Thanksgiving week: A good time to look at NFL unfortunates

Wed Nov 24 6:01pm ET
AP Pro Football Writer

Related photo caption below

Indianapolis Colts running back Jonathan Taylor (28) scores past Buffalo Bills outside linebacker Matt Milano (58) during the second half of an NFL football game in Orchard Park, N.Y., Sunday, Nov. 21, 2021. (AP Photo/Jeffrey T. Barnes)

Related photo caption below

Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians looks on during the second half of an NFL football game against the New York Giants Monday, Nov. 22, 2021, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Mark LoMoglio)

Related photo caption below

Cleveland Browns defensive end Myles Garrett celebrates after the Browns defeated the Detroit Lions 13-10 in an NFL football game, Sunday, Nov. 21, 2021, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/David Richard)

And the meek shall inherit the first draft pick.

Or not.

When the Jets visit the Texans on Sunday, there are no playoff implications - or even dreams. Both teams are 2-8, deservedly so.

Yet the winner might eliminate itself from competition for the top overall spot in next April's draft. Consider that Detroit and Jacksonville also are tail-enders with a solid shot at the NFL's worst record, and either the Jets or Texans will move ahead of the other, barring a tie.

Regardless, neither rookie coach, New York's Robert Saleh nor Houston's David Culley, is looking past the weak opposition this weekend. Because, of course, their clubs are equally feeble.

''We're 2-8. We played well enough to win, but we didn't play as well as we need to play moving forward to win,'' Culley says. ''We're not looking down on anybody.

''It happens to be the Jets; the next team is the most important. You always want the win. You get the win, the thing is to get the win. That's all we're thinking about right now.''

Houston actually got its second victory last week at AFC South leader Tennessee, which was plagued by injuries and turnovers.

The Jets have a win over the Titans and one over the Bengals, both playoff contenders. Their other showings have ranged from somewhat competitive to downright dismal.

Saleh looks at veteran quarterback Tyrod Taylor as a threat.

''Tyrod's back and, you know, when Tyrod's been the quarterback, they beat Jacksonville. I think they put 37 on them,'' Saleh notes. ''They were 14-14 at halftime with Cleveland in Week 2 before he gets hurt. He comes back against Miami and struggled a little bit, but then they beat Tennessee, so he's clearly winning - and they're winning football games with him under center. He is a problem.''

As if the Jets don't have enough of those. Ditto for the Texans.

The traditional Thanksgiving Day games have Chicago (3-7) at Detroit (0-9-1), followed by Las Vegas (5-5) at Dallas (7-3). The night contest is Buffalo (6-4) at New Orleans (5-5).

Off this week are Arizona (9-2, the NFL's best record) and Kansas City (7-4).

Los Angeles Rams (7-3) at Green Bay (8-3)

At the other end of the standings spectrum from the Jets and Texans, two of the contenders for the top spot in the NFC meet at Lambeau Field.

The Rams have lost three straight just once during Sean McVay's five-year coaching tenure. In Cooper Kupp they have the league's most productive receiver. Kupp has 85 catches for 1,141 yards to lead the NFL in both categories. His 10 touchdown receptions are tied for the lead with Tampa Bay's Mike Evans.

Aaron Rodgers is bothered by a toe injury, and the Packers are down to a third-string left tackle, Yosh Nijman, because of injuries. But the Packers join the Buccaneers as the only NFL teams that are undefeated at home this season. Green Bay has allowed just 44 points at Lambeau, the lowest total yielded through the first four Packers home games of a season since 1969.

Tennessee (8-3) at New England (7-4)

The Titans' impressive winning string ended in the awful weather last weekend, while the Patriots extended their run to five straight wins by routing Atlanta. New England has a profitable habit of meeting opponents who are undermanned, and that could be the case again in this one. No team has come close to the 82 players who have been in at least one contest this season for Tennessee.

Being on the road doesn't seem to bother Tennessee: The Titans are 4-1 away from Nashville in 2021 and 13-3 over their past 16 road games.

