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FFL: Preseason | NFL: Week 1

Ravens-Chiefs more than big defense vs big offense

Sat Sep 21 11:13am ET
By BARRY WILNER
AP Pro Football Writer

Players: Tom Brady, Drew Brees, Matt Ryan, Eli Manning, Larry Fitzgerald, Ben Roethlisberger, Adrian Peterson, DeSean Jackson, Andy Dalton, Matthew Stafford, Cam Newton, Russell Wilson, Julio Jones, Andrew Luck, Derek Carr, Zach Ertz, Taysom Hill, Alshon Jeffery, Dak Prescott, Teddy Bridgewater, Melvin Gordon, Marcus Mariota, Nelson Agholor, Kenny Golladay, Mitch Trubisky, Tyler Boyd, Peyton Barber, Luke Falk, Kyle Allen, Mason Rudolph, Patrick Mahomes, Derrius Guice, Gardner Minshew II, Lamar Jackson, Daniel Jones, Eddy Pineiro

In this Sept. 8, 2019, file photo, Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes (15) throws a pass as he is pressured by Jacksonville Jaguars defensive end Josh Allen during the first half of an NFL football game in Jacksonville, Fla. Mahomes Mahomes is the reigning league MVP. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack, File)


In this Sept. 16, 2019, file photo, Cleveland Browns' Myles Garrett (95) sacks New York Jets' Trevor Siemian (19) during the first half of an NFL football game in East Rutherford, N.J. Garrett leads the league with five sacks in two games. (AP Photo/Bill Kostroun, File)


In this Nov. 26, 2018, file photo, Houston Texans outside linebacker Whitney Mercilus (59) sacks Tennessee Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota (8) during the second half of an NFL football game in Houston. Mercilus has been a stud so far, while edge rusher J.J Watt is off to a relatively slow start. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip, File)


In this Sunday, Sept. 8, 2019, file photo, Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson (8) looks to pass during the first half at an NFL football game against the Miami Dolphins in Miami Gardens, Fla. Boosting the Ravens to the top in yards gained is an average of 541.5 yards, led by Jacksons superb passing and running. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee, File)


Once, the Ravens at Chiefs would have been looked at as one of those old-fashioned strong defense vs. dangerous offense matchups.

You know: ''Here's what we do, try to stop us'' against ''Here's what we do, try to move us.''

The weekend's best game has evolved quite a bit this year.

Baltimore has been among the most balanced teams, ranking second in overall defense and first in yards gained. The Ravens are leading the NFL with 21 quarterback hits, six of them sacks, and allowing only 41 yards on the ground. Of course, they played Miami and Arizona, which also were vulnerable defensively. Boosting the Ravens to the top in yards gained is an average of 541.5 yards, led by Lamar Jackson's superb passing and running. Jackson is tied with Kansas City's Patrick Mahomes, the reigning league MVP, and Dallas QB Dak Prescott with seven TD tosses.

KC is first in passing offense and third overall, but this is a major test.

''It's going to be a great experience,'' Mahomes said. ''We got to play last year once and seeing Lamar's progression and understanding the offense - I understand going from Year 1 to Year 2, there's a huge switch where you start understanding the offense at a different level. Then with his running ability, he can still do that. It's a great challenge for our whole team.''

Chiefs coach Andy Reid has 209 wins, tied with Chuck Noll for sixth in NFL history. Curly Lambeau is fifth with 229.

The weekend began with Jacksonville's 20-7 victory over Tennessee on Thursday night. Gardner Minshew had an efficient night for the Jaguars (1-2), who dominated the Titans (1-2) up front and sacked Marcus Mariota nine times.

Pittsburgh (0-2) at San Francisco (2-0)

The Steelers have lost in their last six trips to the Bay Area - four times in Oakland, twice at San Francisco. Their last win was 27-6 at the 49ers in 1999. Pittsburgh is looking to avoid only its second 0-3 start since 2000 with Mason Rudolph making his first career start in place of injured quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. Rudolph threw for 112 yards and two touchdown vs. Seattle last week after Roethlisberger left with a season-ending elbow injury. Pittsburgh ominously is 4-19-1 with a first-time starting QB. It will have safety Minkah Fitzpatrick, acquired from the Dolphins on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, the 49ers seek their first 3-0 start since 1998 and seventh since the 1970 merger. San Francisco made the playoffs following five of the previous six 3-0 starts, missing only in 1980. The Niners come off back-to-back road victories to open a season for the first time since 1989.

