Sat Aug 24 10:28pm ET
By SCHUYLER DIXON
AP Pro Football Writer
Houston Texans staff check on running back Lamar Miller (26) after he suffered an unknown injury in the first half of a preseason NFL football game against the Dallas Cowboys in Arlington, Texas, Saturday, Aug. 24, 2019. (AP Photo/Michael Ainsworth)
Houston Texans' Deshaun Watson (4) walks along the sideline in the first half of a preseason NFL football game against the Dallas Cowboys in Arlington, Texas, Saturday, Aug. 24, 2019. (AP Photo/Michael Ainsworth)
Dallas Cowboys' Joe Thomas (48) recovers a blocked Houston Texans' Trevor Daniel (8) punt-attempt in the end zone for a Cowboys touchdown in the first half of a preseason NFL football game in Arlington, Texas, Saturday, Aug. 24, 2019. (AP Photo/Ron Jenkins)
Houston Texans running back Lamar Miller (26) is carted off the field after suffering an unknown injury in the first half of a preseason NFL football game against the Dallas Cowboys in Arlington, Texas, Saturday, Aug. 24, 2019. (AP Photo/Michael Ainsworth)
Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott (4) throws a pass under pressure from Houston Texans outside linebacker Brennan Scarlett (57) in the first half of a preseason NFL football game in Arlington, Texas, Saturday, Aug. 24, 2019. (AP Photo/Michael Ainsworth)
ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) Deshaun Watson didn't get the longer preseason look he wanted against the Dallas Cowboys.
The Houston Texans couldn't get their quarterback off the field fast enough, especially after running back Lamar Miller was injured on the second play.
Watson didn't return for a second series after getting dropped twice in three plays. The first play wasn't a sack because of defensive holding, the second was and resulted in a fumble , the first of four Houston turnovers in a 34-0 exhibition loss to the Cowboys on Saturday night.
Miller was carted off after defensive tackle Maliek Collins slammed into his left leg at the line of scrimmage in what figures to be Miller's only carry of the preseason. The eighth-year back didn't play in the first two exhibitions. There was no immediate update on Miller's status.
Dak Prescott scrambled and threw a 12-yard touchdown pass to Michael Gallup while playing the first two series for Dallas. Prescott was 2 of 5 for 22 yards, the three incompletions his first of the preseason.
Tony Pollard, the starting running back with Ezekiel Elliott holding out, stayed an extra series, when the rookie had a 20-yard run to finish with 26 yards on six carries. Alfred Morris, the primary replacement during Elliott's six-game suspension two years ago, had a 1-yard TD run.
Pollard nearly reached the end zone by running 24 yards on a screen, but it was negated by an illegal block penalty on Jason Witten. The tight end, poised to set the Dallas record with a 16th season, was playing at home for the first time since coming out of retirement after a year in broadcasting.
Taco Charlton had both the hits on Watson, causing and recovering a fumble on the sack that counted to set up Gallup's touchdown. Charlton got a second sack against Joe Webb III, and Kerry Hyder added a pair. The Cowboys had eight sacks.
The night got worse for Houston's offensive line when versatile starter Zach Fulton was carted off in the first half. Last year's right guard has also played center and left guard in previous seasons.
Joe Thomas blocked a punt for Dallas, kicked the ball toward the goal line while trying to pick it up and ultimately recovered it in the end zone for a 14-0 lead. He almost had an interception return for a touchdown on a pass from Webb that went through his outstretched hands.
IT'LL HAVE TO DO
Watson was hoping for more than the single series he got in last week's 30-23 win over Detroit. His only other appearance was productive, though. Watson was 5 of 7 for 60 yards with a 4-yard touchdown to DeAndre Hopkins. Since he couldn't get a pass off in two dropbacks against the Cowboys, those will be his preseason numbers.
TRUE AND THROUGH
Dallas kicker Brett Maher had his best night in what's been a shaky preseason. Last year's surprise replacement for Dan Bailey made field goals of 36 and 23 yards and all four extra points.
If Miller is out for an extended period, the focus will turn to Duke Johnson, acquired from Cleveland in a trade this month. Johnson hasn't played for the Texans yet. The other two backs who got carries against the Cowboys are undrafted rookies: Karan Higdon Jr. (13 carries for 28 yards) and Damarea Crockett (three for 27).
Preseason finales for both teams Thursday, both at home. Houston plays the LA Rams. Dallas plays Tampa Bay.
Los Angeles Chargers running back Melvin Gordon hung 99 rushing yards on the Denver Broncos two weeks ago, and he'll need to find that same charge this week when he squares off against the Minnesota Vikings. The Vikings are allowing the 6th-fewest fantasy points to opposing running backs this year, so Gordon will have to be at the top of his game if he's going to have a solid day. Gordon has topped 90 scrimmage yards for five straight weeks, but Minnesota is easily the best defensive front he's seen since he returned to full usage. Expect it to be hard slogging for Gordon, and don't be surprised if he posts his first poor day since he took over the full workload.
