Thu Sep 19 6:25pm ET
By STEPHEN WHYNO
AP Sports Writer
Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Michael Gallup (13) looses control of the ball as Washington Redskins cornerback Josh Norman (24) looks on in the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 15, 2019, in Landover, Md. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
Washington Redskins quarterback Case Keenum (8) celebrates after throwing a touchdown pass to wide receiver Paul Richardson in the second half of an NFL football game against Dallas Cowboys, Sunday, Sept. 15, 2019, in Landover, Md. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
Chicago Bears quarterback Mitchell Trubisky (10) throws against the Denver Broncos during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 15, 2019, in Denver. (AP Photo/Jack Dempsey)
Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott (4) breaks away from Washington Redskins cornerback Josh Norman (24) to run downfield in the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 15, 2019, in Landover, Md. Also on the field is Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Michael Gallup (13). (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
LANDOVER, Md. (AP) Mitchell Trubisky wants the Bears to believe this will be the week their struggling offense gets going.
It might actually be that week because Chicago is facing a Washington Redskins defense that hasn't been able to stop much of anything.
The Bears (1-1) go into Monday night's matchup with the third-worst offense in the NFL through the first two weeks of the season. Fortunately for them, the Redskins (0-2) rank third-worst on defense and are dealing with some key injuries contributing to that disappointing start.
''They got some openings where we could have some success on offense this week,'' Trubisky said Thursday. ''We've got to believe that this offense can explode at any minute because of the playmakers and the special guys we have in the locker room.''
Chicago's offense has produced just one touchdown through two games - a 1-yard-run by David Montgomery last week - and Trubisky is a combined 42 of 72 for 348 yards and an interception. The 2017 second overall pick is near the bottom of the league at 4.8 yards a completion.
''Right now, it's just about getting into that rhythm and then understanding the execution of the plays,'' coach Matt Nagy said. ''And us as coaches, too, making sure that we're putting them in optimum position to make the plays with whatever play call is made. We're not running different plays. We're not running anything different than we did last year. It's a long season.''
That's the mantra inside the Redskins' locker room where injuries to defensive lineman Jonathan Allen and cornerbacks Fabian Moreau and Quinton Dunbar have contributed to them getting worn down as games go on. Coach Jay Gruden said it's not time to panic yet, but the defense underachieving is alarming.
Washington has allowed a combined 569 yards in the second half in losses to Philadelphia and Dallas .
''We're struggling a little bit, but it takes time,'' defensive tackle Tim Settle said. ''The more we work together as a team, the more we progress as a team, the better we're going to get. We're going to get things rolling. It's going to be pretty.''
Not much is pretty about the Redskins' defense or the Bears' offense so far. Settle mentioned communication as an issue, and first-year Washington middle linebacker Jon Bostic pointed to a lack of cohesiveness on the defensive side of the ball.
''Everybody's got to be on the same page,'' Bostic said. ''If you got 10 guys on the same page and one guy that's off it, it's going to lead to an explosive play. Explosive plays win ballgames for you.''
A big kick by Eddy Pineiro won the Bears their game last week at Denver, and they're still looking for the big plays that have eluded them.
''That comes down to everybody being locked in, making sure that everybody's on being on the same page - no miscues on any part of the offense,'' Chicago receiver Allen Robinson said. ''It just comes down to everybody being on the same page and executing.''
Some things to watch when the Bears visit the Redskins on Monday night:
MONSTERS OF THE MIDWAY
Unlike the Redskins, the Bears' defense is doing just fine. It's ranked fourth in the league and sixth against the run under new coordinator Chuck Pagano after Vic Fangio left to take the Broncos' head coaching job.
''They're physical in the middle and they have speed at linebacker,'' Gruden said. ''They have good edge play. They have a safety that's a ball hawk. Their corners are pretty good and experienced. They don't really have a weakness in their defense.''
Chicago has seven sacks through two games, two off the league lead.
KEENUM IN RHYTHM
Case Keenum won Washington's starting QB job essentially by default because longtime backup Colt McCoy is still injured and first-round pick Dwayne Haskins isn't ready. But Keenum is far from a problem for the Redskins, throwing for 601 yards and five touchdown passes with no interceptions.
''I'm well aware of Case Keenum and what he can do,'' Nagy said. ''He's obviously having a good year right now. Statically he's protecting the football. He's very, very football smart. So his football IQ is high. He gets the ball out.''
The Bears brought in a long line of kickers during the offseason after letting the embattled Cody Parker go following his double-doink miss in the playoff loss to Philadelphia at Soldier Field. They ultimately went with Pineiro, and he just might be winning them over.
He nailed a 53-yard winner as time expired last week after hitting from 40 and 52 earlier in the game and is 4 for 4 this season. The big boot against the Broncos came after Nagy chose to go for a first down on fourth-and-10 in the opener against Green Bay at home rather than try a 51-yarder.
