Mon Nov 18 6:52pm ET
By TERESA M. WALKER
AP Pro Football Writer
Tennessee Titans tight end Anthony Firkser (86) and wide receiver Tajae Sharpe (19) celebrate with wide receiver Adam Humphries, on the ground, after Humphries scored the winning touchdown against the Kansas City Chiefs in the fourth quarter of an NFL football game Sunday, Nov. 10, 2019, in Nashville, Tenn. The Titans won 35-32. (AP Photo/Mark Zaleski)
Tennessee Titans head coach Mike Vrabel runs off the field after an NFL football game against the Kansas City Chiefs Sunday, Nov. 10, 2019, in Nashville, Tenn. The Titans won 35-32. (AP Photo/James Kenney)
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) The Tennessee Titans believe their bye with the much-needed time off helped then heal for the final six games on the schedule.
How much remains to be seen. Coach Mike Vrabel didn't tip his hand Monday except to say he expected two of four Titans to test themselves when they practiced. But Tennessee doesn't have to share an injury report until Wednesday.
Tight end Delanie Walker and defensive tackle Jurrell Casey both think they're feeling good enough that there's a chance each might play Sunday when the Titans (5-5) host Jacksonville. Casey has missed the past two games with an injured shoulder, while Walker hasn't played since five snaps Oct. 20 against the Chargers.
''Been gone way too long,'' Casey said. ''Never in my life would I have I have thought I'd miss this many games in my career. But Lord got things up His sleeve. Just ready to get back out there.''
Walker talked to reporters while wearing a brace on his left knee to help him avoid aggravating the right ankle that has kept him out of the past two games. That's the same ankle he broke in the 2018 season opener. Walker said he wouldn't be wearing the brace in a game, and he likes how he's feeling right now. The test will be how he feels after practicing.
''Just by the things I've been doing, it feels good, so I think it's going in the right direction,'' Walker said. ''Again, I'm a tough guy, and I feel like at this point it's where I'm able to play. But again we just have to see.''
The Titans also played without linebacker Jayon Brown (groin) and wide receiver Corey Davis (hip) in their 35-32 win over Kansas City before their bye.
Tennessee is back at work with the AFC South bunched up, just a game out of first behind Indianapolis (6-4) and Houston (6-4) but just ahead of Jacksonville (4-6). Four of the final six outings are inside the division, including a trip to Indianapolis on Dec. 1. The Titans are playing the Texans twice in the final three weeks.
Vrabel calls it a great opportunity that's no different than the Kentucky Derby when a hole opens up for a horse to take advantage.
''Or in this case, the team will take advantage of the opportunity,'' Vrabel said. ''So, all we can focus on right now is Jacksonville. We didn't play the game how we wanted to play it last time down there, so we'll have to do a much better job this week of preparing to continue to give ourselves opportunities.''
The Titans lost 20-7 in Jacksonville on Sept. 19 as part of a 2-4 start that led to the benching of Marcus Mariota. They went into the bye having won three of four with Ryan Tannehill, and Vrabel said the coaches spent a lot of time with the players last week looking at where they can improve in areas ranging from fundamentals and penalties to third downs.
Now it's back to work after a bye week that came late in the season.
''Everybody's a little bit refreshed, and that's what we needed,'' Walker said.
Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce was probably the most trustworthy fantasy option for KC going into the Week 14 matchup with the Patriots. He's been reliable just about every week this season and that continued on Sunday. Kelce hauled in seven of his nine targets for 66 yards in the victory over New England. He also scored a touchdown on a four yard rushing attempt during the first half. He's battling George Kittle for best tight end in the NFL. Kelce should be a must start option next week against the shaky Broncos Defense.
Kansas City Chiefs running back Spencer Ware was signed by the organization earlier this week after multiple injuries in the backfield. Damien Williams (ribs) is week to week, while Darrel Williams (hamstring) is done for the season. Ware was with the Chiefs in 2015-2018, but will battle with LeSean McCoy and Darwin Thompson for playing time. Ware surprisingly made his season debut on Sunday, despite being signed just a few days before the game. He rushed five times for 11 yards in the Week 14 victory over the Patriots. He's going to be stuck in a running back committee, so fantasy owners shouldn't bother with Ware. He could be worth a look in the deepest of leagues, but he likely won't see more than a handful of carries per game.
