Fri Oct 9 3:21pm ET
By MICHAEL MAROT
AP Sports Writer
Indianapolis Colts quarterback Philip Rivers (17) throws while being pressured by Chicago Bears' Akiem Hicks (96) during the first half of an NFL football game Sunday, Oct. 4, 2020, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)
Chicago Bears' David Montgomery (32) is tackled by Indianapolis Colts' Justin Houston (50), Bobby Okereke (58) and Anthony Walker (54) during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Oct. 4, 2020, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)
Indianapolis Colts coach Frank Reich looks at his play chart during the second half of the team's NFL football game against the Chicago Bears, Sunday, Oct. 4, 2020, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)
Chicago Bears quarterback Nick Foles is sacked by Indianapolis Colts' Justin Houston (50) during the second half of an NFL football game Sunday, Oct. 4, 2020, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) The Indianapolis Colts will face the NFL's top-ranked rushing offense without one key starter, linebacker Darius Leonard.
They could be without middle linebacker Anthony Walker, too.
On Friday, coach Frank Reich ruled out Leonard and left tackle Anthony Castonzo for Sunday's game at Cleveland, and acknowledged Walker's status was still uncertain.
''We'll see how he responds to the limited work he got today and make that decision tomorrow,'' Reich said when asked about Walker. ''Obviously, if he can go, we'd love for him to be out there. He's a big part of our defense, a big part of our success and when Darius hasn't played he's had huge, huge games. So hopefully he responds well to the work today.''
The Colts (3-1) have won three straight since an opening-day loss at Jacksonville, and they've done it largely because of their stingy defense.
Indy has given up the fewest yards per game (236.3), the fewest points per game (14.0) and fewest yards passing per game (159.3) while ranking fourth against the run (77.0).
But the Colts deep linebacking corps has been depleted badly by injuries over the past two weeks.
Leonard missed the second half at Chicago after injuring his groin and didn't practice all week. Walker hurt his ankle in Wednesday's practice, sat out Thursday and did limited work Friday. Indy's other starting linebacker, Bobby Okereke, had thumb surgery Tuesday, sat out Wednesday and returned to the practice field Thursday with a protective wrap around his hand.
Even the backups are struggling to stay healthy. E.J. Speed hurt his elbow against Chicago and did limited work Wednesday while being a full participant the next two days. And Matthew Adams went on injured reserve Sept. 26 with an ankle issue.
When Leonard missed three games last year, Reich adapted by moving Walker to outside linebacker and plugged Okereke in at middle linebacker. It could happen again - if both are cleared to play.
Meanwhile, the loss of Castonzo creates a huge void on an offensive line that has started the same five players in a league-high 20 consecutive games. The timing couldn't be worse.
Indy was hoping Castonzo could neutralize one of league's top pass rushers, Browns defensive end Myles Garrett, on Sunday. Instead, that role will likely be filled by veteran Le'Raven Clark.
And it could force the Colts to make additional changes to the game plan.
''We think he (Castonzo) is a great player. So a lot of times in protection, you don't have to help him as much,'' Recih said. ''If you want to keep a guy to help in protection, it comes at the cost of not getting a fifth guy out in the pattern.''
But Reich remains confident that Clark can get the job done.
''I'm excited to see Le'Raven play,'' Reich said. ''I thought he had his best training camp since I've been here. He's looked as good as he's looked the three years I've been here. I think he's going to come in and play well.''
Five Hot Plays: Week 13
New York Giants tight end Evan Engram has been the top-pass catcher in the offense over the last month and will look to keep that momentum in a road date with the Seahawks. Engram has nine-plus targets in four of his last five games and put up a season-high 129 yards last week. New York will likely be starting backup QB Colt McCoy this week, but fantasy managers should still trust Engram's volume given the dearth of startable tight end options. Engram is a must-start tight end in all formats.
Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones (hamstring), running back Todd Gurley II (knee), and tight end Hayden Hurst (ankle) all missed Thursday's practice. All three were able to practice in a limited fashion on Wednesday, so it's certainly not ideal to see a downgrade in their activity levels. Still, the Falcons could just be exercising caution with three important offensive players ahead of a divisional tilt with New Orleans. It is worth noting that Jones and Gurley missed last week's contest due to their injuries. If Jones or Hurst were unable to play, it would open up even more targets for Calvin Ridley (foot, ankle), who has gotten in two limited sessions so far this week. Backups Brian Hill and Ito Smith would operate in a committee if Gurley were to miss the contest.