The Patriots are allowing a league-low 16.1 points per game. They have finished top 10 in fewest points allowed in each of the past nine seasons, the longest current streak.

Tampa Bay (7-3) at Indianapolis (6-5)

Anyone think Tom Brady is smiling at this matchup? Brady has tormented the Colts, going 15-4 with 38 touchdown passes, all with New England. He's second in the NFL with 3,177 yards passing and has a league-high 29 TD passes.

One remedy for Indy: Jonathan Taylor. He's the league's first 1,000-yard runner this season and has tied the NFL record with eight consecutive games of 100 yards from scrimmage and at least one touchdown. Last week at Buffalo, he stormed for 185 yards rushing, 204 yards from scrimmage and five TDs against the NFL's No. 1 defense.

The Colts also lead the NFL with 76 first-quarter points and 98 points off a league-high 25 takeaways.

Coincidentally, Bucs coach Bruce Arians won the first of his two NFL Coach of the Year Awards in 2012 as Colts interim coach following Chuck Pagano's cancer diagnosis.

Cleveland (6-5) at Baltimore (7-3)

As the Browns try to find their mojo, they head to the wrong place. The Ravens have dominated this series since the team moved from Cleveland, and Baltimore coach John Harbaugh is 22-4 against the Browns. Cleveland has dropped 10 of the past 13 against Baltimore, with two of the wins coming in overtime.

However, the Browns have replaced the Ravens with the league's most dangerous ground game. And standout right tackle Jack Conklin could be back after missing three games with an elbow injury.

Lamar Jackson should be OK to start after missing the win at Chicago with an illness. In his previous game, he was overwhelmed by Miami's blitzing. Myles Garrett leads the NFL with 13 sacks and the Cleveland club record is 14. The Browns lead the AFC with 29 sacks.

In a scheduling quirk, the AFC North rivals will meet twice in three weeks.

Pittsburgh (5-4-1) at Cincinnati (6-4)

Cincinnati is trying to sweep Pittsburgh for the first time since 2009, but the Steelers are 32-20 at Cincy. The Bengals have won the past two meetings, including a blowout victory two months ago. Before that the Steelers had won 11 straight going back to 2014.

Pittsburgh's Chris Boswell has never missed a field goal against the Bengals (23 for 23) and just one extra point (32 of 33). They'll need Ben Roethlisberger to continue his recently improved performances. The 39-year-old quarterback has a 104.3 passer rating over his past five games, throwing nine touchdowns against no interceptions.

The Bengals have five of their last seven games at home.

Los Angeles Chargers (6-4) at Denver (5-5)

Look for a concentration on the run game for both sides. LA's Austin Ekeler is the only player in the AFC with 500 or more rushing yards (573) and 400-plus receiving yards (405). He had four touchdowns last week in the win over Pittsburgh.

Denver's RB duo of Melvin Gordon II and rookie Javonte Williams have combined for 221 carries for 1,036 yards and six touchdowns. Gordon has with five touchdowns, Williams has a 5-yard rushing average.

Minnesota (5-5) at San Francisco (5-5)

Not quite a wild-card elimination game, but close enough for late November.

The Vikings have lost 10 of the past 11 road games in the series, with the only win in that span coming in 2007. They've won their past two matches this month and showed, at last, an ability to close. Also, the Vikings are the 18th team since the merger to lead each of their first 10 games by at least seven points.

Early leads will be important against a Niners squad that has come alive behind the work of dynamic receiver/running back Deebo Samuel and tight end George Kittle. The 49ers have opened the game with an 18-play TD drive and 20-play FG drive the past two weeks.

Philadelphia (5-6) at New York Giants (3-7)

The Giants fired offensive coordinator Jason Garrett this week; his unit, despite some talented skill players, has been abysmal. A sign, sort of, that emphasizes those struggles: tackle Andrew Thomas caught at 2-yard TD pass, becoming the Giants' first offensive lineman to catch a TD since 1960.

