Fri Sep 25 11:46am ET
By KRISTIE RIEKEN and WILL GRAVES
AP Sports Writers
This Aug. 24, 2020 file photo shows Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker T.J. Watt (90) during an NFL football training camp practice in Pittsburgh. The three Watt brothers will share the field for the first time ever on Sunday, Sept. 27, when J.J. Watt and the Texans visit T.J., Derek and the Pittsburgh Steelers. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic, File)
Growing up in Wisconsin, the sibling rivalry between the Watt brothers had no boundaries. Out front playing roller hockey. In the backyard playing football. Mini-baseball in the basement. Even the kitchen table at grandma's was not immune.
As kids, J.J., T.J. and Derek would spend hours at their grandmother's house, sipping their ''special drink'' of Sprite and cranberry juice in sippy cups while playing gin rummy, where their great-grandmother offered proof the family's competitive streak runs deep. Really deep.
''Great grandma, even when she was 100 years old, takes no prisoners,'' said J.J., the star defensive end for the Houston Texans. ''When that's the attitude of your 100-, 101-year-old (great-) grandma, it kind of trickles down throughout the whole family.''
On Sunday, the Watt brothers will play a much higher stakes game when J.J.'s Texans look to avoid an 0-3 start as they visit Derek and T.J.'s undefeated Steelers (2-0). It will be just the second time since 1927 that three brothers will appear in the same NFL game.
''It's incredible. It's special,'' said J.J., at 31 the oldest of the bunch. ''It's a testament to our parents and everything that they did and all the people in our lives - our coaches, our trainers, everybody who helped us get here. It's going to be very, very cool.''
If not exactly warm and fuzzy. J.J. is actually looking for a bit of payback against Derek after something the fullback did last season when he played for the Chargers in a loss to the Texans.
''I won the game so it doesn't matter, but yeah, he tossed a chip in the ribs,'' J.J. said. ''That's what he does. He's a pesky little fullback. He sticks his elbow in your ribs as you're pass rushing and then he goes on his way. We'll see what happens on Sunday.''
Derek, the middle brother at 27, laughed at the memory and expects to have a run-in or two with big brother's familiar No. 99.
'' I think I got him pretty good and he tried to play a spin move with it,'' said Derek, who signed a three-year deal with the Steelers in March. ''But I am sure if he finds an opportunity this game he will definitely try to get me back for it. But I don't see him going out of his way, that's for sure.''
That would simply be against the Watt way. John and Connie Watt instilled in their sons at a young age the importance of selfless hard work. They shooed them out of the house in Pewaukee, Wisconsin - about a half-hour west of Milwaukee - and the three boys became the de facto sports commissioners of the neighborhood.
''We were trying to get as many people, as many kids in the community to come over our house and play as many sports as we possibly could,'' said T.J., the baby of the bunch at 26.
Some things never change. The Watts spent a portion of their offseason co-hosting a game show called ''Ultimate Tag,'' and are currently starring in a series of Subway commercials featuring mom and dad.
Yet even as their stars have risen - as tends to happen when you're a three-time Defensive Player of the Year like J.J., or a 2019 All-Pro with a rapidly growing reputation as one of the best outside linebackers in the NFL in T.J. - their private lives remain relatively simple. Their group chats focus on Derek's son Logan, J.J. complaining about the heat in Houston; and T.J. being well, T.J., but staying as quiet as possible.
Considering how much his chatterbox older brothers talk, maybe it's fitting T.J. is practically a monk by comparison. Or maybe it's just a byproduct of constantly having to prove yourself in a house stuffed with testosterone.
Was T.J. picked on? Of course. Did it bother him? No. Without it, he realizes he might not have ever made it to the NFL.
''For me it was super important in my development to play with J.J. and Derek to get beat up on a lot when I was younger,'' he said. ''But (it taught me to) just kind of be resilient and continue to grow and learn from my experiences playing up with those guys.''
Their bond remains as strong as ever. During the lengthy shutdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic, they retreated to Wisconsin, where J.J.'s gym served as the hub of their offseason program. Whatever regimen they put together looks like it worked.
T.J. is coming off a 2 1/2 sack performance against Denver. Derek drilled Broncos punter Sam Martin in the end zone for a safety, and opened up a hole for running back James Conner to tear off a 59-yard sprint that sealed a 26-21 victory. While the Texans are winless, J.J. twice took down reigning NFL MVP Lamar Jackson last week against Baltimore.
T.J. and Derek facetiously gave credit for their preparation to the ''owner'' of the gym, who crashed their video conference with reporters on Friday by identifying as ''Justin James'' from the ''Better Brother Gazette.''
''The thing about the club owner is that he really enjoyed cutting the grass himself,'' T.J. said with a smile after J.J.'s face popped up on screen. ''He really enjoyed lining the football field for his members. The grass was always pristine. The gym was always clean. We tried to do our best to clean up after ourselves and we're just very grateful that he let us use his facilities.''
For three hours on Sunday, their lifelong alliance will be put to the side. When it's over, they'll pose for pictures to commemorate the moment, one they know isn't about themselves but the environment that nurtured them. From great-grandma to grandma to mom and dad.
