll be a mid-round option as a WR3.
Updating an earlier report, Arizona Cardinals impending free-agent WR Larry Fitzgerald re-signed with the Cardinals on a one-year deal. Financial terms weren't disclosed.
Miami Dolphins WR Albert Wilson (hip) is on schedule with his recovery from an October hip injury that landed him on IR and could be at full speed when the team's offseason workout program begins in April.
Fantasy Spin: After four largely nondescript seasons in Kansas City, Wilson flashed some playmaking ability before getting injured against the Lions. There are far too many variables in Miami for an accurate read on Wilson's fantasy prospects for 2019, but he did enough last year to warrant your attention.
Philadelphia Eagles QB Nick Foles would be eligible to be franchise or transition tagged and then traded if the team decides not to pick up his option, which ESPN's Chris Mortensen believes is a possibility as doing so would allow the Eagles to influence Foles' destination.
Fantasy Spin: Mortensen indicates such a move would prevent Foles from going to a division rival, but it's all speculation at this point. While it's far from a sure thing, Foles could have some fantasy value in the right situation.
Oakland Raiders CB Daryl Worley (shoulder) had successful surgery on his ailing shoulder last week, according to head coach Jon Gruden.
Baltimore Ravens WR Michael Crabtree is likely to be released in the offseason, according to The Athletic's Jeff Zrebiec.
Dallas Cowboys impending free-agent WR Cole Beasley claimed Tuesday, Jan. 22, that the Dallas front office encourages the coaching staff to get the football to certain players. 'I haven't been a huge priority in that regard. Maybe that will change but I'm not sure,' Beasley said.
Fantasy Spin: Beasley's frustrations are evident and understandable, although Amari Cooper, Ezekiel Elliott and Michael Gallup are all bigger, more talented threats with the ball. Beasley does have a role to play and put together his second best season from a statistical standpoint. That being said, he's only a mid- to late-round PPR flier if he stays in Dallas.
Washington Redskins general manager Bruce Allen said the team is "optimistic" that quarterback Alex Smith (leg) will be ready for the start of the 2019 season, but he also said "we'll see." In his first year with Washington, Smith was a disappointment, throwing for 2,108 yards, 10 touchdowns and five interceptions with an 85.7 QB rating in 10 games before his gruesome leg injury. He'll be heading into his age-35 season and is unlikely to be ready for training camp or the regular season, so he's one to avoid for fantasy purposes. The 'Skins are in dire need of a long-term quarterback.
The Kansas City Chiefs relieved defensive coordinator Bob Sutton of his duties on Tuesday. Sutton was head coach Andy Reid's defensive coordinator for all six of his years in KC, but the Chiefs defense continued to trend downward in 2018 and was their Achilles heel in the AFC Championship loss to the Patriots last weekend. Defensive end Chris Jones -- third in the NFL with 15.5 sacks in 2018 -- and linebacker Dee Ford are the linchpins of this defense, but they must improve their talent in the secondary. The Chiefs ranked 31st in yards allowed per game (405.5), 31st in passing yards allowed (273.4), 27th in rushing yards allowed (132.1), 24th in points allowed (26.3) and tied for eighth in takeaways (27) in 2018.
Oakland Raiders impending free-agent TE Jared Cook will be re-signed if head coach Jon Gruden has his way, but Gruden admitted that Cook will be a popular name on the free-agent market.
Fantasy Spin: Cook was one of the few bright spots for the Raiders this season, and maybe the lone bright spot. He's a top-five fantasy tight end candidate now after finishing 2018 as the TE5.
Atlanta Falcons WR Julio Jones led all receivers with 24 receptions for first downs on 30 third-down targets this past season.
Fantasy Spin: Despite a slow start in the TD department (none in his first seven games) Jones also wound up leading the league in receiving yards (1,677) for the second time in the last four seasons. And even with Jones turning 30 this offseason (on Super Bowl Sunday), he remains an elite WR1 in all fantasy formats.
Oakland Raiders head coach Jon Gruden said the team is unsure if impending free-agent running back Marshawn Lynch plans to play in 2019. Gruden said "we'd love to have him back" if he decides to play another season. Beast Mode will turn 33 in April and is coming off a season in which he played in just six games due to injury. Lynch ran 90 times for 376 yards (4.2 yards per carry) and three scores. Even if Lynch returns, he'd be more of a low-upside, injury-risk RB2 for Oakland that is more attractive in standard-scoring leagues.
Oakland Raiders head coach Jon Gruden said the team would like to re-sign impending free-agent tight end Jared Cook, but he knows the market for his services will be competitive. He'll be in high demand after he set career highs across the board in catches (68), targets (101), yards (896) and touchdowns (six) for the Raiders. Given the sad state of the tight end position in fantasy, Cook was a strong TE1 this year and will likely be drafted as one again this year, depending on where he lands. Staying in Oakland might be the best for his value.
The Cincinnati Bengals are hiring former Oakland Raiders quarterbacks coach Brian Callahan as their next offensive coordinator. Callahan has never been an offensive coordinator in the NFL but has been a QBs coach since 2015. He'll oversee an offense that could easily bounce back after serious injuries to quarterback Andy Dalton and wide receiver A.J. Green derailed them in 2018. Cincinnati finished 26th in yards per game (310.8), 24th in passing yards per game (205.6), 21st in rushing yards per game (105.1) and 17th in points per game (23.0) in 2018.
Oakland Raiders RB Marshawn Lynch, an impending free agent this offseason, hasn't announced whether he plans on playing in 2019, but if he does, Raiders head coach Jon Gruden said Tuesday, Jan. 22, that 'we'd love to have him back.'
Fantasy Spin: Lynch will be 33 by the time next season rolls around, but he'd still be a fantasy RB2 consideration if were to be projected to be the primary RB in Oakland.