Wed Sep 11 7:07pm ET
By SCHUYLER DIXON
AP Pro Football Writer
Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott (21) reaches up to catch a pass in the first half of a NFL football game against the New York Giants in Arlington, Texas, Sunday, Sept. 8, 2019. (AP Photo/Michael Ainsworth)
Dallas Cowboys' Ezekiel Elliott (21) smilers after giving away the ball he ran for a touchdown in the second half of a NFL football game against the New York Giants in Arlington, Texas, Sunday, Sept. 8, 2019. (AP Photo/Ron Jenkins)
New York Giants' Alec Ogletree, left, and Janoris Jenkins (20) are unable to stop Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott (21) from reaching the end zone for a touchdown in the second half of a NFL football game in Arlington, Texas, Sunday, Sept. 8, 2019. (AP Photo/Michael Ainsworth)
Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott (21) runs the ball as New York Giants cornerback Janoris Jenkins (20) defends in the first half of a NFL football game in Arlington, Texas, Sunday, Sept. 8, 2019. (AP Photo/Ron Jenkins)
FRISCO, Texas (AP) Ezekiel Elliott is used to twice the load he carried in the opener for the Dallas Cowboys after the star running back missed the entire preseason in a holdout.
The two-time rushing champion says he never had a moment in the 35-17 win over the New York Giants where he felt he wasn't quite ready for game speed, and Elliott isn't the type to say he would prefer another incremental step to a full workload at Washington (0-1) on Sunday.
''I think I'm ready now for a normal workload,'' Elliott said Wednesday. ''It just depends on how ... (the coaches) are feeling on Sunday. But if they ask, I'll be able to go out there and do it.''
There were a few moments against the Giants when Elliott didn't look quite like himself, including in the third quarter on a 2-yard run when there appeared to be room for more. Not long after, though, Elliott had a seam on the left side and took his final carry 10 yards for a touchdown.
Elliott, who averaged 25 touches per game during his first three seasons, had 13 carries for 53 yards and one catch for 10 against New York while playing 54% of the snaps (37 of 68).
His first practice was four days before the game, the same day he signed a $90 million, six-year contract extension that could keep him in Dallas through 2026. Coach Jason Garrett said his snap count was almost 30 at halftime, and the Cowboys (1-0) didn't want to go much beyond that.
''I thought he did a really good job in the game,'' coach Jason Garrett said. ''There's no question he kept himself in really good shape. His weight was good. And for the time that he missed, I thought he handled the work really well.''
It's not the first time Elliott has started the season without playing a snap in the preseason - he did that last year. And it's not the first time he has faced a quick turnaround to a game after working out on his own in Mexico - he did that two years ago during a six-game suspension.
But it was the first time Elliott had played without any practice in training camp.
''It was a little weird jumping right into things, not having camp and having to adjust,'' he said.
The Cowboys had the luxury of sitting Elliott the entire fourth quarter because his TD gave Dallas a 35-10 lead late in the third. Rookie Tony Pollard had just 13 yards on nine carries in the fourth and finished with 24 yards on 13 rushes.
''I think I could have been in there a little bit more,'' said Elliott, whose 14 touches were just one more than his career low. ''But we had a certain plan and we're going to keep taking steps toward it.''
Garrett probably won't offer much insight into that plan before the Cowboys play the Redskins.
''We'll just see how he practices, see how he comes out of the game,'' Garrett said the day after the New York game.
Elliott said his soreness was ''tolerable,'' and that the process to get himself in game shape continues.
''Just getting as many full speed football looks as you can,'' Elliott said. ''It's kinda hard to simulate in practice, but I'm doing everything I can on my end to put myself in those football situations and get used to them.''
NOTES: WR Tavon Austin missed practice Wednesday because of concussion symptoms. ... DE Tyrone Crawford also was out as he manages a hip issue from the offseason. Crawford played 43% of the snaps against the Giants.
Green Bay Packers head coach Matt LaFleur said that he wants to keep running back Aaron Jones fresh throughout the season and wants to "even up" touches between Jones and Jamaal Williams. LaFleur thinks the balance will change week to week. It's something to keep an eye on, but it shouldn't deter you from starting Jones this week at home against the Broncos, where he'll be a low-end RB1/high-end RB2. Jones had a career-high 23 carries for 116 yards and a touchdown in Week 2, while Williams ran the ball nine times. Jones had six targets in the passing game (four catches) while Williams had four (three catches). Williams is a necessary handcuff for Jones owners.
Kansas City Chiefs running back Damien Williams (knee) won't practice on Wednesday, while the plan is for running back LeSean McCoy (ankle) to get in some limited work. Both running backs should be considered questionable to play in Week 3 against the Ravens right now. If one or both sit out this Sunday, rookie Darwin Thompson and Darrel Williams would be thrust into larger roles. As of now, both Williams and McCoy should be seen as risky RB3/flex plays in KC's home opener.
