Cincinnati Bengals head coach Zac Taylor reacts during the second half of NFL football game against the Cincinnati Bengals, Sunday, Nov. 10, 2019, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/Frank Victores)
Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Ryan Finley (5) calls a play during the first half of NFL football game against the Baltimore Ravens, Sunday, Nov. 10, 2019, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/Gary Landers)
Oakland Raiders quarterback Derek Carr (4) celebrates after the Raiders defeated the Los Angeles Chargers 26-24 in an NFL football game in Oakland, Calif., Thursday, Nov. 7, 2019. (AP Photo/D. Ross Cameron)
Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers (17) is sacked by Oakland Raiders defensive end Clelin Ferrell during the second half of an NFL football game in Oakland, Calif., Thursday, Nov. 7, 2019. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)
OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) Derek Carr knows full well what the Cincinnati Bengals are enduring this season: nine straight losses to open the year.
Carr began his rookie season as starting quarterback for the Oakland Raiders with 10 consecutive defeats before finally breaking through with a win.
''You feel like everything is against you because for the fans, sometimes for older players, they don't see any light at the end of the tunnel,'' he said. ''They just see what's in front of them at the moment and it's hard man. It's tough and one thing I'll say though is, if you can grind through those moments, work really hard, stick to your process, when the good moments come around it makes you thankful for those other moments.''
Carr bounced back from the rough debut campaign to win 12 games and lead the Raiders to the playoffs in 2016. Two more down seasons followed, but Carr has Oakland (5-4) back in contention again this year heading into Sunday's home game against Cincinnati (0-9).
After two straight wins to open a homestand, Carr wants to make sure his team doesn't let up in the third game and squander a chance.
''I don't care about records, man,'' he said. ''I prepare every game as if this is the game and so there is no, 'They haven't won a game.' I don't care how many games they have or haven't won, they got Pro Bowlers all over their football team and they are going to bring it, that's for sure.''
The Bengals are trying to avoid falling to 0-10 for the second time after also doing it in 1993. First-year coach Zac Taylor believes things will get better soon even if it doesn't seem that way right now.
''There'll be a time - I can't wait to look back on it - and say, 'Remember when all that stuff happened?''' Taylor said. ''We'll get there. This is one of the things we have to go through right now, unfortunately. We're going to fight through it, and there are going to be some positive things as this season comes to an end.''
Rookie Ryan Finley made his debut and had two huge turnovers against the Ravens. His sideline pass was picked off and returned 89 yards for a touchdown, and he had a fumble also returned for a score. Finley finished 16 of 30 for 167 yards with a touchdown, one interception and a passer rating of 66.9. The Bengals expect him to be better now that he's experienced a game.
''He's getting used to playing NFL-caliber football and not preseason football, real starting football against a good defense,'' offensive coordinator Brian Callahan said. ''And so, his timing was a little bit off. I think you'll see a pretty dramatic leap for him in game two, understanding what it's like to play at that speed.''
The Raiders must replace a safety again after Karl Joseph went down with a season-ending foot injury last week while making the game-sealing interception against the Chargers. Oakland already lost rookie Johnathan Abram to a season-ending shoulder injury in the opener and now may need to turn to Curtis Riley, who got benched earlier this year, special teams player Dallin Leavitt and newly acquired D.J. Swearinger, who was cut earlier this year by Arizona.
''These last weeks have been great for me,'' Swearinger said. ''I needed this time off, to get myself together. I couldn't be more ready for this opportunity to get here and work hard.''
OH THAT DEFENSE
The Bengals began looking to next year when they benched Andy Dalton and went with Finley at quarterback. They started overhauling the defense this week by waiving linebacker Preston Brown, who had lost his starting job. The linebackers have been the biggest sore spot in the league's lowest-ranked defense.
The Raiders' much-maligned pass rush delivered in a big way last week with five sacks in a win over the Chargers. No. 4 overall draft pick Clelin Ferrell had by far his best game as a pro with 2 1/2 sacks after recording none since the season opener. Fellow rookie Maxx Crosby provided consistent pressure and a half-sack of his own and Benson Mayowa had 1 1/2 sacks, giving him a career-high seven this season.
Taylor signed with Oakland coach Jon Gruden's Tampa Bay team as an undrafted quarterback out of Nebraska in 2007. He was waived before the start of training camp, a move that surprised him then but makes sense now. Taylor was familiar with Tampa Bay's system because his college coach, Bill Callahan, was a close friend of Gruden's.
