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.''
Waiver Wire Adds: Week 4
The Los Angeles Rams Defense has played well to start the year, and they finally have fantasy value in Week 4. The New York Giants look like one of the worst teams in football, and they're dealing with injuries to just about every offensive weapon they have. Lineman Aaron Donald remains one of the most dominant weapons in football, and he's going to have a field day against the interior of New York. This Rams' team can take advantage of the mistakes that quarterback Daniel Jones is going to make, and they could keep the points total extremely low.
Los Angeles Rams kicker Samuel Sloman is a top-10 option in Week 4 behind this offense. This Rams' group looks closer to the one we saw in 2018 when they could move the ball at will against most defenses, and that's going to continue against the New York Giants. The Giants just look brutal right now, and that's great for kickers. Additionally, this is a home game for the Rams, which means that weather will not be an issue inside SoFi Stadium. Behind this high-octane offense, you can safely put Sloman into your lineups this week.
Los Angeles Rams tight end Tyler Higbee had a rough go of things in Week 3, but Week 4 is his chance to bounce back. The Giants have done well at defending tight ends early in the season, but they haven't played a player of Higbee's caliber. Higbee scored three touchdowns in Week 2, and I think he gets into the end zone again this week. He gives quarterback Jared Goff a safe option across the middle, and the Giants are dealing with issues at the safety position with multiple injuries to start the year. Higbee is a low-end TE1 in 12-team leagues this week.
Cincinnati Bengals WR A.J. Green has been targeted in the end zone six times through three games with zero touchdowns.
Fantasy Spin: Green was once one of the premier receivers in the NFL and a fantasy stud, but these days it's uncertain whether he or Tyler Boyd is the No. 1 receiver in the Queen City. He has tumbled into the WR3 or flex fantasy area heading into Week 4.
Cincinnati Bengals DT Geno Atkins (shoulder) practiced Wednesday, Sept. 30 for the first time since injuring his shoulder in training camp. 'We'll take it day-to-day and know more by the end of the week,' head coach Zac Taylor said.
Los Angeles Rams wide receiver Robert Woods had a tough matchup in Week 3, but things get a lot easier in Week 4 against the New York Giants. The Giants don't have a cornerback that can stick with Woods with any consistency, and he's going to have a number of opportunities where he's running wide open. It's rare that Woods as the upside to be a WR1, but this is one of those chances. Woods has shown a good knack for finding the end zone this year, and it will only take some receptions and one big play to give him that WR1 week. He's a safe play again this week.
Los Angeles Rams running back Darrell Henderson has a great matchup in Week 4 against the New York Giants. Over the last two weeks, he's averaged over 6.0 yards per carry. His offensive line is opening wide-open lanes for him to hit, and he's blasting through them. In Week 4, he draws the New York Giants who are just getting gashed to start the year. Their strength is defending the run with their front seven, but Henderson is just getting too much work to bench him. As long as he's getting the lead-back duties, he can give you a safe amount of RB2 production every week.
Los Angeles Rams wide receiver Cooper Kupp has started the year on a slow pace, but he finally broke through in Week 3 with a 25.7 point performance against the Buffalo Bills. In Week 4, his matchup gets even better against the New York Giants. Their biggest weakness on defense is in the secondary, and they don't have anyone that can keep with Kupp. He has a safe floor as a WR2, but he has a ceiling as a WR1 this week. He gets great volume, and he is a rock-solid option for quarterback Jared Goff. Lock him in this week.
Los Angeles Rams quarterback Jared Goff is on a quest for a QB1-level season. He's currently QB9 as things stand, and he has a solid chance to improve that standing in Week 4 against the New York Giants. The Giants were just demolished at home by the San Francisco 49ers with backups starting all over the place. This Rams' offense just scored 28 unanswered points against the Buffalo Bills in one half, and they can do that again this week. Goff is a safe option in Week 4 for leagues with at least 12 teams, and he should give you low-end QB1 production.
Seattle Seahawks safety Jamal Adams (groin), rookie linebacker Jordyn Brooks (knee), cornerback Quinton Dunbar (knee) and defensive end Benson Mayowa (groin) all missed practice on Wednesday. Adams is the top fantasy safety in the game in IDP leagues, but he could be in real danger of missing this Sunday's contest against Miami. The Seahawks Defense has given up a ton of yardage (439.7 passing yards per game) through the first three weeks, but they're on the streaming radar this week with the Dolphins on the docket. However, if Adams and some of their other defenders are forced to sit out, you may want to rethink using Seattle as a one-week play.
