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FFL: Playoff Week 1 | NFL: Week 14

Ravens’ Jackson masters art of winning while having fun

Wed Nov 13 4:24pm ET
By DAVID GINSBURG
AP Sports Writer

Players: Mark Ingram, Mark Andrews, Lamar Jackson, Marquise Brown

Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson (8) celebrates his touchdown during the second half of NFL football game against the Cincinnati Bengals, Sunday, Nov. 10, 2019, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/Frank Victores)


Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson, center, laughs on the sidelines during the second half of NFL football game against the Cincinnati Bengals, Sunday, Nov. 10, 2019, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/Gary Landers)


Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson passes during the second half of NFL football game against the Cincinnati Bengals, Sunday, Nov. 10, 2019, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/Gary Landers)


Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson (8) runs the ball for a touchdown against Cincinnati Bengals defensive end Carlos Dunlap (96) during the second half of NFL football game, Sunday, Nov. 10, 2019, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/Frank Victores)


OWINGS MILLS, Md. (AP) There are times when Lamar Jackson displays the style and exuberance of a youngster playing football on the street with friends.

Seemingly unaffected by the responsibility of being an NFL starting quarterback, Jackson relishes the opportunity to run, pass and match wits with opposing defenses. And when he's all done, the Baltimore Ravens star just might flip on a pair of sunglasses and pose on the sideline with his teammates.

Such was the case last Sunday, when the versatile Jackson achieved a perfect quarterback rating and peeled off a can't-top-this 47-yard touchdown run in a 49-13 rout of the Cincinnati Bengals.

For a new generation of NFL quarterbacks, staying in the pocket is merely an option.

''It's pretty cool,'' Jackson said Wednesday. ''We're just doing our thing: playing ball, having fun, doing what all of us did when we were just little kids.''

With Jackson as the driving force, the Ravens (7-2) have won five straight and established themselves as a Super Bowl contender. Now in his second season, the former Louisville standout is 13-3 as a starter and the focal point of a team that leads the league in scoring, rushing and with a 76.9% conversion rate on fourth down.

Jackson is the only player in NFL history to amass 2,000 yards passing and 700 yards rushing through a season's first nine games. In the high-stakes world of pro football, Jackson is keeping it low key.

''Obviously, Lamar is our leader. We follow him,'' tight end Mark Andrews said. ''He's done a great job of staying humble. With all the spotlight and the buzz and people kind of catching on to the type of player he can be, he's done a great job of staying true to himself and playing for his teammates.''

Jackson stepped out of character against the Bengals, grabbing a pair of sunglasses from head athletic trainer Ron Medlin and hamming it up in a hilarious photo with teammates Marlon Humphrey, Ron Stanley, Mark Ingram and Marquise Brown.

''When you're winning and guys are making plays, it's just contagious, the happiness, the joy,'' Ingram said. ''We all love playing football, we love winning and we love watching our teammates making plays. I don't know how we got those glasses on, but this team is a special group.''

And, to be sure, Jackson is a unique quarterback. His second perfect quarterback rating of the season (15 for 17, 223 yards, 3 TDs, 0 INTs) was impressive, but that 47-yard frolic through the Cincinnati defense might be the play that all past and future quarterback runs will be measured against.

Ingram was right there when it happened, and he's watched it so many times on film that he can describe the action from memory.

''It was crazy,'' Ingram said. ''He made the right read, got away from (defensive end) Carlos Dunlap, hit the safety, dead-legged him, three guys pursuing, he spun inside of them and then the acceleration just to get to the end zone. Yeah, you've got to go into the archives to see something better than that. It was wild.''

That was the Lamar Jackson that won the Heisman Trophy in 2016 and the one his mom appreciated from an early age.

''She just said I'm finally playing how I used to play,'' Jackson said.

Truth is, Jackson's improvement from his rookie year can be attributed to his prowess at passing. If a team dares to stack the line to make him throw, Jackson will gladly accept the invitation and make the defense pay.

''That's where hard work comes in. That's where dedication is,'' he said.