Kansas City Chiefs left tackle Eric Fisher (abdomen) will undergo core muscle surgery and will not play in Week 3 against the Ravens. Cam Erving will start in Fisher's place on Sunday. It's a notable downgrade against a good defense in Baltimore, but quarterback Patrick Mahomes remains an elite QB1 for fantasy owners. It remains to be seen how long Fisher will be out, but he should be expected to miss multiple weeks at the very least.
The Philadelphia Eagles Defense is not a particularly exciting option in a Week 3 matchup against the Detroit Lions. The Eagles defense came into the season with a lot of hype but have been mostly disappointing through the first two weeks. With two of the Eagles' top offensive playmakers likely to miss the game, the defense may end up tasked with a bit more work than usual. They're likely to end up as a middling option, so they're certainly not a unit to avoid, but they aren't one to get excited about this week either.
San Francisco 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan said that the team planned to use running back Jeffery Wilson in the red zone in Week 2. "I wouldn't say he's our designated red-zone back, but that was how we planned going into the game... We tried to do that when we got down there," Shanahan said. Of San Francisco's six rushing attempts inside the red zone in Week 2, Wilson had five of them and scored twice. All three of Wilson, Matt Breida and Raheem Mostert had double-digit carries, but the team was also up big on Cincinnati for most of the game. It looks like the Niners will employ this three-man committee with Tevin Coleman out, making it difficult to trust any one player in fantasy. Wilson will be a touchdown-dependent RB3/flex against the Steelers.
Philadelphia Eagles tight end Zach Ertz is set for what could potentially be an enormous Week 3 performance. Ertz saw 16 targets from quarterback Carson Wentz in Week 2 and could be in line for a similar number or perhaps even more against Detroit in Week 3. With top receiving options DeSean Jackson (groin) and Alshon Jeffery (calf) trending toward sitting out on Sunday, Ertz will be the clear top target in the passing game. He's a threat to score every week, and is almost always a top-three tight end option. This week, he has the highest floor of any tight end and one of the highest ceilings.
Philadelphia Eagles kicker Jake Elliott is looking like a strong option in a Week 3 matchup against the Detroit Lions. Elliott is always a solid and consistent option, but with the Eagles expected to be missing two of their top playmakers on Sunday, Elliott may see a few more field goal attempts as the passing game stalls out. He's a top-eight kicking option nearly every week, but looking like a top-five option in Week 3.
New York Giants wide receiver Cody Latimer (concussion) is not practicing on Wednesday. Latimer suffered a concussion in Week 2 and is looking very questionable to play in Week 3 against the Buccaneers. With Sterling Shepard also still in the concussion protocol, rookie quarterback Daniel Jones might be looking at a receiving corps of Bennie Fowler, Russell Shepard and T.J. Jones in his NFL debut this Sunday. Unless Sterling Shepard plays this weekend, expect the Giants to hand the ball off frequently to running back Saquon Barkley. Latimer wouldn't be a recommended play, even in deeper leagues, if he gets cleared.
Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Nelson Agholor will likely be thrust into an every-down role in Week 3. With top wide receivers DeSean Jackson (groin) and Alshon Jeffery (calf) unlikely to suit up, Agholor will be wide receiver atop the depth chart. He spent the second half in Week 2 in the role, and despite some decent stats (107 yards and a touchdown), he also showed why he's so far behind Jackson and Jeffery when everyone is healthy. Agholor made some totally inexcusable drops when wide open in the second half. Still, he'll likely be peppered with targets from Carson Wentz and even if he drops half of them, he could still end up with seven or eight catches. Agholor is a solid WR3 option with touchdown upside this week.
Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Mack Hollins will likely see an increased offensive role in a Week 3 contest against the Detroit Lions. With top wide receivers Alshon Jeffery and DeSean Jackson both expected to miss at least one game, Hollins will be needed on offense. He's been mostly working on special teams, but he saw plenty of work on offense in the second half last week after Jeffery and Jackson were forced to leave the game. Hollins has flashed his talent in small bursts before, but it will be his first chance to show it throughout a whole game. He has some upside in a strong Eagles offense, but can't be trusted as more than a WR4/5 in most formats.
New York Jets head coach Adam Gase said that wide receiver Demaryius Thomas (hamstring) will not practice on Wednesday. Thomas had just one catch in his debut with the team on Monday night before suffering an injury. He doesn't have a good chance to play in Week 3 against the Patriots, especially since DT hasn't even had a single practice yet with his new team. He's currently off the fantasy radar. Josh Bellamy and Braxton Berrios will fight for the No. 3 duties behind Robby Anderson and Jamison Crowder if Thomas misses this weekend.
