Wed Oct 16 3:58pm ET
By ARNIE STAPLETON
AP Pro Football Writer
In this Oct. 6, 2019, file photo, Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes throws a pass during the first half of the team's NFL football game against the Indianapolis Colts in Kansas City, Mo. Mahomes has thrown 202 consecutive passes without an interception. (AP Photo/Ed Zurga, File)
Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson (4) scores a touchdown next to tight end Jordan Akins (88) during the first half of an NFL football game against the Kansas City Chiefs in Kansas City, Mo., Sunday, Oct. 13, 2019. (AP Photo/Colin E. Braley)
Denver Broncos running back Phillip Lindsay (30) reacts with teammates after scoring a touchdown during the second half of an NFL football game against the Tennessee Titans, Sunday, Oct. 13, 2019, in Denver. (AP Photo/Jack Dempsey)
Denver Broncos running back Phillip Lindsay runs with the ball during the first half of an NFL football game against the Tennessee Titans, Sunday, Oct. 13, 2019, in Denver. (AP Photo/Jack Dempsey)
Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Tyreek Hill (10) does a flip as he celebrates a touchdown during the second half of an NFL football game against the Houston Texans in Kansas City, Mo., Sunday, Oct. 13, 2019. (AP Photo/Colin E. Braley)
DENVER (AP) Keeping Patrick Mahomes on the sideline has worked wonders for Kansas City's opponents, providing a blueprint for the Broncos on Thursday night as they seek their first win over the Chiefs in four years.
''Every game has its own personality,'' cautioned Broncos coach Vic Fangio .
Every team also builds its own reputation, and the Chiefs (4-2) have a dud of a defense to go along with that firecracker offense. Exploit that and the Broncos (2-4) can jump right back into the AFC West race after their September stumble.
Over the past four weeks, the Chiefs, who have lost two in a row after a 4-0 start, have allowed an average of 190 rushing yards and 4.97 yards a carry as their opponents piled up eight TD runs.
''We have to fix it,'' Chiefs coach Andy Reid said.
The Chiefs have allowed a 100-yard rusher in four consecutive weeks, and it would have been five if not for the Raiders' Josh Jacobs' hydration problems - he finished with 99 yards on just 12 carries.
''I mean, look, there's just one area we don't feel great about and it's stopping the run,'' said first-year coordinator Steve Spagnuolo, who has transitioned the Chiefs from a 3-4 to a 4-3 defense. ''We don't want to be looking at the number of run plays, the yardage they're putting up with runs - somehow, some way we have to figure it out. Until we stop it, we're going to see it.''
Up next are the Broncos, winners of two straight and the NFL's only team that sports two running backs each with at least 400 scrimmage yards. But if Royce Freeman and Phillip Lindsay, who have accounted for 973 yards so far, are relishing the matchup, they're masking it pretty good.
''Every game in the NFL is tough,'' Lindsay said.
Freeman looked at the rushing totals the Chiefs have allowed the past four weeks: Ravens (203), Lions (186), Colts (180) and Texans (192), and shrugged.
''Every team goes out there and they make their adjustments week to week,'' Freeman said. ''You've got to assume they're going to go out there and try to switch things up. Plus, we have a short week, so you never know what to expect.''
Just look at Denver's defense , which found a quick fix to its run game problems. After allowing Leonard Fournette to go wild as the Jaguars piled up 269 yards on them, the Broncos allowed just 35 yards to the Chargers and 39 to the Titans.
''It's the NFL. Guys change things every week,'' Freeman said. ''Our defense has done a great job flipping the script.''
It's time for Denver's offense to do likewise, he added.
The Broncos are averaging just 17.6 points. Even during their two-game skid, the Chiefs averaged 18.5 points despite losing the time of possession by an average of 38 minutes to 22 minutes.
Other subplots as the Broncos try to snap a seven-game skid and beat Kansas City for the first time since Sept. 17, 2015:
Tyreek Hill had two TD grabs last week in his return from a broken collarbone. The Chiefs were without Sammy Watkins because of a hamstring injury, and they'll be missing him again against Denver, where DB Kendall Fuller (thumb), DT Chris Jones (core muscle), LT Eric Fisher (core muscle) and LG Andrew Wylie (ankle) are all out.
SANDERS GOOD TO GO
Broncos WR Emmanuel Sanders returns from a sore knee that knocked him out last week. Sanders has caught just two passes for 9 yards the past two weeks. Sanders' injury in his third in a year (ACL, ankle).
Reid and Fangio are the same age - 61. Reid is in his 28th NFL season, 21 as a head coach and is seeking his 200th regular-season win. Fangio is in his 33rd NFL season but first as a head coach. ''He's one of the special defensive minds of the game,'' said Reid, who knows all about Fangio's reputation.
Mahomes is 2-0 in Denver, winning his first career start on Dec. 31, 2017, when he left a 24-10 lead to No. 3 QB Tyler Bray but returned to salvage a 27-24 win with a last-minute field-goal drive. Last year, he led the Chiefs to a 27-23 win with more fourth-quarter heroics and his famous left-handed throw to avoid a sack.
