Tue Nov 12 5:03pm ET
By TOM WITHERS
AP Sports Writer
Cleveland Browns running back Nick Chubb (24) rushes between Buffalo Bills free safety Jordan Poyer (21) and strong safety Micah Hyde (23) during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Nov. 10, 2019, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Ron Schwane)
In this May 15, 2019, file photo, Cleveland Browns' Kareem Hunt (27) and Nick Chubb (24) talk during an NFL football organized team activity session at the team's training facility in Berea, Ohio. With Kareem Hunt returning from his eight-game NFL suspension to join Nick Chubb in Clevelands backfield, the Browns (3-6) have a dynamic duo that will test opposing defenses through the air and on the ground. In Sundays 19-16 win over Buffalo, the Hunt-Chubb tandem combined for 147 yards rushing and 49 receiving while helping the Browns snap a four-game losing streak that halted a season shaped by high expectations from dissolving into another mess. (AP Photo/Ron Schwane, File)
Cleveland Browns running back Nick Chubb, top, is tackled by Buffalo Bills cornerback Taron Johnson during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Nov. 10, 2019, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Ron Schwane)
Cleveland Browns running back Kareem Hunt (27) rushes against the Buffalo Bills during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Nov. 10, 2019, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/David Richard)
BEREA, Ohio (AP) Freddie Kitchens has struggled to make two star wide receivers happy. The Browns coach now has a pair of elite running backs to please as well.
One football. Four playmakers.
That's not necessarily a bad problem.
With Kareem Hunt returning from his eight-game NFL suspension to join Nick Chubb in Cleveland's backfield, the Browns (3-6) have a dynamic duo that will test opposing defenses on the ground and through the air.
In Sunday's 19-16 win over Buffalo, the Hunt-Chubb tandem debuted and combined for 196 total yards while helping the Browns snap a four-game losing streak that halted this season shaped by high expectations from dissolving into another maddening mess.
Kitchens, whose future was beginning to look bleak and remains unclear, understands that Chubb-Hunt can be a potent 1-2 combination.
''Anytime you can get guys who can do things with the ball in their hands and they can also play off of other people, that definitely impacts decisions, alignments and assignments,'' Kitchens said Tuesday as the Browns prepared for Thursday night's game against the surging Pittsburgh Steelers (5-4) ''When you have more than a couple of options, it's always, from that positon in particular, very good.''
And very needed.
To this point, the Browns have lacked a clear offensive identity.
The two-back, Chubb-Hunt set may change that.
Quarterback Baker Mayfield hasn't developed any consistent chemistry with Pro Bowl receiver Odell Beckham Jr., who has just one touchdown catch as teams have focused on taking him away with double teams. The Browns went out of their way to get Beckham involved on Sunday as he was targeted 12 times - Mayfield just missed him on two long throws - and had five catches.
Jarvis Landry had one of his best games this season with nine receptions for 97 yards and a touchdown.
The Browns have already seen how Hunt's versatility will prevent teams from keying on Chubb, who is on the verge of a 1,000-yard season, while creating more downfield opportunities for Beckham and Landry.
''We kind of did some experiments on just how much we can do with that package,'' Mayfield said. ''Obviously, two dynamic players with Nick and Kareem, we are able to do a lot but kind of make to where we format it where it all looks similar, but we are doing different things out of it. It can be an explosive package for us. We just have to go out there and do our job.''
From the start on Sunday, Hunt did his job, unleashing months of pent-up energy.
On Cleveland's second play, he lined up alongside Chubb and then delivered a kick-out block that cleared a path for his teammate on a 21-yard run. It was a tone-setter and perhaps a sign of things to come.
''They're both willing blockers, they both can catch out of the backfield, then can line up in different spots and they both run with great energy,'' said left guard Joel Bitonio. ''It was cool to see `em both out there. Hunt ran the ball hard the few times he got it. The cool thing was he was lead-blocking a few times and some of those were big spring plays. You know we don't have a fullback in there, but he kind of acted like it a couple times.
''That was really cool to see, his willingness to be that guy.''
Hunt's debut for the Browns was a revelation in many ways.
The 24-year-old former NFL rushing champion is determined to change his personal narrative following two ugly, off-field incidents that led to his release by the Kansas City Chiefs last year and subsequent league punishment. To some, the disturbing video of Hunt shoving and kicking a woman during an argument last year has painted him as an unforgivable villain.
However, the Browns have been impressed with his attitude and maturity. He's made strides off the field. On it, he's a potentially game-changing player.
''Whatever the team needs, he'll do,'' said center JC Tretter. ''He showed it.''
Hunt understands there may be people not thrilled that he's getting a second chance. That's something else he has avoided focusing on.
''I really do not pay too much attention with that,'' he said when asked if he senses how fans have received his return. ''It is up to you. If you like me, you like me.''