New Orleans (1-1) at Seattle (2-0)

Like Pittsburgh, New Orleans is without its starting quarterback, Drew Brees (thumb surgery), but at least he is expected back this season. Coach Sean Payton says he will play both of Brees' backups, Teddy Bridgewater and versatile Taysom Hill, a special teams regular and frequent offensive contributor in the wildcat and as a running back or receiver.

The Saints stayed on the West Coast and practiced in Seattle following last week's loss to the Rams. This matchup is just as difficult: The Seahawks are 15-0 in September home games under Pete Carroll. Russell Wilson is 6-0 with 12 touchdowns and two picks in his past six home contests.

Houston (1-1) at Los Angeles Chargers (1-1)

Family affair: Chargers coach Anthony Lynn's son, Danton Lynn, is the Texans' assistant secondary coach. He has helped as the Texans have forced a turnover in 15 straight games, the longest active streak in the NFL. Linebacker Whitney Mercilus has been a stud so far while edge rusher J.J Watt is off to a relatively slow start.

Chargers RB Austin Ekeler leads the NFL with four TDs and his 287 yards from scrimmage are the most by a Chargers running back through the first two games in franchise history. Think they miss holdout Melvin Gordon?

Los Angeles Rams (2-0) at Cleveland (1-1)

The Rams used to live in Cleveland before moving to LA, to Anaheim, to St. Louis, and back to LA. And no, it's not true they were the last franchise from the Ohio city to make the playoffs.

The Browns have designs on being a postseason qualifier for the first time since 2002, and this would be a major proving ground. Rams coach Sean McKay returns to the state where he played college ball at Miami. His 26-8 record is the best through 34 games for any coach hired in the 21st century, and his Rams are 8-0 vs. AFC teams, scoring nearly 35 points per game and winning by an average of 14.3 while racking up more than 400 yards of offense on average.

Cleveland plays a second straight prime-time game, and its first on Sunday night since 2008. Myles Garrett had a career-high three sacks against the Jets, but was called for five penalties, two for roughing. Garrett leads the league with five sacks in two games.

''I know who I am and the guys within these walls know who I am, and that's not me,'' Garrett said. ''I'm not going to do anything to try and hurt this team or take out any player outside the rule book. I'm just going to keep playing this game the way it's supposed to be played, and that's violently but passionately.''

Chicago (1-1) at Washington (0-2), Monday night

Neither team has shown much on offense, so if the Bears are going to break a seven-game slide against Washington, they'll need Mitchell Trubisky to find the range and get his receivers more involved. Comforting for Chicago is finally finding an accurate kicker: Eddy Pineiro is 4 for 4 on field goals this season after making all three last week, including the winning 53-yarder in the final second at Denver.

RB Adrian Peterson was a forgotten man in Week 1 when he was benched, but he's now the main guy with Derrius Guice injured. Peterson has averaged 111 yards rushing and scored 14 TDs in 14 games vs. the Bears, most of that while with Minnesota.

Oakland (1-1) at Minnesota (1-1)

Raiders defensive coordinator Paul Guenther was the linebackers coach in Cincinnati when Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer was the defensive coordinator there. Guenther took over that role when Zimmer was hired by the Vikings in 2014.

The Raiders have begun a stretch of no home games in a 48-day span, due to a ''home game'' in London and a bye week sandwiched between two straight road games on each end. Derek Carr broke Ken Stabler's Raiders record for career passing yards last week. He has 19,196. But Minnesota's defense will be a challenge. DE Danielle Hunter tied a career high with nine tackles at Green Bay. In his past seven home games, Hunter has 8+ sacks.

The Vikings seek the franchise's 500th victory, including playoffs. They are 499-427-11 in 59 seasons, but have no NFL titles, including a Super Bowl loss to the Riders.

