In this Aug. 26, 2018, file photo, Cincinnati Bengals running back Giovani Bernard, left, is tackled by Buffalo Bills defensive end Jerry Hughes during the first half of a preseason NFL football game in Orchard Park, N.Y. The Bengals travel to Orchard Park this week for the Bills' home-opener. (AP Photo/Adrian Kraus, File)
ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) Andy Dalton fondly recalls the warm welcome he received a little over a year ago, when the Bengals traveled to Buffalo for a preseason game.
The Cincinnati quarterback drew several ovations after winning over Bills fans' hearts for his last-minute touchdown to beat Baltimore in the 2017 season finale. The Ravens' 31-27 loss propelled Buffalo into the postseason and snapped the team's 17-year playoff drought.
Dalton knows better than to listen for any cheers in facing the Bills (2-0) in Buffalo's home opener Sunday.
''Ha, ha, no,'' Dalton said with a healthy chuckle. ''I'm not expecting the same kind of ovation I got last time.''
Bills defensive end Jerry Hughes has made a point of personally informing Dalton that won't happen.
''It was such a big moment in our franchise's history and everything the fans did for him, which is really cool,'' Hughes said, recalling watching Dalton hit Tyler Boyd for a 49-yard touchdown pass to convert a fourth-and-12 with 49 seconds left against Baltimore. ''But we understand, and I tell him this every time I see him back in Texas, when we get on the football field, it's go-time.''
And Hughes is speaking as Dalton's long-time friend, after the two grew up in Houston and were college teammates at TCU.
Buffalo is on a roll in opening the season with two road wins, both at the Meadowlands, and in position to enjoy its first 3-0 start since 2011.
The Bills defense has allowed just 22 points - not including an interception returned for a touchdown and safety in a 17-16 season-opening win against the Jets.
And their new-look offense under second-year quarterback Josh Allen is finding its rhythm after engineering four 70-plus-yard touchdown drives in a 28-14 win over the Giants last weekend.
The Bengals (0-2) are still trying to find their identity under rookie coach Zac Taylor.
After a tightly contested 21-20 season-opening loss at Seattle, Cincinnati unraveled in giving up 572 yards - the fifth-most in franchise history - in a 41-17 loss to San Francisco.
''The loss is not something we're going to run from,'' Taylor said. ''We got blown out at home. We could say it was frustrating, but we will not allow our guys to hang their heads.''
Though Dalton leads the NFL with 61 completions and is second with 729 yards passing, the Bengals' running attack has stalled.
An injury depleted offensive line has been the biggest issue. Rookie left tackle Jonah Williams tore a labrum in offseason workouts. Backup Cordy Glenn - a former Bill - missed the first two games with a concussion. And third-string tackle Andre Smith hurt his groin against the 49ers but is expected back this week. Cincinnati is last in the league with 59 yards on 33 carries through two games.
Running back Joe Mixon resorted to posting a message on Twitter, apologizing to his fans.
''I promise I will get it right and we will be better,'' wrote Mixon, averaging 1.8 yards per carry.
Taylor was hired from the Rams to replace Marvin Lewis, who was fired after failing to win a playoff game in 16 seasons. The 0-2 start is ominous. It's the 17th time in franchise history that the Bengals have opened 0-2, and have never managed a winning record after such a start.
''We win this week, and the feeling in this building is a lot different,'' Dalton said.
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The Bills know better than to take a 2-0 start for granted. After starting 3-0 and eventually getting to 5-2 in 2011, Buffalo unraveled in closing the season 6-10. It was no different in 2008, when Buffalo opened 4-0 and finished 7-9.
''I'm just looking at one game right now, honestly,'' coach Sean McDermott said, when reminded Buffalo plays five of its next six at home.
Buffalo tight end Tyler Kroft is in position to make his season debut and against his former team. The Bills offseason free-agent addition has practiced the past three weeks after missing the entire offseason with a broken right foot.
