Sun Oct 20 1:20pm ET
By DENNIS WASZAK Jr.
AP Pro Football Writer
New York Jets quarterback Sam Darnold, left, celebrates with Le'Veon Bell after Bell scored a touchdown during the first half of an NFL football game against the Dallas Cowboys, Sunday, Oct. 13, 2019, in East Rutherford, N.J. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)
FLORHAM PARK, N.J. (AP) The New York Jets have been looking up at the New England Patriots in the AFC East for nearly two decades.
Since 2002, actually.
That's the previous time the Jets won the division that Tom Brady's bunch has had a stranglehold on for what seems like forever. And, consider this: Current New York quarterback Sam Darnold was only 5 years old then.
Yeah, it has been a while.
''I think winning the AFC East comes along with beating the Patriots,'' Darnold said. ''But you've also got to beat other teams as well and have a good season. And to make that happen, you have to take it one week at a time.''
The undefeated Patriots (6-0) head to MetLife Stadium on Monday night to face Darnold and the Jets (1-4), looking for their fourth straight season sweep of the AFC East rivals.
Well, not so fast, says Le'Veon Bell.
''It's going to be a fun game,'' the Jets running back said. ''And I think we have a really great opportunity to shock the world in a sense.''
That's because few are giving New York much of a chance in this one, with New England opening as a 12-point favorite on the road. There's also the not-so-distant memory of the Patriots rolling over the Luke Falk-led Jets 30-14 four weeks ago.
The difference this time, of course, is Darnold is back under center after missing that game while recovering from mononucleosis. After leading the Jets to a 24-22 victory over Dallas last week and being selected the AFC offensive player of the week for his performance, Darnold sees plenty of reasons to be optimistic.
And, not only that. Confident, too.
''Once all the guys are back together, I think we're unstoppable as an offense, or we can be,'' Darnold said. ''It's up to us how much we execute or how well we go out there and play. It's really up to us how many points we score. I think we're capable of scoring so many points and our offensive line too, the way they played last game.
''With the way we've been running the ball and the way they've been protecting, I think the sky is the limit for us.''
The Jets had been struggling mightily without Darnold at quarterback, particularly in the two games Falk started when New York had just 233 total yards against New England and Philadelphia.
Darnold's return allowed Adam Gase to open some things up against Dallas as the Jets put up 382 yards. Darnold was 23 of 32 for 338 yards and two touchdowns - a 92-yarder to Robby Anderson and a 5-yarder to Ryan Griffin - and an interception.
''He looked great last week, just knowing what he wanted to do, getting the ball down the field,'' Patriots defensive back Devin McCourty said of Darnold. ''So, we've just got to be aware it's going to be different from just that aspect of the first time we played them, we really had their third quarterback in there.''
The Jets are still waiting to get second-year tight end Chris Herndon back. He was suspended the first four games by the NFL for violating the league's substance abuse policy. Then, on the verge of returning to the team two weeks ago, he injured a hamstring while working out on his own. He's expected to miss the game against the Patriots, but will eventually give Darnold another target he developed chemistry with last season.
The offensive line is dealing with some injuries, too, with Gase having to shuffle things up front.
New York could get linebacker C.J. Mosley back from a groin injury that has sidelined him since the season opener. Gase likened his impending return to getting a starting quarterback back.
''We're moving in the right direction,'' Bell said. ''I've been talking about getting the ship sailing in the right direction. We're starting to slowly turn that ship. I remember three or four weeks ago, everybody was saying I was crazy.''
It might already be too late this season for the Jets to dethrone the Patriots, who have won the AFC East for 10 straight years and 15 of the past 16.
But the Jets know pulling off a victory Monday could provide a building block for their own future - which someday could include them sitting atop the division again.
''When you get locked in on trying to break the dynasty or tear them down, that's when you start losing control of yourself and losing control of your emotions during the game,'' Darnold said. ''For us, it's continuing to take it one game at a time and just focus on this game plan, what we need to do, the certain looks that we get, how we're going to adjust to those and go about the game that way.
''Because if we get outside of ourselves, and try to take down Tom Brady, take down (Bill) Belichick, those are all legit things. But for us, it's really just about focusing on what we need to do and how we need to execute.''
Houston Texans RB Duke Johnson played 59 percent of the offensive snaps against the Baltimore Ravens Sunday, Nov. 17. RB Carlos Hyde played just 34 percent of the snaps.