Philly has found the offensive firepower on the ground. The Eagles have 870 yards rushing in the past four games. They've rushed for 200-plus yards in consecutive games for the first time since 1978. Last week, Philadelphia rushed 50 times, its most since Oct. 5, 1997, against Washington. With Jordan Howard out, Miles Sanders and Boston Scott should get most of the work, along with versatile QB Jalen Hurts.

Seattle (3-7) at Washington (4-6), Monday night

Russell Wilson's return from finger surgery hasn't helped the Seahawks. He was 14 of 26 for 207 yards and was sacked four times in the loss to Arizona. Seattle is off to the franchise's worst 10-game record since 2009.

That said, Seattle's .711 winning percentage on Monday night is the best in the NFL. The Seahawks have won 11 of their past 14 Monday night games.

Since throwing two picks in a loss at Denver before the bye week, Washington's Taylor Heinicke has completed 77.8% of his passes for 462 yards and four TDs in back-to-back victories. Heinicke put up a career-best 141.3 QB rating in the win at Carolina.

Atlanta (4-6) at Jacksonville (2-8)

The Falcons have allowed 100 yards on the ground in five consecutive weeks and eight times in 10 games this season. Good news perhaps for Jags RB James Robinson.

The Falcons have won three straight in the series, slightly more than doubling Jacksonville on the scoreboard in those games. The most recent loss is part of the Jaguars' worst stretch in franchise history against the NFC. Jacksonville has lost 14 consecutive games, 0-3 this season, and is 7-44 in its past 51 games versus the NFC.

Atlanta's gone 130-plus minutes and 26 offensive possessions without a touchdown, going consecutive games without a TD for the first time since 1987.

Carolina (5-6) at Miami (4-7)

Another team struggling to stop the run is Miami, which has won three straight anyway. Good news for Panthers Christian McCaffrey, who when healthy is as effective as any NFL running back. Since 2018, McCaffrey has averaged 134.1 yards from scrimmage per game, the most in the NFL. His 11 career 100-yard receiving games are the most by any NFL running back in history, too.

Flags could fly here. Carolina is the NFL's most-penalized team through 11 weeks, flagged 81 times. The Dolphins have 75 penalties, one more than in all of 2020.

Top Headlines
The Paur Report

RTSports Weekly: Week 13

Player Notes
Melvin Gordon Dec 2 1:20pm ET
Melvin Gordon

Denver Broncos running back Melvin Gordon III (hip, shoulder) is 50-50 to play on Sunday night against the division-rival Kansas City Chiefs, according to head coach Vic Fangio. Gordon injured his hip on his first carry of the game in the Week 12 win over the Los Angeles Chargers, but he returned immediately and finished out the game. But the 28-year-old missed practice on Wednesday, won't practice Thursday and is looking iffy to play in Week 13. Gordon is averaging a solid 4.5 yards per carry and has seven total touchdowns (five rushing, two receiving) while sharing touches pretty much down the middle with impressive rookie Javonte Williams through 12 weeks. If Gordon is limited at all or out entirely against KC, Williams would become a must-play in fantasy.

From RotoBaller

Ryan Griffin Dec 2 1:00pm ET
Ryan Griffin

New York Jets tight end Ryan Griffin has seen four or more targets in three of his last four games. Sadly, Griffin has only surpassed 30 receiving yards in one of those contests. The good news is, his workload has increased with Tyler Kroft (chest) unavailable. Although, the lack of yardage does make Griffin a tough fantasy option. He should be able to find some success against the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 13. However, Griffin isn't anything more than a deep league option. It's unlikely that he gets heavily involved in the passing attack.