Cincinnati (0-2) at Buffalo (2-0)

The Bengals have won four of the past five meetings, including past two on the road, dating to 2011 since snapping a 10-game skid spanning 1989-2010. Their QB, Andy Dalton, is a local hero. His final-minute 49-yard TD pass to Tyler Boyd to beat Baltimore in 2017 clinched Buffalo's first playoff berth in 17 years and led to Bills fans donating more than $450,000 to Dalton's charitable foundation.

Don't expect him to get cheers once the action begins.

The Bills have scored nine touchdowns in their past nine drives inside opponents' 20-yard line dating to last season.

Atlanta (1-1) at Indianapolis (1-1)

Indy leads this series 14-2 and has won four of the last five, but took the only home defeat in the series when the Falcons last visited in 2011. The game will be the Colts' first at Lucas Oil Stadium since Andrew Luck announced his retirement in the preseason. The Colts' defense is second in the league with eight sacks and hasn't allowed a 100-yard rusher in 20 consecutive regular-season games, second-longest streak behind New Orleans (24).

But Indy might be missing top CB Pierre Desir (knee), which would be good news for Julio Jones. The Falcons' star receiver has three TDs this season and at least one in a league-high six consecutive games. QB Matt Ryan needs 10 completions to pass John Elway (4,123) for No. 9 in league history. Ryan's next TD also will break a tie with Elway (300) for No. 11 in that category.

Detroit (1-0-1) at Philadelphia (1-1)

Lions QB Matthew Stafford feasts on the Eagles' defense. Stafford has thrown eight TDs without an interception in two meetings, winning by one point in 2016 and 31 in 2015. WR Kenny Golladay matched a career high with eight receptions last week, had 117 yards receiving and scored for a second straight game.

Philly is banged up on both sides of the ball. WRs DeSean Jackson and Alshon Jeffery are unlikely to play because of injuries. That puts the onus on tight end Zach Ertz and wideout Nelson Agholor and a deep running game that needs to keep the ball and clock moving.

Denver (0-2) at Green Bay (2-0)

Green Bay is 5-0-1 against the Broncos at home. And has scored 30-plus points in all five home wins against Denver.

Somehow, the clock didn't run out on the Bears on the drive to the winning field goal. Of course, the Broncos played far too conservatively on the third-down desperation pass that set up Peinero's kick.

Denver is 0-2 for the first time since 1999. The Broncos would become the 14th team to reach 500 overall wins with a victory.

Denver beat Green Bay in the 1998 Super Bowl for its first NFL championship after four defeats.

New York Jets (0-2) at New England (2-0)

Third-string QB Luke Falk vs. six-time Super Bowl winner Tom Brady, both the 199th pick in their drafts and both getting their opportunity through injury.

The comparisons stop there, as do the chances for the three-TD underdog Jets. And we know, as seen last week in Miami, that New England's coach will show no mercy.

Miami (0-2) at Dallas (2-0)

While the fire sale continues in Miami, with DB Fitzpatrick now in Pittsburgh, there is more speculation on the Dolphins going 0-16 than there is on who will be left on the roster by the end of the schedule. Some say it doesn't much matter given the dearth of talent already.

Dallas, on the other hand, is looking like a true championship contender, even if the wins are over weaklings in the division, the Giants and Redskins. The Cowboys are seeking a first 3-0 start since 2008, when they lost their last two and missed the playoffs at 9-7.

Prescott's seven touchdown passes, tying Don Meredith (1966) for the club record through two games, are complemented by completing his last 18 passes against Washington. Eighteen in a row might be easy against Miami.

New York Giants (0-2) at Tampa Bay (2-0)

All that positive talk about Daniel Jones' preseason performances had Giants fans salivating. Now they get to see the sixth overall draft pick behind center in place of Eli Manning in games that count, against starters, not third-stringers and camp fodder players. The Giants do lead this series 15-7.

Bucs RB Peyton Barber is coming off rushing for 82 yards and a touchdown in last week's win at Carolina. One of his two career 100-yard performances (106 yards, TD) was against the Giants last season. LB Shaquil Barrett had three sacks vs. the Panthers, the most in one game by a Tampa Bay linebacker since Broderick Thomas in 1992. .

