Los Angeles Chargers head coach Anthony Lynn gestures during the second half of an NFL football game against the Pittsburgh Steelers, Sunday, Oct. 13, 2019, in Carson, Calif. (AP Photo/Kelvin Kuo)
Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers, left, passes to running back Austin Ekeler during the first half of an NFL football game against the Pittsburgh Steelers, Sunday, Oct. 13, 2019, in Carson, Calif. (AP Photo/Kelvin Kuo)
Tennessee Titans quarterback Ryan Tannehill looks to throw a pass during the second half of an NFL football game against the Denver Broncos, Sunday, Oct. 13, 2019, in Denver. (AP Photo/Jack Dempsey)
Tennessee Titans head coach Mike Vrabel argues with down judge Kent Payne in the second half of an NFL football game against the Buffalo Bills Sunday, Oct. 6, 2019, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/James Kenney)
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) The Tennessee Titans and Los Angeles Chargers are near mirror images of each other.
Both started this season with high expectations only to find themselves having lost two straight and four of their past five.
And they're both desperate to stop their respective skids.
''Our record is what we are, and now we have to fight to get our way out of this hole,'' Chargers coach Anthony Lynn said.
The biggest difference between the Chargers and Titans comes at quarterback.
The Chargers have Philip Rivers in his 16th season climbing the NFL's career passing charts, while the Titans have made a change from Marcus Mariota to Ryan Tannehill trying to jump-start an offense that has scored one touchdown over the past 10 quarters. Coach Mike Vrabel said the Titans (2-4) felt this move was the right thing for now.
''We're trying to get a little spark,'' Vrabel said.
The Chargers (2-4) also have had their offensive struggles, starting slowly too often. That includes a 14-0 deficit before losing 24-17 to Pittsburgh in their most recent loss.
The Titans were shut out 16-0 losing in Denver last week. They hope being home four of the next five games will help despite losing their first two in Nashville. Left guard Rodger Saffold said the Titans know they have time with 10 games left to turn this season around.
''I want to say that we're urgent but not frantic,'' Saffold said.
Some things to know about the Chargers and Titans:
OUT OF SYNCH
The Chargers' offense has lacked consistency since an overtime win against Indianapolis in the opener. A major reason has been turnovers. Los Angeles is tied for the league lead with Cleveland in red zone turnovers (four) while Rivers already has eight turnovers after committing 13 all of last season.
The Chargers also have failed to score in the first half in consecutive games for the first time since the first two weeks of 2007. Running back Melvin Gordon is still trying to get back up to speed after missing more than two months because of a contract dispute.
''It's really just a handful of plays in each of these games that we haven't been able to overcome,'' Rivers said. ''It's not 60 minutes of bad football. It's just enough bad football that we haven't been able to overcome it. We have to eliminate that and then continue to do the good that we're doing, and speaking offensively, as I've said, it seems simple, but score more points.''
A starter for seven seasons in Miami, Tannehill now has a chance to prove he can start for more than just this week. He played 30 snaps against Denver and was 13 of 16 for 144 yards with an interception. He's 3-1 as a starter against the Chargers, and now his challenge is helping an offense that is averaging just 16.3 points a game.
''I'm not trying to prove anything other than that I can lead this team to wins,'' Tannehill said.
The Chargers' tackling has been poor the past two weeks. They have allowed long touchdowns the past two weeks after failing to wrap up the receiver in the open field. Defensive coordinator Gus Bradley has discussed continuing to stress where to tackle each player while Lynn wants fewer one-on-one situations in the open field with the Chargers swarming to the ball.
The Chargers are the NFL's No. 10 scoring defense allowing 19.7 points a game, while the Titans (No. 5) are giving up just 15.3 points. Titans four-time Pro Bowl defensive tackle Jurrell Casey says he loves playing Rivers, a native of Decatur, Alabama, because of how much trash the quarterback talks and wants to get Rivers fussing at his offensive line.
''Keep on hitting and talking mess back to him, he's going to respond,'' Casey said. ''Most quarterbacks they go back to the huddle. They're going to complain to the refs. He's a guy who's going to respond and hold his own ground.''
HELP IN OFFING
The Chargers have gotten Russell Okung back in practice this week after the left tackle dealt with blood clot issues. Defensive tackle Jeffery Simmons, the Titans' first-round pick at No. 19 overall, practiced for the first time Wednesday in his recovery from a torn ACL and could be activated from the non-football injury list in time to make his NFL debut Sunday.
