Fri Oct 15 4:33pm ET
By STEVE MEGARGEE
AP Sports Writer
Green Bay Packers running back Aaron Jones (33) cuts away from Cincinnati Bengals defensive end Sam Hubbard (94) in the first half of an NFL football game in Cincinnati, Sunday, Oct. 10, 2021. (AP Photo/AJ Mast)
Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (12) scrambles in the first half of an NFL football game against the Cincinnati Bengals in Cincinnati, Sunday, Oct. 10, 2021. (AP Photo/AJ Mast)
Green Bay Packers kicker Mason Crosby (2) kicks a field goal from he hold of Corey Bojorquez in the second half of an NFL football game against the Cincinnati Bengals in Cincinnati, Sunday, Oct. 10, 2021. (AP Photo/AJ Mast)
Green Bay Packers running back A.J. Dillon (28) dives for yardage is he is tackled by Cincinnati Bengals linebacker Germaine Pratt (57) in the second half of an NFL football game in Cincinnati, Sunday, Oct. 10, 2021. (AP Photo/AJ Mast)
Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (12) throws against the Cincinnati Bengals in the first half of an NFL football game in Cincinnati, Sunday, Oct. 10, 2021. (AP Photo/AJ Mast)
GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) The Green Bay Packers aren't striking gold as often as before whenever they get near the goal line. It's been an entirely different story for Packers opponents.
Green Bay boasted the NFL's best red-zone offense last season, though the Packers call that area the gold zone instead as a nod to offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett's love for the Mike Myers movie ''Austin Powers in Goldmember.''
This year, they're not capitalizing nearly as often when they get inside an opponent's 20-yard line. The Packers are scoring touchdowns on 55% of their red-zone possessions - down from a league-high 76.8% last year - to rank 27th out of 32 NFL teams.
''We've done a lot to get down there,'' running back Aaron Jones said. ''Now it's time to finish it. We can't be content with three points. We've got to get that six. It makes a difference. We've just got to lock in a little bit more.''
The offense's struggles once the Packers reach the 20 are particularly glaring because Green Bay opponents have scored touchdowns each of the 13 times the Packers have allowed them to reach the red zone.
Green Bay (4-1) still has managed to win four straight heading into Sunday's game at Chicago (3-2). That may explain why Packers coach Matt LaFleur says he isn't about to panic over the Packers' red-zone concerns.
LaFleur acknowledged the Packers' need to improve their red-zone efficiency this week, but expressed confidence they would do just that. When LaFleur received multiple follow-up questions on the topic, he said that ''stats are for losers'' and noted the Packers' four-game winning streak.
One day later, LaFleur offered explanations regarding his comment on stats. He said the Packers do rely on analytics but also look beyond the numbers.
''We use every information that we can get our hands on,'' LaFleur said. ''But ultimately, we've got to look at the tape and try to figure out the why's behind whether you're successful or unsuccessful.''
Although Green Bay hasn't stopped opposing offenses once they get near the goal line, the Packers have allowed teams to reach the red zone on just 13 drives. Only four teams have yielded fewer red-zone possessions.
''Obviously we have to be better in the red zone,'' safety Adrian Amos said. ''I think we've played really well on defense lately. That one area, that's just an area we have to start being better at.''
The red-zone issues on offense are more concerning, if only because they represent such a major contrast from a year ago. Hackett believes Green Bay's extraordinary red-zone success in 2020 caused opponents to take note and make sure it didn't happen again.
''We just have to continue to grind, continue to adapt and find new ways because we know that we set the standard last year and a lot of people looked at us,'' Hackett said. ''A lot of people looked at the things that we did, and we have to find even more counters and more fun things to do to be able to go get that gold.''
The issue was particularly glaring in the Packers' 25-22 overtime victory at Cincinnati on Sunday because they had two trips to the red zone in which they didn't score at all. Mason Crosby missed two field-goal attempts after the Packers advanced beyond the 20.
''I think we can keep being more aggressive in those areas,'' quarterback Aaron Rodgers said. ''And more aggressive doesn't mean throw the ball more. It just means we have a ton of scheme down there and let's keep rolling it off the sheet.''
Wide receiver Davante Adams also emphasized the need to get more aggressive.