NOTES: DE Olivier Vernon (knee) and S Eric Murray (knee) remain sidelined and will likely miss Thursday's game. ... The season's first significant snowfall forced the Browns to practice indoors. But kicker Austin Seibert, punter Jamie Gillan and long snapper Charley Hughlett went outside to get their work in. ... Mayfield will match up Thursday against Steelers QB Mason Rudolph for the first time as pros. They faced each other three times in college with Mayfield leading Oklahoma to a 3-0 record against Rudolph and Oklahoma State. ''Mason is a great guy,'' Mayfield said. ''He is playing well, taking care of the ball, putting them in a good position to win.''
Philadelphia Eagles kicker Jake Elliott made just one of his two field goals in Week 14, but he made both of his extra point attempts. Elliott was perfect through the first few games of the season, but he's been in a bit of a slump lately despite recently signing a contract extension. Still, with a good matchup coming up in Week 15 against Washington, Elliott should be a solid fantasy kicking option then.
The Philadelphia Eagles Defense didn't do much in a Week 14 overtime win over the New York Giants. They allowed 17 points, all in the first half, and recorded two sacks, both by Vinny Curry. They were unable to record any interceptions or force any fumbles. It was a pedestrian performance against a stone statue resembling Eli Manning. Another good matchup awaits the Eagles defense with Washington up next on the schedule, but they're getting more and more difficult to trust in fantasy lineups.
Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Greg Ward came up with four catches on nine targets in Week 14, gaining 34 yards. Ward had the chance to come up with a few big plays, but was unable to do much with his opportunities. Ward was thrust into a bigger role after Alshon Jeffery was forced to leave the game due to an injury in the second quarter, but Ward quickly showed why he was so far down on the depth chart. Regardless of Jeffery's recovery, Ward won't be a great fantasy option despite a good matchup against Washington in Week 15.
Philadelphia Eagles rookie wide receiver J.J. Arcega-Whiteside made two catches in Week 14, gaining 29 yards. He was targeted three times but was a near every-down player, especially after Alshon Jeffery was forced to leave the game with a foot injury. Arcega-Whiteside showed some huge upside in the preseason but hasn't really been able to do anything in regular season play. Even if Jeffery is forced to miss Week 15, Arcega-Whiteside will be nothing more than a dart-throw in most fantasy formats.
New York Giants tight end Kaden Smith was a no show on Monday night. He saw five targets from Eli Manning but was only able to catch two of them for nine yards. Smith was a nice story after solid production last week, but he was never likely to have sustained value. With it probable that either Evan Engram (foot) or Rhett Ellison (concussion) will be back next week, Smiths time on the fantasy radar may be over.
Philadelphia Eagles rookie running back Miles Sanders was thoroughly outplayed by Boston Scott in a Week 14 win over the New York Giants. Sanders averaged just three yards per carry, running the ball 15 times for 45 scoreless yards. He added four catches for 24 more yards. Scott, meanwhile, accrued 128 yards from scrimmage and made some explosive plays throughout the game. Sanders was forced to leave the game for a bit in the second half due to an injury, but he was able to return soon after. Sanders should still get the start in Week 15, but Scott has certainly earned more playing time and should eat into the upside that Sanders possesses.
Philadelphia Eagles running back Jay Ajayi did almost nothing in a Week 14 win over the New York Giants, running the ball just twice for a total of five yards. He saw one target in the passing game, but was unable to come down with a catchable ball. Ajayi has played a very small role on the Eagles offense since being signed, and it has become clear that he is nothing more than depth in the running back room at this point.
Early on, the New York Giants Defense did a solid job against a banged-up Eagles offense. They took advantage of an Eagles offense without Alshon Jeffrey, Nelson Agholor, Jordan Howard, and Lane Johnson, getting pressure on Carson Wentz, forcing errant throws and sacking him three times. However, they were never able to get any turnovers and the Giants' utter lack of offense in the second half allowed the Eagles to gather some momentum as the game wore on. Even against the Dolphins and turnover-happy Ryan Fitzpatrick, the Giants are not a recommended streaming defense with so much on the line for fantasy teams.
New York Giants kicker Aldrick Rosas made both of his extra points and his only field goal attempt in Monday's loss to the Eagles. As with most games this season, Rosas' fantasy value is limited by his mediocre offense. The Giants simply don't get the ball into scoring position enough for him to be a fantasy-viable kicker, even next week against the Dolphins.
Philadelphia Eagles tight end Zach Ertz scored two huge touchdowns in Week 14, including a walk-off score in overtime. Ertz ended up with nine catches on 13 targets for a total of 91 yards. His first score came on a two-yard strike in the middle of the fourth quarter, and his second was another two-yard pass, this one in overtime. Ertz was essentially the entire passing game in this one, as Greg Ward and rookie J.J. Arcega-Whiteside were the only available wide receivers after Alshon Jeffery was forced to leave with a foot injury. With a strong matchup against Washington coming up next week, Ertz should be a strong TE1 once again.
