Thu Oct 17 7:27pm ET
By ANDREW SELIGMAN
AP Sports Writer
Chicago Bears quarterback Chase Daniel (4) prepares to throw during the second half of an NFL football game against the Oakland Raiders at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, Sunday, Oct. 6, 2019, in London. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)
Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Gardner Minshew, lower left, is sacked by New Orleans Saints defensive end Cameron Jordan, center, as Jaguars offensive tackle Jawaan Taylor, right, tries to slow Jordan down during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Oct. 13, 2019, in Jacksonville, Fla. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)
New Orleans Saints quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, left, looks for a receiver as he is pressured by Jacksonville Jaguars defensive end Calais Campbell during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Oct. 13, 2019, in Jacksonville, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux)
Chicago Bears outside linebacker Khalil Mack (52) tackles Oakland Raiders quarterback Derek Carr (4) during the second half of an NFL football game at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, Sunday, Oct. 6, 2019, in London. (AP Photo/Tim Ireland)
LAKE FOREST, Ill. (AP) The New Orleans Saints kept their sights set on a Super Bowl even after Drew Brees went down with an injury.
While their superstar quarterback continues to recover following thumb surgery, the NFC South leaders will try to remain unbeaten without him.
The Saints look to improve to 5-0 with Teddy Bridgewater as their starter in Brees' place when they visit Khalil Mack and the Chicago Bears on Sunday.
''It just shows this is a team that's determined to win and do whatever it takes,'' Bridgewater said.
The Saints (5-1) are getting big contributions from their defense and special teams and enough from their offense even if they're not moving the ball the way they did a year ago. They're averaging 344.7 yards - down 34.5 yards per game from last season, when Brees made 15 starts. He's been sidelined since he tore a ligament in his right thumb during a loss to the Los Angeles Rams in Week 2.
Bridgewater has completed about 69 percent of his passes for 1,089 yards, seven touchdowns and two interceptions. He wasn't as effective last week at Jacksonville, after throwing for 314 yards and four touchdowns against Tampa Bay, but he hit Jared Cook for a tiebreaking 4-yard TD early in the fourth quarter against the Jaguars.
He will try to keep the Saints rolling against a team looking to bounce back. The Bears (3-2) are coming off a loss to Oakland in London two weeks ago in which their defense got pushed around a bit after dominating the first four games and their offense continued to struggle.
Here are some things to know:
The Bears hope to get quarterback Mitchell Trubisky back after missing a game because of a left shoulder injury.
If he returns, he'll try to build on a promising showing against Washington in Week 3.
Trubisky threw three touchdowns in an easy win over the struggling Redskins after mediocre outings in a season-opening loss to Green Bay and a narrow victory at Denver. He was then injured on the opening drive against Minnesota on Sept. 29.
''I felt that each game leading up to that Vikings game, until he got hurt, that there was (improvement),'' Bears coach Matt Nagy said. ''Progression-wise where he's going, playing faster, seeing at the line of scrimmage that he's getting into checks or seeing progressions, adjustments at the line of scrimmage - way quicker than what he was.''
Veteran Chase Daniel figures to make his second straight start if Trubisky is unavailable.
With 18 sacks, New Orleans is tied with Green Bay and Tennessee for sixth in the NFL.
Coach Sean Payton has been pleased by how depth along the front has helped keep linemen fresh and pressure high. While Cameron Jordan leads the club with five sacks, he's one of eight defensive linemen who've had at least half a sack. Payton said the Saints put an emphasis on improving depth on the defensive line after defensive tackle Sheldon Rankins, who was second on the club in sacks last season with eight, tore his Achilles tendon last January. That helped the Saints remain stout up front until Rankins returned in Week 4.
The Saints have not allowed a 100-yard rusher this season - or in 32 games, for that matter. They've also held their previous three opponents - Dallas, Tampa Bay and Jacksonville - to season lows in total yards.
While the Saints could be thin at running back if Alvin Kamara is unavailable or limited because of knee and ankle injuries, the Bears placed right guard Kyle Long and defensive tackle Akiem Hicks on injured reserve this week.
Long will miss the remainder of the season with a hip injury. Hicks could return after eight weeks from an elbow injury he suffered against Oakland. Both players have made the Pro Bowl - Long from 2013-15 and Hicks last year.
Saints rookie defensive back C.J. Gardner-Johnson has had a promising start to his career. And he is expected to be tested more this week because primary nickel back P.J. Williams was suspended two games for violating the NFL's substance abuse policy.
