Sun Nov 10 10:25am ET
By MICHAEL MAROT
AP Sports Writer
Indianapolis Colts quarterback Brian Hoyer (2) takes a snap against the Pittsburgh Steelers after Jacoby Brissett was injured in the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Nov. 3, 2019, in Pittsburgh. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
New York Jets outside linebacker Jordan Jenkins (48) sacks Miami Dolphins quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick (14) during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Nov. 3, 2019, in Miami Gardens, Fla. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)
Indianapolis Colts head coach Frank Reich throws the challenge flag during the first half against the Pittsburgh Steelers in an NFL football game, Sunday, Nov. 3, 2019, in Pittsburgh. (AP Photo/Don Wright)
Indianapolis Colts quarterback Brian Hoyer (2) looks to pass as Pittsburgh Steelers nose tackle Javon Hargrave (79) rushes in the second half of an NFL football game , Sunday, Nov. 3, 2019, in Pittsburgh. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
Miami Dolphins defensive back Chris Lammons, left, hugs head coach Brian Flores, center, after an NFL football game against New York Jets, Sunday, Nov. 3, 2019, in Miami Gardens, Fla. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)
Indianapolis Colts quarterback Jacoby Brissett (7) scrambles away from Pittsburgh Steelers strong safety Terrell Edmunds (34) in the first half of an NFL football game , Sunday, Nov. 3, 2019, in Pittsburgh. (AP Photo/Don Wright)
Miami Dolphins defensive back Nik Needham (40) celebrates with Miami Dolphins linebacker Sam Eguavoen (49) after he sacked New York Jets quarterback Sam Darnold during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Nov. 3, 2019, in Miami Gardens, Fla. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) Colts quarterback Jacoby Brissett won't be playing against the Dolphins because of an ailing knee.
The late scratch Saturday means Brian Hoyer will make his first start in more than two years.
But Miami coach Brian Flores doesn't need to scramble through game tape for a scouting report. He saw up close for the better part of the last two seasons when both were with New England.
Hoyer, who finished last week's game after Brissett was injured, knows what he's up against in Flores.
''Brian Flores is an incredible coach. I've known him since my rookie year,'' said. ''I was away from him and then I came back to see him as the defensive coordinator. I know their offensive staff and their scheme.''
The Colts (5-3) have plenty at stake Sunday.
They have struggled to score the past two weeks and their vaunted offensive line has allowed nine sacks during the span. Penalties have been costly and so have special team miscues. And now Indy has lost Brissett , who sprained the medial collateral ligament of his left knee in last weekend's loss at Pittsburgh . The defeat knocked the Colts out of the AFC South lead.
''This business is brutal,'' Colts coach Frank Reich said. ''You lose and you feel the sting of it and you feel like your back is against the wall and we have to respond.''
Flores has faced the same scenario - seven times this season.
It's a stark contrast from his days of routine victory celebrations in New England, for whom he was a longtime assistant. Instead, he's running the rebuilding Dolphins (1-7) who are trying to build momentum after their first win last week.
But Flores knows it will be a tough task against a quarterback who earned his respect backing up Tom Brady.
''He is as smart as they come at the quarterback position,'' Flores said. ''He understands defense, has been in a few different systems and understands different ways to protect, to schematically put together different concepts. He and I would go back and forth, talk about defense, talk about offense, talk about protections, talk about route concepts - another impressive guy.''
WELCOME TO THE CLUB
Three-time All-Pro defensive end Dwight Freeney returns to Lucas Oil Stadium on Sunday - becoming the 16th member of the Colts' Ring of Honor.
Freeney played 11 seasons in Indianapolis, becoming the franchise's career sacks leader with 107+, and was part of the Colts' 2006 Super Bowl winning team. He ranks second on the Colts' career list, behind bookend rusher Robert Mathis, now an assistant on Reich's staff.
Former general manager Bill Polian selected Freeney in the first round of the 2002 draft, when critics described the selection as a ''reach.'' But Freeney and his trademark spin move quickly became part of Colts lore.
''What did I learn from him? I learned not to spiral into a hole when you get beat because he used to pretty much have his way with me,'' longtime left tackle Anthony Castonzo said. ''I just thank God I never had to play against him in a game.''
The Dolphins have lost four of their best players in the last two weeks.
Top cornerback Xavien Howard and leading receiver Preston Williams suffered season-ending knee injuries. Running back Kenyan Drake was traded, and his replacement, Mark Walton, begins a four-game suspension this week after a no-contest plea to a misdemeanor weapons charge last offseason.
Only two starters have played in every game this season - receiver DeVante Parker and left guard Michael Deiter.
The Colts hope Freeney's induction won't be the only major milestone they hit Sunday. They need one more victory to reach 300 in the franchise's Indianapolis era.