Jackson is the toast of Baltimore these days. The fans swarm him at shopping malls, fast-food joints, anywhere he might happen to be.

''Baltimore loves the players and we appreciate it. We love them back,'' Jackson said. ''So it's all good.''

Until it isn't.

''Football starts with the quarterback,'' coach John Harbaugh said. ''That's what he signed up for. That team has Lamar's back. But just as quickly as (the fans) pat you on the back, they're going to slice your Achilles just like that.''

Unless, of course, Jackson continues to improve. He is, after all, only 22 years old.

''He's just a special talent. Never complacent,'' Ingram said. ''He's only going to get better.''

Notes: The Ravens signed former Denver DT Domata Peko, who will turn 35 later this month and has not played this season. Peko, along with DT Justin Ellis (signed Tuesday), provide Baltimore with options if Michael Pierce (ankle) can't go Sunday against Houston. ... Baltimore released KR Cyrus Jones and placed rookie DT Daylon Mack (knee) on injured reserve.

Player Notes
Blake Jarwin Dec 6 12:20am ET

Dallas Cowboys tight end Blake Jarwin caught six passes in Week 14, gaining 50 yards. Jarwin was targeted seven times, finishing third on the team. Jarwin's usage this season has been very unpredictable, but he has shown the ability to play a decent game when given the chance. He could have more fantasy relevance next season if Jason Witten were to retire again.

From RotoBaller

Peyton Barber Dec 6 12:20am ET

Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back Peyton Barber rewarded fantasy owners who were brave enough to start him in Week 13, but a repeat of his two-touchdown performance, or even something close to it, is hard to envision heading into the first week of the fantasy playoffs. The Bucs backfield is a weekly guessing game with head coach Bruce Arians still refusing to commit to Barber or Ronald Jones. That makes it extremely hard to trust Barber, especially in a do-or-die situation for fantasy owners. Barber has a tough task on his hands regardless this week with the Indianapolis Colts coming to town. The Colts have given up the seventh-fewest fantasy points to running backs this season, with only one back going over the century mark on the ground. Barber is not a recommended start this week.

From RotoBaller

Jason Witten Dec 6 12:20am ET

Dallas Cowboys tight end Jason Witten caught five passes in Week 14, gaining 37 yards. It was a classic late-career Jason Witten game, where he caught most of the balls thrown his way right before falling to the ground. Witten saw seven targets, tied with fellow tight end Blake Jarwin for third on the team. Jarwin was able to come up with one more catch and gain 13 more yards, however. Witten has shown a consistent non-zero floor, which is at least something in the thoroughly empty fantasy position that is 2019 tight end, but he's been unable to establish any sort of ceiling in the meantime.

From RotoBaller

Brett Maher Dec 6 12:20am ET

Dallas Cowboys kicker Brett Maher, already leading the league in missed field goals, missed another one in a Week 14 loss to the Chicago Bears. Maher made all three of his extra points and did make a 31 yarder at the end of the fourth quarter. The Cowboys tried out kickers last week and might do a bit more of that this coming week. Maher may not be long for the Cowboys roster.

From RotoBaller

Michael Gallup Dec 6 12:10am ET

Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Michael Gallup had a strong game in Week 14, catching six passes for 109 yards. He led the team in yardage and with the 10 targets thrown his way, and tied for the team lead with six catches. Gallup did a lot of work after the catch in this one, and was a touchdown away from an enormous game in the first week of the fantasy playoffs. He'll continue as a strong WR2 through Week 17.

From RotoBaller

Amari Cooper Dec 6 12:10am ET

Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Amari Cooper scored a fourth quarter touchdown in a Week 14 loss to the Chicago Bears. Cooper caught six passes for 83 yards on a total of eight targets. Cooper's six catches tied for the team lead, and his was the only receiving touchdown of the night for Dallas. His score came on a nice 19-yard pass from Dak Prescott near the end of the fourth quarter. Cooper showed some signs of still working through the injuries that have limited him of late, but he was still able to get work done against a strong Chicago defense.

