Wed Nov 13 4:24pm ET
By DAVID GINSBURG
AP Sports Writer
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.
Cleared from concussion protocol, Miami Dolphins wide receiver Albert Wilson didn't do much for those owners who took a chance on the speedy wide receiver ahead of a prime matchup with a bad Giants Defense. Wilson's eight targets led all Dolphins wide receivers and he managed to convert five of them for a total of 59 yards, finishing his day with just five points in standard leagues. Even with a matchup in Week 16 against the hapless Bengals, Wilson is only a desperation play for those fighting for a fantasy championship.
Green Bay Packers wide receiver Davante Adams caught seven of 13 targets for 103 yards and a touchdown in a 21-13 win over the Chicago Bears. Adams hesitated on his route, then left Bears corner Buster Skrine in the dust for a 29-yard score. A great day could have been even better for Adams, if not for a few uncharacteristic drops. Still, Adams saw double-digit targets for the sixth time this year and remains Aaron Rodgers' most trustworthy receiver. He'll get a good matchup for fantasy receivers in Week 16 against the Minnesota Vikings.
Miami Dolphins quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick turned in another solid performance in a losing effort on Sunday, throwing for 279 yards and two touchdowns in a 36-20 loss to the New York Giants. Fitzpatrick didnt throw an interception for the first time in more than a month but still managed to contribute a brutal turnover, fumbling on Miamis first drive of the second half after New York had just taken the lead with a touchdown. Fitzpatrick finished with 19 points on the day, rewarding the many who took a chance on the veteran even with as their playoff hopes were on the line. He'll have another solid matchup in Week 16, as the Cincinnati Bengals come to town in a battle of two of the NFL's worst teams.
Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Sammy Watkins was overshadowed by teammates Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce during the Week 15 win. Watkins caught three of four targets for 49 yards in the win over the Broncos. Hill and Kelce are going to continue to be the favorite targets in KC. Watkins should be considered a boom-or-bust WR3 for his Week 16 matchup with the Bears. Watkins has some fantasy value, but hasn't caught a touchdown since Week 1.
Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Mecole Hardman has shown the ability to make big plays, but has been lost in the shuffle lately. Having both Tyreek Hill and Sammy Watkins back healthy has basically killed Hardman's fantasy value. He saw two targets and caught one of them for 10 yards in the Week 15 win over the Broncos. Hardman has seen three total targets over the last three games. He belongs on the bench or waiver wire in most formats at this point. He'll be a boom-or-bust WR5 for his matchup with the Bears in Week 16.
The last man standing in the backfield, Miami Dolphins running back Patrick Laird was a non-factor in fantasy on Sunday, rushing for 46 yards and scoring just four points in standard leagues. Laird was even more ineffective in the passing game, catching two of his five targets for eight yards. In theory, Laird will have a better matchup in Week 16, facing a Cincinnati defense thats allowing the seventh-most points to running backs this season but its not as if the Giants were that much better, having had allowed the 15th-most prior to the matchup with Miami. Even facing the one-win Bengals, Laird is only a desperate play with fantasy championships on the line.
Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce has been arguably the best tight end in the NFL this season. He absolutely destroyed the Broncos Defense during the Week 15 matchup Kelce caught 11 of 13 targets for 142 yards in the 23-3 win over Denver. Kelce surpassed 1,000 receiving yards for the season during that contest. Kelce is going to continue to be an elite PPR TE1 for his matchup with the Bears next week.
Carolina Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey had a day despite his team falling to the Seahawks on Sunday, finishing with 87 yards on 19 carries, while also adding eight catches for 88 yards. After failing to score a touchdown in either of his previous two outings, the 23-year-old also racked up his 15th and 16th score of the season in this one. Though the team has nothing left to play for this year, McCaffrey should remain active over the next two games as he attempts to hit 1,000 yards on both the ground and through the air.
Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Tyreek Hill had no issues in the 23-3 victory over the Broncos in Week 15. Hill caught five of his seven targets for 67 yards and two touchdowns. His first touchdown came on a 41-yard play where Hill completely destroyed Broncos' Chris Harris. The snowy conditions can't even hold back Hill. Fantasy owners should feel comfortable with Hill as a WR1 for their matchup with the Bears next week.
Green Bay Packers running back Jamaal Williams was held to 26 rushing yards on eight totes and one catch for seven yards in a 21-13 win over the Chicago Bears. Williams, like Aaron Jones, couldn't find much room to operate between the 20s against Akiem Hicks and the Bears Defense. Unfortunately for the 24-year-old, Jones out-touched him 13-nine and scored twice in the red zone. It's also worth noting that Williams has seen only two targets the last two weeks after seeing 12 in Weeks 11 and 12. He'll look to bounce back in a tough matchup next week against the Minnesota Vikings.
