Fri Oct 9 6:39pm ET
By JOSH DUBOW
AP Pro Football Writer
San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo (10) passes against the Arizona Cardinals during the first half of an NFL football game in Santa Clara, Calif., Sunday, Sept. 13, 2020. (AP Photo/Tony Avelar)
San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, right, greets quarterback Nick Mullens during warm-ups before an NFL football game against the New York Giants, Sunday, Sept. 27, 2020, in East Rutherford, N.J. (AP Photo/Bill Kostroun)
SANTA CLARA, Calif. (AP) Jimmy Garoppolo will return as starting quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers this week after missing the past two games with a sprained ankle.
Coach Kyle Shanahan said Garoppolo will start Sunday at home against the Miami Dolphins. Shanahan wanted to see how Garoppolo made it through a full week of practice before making his decision.
''Each day he got better,'' Shanahan said Friday. ''Never felt too sore the next day. So, we needed to hear that today and see him out there today and we feel good to go.''
Garoppolo had hoped not to miss any time with the injury, having played through ankle sprains before. But this was a more severe high ankle sprain which made it impossible for him to move well enough to avoid danger in the pocket.
He was able to show he was healthy in practice and will provide a needed spark for the 49ers (2-2), who lost 25-20 at home last week to Philadelphia.
''Ankle is feeling really good right now,'' Garoppolo said. ''Got the last couple of weeks off to get it right. The training staff, I tip my hat to those guys, they did a great job with me, just preparing me and everything. But, as far as getting out there, I mean, we've had the whole week to work on it. So, it's feeling pretty good right now.''
San Francisco has a 20-6 record when Garoppolo starts, compared to a 5-21 mark with any other quarterback since Shanahan arrived in 2017.
Garoppolo threw for 3,978 yards and 27 TD passes last season to lead the Niners to 13 wins and was 33 for 49 for 390 yards, four TDs and no interceptions in six quarters this season.
The Niners could have almost all of their key pieces back on offense with running back Raheem Mostert questionable after missing two games with a knee injury and receiver Deebo Samuel questionable with an illness.
Samuel hasn't been allowed at the facility the past two days because he had a fever and aches earlier in the week. Samuel has taken part in meetings and will be allowed back once he passes one more coronavirus test.
Mostert, Samuel, All-Pro tight end George Kittle and first-round receiver Brandon Aiyuk have all missed games this season so the Niners are looking forward to the possibility of having all their important pieces available together for the first time.
''That's exactly how we envisioned it in the offseason,'' fullback Kyle Juszczyk said. ''It's great to finally have everybody healthy and in there together.''
Shanahan also said C.J. Beathard has moved ahead of Nick Mullens on the depth chart and will be Garoppolo's backup Sunday. Mullens played well in his first start this season before getting pulled in last week's loss to Philadelphia after committing three turnovers.
Beathard played well in relief and now will get the first shot if anything happens to Garoppolo.
NOTES: LB Dre Greenlaw will also return after missing two games with a quadriceps injury. ... CB Ahkello Witherspoon (hamstring) is questionable for the game, while DE Ezekiel Ansah (biceps), CB Dontae Johnson (groin), CB Emmanuel Moseley (concussion) and CB K'Waun Williams (knee, hip) are out. ... Ansah and Williams will be placed on IR on Saturday and the Niners will call up at least one more cornerback from the practice squad.
Five Sleepers: Week 7
New Orleans Saints wide receiver Michael Thomas (ankle, hamstring) is in jeopardy of missing Week 8 against the Bears. Thomas has already been ruled out for Week 7 after tweaking the hamstring in practice on Wednesday, further complicating his status moving forward. The All-Pro wideout underwent an MRI that showed a Grade 1 strain, which is expected to keep him out for 1-2 weeks. It's another blow to what has been a rough year for Thomas and his fantasy managers. With Emmanuel Sanders (COVID-19) also expected to be sidelined in Week 8, it's becoming increasingly likely that the Saints will be without their top two wideouts for a second straight week. It's an incredible opportunity for Tre'Quan Smith, who should see more chances against a tough Panthers secondary.
Kansas City Chiefs running back Le'Veon Bell has impressed so far in practice and will be debuting as a Chief against the Broncos in Week 7. Bell has impressed the Kansas City coaching staff with his quick grasp of the playbook and has reportedly looked very good. Not only does his veteran presence and skill-set project to work well in the Chiefs' scheme, but his mere presence also seems to have lit a fire under rookie Clyde Edwards-Helaire, who gashed Buffalo for 161 rushing yards. This is still the rookie's backfield, though Bell could start to eat into his workload a bit-particularly as a receiver- as it gets later into the season. For now, Edwards-Helaire should be looked at as a low-end RB1, with Bell checking in as just a flex option.
Detroit Lions running back D'Andre Swift may have earned himself an expanded role in the offense after a strong performance in Week 6. The appropriately-named Swift broke out in a big way against the Jaguars, totaling 116 rushing yards on 14 carries with two touchdowns scored. Veteran Adrian Peterson is the starter, though it seems like a matter of time before Swift grabs the bull by the horns and becomes the starter. The rookie should be in all lineups, as he's in another smash spot against a Falcons Defense surrendering the ninth-most fantasy points to opposing running backs.
New York Jets wide receiver Denzel Mims (hamstring) was activated off Injured Reserve on Saturday and is expected to make his rookie debut on Sunday against the Bills. It comes at a good time for the Jets, as top wideout Jamison Crowder (groin) is looking doubtful for the contest, likely granting Mims a large role right out of the gate. The 23-year-old had two 1000-yard seasons at Baylor and excelled at making contested catches. Mims should get a good opportunity against Buffalo, especially with Sam Darnold (shoulder) back in the lineup. However, it's best to see how he does before rolling him out there in lineups, especially given the amount of time he's been out.
Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones (hamstring) is fully expected to suit up on Sunday against the Lions. Fantasy managers likely weren't fooled by Jones' weekly tour with the injury report, as he often toughs it out and plays through things. The veteran wideout is coming off a monster game and has a juicy matchup against Detroit's struggling secondary. Fire him up as an elite WR1.
New York Jets quarterback Sam Darnold (shoulder) is expected to play in Week 7 against the Buffalo Bills. Darnold was listed as questionable after being limited all week, so things were certainly starting to look better. The 23-year-old missed two games with the injury and will likely be without his top receiver, Jamison Crowder (groin). Having yet to throw for more than 250 passing yards and one touchdown in any game this season, Darnold is best avoided. His return would be a slight boost for Jets skill players, though the options are only appealing in deep leagues.
Carolina Panthers wide receiver Curtis Samuel (knee) is looking likely to play on Sunday against the Saints. Samuel followed the same practice routine as last week, though he didn't end up playing in that contest. It's encouraging that there's optimism ahead of an important divisional battle with the Saints. Unfortunately, Robby Anderson and D.J. Moore have commanded the lion's share of targets, leaving scraps for Samuel. He's only a last-ditch option at best, and even then, there are probably better options out there for fantasy managers.
Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Gardner Minshew II is in danger of being benched if his play doesn't improve, per NFL Network's Tom Pelissero. Minshew II would seem to be on his way to a career year, completing 67.5 percent of his passes with 11 touchdowns, though he has committed nine total turnovers. Averaging just seven yards per pass attempt, the second-year-pro has struggled to look downfield at times, which certainly damages the Jaguars' offensive potential. The options behind Minshew II aren't much better, however, with career backup Mike Glennon in tow as well as rookie sixth-rounder Jake Luton. Fantasy managers with Jaguars' skill players should be hoping Minshew II figures it out.
New York Jets wide receiver Jamison Crowder (groin) is doubtful for Sunday's divisional clash with the Bills. Crowder registered a DNP practice session on Thursday that was sandwiched by two limited sessions, giving him a glimmer of hope to play in Week 7. At this point, it's more likely that he's not out there to help the Jets get their first win of the season. Breshad Perriman saw eight targets with Crowder in the lineup last week and could be a sneaky flex play with the latter likely out.
After coming down with a calf strain at practice on Friday, Aaron Jones is now expected to miss the Week 7 game against the Texans. This is a tough one for fantasy football managers, as Jones has been a reliable RB1 all season long and may be difficult to replace in fantasy lineups on short notice. Fourth-year running back Jamaal Williams is now expected to act as the lead RB, but rookie AJ Dillon will be in the mix as well and should see more touches than usual. Dexter Williams was added to the Packers active roster on Saturday as well for additional running back depth. Consider Williams a plug-and-play RB2/FLEX option, while Dillon looks more like an RB3/RB4 flier for deeper leagues. Both are also intriguing lower-cost options for DFS lineups, depending on the contest format.
Green Bay Packers RB Aaron Jones (calf) isn't expected to play Sunday, Oct. 25, and the team is planning on him not playing, according to sources Saturday, Oct. 24.
Fantasy Spin: It's a big blow for fantasy managers. Packers RBs Jamaal Williams, AJ Dillon and Dexter Williams should all play roles with Dillon being the most appealing for fantasy purposes.
Dallas Cowboys DB Rashard Robinson (undisclosed) was placed on the practice squad injured list Saturday, Oct. 24.
Cincinnati Bengals DT Mike Daniels was activated from the Reserve/Injured list Saturday, Oct. 24. DB Winston Rose was also promoted from the practice squad to the active roster.
Atlanta Falcons DE Austin Edwards and LB Edmond Robinson were added to the active roster from the practice squad Saturday, Oct. 24, as COVID-19 replacements.
San Francisco 49ers RB Tevin Coleman (knee) has an 'outside chance' of returning in Week 8, according to head coach Kyle Shanahan Saturday, Oct. 24.
Fantasy Spin: Coleman should be stashed now wherever available with RB Raheem Mostert going on the Reserve/Injured list Saturday.
Updating a previous story, Los Angeles Rams TE Tyler Higbee (hand) is officially listed as questionable for the game Monday, Oct. 26, against the Chicago Bears after getting in a limited practice Saturday, Oct. 24.
Los Angeles Rams DL Michael Brockers (non-injury) and CB Troy Hill (non-injury) didn't practice Saturday, Oct. 24, but don't carry injury designations for Week 7. DL Aaron Donald (non-injury) and OL Andrew Whitworth (non-injury) practiced in full and don't carry injury designations.
Los Angeles Rams TE Tyler Higbee (hand) is hopeful to play Monday, Oct. 26, according to head coach Sean McVay Saturday, Oct. 24.
Fantasy Spin: Higbee had a season-high 56 yards with three catches on four targets in Week 6. He's a low-tier TE1 when on the field.
Los Angeles Rams WR Robert Woods (groin) was a limited participant at practice Saturday, Oct. 24, but doesn't carry an injury designation into the Week 7 game against the Chicago Bears Monday, Oct. 26.
Fantasy Spin: Woods will be a somewhat risky WR3 play in what's projected as a low-scoring game against the Bears.
Kansas City Chiefs DE Alex Okafor (hamstring) was placed on the Reserve/Injured list Saturday, Oct. 24.