Thu Oct 17 5:26pm ET
By SCHUYLER DIXON
AP Pro Football Writer
Dallas Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett reacts during the second half of an NFL football game against the New York Jets, Sunday, Oct. 13, 2019, in East Rutherford, N.J. (AP Photo/Adam Hunger)
Philadelphia Eagles head coach Doug Pederson views practice at the NFL football team's training facility in Philadelphia, Thursday, Oct. 17, 2019. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)
Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz (11) reacts after a delay of game call in fourth quarter of their NFL football game against the Minnesota Vikings, Sunday, Oct. 13, 2019, in Minneapolis. (Elizabeth Flores/Star Tribune via AP)
Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott, top, tries to leap New York Jets' Darryl Roberts during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Oct. 13, 2019, in East Rutherford, N.J. (AP Photo/Adam Hunger)
ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) Doug Pederson had to downplay some trash talk from one of his linebackers the previous Philadelphia visited Dallas for a crucial NFC East meeting.
Now the coach of the Eagles is having to explain how he ended up on the bulletin board while the Cowboys respond the way they always have under stoic coach Jason Garrett. That is, by not responding.
Pederson said on his radio show that his Eagles were going to win Sunday night with the division lead on the line in a matchup of 3-3 teams coming off losses. He had to clarify to reporters that he never used the word ''guarantee.''
''For me it was about standing up, kind of taking ownership of where we are as a football team,'' Pederson said Wednesday. ''And just showing confidence in my guys and kind of instilling that into the players, that everything's going to be OK.
''Just like the Cowboys. Just like what Jason Garrett's going through right now. I'm assuming he's doing the same thing.''
Perhaps, but certainly not for public consumption with Dallas on a three-game losing streak after a 3-0 start.
''My response is we're excited about the challenge,'' Garrett said Monday. ''Obviously they're a great football team and we're going to focus on ourselves and what we need to do to prepare to play our best football on Sunday night.''
Before the Eagles' visit to the Cowboys last December, linebacker Kamu Grugier-Hill told a television reporter the Cowboys ''always choke. So we'll go down there and make them choke.''
Dallas won 29-23 in overtime and went on to take the division title, beat Seattle in the wild-card round and lose to the Los Angeles Rams in a divisional game. The responses then from Cowboys echoed those now.
''I wouldn't want him to be coaching me if he wouldn't say that,'' Dallas quarterback Dak Prescott said. ''Just because he voiced it doesn't mean that's not what he's thinking and just because we're not voicing it doesn't mean we don't have our own thoughts and opinions on how this game is going to go. That's words.''
Carson Wentz and Prescott are probably going to measure themselves against each other for years after coming into the league together in 2016.
Wentz was the No. 2 overall pick expected to be the future of the Philadelphia franchise. Prescott was the overlooked fourth-round choice who ended up starting all season and won NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year honors after Tony Romo injured his back.
So here are the latest numbers: Prescott has the head-to-head edge 3-2 and the only playoff victory for either player. Wentz has the second contract after signing a four-year extension worth $128 million during the summer. Prescott is still waiting for a megadeal that should come eventually.
''Something that's always fun,'' Prescott said of the comparison. ''Something we'll be able to always, every matchup, look back and say what's our record against each other or this versus that. Something that will always be cool to track. Credit him for what he's doing, what he's done.''
The Eagles have scored 24 points in the first quarter, but they've been shut out four times. The Cowboys are even worse with 20 points, including just three during the three-game skid.
Pederson is considering taking the ball if the teams wins the coin toss instead of deferring to the second half and giving the ball first to their opponent. The Eagles have won the toss 32 times since Pederson took over in 2016 and taken the ball just once.
''Put our offense out there and try to generate points early in the game and not fall behind,'' Pederson said. ''I think that's all part of trying to start fast.''
WHO'S IN, WHO'S OUT
The Cowboys figure to have several key players whose availability will be unknown until close to game time. Offensive tackles Tyron Smith (ankle) and La'el Collins (knee) returned to practice Thursday. Smith has been out two games and Collins one.
Receivers Randall Cobb (back) and Amari Cooper (thigh) appear further behind. Cobb was out against the Jets, and Cooper didn't play after the first series. Like Cobb and Cooper, cornerbacks Byron Jones and Anthony Brown missed the first two practices of the week. Both have hamstring injuries.
The Eagles have struggled against the pass but have been without starting cornerbacks Ronald Darby and Jalen Mills, nickel corner Avonte Maddox and key backup Cre'Von LeBlanc. They are 13-5 when Darby and Mills start.
Darby and Mills could return to the field against the Cowboys. Both began the week practicing. Darby has missed a few games with a hamstring injury after returning from ACL surgery. Mills hasn't played since last October because of a foot injury.
Subbing for Darby and Mills, Rasul Douglas and Sidney Jones had a tough time last week at Minnesota.
''Jalen's an experienced player,'' defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz said. ''He's tough. He's very competitive. Good tackler. It will be nice to get all those things back.''
New York Giants wide receiver Sterling Shepard (concussion) is still in the concussion protocol, but head coach Pat Shurmur said the team expects Shepard to be cleared by the end of the week. Despite not being cleared yet, Shepard has practiced in full the last two days. It's a sign that he will return to action in Week 12 against the Bears for the first time since Oct. 6 against the Vikings. It's great to see Shepard nearing a return, but he could have his snaps limited after a long layoff, and the matchup isn't a good one. Shepard will be a shaky flex if he's active, while his presence will also lower the upside of both Golden Tate and Darius Slayton against Chicago.
Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Nelson Agholor could play a big role again in Week 12 when the Eagles host the Seattle Seahawks. With Alshon Jeffery (ankle) questionable after missing Week 11, Agholor could again serve as an incredibly overmatched WR1 for Carson Wentz. Agholor had a hard time catching the football in Week 11 as has been a theme for his whole career, but he still drew nine targets. With a softer defense to go against in Week 12, that many targets could lead to fantasy relevance even for someone with hands like Agholor's. He'll almost certainly drop a touchdown, but he might catch one too.
Philadelphia Eagles tight end Zach Ertz hasn't had the season he, the Eagles, or his fantasy owners wanted, but he's a solid bet to have a strong Week 12 against the Seattle Seahawks. The Seahawks Defense does fairly well against opposing running backs and wide receivers, but tight ends have been able to exploit them a bit this season. After a slow start, Ertz has now gone two games in a row with 11 targets thrown his way. Another double-digit target load isn't out of the question in Week 12. Fire him up with confidence as a TE1 with upside to be the top scorer at the position.
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.