Fantasy Spin: It was the first time since Week 7 that Johnson led the timeshare. Week 7 was also the last time the Texans lost. Johnson is used more in the passing game and should be expected to see more work in the Texans' tougher matchups, while Hyde will continue to be used to run out the clock in victories.
New Orleans Saints RB Latavius Murray played 41 percent of the offensive snaps Sunday, Nov. 17, against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. RB Alvin Karmara played 61 percent.
Fantasy Spin: Murray also carried the ball 10 times but for just 27 yards in the victory. This was expected to be the case for the entire season with Murray getting a heavy workload in favorable game scripts for the Saints before QB Drew Brees and Kamara each missed time. Expect him to finish the season with a significant role behind Kamara, and he'll warrant flex consideration in the most appealing matchups.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers RB Dare Ogunbowale played 43 percent of the offensive snaps in the Week 11 loss to the New Orleans Saints Sunday, Nov. 17. Ronald Jones played 31 percent and Peyton Barber made up just 18 percent.
Fantasy Spin: Ogunbowale rushed just twice for no yards and caught three of four targets for only 10 yards. The poor performance from QB Jameis Winston threw things in a blender for the Bucs' offensive plans, but Jones should be expected to be the most productive of an inconsistent trio.
Arizona Cardinals RB Kenyan Drake played 88 percent of the offensive snaps against the San Francisco 49ers Sunday, Nov. 17. RB David Johnson played just nine total snaps, with all coming on offense.
Fantasy Spin: Drake has totaled 283 yards from scrimmage with a rushing touchdown in three games with the Cardinals. Arizona is on a bye this week which may allow David Johnson to get fully back up to speed and could even see Chase Edmonds return to the mix, but Drake heads into the break as the most appealing option all of a sudden.
Cleveland Browns S Morgan Burnett (Achilles) underwent surgery Tuesday, Nov. 19, and is expected to make a full recovery.
Carolina Panthers WR D.J. Moore has received at least nine targets in each of his last five games.
Fantasy Spin: He has totaled 55 targets in that time and caught 36 of them for 427 yards but has failed to reach the end zone. Moore and the Panthers will have another nice passing matchup against the New Orleans Saints in Week 12 before facing the Washington Redskins and a rematch against the Atlanta Falcons. He's a quality buy-low option at the fantasy trade deadline with some positive touchdown regression ahead.
Indianapolis Colts RB Jordan Wilkins was upgraded to a limited participant on the team's estimated injury report for Tuesday, Nov. 19. The Colts didn't hold a practice.
Fantasy Spin: Wilkins missed Week 11 and he hasn't had a noteworthy day since Week 2 when gaining a total of 82 yards on five carries. That said, he's expected to split time with Nyheim Hines if able to suit up for Week 12 with starter Marlon Mack sidelined. Wilkins could be used as a desperation flex option if cleared, but he'll have a very low floor.
Indianapolis Colts WR T.Y. Hilton (calf) was listed as a non-participant on the team's estimated injury report for Tuesday, Nov. 19.
Fantasy Spin: Hilton remains a longshot to return for Week 12 with the Colts playing Thursday, Nov. 21, against the Houston Texans. He'll need to be started if active, but fantasy managers shouldn't be expecting him to be at 100 percent.
Jacksonville Jaguars RB Leonard Fournette needs to be more involved later in games, according to head coach Doug Marrone Tuesday, Nov. 19, after Fournette didn't receive a carry once the Jaguars fell down 24-7 against the Indianapolis Colts in Week 11. 'That was my mistake. That was a big mistake by me,' said Marrone. '... I thought we needed to score points in a quicker fashion. That's what led to the increased pass attempts. That's on me as a head coach. We need to be more balanced moving forward.'
Fantasy Spin: It's common for running backs to see the ball less often when their teams are trailing, especially by multiple scores, but Fournette is one of the Jaguars' best pieces on offense. Fantasy managers would sure love to see him remain involved later in games rather than having his production capped at around three quarters of work.
Houston Texans QB Deshaun Watson (ankle) stayed on the practice report Tuesday, Nov. 19, as a full participant. The report was an estimation.
Fantasy Spin: There shouldn't be any concern over Watson's status heading into an important Week 12 game against the rival Indianapolis Colts. He's coming off his worst performance of the season but remains a high-tier QB1.
Houston Texans WR Will Fuller (hamstring) remained listed as limited on the team's practice report for Tuesday, Nov. 19. The report is an estimation as the team didn't practice Tuesday but will hold a walkthrough at night.