''It's something that I talked to Matt about,'' Adams said. ''We've all kind of been conversing about the ways we can get better in the red zone and get back to what we kind of made our identity last year.''
If the Packers don't regain that identity soon, they might need to take drastic measures.
''If anybody can get a hold of Mike Myers, I would really love anybody's help,'' Hackett joked. ''We might need him to come in and help us out.''
NOTES: CB Kevin King won't play Sunday after injuring a shoulder in the Bengals game. The Packers already are playing without 2020 Pro Bowl CB Jaire Alexander (shoulder). . LaFleur said OL Elgton Jenkins, who has missed three straight games, will be a game-time decision. Jenkins has practiced this week. . Green Bay put WR Malik Taylor on the reserve/COVID-19 list. ... LaFleur was noncommittal on whether LB Jaylon Smith would make his Packers debut Sunday. ''We just want to make sure he's comfortable and ready to go before we put him out there,'' LaFleur said.
Denver Broncos kicker Brandon McManus made his only field-goal attempt from 42 yards out in the 22-9 loss to the division-rival Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday night. The Broncos offense finally got into the end zone late in the game when they were down by multiple scores and elected to go for a two-point conversion (which failed) instead of kicking the extra point. McManus has only missed three of his 22 field-goal tries on the season and has missed one of his 23 extra-point attempts, so accuracy hasn't been the issue. Denver's low-upside offense is what is keeping McManus from being a top-12 fantasy kicker each and every week. This was the first game in 2021 in which he didn't attempt an extra point, but he's also had three games with no field-goal tries. McManus should be much more active in Week 14 against the Detroit Lions at home.
Even though the Denver Broncos defense only scored four points in most fantasy formats in the 22-9 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday night, they played pretty well overall against an explosive Chiefs offense. They were able to hold Patrick Mahomes and Company under 300 yards of total offense, including just 178 yards through the air and 89 yards on the ground. The Broncos defense sacked Mahomes twice, and rookie first-round cornerback Patrick Surtain II recorded his third interception in the last two games on a tipped pass off the hands of receiver Tyreek Hill. The Denver D is the strength of this team, and they'll be a popular streaming option in Week 14 against a Detroit Lions team coming off their first win of the season.
Denver Broncos wide receiver Tim Patrick will want to move on quickly from his performance in the Sunday night loss to the division-rival Kansas City Chiefs. In the 22-9 loss, he had season-lows in catches (one) and receiving yards (nine) on five total targets in Week 13. Since scoring his fourth touchdown of the year in Week 9, Patrick has only six catches on 14 targets for 49 yards in three games. The 28-year-old usually catches most passes thrown his way, but he couldn't get on the same page as quarterback Teddy Bridgewater in prime time. In Denver's low-volume passing attack as the No. 3 receiver behind Jerry Jeudy and Courtland Sutton, Patrick's floor is scary as a WR4/5 in deeper leagues.
Denver Broncos tight end Noah Fant finished the 22-9 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 13 on Sunday night with four grabs for 33 yards on four targets. The bad news is that backup tight end Albert Okwuegbunam had the same number of targets as Fant and caught three passes for 21 yards. The Broncos just have two many receiving weapons and Fant isn't really being used as a viable receiving threat down the field. As long as the Denver offense continues to be a run-first unit and Okwuegbunam remains involved to steal targets away from Fant, he'll likely be a frustrating low-end TE1 play unless he gets into the end zone. Fant hasn't scored since Week 6 and has gone over 40 receiving yards just once since then.
Denver Broncos wide receiver Courtland Sutton was barely heard from yet again in the 22-9 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday night in Week 13. Sutton finished the game with two receptions on six targets for a measly 15 yards. Really the only good news in this one was the fact that his six targets were tied for second-most on the team with Jerry Jeudy. Since Jeudy returned from a high ankle sprain in Week 8, Sutton has nine catches for 110 yards and no touchdowns on 18 targets in five games. That says it all right there. The Broncos prefer not to throw the ball too much if they don't have to, and when they do, quarterback Teddy Bridgewater usually spreads it around to a bunch of different weapons. The 26-year-old has found his way to the bench is most fantasy leagues.
