Cincinnati Bengals head coach Zac Taylor reacts during the second half of NFL football game against the Cincinnati Bengals, Sunday, Nov. 10, 2019, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/Frank Victores)
Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Ryan Finley (5) calls a play during the first half of NFL football game against the Baltimore Ravens, Sunday, Nov. 10, 2019, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/Gary Landers)
Oakland Raiders quarterback Derek Carr (4) celebrates after the Raiders defeated the Los Angeles Chargers 26-24 in an NFL football game in Oakland, Calif., Thursday, Nov. 7, 2019. (AP Photo/D. Ross Cameron)
Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers (17) is sacked by Oakland Raiders defensive end Clelin Ferrell during the second half of an NFL football game in Oakland, Calif., Thursday, Nov. 7, 2019. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)
OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) Derek Carr knows full well what the Cincinnati Bengals are enduring this season: nine straight losses to open the year.
Carr began his rookie season as starting quarterback for the Oakland Raiders with 10 consecutive defeats before finally breaking through with a win.
''You feel like everything is against you because for the fans, sometimes for older players, they don't see any light at the end of the tunnel,'' he said. ''They just see what's in front of them at the moment and it's hard man. It's tough and one thing I'll say though is, if you can grind through those moments, work really hard, stick to your process, when the good moments come around it makes you thankful for those other moments.''
Carr bounced back from the rough debut campaign to win 12 games and lead the Raiders to the playoffs in 2016. Two more down seasons followed, but Carr has Oakland (5-4) back in contention again this year heading into Sunday's home game against Cincinnati (0-9).
After two straight wins to open a homestand, Carr wants to make sure his team doesn't let up in the third game and squander a chance.
''I don't care about records, man,'' he said. ''I prepare every game as if this is the game and so there is no, 'They haven't won a game.' I don't care how many games they have or haven't won, they got Pro Bowlers all over their football team and they are going to bring it, that's for sure.''
The Bengals are trying to avoid falling to 0-10 for the second time after also doing it in 1993. First-year coach Zac Taylor believes things will get better soon even if it doesn't seem that way right now.
''There'll be a time - I can't wait to look back on it - and say, 'Remember when all that stuff happened?''' Taylor said. ''We'll get there. This is one of the things we have to go through right now, unfortunately. We're going to fight through it, and there are going to be some positive things as this season comes to an end.''
Rookie Ryan Finley made his debut and had two huge turnovers against the Ravens. His sideline pass was picked off and returned 89 yards for a touchdown, and he had a fumble also returned for a score. Finley finished 16 of 30 for 167 yards with a touchdown, one interception and a passer rating of 66.9. The Bengals expect him to be better now that he's experienced a game.
''He's getting used to playing NFL-caliber football and not preseason football, real starting football against a good defense,'' offensive coordinator Brian Callahan said. ''And so, his timing was a little bit off. I think you'll see a pretty dramatic leap for him in game two, understanding what it's like to play at that speed.''
The Raiders must replace a safety again after Karl Joseph went down with a season-ending foot injury last week while making the game-sealing interception against the Chargers. Oakland already lost rookie Johnathan Abram to a season-ending shoulder injury in the opener and now may need to turn to Curtis Riley, who got benched earlier this year, special teams player Dallin Leavitt and newly acquired D.J. Swearinger, who was cut earlier this year by Arizona.
''These last weeks have been great for me,'' Swearinger said. ''I needed this time off, to get myself together. I couldn't be more ready for this opportunity to get here and work hard.''
OH THAT DEFENSE
The Bengals began looking to next year when they benched Andy Dalton and went with Finley at quarterback. They started overhauling the defense this week by waiving linebacker Preston Brown, who had lost his starting job. The linebackers have been the biggest sore spot in the league's lowest-ranked defense.
The Raiders' much-maligned pass rush delivered in a big way last week with five sacks in a win over the Chargers. No. 4 overall draft pick Clelin Ferrell had by far his best game as a pro with 2 1/2 sacks after recording none since the season opener. Fellow rookie Maxx Crosby provided consistent pressure and a half-sack of his own and Benson Mayowa had 1 1/2 sacks, giving him a career-high seven this season.
Taylor signed with Oakland coach Jon Gruden's Tampa Bay team as an undrafted quarterback out of Nebraska in 2007. He was waived before the start of training camp, a move that surprised him then but makes sense now. Taylor was familiar with Tampa Bay's system because his college coach, Bill Callahan, was a close friend of Gruden's.
