New York Giants cornerback Logan Ryan (23) plays against the Chicago Bears during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 20, 2020, in Chicago. The Giants play the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday, Sept. 27. (AP Photo/Kamil Krzaczynski)
San Francisco 49ers quarterback Nick Mullens (4) throws a pass during the second half of an NFL football game against the New York Jets, Sunday, Sept. 20, 2020, in East Rutherford, N.J. With Jimmy Garoppolo likely sidelined by a sprained ankle, Mullens appears set to get his first start at quarterback for the Niners in nearly 21 months, against the New York Giants. (AP Photo/Bill Kostroun)
San Francisco 49ers defensive end Nick Bosa (97) is driven off the field after being injured during the first half of an NFL football game against the New York Jets Sunday, Sept. 20, 2020, in East Rutherford, N.J. After losing four players to knee injuries last week against the New York Jets, the Niners complained about a sticky new turf at MetLife Stadium and expressed some concern about returning to the same field a week later. (AP Photo/Bill Kostroun, File)
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) The San Francisco 49ers and the New York Giants are battling the injury bug after just two games, as well some other scary issues.
Wondering what might scare NFL players?
For the Niners (1-1), it's just being back at MetLife Stadium on Sunday and having to face the winless Giants (0-2) without quarterback Jimmy Garappolo, NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year Nick Bosa, halfback Raheem Mostert and defensive tackle Solomon Thomas, and All-Pro tight end George Kittle.
The Giants are not scary. They are enduring yet another bad start and facing the prospect of missing the playoffs for the eighth time in nine years.
San Francisco's concern is the stadium and it's new artificial surface. In a 31-13 win over the Jets last weekend, the 49ers saw Garappolo sprain an ankle and Mostert, Thomas and Bosa, and backup halfback Tevin Coleman leave with knee injuries. Kittle is going to miss a second straight game with a knee injury after being hurt in the season opener.
The Niners complained to the league about the ''sticky'' surface and now they have to play on it again. This time Nick Mullens is starting at quarterback for the first time since 2018.
San Francisco coach Kyle Shanahan says he has put the field issue to rest, and told his players to focus on the game. The league inspected the field Wednesday and said it meets all applicable standards and protocols for a field surface.
''I'm a big believer of controlling the controllables, doing what I can and controlling what I can control,'' 49ers linebacker Fred Warner said. ''The playing surface that we're going to play on Sunday, I have no control over that. I'm letting everybody else handle that.''
Giants coach Joe Judge has had his team work on the field since training camp opened in late July. None of his players complained about it, he said.
What Giants fans have to complain about is the team's anemic offense, which will be without running back Saquon Barkley (knee) for the rest of the season. Wide receiver Sterling Shepard (toe) is out for at least three games.
New York is averaging 14.5 points and turned the ball over four times, with quarterback Daniel Jones throwing three interceptions and losing a fumble. The offensive line has struggled and the running game is last in the league.
The defense has been surprisingly good, allowing 43 points, only 10 in the second half.
It has left Judge looking for his first win, which is par for the course. The Giants have started 0-2 every year since 2013, with the exception being in 2016, the only year they made the playoffs.
''We're not going to raise the white flag on anything,'' Judge said. ''Our guys are going to fight straight on through. We have a job to do regardless of the circumstance or outcome of the previous game.''
Some things to watch for Sunday:
With Barkley gone, the Giants will employ a backfield by committee.
Dion Lewis handled the load against the Bears with Wayne Gallman inactive. Expect Gallman back this week along with former Falcon Devonta Freeman, who was signed to a one-year, $3 million contract.
Judge said the game plan will utilize each of their strengths. He added if one back starts to rip off yards, he may become ''the guy'' for a time.
Mullens will be starting for the first time since the final eight games of the 2018 season when Garoppolo was sidelined. He averaged 284.6 yards passing with a 90.8 rating. Mullens didn't throw a single pass last season and went 8 for 11 for 71 yards and one interception last week against the Jets.
''I know our players believe in him and he'll be fine,'' Shanahan said.
THE OTHER CORNERBACK
Free agent signee James Bradberry gives the Giants a solid cornerback. He leads the league with six passes defended and last week he rallied New York with an interception and a tip that led to another pick by Julian Love.
The other cornerback is a problem. Corey Ballentine started the first two games. He was replaced by Isaac Yiadom for the second half last week. The position is wide open and coordinator Pat Graham said Ryan Lewis and Brandon Williams are also in the mix for the job.