New York Giants kicker Graham Gano has been solid over the last several games but becomes a risky fantasy start with Big Blue likely starting backup QB Colt McCoy in Seattle. Gano is 5-for-five on 40-plus yard kicks over the last three weeks and hasn't missed a field goal since Week 2. Despite the accuracy, there's the risk the New York offense struggles to put up points making Gano a risky start in fantasy. Most fantasy managers should be able to find a better kicker option on waivers.
The New York Giants Defense has been a solid unit in fantasy in recent weeks, but that ends in Week 13 with a daunting matchup in Seattle. Russell Wilson and company have been one of the best offenses in football this season and New York hasn't been good enough to trust when they have a bad matchup. To make matters worse, the Giants will likely be starting backup QB Colt McCoy which puts the defense at risk to be playing with bad field position most of the afternoon. The Giants defense is not a recommended start in fantasy for this matchup.
New York Jets LB Blake Cashman (hamstrings), OL Alex Lewis (non-injury), DL John Franklin-Myers (non-injury) and RB Frank Gore (non-injury) did not participate in practice Thursday, Dec. 3. OL George Fant (knee, ankle), OL Pat Elflein (shoulder) and WR Breshad Perriman (shoulder) were limited. OL Connor McGovern (elbow), QB Sam Darnold (shoulder) and OL Chuma Edoga (ankle) practiced in full.
Chicago Bears TE Jimmy Graham (non-injury) fully participated in practice Thursday, Dec. 3.
Fantasy Spin: Graham has been held to under 40 yards in seven of his last eight games and can be avoided in most fantasy leagues.
San Francisco 49ers tight end Jordan Reed has seen exactly six targets in each of his past two games. He caught five of his six targets for 62 yards in Week 10, but only managed two catches for 18 yards in Week 12. This week, the 49ers have a favorable matchup against the Buffalo Bills, who are allowing 373.1 yards from scrimmage per game on the year. Reed should see around six targets once again, which gives him a chance to deliver a decent PPR game, but his upside is limited. He shouldn't be started in any non-PPR leagues.
New York Giants running backs Alfred Morris and Dion Lewis have split time as the backup to Wayne Gallman and neither has seen enough work to trust in fantasy. Morris has been the change-of-pace runner, but is yet to see double-digit carries in a game and has just one target on the season. Lewis, on the other hand, has been a passing-downs back and has just one game with more than three carries and that was back in Week 2 when Saquon Barkley (knee) left mid-game. Both can be left on waivers in fantasy.
The 49ers Defense had a fantastic outing in Week 13, forcing four turnovers against the Los Angeles Rams. This week, however, they are in a tough spot as they face a Buffalo Bills team that is averaging 27.2 points per game on the year. While they may end up forcing a few Josh Allen turnovers, the 49ers could surrender around 30 or more points this week, which would make for a rough fantasy week. They can remain on the waiver wire this week as you look for other options.
Las Vegas Raiders S Johnathan Abram (knee), WR Nelson Agholor (ankle), DT Maliek Collins (hamstring, ankle) and RB Josh Jacobs (ankle) did not participate in practice for a second consecutive day Thursday, Dec. 3. CB Damon Arnette (concussion, neck), OG Denzelle Good (ankle), DT Maurice Hurst (ankle, calf), LB Nick Kwiatkoski (ankle), OT Sam Young (knee) and CB Isaiah Johnson (groin) were limited. RB Devontae Booker (back), S Erik Harris (cafl), C Rodney Hudson (knee), FB Alec Ingold (ribs), OG Gabe Jackson (knee), OT Kolton Miller (ankle), DE Carl Nassib (knee) and RB Jalen Richard (chest) practiced in full.
Detroit Lions WR Quintez Cephus (non-injury), WR Kenny Golladay (hip), DL Da'Shawn Hand (groin), CB Jeff Okudah (shoulder) and RB D'Andre Swift (illness) did not participate in practice Thursday, Dec. 3. DE Austin Bryant (thigh), LB Christian Jones (knee) and QB Matthew Stafford (thumb) were limited. WR Danny Amendola (hip), TE Hunter Bryant (concussion) and CB Mike Ford (concussion) practiced in full.
