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 Fantasy Takeaways from Week 6
After missing the past two games, Tennessee Titans wide receiver Corey Davis has been activated from the league's COVID-19 list and should be set to return for the team's next game against the Steelers. Davis was having a bit of a resurgence in the first three games of the year, catching 15 passes for 206 yards and a score and starting to look like a viable fantasy play in deeper leagues. We'll see if he can get that positive momentum back.
New York Jets head coach Adam Gase says that he isn't going to let someone else call the plays for the 0-6 Jets, saying that play-calling is "Step 10" for the team and that they are currently still on Step 2. It's not a surprise that Gase is being stubborn about this issue, as he's likely feeling immense pressure to turn things around on his own if he wants to find some way to inexplicably keep his job. As long as Gase is the head coach for the Jets, there are very few Jets players who can be trusted in fantasy. The list is essentially just wide receiver Jamison Crowder.
Kansas City Chiefs offensive tackle Mitchell Schwartz (back) is active for Monday's game against the Buffalo Bills. Schwartz will help bolster the Kansas City offensive line, preventing there from being a downgrade to the team's production that could have come if Schwartz was out. Meanwhile, tight end Ricky Seals-Jones is active for the first time this season, though we don't expect to see much from Seals-Jones in this one.
Buffalo Bills running back Zach Moss (toe) is active for Monday's game against the Kansas City Chiefs. T.J. Yeldon is inactive, suggesting that Moss is good to play at least somewhat of a role against K.C. Wide receiver John Brown (knee) is also playing and should see plenty of playing time, though is likely to trail behind Stefon Diggs and Cole Beasley in snaps. Neither Moss nor Brown are great options in season-long leagues, though Moss has appeal due to his projected role in the red zone.
Buffalo Bills defensive end Trent Murphy and defensive tackle Harrison Phillips are expected to be healthy scratches on Monday against the Chiefs, according to sources. Defensive end Bryan Cox Jr. and defensive tackle Justin Zimmer have been elevated from the practice squad. The shakeup comes a week after the Bills failed to sack Titans quarterback Ryan Tannehill in their Week 5 loss. Rookie A.J. Epenesa and former first-rounder Vernon Butler will need to step up in a tough matchup against Kansas City. The Bills Defense has taken a step back in 2020 and have averaged only 2.0 sacks per game and were ranked No. 22 against the run by DVOA.
The Dallas Cowboys moved linebacker Leighton Vander Esch (collarbone) to the active roster on Monday and placed quarterback Dak Prescott (ankle) on Injured Reserve in a corresponding move. Vander Esch, who broke his collarbone in Week 1, is expected to play on Monday night against the Cardinals. It's great news for a Cowboys Defense that has been one of the worst through five weeks of the season. LVE is a risky IDP play in his first game back against Arizona, but when healthy, he's in the weekly consideration as a starter at the linebacker position. Avoid Dallas' D on Monday night against a Cardinals offense that can put up points in bunches.
The Las Vegas Raiders are placing rookie cornerback Damon Arnette on the Reserve/COVID-19 list on Monday, according to a source. No other Raiders players or personnel have tested positive, and Maurice Hurst, the lone player previously on the COVID-19 list, has been cleared to return to practice this week. Arnette, a first-round pick, was already on Injured Reserve after he had thumb surgery. The 24-year-old is expected to miss six to eight weeks after having surgery when he aggravated his thumb ailment in the Week 3 loss to the Patriots. Lamarcus Joyner should continue to see an expanded role in the secondary with Arnette out.
Philadelphia Eagles tight end Zach Ertz (ankle) is expected to miss three to four weeks after suffering an ankle injury in the Week 6 loss to the Ravens, according to sources. The good news is the Eagles have their bye in Week 9, so Ertz may end up only missing two games for his fantasy managers. However, it's a big blow to an offense that already has fellow tight end Dallas Goedert (ankle) on Injured Reserve. Richard Rodgers, who has nine catches for 99 yards in six games this season, will be the beneficiary of increased targets with both Ertz and Goedert sidelined. He'll be a waiver consideration for those desperate at the tight end position in deeper leagues. Ertz needs to be stashed in all leagues.
The Philadelphia Eagles expect running back Miles Sanders (knee) to miss their Thursday night game this week against the Giants. The injury could also keep Sanders out the following week against the Cowboys, so you'll need to have a backup plan if you roster him. The 23-year-old left in the second half of the Week 6 loss to the Ravens and didn't return. With Sanders set to miss time, backup Boston Scott will be a popular waiver-wire addition this week and should see the majority of backfield touches against a Giants team allowing the 13th-most fantasy points to running backs this year. Corey Clement should also see an increase in snaps in Philly's banged-up offense.
Tennessee Titans left tackle Taylor Lewan (knee) revealed on his Twitter account that he suffered a torn ACL in the Week 6 overtime win over the Texans. The three-time Pro Bowler will be forced to miss the rest of the season, which is obviously bad news for Tennessee's offensive line and quarterback Ryan Tannehill as they look to stay undefeated. Lewan's injury could cause a negative ripple effect as early as Week 7 against the also-undefeated Steelers. Pittsburgh's defense currently leads the NFL with 24 sacks, so Tannehill could be under some serious pressure next Sunday. The Steelers Defense also allows the eighth-fewest fantasy points to QBs, so Tannehill will be one to fade as a QB1 in Week 7.