Philadelphia Eagles tight end Dallas Goedert made three catches on six targets in Week 14. He gained 41 yards on his three grabs, including one crucial catch near the end of the game that helped lead the Eagles to an overtime win. With Alshon Jeffery forced to leave in the second quarter due to a foot injury, Goedert and fellow tight end Zach Ertz ended up becoming the receiving corps for quarterback Carson Wentz. With another good matchup in Week 15 against Washington, Goedert will be a low-end TE1 again.
Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz was solid in a rainy overtime win over the New York Giants in Week 14. Wentz completed 33 of his 50 pass attempts for 325 yards and two touchdowns. Both of his touchdowns went to tight end Zach Ertz, with the second one being an overtime walk-off score. Wentz was left with just Greg Ward and J.J. Arcega-Whiteside as the only healthy wide receivers on the roster after Alshon Jeffery left in the second quarter with a foot injury. It's a concern for Wentz's Week 15 outlook, but a good matchup against Washington helps.
New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning had some magic working early in his first game back in the starting lineup since Week 3, delivering two touchdown passes to Darius Slayton, but the potion wore off as the rain picked up and the Giants collapsed on primetime TV. After his hot start, Manning remained inaccurate and immobile in the pocket. He finished with 15 completions on 30 passes for 203 yards and two touchdowns. The stats will look fine, but this Giants team is unquestionably better with Daniel Jones under center, and the expectation should be that Jones takes the job back next week against the Dolphins if his ankle heals up.
New York Giants wide receiver Darius Slayton exploded in the first half of the Giants loss to the Eagles on Monday night. Slayton and Eli Manning connected on two early deep balls as Slayton seemed to beat Ronald Darby at will. He corralled five of his six targets for 154 yards and two touchdowns, but the rain and the Giants ridiculously conservative gameplan caused Slaytons fun to end prematurely. With Daniel Jones likely to come back next week, Slayton remains a low-end WR3 in an easy matchup against the Dolphins, unless Evan Engram also comes back to take away more targets.
Philadelphia Eagles running back Boston Scott showed some real explosiveness and big play ability in a Week 14 overtime win over the New York Giants. Scott ran the ball 10 times for 59 yards and a touchdown, adding six catches for 69 more yards. Scott looked like the best running back in an Eagles uniform all season in this one, making it look easy as he averaged almost six yards per carry in the rain. Scott got a little extra run in the second half as Miles Sanders had to miss some time with a minor injury. Scott could see his role grow in Week 15 against Washington.
New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley was bottled up in Mondays loss to the Eagles. The Eagles run defense is among the leagues best, so Barkley rushing 17 times for 66 yards was not a surprise. However, in a rainy game with Eli Manning back under center, it was honestly shocking that Barkley was only able to muster one yard on three catches. Why the Giants star has seemingly been phased out of the passing attack is anybodys guess, but it has severely capped his fantasy value. He has a get-right game next week against the lowly Dolphins, but Barkley is just a low-end RB1 now.
New York Giants wide receiver Golden Tate was an afterthought in his first game with Eli Manning under center. The first-year Giant caught only one of his five targets for 11 yards. With Darius Slayton emerging and Evan Engram possibly returning next week, Tate is falling down the receiving pecking order and could be just a WR4 next week against the Dolphins. It would be safer to find another option for your fantasy playoffs.
New York Giants wide receiver Sterling Shepard was second on the team in targets with seven but only hauled in four passes for 28 yards. Whenever he is on the field, Shepard is a magnet for targets, regardless of who is under center. His consistently high volume means that he could be an intriguing, albeit risky, WR3 option next week against the Dolphins mediocre pass defense.
Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Alshon Jeffery was forced to leave Monday's game against the New York Giants due to a foot injury. Jeffery limped off the field after going down while running a route in the second quarter. He was carted into the locker room from the sideline. He made zero catches on two bad targets before getting hurt. It's a devastating blow to fantasy owners who trusted Jeffery after his huge Week 13 performance, but potentially even worse for the Eagles, who are left with just Greg Ward and J.J. Arcega-Whiteside as the only wide receivers in uniform.
Updating a previous report, Philadelphia Eagles WR Alshon Jeffery (foot) will not return to the Week 14 game against the New York Giants due to his foot injury.
Fantasy Spin: Jeffery was carted off in the first half and immediately went to the locker room. He finished without a catch on two targets. Greg Ward Jr., JJ Arcega-Whiteside and Josh Perkins will steer the ship home at wide receiver.