ON THE ROAD
The 49ers requested back-to-back East Coast games so they could stay over for the week and reduce travel. They ended up spending the week at The Greenbrier resort in West Virginia, which has hosted training camps in the past. The resort offers bowling, falconry, horseback riding and a gun club among other activities, although the 49ers are focused mostly on football.
EVAN, PLEASE STAND UP
Evan Engram looked so good in training camp, many predicted this would be the breakout season for the tight end who was New York's first-round pick in 2017.
It hasn't happened. The oft-injured Engram had a drop on his first target this season and then was invisible for almost the next seven quarters. He woke up in the final 19 minutes against the Bears, catching six passes for 65 yards.
Will he show up Sunday?
Five Hot Plays: Week 8
Carolina Panthers kicker Joey Slye made one field goal and a pair of extra points in a 25-17 loss to the Atlanta Falcons. Slye didn't get many opportunities in this one, as Carolina made just one trip to the red zone against a surprisingly resurgent Falcons' defense. There's not much that a kicker can do when he's simply not seeing the opportunities. With that said, Slye may be needed more in Week 9 against Kansas City, as the Panthers will probably have to put up a lot of points to win.
The Carolina Panthers Defense had an average day in a 25-17 loss to the Atlanta Falcons. Carolina registered two sacks and an interception, holding strong on Atlanta's first two trips to the red zone. However, they couldn't stop the Falcons from marching down the field, ultimately surrendering 25 points to their division rival. At this point, there's nothing to suggest that the Panthers' defense is worthy of streaming for fantasy purposes. Don't even think about starting them in Week 9, as they face the Chiefs.
Carolina Panthers wide receiver Curtis Samuel enjoyed his most productive game of the season in a losing effort against Atlanta. Samuel caught four of five targets for 31 receiving yards and carried the ball three times for 23 rushing yards. The 24-year-old made a nice run in the red zone to start the scoring for the Panthers, then hauled in a deep pass from Teddy Bridgewater on a flea-flicker. It's Samuel's second straight game with a rushing touchdown. This was an encouraging performance from the former Buckeye, though it's worth noting that he was held under 50 receiving yards for the seventh time in eight games. He'll be a low-end flex at best in Week 9 against the Chiefs.
Carolina Panthers tight end Ian Thomas caught all three targets for 28 receiving yards in a 25-17 loss to the Atlanta Falcons. It was a juicy matchup for Thomas, but he certainly didn't exploit it, as his modest stat-line will support. His three targets were the most he's seen in weeks, though he seemed to surrender some playing time to fellow tight end Chris Manhertz. It's best to avoid Thomas completely until he picks up his production.
Carolina Panthers wide receiver D.J. Moore had a quiet game in a 25-17 loss to the Falcons on Thursday Night Football. Moore caught two of six targets for 55 receiving yards, including a huge 42-yard reception on a 3rd-and-17 in the fourth quarter. In a strange turn of events, Moore went without a catch until the final drive of the fourth quarter. Fortunately, the 23-year-old still saw six targets, second on the team to only fellow wideout Robby Anderson. There should be better days ahead for Moore, as he had compiled at least 93 receiving yards in three straight contests coming into this one. He'll get a Week 9 matchup against Kansas City in what could turn out to be a high-scoring affair.
Carolina Panthers running back Mike Davis carried the ball 13 times for 66 rushing yards and caught one of two targets for 11 receiving yards in a loss to the Falcons. The 27-year-old disappointed in likely his last ride as the Panthers' lead back, as Christian McCaffrey (ankle) is expected to return in Week 9 against Kansas City. Davis was a PPR machine in McCaffrey's absence, with at least six targets in four games as the starter. He was so impressive at times that it's possible he earned himself a bigger role, though it likely won't amount to much with McCaffrey around to gobble up the majority of the touches. Keep Davis rostered until we find out McCaffrey is back for sure.
Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Russell Gage finished Thursday's win with two receptions for 25 yards on three targets. Gage continued to show his inconsistency on Thursday after coming into the game having gotten at least 54 yards in the past two contests. The WR is definitely streaky, which makes him a risky play most weeks. An ankle injury suffered by fellow wideout Calvin Ridley is worth monitoring. If Ridley cannot play next Sunday, Gage's value will surely go up, but it would still be hard to trust him for good production given his lackluster numbers this season.
Carolina Panthers wide receiver Robby Anderson hauled in five of eight targets for 48 receiving yards in a 25-17 loss to the Falcons. It could have been a bigger day for the former Jet, as he nearly made a one-handed touchdown grab on a throw from backup P.J. Walker, who came in relief of Teddy Bridgewater for one series. It certainly didn't help Anderson that Bridgewater was under constant pressure the whole night. However, his fantasy managers can take solace in the fact that he's now seen at least eight targets in six of eight contests this season. That sort of volume should keep him in the WR2 mix next week, even in a tough matchup against Kansas City.
Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones had seven receptions for 137 yards on 10 targets in the Week 8 win over Carolina. For the past three weeks, the WR has been playing at a tremendous level and has gotten at least seven receptions, nine targets, and 97 yards the past three games. His volume keeps him in the WR1 tier each week.
Carolina Panthers quarterback Teddy Bridgewater completed 15 of 23 passes for 176 yards and a touchdown along with 30 yards rushing on five attempts in a 25-17 loss to Atlanta. Bridgewater left the game after taking a nasty hit in the third quarter, but he was able to return after making it through the league's concussion protocol. The 27-year-old made some nice throws when he was given time, including a beautiful deep ball to Curtis Samuel on a flea-flicker. Unfortunately, he was constantly under pressure, as he was sacked twice and hit six times by the Falcons Defense. A bounce-back could be in the cards next week- Carolina may need to rely on Bridgewater's arm in Week 9 against Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs.
Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Calvin Ridley finished with three receptions for 42 yards on four targets in Week 8. The WR went down with an ankle injury in the first half of the game and didn't return. Managers will now have to monitor the status of the WR heading into the Week 9 clash against the Broncos.
Atlanta Falcons tight end Hayden Hurst finished with five receptions for 54 yards on seven targets in the Week 8 win over Carolina. Hurst has now seen seven targets in the past two games and has gotten at least 50 yards in four of the past five games. The TE has a decent role in this offense and the latest numbers are backing that up. Hurst should be considered a low-end TE1 each week given his consistency.
Atlanta Falcons running back Brian Hill finished with 11 carries for 55 yards and two receptions for nine yards on Thursday. It was the RB2 of the team who surprisingly led in rush yards, but this was a rare occurrence. Hill doesn't see enough weekly touches to merit good fantasy value going forward.
Atlanta Falcons running back Todd Gurley II finished Thursday night's win with 18 carries for 46 yards and a score. The back still had a decent night despite Brian Hill getting more rushing yards total. Gurley has now had at least 18 carries in the past three games and has three rushing touchdowns in the past two games. With a steady number of carries each week, the RB should remain in the low-end RB1/high-end RB2 tier every week.
Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan went 21-for-30 and gained 281 yards and one interception in the Thursday night win over the Panthers. It was a rainy game and many players were clearly affected by the conditions. Ryan finished with an average night, which he has sometimes had this season. With a high-powered offense, the QB should remain in the starting tier most weeks, but is most effective in favorable matchups.
Teddy Bridgewater, after being tripped while trying to scramble, took a shot to the head as he fell to the ground against the Falcons. Obviously, the first concern after a hit to the head is a concussion. Bridgewater's head abruptly twisted to the side and he went into the tent shortly thereafter. The Panthers' backup tonight is XFL sweetheart, P.J. Walker.
Calvin Ridley has been ruled out for the Falcons' Week 8 game against the Panthers. He was tackled by a defender and his left foot got caught under the defender. Ridley immediately grabbed his left foot and went to the locker room. His status for Week 9 will now be in question.
New York Jets running back La'Mical Perine has been buried on the depth chart for most of the season. However, head coach Adam Gase mentioned last week that he wants to get Perine more involved. Perine was on the field for 70 percent of the offensive snaps during the Week 7 loss to the Buffalo Bills. He saw 11 carries for 40 yards and a touchdown in the loss. He'll get a decent matchup here against the Kansas City Chiefs who are average against the run this season. Perine could be worth looking at as a desperation option for owners in need of a running back.
New York Jets wide receiver Jamison Crowder (groin) was able to go through limited practice on Thursday. That is actually an upgrade since Crowder sat out of practice the day prior. Crowder has been basically the only bright spot for this team all season long. His absence would doom the Jets chances of doing anything at all on offense versus the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 8. Crowder has seen 10 or more targets in each game that he has played in this season. He'll be a reliable WR2, assuming he suits up here.
New York Jets running back Frank Gore has seen a significant role in the backfield this season. The departure of Le'Veon Bell has opened up lead back duties for Gore over the last few weeks. Sadly, the Jets offensive line and team as a whole is horrible this season. Gore has done what he can, but will likely see his role decrease going forward. Head coach Adam Gase wants to see La'Mical Perine more involved in the offense. That means, Gore is going to be a tough option to trust versus the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 8.