Fri Jan 15 3:16pm ET
By MARK LONG
AP Pro Football Writer
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, right, and Ohio State NCAA college football head coach Urban Meyer answer questions during a safety clinic for mothers of youth football players in Columbus, Ohio, in this Thursday, Aug. 1, 2013, file photo. A person familiar with the search says Urban Meyer and the Jacksonville Jaguars are working toward finalizing a deal to make him the team's next head coach. The person spoke to The Associated Press on the condition of anonymity Thursday, Jan. 14, 2021, because a formal agreement was not yet in place. (AP Photo/Jay LaPrete, File)
Ohio State coach Urban Meyer, right, holds the trophy after the team's 28-23 win over Washington in the Rose Bowl NCAA college football game in Pasadena, Calif., in a Tuesday, Jan. 1, 2019, file photo. A person familiar with the search says Urban Meyer and the Jacksonville Jaguars are working toward finalizing a deal to make him the team's next head coach. The person spoke to The Associated Press on the condition of anonymity Thursday, Jan. 14, 2021, because a formal agreement was not yet in place. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong, File)
Florida NCAA college football head coach Urban Meyer talks to reporters after practice in Scottsdale, Ariz., ahead of the BCS Championship game against Ohio State, in this Jan. 8, 2007, file photo. A person familiar with the search says Urban Meyer and the Jacksonville Jaguars are working toward finalizing a deal to make him the team's next head coach. The person spoke to The Associated Press on the condition of anonymity Thursday, Jan. 14, 2021, because a formal agreement was not yet in place. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren, File)
In this Sept. 17, 2016, file photo, Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer shouts from the sideline in the fourth quarter of an NCAA college football game against Oklahoma in Norman, Okla. A person familiar with the search says Urban Meyer and the Jacksonville Jaguars are working toward finalizing a deal to make him the team's next head coach. The person spoke to The Associated Press on the condition of anonymity Thursday, Jan. 14, 2021, because a formal agreement was not yet in place. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki, File)
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) Urban Meyer first started thinking about the NFL about a decade ago.
He was getting phone calls from team owners. He was intrigued by the notion of testing his coaching skills at football's highest level. He was ready to make the jump.
But he put it off time and time again, waiting for a situation that ''had to be perfect.''
He feels as if Jacksonville has everything he needs to make the move successful: an opportunity to land a franchise quarterback, a chance to mold the league's youngest roster and the financial support to provide players with the ''best of the best.''
The Jaguars formally and virtually introduced Meyer on Friday, with the three-time national championship-winning coach saying, ''I believe this is the place.''
''I'm not going to jump into a situation where I don't believe we can win,'' said Meyer, who won titles at Florida (2006, '08) and Ohio State (2014). ''I won't do that.''
Here's a rundown of Meyer's first news conference with Jacksonville:
- Meyer plans to monitor his health, which was instrumental in him walking away from Florida and Ohio State. He stepped down at Ohio State in 2018 mostly because of a congenital arachnoid cyst in his brain, which required surgery in 2014 and bothered him throughout his final season with the Buckeyes.
''I'm not going to be running around like a nut on the practice field,'' he said. ''Those days are gone. I know what it's supposed to look like and I want to be very demanding of everyone. It's something I'm going to watch very closely. ... I had that surgery in 2014 that really helped things. But it's just something that I watch very closely.''
- Meyer insisted he won't coach at the college level again. Not at Texas. Not at Notre Dame. Not anywhere, ever.
''The times are changing. College football is different now,'' he said. ''The days of coaching the way you did back when I was at Bowling Green or when I was an assistant coach, I mean, the whole country has changed. Everything has changed, so you have to adapt. Those who adapt have success and those who don't, fail.''
- Meyer declined to say which quarterback he will draft with the No. 1 pick in April. He mentioned Clemson's Trevor Lawrence, Ohio State's Justin Fields and BYU's Zach Wilson as options.