Seattle Seahawks running back Chris Carson (knee) was a limited participant in practice on Wednesday. Carson is dealing with a minor knee sprain, but he certainly has a chance to face the Dolphins in Week 4 after getting in a limited practice to start the week. However, the oft-injured 26-year-old could be limited this Sunday even if he's active, which will make him a pretty risky fantasy commodity this week. Carlos Hyde is next in line to see more touches if Carson sits out or is limited, with Travis Homer behind Hyde in the pecking order. Fantasy managers should get a better read on how healthy Carson really is after a few more practices.
Los Angeles Chargers QB Justin Herbert took all of the reps in practice Wednesday, Sept. 30 with QB Tyrod Taylor (lung) not practicing. However, head coach Anthony Lynn has not yet officially named Herbert the starter for Week 4 against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Fantasy Spin: If Herbert is tabbed for his third consecutive start, he is only worth a look as a QB2 in fantasy leagues which require two starting signal callers.
The Atlanta Falcons Defense should be well off the starting radar for this week against Green Bay. The ATL defense has been the Achilles heel of this team as they have blown late leads in Weeks 2 and 3. They have allowed 38, 40, and 30 points thus far this season and now face a Green Bay team that has scored close to 40 points each game. There is no reason to trust this defense.
Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Tyrod Taylor (chest, ribs) and defensive end Joey Bosa (ankle, triceps) both missed practice on Wednesday. The Chargers aren't ruling Taylor out for the Week 4 matchup against the Buccaneers, but this isn't a good start to the week for the QB. He's recovering from a punctured lung that has caused him to miss the last two games, which has led to rookie Justin Herbert getting his first two starts under center. If healthy, Taylor could reclaim the starting gig, but he's nothing more than a low-end QB2 in an offense that would prefer to run the ball. Bosa is a must-start IDP asset when he's healthy, and the Chargers Defense will surely need him if they want to slow Tom Brady down this Sunday.
Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Russell Gage is a flex play if he is active this week against the Packers. Gage suffered a head injury in Week 3 which caused him to miss much of the game. It remains unclear whether he will play in Week 4. The 2018 pick put up an impressive first two games before going down in Week 3. He recorded over 100 yards in Week 1 and has seen 12 and nine targets in Weeks 1 and 2, respectively. There is a growing rapport between Gage and Matt Ryan, so he is certainly in the flex conversation in what could be a high-scoring game at Lambeau. If Gage plays and Julio Jones doesn't, Gage's value would increase.
Atlanta Falcons tight end Hayden Hurst is a low-end TE1 for Week 4. Hurst has been hard to figure out on this offense, as he saw eight targets and got 72 yards in Week 2, but only had one reception for one yard in Week 3 when Julio Jones was out and Russell Gage was injured for most of the game. At this point, we don't know which version of Hurst we may get this week, so he can be started as a TE1 in bigger leagues, but there is added risk considering his production could be huge or completely small.
New England Patriots running back Sony Michel (quadriceps) and wide receiver Julian Edelman (knee) were both limited in practice on Wednesday. Michel has dealt with plenty of injuries so far in his career, so this one is worth watching, but as of right now, he seems like a good bet to play in Week 4 against the Chiefs. Michel ran all over the Raiders in the victory last week, but KC's defensive front will be a much tougher matchup. Consider him as more of a touchdown-dependent RB3/flex. Edelman is frequently on the injury report with minor injuries but usually plays through them. He was quiet last week in a game in which Rex Burkhead scored three times. The Pats will have to throw the ball to keep up with the Chiefs in this contest, making Edelman a good bet to bounce back as a WR2. The Chiefs are a bit beat up in the secondary as well.
Atlanta Falcons running back Todd Gurley II is an RB2 for the Week 4 clash against the Packers. Though he hasn't been a factor in the receiving game, Gurley has seen no less than 14 carries and 56 rushing yards in a game this season. His role as the lead back is not in peril and as long as he stays healthy, the RB will see decent volume each week. The Packers have allowed the third-most points to fantasy RBs, meaning Gurley has great value for this week.
If active, Atlanta Falcons receiver Julio Jones will be an WR1 for this week's showdown against the Packers. The talented wideout was inactive in Week 3 due to a hamstring injury and it remains unclear if he will play this week. If he does, expect him to see his normal volume as Matt Ryan's top target. If he doesn't, bump up the values of Calvin Ridley, Hayden Hurst, and Russell Gage (if he plays).
Los Angeles Rams head coach Sean McVay said that rookie running back Cam Akers (ribs) is considered day-to-day after missing practice on Wednesday. Akers missed the Week 3 loss to the Bills and should be considered highly questionable for the Week 4 matchup against the Giants. Malcolm Brown is also playing through a broken pinkie finger, but it was Darrell Henderson Jr. who stole the show last weekend as the only healthy running back. With other options in this backfield, the Rams can afford to play it cautious with their intriguing rookie back. In a great matchup against the 0-3 Giants, Henderson profiles as an RB2 this weekend if Akers misses another contest. Brown will be a touchdown-dependent RB3/flex.