Kansas City Chiefs running back Spencer Ware was signed by the team roughly two weeks ago and is already making an impact on the field. Ware rushed seven times for 26 yards in the victory over the Denver Broncos. However, the Chiefs have a running back committee, so Ware has handcuffed fantasy value. Both LeSean McCoy and Darwin Thompson are going to see carries each week. He's not someone worth owning in basically any format. He'll have a tough matchup against the Bears Defense in Week 16.
Minnesota Vikings running back Dalvin Cook (shoulder) has left the game and will not return after being tackled on a third-quarter run. He landed hard on the shoulder/chest area that has been giving him trouble in the last few weeks and will be held out for the remainder of the contest. With Alexander Mattison (ankle) also out, the backfield duties will now be split between Ameer Abdullah and Mike Boone in the second half. Cook had nine carries for 27 yards and three catches for 16 yards before exiting.
New England Patriots wide receiver Mohamed Sanu caught two passes for only 13 yards in the Patriots 34-13 win over the Bengals. Sanu has been battling an ankle injury over the past few weeks and does not look 100%. Add to that the fact that Sanu is acclimating himself into a new offense and his fantasy value has fallen off the map. The veteran has very little value at present with only two games remaining in the season.
Kansas City Chiefs running back Darwin Thompson surprisingly led the team in carries during the Week 15 win over the Denver Broncos. He rushed eight times for 38 yards and caught one pass for one yard through the air. It appears the Chiefs are beginning to feel more comfortable with Thompson. However, LeSean McCoy and Spencer Ware will continue to be worked into the backfield. Thompson will have shaky RB3 or most likely RB4 value against the Bears next week.
The New England Patriots Defense picked off Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton four times in the team's 34-13 win in Week 15. The Patriots gave up an early touchdown but stiffened up from there as they dominated the rest of the game. Stephen Gilmore and J.C. Jackson recorded two interceptions each as the Patriots got a much-need win against a poor Bengals team. The defense now prepares for a huge game against a division rival, the Bills, next Saturday to kick off Week 16.
Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver John Ross had just two catches for 24 yards during the loss to the Patriots on Sunday. Ross was only targeted three times on a day where Andy Dalton threw four interceptions. Since returning to the lineup after suffering a chest injury earlier in the season, the 24-year-old has only four receptions for 52 yards. He still has a shot to get things going over the team's final two games, but that chance could diminish if A.J. Green (ankle) returns at some point during that span.
Green Bay Packers running back Aaron Jones carried the ball 13 times for 51 rushing yards with two touchdowns and wasn't targeted in a 21-13 win over the Chicago Bears. The Bears are a much better run defense with Akiem Hicks in the lineup, as they stifled Jones between the 20s. Jones broke free in the red zone twice, including a 21-yard run in the third quarter, complete with broken tackles. It wasn't the most productive day on the ground or through the air for Jones, but his nose for the end zone, 17 touchdowns this year, has made up for many sub-par days- and turned good outings into great ones. Up next is a Week 15 matchup with the Minnesota Vikings, who Jones gashed for 150 scrimmage yards and a touchdown back in Week 2.
Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes was able to bounce back after three straight mediocre performances. Mahomes completed 27 of 34 passing attempts for 340 yards and two touchdowns and one interception in the Week 15 victory. It wasn't a perfect game for Mahomes, but it was in snowy conditions. He was able to play very well despite the frustrating field conditions. Fantasy owners should feel confident that Mahomes will be a top tier option against the Bears in Week 16.
New England Patriots running back James White totaled only 62 yards from scrimmage but caught and ran for a 23-yard touchdown in the Patriots win over the Bengals in Week 15. The Patriots coasted to victory after a tight first half and explosive plays simply were not on the menu in this contest. White has been a disappointment in fantasy this season but his impact on the offense over the last month continues to increase. Of all the runners in the Patriots backfield, White is the one to deploy in fantasy lineups over the final few weeks.
New England Patriots wide receiver N'Keal Harry caught two passes for 15 yards with one touchdown in the Patriots 34-13 win over the Bengals. The rookie saw only four targets in the game and continues to be a raw talent in an experienced offense. But Harry has proved to be a threat in the red zone and capitalized on his size for a seven-yard touchdown reception. Harry's fantasy value should be reserved for dynasty and keeper leagues the rest of this season.