''Another added threat that you're going to have to worry about in the passing game,'' Allen said of Kroft, who spent his first four seasons in Cincinnati.
Aside from applause, Dalton's win over Baltimore led to Bills fans donating more than $450,000 to the quarterback's charitable foundation. He returned a portion of it back with a donation to Buffalo's Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center.
''It shows the game's bigger than just football,'' Dalton said.
Another $100,000 was donated to Boyd's cause of choice, which went to funding a youth sports league in his hometown of Clairton, Pennsylvania.
Green Bay Packers wide receivers Davante Adams (toe), Marquez Valdes-Scantling (ankle, knee) and Geronimo Allison (concussion) remain sidelined at practice for the second straight day this week on Thursday. Adams has missed the last two games with turf toe and seems doubtful to play in Week 7 against the Raiders. MVS and Allison are also on the wrong side of questionable right now, so they must practice on Friday to have a chance to play. Green Bay would be down to Jake Kumerow, Allen Lazard and rookie Darrius Shepherd if all three of Adams, MVS and Allison are inactive. That'd obviously be terrible news for quarterback Aaron Rodgers this weekend. No matter what, expect Green Bay to lean on both running backs Aaron Jones and Jamaal Williams in this one.
Baltimore Ravens rookie wide receiver Marquise Brown (ankle) remains sidelined at practice for the second straight day Thursday. Brown missed practice all of last week and the Week 6 game, and he's looking unlikely to play again this weekend against the Seahawks. None of Willie Snead, rookie Miles Boykin or Seth Roberts stepped up in the passing game with Brown sidelined last week, so all three of them are desperation dart throws, at best, for a flex spot if Brown misses his second straight contest. Tight end Mark Andrews remains quarterback Lamar Jackson's favorite target outside of Brown.
Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver A.J. Green (ankle) said he still has "a little ways to go." He hasn't practiced this week and isn't expected to make his season debut in Week 7 against the Jaguars. With Green out at least another week, Tyler Boyd and Auden Tate will remain the team's top two receivers. Against a Jaguars team now without cornerback Jalen Ramsey, Boyd has WR1 upside in a great bounce-back spot this Sunday. Tate will have flex appeal for those hurting at the position or in need of a body because of bye weeks. Continue to stash Green everywhere. He'll be Cincy's top wideout whenever he returns.
The Los Angeles Chargers placed wide receiver Travis Benjamin (quadriceps) on Injured Reserve on Thursday and signed defensive tackle T.Y. McGill in a corresponding move. Benjamin can return later this year, but he should be dropped from all fantasy rosters in deeper leagues. The 29-year-old had just six catches on 16 targets for 30 scoreless yards in five games this year. With Dontrelle Inman also on IR, Geremy Davis figures to be the team's No. 3 wideout behind Keenan Allen and Mike Williams. He won't be fantasy relevant unless there's an injury ahead of him.
Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes' (ankle) injury is a legitimate injury. Sources are saying that the injury is worse than most people think it is, and head coach Andy Reid said it's something that has bothered the quarterback since Week 1. Mahomes aggravated the ankle each of the last two weeks. He has been very reluctant to flee the pocket and has seen his completion percentage drop as a result. Opposing defenses have switched to play man coverage recently with Mahomes ailing. Denver's defense doesn't often play man coverage, but it remains to be seen how they defend the start quarterback Thursday night. The Broncos D has been playing much better in recent weeks and this is no easy matchup, but Mahomes remains a must-start in fantasy.
Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver DeSean Jackson (abdomen) missed another practice on Thursday. The Eagles were optimistic about Jackson playing this weekend for the first time since Week 2, but that's looking like more of a long shot if he can't get on the practice field. A notoriously slow healer, D-Jax might be more likely to come back in Week 8 against the Bills on the road. The Eagles desperately need Jackson's deep-threat abilities to open up their offense. If he sits out again, Alshon Jeffery, Nelson Agholor and Mack Hollins will continue to operate in three-wide sets on Sunday night against the Cowboys.
