Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott (21) rushes against the Seattle Seahawks during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 27, 2020, in Seattle. (AP Photo/John Froschauer)
Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott (4) stands on the sideline with coaches during the second half of an NFL football game against the Seattle Seahawks, Sunday, Sept. 27, 2020, in Seattle. The Seahawks won 38-31. (AP Photo/John Froschauer)
Cleveland Browns running back Nick Chubb (24) rushes for a 20-yard touchdown as Washington Football Team free safety Troy Apke (30) defends during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 27, 2020, in Cleveland. The Browns won 34-20. (AP Photo/David Richard)
ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) Baker Mayfield got the homecoming stuff out of the way quickly as the Cleveland quarterback talked about preparing for his second NFL game in Texas.
Austin is the best city in the Lone Star State, he declared to laughter after the first question. The $1.2 billion home of the Dallas Cowboys is a cool stadium, particularly since Mayfield won a Big 12 championship the last time he played there with Oklahoma three years ago.
It didn't take Mayfield long to get to the more important stuff, such as the Browns (2-1) taking a winning record into Sunday's game for the first time since late in the 2014 season. Dak Prescott and the Cowboys (1-2) are trying to get back to .500.
''I will have plenty of people there - friends and family, loved ones and all those good people there,'' said Mayfield, whose first NFL game in Texas was a 29-13 loss at Houston as a rookie. ''But I have to treat it like any other game and have to go do our job.''
Cleveland defensive end Myles Garrett is coming home, too - much closer to home since he grew up a few miles from AT&T Stadium. Garrett was the NFL's top draft pick out of Texas A&M in 2017, a year before Mayfield.
Four-time All-Pro right guard Zack Martin of Dallas didn't get to play his homecoming game at Indianapolis two years ago, missing a game for the first time in his career with a knee injury. But he sees where a player might be a little more hyped.
''I'm sure some guys definitely have that when they go to their hometown,'' Martin said. ''I think the message here, what we try, especially on the offensive line, you've got to prepare the same way for every game. You've got to be ready for whatever they throw at you.''
Mayfield hasn't had to do much in the fourth quarter in Cleveland's consecutive wins, including 34-20 last week over Washington. He's ready if that changes about 200 miles north of where he grew up.
Coach Kevin Stefanski turned to the running game against Cincinnati and Washington to grind out those victories - and eat up time - and asked Mayfield to throw just five total passes in the combined 30 minutes over the past two fourth quarters.
But if the situation dictates differently in Dallas, Mayfield is prepared to match Prescott pass for pass.
''When it comes down to it, we are playing the Cowboys' defense and we have to do whatever it takes to win,'' Mayfield said. ''If that is a shootout, then great, and if it is another game where we have to control the clock, then we will do that.''
The 2016 NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year joined Jameis Winston (last season) as the only quarterbacks with consecutive games of at least 450 yards.
For Winston, those were two of Tampa Bay's wins in a 7-9 season. Prescott has just a 1-1 record to show for his after a 38-31 loss in Seattle. While Prescott did plenty to give the Cowboys a chance to win, his three turnovers proved critical. Dallas is tied for the third-worst turnover margin at minus-4.
''I thought Dak had a great command,'' coach Mike McCarthy said. ''When the result is what it was, you have to talk about the negative plays. But he clearly understands the importance of ball security. We'll continue to stress that.''
NICK OF TIME
Browns star running back Nick Chubb has gone over 100 yards the past two games by breaking off long gains and some tougher, ''dirty'' runs for minimal yardage.
Already one of the NFL's best, Chubb said the chance to play against an elite back such as Dallas' Ezekiel Elliott doesn't give him any more motivation. Chubb is fourth in the NFL with 292 yards. Elliott, a two-time rushing champion, is tied for ninth at 219.
''I go out there and play my game,'' Chubb said.
Martin played a different position for the first time in his seven seasons against Seattle, moving to right tackle when rookie Terence Steele had to leave the game because of an illness. Martin's move also resulted in Joe Looney sliding from center to right guard and rookie Tyler Biadasz filling Looney's spot.