From RotoBaller

Randall Cobb Dec 6 12:10am ET

Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Randall Cobb was targeted five times in Week 14, but was only able to come down with two catches. He gained a respectable 43 yards with the two catches, but in a game that he was predicted as a sneaky fantasy option, he ended up disappointing. While Amari Cooper and Michael Gallup were able to do their work on the field, Cobb fell behind and looks to be over his recent hot streak. He'll likely fall back into fantasy irrelevance in most standard leagues.

From RotoBaller

Dak Prescott Dec 6 12:00am ET

Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott performed decently in fantasy terms in Week 14 despite losing to the Chicago Bears. Prescott attempted 49 passes, completing 27 of them for 334 yards and a touchdown. Prescott's only touchdown came on a 19-yard pass to Amari Cooper near the end of the fourth quarter. It wasn't a great performance in general from Prescott, but given a strong Bears Defense on the other side, things could certainly have been worse.

From RotoBaller

Ezekiel Elliott Dec 6 12:00am ET

Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott scored two touchdowns on the ground in a Week 14 to the Chicago Bears. Elliott ran the ball 19 times, gaining 81 yards. He added two catches for 12 yards on five targets. Elliott stayed on the field the whole game with Tony Pollard (ankle) inactive. Elliott's first touchdown was a two-yard run in the first quarter, and his second was another two-yard run at the end of the third.

From RotoBaller

Darren Waller Dec 5 10:00pm ET

Oakland Raiders tight end Darren Waller broke out of a five-game drought in Week 13, recording his first 100-game since Week 7. He'll have a good opportunity to repeat his seven-catch performance from last week versus a Titans Defense that has allowed the seventh-most points to the TE position this season. They were burned by Jack Doyle (6/73/1) and Travis Kelce (7/75/1) in recent weeks, while Waller has remained the favored target of Derek Carr all season long. With Josh Jacobs questionable for Sunday's game, the offense may need to rely on the air attack to win this game, which would be excellent news for Waller owners. Treat the 26-year-old as a high-volume TE1 for Week 14.

From RotoBaller

Tyrell Williams Dec 5 9:50pm ET

Oakland Raiders wide receiver Tyrell Williams is coming off his worst game of the season (1/9/0), and his Week 14 matchup doesn't appear that encouraging either. The Titans have allowed the sixth-most passing yards in the league (260.1 YPG), but have kept opposing WRs out of the end zone in five of their last seven contests. Quarterback Derek Carr has also struggled of late, which has limited Williams to five consecutive games without a score and no 100-yard games since Week 1. Treat the veteran as a WR4 as we enter the first week of fantasy playoffs.

From RotoBaller

Derek Carr Dec 5 9:30pm ET

Oakland Raiders quarterback Derek Carr is coming off back-to-back underwhelming performances as the Tennessee Titans come to town for a pivotal matchup this weekend. With both teams in the hunt for a Wild Card spot, the Raiders will need Carr to improve on his recent play with Josh Jacobs questionable for this Sunday. The Titans give up the sixth-most passing yards in the league (260.1 YPG), but have only allowed opposing quarterbacks to reach 20+ fantasy points three times through 13 games. Carr has just two of these games to his credit this season, so the stars aren't exactly aligning for a big performance. With a 3:4 TD to INT ratio over his past four games, treat the veteran as a low-end QB2 for Week 14.

From RotoBaller

Gerald Everett Dec 5 8:40pm ET

Los Angeles Rams tight end Gerald Everett (knee) missed his second straight practice this week on Thursday. Everett is on his way to missing his second straight game unless he can return to practice on Friday. If you've been using Everett at the tight end spot, you need to look elsewhere in the first week of the fantasy playoffs. Tyler Higbee filled in admirably in a great matchup against Arizona last weekend and went for over 100 yards and a touchdown. He'd be on the TE1/2 borderline again in Week 14 against the Seahawks on Sunday night if Everett misses another game.

