Broncos rookie receivers a bright spot in difficult season

Thu Nov 19 6:44pm ET
By ARNIE STAPLETON
AP Pro Football Writer

Atlanta Falcons free safety Ricardo Allen (37) intercepts the pass behind Denver Broncos wide receiver Jerry Jeudy (10) during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Nov. 8, 2020, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)


ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (AP) Even with quarterback Drew Lock struggling to stay accurate and available and the Broncos tumbling toward another losing season, there's reasons for optimism on offense.

Despite Courtland Sutton's season-ending knee injury after just three catches, general manager John Elway's decision to use his first two draft picks on pass catchers is beginning to pay dividends.

First-rounder Jerry Jeudy (34) and second-rounder KJ Hamler (21) are the only rookie teammates with 20-plus catches this season.

Jeudy has shaken off drops early in the season and has averaged 89 yards receiving over the last three weeks, including seven catches for 125 yards and a touchdown at Atlanta two weeks ago.

Hamler has finally overcome hamstring issues he's dealt with all year to come on strong in November, averaging 12+ yards a catch over the last two weeks after catching his first NFL touchdown pass, a game-winner from Lock with no time left in Denver's 31-30 win over the Chargers three weeks ago.

Helping to guide the duo through their first season in the pros is Tim Patrick, a third-year pro who's posted a pair of 100-yard games and has become the leader of the group with Sutton sidelined.

''For them having this new type of money, this new type of freedom, you've just got to make sure they're doing the small things right, to make sure they stay focused,'' Patrick said.

He said he's found willing disciples in Jeudy, known for his crisp route running, and Hamler, known for his speed.

''We've got two guys that love football and they don't want to show anything bad on film or in games, so for the most part, they're already vets in their own way,'' Patrick said. ''But I'm just there to send them reminders on certain things just to keep them on track.''

The rookies also lean on each other as they navigate the NFL.

''We talk about everything, when we're frustrated, when we're happy, what can we do better in the game and at practice,'' Hamler said. ''We're always picking each other's brains. I learn stuff from him, he asks me questions, `Why'd you do this? Why'd you do that?' I ask him questions. It's all love and trying to help each other out so we can get better.''

In addition to Jeudy and Hamler, the Broncos' offense features plenty other greenhorns, including second-year tight end Noah Fant, rookie center Lloyd Cushenberry III, third-year receiver DaeSean Hamilton. Rookie tight end Albert Okwuegbunam was coming on strong before a season-ending knee injury this month and still projects as a key building block for the future.

The load of young talent reminds Dolphins coach Brian Flores, whose team visits Denver on Sunday, of his own team from 2019, and he's especially a fan of Jeudy's.

''He's going to be a good player. He already is a good player. He does a great job with his releases, which as a young player, that's one of the things that oftentimes shows up last,'' Flores said. ''He's already very good from that standpoint. He's very good at the top of the route, he has good hands, he can make contested catches, he's good in the middle of the field and he's good in the deep part of the field.''

Lock returned to practice Thursday on a limited basis after missing Wednesday's workout with sore ribs and a strained oblique he sustained on a blindside hit last weekend in Las Vegas, where he threw a career-high four interceptions.

''I think he's getting better and he did some work today. We'll just have to see what the rest of the week brings,'' offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur said. ''But he's obviously trending toward playing better than (he was) yesterday.''

Lock shared snaps with backup Brett Rypien, who beat the New York Jets in his first and only NFL start back in Week 4.

Asked if he expects to be available Sunday, Lock said, ''I would like to be. I'm going to take it day by day with these doctors and the trainers and even the coaches. I'm going to let them make a decision on whether or not they want to play me.

''Obviously I'll give them my opinion and it's yeah, I want to play. But in the end it's not 100% up to me.''

Rypien said he's treating this week like any other.

''I take the same approach every single week and that's with the opportunity to play, whether I start, whether I have to come off the bench,'' Rypien said.