''I think it came down to our parents working extremely hard for what they got in life and teaching us that if we want to accomplish our dreams and our goals, we had to work extremely hard and make a lot of sacrifices,'' J.J. said. ''Which at the time we hated but now we understand and we appreciate it.''
Five Fantasy Takeaways from Week 6
Dallas Cowboys Pro Bowl right guard Zack Martin (concussion) left the Monday night game against the Cardinals in the first quarter after suffering a concussion. Martin was ruled out to begin the second half with the team trailing 21-3. The Cowboys above-average offensive line has been decimated by injuries this year. Pro Bowl center Travis Frederick retired in the offseason. Pro Bowl left tackle Tyron Smith had season-ending neck surgery last week, while right tackle La'el Collins is on Injured Reserve after having hip surgery. Joe Looney, who replaced Frederick at center, is on Injured Reserve as well. With quarterback Dak Prescott (ankle) also out for the year, the offense struggled against Arizona. The injuries to the offensive line have been more bad news for the offense, especially for running back Ezekiel Elliott and quarterback Andy Dalton.
Buffalo Bills wide receiver John Brown returned after a one game absence, but it looks like he took this game off as well. Brown failed to haul in all of his four targets during the Week 6 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs. Quarterback Josh Allen had a tough time connecting with his receivers in this one. However, both Stefon Diggs and Cole Beasley found the end zone. Brown should have WR4 upside against the New York Jets next week.
Buffalo Bills wide receiver Gabriel Davis was not able to do much damage against the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 6. He finished with one reception on his lone target of the game for seven yards in the loss. Quarterback Josh Allen did not have a good game throwing the ball, so that was part of the problem as well. Davis is likely going to get lost in the shuffle with the Bills receivers healthy at the moment. He might have desperation deep league appeal against the awful New York Jets Defense in Week 7.
Buffalo Bills wide receiver Cole Beasley has been reliable all season long and that continued against the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 6. He hauled in four of his seven targets for 45 yards and one touchdown. The Bills weren't able to get the air attack going well in this game. However, that should change next week against the horrendous New York Jets Defense. Beasley continues to be a reliable PPR option and that should be the case next week as well.
Buffalo Bills wide receiver Stefon Diggs had a fairly quiet game against the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 6. He hauled in six of his eight targets for 46 yards and one touchdown in the loss. He led the Bills in all receiving categories, but quarterback Josh Allen finished with a total of 122 passing yards in this game. Diggs salvaged his fantasy value with the touchdown, but he should rebound nicely next week. He'll get a favorable matchup against the New York Jets in Week 7. Fantasy owners should be able to lean on him as a WR1 for that game.
Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Mecole Hardman only received one target on Monday and recorded zero yards against the Buffalo Bills. Hardman is a weekly boom or bust candidate and he had some potential in Week 6 with Sammy Watkins (hamstring) sidelined, but it was Demarcus Robinson who took advantage on Monday. Due to inconsistent performances, Hardman is only WR4/WR5 with upside most weeks. Hardman will look to pick up some stats against the Denver Broncos in a Week 7 matchup.
Buffalo Bills running back Devin Singletary was the lead back once again, but failed to do much damage on the ground. He rushed 10 times for 32 yards on the ground in the loss to the Kansas City Chiefs. Singletary also hauled in one of two targets for 13 yards through the air. Rookie Zack Moss did return in this game, but Singletary still managed to get double digit carries. Fantasy owners should be able to lean on Singletary as a low-end RB2 against the New York Jets next week.
Buffalo Bills running back Zack Moss (toe) was able to suit up for the Week 6 matchup against the Kansas City Chiefs. He missed each of the last three games due to a toe issue, but honestly he could've missed this one too and it wouldn't have changed anything. Moss finished with 10 yards on five carries in the loss to the Chiefs. Devin Singletary remained the lead back and that will probably be the case going forward. Moss should have increased value against the New York Jets next week. He could be worth a stash for that matchup.
Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen had arguably his worst game of the season against the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 6. He completed 14 of 27 passing attempts for 122 yards with two touchdowns and one interception in the loss. He also added 42 yards on the ground with eight rushing attempts. Allen started off red-hot to begin the season, but hasn't looked the same over the last two weeks. He should be a top tier QB1 for the Week 7 matchup against the New York Jets.
Kansas City Chiefs running back Darrel Williams rushed six times for 26 yards and a touchdown on Monday against the Buffalo Bills. Williams also snagged one reception for 15 yards. The Chiefs ran the ball 46 times and part of that could be because of the bad forecast throughout the game. Despite the nice night, Williams is likely to be demoted to the third running back on the roster with the recent addition of LeVeon Bell. Williams should be avoided in all formats and should only have value if Clyde Edwards-Helaire or Bell were to get hurt.
Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes went 20-for-25 for 217 yards and a pair of touchdowns in Week 6 against the Buffalo Bills. He also rushed eight times for 38 yards. It wasnt the most impressive game for the former MVP, but with rainy weather, the Chiefs elected to favor the run in this matchup versus the pass. The former MVP still put together a solid performance overall and will look to keep it going against an underrated Denver Broncos Defense in Week 7. Mahomes remains a QB1 every week.