New Orleans Saints wide receiver Michael Thomas hauled in 11 of 15 targets for 134 yards and a touchdown in a 48-46 loss to the San Francisco 49ers. Thomas had a decent stat line through three quarters- then the fourth quarter happened. The All-Pro wideout had five catches for 87 yards and a touchdown in the fourth quarter alone. His crunch-time production included a beautiful, over-the-shoulder 49-yard grab, which ultimately led to a Thomas touchdown a couple plays later. It was a great rebound effort for the 26-year-old, who will look to keep it up in Week 15 against a beatable Indianapolis Colts secondary.
Kansas City Chiefs running back Darwin Thompson was solid on the ground during the second half of the Week 13 victory over the Raiders. Sadly, Thompson was unable to carry that momentum into his Week 14 matchup with the Patriots. He rushed four times for seven yards, but caught four passes for 36 yards through the air. Veteran LeSean McCoy saw most of the touches in the backfield on Sunday. The good news is, Thompson was able to show promise in the passing game. He should stay involved in the passing game if Damien Williams (ribs) is out for the Week 15 matchup with the Broncos. Thompson would have some PPR value in fantasy leagues if the Chiefs continue to target him in the passing game next week.
The New England Patriots Defense was able to contain, for the most part, an explosive Chiefs offense but came up short in the team's 23-17 loss in Week 14. The Patriots had their 21-game winning streak at home snapped as the defense totaled one sack, one interception and one forced fumble. The Patriots defense has failed to replicate their borderline historic numbers from the first half of the season and the slump the offense is currently in isn't helping matters. The vaunted unit, however, will be back at the top of the rankings in Week 15 against an awful Bengals team.
New England Patriots running back Rex Burkhead carried the ball seven times for 15 yards in the Patriots 23-17 loss to the Chiefs. The offense endured one of its worst performances of the season but Burkhead's snaps went up. He even out-snapped second-year running back Sony Michel and it is fair to question if the Patriots may opt to use more of Burkhead moving forward. Even if his playing time increases, Burkhead will struggle to rise above RB4 status heading into Week 15.
Kansas City Chiefs running back LeSean McCoy was given the start against the New England Patriots in Week 14. Lead back Damien Williams (ribs) did not suit up for this one, so the veteran McCoy was given the start. However, McCoy was unable to capitalize on the extra opportunities. He rushed 11 times for 39 yards and caught one pass for four yards through the air. Spencer Ware and Darwin Thompson took snaps in the backfield as well, but McCoy didn't do anything to deserve extra snaps. At this point in the season, McCoy has turned into a desperation flex option for deep leagues. He might get another start in Week 15, but he hasn't done enough to warrant starting him in most formats.
New England Patriots wide receiver Mohamed Sanu caught only one pass for 13 yards in the Patriots 23-17 loss to the Chiefs in Week 14. The veteran receiver was targeted only once and was a complete non-factor in the game. Sanu has been dealing with an ankle injury and it is fair to question whether he can truly contribute the rest of the fantasy season. He simply is struggling to get on the same page with quarterback Tom Brady and is learning a new offense on the fly. Sanu should ride the fantasy bench in Week 15.
New England Patriots wide receiver N'Keal Harry caught one pass for 12 yards in the Patriots 23-17 loss to the Chiefs. Harry caught the pass and made an excellent, athletic move towards the end zone but was called out of bounds. Upon further replay, Harry in fact scored on his lone reception but the Patriots were out of challenges to reverse the ruling. The rookie receiver has size and speed but is way behind in terms of his knowledge of the nuances in the Patriots offense. Harry is not fantasy viable right now outside of keeper or dynasty leagues.
New Orleans Saints running back Latavius Murray posted 64 rushing yards on seven carries and caught two of three targets for 25 yards in a 48-46 loss to the San Francisco 49ers. Murray was out-touched by Alvin Kamara 17-nine, though Murray looked like the better player in this game. It was a great rebound effort for the 29-year-old, who had seen his snaps decrease steadily over the last three games. Perhaps the coaching staff will look to Murray more moving forward, especially considering they promised him more touches earlier in the year. He and the Saints will take on a strong Indianapolis Colts run defense in Week 15.