And Adam Vinatieri needs three field goal attempts to break Morten Andersen's league record (709), eight points to become the first Colts player to score 1,500, and one extra point to become the first player in franchise history with 500.
SPUTTERING GROUND GAME
With Walton out, Kalen Ballage is expected to start Sunday. The second-year pro is averaging 2.0 yards on 35 carries this season, and Miami's average of 3.1 yards is the NFL's worst.
''I hear the stats; I know what they are,'' Flores said. ''Everyone is involved in the run game - backs, tight ends, receivers. I can pull up 20 runs right here today where if a receiver makes a block, it's a much longer run, and that average jumps a little bit. We all have to be better.''
Ballage believes he'll benefit from a bigger workload.
''I've played all right,'' he said. ''Opportunities have been slim. Moving forward, it's about getting in there and getting a rhythm and being able to touch the ball more.''
Oakland Raiders head coach Jon Gruden said rookie running back Josh Jacobs (shoulder) isn't a lock to return in Week 15 against the Jaguars despite positive results from his MRI exam. Jacobs's status is unclear for this Sunday, although he was a limited participant in the walkthrough practice on Wednesday. Jacobs must prove to Gruden and the coaching staff in the next two days that he's ready to return after missing Week 14. Deandre Washington and Jalen Richard would once again handle the backfield if Jacobs is forced to miss another game. If the stud rookie returns, he'll be a high-upside RB1 against a Jaguars team that continues to get roasted on the ground.
San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Dante Pettis (knee) returned to a full practice on Wednesday. It puts the struggling second-year wideout on track to return in Week 15 against the Falcons for the first time since Nov. 11 against the Seahawks. The 24-year-old has just 11 catches for 109 yards and two touchdowns in 11 games and is buried on the team's receiver depth chart. Pettis should be on waiver wires in all redraft leagues, and it's even questionable that he should be stashed in dynasty/keeper leagues with the way he's fallen in his second year in the NFL.
Minnesota Vikings rookie running back Alexander Mattison (ankle) did not practice on Wednesday. There's still a chance that Mattison can play in Week 15 against the Chargers, but nothing is guaranteed. With Dalvin Cook (chest) seeing a full workload against the Lions last Sunday, Mattison would be nothing more than a little-used backup against the Bolts this weekend if he's active. Mattison has been impressive when on the field, but he just doesn't see enough volume behind Cook to have standalone value. Ameer Abdullah and Michael Boone are behind Mattison on the running back depth chart in Minnesota.
Washington Redskins WR Paul Richardson (hamstring) was limited during practice Wednesday, Dec. 11.
Fantasy Spin: Richardson has missed the last few games but appears to have a chance to play in Week 15. He would see a handful of targets if he active for the game but can be avoided in most leagues.
Washington Redskins RB Adrian Peterson (toe) fully participated in practice Wednesday, Dec. 11.
Fantasy Spin: Peterson will receive a majority of the carries with Derrius Guice out for the season and was productive in the role earlier this season. He can be a No. 2 running back or flex option in fantasy leagues.
Philadelphia Eagles RB Jordan Howard (shoulder) was limited during practice Wednesday, Dec. 11.
Fantasy Spin: Howard still has not been cleared for contact, so his status for Week 15 is uncertain. Fantasy players should know more later in the week but will need other options available in case Howard misses another game.
Philadelphia Eagles WR Nelson Agholor (knee) did not participate in practice Wednesday, Dec. 11.
Fantasy Spin: Agholor was not able to play last week and appears to be questionable for Week 15. He would have a favorable matchup if he plays, but fantasy players may want to consider other options for their lineups.
Philadelphia Eagles DE Derek Barnett (ankle), WR Alshon Jeffery (foot) and OT Lane Johnson (ankle) did not participate in practice Wednesday, Dec. 11. CB Jalen Mills (elbow) was limited during practice, while LB Kamu Grugier-Hill (concussion) fully participated in practice.
The New Orleans Saints officially placed defensive end Marcus Davenport (Achilles) and defensive tackle Sheldon Rankins (ankle) on season-ending Injured Reserve on Wednesday. The combination of losing both defensive linemen is a pretty big blow to this Saints Defense to close out the year. Davenport, a first-round pick in 2018, had 31 tackles, six sacks and three forced fumbles in his 13 games, while Rankins, a first-rounder in 2016, had 10 tackles and two sacks in his 10 games in 2019. New Orleans' defense will be a low-tier fantasy play on Monday night in Week 15 against the fading and injured Colts offense in the superdome in a bounce-back game.
