Thu Oct 10 7:43pm ET
By DENNIS WASZAK Jr.
AP Pro Football Writer
In this Sept. 8, 2019, file photo, New York Jets quarterback Sam Darnold (14) throws a pass during the second half of an NFL football game against the Buffalo Bills, in East Rutherford, N.J. Darnold has been cleared by doctors to play this week after he missed three games while recovering from mononucleosis. The Jets announced in a Twitter post that Darnold will start Sunday at home against Dallas. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig, File)
FLORHAM PARK, N.J. (AP) Sam Darnold stepped to the podium as the New York Jets' starting quarterback again, his once-swollen spleen no longer keeping him from playing in a game.
Nearly a month of medical tests, tough questions, major concerns and big-time frustration is over.
And so is Darnold's time on the sideline.
''The spleen is good, finally,'' a smiling Darnold said Thursday. ''I finally get to wear a white jersey out there and be part of the team. It's been good to be back officially and get some practices under my belt.''
Darnold will start Sunday at home against Dallas, his first game since the season opener. A bout with mononucleosis sidelined him for three games after being diagnosed on Sept. 11. He was cleared by doctors Monday to play in a game, and Darnold has no concerns about getting back out on the field - with Cowboys defenders looking to make for a rough return.
''When I'm out there playing, I'm not worried about guys hitting me or anything,'' Darnold said. ''I'm trusting the guys up front to do their thing and I'm trusting the receivers to get open when it's time to pass the ball. For me, it's all about trust.
''When I do get hit, I know I'm not in danger anymore. They're letting me go out there and play because it's safe, so I'm not worried about that.''
Darnold will wear customized protective padding around his ribs/spleen area - likely for the rest of the season - just as a precaution. He said it's not restrictive, and will surely give him peace of mind.
The 0-4 Jets have struggled mightily without their starting quarterback, failing to generate much in his absence. Trevor Siemian started the second game of the season, but was lost for the season with an ankle injury, so third-stringer Luke Falk was under center the past two games - as New York rolled up a total of just 233 yards combined.
''You are what your record says you are and right now we aren't a very good offense,'' offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains said. ''Sam is not a magic wand. He is a really good player that is going to lift the execution of this team and he is a really gifted player with the ball in his hands and we are really excited to have him.
''But there are still things that we need to clean up, fundamentally and technically, to make sure the other 10 guys are doing their jobs the right way.''
The offensive line has allowed an NFL-worst 23 sacks, including 10 last week at Philadelphia. Falk, in a tough spot after being merely a practice squad quarterback until Week 2, held on to the ball too long at times. He had no chance to do anything at others.
''Yeah, he should be good, we should not have him dying on the field,'' coach Adam Gase joked of Darnold. ''We need to do a better job protecting the quarterback and we need to get the ball out on time, we need to run the right routes, it's got to be the right play call.''
That combination of errors so far has affected the entire operation of the offense, from Le'Veon Bell and the running backs to the wide receivers and tight ends. The Jets rank last in the NFL in total offense.
Darnold now is being looked at by some as a savior of sorts, someone who'll immediately get everything back on track.
The 22-year-old quarterback is keeping things in perspective, though.
''For me, it's all about staying within myself,'' he said. ''Not doing too much.''
The comeback nearly happened last week at Philadelphia as Darnold went through two days of practices running the first-team offense. But a medical test last Thursday night confirmed he wasn't yet healthy enough to play.
''When you're out that long,'' he said, ''you realize how awesome the game is because you miss it so much.''
Now, he'll be able to knock the rust off for real, with a chance to get the Jets in the win column for the first time this season.
''Having a couple of weeks of practice under my belt is a good thing,'' Darnold said. ''It's definitely going to help, but there's nothing like Sunday. Playing the first couple of series will be a little bit of a shock to the system, you could say, but I think I'm going to be ready.
''And hopefully, after those couple of series, I think, I'll feel right at home.''
NOTES: LB C.J. Mosley (groin), DE Henry Anderson (shoulder), LG Kelechi Osemele (shoulder/knee/illness) and RB-KR Trenton Cannon (foot/ankle) didn't practice. ... CB Nate Hairston (knee) was limited after not practicing Wednesday. Also limited were LB Jordan Jenkins (calf), DL Quinnen Williams (ankle) and WRs Josh Bellamy (shoulder) and Demaryius Thomas (hamstring/knee). ... S Jamal Adams won his appeal of his $21,056 fine by the NFL for his hit on Browns QB Baker Mayfield in Week 2. ''I knew I was going to win it because it was legal,'' Adams said of the hit. He added that with the money he'll be able to keep, he'll spend it to buy his mother Michelle a gift for her birthday - which was also Thursday.
