New York Jets quarterback Sam Darnold (14) reacts during the second half of an NFL football game against the Cincinnati Bengals, Sunday, Dec. 1, 2019, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/Gary Landers)
Miami Dolphins quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick (14) looks to pass, during the first half at an NFL football game against the Philadelphia Eagles, Sunday, Dec. 1, 2019, in Miami Gardens, Fla. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) - Ryan Fitzpatrick and the Miami Dolphins are in a much different spot than they were the last time they faced the New York Jets.
Last month, they were one of the league's midseason laughingstocks, still looking for their first victory of the season. Then they went out and embarrassed the Jets 26-18.
The Dolphins (3-9) could sweep the season series with a win Sunday at MetLife Stadium, adding another chapter to an AFC East rivalry that has lacked juice in recent seasons as both teams have struggled.
"We're really trying to find ourselves and improve, and we've only won three games this year, so there's a lot of things internally that we're just trying to focus on and fix and get better at," Fitzpatrick said. "Some of those questions and then historically and in the past, some things that have happened, that is not really our focus right now. We're kind of hyper-focused on the now and getting ourselves better."
The Dolphins have plenty of motivation in the season's final month, even though they've been out of the playoff race for weeks, and each win hurts their chances of landing a franchise quarterback in next year's draft.
After an 0-7 start, Miami has won three of five games, including victories over playoff contenders Indianapolis and Philadelphia.
"It just shows that we can compete with anybody and we can beat really good teams," first-round draft pick Christian Wilkins said. "We will keep building. I know that this might not be the season that we wanted, or the fans wanted, but winning gives us a little extra sense of motivation."
Meanwhile, the Jets (4-8) are in a similar spot as the Dolphins in what has been a season marked by inconsistency, injuries and humiliating losses.
New York had its three-game winning streak stopped last week with a 22-6 loss to previously winless Cincinnati. If the loss to Miami on Nov. 3 was tough to swallow, that one was even worse. The Jets became the first team in NFL history to lose to two teams that were 0-7 or worse in the same season.
"It's frustrating, obviously," running back Le'Veon Bell said, "but we have to find a way to get better."
The Jets had scored 34 points in each of their previous three games - all wins - but couldn't get anything going against the Bengals. They were called for 10 penalties, including seven on the offensive line, and quarterback Sam Darnold was hurt by several drops.
"I think, for us, it was too many penalties," Darnold said. "For me, I have to hit my guys, I have to be more accurate. I felt like we couldn't get into a rhythm and it hurt us. ... We didn't come out flat, that wasn't an issue for us. It was really just a matter of executing, which was the issue."
Jets safety Jamal Adams appears likely to miss the first game of his three-year NFL career because of a sprained left ankle.
Adams was hurt early in the game at Cincinnati, but pushed through it and wasn't his usual playmaking self. He has been one of New York's bright spots this season and his absence would have a big impact on the defense.
Marcus Maye would likely slide into Adams' strong safety spot, with defensive coordinator Gregg Williams trying to use a combination of Blake Countess, Bennett Jackson and Matthias Farley, if he's healthy, in the other spot.
Fitzpatrick threw last week for a season-high 365 yards, and in the past five games has passed for 902 yards and five scores.
Fitzpatrick said despite the Dolphins' record, his first season in Miami has been a positive experience.
"I feel like I'm better now than I've ever been," said Fitzpatrick, who turned 37 last month. "In terms of what I'm doing and my focus and preparation and going out there with the group I have, my confidence is at an all-time high in terms of all that stuff."
The Dolphins still rank last in the NFL in yards per play. But lately, when they do get a chance to score, they're taking advantage.
Miami is third in the league with a red zone touchdown conversion rate of 68%. In the first four games, the Dolphins were at 17%. Since Week 6, they're at 80%, which ranks first in the league during that span.
"It's practice and execution, and players making plays in those situations," coach Brian Flores said. "Look, in the red zone in this league, the field is condensed so you have to make good throws, you have to make good catches in tight coverage. Players have to go up and make plays. We've had that."
The Jets remain the toughest defense to run against, allowing an NFL-low 75.3 yards rushing per game and just 2.89 yards per carry.
New York is also leading the league with 98 tackles for no gain or negative yardage, excluding kneel-downs, according to Radar360. The next closest is Tampa Bay with 71.
Only one player has rushed for 100 yards or more against the Jets this season: Dallas' Ezekiel Elliott, who had 105 in Week 6.