New York Giants running back Wayne Gallman (concussion) practiced in full on Thursday. After missing last Thursday's contest, Gallman looks to be on track to return in Week 7 against the Cardinals. However, Saquon Barkley (ankle) is also practicing in full and should be able to return after a two-game absence. Gallman will be a little-used backup for the Giants if Barkley is starting and playing his normal allotment of snaps. Gallman would only be on the RB2/3 borderline if the Giants play it cautious and hold Barkley out for another week. With Barkley healthy, Gallman is strictly a handcuff for Barkley owners.
Washington Redskins running back Chris Thompson (toe) remained sidelined at practice for the second straight day Thursday. It's looking unlikely that Thompson plays in Week 7 against the 49ers while dealing with a minor case of turf toe. Adrian Peterson should see another heavy workload this Sunday, but it might not matter against San Fran's strong defensive front. If Thompson is inactive this weekend, expect Wendell Smallwood to handle most of the pass-catching duties out of the backfield. He'd strictly be a desperation RB3/flex in deep PPR leagues.
New England Patriots wide receiver Phillip Dorsett (hamstring), who missed last Thursday's game, was moving around well at practice on Thursday. Dorsett is on track to play on Monday night against the Jets. It's welcomed news, too, as Josh Gordon (knee) is questionable to play after getting injured last Thursday. It's looking like Julian Edelman and Dorsett will be New England's top two receivers for this week. Dorsett will have sneaky flex appeal for fantasy owners in a good matchup if Gordon doesn't play.
Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver A.J. Green (ankle) will not practice again on Thursday. The Bengals aren't rushing their No. 1 receiver back, and he's highly unlikely to play in Week 7 against the Jaguars. With Cincy's bye coming in Week 9, it's possible that Green doesn't make his season debut until Week 10 against the Ravens. The Bengals (0-6) have no reason to rush the veteran at this point in a lost season. With Green still sidelined, Tyler Boyd will have WR1 upside this weekend against a Jaguars Defense that just traded their top cornerback in Jalen Ramsey. It's a great week for Boyd to bounce back from his clunker in Week 6. Auden Tate also has flex appeal at home in this matchup.
Chicago Bears head coach Matt Nagy said that quarterback Mitch Trubisky (shoulder), who practiced in full on Wednesday, is "feeling good." All signs point to Trubisky returning in Week 7 to face the Saints after missing the London game in Week 5. If that happens, backup Chase Daniel will go back to holding the clipboard. The Saints allow the 11th most fantasy points per game (24.1) to signal-callers, but Trubisky and Chicago's passing game has been wildly mediocre through five games in 2019. It's best to treat Trubisky as a low-upside, midrange QB2 if he returns to action in Week 7.
Dallas Cowboys wide receivers Amari Cooper (ankle, quadriceps) and Randall Cobb (back) both missed practice for the second straight day on Thursday. Both players are on the wrong side of questionable right now for Sunday night against the Eagles. Until further notice, plan on being without both of them. That would put Michael Gallup as the No. 1 receiver with Tavon Austin in the slot and Cedrick Wilson out wide in three-receiver sets. Gallup is the only viable option for starting lineups outside of much deeper leagues. The good news is that offensive tackles Tyron Smith (ankle) and La'el Collins (knee) both returned to practice, so Dallas' offensive line might be near full strength to face Philly's strong defensive front. Tight end Jason Witten should see more targets as well if Cooper and Cobb sit out.