San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk is set to make his return from the COVID-19/Reserve List in Week 13 against the Buffalo Bills. Aiyuk has tallied at least 75 receiving yards in each of his past three active games. Fellow receiver Deebo Samuel broke out in a big way in Week 12 with 11 catches on 13 targets. This week, Aiyuk and Samuel should split the bulk of the targets from quarterback Nick Mullens. The Bills are extremely vulnerable against the pass, allowing 243.5 passing yards per game, so both Aiyuk and Samuel should produce. Start Aiyuk with confidence as a WR3 this week.
New York Giants running back Wayne Gallman has seen his touches increase in five-straight weeks and has burst into must-start status in fantasy as the lead-back for the G-Men. It's unlikely Gallman will handle more touches than the 27 he had last week, but with starting QB Daniel Jones (hamstring) unlikely to play this week Gallman will still see plenty of work against a middle-of-the-pack run defense in Seattle. Gallman has six touchdowns in his last five games and is the most likely Giant to find pay-dirt this week. Start Gallman as a volume-based RB2 in all formats.
Chicago Bears LB Khalil Mack (back) did not participate in practice for a second consecutive day Thursday, Dec. 3. DT Akiem Hicks (hamstring), OT Charles Leno Jr. (toe) and OL Germain Ifedi (leg) were limited. TE Jimmy Graham (rest), CB Buster Skrine (rest), LB Danny Trevathan (rest), QB Nick Foles (hip), OL Rashaad Coward (knee), S Sherrick McManis (hand), LB Barkevious Mingo (shoulder), DT Brent Urban (ankle, hand), LB James Vaughters (knee) and LB Josh Woods (foot) practiced in full.
Former Tampa Bay Buccaneers LB Jack Cichy was claimed off waivers by the New England Patriots Thursday, Dec. 3, according to a source.
Philadelphia Eagles TE Zach Ertz (ankle) was limited during practice Thursday, Dec. 3.
Fantasy Spin: Ertz likely will be able to play in the Week 13 game, but it is not known if he will be eased into the offense or have his normal workload. He could be a low-end No. 1 tight end in some leagues but is not a must-start option.
San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Deebo Samuel had his 2020 breakout performance in Week 12, when he caught 11 of his 13 targets for 133 yards. Samuel will likely see his targets go down this week as the team will get Brandon Aiyuk back from a stint on the COVID-19/Reserve List. However, the 49ers have a much better matchup this week against the Buffalo Bills than they did last week against the Los Angeles Rams. The Bills are allowing 243.5 passing yards per game this year. Both Samuel and Aiyuk should be able to do some damage. Start Samuel as a WR3 in all formats this week.
San Francisco 49ers running back Jeff Wilson Jr. carried the ball 12 times for 40 yards in his return to action in Week 12 against the Los Angeles Rams. He was the team's second rusher behind Raheem Mostert, who earned 16 carries in the game. Mostert figures to be the primary back once again in Week 13 as the 49ers face the Buffalo Bills, a team surrendering 129.6 yards per game on the ground. Wilson should see double-digit touches once again this week as long as Tevin Coleman (knee) remains out. He should also see some red zone touches as he's shown a knack for punching the ball into the end zone. Wilson doesn't have tremendous upside, but he's a flex option in deep leagues as the second back on a strong rushing offense against a weak rushing defense.
Atlanta Falcons WR Calvin Ridley (ankle, foot) was limited during practice Thursday, Dec. 3.
Fantasy Spin: Ridley appears to be on track to play this week and may see a lot of targets with Julio Jones and Hayden Hurst uncertain for the game. He should be a No. 1 or No. 2 receiver in all fantasy leagues.
Indianapolis Colts OT Anthony Castonzo (knee), OT Chaz Green (back), LB Bobby Okereke (ankle), P Rigoberto Sanchez (illness), S Khari Willis (back, quad) and TE Jack Doyle (rest) did not participate in practice Thursday, Dec. 3. QB Philip Rivers (toe), DE Kemoko Turay (ankle) and DL Denico Autry (illness) were limited. TE Trey Burton (rest), DE Justin Houston (rest), WR Zach Pascal (knee), C Ryan Kelly (knee), CB Isaiah Rodgers (knee) and RB Jordan Wilkins (ribs) practiced in full.