Facing the toughest defense against tight ends in Week 13, Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce posted a rare dud. Targeted eight times on the evening, Kelce was only able to haul in three balls for 27 yards. Quarterback Patrick Mahomes has struggled this season and that has trickled down to Kelce having some rare duds this season. Despite that, managers should continue to treat Kelce as one of the best tight ends in the game. The good news is that Kelce will face the Las Vegas Raiders in Week 14. When the teams previously met in Week 10, Kelce went for eight receptions and 119 yards. Managers should have no reservations about sitting Kelce next Sunday or any week moving forward.
Denver Broncos wide receiver Jerry Jeudy caught four of his six targets for a team-leading 77 receiving yards in the 22-9 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday Night Football. Jeudy's four receptions were tied for second-most on the team, and his six targets were also tied for second-most. The 22-year-old second-year wideout continues to be quarterback Teddy Bridgewater's favorite receiver. However, Bridgewater has mostly been mediocre this season, and the Broncos are a run-first offense when they get into positive game script. Most of Jeudy's damage was done late in the game with the Chiefs up by multiple scores. Jeudy will be looking for his first touchdown of the season in Week 14 against the Detroit Lions, where he'll be a WR3/flex.
Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Tyreek Hill had a quiet outing in a Week 13 victory versus the Denver Broncos. The Cheetah was targeted five times during the contest and caught two balls for 22 yards. He also had a ball hit off his hands and into the hands of rookie cornerback Patrick Surtain II that would be the only interception for quarterback Patrick Mahomes. Mahomes struggled on the evening and with windy playing conditions, those could both be attributed to Hill's final game line. Regardless, Hill posted a dud, but managers shouldn't be too concerned with his ability to put up WR1 numbers in most weeks. Hill will face the Las Vegas Raiders in Week 14 and previously recorded 7 receptions for 83 yards and two touchdowns in a Week 10 victory.
Denver Broncos running back Mike Boone stepped into the RB2 role behind rookie Javonte Williams in the Sunday night loss to the Kansas City Chiefs with Melvin Gordon (hip, shoulder) inactive. Boone only had five touches on the night (four carries, one catch) compared to Williams' 29, but he looked explosive and fresh when he was called upon. On his four carries, Boone totaled 35 yards (8.8 yards per carry), and he caught his lone target for a 19-yard gain. The 26-year-old was basically used to spell the impressive Williams in this one, and that would likely continue to be the case if Gordon misses time, which won't give Boone any standalone fantasy value. If Gordon returns in Week 14, Boone will have an even smaller role as the RB3.
Kansas City Chiefs running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire played the lead role in his second game back from a knee injury during a Week 13 victory versus the Denver Broncos. CEH recorded 54 yards on 14 rushing attempts with three receptions for 28 yards. It wasn't the best performance for the sophomore runner, but it was a solid performance nonetheless. Backup running back Darrel Williams saw his fair share of action on Sunday evening and was on the field for all third-down plays. Edwards-Helaire should see his role grow down the stretch run, but managers would be wise to insure him with Williams. Next up will be a matchup versus the Las Vegas Raiders in Week 14 and CEH should be considered a RB2 with RB1 upside in that contest.
Denver Broncos rookie running back Javonte Williams was finally unleashed on Sunday night against the division-rival Kansas City Chiefs with Melvin Gordon (hip, shoulder) inactive, and he didn't disappoint. Williams was the Broncos offense, carrying 23 times for 102 yards while adding a team-high six receptions on a team-high nine targets for 76 yards and a receiving score for Denver's lone touchdown in the 22-9 loss. He averaged 4.4 yards on the ground and looked like the real deal. Williams is one of the toughest backs in the league to bring down, and he's an extremely powerful runner with tackle-breaking ability. His fantasy managers will be crossing their fingers that Gordon won't return in Week 14 for a dream matchup against the Detroit Lions. If Gordon is out again, Williams will have RB1 upside.
Kansas City Chiefs running back Darrel Williams recorded 20 yards on five carries in a Week 13 victory versus the Denver Broncos. The veteran was in for all third-down plays and recorded three receptions for 60 yards. With running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire healthy and back in the picture, Williams has fallen back into a backup role over the past two contests. Moving forward, Williams should be rostered by all Edwards-Helaire managers for the stretch run, but will be hard to trust without a full time role. Next up for Williams will be a Week 14 date against a Las Vegas Raiders defense that he had his best game of the season against earlier in the year.