Fantasy Spin: In what has become an all-too-common theme for his career, Fuller's absence continues to be pushed back. He last played briefly in Week 7, catching his lone target for a six-yard gain. He can be dangled as trade bait.
Free-agent RB Alex Collins (Ravens) had his suspension lifted by commissioner Roger Goodell Tuesday, Nov. 19, and is eligible to sign with any team. Collins is also recovered from a broken leg and able to work out for teams.
Fantasy Spin: Collins rushed for 411 yards and seven touchdowns over 10 games with the Ravens last season. He has little to offer in the passing game but could serve a goal-line role. He'll be worth keeping an eye on in case he lands in the right situation.
Houston Texans S Mike Adams (concussion), CB Lonnie Johnson (ankle) and S Justin Reid (concussion, shoulder) did not participate in practice Tuesday, Nov. 19. LB Dylan Cole (knee), WR Will Fuller (hamstring), S Tashaun Gipson (back), OL Tytus Howard (knee) and CB Bradley Roby (hamstring) were limited. QB Deshaun Watson (ankle) practiced in full. The Texans will only hold a walkthrough Tuesday night, so the injury report is an estimation.
Jacksonville Jaguars head coach Doug Marrone thinks the team relied on the pass too much in quarterback Nick Foles' return in Week 11 against the Colts. Jacksonville set a franchise record for the fewest rushing attempts in a game with nine -- six of them coming during the first half. Running back Leonard Fournette had five first-half carries and only rushed the ball three times in the second half. "That was my mistake. That was a big mistake by me. . . . I thought we needed to score points in a quicker fashion," Marrone said, via the teams website. "Thats what led to the increased pass attempts. Thats on me as a head coach. We need to be more balanced moving forward." Thankfully Fournette was heavily involved in the passing game as well, but that's two straight disappointments on the ground for him. He should be able to bounce back as a solid RB1 in Week 12 against the Titans.
The New England Patriots officially activated left tackle Isaiah Wynn (toe) from the Injured Reserve on Tuesday, according to a source. Wide receiver Gunner Olszewski (ankle, hamstring) was placed on Injured Reserve in a corresponding move. Wynn is set to return for Week 12 against the Cowboys, which will be a big boost for New England's struggling offensive line. While Wynn won't be a guaranteed upgrade on Marshall Newhouse, it's a good sign after the Patriots afforded Tom Brady little time to throw in the Week 11 win over the Eagles. Dallas' defensive front will be another tough test, so hopefully Wynn will give Brady better protection on his blind side.
Indianapolis Colts TE Eric Ebron (ankle) did not participate in practice Tuesday, Nov. 19. The Colts did not hold a practice Tuesday, so this is an estimation.
Fantasy Spin: Indianapolis did not practice Monday either and won't be going too hard Wednesday with a game at the Houston Texans on Thursday. Nevertheless, owners probably shouldn't expect much from Ebron in Week 12. Consider him a middling TE2 if he plays. If he doesn't, Jack Doyle could be a low-end streamer.
Washington Redskins DE Noah Spence was released Tuesday, Nov. 19.
Indianapolis Colts running back Jordan Wilkins (ankle) and rookie wide receiver Parris Campbell (hand) were both listed as limited participants in Tuesday's estimation of their walkthrough practice. Wilkins was inactive in Week 11 but looks to be on track to play in Week 12 on Thursday against the Texans. It's notable with Marlon Mack (hand) out up to a month, but Jonathan Williams remains the more likely candidate for early down work on Thursday with Mack sidelined. Nyheim Hines should maintain his role as a third-down pass-catcher. Williams is the running back to target off waivers if you're in need, although both Williams and Wilkins could wind up sharing touches. Campbell is making progress but isn't expected to return until next month. He's a fine dynasty stash, but we wouldn't expect much fantasy production from him in redraft leagues the rest of the way.
Indianapolis Colts wide receiver T.Y. Hilton (calf) and tight end Eric Ebron (ankle) both remained sidelined for Tuesday's estimation of their practice report. The Colts aren't ruling Hilton out for a return on Thursday night against the Texans, but fantasy owners would like to see him at least get in a limited session on Wednesday. While he's been out since Week 8, Hilton would have high-end WR2 upside against a weak Texans secondary if he were to return this week. He's been notorious for having huge games against Houston in the past. Ebron looks to be in danger of sitting out on the short week. If that were to happen, Jack Doyle would have low-end TE1 appeal after throwing up a donut in Week 11. Zach Pascal has been the team's primary receiver in Hilton's absence, but he's a low-upside flex in this run-first offense.