Philadelphia Eagles rookie wide receiver J.J. Arcega-Whiteside is suddenly looking at a starting role in Week 3. A preseason hero, Arcega-Whiteside was far behind on the wide receiver depth chart until both Alshon Jeffery and DeSean Jackson got hurt in Week 2. Both were forced to leave the game and Arcega-Whiteside was on the field for almost every offensive snap in the second half. He still only ended up with one catch for four yards, but now with a week of practice under his belt, he should be ready for his expanded role. With only drop-machine Nelson Agholor and special teamer Mack Hollins left in the wide receiver hierarchy, Arcega-Whiteside could be a significant threat in the passing game this week. He's a very risky start, but has some legitimate WR2/3 upside if things go well. At the very least, he should be rostered in most formats by now.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Mike Evans has been very quiet the first two games of the season. In two starts, he's caught only six passes for 89 yards. This is a bit of an anomaly compared to his first five seasons, including last year's first two games, where he compiled 17 receptions for 230 yards. His slow start is not all on him, though. Jameis Winston has struggled and he had a difficult matchup against Carolina Panthers defensive back James Bradberry in his last game and was also battling illness before his first. This all points to a much more positive outing Sunday in Tampa against the struggling New York Giants, who have been gashed every which way so far and should give Evans a serious bounce-back opportunity. He's a locked-in WR1 again regardless of his last two outings. Wipe your memory of the past two weeks and start him with confidence in all formats.
Miami Dolphins wide receiver Albert Wilson (calf) remains out of practice on Wednesday. Wilson aggravated his calf injury in the season opener and sat out of the Week 2 blowout to the Patriots. He's not off on the right foot for Week 3 against the Cowboys. Wilson had some sleeper appeal in PPR leagues coming into the season, but his injury and a putrid Dolphins offense has made him unattractive in most leagues. Even if Wilson returns to the lineup this Sunday, he shouldn't be a starting consideration in most leagues.
Cleveland Browns head coach Freddie Kitchens said that he'd love to give running back Nick Chubb more touches, which would include using him more on third downs in passing situations. Through two games, the second-year back has 35 rushing attempts and has caught seven of his eight targets in the passing game. It's pretty good volume already, but if he gets even more it'll just make him an even stronger RB1 for fantasy owners. Chubb and the Browns face the Rams in Week 3 on Sunday night, where he'll be a strong RB1 yet again.
Buffalo Bills head coach Sean McDermott said that rookie running back Devin Singletary (hamstring) will not practice on Wednesday. Singletary's injury isn't believed to be serious, but his status for Week 3 against the Bengals is in question. If you own Singletary or are hurting at running back, you need to pick Frank Gore up off the waiver wire if he's available. The veteran hasn't looked that great so far in two games, but he'd be the lead back for Buffalo if Singletary was inactive and would have RB3/flex appeal. T.J. Yeldon would also see his role increase as the backup to Gore.
Philadelphia Eagles running back Darren Sproles is not a recommended fantasy option in any format in Week 3. After a somewhat surprisingly productive Week 1, Sproles took an expected step back in Week 2 and recorded just two catches for five yards. He did not record a single carry in Week 2. Sproles is a punt returner and a very occasional pass catcher out of the backfield. He may have some decent fantasy weeks here or there when he happens to find the end zone, but he'll be way too unpredictable to ever be a smart fantasy starter.
Buffalo Bills head coach Sean McDermott said that tight end Tyler Kroft (foot) will practice in full for the first time on Wednesday since breaking his foot in May. Kroft hasn't played yet in 2019, but it looks like he'll make his season debut in Week 3 against his former team in the Bengals. Until we see what kind of role Kroft will have in this offense, it's best to leave him out of starting lineups in fantasy. Rookies Dawson Knox and Tommy Sweeney will take a back seat if Kroft returns.
Philadelphia Eagles running back Corey Clement is not a fantasy option in any format for Week 3. Clement has settled into a special teams role and has seen almost no offensive snaps so far this season. An injury to another running back could potentially thrust Clement into a more significant offensive role, but for now he's almost exclusively a special teams player and one that does not need to be rostered in most formats.
Cleveland Browns wide receiver Rashard Higgins (knee) returned to limited practice on Wednesday. Higgins' knee injury prevented him from playing in his team's Week 2 win over the New York Jets. The receiver's ability to return on Wednesday, even on a limited basis, bodes well for his availability for Cleveland's Week 3 showdown against the Los Angeles Rams. Look for Higgins to slot back into his role as the team's No. 3 wide receiver.