Philadelphia Eagles running back Miles Sanders (ankle) stated he "absolutely" expects to play in Week 15 against the Washington Football Team. During Sunday's meeting against the Jets, the 24-year-old aggravated the same ankle the landed him on the injured reserve list back in October. However, with the team having a Week 14 bye, Sanders has a good chance at being back. However, if he doesn't, Jordan Howard (knee), Boston Scott (illness), and rookie Kenneth Gainwell, who arguably had the best game of his career against Washington, could be in store for more work. Still, fantasy managers should keep Sanders on the roster as there is a small upside there, although he has been far from a reliable option throughout the 2021-22 campaign.
Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes put together another underwhelming performance in a Week 13 victory versus the Denver Broncos. The former MVP has been having an off year by his standards and completed just 15 of his 29 pass attempts for 184 yards and an interception. His interception came when wide receiver Tyreek Hill failed to haul in a pass that hit off his hands and into the hands of rookie cornerback Patrick Surtain II. It wasn't all bad for managers of Mahomes with him rushing four times for 12 yards, including a 10-yard touchdown in the first quarter. Mahomes has been a shell of himself this season, but his enormous upside makes him a must-start on a weekly basis. Mahomes will look to put up improved numbers versus a Las Vegas Raiders in Week 14, a defense that he torched for five touchdowns earlier this season.
Denver Broncos quarterback Teddy Bridgewater had more interceptions than touchdown passes in the 22-9 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday night in Week 13. He finished the night 22-for-40 for 257 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions, one of which was returned for a game-sealing touchdown for KC's defense. Bridgewater ran the ball four times for 17 yards. The yardage total was nice, but Bridgewater and the Broncos passing game never really got in sync all night, with a lot of his yards and his lone touchdown to rookie running back Javonte Williams coming in garbage time with the Chiefs ahead by multiple scores. The Broncos offense is usually in trouble when they have to rely on Bridgewater's arm. He'll have a nice matchup against the Detroit Lions next week, but Bridgewater lacks upside on a weekly basis as a low-end QB2.
Washington Football Team wide receiver Terry McLaurin finished with only three catches for 22 yards during the win over Las Vegas on Sunday. The 26-year-old disappeared in Week 13, and it came after he had at least seven targets in each game since Week 1. However, Logan Thomas (knee) likely is done for the year, so McLaurin could get more looks from Taylor Heinicke moving ahead, starting in Week 14 during the NFC North battle with the Cowboys.
Baltimore Ravens CB Marlon Humphrey (shoulder) is expected to miss the rest of the season with a shoulder injury suffered in Week 13, according to sources. Ravens head coach John Harbaugh said Humphrey could be out 'a while.'
Las Vegas Raiders QB Derek Carr completed 28 of his 38 pass attempts for 249 yards and gained 24 yards on two carries in a 17-15 loss to the Washington Football Team in Week 13.
Fantasy Spin: Carr has now finished with one touchdown or less in four of his last five games, and his hot start to the season seems like a distant memory. At this point, Carr is a reach as QB2.
Washington Football Team running back Antonio Gibson had another solid performance on Sunday during the win over the Raiders, compiling 88 yards off 23 attempts. He also secured five of his six targets for 23 yards while also finding the end zone off one of those catches. The 23-year-old has turned up the volume, as he now has at least 19 carries in each of his last four games. He's also been an essential contributor on the receiving end, and he could have an even more prominent role moving ahead with Logan Thomas (knee) likely done for the year. Nonetheless, Gibson has been the real deal and should be considered a priority option for fantasy managers in all formats.
Updating previous reports, Minnesota Vikings WR Adam Thielen (ankle) has a high-ankle sprain, according to a source, and will undergo further testing Monday, Dec. 6.
Fantasy Spin: Not good. Regardless of the test results, it's improbable we'll see him in Week 14, and don't be surprised if he is out multiple weeks. WR K.J. Osborn will be a hot fantasy pickup this week.