Kansas City Chiefs rookie running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire put together his most dominant performance of the season on Monday versus the Buffalo Bills. The Chiefs fed their rookie all night long and CEH responded by rushing for 161 yards on 26 carries. The rookie had his longest run of the season for 31 yards and also chipped in with four catches for eight yards. The rookie has looked strong all season and has become a big threat in the Chiefs powerful offense, but the Chiefs recent signing of LeVeon Bell is expected to put a dent in his workload. Even with Bell in the picture, Edwards-Helaire should be considered a high-end RB2 the rest of the year. The rookie will look to keep the momentum going against the Denver Broncos in Week 7.
Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce made fantasy managers proud on Monday by scoring touchdowns on five receptions for 65 yards. Kelce did have a fumble, but that was his only error for the night. Kelce continues to operate as a top option for quarterback Patrick Mahomes as part of a 1a/1b option alongside wide receiver Tyreek Hill. The tight end is the best at his position and managers have to be happy with their early investment in him. Kelce should be started every week and will be a TE1 versus the Denver Broncos heading into Week 7.
Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Demarcus Robinson put together his best performance of the season on Monday against the Buffalo Bills. Robinson has fallen victim to being on a Chiefs offense with plenty of options, but with Sammy Watkins (hamstring) out, Robinson took advantage by hauling in five catches for 69 yards. Robinson is the model for a boom or bust player and shouldnt be considered more than a WR4/WR5 with upside as long as Watkins is sidelined. Robinson will face the Broncos in Week 7.
Denver Broncos tight end Noah Fant (ankle) and wide receiver K.J. Hamler (hamstring) could both potentially return to play in Sundays contest versus Kansas City after missing last Sundays outing due to respective injuries, per head coach Vic Fangio. Fant is the more fantasy relevant of the two, having established a considerable rapport with Drew Lock last season. Fant has hauled in five receptions in three of his four appearances this year, combining for 219 receiving yards and two touchdowns. Hamlers first two contests saw him receive 12 targets, which bodes well for his fantasy upside should he ultimately suit up. Check back throughout the week for updates on both players, whose return would knock Jerry Jeudys appeal down a notch.
Cleveland Browns tight end David Njoku is hoping to have a new home prior to the NFL Trade Deadline on Nov. 3 after once again reportedly asking to be traded. Njoku has been lightly used in the passing game this season by the Browns, hauling in five receptions for 63 yards and one touchdown. Back in 2018, Njoku was a staple of the passing game, amassing 639 receiving yards while starting 14 contests; this season, the presence of Austin Hooper has knocked Njokus fantasy outlook out of consideration. What could spark that intrigue again would be a new situation, with teams such as the Eagles and Patriots presumably having openings heading into the second half of the season.
Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Tyreek Hills five game touchdown streak ended on Monday against the Buffalo Bills. Hill had a rough night overall and was pretty much non-existent in Week 6. The star receiver rushed one time for five yards and caught all three of targets for a season low 20 yards. Hill was outshined by tight end Travis Kelce and running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire in this matchup, but managers should just chalk this matchup up as a bad game. Hill remains a WR1 and should be treated that way going into a Week 7 matchup versus the Broncos.
New York Jets quarterback Sam Darnold (shoulder) is trending toward a third consecutive absence Sunday when his team takes on the Bills, as head coach Adam Gase was not optimistic Monday that his signal caller would clear the necessary stages to get him back on the field. It seems likely that New York will stick with veteran Joe Flacco for the game in the event that Darnold is unavailable, even as the Jets were shut out Sunday by Miami. So long as Flacco is under center, New Yorks offense can be targeted by fantasy managers attempting to nab opposing defenses. Even upon his activation, Darnold will be in a rough spot from a fantasy perspective due to the Jets offensive line woes and general downturn in production from skill position players.
Philadelphia Eagles wide receivers Alshon Jeffery (foot) and DeSean Jackson (hamstring) were both listed as limited practice participants Monday ahead of Thursdays contest versus the Giants. Both receivers were out of the equation Sunday against Baltimore, with Jackson already expected to suit up come Thursday. As for Jeffery, he would be making his season debut after working his way back from a Lisfranc injury. Having either back in the mix would be a boon for Carson Wentz, who will be without Zach Ertz (ankle) for the foreseeable future. Travis Fulgham has become a breakout fantasy sensation over the past three weeks, and while his stock would take a dip with Jeffery or Jackson back, any of the three are season-long options against a shaky Giants secondary.
New York Giants wide receiver Darius Slayton (foot) was a limited participant in Mondays practice after having sustained a foot injury during Sundays contest versus Washington. Slayton hauled in his first touchdown since Week 1 in the game, but came down awkwardly on his foot after the grab. With little time to recover before Thursdays outing against the Eagles, the fact that he was able to practice in any capacity bodes well for his odds of suiting up. Fantasy managers interested in Slayton will want to keep an eye on Sterling Shepards (toe) status as well, as the latter returning to the mix would zap some of Slaytons intrigue, even if he were fully healthy.