''I think they probably just brought me in because I could call the plays in the rookie minicamp,'' Taylor said. ''In hindsight, those are the things you start to figure out as you start coaching. That made a little bit of sense. They could evaluate the other players while I got out there and called the plays correctly. It's all good.''
Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Tyler Boyd has been on a roll as of late and will look to stay on course against Cleveland on Sunday. Boyd racked up 10 catches on 19 targets over his previous two outings, while also adding 160 yards and two touchdowns. John Ross (chest) will be back in the picture after missing some time, but Boyd is still an acceptable option in most fantasy leagues in Week 14, especially if you have nowhere else to turn.
Cincinnati Bengals running back Joe Mixon has started to show signs of life as the season heads into the final stretch and will look to stay on track against Cleveland on Sunday. While the Browns have been effective against the run over the last four weeks, at least on paper, by allowing a third-best 16.73 fantasy points per game to opposing backs, the 23-year-old may be the most potent rusher that they have seen since Chris Carson back in Week 6. Mixon scored his first rushing touchdown of the year against Oakland and followed that up by recording another against the Jets in Week 13. He still has some work to do from a consistency standpoint, but he will likely keep trending in the right direction throughout the remainder of the season.
Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton made his return to the lineup against the Jets after a three-game absence and played relatively well, throwing for 243 yards and a touchdown on 23-for-37 passing. While the Browns Defense isn't horrible, Dalton has played historically well against them throughout his career, making his outlook more promising than usual, especially with John Ross (chest) back in the lineup. If you need a quarterback with a solid upside in Week 14, Dalton could be your guy.
Carolina Panthers wide receiver Curtis Samuel will look to build off of the efficient showing that he had against the Redskins. After struggling against the Saints in Week 12, Samuel got his act together in Week 13 by finishing with four catches for 65 yards and a score against Washington. While that wasn't the most brilliant fantasy performance that we've seen out of the 23-year-old, he has the potential to score on any given week. With Greg Olsen (concussion) out against Atlanta, look for Samuel to get some extra attention from Kyle Allen, making him a decent option in deeper formats.
Carolina Panthers wide receiver D.J. Moore has been one of the most productive fantasy options as of late and will look to keep things moving against Atlanta on Sunday. After recording just one touchdown throughout his first 10 games of the season, Moore has three over the last two weeks. He hasn't been targeted less than eight times in each of his previous eight games and should retain his must-start status in all fantasy formats in Week 14.
Carolina Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey had arguably the worst performance of the season, at least as a runner, against the Redskins in Week 13. While he had a favorable matchup against one of the league's worst defenses, the 23-year-old had just 44 yards on 14 attempts to go along with an acceptable seven catches for 58 yards. That game marked only the third time all season that he failed to record a touchdown, but he should get back on track against Atlanta after playing well against them just a few weeks ago.
Carolina Panthers quarterback Kyle Allen has a difficult matchup on Sunday against the Falcons Defense. Atlanta has played well against opposing quarterbacks, especially as of late, and held Drees Brees to just one touchdown toss during the Thanksgiving matchup with New Orleans, while also forcing Allen to throw four picks just a few weeks ago. The 23-year-old is a different player than what we saw after he initially took over for Cam Newton (foot) earlier in the year, and should remain out of starting lineups across the board in Week 14.
The Green Bay Packers Defense gets a juicy Week 14 matchup against rookie quarterback Dwayne Haskins and the Washington Redskins. For the season, Washington ranks in the bottom-10 of the league in points scored, sacks allowed, and interceptions thrown. Haskins has been sacked 14 times in the last three games combined. Green Bay ranks in the bottom-10 of the league in QB pressures but should have no trouble against Washington's offensive line.
Green Bay Packers kicker Mason Crosby will face the Washington Redskins in Week 14. The 35-year-old ranks 17th in fantasy points scored by kickers and only 26th in field goal attempts. Crosby has been money on extra points this year, sporting a 33 of 33 mark. He should have a chance to bolster these numbers against a Redskins team that allows 24.2 points per game, 21st in the NFL. Crosby should be able to nail at least a field goal and three extra points against Washington.
San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo is a middling QB2 in Week 14 against the New Orleans Saints. With a 101.2 quarterback rating, Garoppolos season-long body of work looks great but hes surpassed 300 yards just twice and committed 14 total turnovers. Facing a challenging Saints Defense on the road, Garoppolo will likely be tasked to pace with the Saints but will have his healthiest receiving corps in weeks. In a potential shootout, Jimmy G may have upside, but his volatile results dont render him a trustworthy fantasy quarterback in the vital playoff weeks.