Cleveland Browns tight end David Njoku is tentatively expected to suit up for his team's Week 12 matchup against the Miami Dolphins. Njoku has been on injured reserve since he broke his wrist against the New York Jets back in Week 2. If he does end up playing, Njoku can be treated as a low-end TE1 for fantasy purposes on a weekend where many of the top tight end options are on bye, including Travis Kelce and Hunter Henry. Miami's pass defense has been average against tight ends this season, allowing the 15th-most fantasy points per game to the position. That being said, the Browns should spend plenty of time in the red zone in this contest, a part of the field where Njoku excels.
The Cleveland Browns Defense draws a fantastic home matchup against the Miami Dolphins in Week 12. Cleveland enters this weekend installed as 10.5-point home favorites against a Miami offense that is allowing the third-most fantasy points per game to fantasy defenses. Even though Cleveland will be without Myles Garrett, they should still have little trouble limiting a turnover-prone Dolphins offense led by Ryan Fitzpatrick. Fire up the Browns defense in all fantasy formats for Week 12.
San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders (ribs) was a limited practice participant on Thursday and is currently listed as questionable for Week 12. It's looking like he could end up being a game-time decision and, unfortunately, the team has a Sunday night game against the Packers, so owners might need to make a decision on him earlier than they'd like. The Packers have ranked amongst the bottom third of the league in pass defense, so there will be solid opportunities for whichever 49ers receivers are available. Sanders has the upside to deliver around six catches and between 80 and 100 yards with solid touchdown potential if he goes in Week 12.
Cleveland Browns wide receiver Jarvis Landry brings a three-game touchdown streak into a Week 12 matchup against the Miami Dolphins. While teammate Odell Beckham Jr. gets most of the headlines, Landry has quietly been the more consistent fantasy producer this season. He will take on a Miami pass defense that has struggled to contain opposing wideouts, ranking last in the league in DVOA and having allowed the ninth-most fantasy points per game to the position. Treat Landry as a solid WR2 in all fantasy formats for Week 12.
San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo has thrown four touchdown passes in two of his past three games. This week, Garoppolo and the 49ers face the Packers and there's a chance he'll have the team's top receiver Emmanuel Sanders (ribs) and tight end George Kittle (knee) back for the game. Both players are currently questionable and could end up being game-time decisions. The Packers rank amongst the ten worst passing defenses in the league, allowing around 258 passing yards per game. The 49ers have struggled to run the ball lately, so Garoppolo could be tasked with throwing a good amount. His upside is compromised if Sanders or Kittle or both are out, but he's a viable low-end QB1 start this week regardless.
Cleveland Browns running back Kareem Hunt draws a beautiful Week 12 matchup against a weak Miami Dolphins run defense. Miami ranks 29th in the league in run defense DVOA and is allowing the sixth-most fantasy points per game to the running back position. Hunt has been busy in the passing game in his two contests with the Browns, hauling in 13 of 17 targets for 90 yards. There is some concern that the Browns jump out to a big lead and lean run-heavy in the second half but Hunt could see a sizable workload on the ground if the team decides to give starter Nick Chubb a break. Treat Hunt as an RB2 in PPR leagues and a solid flex option in standard formats for Week 12.
Cleveland Browns wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. has only one touchdown in his first season with his new team, although he came close to scoring on a few occasions in Week 11. He draws a fantastic Week 12 matchup against a leaky Miami Dolphins secondary that ranks last in the league in pass defense DVOA. Beckham is primed to break out in Week 12, making him a projected WR1 in fantasy for the first time in a few months. Start Beckham in all formats in what could very well be his best performance of the entire season.
Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield has been trending up in recent weeks after a brutal start to the season. He finds himself in a fantastic spot in Week 12 as the Browns welcome the Miami Dolphins to Cleveland. Miami's defense has struggled to stop the pass this season, ranking dead last in the league in pass defense DVOA while allowing the fifth-most fantasy points per game to the quarterback position. Mayfield can be trusted as a mid-range QB1 in fantasy for Week 12.
Green Bay Packers tight end Jimmy Graham will square off with the San Francisco 49ers in Week 12. Graham was given veteran's rest again this week so that coupled with the Week 11 bye should have him feeling well-rested ahead of a clash with the league's best pass defense. The 32-year-old has gone over 50 receiving yards three times this year and has caught three touchdowns in 10 games. Graham will find it difficult to accomplish either feat this week. San Francisco has allowed the fewest receiving yards to tight ends and have only surrendered two touchdowns to tight ends in 10 games. Graham is a TE2 at best this week.
Cleveland Browns running back Nick Chubb draws a dream matchup against the Miami Dolphins in Week 12. Chubb will take on a Miami run defense that ranks 29th in the league in DVOA and is allowing the sixth-most fantasy points per game to the position. While Chubb has lost some passing game work since Kareem Hunt returned from suspension, the Browns should jump out to a big lead, thus giving Chubb a positive game script in the second half. Treat Chubb as a top-five fantasy running back in Week 12.