Johnson's biggest moment was a hit on Cowboys QB Dak Prescott on a delayed blitz that forced an interception on the final play of the Saints' 12-10 triumph over Dallas in Week 4.
DEFERENCE TO DANIEL
While the Saints weren't sure which quarterback they'd be facing, several spoke highly of former teammate Daniel.
Rankins said Daniel - who played for New Orleans from 2009-12 and in 2017 - was always respected by the Saints' offensive brain trust: Payton and Brees.
''Coaches respected his opinion if he had an opinion on certain plays, or Drew would go to him about certain things, or they would converse back and forth about things they were seeing on the field,'' recalled Rankins, who was Daniel's teammate in 2017.
The Oakland Raiders Defense is coming off back-to-back stellar weeks and is in a superb spot to keep the trend going in Week 12. Led by the reigning Defensive Player of the Week Maxx Crosby, they've piled up 10 sacks and five turnovers in their last two games, helping them earn double-digit fantasy point totals in each contest. Their Jets opponent this weekend is allowing the second-most fantasy points to the D/ST position, and the third-most sacks in the league (41). Managers looking for a streaming option this week should ride the Raiders defense with confidence.
Oakland Raiders tight end Darren Waller has underwhelmed in recent weeks after a scorching start to the 2019 season, but he will look to rebound in Week 12. After averaging over seven catches and 80 yards a game through his first six contests, he's averaged just 3/45 in his four games since. The 26-year-old has still led the team in targets (22) in this span, so owners shouldn't hesitate to put him into lineups this week. Waller be a low-end TE1 versus a Jets Defense that's been surprisingly stingy versus the position in 2019.
Oakland Raiders quarterback Derek Carr will be on the streaming radar once again in Week 12 when the team travels to New York to face the Jets. He'll face a defense that has allowed the 11th-most fantasy points to the position this season, including serving up big games to Ryan Fitzpatrick, Gardner Minshew, and Dwayne Haskins in recent weeks. Carr has put up respectable fantasy numbers since their Week 6 bye, and should have no trouble connecting with his receivers versus this mediocre secondary. The veteran's sturdy floor makes him a safe streaming option this Sunday with four fantasy-relevant quarterbacks on their bye week.
Oakland Raiders running back Josh Jacobs (shoulder) was listed as limited for Wednesday's practice, but is in no danger of missing Sunday's game versus the Jets. It's nothing new for the rookie's designation as the team is merely managing his workload after a heavy usage so far this season. Jacobs will be a fringe RB1 versus a Jets team that ranks first in the league in rush yards per game (79.1), but they've still been beaten with 10 touchdowns on the ground. Owners shouldn't hesitate putting Jacobs into their lineups in Week 12 despite the unfriendly matchup.
Denver Broncos wide receiver Tim Patrick (shoulder) missed practice on Wednesday. Patrick had four catches on a healthy eight targets for 77 yards in his season debut in Week 11 against the Vikings. Assuming he can play in Week 12 against the Bills, Patrick should once again be the No. 2 behind Courtland Sutton. However, against a stingy Bills Defense and with inexperienced quarterback Brandon Allen remaining under center, Patrick doesn't have a ton of upside as a deep league flex play. If he can't get cleared this Sunday, Daesean Hamilton would be the No. 2.
Los Angeles Rams wide receiver Robert Woods was not with the team for practice on Wednesday, and head coach Sean McVay said there is no update on his personal matter. Woods was a surprise inactive last Sunday night because of personal issues, and it's unclear when he might return to the team. For that reason you'll need to have a backup plan in place for Week 12 when the Rams face the Ravens on Monday night. Woods will be even more of a risk with the game being on Monday. With Brandin Cooks (concussion) on track to return this week as well, Woods would be a boom/bust WR3 with how poorly quarterback Jared Goff has played of late. Baltimore's defense is trending up right now, so LA's passing attack could struggle again.
Washington Redskins DE Jonathan Allen (ankle, knee) and DT Daron Payne (ankle) did not participate in practice Wednesday, Nov. 20. FS Montae Nicholson (ankle) and DT Tim Settle (hamstring) were limited during practice. S Deshazor Everett (ankle), LB Cole Holcomb (thumb), CB Josh Norman (hamstring) and P Tress Way (shin) fully participated in practice.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers OT Demar Dotson (non-injury), LB Anthony Nelson (hamstring), DE Jason Pierre-Paul (knee) and S M.J. Stewart (knee) did not participate in practice Wednesday, Nov. 20. DE William Gholston (ankle) and LB Carl Nassib (groin) were limited during practice.
Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones (foot) was held out of practice on Wednesday. The Falcons are likely just giving the veteran some rest late in the season. Jones has battled nagging injuries to his lower body the last several seasons but usually plays through them and remains productive. The 30-year-old hasn't scored a touchdown since Sept. 22, but he's had at least 79 yards receiving in the last five games and has 100-yard performances two times in that span. He'll be a strong WR1 with the Bucs leaky secondary coming to town this Sunday. Jones should be targeted heavily with tight end Austin Hooper (knee) out for another week.
Seattle Seahawks wide receiver Tyler Lockett (leg) will not practice on Wednesday, but he could be limited on the field on Thursday. Coming out of the bye week, head coach Pete Carroll expects Lockett to play in Week 12 against the Eagles. He was a bust in Week 10 after going off for 152 yards and two touchdowns in Week 9, but Lockett always has WR1 upside with MVP candidate Russell Wilson throwing him passes. The volume isn't always there in this run-first offense, but Lockett could easily break a big play or two against Philly's secondary this Sunday. Check back on Thursday to see if Lockett returns to the practice field. If he does, he should be on track to play this weekend.
Washington Redskins TE Vernon Davis (concussion) was limited during practice Wednesday, Nov. 20.
Fantasy Spin: Davis still has not been cleared to play by the doctors, so fantasy players should keep an eye on the situation. He should be avoided in all fantasy leagues until he is back on the field.
Atlanta Falcons QB Matt Ryan (ankle) didn't participate in practice Wednesday, Nov. 20.
Fantasy Spin: Ryan completed 21 of 31 pass attempts for 311 yards and a touchdown against the Carolina Panthers in Week 11. He's one of the top options this week against a horrid Tampa Bay Buccaneers secondary.
Washington Redskins WR Paul Richardson (hamstring) was limited during practice Wednesday, Nov. 20.
Fantasy Spin: Richardson was not able to play in the Week 11 game but appears to have a chance to play this week. He has posted seven receptions and 76 yards in his last two games but can be avoided this week if fantasy players have better options.
Atlanta Falcons RB Devonta Freeman (foot), S Kemal Ishmael (concussion), DE John Cominsky (ankle), TE Austin Hooper (knee), DE Takkarist McKinley (shoulder) and DE Adrian Clayborn (groin) didn't practice Wednesday, Nov. 20. CB Desmond Trufant (toe) was limited.
Atlanta Falcons WR Julio Jones (foot) was held out of practice Wednesday, Nov. 20.
Fantasy Spin: The injury isn't expected to keep Jones out of action against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Week 12. Jones caught six of eight targets for 91 yards against the Carolina Panthers in Week 11, but he hasn't found the end zone since Week 3.
Washington Redskins RB Chris Thompson (toe) was limited during practice Wednesday, Nov. 20.
Fantasy Spin: Thompson appears to have a chance to play this week, so fantasy players should check on his status later this week. He would be used mostly as a receiver out of a backfield when he returns and would only be a flex option in deeper point-per-reception leagues.
Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Amari Cooper (knee) was a full participant in practice on Wednesday. Cooper continues to battle through injuries this year, but he's fully expected to play in Week 12's showdown with the Patriots on the road. He'll likely be shadowed by shutdown cornerback Stephon Gilmore in this one, but Cooper is a must-start fantasy commodity as long as he's playing. With that said, Dallas' No. 1 wideout will be more of a low-end WR1 this weekend, and fantasy owners should temper expectations just a bit.
New England Patriots WR Mohamed Sanu (ankle) didn't practice Wednesday, Nov. 20.
Fantasy Spin: Sanu had a monster game in Week 9 while catching 10 of 14 targets for 81 yards and his first touchdown with the team, but he took a big step last week with just two catches for four yards. He's a risky flex option only to be considered in deeper leagues.
New England Patriots WR Phillip Dorsett (concussion) didn't participate in practice Wednesday, Nov. 20.
Fantasy Spin: Dorsett caught his fifth touchdown of the season last week against the Philadelphia Eagles. He doesn't have more than three catches in a game since Week 3, but the Patriots' high-scoring offense provides enough opportunities to keep him in consideration as a flex option.
Washington Redskins RB Adrian Peterson (toe) did not participate in practice Wednesday, Nov. 20.
Fantasy Spin: Peterson probably will return to practice later in the week and should have a good chance to play in Week 12. He received only 11 touches last week with Derrius Guice back in the lineup and probably will see a similar workload this week. Fantasy players may be able to find better options to use and can keep him on the bench.