Green Bay Packers tight end Jimmy Graham gets a tough matchup against the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC Championship game. Graham has back-to-back 49-year receiving performances, but those games came against teams that struggle to defend the tight end position. The 49ers are not one of those teams. They allowed the sixth-fewest fantasy points to tight ends all season and were the league's stingiest pass defense. Maybe Graham makes a play in the red zone. Still, he's a cheaper DFS play but by no means a comfortable one.
Green Bay Packers wide receiver Geronimo Allison (illness) is trending in the right direction to play in the NFC Championship game this weekend against the San Francisco 49ers. Even if available, Allison isn't an option in any fantasy format. The 25-year-old hasn't caught more than four passes in a game this season. It sure doesn't seem like he'll eclipse that mark against the league's best defense with a trip to the Super Bowl on the line.
Green Bay Packers wide receiver Allen Lazard (ankle) is currently questionable for the NFC Championship game against the San Francisco 49ers. There's certainly a risk for injury, considering he re-aggravated the ankle in last week's playoff game. Still, it's hard to ignore the two-game stretch Lazard had to end the season, where he saw 17 targets. That alone makes him worth a gamble, particularly in a must-win game for a Packers team in desperate need of another threat at receiver. Just beware, the matchup isn't ideal. The 49ers allowed only 172 passing yards to the Vikings last week.
Green Bay Packers wide receiver Davante Adams gets a tough matchup against the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC Championship game this weekend. Adams produced only 43 receiving yards and a score against San Francisco in the regular season but still had 12 targets. The star receiver has seen double-digit targets in nine of 13 games played this year. There's not many receivers that you can virtually pencil in for double-digit targets- but Adams is one of them. If fellow receivers Geronimo Allison (illness) and Allen Lazard (ankle) suit up, they may be limited. Adams could be looking at more work than usual, even in a matchup this difficult.
The San Francisco 49ers Defense enter Championship weekend as the highest-priced fantasy defense. The Niners face the Green Bay Packers, who they demolished 37-8 in Week 12. In that previous contest, the Niners relentlessly harassed future Hall of Famer quarterback Aaron Rodgers, dropping him five times and forcing a fumble. The Packers were a meager one for 15 on third down conversions. The 49ers will need to follow that blueprint again in the critical NFC Championship to emerge victorious. With a higher-intensity contest expected, it could be difficult to splurge on a defense in fantasy compared to other addressable positions.
San Francisco 49ers wide receivers Deebo Samuel and Emmanuel Sanders both offer solid fantasy value in the NFC Championship against the Green Bay Packers. Both players were limited to under 45 yards apiece in last weekends Divisional Round blowout but were featured early on when the game was still in question. The rookie Samuel has emerged as a consistent dual threat in the latter half of 2019 and is likelier the safer floor. Sanders, the savvy vet has proven himself as a reliable chain-mover with big-play potential. Against the Packers 10th-best pass defense by DVOA, either option seem primed to pop in Sundays winner-take-all battle.
Green Bay Packers running back Jamaal Williams will face off with the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC Championship game this weekend. Williams has been playing second fiddle to Aaron Jones quite a lot recently, as he hasn't seen double-digit carries since Week 13 against the Giants. It's worth noting that Williams played a large role in the regular-season game against the 49ers, which saw him rack up 18 touches. Green Bay very well could utilize Williams in spurts to keep San Francisco guessing, though his recent downtrend in usage makes him hard to trust.
San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo is a reasonable DFS bet for Sundays NFC Championship matchup against the Green Bay Packers. Priced as the third-best quarterback, Jimmy G squares off against a strong Packers defensive line that ranked 12th-best in adjusted sack rate during the regular season. Garoppolo was not pressed into service in the Divisional Round blowout win, but will likely be tasked with a tougher test on Sunday. While the Niners have mostly ridden its dominant running game throughout the year, Garoppolo has answered the bell in multiple occasions with three four-touchdown games. With dangerous weapons surrounding him, Garoppolo shouldnt be ruled out in the biggest game of his career to-date.
Green Bay Packers running back Aaron Jones will take on the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC Championship game this weekend. The 49ers Defense held Jones to just 38 rushing yards in their regular-season meeting. However, the star back has been playing some seriously good football in his last five games, with 501 rushing yards and seven rushing touchdowns. He's also had 20-plus carries in three straight contests. Expect Green Bay to utilize Jones early and often in screens and runs to combat the 49ers mighty pass rush. Even if Jones doesn't pile up over 100 yards, his propensity to find the end zone and role in the passing game make him a safer play this weekend.
Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers will take on the San Francisco 49ers this weekend with a trip to the Super Bowl on the line. The 49ers Defense held Rodgers to just 104 passing yards and one touchdown in their regular-season meeting. However, there are a couple things that are different ahead of this matchup. First, tackle Bryan Bulaga will play in this game after being injured in the first quarter against the 49ers previously. Rodgers should have better protection than he had when these teams met. Secondly, Rodgers himself is playing better football than he was during the regular season before this matchup. He has 566 passing yards and four touchdowns in his last two contests. There is also the added motivation of denying a Super Bowl berth to the team that could have drafted him. Play Rodgers on Sunday, despite the tough matchup.
San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Kendrick Bourne is worth a gamble for Sundays NFC Championship against the Green Bay Packers. Bourne scored the only receiving touchdown for the Niners in the Divisional Round, adding to his 2019 resume as a legitimate red-zone threat. The third-year pro has just 33 catches this year, including the playoffs, but collected six scores. Despite his risks as a zero-floor fantasy option, Bourne has emerged as a trustworthy target in clutch situations.
San Francisco 49ers running backs Tevin Coleman and Raheem Mostert are both bankable DFS options in Sundays NFC Championship against the Green Bay Packers. The two backs combined for 163 rushing yards in the Divisional Round, with Coleman riding a hot hand to two touchdowns. Considered a backup for the latter half of the regular season, Coleman played 46 percent of snaps last Sunday compared to Mosterts 34 percent. While the touch forecast for either back is cloudy, the Niners draw one of the worst run defenses in the NFL. The Packers ranked 23rd in rushing DVOA during the regular season with the second-worst defensive line in the league, yielding 4.96 adjusted yards per carry. With a likely floor of 10 touches for each Coleman and Mostert, both runners have great opportunities to make a splash.
San Francisco 49ers tight end George Kittle (ankle) was a full participant in Thursdays practice and should be fine for Sundays NFC Championship against the Green Bay Packers. Kittle scared Niner Nation with soreness on the left ankle he chipped earlier this year, but confirms he feels fabulous. Kittle factored more as a blocker in last Sundays Divisional Round blowout but the Niners passed just 19 times. The All-Pro is an integral piece in all facets of the offense so is worth his premium TE1 price in DFS on Sunday.
Detroit Lions WR Danny Amendola is set to become an unrestricted free agent, but he's a 'prime candidate' to be re-signed, in the opinion of The Detroit Free Press' Dave Birkett.
Free-agent WR Antonio Callaway (Browns) signed with the Tampa Bay Vipers of the XFL Thursday, Jan. 16.
Kansas City Chiefs RB LeSean McCoy (illness) remained out of practice Thursday, Jan. 16.
Fantasy Spin: McCoy played just one offensive snap in last week's Divisional Round game against the Houston Texans. He's clearly behind RB Damien Williams and is no longer worth starting.
Kansas City Chiefs QB Matt Moore (illness) and DT Chris Jones (calf) didn't participate in practice Thursday, Jan. 16. DT Khalen Saunders (knee), CB Morris Claiborne (shoulder), CB Kendall Fuller (knee), DE Tanoh Kpassagnon (neck), C Austin Reiter (wrist) and G Andrew Wylie (ankle) practiced in full.
Green Bay Packers DL Kenny Clark (back), TE Marcedes Lewis (non-injury), LB Preston Smith (ankle), FB Danny Vitale (knee) and CB Tramon Williams (non-injury) were limited participants in practice Thursday, Jan. 16. S Adrian Amos (chest), OT Bryan Bulaga (non-injury), WR Ryan Grant (non-injury), LB Blake Martinez (hand) and OL Billy Turner (ankle) practiced in full.
Kansas City Chiefs TE Travis Kelce (knee) remained limited at practice Thursday, Jan. 16.
Fantasy Spin: Kelce earned a light practice week while catching 10 of 12 targets for 134 yards and three touchdowns against the Houston Texans in the Divisional Round. He's the week's top tight end option once against this week so long as he takes the field.
Tennessee Titans LB Jayon Brown (shoulder), LB Rashaan Evans (foot), WR Adam Humphries (ankle), CB Adoree' Jackson (foot), WR Cody Hollister (ankle) and OT Jack Conklin (shoulder) were limited in practice Thursday, Jan. 16. CB Logan Ryan (illness) and LB David Long Jr. (knee) participated in full.