''I think they probably just brought me in because I could call the plays in the rookie minicamp,'' Taylor said. ''In hindsight, those are the things you start to figure out as you start coaching. That made a little bit of sense. They could evaluate the other players while I got out there and called the plays correctly. It's all good.''
San Francisco 49ers running back Matt Breida had a rough game against the Falcons in Week 15. He fumbled twice, though only one was recovered by the Falcons. He had four carries in the game and managed just 11 yards and he caught both of his targets in the passing game for six yards. Raheem Mostert was the focal point of the 49ers' run game again this week. Mostert had 14 carries in the game. Breida was equalled in carries by Tevin Coleman, though Coleman outperformed him, gaining 40 yards on his four carries thanks to a 37-yard rush.
San Francisco 49ers running back Tevin Coleman rushed the ball four times for 40 yards in Week 15 against the Falcons. He had a 37-yard rush that was the team's biggest play from scrimmage on the day. This was the third straight game in which Coleman was held to five-or-fewer carries. Raheem Mostert has taken over as the No. 1 running back in San Francisco and he had 14 carries in this game. Coleman, meanwhile, is sharing No. 2 back duties with Matt Breida, though Coleman outperformed Breida in this game. Coleman is a drop candidate in any season-long league that ends in Week 16.
San Francisco 49ers tight end George Kittle had a monstrous game in Week 15 against the Falcons. He caught 13 of his 17 targets for a season-high 134 yards, his third 100-yard game of the year. This was the first time all year that Kittle had earned over 10 targets and also the first time that he'd had double-digit receptions. Kittle is a stud and an absolute must-start tight end. He'll look to stay hot as the team takes on the Rams in Week 16.
Chicago Bears QB Mitchell Trubisky completed 29-of-53 passes for 334 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions in Week 15 against the Green Bay Packers. He also ran for 29 yards.
Fantasy Spin: The Bears managed to do a little better offensively than Week 1 against the Packers, but they were still lacking. Trubisky remains more of a QB2 in most fantasy leagues heading into Week 16 against the Kansas City Chiefs.
San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo wasn't able to take advantage of a favorable home matchup against the Falcons in Week 15. He completed 22-of-34 passes for 200 yards and just one touchdown in the game. He didn't have any turnovers in the game, which makes his fantasy line passable, but the potential was there for a big, big game and Garoppolo wasn't able to deliver. He'll look to bounce back and get the team back in the win column against the Rams in Week 16.
San Francisco 49ers running back Raheem Mostert was the focus of the team's running game once again in Week 15 against the 49ers. He had a team-high 14 carries and rushed for 54 yards and a touchdown. He also added a five-yard reception and he lost a fumble. Tevin Coleman and Matt Breida had four carries each, so it's rather clear that Mostert is the guy to own in San Francisco right now. He figures to be an RB2 going forward. His next matchup is against the Rams in Week 16.
Oakland Raiders tight end Darren Waller caught eight of 10 targets for 122 yards in the team's 20-16 home loss to the Jaguars on Sunday. The 26-year-old dominated looks from Derek Carr once again, with five players finishing with three targets for the next most volume on the team. Waller now has 1,001 yards on 80 receptions during his breakout campaign, but has only found the end zone three times. His high-volume usage keeps him planted as a TE1, and should be treated as much versus the Chargers in Week 16.
Atlanta Falcons tight end Austin Hooper had a disappointing showing in Week 15 against the 49ers. He was targeted six times in the game, but wound up with just three catches for 20 yards. The Falcons leaned heavily on Julio Jones in this game. Jones was targeted 20 times and accounted for 134 of the team's 210 air yards. With Calvin Ridley (abdominal) out for the rest of the year, Hooper should have at least around six targets per game going forward and more often than not, he'll deliver solid starting tight end numbers with that target share. He'll look to bounce back against the Jaguars in Week 16.
Atlanta Falcons kicker Younghoe Koo only had one field goal attempt against the 49ers in Week 15, but he was able to connect on it. He hit a 43-yard field goal and he was also 2-for-2 on extra-point attempts. Koo is now 17-of-19 on field goals with the Falcons this year. He's a solid starting kicker option. He'd earned at least three field goal attempts in all of his previous five games this year.
