Wed Nov 24 6:27pm ET
By DENNIS WASZAK Jr.
AP Pro Football Writer
New York Jets quarterback Zach Wilson passes during the first half of an NFL football game against the Tennessee Titans, Sunday, Oct. 3, 2021, in East Rutherford. Zach Wilson will return as the New York Jets' starting quarterback Sunday, Nov. 28, 2021 against the Texans in Houston, according to a person with direct knowledge of the decision.(AP Photo/Bill Kostroun, File)
FLORHAM PARK, N.J. (AP) Zach Wilson waited a month to get back to this spot.
The New York Jets rookie quarterback is fully healthy and the starting job is his again.
''It feels awesome,'' Wilson said Wednesday. ''You know, just that rush, that feeling you get just to be back on the field, it's exciting. I'm just happy to be back with the guys.''
Wilson sprained the posterior collateral ligament in his right knee against New England on Oct. 24. He spent the last four weeks recovering and rehabilitating, keeping patient while the Jets played on without him. He worked out before each of the last two games and his knee showed improvement, but coach Robert Saleh insisted the team wouldn't play Wilson until he was completely healthy.
He's now good to go.
''I feel 100% confident in my ability to go out there and play football how I need to play football,'' Wilson said. ''That was kind of what I told the coaches is, I feel like I can go out there and play my game and not worry about it. And so, really, I feel like that doesn't have to be a focus going forward.
''I feel like I can just play ball.''
He'll get that chance Sunday at Houston when the Jets take on the Texans - with both teams struggling to 2-8 records.
''As soon as we got clearance that he was fully healthy and he was ready to roll and he was good mentally,'' Saleh said, ''we were good with the decision.''
And New York is lucky Wilson is ready to play because backups Mike White and Joe Flacco were put on the COVID-19 list Tuesday. White tested positive, so he's out for the game. Flacco, who is unvaccinated, is a close contact and must test negative for five straight days - so Saleh said there's still a chance he could travel separately from the team and be able to play Sunday. But the plan is to elevate Josh Johnson from the practice squad to be Wilson's backup.
While Wilson was sidelined, the Jets' offense showed marked improvement. Once ranked near the bottom of several categories, New York has been one of the NFL's most efficient lately. The Jets have averaged an NFL-leading 346.5 yards passing in the last four games behind White, Flacco and Johnson. New York also has the most TD passes (10) and first downs on passes (74) in that span.
Wilson was struggling with just four touchdowns and nine interceptions at the time of his injury, with Saleh and offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur calling for the QB to play ''boring'' football - in other words, taking what the defenses give him and not trying to do too much. So there could be questions whether he'll feel pressure to maintain that level of consistent production.
''No, of course not,'' Wilson insisted. ''I mean, I play my ball. I play ball. And, you know, credit to those guys. I was able to learn from their reps and everything they went through, but I've got to go in there and play my game and not worry about that stuff.''
During his time on the sideline, Wilson studied the offense and how the other quarterbacks were operating it on the field. He also watched his own tape and acknowledged he saw things that made him question why he reacted a certain way on some plays.
The Jets have raved about Wilson's insatiable hunger to learn and his ability to devour the playbook and game film. So the young quarterback believes he'll only come out better - physically and mentally - after this layoff.
''I feel like what I'm looking for, what I need to do as a quarterback is heading in the right direction,'' Wilson said. ''Of course you're still learning, but I feel like I'm going in the right direction as far as my understanding of the game and what I'm looking for. And really the ability to just go through the offense and the mindset, I guess you could say, of just making the best decision, every single play for the team. And putting those guys first.''
Wilson and the Jets believe he'll be better from the last time he played. Others?
''I don't really care what anybody really thinks, if I'm being honest,'' Wilson said. ''I want to see improvement in myself as far as when I watch the tape at the end of the day, do I see improvement? You know, not necessarily looking at a stat line or just the win column.
''When we handle our business, each individual player, the wins will take care of themselves.''
NOTES: WR Corey Davis (groin), DL Folorunso Fatukasi (foot), DT Nathan Shepherd (elbow), DE Shaq Lawson (wrist) and LB C.J. Mosley (shoulder) were all limited at practice. Saleh didn't mention the injuries to Davis or Fatukasi before practice, so it appears those happened during the session. ... FB Nick Bawden was signed to the active roster and LB LaRoy Reynolds was restored to the practice squad after he had been on the practice squad/injured reserve.
Arizona Cardinals defensive end J.J. Watt (shoulder) has resumed conditioning after tearing the labrum and rotator cuff in his shoulder, and NFL Network's Ian Rapoport said on the Pat McAfee show that it's possible that Watt returns before the Super Bowl to help the Cardinals on a playoff run. The 32-year-old had what was believed to be season-ending shoulder surgery at the time on Oct. 27, but as long as the Cardinals keep winning deep into the playoffs, Watt could be a pass-rushing factor for them late in the postseason. We've seen the superhuman Watt return from devastating injuries before, so this wouldn't be a huge surprise, but it remains to be seen how effective he'd actually be if this scenario comes to pass.
Philadelphia Eagles running back Boston Scott (illness) missed his second straight practice of the week on Thursday with a non-COVID-19-related illness. A second straight practice has put Scott's status up in the air for the Week 13 game against the New York Jets. And with Jordan Howard (knee) unlikely to return this Sunday, Miles Sanders could have a stranglehold on backfield touches in an excellent matchup if Scott cannot play this weekend. But the 26-year-old still has a chance to get back on the field for practice on Friday, which would put him on track to play. Rookie Kenneth Gainwell would have a much bigger pass-catching role and could be worth a flex play in deeper PPR leagues if Scott and Howard are both inactive.
Philadelphia Eagles running back Jordan Howard (knee) missed another day of practice on Thursday and has yet to practice this week after missing the Week 12 loss to the New York Giants. A multi-week absence was never out of the question when Howard was injured in Week 11, so fantasy managers shouldn't have been expecting to have him available for this Sunday's game against the New York Jets. Miles Sanders and Boston Scott split the workload last Sunday, but Scott has now missed two practices this week with an illness. If both Howard and Scott are inactive in Week 13, Miles Sanders will be a strong RB2 play, while rookie Kenneth Gainwell might be worth a look in a flex spot in deep PPR leagues.
Seattle Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll said that he doesn't think quarterback Russell Wilson needs more rest but more repetitions. "He's ready to go. He doesn't need to be rested. He's not tired," Carroll said. Wilson underwent surgery to fix a ruptured tendon in his finger and hasn't been the same since his return from Injured Reserve three weeks ago. Wilson did return from the injury quickly, however, which might be the reason for his recent struggles. In his last three games, he has completed just 55.67% of his 97 passing attempts for 615 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions while being sacked nine times. Things won't get easier this Sunday against the division-rival San Francisco 49ers, either. San Fran allows the sixth-fewest passing yards per game (207.3), making Wilson a high-end QB2 instead of the surefire QB1 he was earlier in the year before his injury.
New York Jets wide receiver Corey Davis (groin) was absent from practice again on Thursday. Davis said on Wednesday that he's feeling better than he did last week, but that hasn't manifested itself yet on the practice field. With Davis missing last week's win over the Houston Texans, he's looking very questionable to play in Week 13 against the Philadelphia Eagles. If he returns, he should be rookie quarterback Zach Wilson's go-to target alongside impressive rookie Elijah Moore. But the longer Davis remains out of practice, the more likely it is that he'll miss his second straight contest. With Keelan Cole on the COVID-19 list, Moore, Jamison Crowder and Braxton Berrios would be the team's top three receivers if Davis misses another game.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.