''This is a monumental moment for this franchise and we've seen some franchises explode and we've seen others fail,'' Meyer said. ''I've said this many times throughout my career: When the NFL says it's a quarterback league, I would say well so is college and so is high school and so is Pop Warner. It's a quarterback sport. ...
''Who we pick at that quarterback spot, that's going to be one of the most important decisions I've made in my lifetime, along with the partnership of our owner and general manager. ... I see some elite quarterbacks out there right now.''
- Owner Shad Khan is switching to a coach-centric model that will mean Meyer could have as much input, or more, as the general manager.
''The head coach really has to lead the kind of players he wants, the kind of team we need to be,'' said Khan, who added the next GM could be announced in the next week or so. ''And the general manager, myself, we have to support that vision. Somehow, someway that had been lost, and the idea here is really more about transparency, collaboration, teamwork and accountability.''
- Meyer clearly has a vision to upgrade Jacksonville's football facilities. The Jaguars are one of the few NFL teams remaining that practice at their stadium. They don't have traditional offices, much room to expand or any of the elaborate amenities others enjoy.
''People who work for me, with me, they all hear a statement of `It this the best of the best?' And if it's not, then the question is, `Well, why?' That's the same thing that I'm doing every time I walk through everywhere. We did that at Ohio State. We did that at Florida. `Is this the very best?' And if it's not, especially when you start talking about player welfare and safety and just the players, let's have a chat and do what's very best.
''The Jacksonville players are going to get pushed. They're going to get pushed. In return, we give them the very best. That includes the coaching staff.''
- Meyer also vowed not to raid Ohio State's current coaching staff.
''I won't do that,'' he said. ''Does that mean there might be one? Maybe. I'm not there yet. ... I'm not going to do that to that organization. And I'm not sure they would go. Ohio State is home to those guys now.''
Interview with a Champ
Kansas City Chiefs WR Sammy Watkins (calf) did not practice again Friday, Jan. 15, and will be be ruled out for Sunday's divisional playoff matchup with the Cleveland Browns.
Fantasy Spin: This will be the seventh game Watkins will miss this season, meaning more targets for WRs Demarcus Robinson, Mecole Hardman and Byron Pringle likely are in store.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians said that running back Ronald Jones II (calf, finger) was feeling better on Friday, but he will be a game-time decision against the Saints in the Divisional Round on Sunday. Leonard Fournette will start the game. Jones was limited in practice on Thursday after not playing in the wild-card win over Washington. It sounds like Jones has a chance to see some action against New Orleans, but he won't start and will be an extremely risky fantasy selection in the Divisional Round. Fournette saw the lion's share of backfield work last weekend and had a season-high 19 carries for 93 yards and a touchdown on the ground, adding four catches for 39 yards. He'll have a much tougher go of it this weekend, though, against a Saints Defense that allowed the fewest fantasy points per game to RBs in 2020.
Buffalo Bills tight end Dawson Knox has picked it up during the second half of the season. Since Week 12, Knox has hauled in four touchdowns, including one against the Indianapolis Colts last week. Sadly, the Bills have so many weapons on offense that Knox doesn't see a significant amount of targets. It's tough to believe he'll be able to do much damage against the Baltimore Ravens this weekend. He'll be a low-cost option, but doesn't have much upside heading into this matchup.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers RB Ronald Jones (quadriceps) is expected be a game-time decision Sunday, Jan. 17, for the divisional playoff game against the New Orleans Saints.
Fantasy Spin: Jones was active but didn't play in the wild-card win over Washington last week, and it's certainly going to be tough to trust him if he's active this time around as Leonard Fournette already has been declared the starter Sunday in New Orleans.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers RB Leonard Fournette is expected to start in the team's divisional-round playoff game Sunday, Jan. 17, against the New Orleans Saints, head coach Bruce Arians said Friday.
Fantasy Spin: Fournette got the start in the wild-card round against Washington and had a season-high 132 total yards and a touchdown on 23 touches. The matchup is much tougher this week against the Saints, but Fournette figures to see plenty of work again with fellow RB Ronald Jones iffy with a quadriceps injury.