Top Headlines

Five Waiver Wire Adds: Week 13

The Paur Report
Player Notes
Adam Thielen Dec 2 12:00pm ET

The Minnesota Vikings activated wide receiver Adam Thielen from the COVID-19 list, and he will practice on Wednesday. Thielen tested positive for the virus last week and was forced to sit out of the Week 12 win over the Panthers. He should be good to go for a juicy Week 13 matchup against the Jaguars Defense, a unit that has allowed the fifth-most fantasy points per game to opposing wideouts. Thielen will return as the team's No. 1 wideout next to impressive rookie Justin Jefferson. Before missing Week 12, the 30-year-old caught eight of his 11 targets for 123 yards and two touchdowns against Dallas in Week 11. Thielen has four touchdowns in his last two games and will have clear WR1 upside in his return this weekend.

From RotoBaller

Chicago Bears Dec 2 11:50am ET

The Chicago Bears Defense failed to record a single QB hit on Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers in the Week 12 blowout loss to their division rivals, and All-Pro pass-rusher Khalil Mack has failed to record a single QB pressure in two of his last three games. Mack is tied for 15th in the NFL with 6.5 sacks and ranks as Pro Football Focus' second-best edge rusher in 2020, but Chicago's D as a whole has been lackluster in rushing the quarterback. The Bears have 21 sacks total, which ranks 20th in the NFL, and are in the midst of a five-game losing streak. Despite the lack of a ferocious pass rush, the Bears defense has been their strength this season and will come in as a top-10 fantasy unit in Week 13 against the Lions offense, which seems likely to be without No. 1 receiver Kenny Golladay (hip) yet again.

From RotoBaller

George Kittle Dec 2 11:40am ET

San Francisco 49ers tight end George Kittle (foot), who hasn't played since suffering a broken bone in his right foot in Week 8, expects to return sooner than later. Head coach Kyle Shanahan is hopeful that Kittle will be available for the final couple of games of the season. "They said eight weeks; I said six," said Kittle. "And I'm excited. These last couple days have definitely progressed forward and made me very optimistic about returning to the field of play." Kittle sustained a fractured cuboid, the bone that sits outside of the little toe. Despite playing in six games in 2020, Kittle still leads the team with 37 catches for 474 yards. Because there's still a chance that Kittle could be available to fantasy managers for the championship in Week 16, he should remain stashed everywhere as an elite fantasy tight end.

From RotoBaller

Kenny Golladay Dec 2 11:40am ET

Detroit Lions wide receiver Kenny Golladay (hip) remains out of practice on Wednesday. Golladay was injured in Week 8 against the Colts and hasn't played since, and he's not off to a good start this week if he hopes to suit up in Week 13 against the Bears. At this point, fantasy managers can't count on the Lions No. 1 receiver being available for their starting lineups. The 27-year-old will need to get in at least a limited practice on Thursday or Friday to have a shot at playing this Sunday. Tight end T.J. Hockenson was the biggest beneficiary in the passing game last Thursday on Thanksgiving, while receiver Marvin Jones Jr. should be considered a WR3/flex with upside against Chicago if Golladay misses yet another game. Fantasy managers can't trust anyone else for consistent production in Detroit's passing game.

From RotoBaller

Hunter Bryant Dec 2 11:30am ET

The Detroit Lions placed cornerback Desmond Trufant (hamstring) and defensive tackle Danny Shelton (knee) on Injured Reserve on Wednesday, which could potentially end their season. They'll be forced to miss at least the next three games, with only five games remaining in the 2020 season. Only Romeo Okwara played more defensive snaps this year than Shelton, so it's a big loss for Detroit's defensive line, especially in regards to run defense. Trufant previously missed five games this year with a similar injury. With rookie Jeff Okudah also dealing with an injury, the Lions are short-handed at cornerback. Rookie tight end Hunter Bryant has been activated from IR and defensive lineman Kevin Strong has been promoted to the active roster. Detroit's defense hasn't been fantasy relevant all year long and is now short-handed due to injuries. However, they could be on the streaming radar in 16-team leagues in Week 13 against a Bears offense that continues to flounder.

From RotoBaller

Kenny Golladay Dec 2 11:23am ET

Detroit Lions WR Kenny Golladay (hip) remains out of practice Wednesday, Dec. 2.

Fantasy Spin: That's an ominous sign, but there is still time for the WR2 to make it back for Week 13.

