Thu Nov 7 1:37pm ET
By PAT GRAHAM
AP Sports Writer
Denver Broncos quarterback Brandon Allen (2) runs the ball against the Cleveland Browns during the first half of NFL football game, Sunday, Nov. 3, 2019, in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
Denver Broncos wide receiver Diontae Spencer (11) is helped up by teammate Courtland Sutton (14) after fumbling the football against the Cleveland Browns during the first half of NFL football game, Sunday, Nov. 3, 2019, in Denver. The Browns recovered the ball. (AP Photo/Jack Dempsey)
Denver Broncos wide receiver Courtland Sutton (14) is hit by Cleveland Browns cornerback Denzel Ward during the second half of NFL football game Sunday, Nov. 3, 2019, in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
Denver Broncos running back Phillip Lindsay (30) runs for a 30-yard touchdown against the Cleveland Browns during the second half of NFL football game, Sunday, Nov. 3, 2019, in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
Denver Broncos quarterback Brandon Allen (2) throws against the Cleveland Browns during the second half of NFL football game, Sunday, Nov. 3, 2019, in Denver. (AP Photo/Jack Dempsey)
Denver Broncos running back Phillip Lindsay (30) runs as Cleveland Browns linebacker Mack Wilson (51) pursues during the first half of NFL football game, Sunday, Nov. 3, 2019, in Denver. (AP Photo/Jack Dempsey)
DENVER (AP) Brandon Allen's first start for the Denver Broncos nearly rivaled that of Peyton Manning.
It was that efficient. It was that precise.
It may not matter.
The fourth-year quarterback might be only a temporary fix. Allen is caught between the brief Joe Flacco Era and the possible Drew Lock Experiment.
When the Broncos (3-6) resume after the bye week, the rookie Lock figures to be activated off the injured reserve and practice for the first time since jamming his right thumb in the preseason. All signs point toward Allen starting at Minnesota on Nov. 17, especially after he threw for 193 yards and two touchdowns in a 24-19 win over a reeling Cleveland squad. Allen posted a passer rating of 125.6 in that game, which was the third-best for a Broncos quarterback making his first start with the team. Only Manning (129.2) and Brock Osweiler (127.1) were better.
Allen understands the situation. He's rolling with it.
Then again, he's learned the art of patience since being a sixth-round selection by Jacksonville and then getting cut by the Jaguars. He was picked up by the Los Angeles Rams, who ended up waiving him, and finally arrived in Denver on Sept. 1.
''I take everything one day at a time,'' said Allen, who made his first start since guiding Arkansas past Kansas State 45-23 in the Liberty Bowl on Jan. 2, 2016. ''Obviously, we've got a lot of great talent at quarterback on this team. Whatever opportunities I get, I'm going to try to take advantage.''
Allen earned his chance to start when Flacco went on IR with a herniated disk in his neck after a loss at Indianapolis.
Backing up Allen for now is undrafted rookie Brett Rypien, who was promoted from the practice squad.
That all could change next week when the team resumes practice. Lock, the second-round pick out of Missouri, figures to occupy some sort of spot in the QB hierarchy.
The Broncos aren't tipping their hand, though.
''Still up in the air,'' first-year Broncos coach Vic Fangio said.
Denver remains haunted by an offensive line that's allowed 30 sacks (one was on punter Colby Wadman when he attempted a failed fake). And one of the biggest distresses has been the play of left tackle Garett Bolles, the 2017 first-round pick whose number frequently gets called by officials for holding.
''I think Garett kind of plays with more confidence than you think and maybe that is warranted,'' Fangio said. ''It's our job to maximize and make sure we're doing everything possible to develop him. If the guy has talent, we want to maximize every opportunity to develop it.''
There's no real contingent plan for Bolles considering the injury to right tackle Ja'Wuan James (knee), who's given Denver only a handful of snaps for the $32 million in guarantees he signed for.
The shaky line could be a factor why offensive coordinator Rich Scangarello was so conservative with his play-calling early in the season. Flacco called out the rookie coordinator, although not by name, after a loss in Indy when the team took a cautious approach in the latter stages.
With a more mobile Allen running the show last weekend, Scangarello opened up the playbook. He broke out all the modernized elements expected of him since he arrived from San Francisco, even using tailback Phillip Lindsay in the wildcat formation to pick up a first down to close out the win.
What's more, Scangarello got the younger players involved - rookie tight end Noah Fant had a 75-yard score and Courtland Sutton caught a leaping TD pass over a Browns defensive back.
It was that sort of day.
''We need it to be a weekly thing for all of them,'' Fangio said.
The Broncos' defense has been dependable for the most part. Denver is currently ranked fourth in total defense.
Still, Fangio, who oversees the defense, believes there's another level for a unit that's missing Bradley Chubb (torn ACL) and cornerback Bryce Callahan, who signed a three-year, $21 million deal in free agency, only to reinjure his surgically repaired foot in July.
And while teams have double-teamed pass rusher extraordinaire Von Miller - he has four sacks - it's led to opportunities for Derek Wolfe (five sacks) and DeMarcus Walker (four sacks).
''There's no quit in this locker room,'' linebacker Todd Davis said. ''We know what type of team we can be.''
San Francisco 49ers tight end George Kittle (knee) was limited in Thursday's practice and it appears as if he could be headed for a game-time decision in Week 12. The 49ers have the Sunday night game this week, which makes things tough on fantasy owners, but he's a must-start if he's active. If there's no significant news prior to the first set of games on Sunday, owners would be wise to lock up a backup tight end playing Sunday night or Monday night to have on hand in case Kittle is inactive. If he plays, he'll be facing a very vulnerable Packers pass defense and should have the potential to deliver around six catches for close to 100 yards with solid touchdown potential.
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.