Carolina (0-2) at Arizona (0-1-1)

While offensive star Cam Newton struggles with injuries - a foot sprain could keep him out, meaning inexperienced Kyle Allen starts - standout LB Luke Kuechly leads the Panthers' defense with 25 tackles. He had 17 in Week 2, including two tackles for loss, one that resulted in a safety.

Cardinals WR Larry Fitzgerald needs 10 catches to pass Hall of Fame TE Tony Gonzalez for second on the NFL's all-time receptions list. Fitzgerald has 1,316, Gonzalez has 1,325. Hall of Famer Jerry Rice is the leader with 1,549.

Player Notes
Jarvis Landry Aug 8 5:10pm ET

Cleveland Browns wide receiver Jarvis Landry (hip) was activated from the active/PUP list on Saturday. Landry opened the preseason on the PUP list after having hip surgery back on February 4. The veteran wide receiver is trending up as the team gets ready to start practicing in the next week. Landry caught 83 passes for 1, 174 yards and six touchdowns last season. Look for him to return low-end WR2 value in PPR leagues in 2020.

From RotoBaller

Kenjon Barner Aug 8 9:53am ET

Free-agent RB Kenjon Barner (Falcons) is visiting the Baltimore Ravens and beginning the testing process Saturday, Aug. 8.

From TheHuddle

Jakeem Grant Aug 8 9:23am ET

Miami Dolphins WR Jakeem Grant has an opportunity for playing time with WRs Albert Wilson and Allen Hurns opting out.

Fantasy Spin: The absences vault Preston Williams and Grant into the starting lineup, potentially, and Grant could be in the slot. Williams has more upside of the two, but he's coming off an ACL tear. Grant is a WR5 candidate that will need a good camp to hold a final roster spot in fantasy.

From TheHuddle

Derrius Guice Aug 7 11:30pm ET

The Washington Football Team has released running back Derrius Guice following a domestic abuse arrest. The oft-injured Guice was expected to be the lead back for Washington's running back committee this year, but the release obviously changes everything in Washington. Veteran running back Adrian Peterson should now see the bulk of the carries, while rookie Antonio Gibson gets chances on passing downs. Gibson gets a boost in dynasty leagues after Guice's release, while Peterson is now a viable top-100 pick in virtually all re-draft leagues. As for Guice, his arrest could be the end of his disappointing NFL career. He's off the radar in redraft and becomes borderline rosterable in dynasty.

From RotoBaller

Mike Williams Aug 7 11:13pm ET

Los Angeles Chargers WR Mike Williams' ability to catch contested passes has QB Tyrod Taylor excited, and Taylor said that 50-50 balls are 'more like 70-30 or 80-20' balls when throwing to Williams.

Fantasy Spin: Although he scored just twice, Williams is coming off a 2019 season when he set career highs in catches and yards and led the NFL with 20.4 yards per reception. Losing Philip Rivers at quarterback isn't ideal, but Williams' big-play ability allows him to turn a couple of catches into a big performance. He is still worth grabbing as a WR3.

From TheHuddle

Jerick McKinnon Aug 7 10:30pm ET

San Francisco 49ers running back Jerick McKinnon has been one of the more impressive players at training camp, according to Cam Inman of The Mercury News. In particular, McKinnon's route running out of the backfield has looked crisp. It is welcomed news for the 28-year-old, as he has missed the entirety of the past two seasons with injuries. McKinnon may be able to carve out a role for himself as a pass-catching, third-down back, but he has to battle Raheem Mostert and Tevin Coleman for touches. If McKinnon continues his strong play, the 49ers backfield may become even more of a headache for fantasy owners.

From RotoBaller

Brandin Cooks Aug 7 9:43pm ET

Houston Texans WR Brandin Cooks said he has 'zero' concerns about his concussion history. 'For me, I'm not worried at all,' said Cooks. 'If there is any hesitation or worry, I wouldn't be here right now.'

Fantasy Spin: While Cooks may not be concerned, fantasy owners have to be a little worried if Cooks will be available for a full season. He has delivered WR2 production for a majority of his career, but between the concussion issues and changing teams over the offseason, he is a more palatable option as a WR3.