Von Miller isn't the Broncos' sacks leader. It's backup DE DeMarcus Walker, who has three sacks after getting just one in each of his first two seasons. His first came against Mahomes when both were rookies.
Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Alshon Jeffery (ankle) will be an OK fantasy option in Week 12 if he recovers from his ankle injury. Jeffery was forced to miss Week 11's loss to the New England Patriots, but he was back at practice on Wednesday. If he is ultimately cleared to play, he'll be quarterbackCarson Wentz's top wide receiver in a game where the Eagles will likely need to make some passing plays. Jeffery has not been much of a ceiling play this season at all but has at least maintained a decent floor, and that should remain true in Week 12 if he can stay on the field.
Philadelphia Eagles running back Boston Scott may or may not have a fantasy significant role in Week 12. The Eagles take on the Seattle Seahawks in Philly, but whether or not Scott plays significant snaps depends on the availability of Jordan Howard (shoulder). Howard is questionable at best at this point after missing Week 11, where Scott got seven carries and gained 26 yards. He's a viable replacement for Howard if fantasy owners are desperate, but rookie Miles Sanders will be the featured back if Howard is forced to miss another game.
Philadelphia Eagles running back Jay Ajayi is likely to have some kind of a role on offense in Week 12. Ajayi was active in Week 11 but never saw the field. He was in uniform despite having signed with the team just two days earlier. With a full week of practice now, Ajayi should see the field for Sunday's matchup against the Seattle Seahawks. How much he plays will depend on whether or not Jordan Howard (shoulder) is cleared to play. Still, Ajayi's role is far too murky to be worth a start in any format, but he should be scooped up from any waiver wires where he's available just in case.
Philadelphia Eagles rookie running back Miles Sanders should have a significant role in Week 12's matchup with the Seattle Seahawks. With Jordan Howard (shoulder) questionable at best to play, Sanders will have a prominent backfield role once again. He was shut down by the Patriots in Week 11 with Howard out of the picture, running for just 38 yards and making two catches, but the Seahawks Defense won't pose a similar threat. Sanders makes for a solid RB2 play this week with a slight bump in PPR formats. Even if Howard is cleared to play, Sanders should still provide fantasy points in his role.
Philadelphia Eagles running back Jordan Howard (shoulder) is a risky choice in Week 12 fantasy lineups assuming he is cleared to play. Currently questionable at best after missing Week 11, Howard is set for a date with the Seattle Seahawks Defense. If fully healthy, Howard would be a middling RB2 for this contest, but given the injury and the possibility of a re-aggravation, he can't be treated as much more than an RB4. Desperate fantasy owners need to keep an eye on injury reports heading into Friday's practice and should be ready to pounce on Boston Scott or anyone else potentially available on the waiver wire.
Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz will be a QB2 for a Week 12 matchup against the Seattle Seahawks. Wentz is coming off an inconsistent performance against the Patriots in Week 11 in which he completed just 20 of his 40 pass attempts for 214 yards and one touchdown. The Seahawks Defense is not as talented as the Patriots Defense by any means, but they are coming off their bye week and have given some opposing quarterbacks trouble this season. Wentz has not been completely to blame, as his receivers drop his passes as if they burn their fingers. Alshon Jeffery (ankle) and Jordan Howard (shoulder) could be back in the lineup this week, which would help Wentz's outlook considerably.
The Dallas Cowboys Defense is not a highly recommended fantasy option for a Week 12 lineup. The Cowboys will be on the road to take on the New England Patriots, and it's always tough to recommend a fantasy defense against Tom Brady's squad. The Giants and Lions defensive units could be on some league's waiver wires and should make for better options in Week 12 matchups.
New York Giants tight ends Evan Engram (foot) and Rhett Ellison (concussion) are not practicing on Wednesday. It seems unlikely at this point that Engram will be ready to play on Sunday against the Bears. You should be making plans to be without Engram again in Week 12. If Ellison is also out, Scott Simonson and rookie Kaden Smith would likely split playing time in a tough matchup with Chicago. Neither one of them would be very attractive as a TE2 streamer in deeper leagues.
Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Alshon Jeffery (ankle) and running back Jordan Howard (shoulder) are doing individual work in practice on Wednesday and are limited. Jeffery didn't practice at all last week before he was inactive in Week 11, so it's progress for him. Still, both players should still be considered questionable to face the Seahawks in Week 12. Nelson Agholor would have some fleeting flex appeal once again if Jeffery misses another game, while tight ends Zach Ertz and Dallas Goedert would both remain involved in the passing game. Rookie Miles Sanders would have RB2 upside if Howard misses his second straight game. Keep an eye on their practice status the rest of the week.
Dallas Cowboys kicker Brett Maher is a decent but not particularly high-upside kicking option in Week 12. The Cowboys will be on the road to face the New England Patriots and could struggle to score, limiting Maher's chances. There's always the possibility that the Patriots Defense causes the Cowboys to stall on offensive drives, leading to more field goals for Maher, but that's a risky situation to bank on. Fantasy owners who have been trotting out Maher all season might as well keep him there for another week, but streamers should look elsewhere on the waiver wire.