New England Patriots wide receiver Jakobi Meyers caught one pass for 35 yards in the team's 23-17 loss to the Chiefs. The rookie was able to make a splash-play but did little else with his three targets in the game. The Patriots offense is in crisis mode right now and expecting a rookie like Meyers to pull them out of it is not realistic. Meyers should, however, continue to see a consistent amount of game snaps as the Patriots offense is very thin at wide receiver right now.
Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes was held in check by the Patriots during their Week 14 contest. The reigning MVP was held under 300 passing yards for the third straight game. Mahomes completed 26 of 40 passing attempts for 283 yards and one touchdown with one interception in the victory over New England. The Pats defense has been tough to pass against this season, so it's not surprising that Mahomes was slowed down. Fantasy owners can hope for a rebound contest against the average Denver Broncos pass defense in Week 15.
New England Patriots wide receiver Julian Edelman caught eight passes for 95 yards and one touchdown in the Patriots 23-17 loss to the Chiefs in Week 14. New England's offense is in full-blown crisis mode but Edelman continues to put up career numbers. Edelman surpassed 1,000 yards receiving for the third time in his career and now has 90 receptions on the season with six touchdowns. The Patriots offense is in a deep slump but Edelman can be safely dropped into fantasy starting lineups heading into Week 15.
New England Patriots running back James White carried the ball six times for 33 yards and added five receptions for 35 yards in the Patriots Week 14 loss to the Chiefs. On a night when the Patriots offense struggled for most of the game there weren't many bright spots to be found. From a fantasy perspective, however, White is slowly taking hold of the lead running back duties in the backfield. The Patriots appear to have lost all faith in second-year back Sony Michel and White brings versatility in the passing game. Look for White's touches to continue to rise in the final three games of the season.
The Minnesota Vikings Defense came through in a big way in Week 14's victory over the Detroit Lions. Harrison Smith and Andrew Sendejo both had interceptions and the Vikings sacked David Blough five times in what was a dominating effort from start to finish. Defensive end Danielle Hunter was an absolute force as he picked up three sacks and three tackles for loss in the win. Hunter became the youngest player to reach 50 sacks in the history of the NFL; it's past time for him to be a household name in the league. Cornerbacks Xavier Rhodes (ankle) and Mike Hughes (oblique) left the contest late, but Mike Zimmer wasn't concerned about their injuries after the game. The Vikings Defense will be a recommended play in Week 15 against the Los Angeles Chargers.
New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady completed only 19 of 36 passes for 169 yards, one touchdown and one interception in the Patriots 23-17 loss to the Chiefs. New England had a 21-game winning streak at home snapped as the offense continued its descent into mediocrity. All of the blame should not go to Brady but the future Hall of Famer's completion percentage continues to plummet. Four rushing touchdowns have helped his fantasy production over the last month but Brady has passed for only nine touchdowns over his last eight games played. The Patriots are heading towards the playoffs but will need massive improvement if they hope to defend their title. Brady's fantasy value is in free-fall right now.
New England Patriots running back Sony Michel carried the ball only five times for eight yards in the Patriots 23-17 loss to the Chiefs. The second-year running back was completely phased out of the team's offensive game plan as the Patriots search for an offensive identity. His fantasy value, in turn, has reached a new low as James White, Rex Burkhead and Brandon Bolden all out-rushed Michel. The talented back has lost so much fantasy luster over the last month that fantasy owners may need to consider dropping him in favor of higher upside options moving forward.
Denver Broncos WR Courtland Sutton caught five of his seven targets for 34 yards in a 38-24 win over the Houston Texans in Week 14.
Fantasy Spin: Although he didn't pile up a bunch of yards, Sutton led the team in receptions and targets. A Week 15 matchup with the Kansas City Chiefs should have him back in the WR2 conversation.
Denver Broncos LB Todd Davis finished with 15 tackles, including five solo stops, in a 38-24 win over the Houston Texans in Week 14.
Fantasy Spin: Davis has quietly delivered double-digit tackles in five straight games, making him a streaming option for those in the IDP market.
New Orleans Saints WR Tre'Quan Smith snagged two of his four targets for 29 yards and a touchdown vs. the San Francisco 49ers in Week 14 on Sunday, Dec. 8.
Fantasy Spin: Smith missed so much time this year with ankle injury and was set back because of it. He how has scores in two of his last three but has no more than a pair of catches in any of the last five appearances. That kind of involvement is of no use in fantasy playoff lineups.