From RotoBaller

Kadarius Toney Dec 2 12:50pm ET
Kadarius Toney

New York Giants rookie wide receiver Kadarius Toney (oblique, quadriceps) was working on a side field again on Thursday with a trainer and seems doubtful to play in Week 13 against the Miami Dolphins. It's Toney's second straight day of missed practice after he was inactive in the Week 12 win over the Philadelphia Eagles. The first-round pass-catcher has looked electric with the ball in his hands at times this year, but the problem is the Giants offense as a whole has mostly been beat up this year and has never really hit its stride. Fantasy managers should obviously look to pivot away from Toney this weekend, especially with Sterling Shepard (quadriceps) trending towards playing after a long layoff. In his first nine games, Toney has 35 catches for 392 yards and no touchdowns on 48 targets.

From RotoBaller

Braxton Berrios Dec 2 12:50pm ET
Braxton Berrios

New York Jets wide receiver Braxton Berrios put together a couple surprisingly solid performances to begin the season. However, his fantasy appeal has disappeared since then. In fact, Berrios has three or less targets in every game since Week 3. Last week, Berrios hauled in two receptions for 47 yards in the win over the Houston Texans. He could be involved with Corey Davis (groin) banged up and Keelan Cole Sr. (Covid) sidelined. That being said, Berrios could see more action than normal during the Week 13 matchup with the Philadelphia Eagles. At the moment, Berrios isn't someone worth starting in almost any formats. Berrios should be more involved, assuming Davis sits out alongside Cole. However, it sounds like Davis should suit up, which means Berrios might only see a handful of targets at best.

From RotoBaller

Sterling Shepard Dec 2 12:50pm ET
Sterling Shepard

New York Giants wide receiver Sterling Shepard (quadriceps) is doing light work at practice on Thursday and has an outside chance to play in Week 13 against the Miami Dolphins. Shepard was listed as not practicing on Wednesday, so this represents some progress. But it's also not a ringing endorsement to consider him in fantasy lineups this weekend, since Shepard has been out since suffering his quad injury in Week 8. The 28-year-old was involved heavily in the passing attack in his first five games of the season, but there's a good chance that he'll have his snaps limited if he's back on Sunday against the Dolphins. That'll make him a pretty risky WR4/flex if he's active this weekend.

From RotoBaller

Jamison Crowder Dec 2 12:40pm ET
Jamison Crowder

New York Jets wide receiver Jamison Crowder is coming off his worst game of the season. Last week, he hauled in his lone target for five yards in the win. To be fair, it's not all his fault with quarterback Zach Wilson only targeting him once. Possibly, the chemistry between the two isn't there yet. That being said, Crowder could have a tough time finding success against the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 13. A defense that has allowed the third-fewest fantasy points to wideouts this season. Wilson appears to be in line for another start, so Crowder could be looking at another dud. At this point, Crowder is basically a desperation flex option in PPR formats.

From RotoBaller

James Robinson Dec 2 12:40pm ET
James Robinson

Jacksonville Jaguars running back James Robinson (heel, knee) did not practice on Thursday after he was limited on Wednesday. It's unclear yet if the Jaguars were just resting Robinson on Thursday or if he actually had a setback with heel and knee injuries that he's been managing in recent weeks. Regardless, fantasy managers should be on the lookout for an update on his status, but if he misses another practice on Friday, it will likely be Carlos Hyde time on Sunday in the Week 13 meeting with the Los Angeles Rams. If Robinson is active, he'll be on the RB1/2 borderline against Los Angeles, a defense that has allowed just over 100 yards rushing per game to their opponents. Hyde had a season-high 21 carries in Week 9 when Robinson sat out, but he gained just 3.19 yards per carry and has a low fantasy ceiling even with a starter's workload.

From RotoBaller

Elijah Moore Dec 2 12:30pm ET
Elijah Moore

New York Jets wide receiver Elijah Moore has been much more involved in the offense since the Week 6 bye. In fact, Moore has seen six or more targets in each of his last five games. That trend should continue against the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 13. A defense that ranks 23rd in pass DVOA this season. This certainly appears to be a favorable matchup for Moore despite him and quarterback Zach Wilson having little playing time together. That being said, Moore is worth a look as a flex play in most fantasy formats for this Week 13 matchup.