Houston Texans wide receiver Will Fuller (hamstring) was limited in practice on Wednesday after being inactive in the Week 15 loss to the Broncos. Fuller could be a game-time decision this Sunday against the Titans. If he sits out a second straight game, Kenny Stills and Keke Coutee would have bigger roles alongside top wideout DeAndre Hopkins. If Fuller returns to action on Sunday, fantasy owners should consider the speedy deep threat as a boom-or-bust WR2 commodity as the Texans look to bounce back from a frustrating loss.
Houston Texans OT Chris Clark (hip), CB Gareon Conley (hip), RB Taiwan Jones (hamstring), LB Brennan Scarlett (Achilles, shoulder) and DE Carlos Watkins (hamstring) were limited during practice Wednesday, Dec. 11.
Cleveland Browns tight end David Njoku (knee) was limited in practice on Wednesday. Njoku returned in Week 14 from a wrist injury that landed him on Injured Reserve after Week 2, and he played limited snaps on his way to just one catch for four yards in the win over the Bengals. The 23-year-old should be fine to play this weekend against the Cardinals. Arizona has been atrocious against opposing tight ends, but even so, Njoku is a boom/bust TE1/2 for fantasy owners feeling lucky in the second round of the fantasy playoffs.
Green Bay Packers wide receiver Geronimo Allison (knee) and tight end Jimmy Graham (wrist) were limited participants in Wednesday's practice. Graham was limited last week but was able to play against the Redskins, so he should suit up this week barring a setback. Allison, on the other hand, is a new addition to the report and will have to prove he's healthy in the final two sessions. If healthy, both would be shaky starts in Week 15 against the Chicago Bears.
Pittsburgh Steelers tight end Vance McDonald (concussion) and running back Jaylen Samuels (groin) both were missing from practice on Wednesday. Not only is McDonald questionable for Week 15 against the Bills on Sunday night, but he hasn't cleared 50 yards the entire season and has only three touchdowns. He has just five catches for 25 yards in the last three games combined. Even if he's active, he can't be trusted in fantasy lineups in a very difficult draw in Buffalo. Nick Vannett would be a desperation TE2 if McDonald is inactive. Samuels is basically useless in fantasy with James Conner (shoulder) expected to return this Sunday.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers QB Jameis Winston (knee, thumb) was limited during practice Wednesday, Dec. 11.
Fantasy Spin: Winston is expected to play this week despite the thumb injury, but fantasy players should check on his status later in the week. He is a risky option in fantasy leagues because of his interceptions but could still be a low-end No. 1 quarterback in some leagues.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers OT Demar Dotson (non-injury), WR Mike Evans (hamstring), DE Jason Pierre-Paul (knee) and OT Donovan Smith (ankle, knee) did not participate in practice Wednesday, Dec. 11. OG Alex Cappa (elbow), WR Scott Miller (hamstring) and LB Anthony Nelson (hamstring) were limited during practice.
Houston Texans WR Will Fuller (hamstring) was limited during practice Wednesday, Dec. 11.
Fantasy Spin: Fuller was not able to play last week, and his status for Week 15 is uncertain. Fantasy players should monitor his progress this week but may want to look for other options to use in their lineups.
Los Angeles Rams tight end Gerald Everett (knee) is considered "day-to-day" by head coach Sean McVay. "His knee is making progress, but not ready to get out there and practice with us yet." Everett has essentially been day-to-day since suffering the injury in Week 13. He's missed the last two games as a result and cannot be trusted for fantasy lineups in Week 15 against the Panthers. Starting the week off with another missed practice is a bad sign. Tyler Higbee has gone for 14 catches (19 targets) for 223 yards and a touchdown the last two weeks against the Cardinals and Seahawks with Everett sidelined. Higbee will keep his TE1 status in the fantasy playoffs if Everett remains out.
Philadelphia Eagles running back Jordan Howard (shoulder) was a limited participant in practice on Wednesday. Howard has been close to playing for weeks it seems, but he has yet to be cleared and hasn't seen the field since Nov. 3 against the Bears. If he does return in Week 15 against the Redskins, he could have his workload monitored and limited because of the long layoff, making him more of a risky RB2/3. Rookie Miles Sanders has been the workhorse in Philly's backfield with Howard sidelined, and he'll maintain RB2 upside in a solid matchup this Sunday if Howard misses another game.
Baltimore Ravens tight end Mark Andrews has been listed as questionable with a minor knee injury, but is expected to play Thursday Night against the Jets. Andrews was only able to record one catch on three targets for 14 yards before exiting the game in Sunday's Week 14 win over the Buffalo Bills. It's a possibility that Baltimore could sit Andrews to preserve his health as the Ravens make a push for first place. He was limited in practice Tuesday and Wednesday, but has been limited in practice for much of the season and has still played in every game. Through Week 14 of the season, Andrews leads the Ravens in targets, receptions, receiving yards and touchdowns. If Andrews is on the field he should be in your starting lineups against the Jets in Week 15.