Buffalo Bills wide receiver Cole Beasley (knee) was limited during Thursday's practice, but will suit up against the Baltimore Ravens this weekend. The veteran slot receiver has found a perfect home in Buffalo. He hauled in seven receptions for 57 yards in the win over the Indianapolis Colts last week. Slot receivers have been fairly decent against the Ravens secondary this season. Beasley makes for an intriguing fantasy option for this weekend's slate.
Buffalo Bills wide receiver Gabriel Davis has surprisingly pushed his way into a significant role in this offense. Davis didn't make much of an impact during the first half of the season, but has been a solid contributor since then. He hauled in four receptions for 85 yards in the playoff victory over the Indianapolis Colts. Obviously, Stefon Diggs and Cole Beasley are ahead of him on the depth chart. However, the Bills continue to find ways to get Davis involved. He could make for a low-cost DFS option against the Baltimore Ravens this weekend.
Buffalo Bills wide receiver John Brown was a ghost against the Indianapolis Colts last week. He failed to haul in any of his four targets in the win over Indy. At this point, Gabriel Davis is looking like he surpassed Brown on the depth chart. Brown looked solid during their regular season finale, but the Bills have too many options on offense. It's unlikely that Brown does anything significant against the Baltimore Ravens secondary this weekend.
Buffalo Bills running back Devin Singletary has seen limited fantasy value throughout most of the regular season because of the timeshare in the backfield. However, running back Zack Moss (leg) won't be suiting up for the playoff matchup against the Baltimore Ravens. Singletary will get an increased workload, but the Ravens aren't exactly an easy team to run against right now. Sometimes in the regular season, Singletary saw touches in the mid-teens and still didn't have much value. Expect that to be a similar result versus the Ravens this weekend.
Buffalo Bills wide receiver Stefon Diggs (oblique) has been putting up video-game numbers for the majority of the season. He hauled in six receptions for 128 yards and one touchdown in the win over the Indianapolis Colts last week in the wild-card round. Diggs was a little banged up heading into this week but has been removed from the injury report. It sounds like he'll be healthy enough to suit up against the Baltimore Ravens in the Divisional Round. This is obviously a tough matchup, but Diggs continues to exceed expectations, so he'll remain an elite fantasy option for this weekend.
Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen looked seemingly unstoppable versus the Indianapolis Colts last week. He threw for 324 yards with two touchdowns and rushed for 54 yards and another score. Allen has put himself into the MVP conversation and should remain a strong fantasy option against the Baltimore Ravens. The young dual-threat quarterback has shown no signs of slowing down, so continue believing in him.
The Kansas City Chiefs Defense finished the 2020 regular season ranked 21st against the run, allowing 122.1 rushing yards per game. The Browns, led by running backs Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt, averaged 148.4 yards per game. Chubb had his second straight 1,000-yard rushing season and another Pro Bowl selection, averaging a career-high 5.6 yards per carry and a team-high 12 rushing scores. Hunt had 2,150 rushing yards and 15 touchdowns, adding 833 receiving yards and 10 touchdowns in 25 games with the Chiefs before moving to Cleveland. The two-headed Browns rushing monster can get it done on the ground and through the air, so the Chiefs defense will have their work cut out for them. Despite the threat, Kansas City's D will be one of the more popular DFS targets in the Divisional Round.
The Cleveland Browns activated offensive guard Joel Bitonio from the Reserve/COVID-19 list on Friday. Bitonio should be active for the team's Divisional Round game against the Chiefs on Sunday after he sat out of the wild-card upset win over the division-rival Steelers last weekend. A Pro Bowler each of the last three seasons, Bitonio's return to Cleveland's strong offensive line is a huge upgrade for running backs Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt and quarterback Baker Mayfield as they try to pull off the unthinkable and upset the defending Super Bowl-champion Chiefs. Bitonio's return will be even more important if offensive tackle Jack Conklin cannot play after aggravating an injury last week against Pittsburgh. The 29-year-old Bitonio has been with the Browns since 2014 and will be playing in his first career postseason game this Sunday.