From RotoBaller

T.J. Watt Dec 2 12:30pm ET
T.J. Watt

The Pittsburgh Steelers placed linebacker Robert Spillane on the Reserve/COVID-19 list on Thursday. Spillane has played in 10 games for the Steelers this year, with just one start. He's recorded 17 tackles (one for a loss). Offensive lineman Joe Haeg and linebacker T.J. Watt were placed on the COVID-19 list earlier this week. The 25-year-old Spillane has also been dealing with a knee injury, so even if he clears the league's COVID-19 protocols, he may not be available to return in Week 14 next Thursday when Pittsburgh takes on the Minnesota Vikings. If Watt ends up missing this Sunday's game against the division-rival Baltimore Ravens, the Steelers defensive unit in fantasy could struggle.

From RotoBaller

Ty Johnson Dec 2 12:20pm ET
Ty Johnson

New York Jets running back Ty Johnson saw only six carries despite Michael Carter (ankle) being out last week. Although, those six carries were actually Johnson's highest total since Week 2. Despite that, Johnson wasn't able to do much with his chances with Tevin Coleman and Austin Walter getting a majority of the carries. It's uncertain if Walter will play during the Week 13 matchup against the Philadelphia Eagles. His absence could mean more chances for Johnson. Although, there's not a lot of upside for Johnson with Zach Wilson under center. Fantasy managers should consider him a low-end flex option in deep leagues. There's PPR value here with Johnson, but his workload is uncertain.

From RotoBaller

Phillip Lindsay Dec 2 12:20pm ET
Phillip Lindsay

Miami Dolphins running back Phillip Lindsay (ankle) was not seen at practice on Thursday at the portion open to the media. Lindsay was a limited practice participant on Wednesday, so this would represent a downgrade if he in fact is listed as missing Thursday's session. Friday will be big for the former Houston Texan and Denver Broncos as the Dolphins head into their Week 13 game against the New York Giants. The 27-year-old played 20% of the offensive snaps in his team debut in the Week 12 win over the Carolina Panthers, seeing a season-high 12 carries for 42 yards. That's a good sign for Lindsay, but Myles Gaskin remains Miami's lead back. If Lindsay cannot play this Sunday, Salvon Ahmed, who played 18% of the snaps and had five carries, will see more playing time as Gaskin's backup.

From RotoBaller

Tevin Coleman Dec 2 12:10pm ET
Tevin Coleman

New York Jets running back Tevin Coleman took over the lead back job for last week's matchup against the Houston Texans. He rushed 11 times for 67 yards and hauled in two receptions for three additional yards. It was surprisingly a decent outing from Coleman, but fantasy managers shouldn't get too excited. The Jets offensive line is horrendous and it was tough for Michael Carter (ankle) to have any success when he was healthy. His absence should mean another start for Coleman, but it doesn't guarantee success. The Philadelphia Eagles are ranked 16th in rush DVOA this season. This isn't a favorable matchup, but Coleman does have some deep league flex appeal for this Week 13 matchup. The touches should be there without Carter available, but the results are tough to predict.

From RotoBaller

J.D. McKissic Dec 2 12:10pm ET
J.D. McKissic

Washington Football Team running back J.D. McKissic (concussion) is in the league's concussion protocol and didn't practice for a second straight day on Thursday. McKissic scored the team's only two touchdowns (one rushing, one receiving) in the Monday night win over the Seattle Seahawks, but he suffered a head/neck injury late in the game and is now seriously in danger of missing the Week 13 contest against the Las Vegas Raiders. Antonio Gibson would be in line for a huge workload against a vulnerable Raiders run defense if McKissic is unable to play, giving him easy RB1 upside. Rookie Jaret Patterson would see a bigger role behind Gibson if McKissic is unable to play, but it's debatable whether he'll have standalone value. Friday's practice will be big for McKissic's weekend status.

