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.''
Houston Texans wide receiver Kenny Stills recorded just one catch for six yards during the Thursday night win over the Indianapolis Colts. Stills logged his worst performance of the year and was a victim from a production standpoint by the return of Will Fuller (hamstring), who missed the team's previous three games. He likely has a few more decent performances left in the tank between now and the end of the season, but his potential will continue to be relegated by Fuller's presence in the lineup moving ahead.
Houston Texans wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins played well against the Colts on Thursday night, finishing things up with six catches for 94 yards and two touchdowns. After recording just two scores during the first six games of the year, the 27-year-old has turned it up as of late by visiting the end zone in three of his last five games. Hopkins continues to get his looks from quarterback Deshaun Watson, and besides Michael Thomas, he remains the most efficient fantasy wide receiver in the league. He will look to keep things going against a rough Patriots Defense in Week 13.
Houston Texans wide receiver Will Fuller was targeted 11 times during the win over the Colts, finishing with seven catches for 140 yards. After accumulating 217 yards and three touchdowns against the Falcons in Week 5, Fuller fizzled in his previous two contests coming into Thursday night, so this performance was a step in the right direction. Fantasy managers shouldn't expect this type of production consistently moving ahead, especially in Week 13 against a tough Patriots Defense, but the ceiling is always high when the matchup is in his favor, as long as he can stay healthy and on the field.
Houston Texans running back Duke Johnson finished with 22 yards on five carries to go along with one catch for eight yards during the win over the Colts on Thursday night. This was yet another disappointing performance from the 26-year-old, who has now recorded just three receptions over the last two games. While he may have a few more games where he catches four or five passes, his ability to get it done on the ground will continue to be relegated by Carlos Hyde, who is averaging 16 touches per outing on the year. For those who are desperate, Johnson does have the potential to score from a week-to-week basis but don't hold your breath waiting for consistent production.
Houston Texans running back Carlos Hyde Ran for 67 yards on 16 carries during the win over the Colts on Thursday night. This was a routine performance from the 29-year-old, who is averaging 76 yards on 16 touches per game this season, and while he has only four touchdowns on the year, he is well on his way to the first 1,000-yard rushing season of his career. With this game in the books, Hyde will have a tough matchup in Week 13 against the top-ranked Patriots Defense.
Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson played better against the Colts on Thursday, finishing the night with nearly 300 yards and two touchdowns (one interception) on 19-for-30 passing. After struggling during the Week 11 blowout loss to the Ravens, it was an acceptable showing from the 24-year-old. He has struggled to some degree over his last six outings, and while he has thrown for nine touchdowns during that span, he has also thrown six picks after tossing just one throughout the first five games of the year. Things aren't looking good moving ahead, nonetheless, as Watson and the Texans will host the Patriots in Week 13.
Indianapolis Colts running back Jonathan Williams was announced as the starter for the team's Week 12 game against the Houston Texans, and he made the most of his opportunity. He finished with 26 carries for 104 yards and a big touchdown in the second half. He also caught all three of his targets for 17 yards. The Colts continued their strategy of establishing the run, and it worked well for the majority of the game. As long as starting running back Marlon Mack (hand) remains out, it looks like Williams is going to have fantasy relevance every week.
Indianapolis Colts running back Nyheim Hines was expected to see more work in Week 12 with starting running back Marlon Mack (hand) out, and he showed a little bit of something with those snaps. He finished with nine carries for 51 yards and two catches for 10 yards. That's good enough for 8.1 PPR points, and that's likely more than you were hoping for after the quiet season he has had thus far. Hines still remains nothing more than a deep league flex option in PPR formats, but this was a positive development to see with Mack out.
Indianapolis Colts wide receiver T.Y. Hilton (calf) had been out for a couple of weeks before his return in Week 12, and it wasn't a triumphant one. He caught three of his six targets for just 18 yards. While some of that lack of production could be contributed to rust, the offense as a whole wasn't able to get anything going through the air and Hilton was also on a pitch count in his return. The matchups don't get particularly easy moving forward for Hilton, but you'll likely be forced to start him because of the connection he has shown with quarterback Jacoby Brissett.
Indianapolis Colts tight end Eric Ebron relies on touchdowns for the majority of his value, but in Week 12 he was able to get some solid yardage. He caught four of his five targets for 44 yards, and he'll likely finish among the top 10 in tight ends for scoring this week with just 8.4 PPR points. Ebron has remained a pretty big disappointment after the elite fantasy season that he produced in 2018. When the team has gotten down into the red zone, a number of their scores have come on the ground. Ebron remains the No. 2 receiving target in this offense, but that doesn't turn into much when the offense struggles to move the ball.