From RotoBaller

New Orleans Saints Dec 5 8:10pm ET

The New Orleans Saints Defense will face off with Jimmy Garoppolo and the San Francisco 49ers in Week 14. The Saints are coming off an excellent Thanksgiving night performance where they recorded nine sacks, two interceptions and a forced fumble. New Orleans may have trouble repeating this effort against the 49ers, considering they've allowed the seventh-fewest fantasy points to opposing defenses. San Francisco also ranks 12th in adjusted sack rate and have given up the 10th-fewest sacks in the league. There are better options out there than New Orleans this week.

From RotoBaller

Wil Lutz Dec 5 7:20pm ET

New Orleans Saints kicker Wil Lutz will face the San Francisco 49ers in Week 14. Lutz is on fire, having made at least two field goals in four straight games and at least two extra points in three of the last four. San Francisco is a stingy defense that doesn't allow many trips to the red zone. Still, New Orleans should be able to get within Lutz's range several times this game. Stick with the hot hand and start him as a high-end kicking option this week.

From RotoBaller

Tony Pollard Dec 5 7:10pm ET

Dallas Cowboys rookie running back Tony Pollard (ankle) has been ruled out for Thursday night against the Bears. Pollard missed two days of practice this week, so he was on the wrong side of questionable to begin with. Ezekiel Elliott has been the bell-cow back all season, so Pollard, 22, has just 58 carries for 264 yards and one touchdown on the season in 11 games. He has no standalone fantasy value unless Zeke gets hurt. Elliott's fantasy outlook as an RB1 against Chicago will not change with Pollard inactive. Fullback Jamize Olawale will serve as Elliott's backup for this one.

From RotoBaller

Jared Cook Dec 5 7:10pm ET

New Orleans Saints tight end Jared Cook gets a tough Week 14 matchup against the San Francisco 49ers. The 32-year-old is on a roll, having surpassed 70 receiving yards in three of his last four games. Now he'll get to face the 49ers' league-best pass defense. It will be a very tough matchup for Cook, as the 49ers allow the fewest fantasy points per game to opposing tight ends. Still, his involvement in the offense lately, 6.5 targets per game in his last four, makes him start-worthy even against this defense. It's risky, but so are a lot of other streaming options at the tight end position.

From RotoBaller

JuJu Smith-Schuster Dec 5 5:40pm ET

Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster (knee) missed his second straight practice this week on Thursday. Smith-Schuster is unlikely to play again this weekend against the Cardinals and could be sidelined again in Week 15 if his knee injury does not improve. In an offense now run by quarterback Devlin Hodges, Smith-Schuster won't be anything more than a low-upside WR3 if he's active during the fantasy playoffs. James Washington has become a WR3 in Smith-Schuster's absence, but a projected low target share doesn't bode well for his chances of helping fantasy owners. Diontae Johnson (illness), who returned to a full practice on Thursday, will be the No. 2 behind Washington.

From RotoBaller

Jamaal Williams Dec 5 4:50pm ET

Green Bay Packers running back Jamaal Williams (knee) and tight end Jimmy Graham (calf, wrist) were both limited in practice on Thursday. Williams is a new addition to the injury report for Week 14 against the Redskins, so we'll have to keep an eye on his status on Friday. Williams has maintained RB3 value for fantasy owners alongside Aaron Jones, but his status may be in doubt this weekend. Jones would have RB1 upside if he has this backfield all to himself in a great matchup. Graham should be able to play, but he's become an unattractive touchdown-dependent TE2 with a low target floor. He hasn't scored since Oct. 20 and has a combined four catches the last three games.

From RotoBaller

Deebo Samuel Dec 5 4:40pm ET

San Francisco 49ers running back Matt Breida (ankle) and wide receivers Deebo Samuel (shoulder) and Emmanuel Sanders (ribs) are practicing in full on Thursday. Breida is the big one, as he hasn't played since Nov. 11 against the Seahawks. His return will make it hard to trust anyone in San Fran's backfield, which includes Tevin Coleman and Raheem Mostert. Jeffery Wilson could be a healthy scratch with Breida back in Week 14 to face the Bills in a tough matchup. Samuel and Sanders are good to go as well. Samuel has become the better fantasy wideout over Sanders, but the rookie is still a boom/bust WR3 for fantasy owners in this run-first offense.

From RotoBaller