The Bills Defense had an ideal matchup against the lowly Dolphins in Week 11, but came out with a somewhat underwhelming fantasy day. The highlight was their ability to come up with seven sacks on Dolphins quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick. However, they allowed 20 points in the game, the third-most points they've allowed all year. Additionally, they only came up with one turnover, a fumble recovery. Next up for the Bills is a home game against another struggling offense, the Broncos, so make sure to keep them in your lineup.
Minnesota Vikings tight end Irv Smith Jr. caught all three of his targets for 20 yards and a touchdown in a 27-23 win over the Denver Broncos in Week 11. The touchdown was a 10-yarder in the third quarter and it was the first career touchdown for the rookie tight end out of Alabama. He's seeing 4.8 targets per game in his last five games and has been a decent desperation streaming option with Adam Thielen (hamstring) out. The Vikings have their bye next week and Thielen should be back for Week 13, but Smith Jr. has put himself in the TE2 conversation moving forward with his recent production.
Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver Chris Conley caught six passes for 58 yards in Sunday's loss to the Indianapolis Colts. He was targeted eight times, making it the fourth game in a row where Conley saw at least seven targets. Conley's not going to light the world on fire, but he's got some deep league appeal based on his current target share. With Nick Foles back at quarterback, the Jaguars offense should be trending upwards, so maybe we'll see some more solid performances out of Conley moving forward.
Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver Dede Westbrook (neck/shoulder) returned to the field in Week 11, but he wasn't able to get much going. Westbrook caught four passes for 32 yards in the loss to the Colts. His six targets were fourth on the team, and it's become apparent that Westbrook isn't the top fantasy receiver that many guessed in the preseason that he might be this year. He's got appeal in deeper PPR leagues, but it's looking like it's time to fade Westbrook in shallower formats.
In Week 11, Buffalo Bills tight end Dawson Knox found the end zone for the first time since Week 3. He caught two of his three targets for 32 yards against the Dolphins in Week 11. Meanwhile, fellow tight end Tyler Kroft caught his only target for six yards. Knox has only exceeded two receptions in a game once since Week 4 and has only topped 40 receiving yards three times all year. He could be a low-end starting tight end option in deep leagues going forward but he's very risky with a very low floor. His next matchup is at home against the Broncos in Week 12.
Minnesota Vikings running back Alexander Mattison was pretty much silent in Week 11 as he had just three carries for five yards in a comeback win over the Denver Broncos. Mattison was just not involved in the game plan and lost work due to the Vikings playing from behind for almost the entire contest. Mattison has had some nice outputs backing up star Dalvin Cook this season, but Week 11's tough matchup against the Broncos Defense wasn't the spot to stream the rookie. He won't be a recommended start when the Vikings return from their bye in Week 13 against the Seattle Seahawks, but he remains a high-priority handcuff.
Dallas Cowboys kicker Brett Maher made all of his kicks in Week 11, making two field goals and three extra points. He wasn't needed for any long kicks this time, making a long of just 34 yards, but he still showed the consistency that makes him one of the better kickers in fantasy football.
Buffalo Bills wide receiver Isaiah McKenzie was second on the team in targets with six in Week 11. He had two more targets than Cole Beasley and only trailed John Brown, who had a whopping 14 targets in the game. Unfortunately, McKenzie did very little with his six targets, catching just three for 21 yards. Duke Williams was inactive for the game and Robert Foster went without a catch. So McKenzie appears to be the team's de facto No. 3 receiver for now. He can be left on waivers in all leagues until he shows he can do something productive with his workload.
The Dallas Cowboys Defense was disappointing again in Week 11. They managed a win, 35-27 over the Detroit Lions, but with Matthew Stafford (back) out for the Lions, the Cowboys defense was one of the top predicted units of the week. Instead, they allowed 27 points and did not record an interception or a fumble recovery. They were only able to sack backup quarterback Jeff Driskel three times. The Cowboys are unlikely to be a recommended fantasy defense next week against the New England Patriots.
Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver D.J. Chark was the bright spot for the Jaguars in Sunday's loss to the Indianapolis Colts, catching a pair of touchdowns and finishing with 104 yards on eight catches. He led the team with 15 targets. There was question about whether or not Chark would remain Jacksonville's top wide receiver with Nick Foles back, but Sunday provided some evidence that Chark's role is safe. He's a strong WR2 option moving forward.
Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Nick Foles returned on Sunday from a collarbone injury that had kept him out since Week 1. His first game back didn't go greats for the Jags on the scoreboard, but Foles did end up with some solid numbers. He was 33-for-47 throwing the football, finishing with 296 yards, two touchdowns, and an interception. Foles should have a higher fantasy ceiling than Gardner Minshew had, but he's likely no more than a mid-tier QB2 at best moving forward.
Dallas Cowboys tight end Jason Witten caught five passes in a Week 11 win over the Detroit Lions, gaining 33 yards. Witten did his usual thing, catching the ball then falling to the turf. Second tight end Blake Jarwin gained 38 yards on his two targets, but Witten was still clearly quarterback Dak Prescott's first choice for short gains. Witten will continue to be a low-ceiling option but should maintain his decent non-zero floor each week.
Buffalo Bills wide receiver Cole Beasley caught all four of his targets in Week 11 against the Dolphins for 38 yards. He was third on the team in targets behind John Brown, who went for a whopping 137 receiving yards in the game, and Isaiah McKenzie, who earned six targets. This was the second straight week in which Beasley caught exactly four passes. He hasn't had more than four catches since Week 4, when he caught seven against the Patriots. He's a WR3 or flex option in PPR leagues but his upside is limited due to his low yardage outputs.
Jacksonville Jaguars running back Leonard Fournette struggled to get going on Sunday against the Colts, finishing with just 23 yards on eight carries. He also added 34 receiving yards on seven catches. The receiving total helped make up for the slow rushing game in PPR leagues, but owners in standard scoring leagues can't be happy about Fournette's lack of production. The game script didn't favor the run, though Fournette should still be a high-end RB2 with RB1 upside moving forward.
Dallas Cowboys tight end Blake Jarwin was targeted twice in Week 11, catching both passes for 38 yards. He fell significantly behind starter Jason Witten, who saw seven targets and caught five passes. Jarwin can do way more after the catch than Witten at this point in their respective careers, but Witten has proven to still be the safety valve for Dak Prescott. Jarwin could have a fantasy significant role if Witten were to miss time, but unless that happens, Jarwin's role is too unpredictable to trust in any fantasy format.
Minnesota Vikings running back Dalvin Cook carried 11 times for 26 yards (2.4 yards per carry) and a touchdown in Week 11 against the Denver Broncos. He tacked on five catches for 31 yards in the 27-23 comeback win, but he was just not that involved in the offense as his 16 touches were the lowest he's had all season. His three-yard rushing touchdown was his 11th of the year and it saved what was an otherwise nondescript fantasy day for the third-year back. Look for Cook to rebound in a big way against the Seattle Seahawks and their below-average run defense in Week 13 after the bye.
Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Michael Gallup caught nine of his 13 targets in a Week 11 victory over the Detroit Lions. He gained 1448 yards, leading the team in receptions and yards by a wide margin. Amari Cooper wasn't able to do much in this one, leaving Gallup to run wild through the Lions secondary. Gallup will have a tough matchup against the Patriots next week, but he's moving further and further up the WR2 ranks.
Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Randall Cobb played another great game in a Week 11 win over the Detroit Lions. He caught four of his seven targets, gaining 115 yards and scoring a touchdown. Cobb's touchdown came on a 19-yard pass at the end of the first half. Cobb has been racking up yards lately and could have another significant role next week if Amari Cooper is still not at 100%.
Buffalo Bills running back Frank Gore received 11 carries in Week 11 against the Dolphins, but failed to do much with them, gaining just 27 yards, good for only 2.5 yards per carry. His biggest offensive contribution on the day was an 18-yard reception, his only reception in the game. Devin Singletary led the team in carries (15) and rushing yards (75), but he had two fumbles in the game, which likely led to Gore's increased workload. Gore is the clear No. 2 back on the team for now and would need either an injury to Singletary or quite a few more Singletary fumbles in order to regain fantasy value.
Buffalo Bills wide receiver John Brownwent wild against the Dolphins in Week 11, catching nine of his 14 targets for 137 yards and two touchdowns. Nearly half of quarterback Josh Allen's 33 passing attempts went in Brown's direction and no other Bill had more than 38 receiving yards in the game. Brown is a solid WR2 going forward who should be locked into your lineup on a weekly basis. His next matchup is at home against the Broncos in Week 12.