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.''
Los Angeles Rams wide receiver Brandin Cooks caught four receptions for 46 yards in Week 15 against the Dallas Cowboys. The four catches were all he had in the last three games entering the contest. He was third on team with eight targets. It was nice that he re-emerged as a target in the offense, but he's still not an option in fantasy against the San Francisco 49ers next week.
Los Angeles Rams wide receiver Robert Woods had four catches for 17 yards on nine targets in Week 15. The Dallas Cowboys did their homework and made him a non-factor. He was second on the team in targets. Next week will be even more of a chore against the San Francisco 49ers. Woods will be a WR3 option in the matchup.
Los Angeles Rams tight end Tyler Higbee had a game-high 12 catches for 111 yards in Week 15 against the Dallas Cowboys. He was targeted 14 times in the game, which led all players. He has 26 catches for 334 yards and one score the last three games as he has emerged as a TE1. He'll have a solid matchup against the San Francisco 49ers next week as a midrange TE1.
Los Angeles Rams kicker Greg Zuerlein had a single extra point in the blowout loss to the Dallas Cowboys in Week 15. He'll have a decent matchup against the San Francisco 49ers next week, and Zuerlein will be a low-end kicker option.
Los Angeles Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald had three tackles (one solo) in Week 15 against the Dallas Cowboys. He was unable to land a sack in the game. He'll have a midrange matchup against the San Francisco 49ers next week as a low-end DL1.
Cleveland Browns tight end Ricky Seals-Jones had a big game against his former team in Week 15. Seals-Jones caught three of his four targets for 29 yards and two touchdowns in a 38-24 loss to the Arizona Cardinals, furthering Arizona's season-long struggles against the tight end. David Njoku was a surprise pregame scratch, which helped lead to a larger role for Seals-Jones. Regardless of what happens with Njoku in Week 16, none of the Cleveland tight ends will be recommended options against a tough Baltimore Ravens Defense.
Washington Redskins wide receiver Terry McLaurin hauled in all five of the passes thrown his way on Sunday, producing 130 yards and a touchdown. McLaurin's two best fantasy outings of the year have now both come against the Eagles, so Philly is likely happy to be finished with him until 2020. The Redskins' number-one receiver has scored in back-to-back weeks, and has put up serviceable PPR numbers in three of his last four. He remains in the starting conversation for all formats, especially for those fantasy owners who've been hit with injuries to WRs lately.
Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Stefon Diggs caught four of six targets for 76 yards in a resounding 39-10 win over the Los Angeles Chargers. He also added one rush for four yards in the victory. Diggs hauled in his 13th reception of at least 30 yards (most in the NFL) on a nice 46-yard catch in the fourth quarter, setting up an eight-yard Mike Boone touchdown. Diggs clearly could have had a bigger game if the Chargers had been able to keep it close, but the Vikings threw just five times in the second half with the outcome already determined. Diggs has emerged as one of the top deep threats in the NFL and should remain a high-upside WR2 in Week 16 against the Green Bay Packers.
Arizona Cardinals linebacker Chandler Jones had five solo tackles and a sack against the Cleveland Browns Sunday. He has at least a half-sack in six straight games, but he has had five or more tackles in just four games this season. So it's a risk to use him against the Seattle Seahawks next week, but he'll be a low-end LB1 option.
Arizona Cardinals safety Budda Baker had seven tackles (five solo) in Week 15 against the Cleveland Browns. Baker has been a solid DB1 in individual defensive player leagues all season, but he has fizzled out a bit. He's good for tackles, but he doesn't do much else. He'll be a low-end DB1 against the Seattle Seahawks next week.
Cleveland Browns wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. caught eight of his 13 targets for 66 scoreless yards in a 38-24 loss to the Arizona Cardinals. On the plus side, Beckham's 13 targets are the most he's seen in a game all season. That being said, he failed to cash in on a dream matchup against an extremely ineffective Arizona secondary. Beckham is still stuck on just two touchdowns this season. His career-low in that category is three, which came in 2017 when he played in just four games. Beckham will be tough to trust in Week 16 against a tough Baltimore defense.
Los Angeles Rams quarterback Jared Goff went 33-for-51 for 284 yards, two touchdowns and an interception in Week 15. The Rams were never in the game, and Goff was forced to throw for the entirety. Goff will face off against the San Francisco 49ers Saturday in Week 16. The 49ers haven't been as stout against opposing quarterbacks of late, and Goff will be a low-end QB1.
Cleveland Browns wide receiver Jarvis Landry turned in a slow outing in a 38-24 loss to the Arizona Cardinals in Week 15. Landry caught five of his eight targets for just 23 yards in the loss. The slow outing goes down as a big letdown after Landry had been an extremely consistent fantasy option for much of the season. The slot receiver also got into an argument with head coach Freddie Kitchens early in the fourth quarter after a missed field goal. Things won't get much easier for Landry as he draws a tough Week 16 matchup against the Baltimore Ravens.
Los Angeles Rams running back Todd Gurley scored on the ground and in the air in Week 15 against the Dallas Cowboys. The Rams actually fell behind early and never recovered. Gurley had 11 rushes for 20 yards and three catches for 18 yards. Those touchdowns salvaged what would have been a rough fantasy week. Gurley will be a solid RB2 against the San Francisco 49ers next week.
Los Angeles Rams wide receiver Cooper Kupp salvaged a six-catch, 41-yard performance with a touchdown against the Dallas Cowboys Sunday. Kupp was fifth on the team in targets as quarterback Jared Goff really hasn't connected well with him the last few weeks. Kupp will have a tough matchup in Week 16 against the San Francisco 49ers, but he'll be a low-end WR2.
Cleveland Browns running back Nick Chubb had a big game in a 38-24 loss to the Arizona Cardinals in Week 15. Chubb carried the ball 17 times for 127 yards and a touchdown while adding three receptions for 21 yards in the loss. The second-year running back also broke a two-game scoreless streak when he found the end zone for the eighth time this season. Chubb has been excellent this season but he will have his work cut out for him in Week 16 when he takes on a tough Baltimore Ravens Defense. He finished with 165 rushing yards and three touchdowns the last time these two teams met in Week 4, but Baltimore's defense is much improved since then. Treat him as more of a high-end RB2 for that matchup.
Arizona Cardinals running back Kenyan Drake lit it up in Week 15 with 137 rushing yards and four touchdowns. He was the first player in franchise history to score four times on the ground since 1993. He also had a nine-yard reception. Drake hadn't done much the last month, but he really put one on Sunday. He'll be a low-end RB2 in point-per-reception formats next week against the Seattle Seahawks.
Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray was an efficient 19-for- 25 for 219 yards, one touchdown and one interception in the win over the Cleveland Browns Sunday. He also rushed eight times for 56 yards. Murray spread the ball around to nine different targets, and no one had more than six looks. Murray isn't setting the world ablaze, but he is producing enough to be worthy of a low-end QB1 play against the Seattle Seahawks next week.
Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Christian Kirk caught four balls for 33 yards in Week 15 against the Cleveland Browns. He also had a 28-yard rush. The entire passing attack was pretty quiet while running back Kenyan Drake scored four times on the ground. Kirk has the most upside of all the receivers, and he'll be a flex option against the Seattle Seahawks next week.
Arizona Cardinals running back David Johnson rushed just three times for six yards and was not targeted in the passing game in Week 15. With Kenyan Drake putting four runs into the end zone this week, Johnson's roster viability has become grim. It's unlikely he'll have a big enough role the final two weeks to be more than a handcuff to Drake.