From RotoBaller

Miles Sanders Dec 2 12:00pm ET
Miles Sanders

Philadelphia Eagles running back Miles Sanders (ankle) said he feels good and expects to play on Sunday in a plus matchup against the Jets. With Jalen Hurts (ankle) also battling an ankle injury, head coach Nick Sirianni had mentioned that Hurts would likely run less this weekend. That would likely mean more carries for Sanders and Boston Scott, especially with Jordan Howard still banged up and unlikely to play. Given the strong matchup, both Sanders and Scott could be started this weekend, with Sanders being a risky RB2 option with clear upside.

From RotoBaller

Zach Wilson Dec 2 12:00pm ET
Zach Wilson

New York Jets quarterback Zach Wilson (knee) was able to fully practice on Wednesday. That means, Wilson should be in line to start against the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 13. Last week, Wilson put together a lackluster performance against the below average Houston Texans pass defense. It's unlikely going to get better against the Eagles despite them being ranked 23rd in pass DVOA this season. There should be better streaming options in just about every fantasy format. Wilson is a desperation option, but it's hard to imagine many worse options right now.

From RotoBaller

Antonio Brown Dec 2 11:30am ET
Antonio Brown

Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Antonio Brown (ankle) was not seen at practice on Thursday as he continues to struggle coming back from an ankle injury. At this point, it would be safe to assume that Brown will miss Sunday's game against the Falcons, which will mean Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, and Rob Gronkowski continue to hog almost all of the receiving work. The Bucs have another good matchup against the Falcons this week and with the passing game taking a backseat in last week's win, it wouldn't be surprising to see the Bucs come out and allow Tom Brady to sling the ball around the field. As with every week, you should start Brady and all three of receiving options with confidence.

From RotoBaller

Daniel Jones Dec 2 11:20am ET
Daniel Jones

New York Giants quarterback Daniel Jones (neck) looks like he may be trending towards playing on Sunday against the Dolphins. Interim offensive coordinator Freddie Kitchens said he expects Jones to practice today "like regular times." Obviously, we'll need to monitor practice to ensure that's the case, but Jones was able to finish the game last week, so it's entirely possible. With Sterling Shepard also working himself back from injury, Jones could be a playable option in two-quarterback leagues against a Miami secondary that has been friendly to opposing passing games despite playing better of late. Still, with Jones likely not 100% and Miami's defense playing much better lately, Jones wouldn't be a streaming option outside of deeper leagues.

From RotoBaller

Alvin Kamara Dec 2 10:30am ET
Alvin Kamara

The New Orleans Saints ruled out Alvin Kamara (knee), offensive tackles Ryan Ramczyk (knee), and Terron Armstead in Thursday's game against the Dallas Cowboys. Kamara was initially listed as questionable, but the Saints ultimately decided to play it safe and rule the star running back out. The 26-year-old will miss his fourth consecutive game with a knee sprain. His next chance to return will be next Sunday against the New York Jets. This week, Mark Ingram II (knee) was a full participant in practice and will lead the Saints backfield against the Cowboys. The 31-year-old was cleared to play after he missed the Thanksgiving game loss to the Buffalo Bills with a knee injury. Ingram is a mid-range RB2 against a Dallas defense that ranks fourth in rush DVOA this season.

From RotoBaller

Alvin Kamara Dec 2 10:23am ET
Alvin Kamara

New Orleans Saints RB Alvin Kamara (knee) has been ruled out for Week 13.

Fantasy Spin: Mark Ingram had 16 rushes for 88 yards and six grabs for 25 yards last week. He'll be an RB2 again this week.

From TheHuddle

Adam Thielen Dec 2 9:33am ET
Adam Thielen

Minnesota Vikings WR Adam Thielen has just eight catches for 135 yards and no touchdowns in the last three games against the Detroit Lions the last two seasons.

Fantasy Spin: This could mean absolutely nothing as Thielen is seventh in fantasy points at the position in PPR leagues. He's going to start for you no matter what, but it's worth investigating if he's bottled up again.

From TheHuddle