The Buffalo Bills Defense is confident that they can contain Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson in the Divisional Round matchup on Saturday night. Buffalo held Jackson to only 40 rushing yards on 11 carries last year. "We're pretty confident in being able to contain him," said linebacker Matt Milano. The Bills defense held opponents to just under 19 points a game in the final five games of the season, too, so they're coming in confident. Jackson threw for just 145 yards in his meeting against the Bills in 2019, but three of his 16 completions went for touchdowns through the air. Buffalo's defense has stiffened late in the season, but they'll face a very tough task this weekend, and fantasy managers should temper expectations in DFS.
The New York Jets hired former San Francisco 49ers defensive coordinator Robert Saleh as their next head coach on Thursday night, according to league sources. The two sides have reached an agreement on a five-year deal. 49ers passing-game coordinator Mike LaFleur is expected to be the first member of Saleh's staff and serve as the offensive coordinator. Saleh has been a highly sought-after head-coach candidate the last two seasons and also interviewed with the Falcons, Lions, Jaguars, Eagles and Chargers for their head-coach vacancies. He was the guiding force behind the Niners transformation on D in the last four seasons. San Fran finished second in yards allowed per game en route to a Super Bowl appearance after the 2019 regular season. Saleh inherits a Jets team that went 2-14 in 2020 and a defense that allowed 28.6 points per game, the third-most in franchise history. The Jets hold the No. 2 and 23 picks in this year's draft and must decide if quarterback Sam Darnold is their future under center.
The Carolina Panthers officially reached an agreement on a five-year deal with former Seattle Seahawks vice president Scott Fitterer on Thursday night to become their next general manager. Fitterer was a late addition to the interview process but made a quick impression on the Carolina decision-makers. He was one of 15 candidates to interview for the position when the team fired veteran Marty Hurney on Dec. 21. The other finalists for the job included Tennessee's Monti Ossenfort, San Francisco's Adam Peters and Kansas City's Ryan Poles. Fitterer had been with Seattle since 2001 and worked alongside Seattle GM John Schneider since 2010. He'll be paired with second-year head coach Matt Rhule with the team coming off a 5-11 season with the eighth overall pick in the upcoming draft. Locating a franchise quarterback will be priority No. 1.
The Cleveland Browns Defense was instrumental in the team's upset playoff win over the Pittsburgh Steelers in the Wild Card round as they scored a touchdown and forced five turnovers. They are likely to struggle to repeat that performance in a tough matchup against an explosive Kansas City Chiefs offense in the Divisional Round. Kansas City's offense only had 16 giveaways during the regular season and is led by All-World quarterback Patrick Mahomes. Cleveland will be bolstered by the return of top cornerback Denzel Ward and starting slot corner Kevin Johnson but they are still in a tough spot as 10-point road dogs against the Chiefs. The Browns defense is not a unit to target in daily fantasy contests this weekend.
Cleveland Browns tight end Austin Hooper found the end zone in his team's playoff win over the Pittsburgh Steelers last week and it could have been a bigger game for him but he dropped a second touchdown in the end zone. Hooper sets up as an excellent DFS play against the Kansas City Chiefs in the Divisional Round of the playoffs. Kansas City struggled to defend the tight end position during the regular season, allowing the eighth-most fantasy points per game. Hooper has emerged as a main piece of the Cleveland passing attack over the final portion of the season and should be heavily involved in a game where Cleveland is installed as 10-point road underdogs. If you can't find the necessary space to fit top tight end Travis Kelce into those daily fantasy lineups, Hooper is an excellent, money-saving pivot.
Cleveland Browns wide receiver Jarvis Landry made several clutch catches and scored a touchdown for his team in their Wild-Card round win over the Pittsburgh Steelers last week. Landry will look to keep it going in the Divisional Round against the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday. Kansas City represents a tough matchup for Landry as they allowed the third-fewest fantasy points per game to the wide receiver position during the regular season. That being said, Landry should still get several chances to do damage in a game where the Browns project to throw frequently. Treat him as a solid WR2 for DFS contests, especially in cash games.