The Green Bay Packers Defense posted three sacks, two interceptions and a fumble recovery in a 21-13 win over the Chicago Bears. It was a strong performance in which they only allowed 13 points. The highlight of the day for Green Bay was an interception by 6-foot-6, 296-pound defensive lineman Dean Lowry. Green Bay will look to put up another solid stat line against the Minnesota Vikings next week.
The Falcons Defense was able to come through with a solid performance despite being in a tough spot on the road against the 49ers in Week 15. They recovered two fumbles in the game and held the 49ers to 22 points. The 49ers had scored over 35 points in three of their previous four games coming into this week. On the whole, the Falcons defense has had a rough year, but they've shown a few glimpses of hope here and there. They'll look to build off this solid performance against the Jaguars in Week 16.
Atlanta Falcons running back Brian Hill rushed the ball just one time for 16 yards against the 49ers in Week 15. It was a surprisingly low workload for Hill after he'd earned nine carries the previous week. The team didn't run the ball a ton in Week 15. Devonta Freeman led the way with 12 carries for 39 yards and Qadree Ollison had a one-yard touchdown run on his only carry. Hill isn't worth starting or even owning in most leagues as Freeman is the clear No. 1 back in this offense.
Oakland Raiders wide receiver Tyrell Williams broke his six-game scoreless drought by hitting a 40-yard score on the first drive of the game in the team's 20-16 loss to the Jaguars. He broke a sure-tackle about ten yards down the field and ran for the rest untouched for the touchdown. Williams failed to do much the rest of the way, adding just one catch for five yards the rest of the way as the offense as a whole sputtered in the second half. The veteran hasn't shown any consistency this season and is a risky play for the fantasy championship next week. Williams will be a TD-dependant WR4 in a road date with the Chargers who held him to 25 yards back in Week 10.
Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones dominated the 49ers in Week 15, delivering one of his biggest games of the year and ending his nine-game touchdown drought. Jones was targeted a whopping 20 times by Matt Ryan in the game and reeled in 13 receptions for 134 yards and two touchdowns. Ryan only had a total of 210 passing yards in a game, so Jones accounted for well over half of the team's air yardage. Jones is an absolute stud, even though the season as a whole has been slightly underwhelming by his lofty standards. He'll look to stay hot against the Jaguars in Week 16.
Green Bay Packers kicker Mason Crosby made all three extra-point attempts in a 21-13 win over the Chicago Bears. The 35-year-old has relied on extra-points for the majority of his fantasy points, as he's only attempted 17 field goals this year. For that reason, he's more dependent on his offense being successful than other kickers. Crosby could be a better play next week in a potentially high scoring game next week against the Minnesota Vikings.
Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Russell Gage caught five of his six targets for 27 yards in Week 15 against the 49ers. He also added a six-yard rush. The Falcons came away with an impressive victory in the game and they leaned heavily on Julio Jones to get the win. Jones caught 13 passes for 134 yards and two touchdowns in the contest. Gage has five-or-more receptions in three of his past four games now and is a viable WR3 or flex play in deep leagues, but his upside is limited as he's only topped 60 receiving yards once this year.
New York Giants WR Golden Tate had just one grab on four targets in Week 15 against the Miami Dolphins, but it was good for a 51-yard touchdown.
Fantasy Spin: Despite the long touchdown, Tate is only worth a look as a WR5 in most fantasy leagues heading into Week 16 against the Washington Redskins.
Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Randall Cobb made one catch in Week 15, losing three yards. Cobb was targeted twice in a game where Dallas barely had to throw the ball. While all Cowboys wide receivers were hugely disappointing this week, Cobb was the only one who put up negative points in standard leagues. He won't be a fantasy option next week against the Eagles.
Atlanta Falcons running back Devonta Freeman saw a relatively heavy workload in Week 15 against the 49ers. He rushed the ball 12 times for 39 yards and added two receptions for 16 yards on three targets. Freeman's backups Brian Hill and Qadree Ollison only had one carry a piece in the game, but unfortunately for Freeman, Ollison's one carry resulted in a one-yard touchdown run. Freeman's heavy workload makes him a low-end RB2 in most leagues going forward and he has extra value in PPR.
Dallas Cowboys kicker Kai Forbath made all eight of his kicks in Week 15. In his first week as a Cowboy, Forbath made all five extra points and all three of his field goals, with a long of 50 yards. Forbath had a hard time with kickoffs, sending two of them out of bounds, but he was perfect on things that count in fantasy. He should be a solid option again next week against the Eagles.