Green Bay Packers tight end Jimmy Graham gets a good matchup against the Washington Redskins. Unfortunately, it doesn't matter because the 32-year-old has seen a steady decline in snaps over the last three weeks. Graham even had a touchdown snatched away from him by backup tight end Mercedes Lewis. There's also the fact that he's registered only one catch in back-to-back games. Even the neediest of tight end needy fantasy owners should stay away from Graham this week.
Green Bay Packers wide receiver Allen Lazard will take on the Washington Redskins in Week 14. The rookie had a career-high 103 receiving yards against the Giants last week. Lazard has out-snapped fellow receiver Marquez Valdes-Scantling in three consecutive games. Unfortunately, that role hasn't lent a ton of volume, as his season-high for targets is six. Still, Aaron Rodgers seems to trust him- and he doesn't throw trust around lightly. It's worth noting that each of his three catches from last week went for 20-plus yards, giving him a boom-or-bust outlook. It's best to avoid Lazard this week.
Green Bay Packers wide receiver Davante Adams gets a Week 14 matchup with the Washington Redskins. Adams is on a hot streak, with at least seven catches in four straight games and three touchdowns in his last two contests combined. He's been the Packers' undisputed number-one pass catcher this year, with 79 targets in eight games- the next closest is Aaron Jones with 52 in 12 games. That kind of volume makes him a must-start every week and especially against Washington. Like the Giants, the Redskins don't have anyone who can slow Adams down. Start him as a high-end WR1 this week.
San Francisco 49ers tight end George Kittle (ankle) needs no introduction for Week 14s matchup against the New Orleans Saints. Pro Football Focus highest-graded tight end since 2006 will be a premium TE1 against a battered Saints linebacking corps on Sunday. Kittle was muted in Week 13s rainy contest but should reemerge as the focal point in the Niners aerial attack in the dome. Despite missing two games and hobbled by a lingering ankle injury, Kittle leads Niners pass-catchers in all relevant metrics and should be treated accordingly this weekend.
San Francisco 49ers running back Tevin Coleman needs to prove his worth in Week 14 against the New Orleans Saints. Coleman helplessly watched backup Raheem Mostert notch 154 yards and a score in Week 13 as he managed just six touches for 15 yards. The de facto starter has struggled for six straight games, opening the door for a surging Mostert. With Matt Breida (ankle) also expected back in the mix, Coleman is a volatile RB3 against a tough Saints rush defense. Ideally, Coleman is positioned for double-digit touches this Sunday but with the Niners not shy to leverage the hot hand, fantasy managers will hope he capitalizes on his shrinking opportunities.
Green Bay Packers running back Jamaal Williams (knee) draws a great matchup against the Washington Redskins in Week 14. Williams was limited in practice this week but will play on Sunday against the Redskins' 27th-ranked run defense. The 24-year-old has been on a roll, with at least 13 touches and 50 scrimmage yards in each of the last three games. Fellow back Aaron Jones is still "the guy" in Green Bay, though Williams' recent production guarantees him a role. The Redskins have allowed two backs to exceed 50 scrimmage yards five times this year. Jones and Williams are a good bet to make this the sixth time. Start Williams in the flex spot this week.
Los Angeles Rams wide receiver Brandin Cooks has caught four passes for 56 yards in two games since returning from a concussion. He's still worth holding onto, but he can't be played against the Seattle Seahawks this week.
Los Angeles Rams kicker Greg Zuerlein hasn't had a lot of opportunities lately. He's 6-for-8 in field goals and 7-for-7 in extra points the last four games. The Seattle Seahawks are a midrange matchup, and he's a sketchy low-end kicker this week.
The Los Angeles Rams Defense has been stout of late with 15 sacks, two fumble recoveries, two picks, a safety and two touchdowns in the last four games. The Seattle Seahawks have allowed opposing defenses the most fantasy points over the last five weeks. They've surrendered two touchdowns, 16 sacks, six fumble recoveries and three picks in the last four games. The Rams Defense is a midrange option to start this week.
Los Angeles Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald broke free for 1.5 sacks against the Arizona Cardinals in Week 13. He now has sacks in six of the last seven games, and the Seattle Seahawks have allowed 16 in the last four. Donald won't offer much outside of that category, but he is a low-end DL1 option this week.