Green Bay Packers wide receiver Geronimo Allison isn't a recommended option against the San Francisco 49ers in Week 12. Allison has topped 50 receiving yards once this year and has just two receiving touchdowns in 10 games. The silver lining is the fact that the 25-year-old has been on the field for at least 63 percent of the snaps in the last three games, so he hasn't lost any playing time. Considering the 49ers allow the fewest passing yards in the league, this doesn't feel like a game where Allison will get going.
Green Bay Packers wide receiver Marquez Valdes-Scantling can't be trusted for fantasy purposes right now ahead of a Week 12 matchup with the San Francisco 49ers' number-one pass defense. In Week 10 against the Carolina Panthers, the 25-year-old was held without a catch and played a season-low 17 percent of the snaps. Valdes-Scantling put up 6-99-1 and 2-133-1 receiving lines this year, but those games feel very far away at the moment. He should be on fantasy benches until he gives us a reason to trust him again.
Green Bay Packers wide receiver Davante Adams will square off with the San Francisco 49ers' number-one pass defense in Week 12. Green Bay isn't taking any chances with their star wide receiver's health, as they've limited Adams' practice reps in both sessions this week. With practice and bye week rest, Adams will be good to go for Week 12 and has averaged 9.5 targets per game in six games played. The 49ers rank seventh in fantasy points allowed to wide receivers. Even in a matchup like this, Adams is too involved in the offense to be concerned. Start him as a WR1.
Green Bay Packers running back Jamaal Williams will take on the San Francisco 49ers in Week 12. Despite fellow back Aaron Jones emerging as a fantasy star, there's still been room for Williams to operate most weeks. The 24-year-old has averaged 10 touches per game in nine games played and has a team-leading five receiving touchdowns. San Francisco's defense ranks first against the pass but just 20th against the run. Through Week 12, opposing backs have averaged 22 touches per game against the 49ers. Williams may get less rushing attempts than Jones, but he could operate as a safety valve for Aaron Rodgers out of the backfield. It's risky, but Williams can be used in the flex spot this week.
Green Bay Packers running back Aaron Jones will face the San Francisco 49ers in Week 12. Fantasy's RB4 through 12 weeks is rested coming off the Week 11 bye. On paper, the 49ers seem like the toughest test of the year for Jones. They are elite, but their number-one pass defense has been the tough shell to the soft underbelly of their 20th-ranked rushing defense. In the 49ers' past five games, each opposing back tallied at least 15 touches and all but one eclipsed 80 scrimmage yards. Green Bay will look to establish the run early and often, rather than throwing into the teeth of a stingy defense. There is some risk, but Jones should be started as an RB1 this week.
Houston Texans wide receiver Kenny Stills recorded just one catch for six yards during the Thursday night win over the Indianapolis Colts. Stills logged his worst performance of the year and was a victim from a production standpoint by the return of Will Fuller (hamstring), who missed the team's previous three games. He likely has a few more decent performances left in the tank between now and the end of the season, but his potential will continue to be relegated by Fuller's presence in the lineup moving ahead.
Houston Texans wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins played well against the Colts on Thursday night, finishing things up with six catches for 94 yards and two touchdowns. After recording just two scores during the first six games of the year, the 27-year-old has turned it up as of late by visiting the end zone in three of his last five games. Hopkins continues to get his looks from quarterback Deshaun Watson, and besides Michael Thomas, he remains the most efficient fantasy wide receiver in the league. He will look to keep things going against a rough Patriots Defense in Week 13.
Houston Texans wide receiver Will Fuller was targeted 11 times during the win over the Colts, finishing with seven catches for 140 yards. After accumulating 217 yards and three touchdowns against the Falcons in Week 5, Fuller fizzled in his previous two contests coming into Thursday night, so this performance was a step in the right direction. Fantasy managers shouldn't expect this type of production consistently moving ahead, especially in Week 13 against a tough Patriots Defense, but the ceiling is always high when the matchup is in his favor, as long as he can stay healthy and on the field.
Houston Texans running back Duke Johnson finished with 22 yards on five carries to go along with one catch for eight yards during the win over the Colts on Thursday night. This was yet another disappointing performance from the 26-year-old, who has now recorded just three receptions over the last two games. While he may have a few more games where he catches four or five passes, his ability to get it done on the ground will continue to be relegated by Carlos Hyde, who is averaging 16 touches per outing on the year. For those who are desperate, Johnson does have the potential to score from a week-to-week basis but don't hold your breath waiting for consistent production.
Houston Texans running back Carlos Hyde Ran for 67 yards on 16 carries during the win over the Colts on Thursday night. This was a routine performance from the 29-year-old, who is averaging 76 yards on 16 touches per game this season, and while he has only four touchdowns on the year, he is well on his way to the first 1,000-yard rushing season of his career. With this game in the books, Hyde will have a tough matchup in Week 13 against the top-ranked Patriots Defense.