''I'm trying to gain trust from them,'' Pineiro said. ''Now that he's seen me hit a couple 50-yarders, maybe he lets me try a few longer ones. So it's all a trust process. But we work for that moment behind the scenes at practice. Last-second kick, your team loses, we've been doing this for the past four months now.''
STILL NO REED
The Redskins hoped to get matchup nightmare tight end Jordan Reed back last week after being concussed Aug. 23. This is his fifth documented concussion in seven years, Reed didn't practice again Thursday and all possible caution being taken means he could miss the Bears game, too.
''This is all a part of the process of recovering from this ordeal,'' Gruden said. ''We're just taking it very slowly, making sure he goes through the right process to make sure it's right before he goes back on the field.''
Los Angeles Rams running back Darrell Henderson could have some luster as a flex option against the Atlanta Falcons. Running back Malcolm Brown (ankle) is doubtful this week, but Todd Gurley (thigh) is expected back. Gurley's workload could be spotty, and Henderson could see extended run. He rushed six times for 39 yards in Week 6, but he lost a key fumble to open the second half. He'll have a chance at redemption against the midrange matchup.
Los Angeles Rams wide receiver Brandin Cooks has been irrelevant for a couple of weeks for fantasy owners. He left the Oct. 3 game with a concussion, and the entire Rams offense was plugged up last week. He had four catches for 47 yards in the two games combined. He has an awesome matchup against the Atlanta Falcons this week. They are the worst at defending the position in the league. They've allowed just over 15 catches for 219 yards and nearly two touchdowns per game to receivers over the last five games. Cooks is a low-end WR2 option for Week 7.
Los Angeles Rams wide receiver Cooper Kupp broke a four-game string with 100 receiving yards last week as the entire offense was shut down by the San Francisco 49ers. The good news, though, is the Rams face the leaky Atlanta Falcons Defense, which is the worst at defending receivers the last five weeks. Kupp is sixth in the league in fantasy points over the last five weeks at the position despite having four catches for 17 yards last week. He'll return to the WR1 section this week.
Los Angeles Rams wide receiver Robert Woods has been Jekyll and Hyde in the matter of a couple of weeks. He busted out with 13 catches for 164 yards three weeks ago and didn't catch a last on four targets last week. He'll have a brighter matchup against the Atlanta Falcons, who are the best matchup for opposing receivers the last five weeks. The Rams spread the ball around a lot, though, and Woods is limited to a flex option in point-per-reception formats.
Los Angeles Rams tight end Tyler Higbee has been an afterthought in the offense this season with 16 catches for 154 yards and a touchdown in five games. He has a good matchup against the Atlanta Falcons this week, but he is too spotty to rely on in traditional leagues. He'd be someone to take at a basement price in daily formats, though.
Jacksonville rookie signal caller Gardner Minshew hit a significant bump in the road last week for the first time as a starter. The cure for that skid? It may just prove to be a matchup against a Bengals Defense yielding greater than 425 yards per game. Minshew failed to toss a touchdown last Sunday against New Orleans, the first time he did not record one in six games. While his 240.3 passing yard per contest average is far from gaudy, he has tossed nine touchdowns to just two interceptions, making him a safe option in traditional fantasy, as well as a high-upside low-priced option in DFS.
Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver DeSean Jackson (abdomen) and running back Darren Sproles (quadriceps) both missed practice all week and have officially been ruled out for Week 7 against the Cowboys on Sunday night. Jackson is closer to returning than Sproles, but there remains no timetable for either player. D-Jax has been out since getting hurt in Week 2, and the Eagles offense is surely missing their deep threat, as Mack Hollins hasn't come close to replicating Jackson's production as a field-stretcher. Alshon Jeffery, Nelson Agholor and Hollins will continue to operate in three-receiver sets in the big divisional showdown on Sunday evening.
The Los Angeles Rams Defense shouldn't be played against the Atlanta Falcons this week. They've had their issues on the ground, but they still put up points and air it out. The Rams are amidst a tough portion of their schedule and really haven't played well enough to hang onto in traditional formats.
Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray has a good matchup against the New York Giants in Week 7. Murray has been hot lately, and he's fifth in fantasy points among quarterbacks over the last three weeks. Murray has tossed for 834 yards, three touchdowns and one interception, but his legs have been the difference. He has rushed 25 times for 152 yards and two touchdowns during that stretch. The Giants allow the eighth-most fantasy points to the position on average over the last five weeks. Murray is a mid-to-low QB1 this week.
Arizona Cardinals running back Chase Edmonds has been a sneaky contributor over the last two games, but it's because he found the end zone each game. He had 12 carries for 102 yards and five catches for 51 yards combined in the games, and he scored on the ground and through the air. Starting running back David Johnson (ankle) is a game-time decision this week, but he practiced more than he did before he played with a back injury last week. The matchup against the New York Giants is a solid one with the Giants averaging the seventh-most points allowed to the position the last five weeks. Edmonds has flashed the big play on limited touches, but he relies on those touchdowns heavily if you use him as a flex.
Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Keesean Johnson has just 14 catches for 131 yards on the season despite a number of injuries that opened doors in the offense. He has a good matchup against the New York Giants this week, but he simply hasn't produced enough to warrant owning outside of dynasty formats.
Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald has a great matchup against the New York Giants this week. The Giants allow the fifth-most fantasy points per game over the last five weeks. Wide receiver Christian Kirk (ankle) and running back David Johnson (ankle) are both game-time decisions, which could put more emphasis on Fitz. He's averaging around five catches for 60 yards per game, but he has just two touchdowns on the year. He'll be a low-end WR2 in point-per-reception leagues and a WR3 in others.
Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Damiere Byrd caught both of his targets for 60 yards last week, and he'll have a good matchup against the New York Giants. Wide receiver Christian Kirk (ankle) is iffy to play again this week, and receiver Keesean Johnson has done nothing in his increased looks. Byrd could wind up usurping Johnson and might be worth a speculative pickup. He just hasn't shown enough to warrant the start, though.
Los Angeles Rams quarterback Jared Goff is coming off of one of his most futile games in recent memory as he threw for only 78 yards in the loss against the San Francisco 49ers last week. Goff owners should be happy to see the Atlanta Falcons in the forefront this week. The Falcons are the softest matchup against the position and have allowed 14 touchdowns in five games. Goff has been shaky most of the season, though, so he's just a low-end QB1 with some upside.
The Vikings Defense is again ranking among the NFL's best through six weeks. They rank fifth in yards allowed per game (310.3), fifth in yards allowed per play (4.8), sixth in points allowed per game (15.5), and 10th in sacks (17). They face the Detroit Lions on the road in Week 7 in a pivotal divisional matchup. Though the Lions have some nice weapons in Kerryon Johnson, Kenny Golladay, and veteran Matthew Stafford, the Vikings shouldn't have too much trouble keeping them contained in what projects to be a low-scoring affair. Stafford has only thrown two interceptions this year but also has four fumbles (two lost). Start the Vikings Defense as a top-eight play in Week 7.
Minnesota Vikings running back Alexander Mattison remains the clear backup to starter Dalvin Cook, but the rookie has started to emerge as a player who could be used as a bye week streamer in favorable matchups. Mattison rushed 14 times for 63 yards in Week 6 against the Philadelphia Eagles, a team that ranks among the league's best at stopping the run. He has notably received at least seven carries in 4-of-6 games as the Vikings remain a very run-heavy team. The Lions are being torched by the run this year and give up the third-most fantasy points to running backs, so Mattison could provide some great value if he can approach 10 touches in this game. Only start Mattison if you're in desperate need of a deep league FLEX option in Week 7 - he's still best viewed as a high-priority handcuff.
Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Stefon Diggs should be started as a low-end WR2 in Week 7 against the Detroit Lions. He went nuclear in Week 6 with seven catches for 167 yards and three touchdowns, but the Lions Defense is tough against outside receivers and there's a chance that he's shadowed by shutdown corner Darius Slay. There's also a high likelihood of the Vikings featuring Dalvin Cook in the run-game as the Lions haven't stopped anyone on the ground so far this season. Diggs should be in lineups as a WR2/3 but remains difficult to trust in tough matchups and with the Vikings' run-first attack.
San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Marquise Goodwin should see a bump in usage with Deebo Samuel (groin) ruled out in Week 7 against the Washington Redskins. Goodwin leads all Niner wideouts in snaps but has surpassed 45 receiving yards just once this season. With the team heavy favorites and the Redskins pass defense inept at handling shorter routes, Goodwins skillset could be marginalized. Expect the Niners to keep pounding the rock on the ground and tight end George Kittle to continue dominating targets. Goodwin needs just one big play to return fantasy value but hes a low-floor WR4. Receivers Kendrick Bourne and Richie James Jr. will likely share snaps voided by Samuel.
Baltimore Ravens rookie wide receiver Marquise Brown (ankle) didn't practice all week but is questionable for Week 7 against the Seahawks. Brown missed last week and is certainly on the wrong side of questionable this weekend. Making things even more difficult for fantasy owners is the fact that Brown and the Ravens kick off in the afternoon on Sunday. He's an extremely risky WR3 if he suits up. If Brown misses his second straight game, Willie Snead, rookie Miles Boykin, Seth Roberts and Chris Moore will have increased roles. Snead and Boykin have the most upside, but even they would be more of WR5 options in a run-first offense. Tight end Mark Andrews would be the only fantasy lock if Brown were inactive.
Houston Texans cornerback Johnathan Joseph (hamstring) is questionable for Week 7 against the Colts, but he's expected to return and will likely be tasked with slowing down wide receiver T.Y. Hilton. Cornerback Bradley Roby (hamstring) is questionable but is not expected to play. Safety Tashaun Gipson (hip) is questionable but is expected to play. It's good news that the Texans will have both Joseph and Gipson in their secondary, but Houston's defense/special teams is a low-upside fantasy streamer during bye weeks.