New England Patriots wide receiver Josh Gordon (knee) and tight end Matt LaCosse (knee) were not at practice on Thursday. Gordon was injured last Thursday night and didn't return to the game. He's in serious danger of sitting out on Monday night against the Jets, and he's even more difficult to trust with the game being on Monday. With Phillip Dorsett also banged up, it could be Julian Edelman, rookie Jakobi Meyers and Gunner Olszewski in three-receiver sets for the Pats. Edelman would obviously be a must-start, while Meyers would simply be a dart throw as a flex in deeper formats. LaCosse will miss at least a few weeks. Ryan Izzo should perform as the team's primary tight end, but he should be faded in fantasy.
Buffalo Bills running back T.J. Yeldon has served as the Bills' No. 2 running back behind Frank Gore since Week 3, after the team lost Devin Singletary (hamstring) to an injury. Singletary is looking likely to make his return in Week 7, which is bad news for Yeldon. Yeldon had a season-high 10 touches in Week 3, then had a total of 10 touches the next two games. If Singletary is active, Yeldon may not see the field more than a few times this week. Even if Singletary is inactive, Yeldon still won't get enough opportunities to warrant starting him. He should be on waivers in all leagues.
Buffalo Bills running back Frank Gore has received at least 16 touches in four straight games. This week, he faces a Dolphins Defense that just allowed Adrian Peterson and the Redskins to run all over it. Gore has a fantastic opportunity to rack up around 100 rushing yards with a good chance to score, making him a high-end RB2 this week. The team's No. 2 running back Devin Singletary (hamstring) is looking likely to make his return this week, which could cost Gore a few touches, but nothing significant enough to warrant benching Gore.
Buffalo Bills wide receiver Cole Beasley has 27 catches through five games this year, a sturdy total for PPR leagues. This week, Beasley and the Bills have a favorable home matchup against the Dolphins. Beasley should be able to get open at will, making him a solid candidate for around six or seven catches. The team's No. 1 receiver John Brown (ankle) is currently questionable for the game. If Brown sits, Beasley could be a low-end WR3 or flex option in non-PPR leagues, but if Brown is in, Beasley should be considered for PPR only.
Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen has had a bumpy start to the year with seven interceptions and a lost fumble over five games. This week, however, he has an ideal matchup at home against the Dolphins. He has a good chance to put his turnover woes to rest and deliver some solid yardage through the air and on the ground. He should be able to contribute at least two touchdowns on the day as well. He's a fantastic, low-risk QB2 in two-quarterback leagues and a low-end QB1 option in one-quarterback leagues.
Buffalo Bills wide receiver John Brown (groin) was a limited practice participant on Wednesday and is currently questionable for Week 7. Assuming he's able to practice in full before Sunday and take the field, he is a solid high-end WR3 or flex play in a favorable home matchup against the lowly Dolphins. Brown has caught at least five passes in all but one game this year and leads the Bills with 390 receiving yards. As long as he is active in Week 7, he should be able to catch about five or six passes for around 70 yards with a chance to score.
Baltimore Ravens cornerback Jimmy Smith (knee) said he'll warm up and see how he feels on Sunday, but he's also planning to take it slow with the team's bye coming in Week 8. Smith is unlikely to play in Week 7 against the Seahawks. The 31-year-old has yet to play this year and his absence has been a big reason why Baltimore's defense as a whole hasn't played up to expectations. Marlon Humphrey has played his part, but the rest of the secondary has been extremely vulnerable and also lost Tony Jefferson for the year. It's why the Ravens just traded for cornerback Marcus Peters, and they're hoping he can help shore up their pass defense moving forward. The Ravens Defense/special teams shouldn't be on the streaming radar with Seattle on deck and Russell Wilson playing at an MVP level.
Buffalo Bills running back Devin Singletary (hamstring) was a full practice participant on Wednesday. Even though he is still listed as questionable for Week 6, he appears to be on track to take the field and make his first appearance since Week 2. The Bills have an excellent matchup at home against the Dolphins, which makes Singletary enticing as a start option, but it's hard to know just how involved he'll be in a game the Bills should win handily. The team's No. 1 running back Frank Gore will no doubt shoulder the workload while Singletary will likely see around five touches.