From TheHuddle

Jerick McKinnon Aug 7 9:33pm ET

San Francisco 49ers RB Jerick McKinnon (knee) has looked sharp catching passes out of the backfield during training camp, according to QB Jimmy Garoppolo. 'Even just throwing routes on air this offseason, he runs them differently than most running backs and he has a feel that's like a receiver, but he feels space like a quarterback,' Garoppolo said.

Fantasy Spin: McKinnon has missed consecutive seasons while recovery from a knee injury, but he will rejoin the backfield in 2020. It sounds like he could carve out a role on passing downs, but for now, he is a late-round flier in PPR formats, at best.

From TheHuddle

Logan Ryan Aug 7 8:13pm ET

Free-agent CB Logan Ryan (Titans) could receive interest from the New York Giants, in the opinion of ESPN.com's Jordan Raanan.

From TheHuddle

Dontari Poe Aug 7 8:03pm ET

Dallas Cowboys DE Tyrone Crawford (hip) and DT Dontari Poe (quadriceps) do not have timetables for when they will be able to be activated from the Active/Physically Unable to Perform list, according to head coach Mike McCarthy.

From TheHuddle

Derrius Guice Aug 7 7:23pm ET

Washington Football Team RB Derrius Guice was released Friday, Aug. 7.

Fantasy Spin: Guice likely will not receive much interest from other teams because of the arrest, but fantasy players can keep an eye on the situation. Adrian Peterson likely will handle most of the carries for Washington this season and can be at least a No. 3 running back in standard fantasy leagues.

From TheHuddle

Calvin Ridley Aug 7 7:00pm ET

Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Calvin Ridley is looking "bigger and stronger" according to head coach Dan Quinn. Quinn said that Ridley had a good offseason and is coming into training camp hungry. The Alabama product is a popular pick for a third-year breakout after he was well on his way towards his first 1000-yard season before getting hurt. The 25-year-old has had no trouble finding the end zone in his first two years, compiling 17 touchdowns, though he'll need to slightly raise his yards per game and catch percentage numbers to reach his goal. Playing in an offense that has ranked in the top-five in pass attempts in each of the last two years should give Ridley a great chance at becoming elite in 2020.

From RotoBaller

Joe Mixon Aug 7 6:23pm ET

Cincinnati Bengals RB Joe Mixon may receive a bigger role in the passing game this season, according to offensive coordinator Brian Callahan.

Fantasy Spin: Mixon will see plenty of carries in the running game but may be a popular target for Joe Burrow out of the backfield. Mixon should already be considered a starting running back in all fantasy leagues but more catches would increase his value.

From TheHuddle

Willie Snead Aug 7 6:13pm ET

Baltimore Ravens WR James Proche is considered the leading candidate for the punt returner job this season. WR Willie Snead and Marquise Brown are also options for the job.

From TheHuddle

Nigel Bradham Aug 7 5:43pm ET

Free-agent LB Nigel Bradham (Eagles) officially signed with the New Orleans Saints Friday, Aug. 7. Official terms of the contract were not disclosed.

From TheHuddle

Aug 7 5:23pm ET

Free-agent TE Jordan Leggett (Buccaneers) and DT Darius Kilgo (Lions) recently met with the New England Patriots.

From TheHuddle

Kenny Stills Aug 7 5:13pm ET

Houston Texans WR Kenny Stills (illness) was placed on the Active/Non-Football Illness list Friday, Aug. 7.

Fantasy Spin: It is not known how long Stills will be sidelined, but he does not appear to be in danger of missing the start of the season. His role may be smaller this season since the team added Brandin Cooks and Randall Cobb during the offseason. Fantasy players in most leagues probably can avoid Stills in drafts.

From TheHuddle

Vic Beasley Aug 7 4:43pm ET

Tennessee Titans LB Vic Beasley was activated from the Reserve/Did Not Report list Friday, Aug. 7.

From TheHuddle

Jack Crawford Aug 7 4:43pm ET

Tennessee Titans DT Jack Crawford was placed on the Reserve/COVID-19 list Friday, Aug. 7.

From TheHuddle

Marcell Dareus Aug 7 4:13pm ET

Free-agent DT Marcell Dareus (Jaguars) could be an option for the Seattle Seahawks since they are looking to add depth at the defensive tackle position, in the opinion of Sirius XM NFL Radio's Adam Caplan.

From TheHuddle