Los Angeles Chargers running back Austin Ekeler has been on fire recently, recording a touchdown in three of his last four games and topping 100 yards receiving on two occasions. Ekeler also chipped in a 101-yard rushing day last week. Ekeler has proven time and time again that he has the playmaking ability to bust huge gains on limited touches, but he'll be going up against another strong defense this week. Minnesota has had a top-10 rushing defense all season, and last time Ekeler faced a strong defensive front, he was held to 16 yards on nine carries. It's unlikely Ekeler will be able to break a lot of big plays this week like he did in Jacksonville, but hopefully he can still weave his way into the end zone for a score.
Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers is coming off a phenomenal game in Jacksonville, but he'll have his work cut out for him this week when the Minnesota Vikings come to town. Rivers will be squaring off against a top-10 defense versus opposing quarterbacks, and Minnesota's defense is tied for third in interceptions this year. With Rivers' penchant for turnovers this season, that could spell disaster for the 38-year old QB. The good news is that all of his offensive weapons will be healthy, but he's still a risky start.
Los Angeles Rams tight end Gerald Everett will miss his third straight outing Sunday versus the Dallas Cowboys due to a knee injury. Everetts absence will pave the way for Tyler Higbee to once again take over the primary tight end duties, which he has capitalized upon to deliver back-to-back 100-plus-yard efforts, putting him once again in line for TE1 status during season-long playoff matchups. After having combined for just three targets in his last two games played, Everetts next chance at suiting up comes next Saturday when the Rams take on the San Francisco 49ers, although there is no guarantee that Everett can reclaim his former starting status in the wake of Higbees explosive play.
The Washington Redskins Defense has played well enough to win two of its last three games, and kept the third respectable in a tough road matchup with the Packers last week. Up next is an Eagles offense that has struggled at times to score points, and whose depth at WR will be tested with Alshon Jeffery out for the year and Nelson Agholor on the pessimistic side of questionable for this matchup. Washington pressures opposing quarterbacks at the NFL's third-highest rate, and ranks top-10 in turnover rate as well. If the Redskins can contain Philly's rushing attack and accomplish the more difficult task of holding Zach Ertz in check, there is a scenario in which this unit could return start-worthy fantasy value in a potentially low-scoring game. Search elsewhere if you can help it, but the Redskins could serve as a high-risk, high-reward last resort if you're scrambling.
Washington Redskins WR Paul Richardson (hamstring) did not participate in practice Friday, Dec. 13, and has been ruled out for Week 15.
Fantasy Spin: Terry McLaurin will continue to be the main option in the passing game and should be the only Redskins receiver used in fantasy leagues.
New Orleans Saints kicker Wil Lutz could be busy against the Indianapolis Colts in Week 15. The 25-year-old has made at least two field goals in five straight games and at least four extra points in three of the last five. He'll face a Colts Defense that has given up 30-plus points in back-to-back games. Lutz should be able to stay hot in Week 15 and is a must-start.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers WR Mike Evans (hamstring) did not practice all week and has been ruled out for Week 15 against the Detroit Lions. LB Anthony Nelson (hamstring) was limited in practice all week, while DL Beau Allen (ankle) did not practice Friday, Dec. 13; both players have also been ruled out. OT Donovan Smith (ankle, knee) did not practice all week and is listed as doubtful. OG Alex Cappa (elbow) and QB Jameis Winston (thumb, knee) practiced in full Friday and are listed as questionable. Ndamukong Suh (non-injury) did not practice Friday but is expected to play. OT Demar Dotson (non-injury), WR Scott Miller (hamstring) and LB Jason Pierre-Paul (knee) practiced in full Friday and have been removed from the injury report.
Philadelphia Eagles RB Jordan Howard (shoulder) was limited during practice Friday, Dec. 13, and is listed as questionable for Week 15.
Fantasy Spin: Howard probably will be a game-time decision, so fantasy players will need to check the inactive list for his status. He has missed the last few weeks and probably would only receive a handful of carries if he plays. He can be avoided in fantasy leagues.
New Orleans Saints tight end Jared Cook (concussion) gets a good matchup against the Indianapolis Colts in Week 15. Cook was able to practice again today, this time without the non-contact jersey. He has a pretty good chance of suiting up on Monday night. What a game it was for Cook against the 49ers- he caught both of his passes for 64 yards and two touchdowns before leaving with the injury. Cook and Drew Brees have been seeing eye-to-eye lately, resulting in at least six targets for Cook in three of his last five games. He has played himself into must-start territory at the thin tight end position and could be looking at another good game against the Colts' 22nd-ranked pass defense.