Indianapolis Colts tight end Jack Doyle failed to register a target in Week 11, but he showed some life in Week 12. He caught three of his four targets for 28 yards, which fell right in line with his level of production that he's maintained throughout the year. He's now caught three or more passes in seven out of the team's 11 games. Doyle will likely never be the breakout player that he was two seasons ago, but when you need to make sure that you don't have a zero in your tight end spot, he's about as safe as you can get.
Indianapolis Colts quarterback Jacoby Brissett had his second straight game with under 150 passing yards in Week 12. He finished the night 16 of 25 for 129 yards. Thankfully for his fantasy owners, he scampered into the end zone on one of his four carries that went for a total of 20 yards. It was still a quiet night for Brissett, and he hasn't displayed the same level of production that we saw from him earlier in the season. He only has a couple of easy matchups remaining on the schedule, so his days as your starting quarterback may be numbered.
San Francisco 49ers tight end George Kittle (ankle, knee) and wide receivers Emmanuel Sanders (ribs) and Deebo Samuel (shoulder) were all limited in practice on Thursday. It's NBC Sports Bay Area's Matt Maiocco's opinion that all three will play on Sunday night against the Packers. That'll especially ring true if all three get in at least another limited practice on Friday. If that's the case, Kittle will be a must-start TE1, with both Sanders and Samuel being acceptable WR3 cases with upside. The rookie Samuel has back-to-back 100-yard games and is closing the season out hot. Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo would also be a more appealing QB2 if all of his receivers are active.
The New England Patriots won't be re-signing wide receiver Antonio Brown, according to a source. There were rumors circling that the Pats were looking at Brown again with Mohamed Sanu (ankle) potentially missing multiple games with a high ankle sprain. That's not the case, though, and Brown is highly unlikely to be signed with the NFL still investigating sexual-assault charges tied to Brown. Even after the investigation is up and if Brown avoids a suspension somehow, it's hard to say if an NFL team will take a chance on him in 2020. Julian Edelman and rookies N'Keal Harry and Jakobi Meyers might be in three-receiver sets if both Sanu and Phillip Dorsett (concussion) don't play this weekend.
Concerns have surfaced around Dallas Cowboys linebacker Leighton Vander Esch (neck), who has already missed one game this year with a neck injury, and he's not expected to play in Week 12 against the Patriots, according to sources. Vander Esch underwent an MRI exam on Thursday after a flare-up of the injury. It would be a big blow to Dallas' defense on the road against a Patriots offense that is vulnerable right now with their receivers banged up. LVE being out would be good news for mainly running backs Sony Michel and James White and slot wideout Julian Edelman. You'll need to look elsewhere at linebacker in IDPS leagues with Vander Esch expected to sit. Expect Sean Lee to see more playing time on Sunday.
The Houston Texans activated tight end Jordan Thomas (ribs) from the Injured Reserve on Thursday and waived defensive end Joel Heath and wide receiver Steven Mitchell in corresponding moves. As a sixth-round rookie last year, Thomas had 20 receptions for 215 yards and four touchdowns. Thomas has some long-term intrigue, but he'll return to a team that has been using Jordan Akins and Darren Fells at the position. It's possible that Thomas could produce a spark here and there, but don't expect him to see a ton of playing time over the other two to close out the season. You can leave him to the waiver wire in most redraft leagues.
New York Giants WR Sterling Shepard (concussion) is 'looking good' to play against the Chicago Bears in Week 12, according to Jordan Raanan of ESPN.com.
Fantasy Spin: Shepard has been out since early October, and while he has the potential to be a WR3, you will probably want to take a wait-and-see approach whenever he makes his return.
Miami Dolphins CB Eric Rowe is expected to be a full-time starter at safety moving forward after CB Bobby McCain (shoulder) and S Reshad Jones (chest) were placed on the Reserve/Injured list, according to Cameron Wolfe of ESPN.com.
Detroit Lions running back Bo Scarbrough looked solid in Week 11, posting 55 yards on 14 attempts and one touchdown just one day after being promoted from the practice squad. Week 12 presents an excellent opportunity for Scarbrough to take control of a Lions backfield that has been in disarray since Kerryon Johnson (knee) was lost for the season. Backup quarterback Jeff Driskel's tendency to run and the lack of a pass-game role for Scarbrough does limit Scarbrough's ceiling, but he has a real chance to take over as the go-to running back on this squad with no other real threats around. The Lions play the lowly Washington Redskins in Week 12. Fantasy owners can slot Scarbrough in as a RB3 for this matchup.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back Peyton Barber is trending towards being cemented as the clear cut No.2 option in the Bucs backfield. Barber did not get a touch in Week 11, and while he did find the end zone on one of his two targets on the day, it looks like Ronald Jones II is the back to own on this team. The Bucs travel to Atlanta to take on the Falcons in Week 12, and while the Falcons are not the scariest squad, they are not the most giving on the ground. Barber is not a recommended start in Week 12 and can be safely dropped in all formats.