Another factor in the uncertainty up front is seven-time Pro Bowl left tackle Tyron Smith, who missed the past two games with a neck issue. Smith could return against the Browns, and Martin said the plan is for him to return to his normal position. If Smith is back, the Cowboys will have to decide between Steele and Brandon Knight at right tackle.
Dallas' Aldon Smith leads the NFL with four sacks after missing all of the previous four seasons while suspended for off-field issues. Garrett had two sacks last week, including a game-sealing strip-sack and recovery in the fourth quarter. Smith has 51 1/2 sacks in 62 career games, while Garrett has 33 1/2 in 40 games.
Five Sleepers: Week 7
New England Patriots running back Damien Harris has become the lead back, but was unable to do much last week. He rushed six times for 19 yards in the loss to the Denver Broncos. It won't get any easier for Harris as he faces the San Francisco 49ers in Week 7. A team that has allowed the second fewest amount of fantasy points to opposing running backs this season. The 49ers have not allowed a back to get over 100 yards yet. Harris belongs on the bench in most standard formats this week.
New England Patriots quarterback Cam Newton has thrown for less than 200 yards in three of his four games this season. The veteran quarterback has been able to salvage his fantasy value by running the ball. He rushed for 76 yards and a touchdown in the loss to the Denver Broncos last week. Newton doesn't have the best weapons in New England, so it's unlikely he carves up the 49ers Defense. They've been strong against the pass, so the best way for Newton to do damage is with his legs. Fantasy owners should expect more of the same with Newton in this one.
Detroit Lions LB Jarrad Davis received reps with the first-team defense during practice Friday, Oct. 23, and could be in line to see increased playing time after being successful in a limited role.
Las Vegas Raiders S Jeff Heath appears to be the leading candidate to start at strong safety in place of SS Johnathan Abram for Week 7's contest against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. After being on the field for an average of just 10 percent of the team's defensive snaps through the first four games, Heath began to see more playing time in Week 6's loss to the Kansas City Chiefs, when he was on the field for 42 percent of the Raiders' defensive plays.
New York Giants RB Saquon Barkley (knee) is scheduled to undergo reconstructive surgery on his anterior cruciate ligament next week and doctors are optimistic that he will be ready for training camp. Barkley needed to wait for his medial collateral ligament injury to heal before he was eligible to undergo ACL surgery.
San Francisco 49ers general manager John Lynch has both made and received calls about WR Dante Pettis recently, although no deal appears imminent, according to head coach Kyle Shanahan.
The Las Vegas Raiders defense has been statistically one of the worst defenses in the league this season. They are averaging under two fantasy points per game and face an ascending Buccaneers offense this week. Tom Brady is currently fourth in the league in passing touchdowns, and this Tampa Bay offense is ascending after hanging 31 offensive points on Green Bay in Week 6. The Raiders rank 27th in scoring defense and 24th in yards allowed. There is nothing to suggest they will have a good performance this week and should be kept on the bench or dropped entirely.
Las Vegas Raiders tight end Darren Waller has a tough test against the Buccaneers this week, but he should be able to produce a solid fantasy performance. Waller has been great at home this season, with 21 catches, 193 yards, and a touchdown in two games. The Buccaneers have one of the league's best defenses, but the Patriots are the only team to hold Waller under five catches so far this season. He currently ranks third in fantasy points per game among tight ends, and he leads the Raiders in targets. The Buccaneers rank sixth in the league against tight ends, but fantasy owners should feel comfortable starting him based on his performances so far this season.
Las Vegas Raiders wide receiver Henry Ruggs III will have a tough matchup against a good Buccaneers secondary in Week 7. Ruggs had a breakout performance in his last game against the Chiefs, but his value rests with the deep ball at this time. That is not great news considering the Buccaneers are one of the best defenses against the deep ball, ranking third in the league in allowing receptions of over 20 yards. He was able to get loose in the Chiefs secondary with a 72-yard reception in the first half but caught just one other pass the rest of the game. Ruggs' big-play potential makes him a fringe flex option in deeper leagues, but don't expect a lot of targets for the rookie this week.