Atlanta Falcons tight end Austin Hooper (knee) won't play in Week 12 against the Buccaneers, but he could try to run a little in practice on Thursday. There's a chance that Hooper could be ready to return in Week 13 against the Saints. Keep Hooper stashed on your benches, especially if you're looking good to make the fantasy players, as Hooper could come in handy down the stretch as a high-end TE1. Luke Stocker and Jaeden Graham should continue to split playing time this Sunday, but you can avoid both for fantasy purposes.
Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Tyreek Hill's (hamstring) injury was deemed minor after he underwent an MRI exam, according to a source. Hill is being considered day-to-day, and there's a real chance he won't miss any time with the team's bye in Week 12. He tried to go back into the Monday night game against the Chargers. Hill was held catchless on his two targets before leaving the game and not returning, so it was a blow to his fantasy owners. The good news is that Hill should be back in Week 13 in the final week before the fantasy playoffs begin in most leagues. As long as he's on the field, Hill will be a must-start.
Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster (concussion, knee) remains in the league's concussion protocol on Wednesday and is also wearing a significant brace on his left knee. Smith-Schuster isn't off to a good start to the week, and he won't be a guarantee to play in Week 12 against the Bengals even if he's cleared from the protocol later this week. You should be planning on being without him this weekend. With Diontae Johnson (concussion) also questionable to play, the Steelers could be rolling with James Washington, Johnny Holton and Tevin Jones in three-receiver sets against the winless Bengals. Washington would be the best DFS streamer if both JuJu and Johnson are inactive. Tight end Vance McDonald would have more upside as well.
Dallas Cowboys tight end Blake Jarwin is not a starting option in most fantasy lineups in Week 12. Jarwin and the Cowboys will be in New England to take on the Patriots and their great defense. Jarwin has yet to catch more than three passes in a game this season and despite his occasional touchdowns and chunk gains, is still too unpredictable to trust in fantasy lineups.
Dallas Cowboys tight end Jason Witten is no more than a floor play, at best, in Week 12 and is better left on most fantasy benches. With the Cowboys in New England to face the Patriots, Witten could end up with something like his two-catch, 17-yard performance against the Vikings. Witten is one of the least likely tight ends in the NFL to put up zero fantasy points, but he's also not very likely to put up double-digit points most weeks. Tight end is a very weak fantasy position this season, but most leagues will still have someone with at least more upside than Witten in Week 12.
Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Michael Gallup is a strong WR2 play despite a tough matchup in Week 12. The Cowboys will be in New England to take on the Patriots and their top-tier defense. With Amari Cooper (knee) at less than 100 percent, Gallup could be asked to pick up some of the slack. He led the team in receiving in Week 11, catching nine passes for 148 yards. He's unlikely to rack up that much yardage against the New England secondary in Week 12, but he's as likely as any wide receiver on the field to score a touchdown. Fire him up as a solid WR2 with some nice upside and a bankable floor.
Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Randall Cobb has been excellent for two games in a row and will look to keep in going in Week 12 against the New England Patriots. Cobb has two straight weeks of over 100 yards receiving and a touchdown. Despite the excellent defense of the Patriots, Cobb has a chance to keep it going this week, as top New England corners Stephon Gilmore and Jason McCourty will focus on Amari Cooper and Michael Gallup. Cobb comes into this one as a high-ceiling, middling-floor option and can be fired up as a lower end WR3 with WR2 upside.
Dallas Cowboys rookie running back Tony Pollard is not on the fantasy radar in Week 12. The Cowboys will be on the road facing the New England Patriots and the Patriots elite defense could give the Cowboys offense a hard time. With the team not expected to be able to move the ball particularly well, backup Tony Pollard won't be on the field very often. He was able to show some burst and score a touchdown last week, but starter Ezekiel Elliott is an almost every-down back and Pollard's use has been too inconsistent to rely on as a fantasy starter. He remains a league-winning handcuff, but is not a fantasy option while he remains second on the depth chart.
Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Amari Cooper (knee) is a risky but potentially high-upside play in a Week 12 contest against the New England Patriots. Cowboys owner Jerry Jones has already stated that Cooper is expected to play this week. He toughed it out last week, appearing on 55 percent of the offensive snaps. With another week to rest, he should be able to play a bit more in Week 12, but he'll have a much tougher matchup. The matchup against the Patriots Defense combined with the lingering injury and the chance of a re-aggravation make Cooper a risky play, but the fact that he's Amari Cooper gives him plenty of upside. He's not the top-tier WR1 he's been most weeks, but he's still somewhere on the bottom third of WR1 rankings this week.
Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott has been excellent this season, but he will face his toughest challenge of the season in Week 12. The Cowboys hit the road to take on the New England Patriots and their top-ranked defense. Coming off an impressive 444-yard, three-touchdown game, Prescott's forecast is quite a bit more modest than that. Still, he's a locked-in QB1 regardless of matchup, although he's much lower in those QB1 ranks than in most weeks. Amari Cooper's (knee) health will play a role in how high Prescott's ceiling can be in this one.