From TheHuddle

Desmond Trufant Dec 2 11:23am ET

Detroit Lions CB Desmond Trufant (hamstring) and DT Danny Shelton (undisclosed) were placed on the Reserve/Injured list Wednesday, Dec. 2.

From TheHuddle

Tyrod Taylor Dec 2 11:20am ET

Los Angeles Chargers backup quarterback Tyrod Taylor will not file a grievance against the team after suffering a punctured lung during a pain-killing shot mishap before the Week 2 game on Sept. 20 that forced him to miss games earlier this season. The NFL Players Association is still reviewing the matter, and Taylor and the NFLPA had 60 days to inform the team of their decision. The veteran was medically cleared a month later, but rookie Justin Herbert had taken ahold of the starting job at that point. The 31-year-old will continue to hold the clipboard for Herbert the rest of the way. Even if Taylor were to make another start in 2020, he'd be a low-upside, low-end QB2 in fantasy.

From RotoBaller

J.K. Dobbins Dec 2 11:10am ET

Baltimore Ravens running backs Mark Ingram II and rookie J.K. Dobbins are eligible to come off the COVID-19 list before Wednesday's game against the Steelers, but neither of them are expected to play. Gus Edwards will get the start. It's a tough matchup against the undefeated Steelers, but Edwards has RB2 upside for fantasy managers that waited this one out in Week 12. The Steelers Defense allows the third-fewest fantasy points per game to running backs, including only five rushing scores all year, but Edwards should have a decent floor because of the expected volume he should receive. Baltimore could run the ball even more, too, with inclement weather expected and with quarterback Lamar Jackson also out due to COVID-19.

From RotoBaller

Jake Kumerow Dec 2 11:10am ET

The Buffalo Bills signed wide receiver Jake Kumerow to the active roster from the practice squad on Wednesday and designated Tyrel Dodson and Matt Milano to return to practice. Kumerow is providing depth for Buffalo's receiving room with John Brown on Injured Reserve. The 28-year-old wideout caught 20 passes for 322 receiving yards and two touchdowns in his two seasons with the Packers, and he will be behind receivers Stefon Diggs, Cole Beasley, Andre Roberts and rookie Gabriel Davis in the wideout pecking order for Buffalo. Kumerow has been active for three games with the Bills this year but hasn't had a single target. Continue ignoring him for fantasy purposes.

From RotoBaller

Mike Glennon Dec 2 11:00am ET

Jacksonville Jaguars head coach Doug Marrone said that quarterback Mike Glennon will make another start in Week 13 against the Vikings. Gardner Minshew II remains on the bench even though he's past his thumb injury that kept him out previously. Glennon threw for 235 yards and two touchdowns in the Week 12 loss to the Browns, so Jacksonville will stick with him. The Vikings Defense has allowed the 12th-most fantasy points per game to opposing quarterbacks and 23 total passing touchdowns (tied for second-most), so Glennon will have an opportunity to put up points on Sunday. He'll make for a low-end QB2 option in superflex leagues, but you can continue to avoid him in leagues that start only one QB.

From RotoBaller

Jake Kumerow Dec 2 10:43am ET

Buffalo Bills WR Jake Kumerow was signed to the active roster Wednesday, Dec. 2. LB Tyrel Dodson (hamstring) and LB Matt Milano (pectoral) were designated to return from Injured Reserve.

From TheHuddle

Mark Ingram Dec 2 9:43am ET

Baltimore Ravens RBs Mark Ingram and J.K. Dobbins aren't expected to play Wednesday, Dec. 2, against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

From TheHuddle

Tyrod Taylor Dec 2 9:13am ET

Los Angeles Chargers QB Tyrod Taylor declined to file a grievance against the team and its doctor for administering a pain-killing shot in mid-September that led to a puncture in his lung.

From TheHuddle

New York Giants Dec 1 9:50pm ET

The New York Giants placed starting outside linebacker Kyle Fackrell (calf) on Injured Reserve on Tuesday with a calf injury. Fackrell will miss at least the next three games, leaving the Giants very short-handed at the position. He was tied for second on the team with three sacks and was playing close to 100 percent of the defensive snaps before suffering the injury in the Week 12 win over the Bengals. No outside linebacker on the active roster has more than one sack this year. Linebackers Lorenzo Carter and Oshane Ximines are also on IR. Jamaal Sheard and rookies Carter Coughlin and Cam Brown could start in Week 13 against the Seahawks, making the New York defense one to avoid for fantasy managers after they were a popular streaming defense against Cincy.

