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 Waiver Wire Adds: Week 8
Updating a previous report, Seattle Seahawks RB Carlos Hyde (hamstring) is nursing a hamstring injury, but head coach Pete Carroll said the injury is 'not major'.
Fantasy Spin: Wait to see if Hyde is able to practice in full Friday before officially plugging him back into your fantasy lineup. Chris Carson is a game-time decision due to a foot injury, and Travis Homer is nursing a knee ailment, so Hyde could be the most effective fantasy back if he can get healthy. If not, DeeJay Dallas might be looking at a significant role.
The Carolina Panthers Defense faces off with the Atlanta Falcons for the second and final time this season. The Week 8 matchup features a Falcons' offense averaging 26.3 points per game, led by quarterback Matt Ryan. Atlanta hasn't been particularly forgiving to opposing fantasy defenses this year- and the Panthers defense isn't streaming material. Leave them on the waiver wire for Week 8.
Atlanta Falcons kicker Younghoe Koo is a solid start this week against the Panthers. On the season, Koo has gone 15-for-16 on field goals, including going 4-for-4 just two weeks ago. He also has gone 13-for-15 in extra points. The Panthers offer a favorable matchup for kickers, so Koo is a great player to start.
Atlanta Falcons tight end Hayden Hurst is a high-end TE2 for this week. Hurst has now had five games out of seven in which he has gotten at least 38 yards and his role is generally decent. Last week, the TE had six receptions for 68 yards on seven targets. The Panthers are a tougher matchup for TEs, but Hurst's general consistency and decent numbers make him a worthwhile starter.
Carolina Panthers kickerJoey Slye faces a decent matchup against the Atlanta Falcons in Week 8 on Thursday night. Slye has made at least three field goals in two of his last three games and faces an Atlanta defense that has allowed an average of about eight fantasy points per game to opposing kickers. There are weather concerns for this game, however, as wind and rain are supposed to be factors throughout the contest. That certainly could put a damper on Slye's fantasy upside, though he should still be a fine starting option.
The Atlanta Falcons Defense should stay well off the fantasy radar this week against the Panthers. This unit has largely been the culprit for the Falcons losing so many games and last week they allowed the Lions to score a game-winning touchdown at the literal last seconds. They have also allowed at least 23 points in all seven games. The unit is struggling way too much to trust against a Panthers team that has a capable QB in Teddy Bridgewater and solid receivers like Robby Anderson and D.J. Moore.
Los Angeles Rams tight end Gerald Everett was the team's lead option during Week 7 and he had a solid outing. However, in Week 8, things could get really messy against the Miami Dolphins. The Dolphins are currently the second-best team against the tight end position and they're allowing just 4.2 fantasy points per game to tight ends. If teammate Tyler Higbee (hand) were to miss another game, Everett would see his stock go up as a streaming tight end. Currently, he figures to be in the low-end TE2 conversation, but he has upside in this talented offense if he can find the end zone.
Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones is a WR1 this Thursday against Carolina. Jones has seen his usual targets and has posted his usual numbers the past two weeks after coming back from an injury. Last week, the WR had eight receptions for 97 yards on nine targets. Though the Panthers allow the fifth-fewest points to fantasy WRs, Jones' elite talent and large role in this offense still merit him as a starter.
Carolina Panthers tight end Ian Thomas faces the Atlanta Falcons in Week 8. The matchup has been great for opposing tight ends, as Atlanta has surrendered the most fantasy points to opposing tight ends. However, Thomas has just 50 receiving yards on the season and only three targets in his last three contests combined. It is very tempting to play any tight end against the Falcons Defense, but Thomas is just too risky to trust right now. He could potentially exploit this matchup, but it's best to let it happen on benches or the waiver wire.
Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Calvin Ridley is a WR1 for Thursday night's clash with the division rival Panthers. Ridley posted five receptions for 69 yards and a score on seven targets last week, which is low by his standards. Nevertheless, though the WR has cooled off a bit since getting over 100 yards in four of the first five games, the volume and his large role in this offense still make him a valuable starter this week.
Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Russell Gage could serve as a flex play for your team in Week 8. Gage has now posted decent numbers the past two games after going through a three-game slump. The WR had six receptions for 54 yards on seven targets last week. He's someone you can insert this week if you have injuries or a bye but it's important to keep in mind that the Panthers allow the fifth-fewest fantasy points to WRs and Gage can just as easily have an off-night as he can a productive night.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians said that wide receiver Antonio Brown "looked fantastic" in his first workout with the team on Wednesday. Brown will be eligible to make his season debut in Week 9 against the Saints after serving an eight-game suspension for multiple violations of the NFL's personal-conduct policy. He was only allowed to work with the strength and conditioning staff and attend meetings. "It went real well. He and I had a good conversation this morning," Arians said. "He'll be ready to go next week and in good shape." Arians coached Brown back with the Steelers, and the two didn't always see eye-to-eye. The 32-year-old former All-Pro could have a significant role right away if Chris Godwin (finger) remains out next week, and Brown displayed great chemistry with quarterback Tom Brady last year in his one game with the Patriots. It remains to be seen what Brown's immediate role will be, but the upside makes him absolutely worth rostering in all fantasy leagues.
Carolina Panthers wide receiver Curtis Samuel isn't the strongest start in Week 8, despite a great matchup against the Falcons. Atlanta's defense has allowed the fifth-most fantasy points per game to opposing wide receivers, though Samuel is a clear third-fiddle to fellow wideouts Robby Anderson and D.J. Moore. On the positive side, he has seen 11 targets over the past two games, so he's not the worst play if you find yourself in a bind. Beware, he's exceeded 50 receiving yards just once this season.
Atlanta Falcons running back Todd Gurley II is a low-end RB1 against a Carolina team allowing the fourth-most points to fantasy RBs. Gurley has seen at least 14 carries and 47 rushing yards in all seven games and has gotten over 55 rushing yards in six of seven games. Last time these two teams played, the RB rushed for a season-high 121 yards and is in a solid spot to deliver some great numbers again due to his volume.
Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan is a low-end QB1 on Thursday against the Panthers. Ryan posted 338 yards and a touchdown in last week's loss to the Lions and has tossed for over 300 yards in the past two games. Though the Panthers allow the fifth-fewest fantasy points to QBs, Atlanta's effectiveness on offense is enough to keep Ryan in the low-end QB1 tier.
Los Angeles Rams running back Darrell Henderson needed some time to get his feet under him to start the year, but he's rolling heading into a Week 8 matchup with the Miami Dolphins. He's the RB21 on the year despite being a non-factor in two games this season, and he's averaging just over 12 point-per-reception points per game. Against the Miami Dolphins, he's facing a defensive unit that's allowing the ninth-most fantasy points to the running back position this season. It's clear that he's the lead option in this backfield and he's a safe RB2 play this week.
Los Angeles Rams running back Malcolm Brown isn't a great fantasy option, but he's clearly a flex option in most weeks in deeper leagues, especially in Week 8 against the Miami Dolphins. He leads the team in running back snaps this season and he's been getting a lot of the goal-line work. With four teams on bye this week, a running back that sees red-zone work can be good enough to get into your flex spot, especially in standard-scoring formats. The Dolphins have allowed six rushing touchdowns this season and they've given up a receiving touchdown to running backs as well. Brown isn't a perfect play this week, but there are worse options available in deeper leagues.
Los Angeles Rams wide receiver Cooper Kupp has had a couple of quiet games the last couple of weeks, but he has a juicy matchup in Week 8 against the Miami Dolphins. The Dolphins are in the middle of the pack, allowing 23.0 fantasy points per game to opposing wideouts, but their biggest weakness is in the slot where Kupp lines up. Cornerback Nik Needham has graded out as No. 107 out of 118 cornerbacks this season, per Pro Football Focus. Kupp takes the majority of his snaps there and he has a significant advantage in that matchup. He still leads the team in targets and he averages over five receptions per game. If he can get into the end zone, this could even be a WR1 week for him.
Los Angeles Rams wide receiver Robert Woods had a terrible matchup in Week 7, and things don't get much easier in Week 8. The Miami Dolphins feature two outstanding starting cornerbacks in Byron Jones and Xavien Howard, and Woods is expected to see Howard for the majority of his snaps. Howard is currently the ninth-best corner in football, per Pro Football Focus. Woods gets involved in the offense in a variety of ways, but the Rams also have enough pieces that they don't have to force-feed him the ball. He's likely a flex option for this week with WR2 upside if he can find his way into the end zone.
Los Angeles Rams quarterback Jared Goff hasn't been perfect this season, but he's been a decent option as the overall QB14 through seven weeks. In Week 8, he's definitely not going to be near the top of the rankings against the Miami Dolphins. He has the full complement of his receiving weapons, but he's going against a defense that has dramatically improved from last year, especially on the defensive side of things. They're allowing just 16.8 fantasy points per game to the quarterback position, which puts them as the 10th-best unit in football in that statistic. With four teams on bye this week, you might not have a better option, but Goff slots in as a middle-tier QB2 this week.