Tennessee Titans tight end Jonnu Smith (ankle) is dealing with a "minor" ankle sprain and is expected to be questionable for Week 7 against the Steelers, according to a source. The Titans are going to need all of their offensive weapons in a battle of undefeated squads next Sunday, so Smith's practice status this week will be one to watch closely. Smith left the game in the third quarter in Week 6 and didn't return, which doesn't bode well for his status moving forward. He had just one 13-yard catch before leaving, but he's been a strong TE1 so far this season. Quarterback Ryan Tannehill will already be a QB to fade against Pittsburgh, especially if he's without Smith this weekend. Anthony Firkser and Geoff Swaim are next up on the depth chart if Smith is forced to sit out.
Tennessee Titans TE Jonnu Smith (ankle) has a minor ankle sprain that will likely make him questionable for next week against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Fantasy Spin: Smith is third among tight ends in fantasy points, and the hope is with rest and practice maintenance he'll be able to go. Keep tabs on him this week.
Cleveland Browns head coach Kevin Stefanski said that quarterback Baker Mayfield (ribs) is sore after the Week 6 loss to the Steelers, but nowhere near sore like he was last Monday. Mayfield was pulled late in the blowout loss to the division-rival Steelers, but Stefanski said that Mayfield will remain the starter if he's healthy. We've seen positive glimpses this year from the 25-year-old signal-caller, but Sunday was another step back. He went 10-for-18 for 119 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions, one of which was returned for a touchdown. Mayfield remains the better option over backup Case Keenum and he should start in Week 7 against the Bengals, where he'll be more of a QB2.
Not much was expected from a Denver Broncos Defense missing most of their key playmakers in a Week 6 matchup on the road against quarterback Cam Newton and the Patriots. But Denver's D slowed down Newton and allowed their offense to win the game with six field goals from kicker Brandon McManus in the 18-12 victory. Turnovers were key for a team that had struggled to generate them in their first four games. The Broncos defense forced three of them (two interceptions, one fumble recovery) and forced three total fumbles in the contest. They also recorded four sacks of Newton and generated six tackles for loss. It was total team effort and an encouraging one for Denver, but their defense just can't be trusted heading into a Week 7 matchup with the Chiefs.
Denver Broncos rookie wide receiver Jerry Jeudy caught just two of his five targets for 32 scoreless yards in the team's Week 6 upset win over the Patriots by a score of 18-12. Jeudy was third on the team with his five targets, seeing one less look than rookie tight end Albert Okwuegbunam, who was making his NFL debut. The Alabama product will have much better games in the future, but it didn't help that quarterback Drew Lock was rusty following a two-game absence due to a shoulder injury. Through five games, Jeudy leads the Broncos in targets and is second on the team in receiving yards behind Tim Patrick. He'll be a WR3/flex in a Week 7 divisional matchup against the Chiefs, and he could rack up some useful points for fantasy managers if Denver is forced to play catch-up with KC's high-octane offense.
Denver Broncos kicker Brandon McManus blew up for any fantasy managers that started him in Week 6, as he nailed all six of his field-goal attempts on Sunday. With the Broncos offense failing to put the ball in the end zone all day, McManus' leg accounted for all of the team's points in the 18-12 upset victory. The 29-year-old hit field goals from 45, 44, 27, 52, 20 and 54 yards out. Denver's offense has been very inconsistent so far in 2020, which has made McManus a boom/bust kicking option in fantasy. The Broncos likely won't have the luxury of relying on field goals in their Week 7 matchup against the defending Super Bowl-champion Chiefs, though, so there will be more bust potential from McManus next week.
Denver Broncos rookie tight end Albert Okwuegbunam saw the field for the first time in his NFL career on Sunday against the Patriots and caught two of his six targets for 45 yards in the 18-12 win. With Noah Fant (ankle) inactive, the rookie tight end was the preferred choice for quarterback Drew Lock over tight end Nick Vannett, who caught his only target for seven yards. Okwuegbunam's six targets were also second on the team behind Tim Patrick. The fourth-round pick is athletic and fast for his size (6-foot-5, 255 pounds), but he'll likely fade into the background again once Fant returns from his injury, possibly in Week 7 against the Chiefs. It's clear, though, that Lock likes throwing to his tight ends, which is great news for Fant's fantasy managers.
Cleveland Browns QB Baker Mayfield (ribs) came out of Week 6 sore, but nowhere near as sore as he was after last week, according to head coach Kevin Stefanski.
Fantasy Spin: Mayfield was 10-for-18 for 119 yards, one score and two picks. He's 26th in fantasy points at the position. He'll have the Cincinnati Bengals this week, and you could maybe make the case to start him if your starter has a bye.
Denver Broncos running back Royce Freeman served as the backup to Phillip Lindsay in the Week 6 win over the Patriots, as Melvin Gordon III was inactive with a non-COVID-19-related illness. Freeman had a season-high eight carries for 26 yards and caught his lone target for four yards in the 18-12 victory. It was nice that the 24-year-old saw a bit more work, but he still wasn't much of a factor in the game plan despite the team's lead back being out. Even with Gordon potentially being suspended by the NFL because of a DUI, Freeman seems destined for a small role as the second fiddle to Lindsay after his big game in Week 6. He'll have no standalone value heading into the Week 7 divisional matchup with the Chiefs.
Denver Broncos wide receiver Tim Patrick went over the 100-yard mark for the second straight week in the 18-12 upset win over the Patriots in Week 6. Patrick caught four of his team-leading eight targets for a team-high 101 yards on the day. It has certainly helped that tight end Noah Fant has been hampered by an ankle injury and missed all of the Week 6 game, but Patrick is emerging as a viable flex option for fantasy managers. The 26-year-old is only rostered in 18 percent of Yahoo leagues as of Monday, so he should be a target off the waiver wire heading into a Week 7 matchup with Kansas City. The Chiefs allow the sixth-fewest fantasy points to receivers, but the Broncos could be forced to air it out often if they are behind by multiple scores.