From RotoBaller

Drew Lock Dec 1 9:40pm ET

The Denver Broncos activated quarterbacks Drew Lock, Brett Rypien and Blake Bortles from the Reserve/COVID-19 list on Tuesday after all three had PCR tests come back negative on Monday. They will all be eligible to play in Week 13 against the Chiefs. So barring additional team discipline, the Broncos won't be forced to use a practice-squad wide receiver under center against their division rivals. If Lock returns as the starter for this offense, it'll be excellent news for receivers Jerry Jeudy, Tim Patrick and K.J. Hamler and tight end Noah Fant. Denver will likely be forced to throw often to keep up with the Chiefs high-octane offense, too, but Lock's inconsistency this season keeps him as a low-end QB2. The 24-year-old was 24-for-40 for 254 yards and two interceptions in the first meeting against KC back in Week 7.

From RotoBaller

Olamide Zaccheaus Dec 1 9:30pm ET

The Atlanta Falcons placed wide receiver Olamide Zaccheaus (toe) on Injured Reserve on Tuesday after he left the Week 12 win over the Raiders with a toe injury. In a corresponding move, the team activated receiver Laquon Treadwell from the Reserve/COVID-19 list and added him to the 53-man roster. Zaccheaus popped up for a couple decent games this year, but it his production was inconsistent on a weekly basis and he was too far down the team's receiving depth chart to be a viable fantasy option in most leagues. The second-year wideout's best game came in Week 9 against the Broncos when he had four receptions for 103 yards and his first touchdown of the season. If he doesn't make it back this year, he'll finish with 20 receptions (32 targets) for 274 yards and the one touchdown. Christian Blake and Brandon Powell could see some more playing time as the No. 4 wideout with Zaccheaus out.

From RotoBaller

J.K. Dobbins Dec 1 9:20pm ET

Baltimore Ravens running backs J.K. Dobbins and Mark Ingram II are both eligible to be activated from the Reserve/COVID-19 list prior to the Week 12 game against the Steelers on Wednesday, but it's not a given that either will play. Both players have been isolated since testing positive for the virus on Nov. 22 and aren't allowed to fly on the team plane on Tuesday night. At this point, if you have Dobbins or Ingram on your roster, you've likely benched them for other running backs that already played in Week 12. Even if they both play, Gus Edwards could see the majority of backfield touches and will be the best fantasy play of the trio. Those that picked up Edwards in order to start him this week are hoping that neither Dobbins nor Ingram suit up in the tough matchup against the undefeated Steelers.

From RotoBaller

Brandon Williams Dec 1 9:10pm ET

The Baltimore Ravens activated defensive tackle Brandon Williams, quarterback Trace McSorley, nickelback Tavon Young and cornerback Khalil Dorsey from the Reserve/COVID-19 list on Tuesday. They could activate more players from the list before kickoff against the Steelers on Wednesday. McSorley should be the backup to Robert Griffin III on Wednesday with Lamar Jackson testing positive for COVID-19 and being unavailable this week. The return of Williams will be good news for Baltimore's defensive line, who will again be without Pro Bowl defensive lineman Calais Campbell. The Ravens Defense is more of a gamble in DFS and season-long leagues against the undefeated Steelers, but inclement weather is expected and could make things tougher on both offenses.

From RotoBaller

Dalvin Cook Dec 1 7:53pm ET

Minnesota Vikings RB Dalvin Cook (ankle) is 'just kind of beat up,' according to offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak Tuesday, Dec. 1.

Fantasy Spin: Cook briefly left the Week 12 game against the Carolina Panthers but returned to finish with 83 total yards and 22 touches. He leads the league with 1,385 yards from scrimmage and 14 total touchdowns on the season. The Vikings' schedule gets much tougher following the Week 13 home date against the Jacksonville Jaguars, but he'll remain a matchup-proof RB1 due to his heavy usage.

From TheHuddle