Las Vegas Raiders running back Josh Jacobs will face one of the league's best run defenses this week in the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Buccaneers are allowing just three yards per carry and rank second in the league in total rushing yards allowed. Jacobs is having a productive year and is certainly a must-start option, but he is averaging just 3.6 yards per carry on the season. Jacobs has just one game this season where he has rushed for over four yards per carry. With that being said, he is still seventh in points per game among running backs. It will not be an easy day for Jacobs, but fantasy owners should feel encouraged that he can put up a solid fantasy performance despite a difficult matchup.
Las Vegas Raiders quarterback Derek Carr will have one of his most difficult tests of the year against a great Buccaneers Defense. The Buccaneers defense has allowed just seven passing touchdowns and have grabbed eight interceptions in their six games this season. Opposing quarterbacks have a passer rating of 82 against this Todd Bowles defense. They confused Aaron Rodgers and made him uncomfortable, so this will not be an easy day for Carr. With that being said, Carr has thrown for almost 600 passing yards with five touchdowns and no interceptions in two home games this season. The Raiders are coming off a bye, and Carr is having a career year. However, he is likely a bench option this week due to the matchup.
Kansas City Chiefs RB Le'Veon Bell is expected to see some snaps against the Denver Broncos in Week 7.
Fantasy Spin: It is no surprise that the Chiefs plan to ease Bell into action. There is no denying his upside, but he needs to be left on the bench until his role and workload become clear.
New Orleans Saints WR Bennie Fowler (shoulder) was placed on the Reserve/Injured list Friday, Oct. 23.
The Philadelphia Eagles waived DE Daeshon Hall from the Reserve/Physically Unable to Perform list Friday, Oct. 23.
The Denver Broncos released DT Sylvester Williams Friday, Oct. 23.
The New Orleans Saints Defense faces a middle-of-the-pack matchup against the Carolina Panthers in Week 7. It's a date with former Saint Teddy Bridgewater, who started five games for the team in 2019. New Orleans' defense is finally starting to get healthy after a rash of injuries, as they will get Janoris Jenkins (shoulder) back and essentially be at full strength. This unit may start to put together some good performances, starting with this week. They can be used as a starting option.
New Orleans Saints kicker Wil Lutz faces a favorable matchup in Week 7 against the Carolina Panthers. Lutz is perfect on the season, having made all nine field-goals and all 18 extra-points. Carolina ranks 22nd in fantasy points allowed to kickers, making this a juicy matchup for Lutz. Expect strong fantasy numbers from the 26-year-old.
New Orleans Saints tight end Jared Cook could see more opportunities in Week 7 against the Panthers. Cook had one of his better games against the Chargers, catching two passes for 52 yards and a score. New Orleans is down two of it's best pass-catchers- Michael Thomas (ankle, hamstring) and Emmanuel Sanders (COVID-19)- heading into the contest against the Panthers. The veteran tight end should see more targets, making him a good start as a TE1 in Week 7.
Seattle Seahawks RB Carlos Hyde (shoulder, toe) fully participated in practice Friday, Oct. 23, and is not on the injury report for Week 7.
Fantasy Spin: Hyde will serve as the backup for Chris Carson but should see a handful of touches during the game. Fantasy players should be able to find better options and can keep Hyde on the bench.
San Francisco 49ers RB Raheem Mostert (ankle) did not participate in practice Friday, Oct. 23, and has been ruled out for Week 7.
Fantasy Spin: Mostert is expected to miss multiple weeks because of the injury, so fantasy players should look for other options to use. Jerick McKinnon and JaMycal Hasty likely will share playing time while Mostert is sidelined. McKinnon probably has more fantasy value and can be a flex option in leagues. Hasty should be rostered in leagues and has a chance to be a flex option depending on the opponent.