Washington Redskins wide receiver Kelvin Harmon could benefit from a tough Eagles run defense on Sunday. While Washington clearly prefers to run the ball and limit what is asked of Dwayne Haskins through the air, the Redskins may not be able to get away with that game plan against a Philly defense holding opposing running backs under four yards per carry. As such, the matchup may force Washington's hand into a more pass-heavy approach than it's comfortable with. If that's how it plays out, Haskins can't just throw the ball exclusively to Terry McLaurin and Chris Thompson all day. Someone else will have to find a way to contribute, and Harmon's chances were fractionally increasing in the three games prior to last week's one-catch, four-target outing. The risk here speaks for itself, but there's at least the possibility that game script works in Harmon's favor this Sunday.
New England Patriots QB Tom Brady (elbow) fully participated in practice Friday, Dec. 13, and is not on the injury report for Week 15.
Fantasy Spin: Brady has not been as productive this season as he has been in the past but should have success against the Cincinnati Bengals. He can be considered a low-end No. 1 quarterback in fantasy leagues.
Indianapolis Colts OL CB Kenny Moore II (ankle) and OL Le'Raven Clark (non-injury) did not participate in practice Friday, Dec. 13. CB Pierre Desir (groin) and WR T.Y. Hilton (calf) were limited.
Philadelphia Eagles WR Nelson Agholor (knee) did not participate in practice Friday, Dec. 13, and is listed as questionable for Week 15.
Fantasy Spin: Agholor missed all three practices this week and probably will not be able to play this week. Fantasy players should look for other options to use even if Agholor is active for the game.
New Orleans Saints LB Kiko Alonso (quad), OT Andrus Peat (forearm), S Vonn Bell (knee) and CB Patrick Robinson (calf) did not take part in practice for a second straight day Friday, Dec. 13. OT Terron Armstead (ankle), DE Cameron Jordan (abdomen), C Will Clapp (elbow), LB A.J. Klein (knee) and FB Zach Line (knee) were limited. TE Jared Cook (concussion) was upgraded to a full practice Friday, while QB Drew Brees (elbow) also participated in full.
New Orleans Saints wide receivers Tre'Quan Smith and Ted Ginn both get favorable matchups against the Indianapolis Colts in Week 15. The problem is, neither has put together a consistent body of work this year. Smith caught his third touchdown of the year last week but hasn't seen more than four targets in a game this year. Ginn exceeded 50 yards for the first time since Week 1 last week. Both are boom-or-bust WR4 options for Week 15.
Washington Redskins wide receiver Terry McLaurin's Week 15 opponent is an Eagles Defense that has allowed opposing wideouts to average 14.75 yards per reception. Philly has also surrendered 18 touchdowns to the position, which is tied for the fourth-highest total in the league. As always, McLaurin's fantasy profile is limited by suspect quarterback play and an all-around below-average offense, but the Redskins' number-one WR carries some promise into this matchup. What's more, many fantasy owners are reeling from injuries to weekly starting options like Mike Evans, Marvin Jones, Calvin Ridley and D.J. Chark. If you find yourself among those afflicted by any of these casualties, there are worse replacements out there than McLaurin.
New England Patriots WR Mohamed Sanu (ankle) was limited during practice Friday, Dec. 13, and is listed as questionable for Week 15.
Fantasy Spin: Sanu will have a favorable matchup if he is able to play this week. He has not been a big factor since joining the Patriots but could be at least a flex option in fantasy leagues.
Detroit Lions OG Joe Dahl (back, knee), LB Jarrad Davis (ankle, knee), DT A'Shawn Robinson (shoulder), QB Matthew Stafford (hip, back) and OT Ricky Wagner (knee) were unable to practice all week and have been ruled out for Week 15 against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. DT John Atkins (illness) and RB Bo Scarbrough (ribs) did not practice Friday, Dec. 13, and are listed as questionable. LB Christian Jones (shoulder) was limited in practice all week and is also listed as questionable. DT Damon Harrison (calf, knee, shoulder, rest) was limited in practice Friday but has been removed from the injury report. CB Jamal Agnew (ankle), DE Austin Bryant (hip), P Sam Martin (abdomen) and CB Rashaan Melvin (ribs) practiced in full Friday and also no longer appear on the injury report.
New Orleans Saints wide receiver Michael Thomas will face the Indianapolis Colts in Week 15. Thomas is coming off a great game against the 49ers' league-best pass defense, in which he saw a season-high 15 targets. Double-digit targets are a lock for Thomas again this week, considering how much stronger the Colts have been against the run than the pass. New Orleans may also be without tight end Jared Cook (concussion), which would free up some more targets for Thomas. Fantasy owners of the All-Pro receiver should have him locked into their lineups this week.