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 Hot Plays: Week 7
Los Angeles Rams quarterback Jared Goff has been a low-end QB1 for the majority of the season, but that is not the case in Week 7 against the Chicago Bears. The Bears Defense has been playing lights-out football through the first six weeks of the season, and they haven't shown signs of slowing down. They're allowing an average of just under 17 points per game to the quarterback position. Goff has solid weapons all around him, but this is just a brutal matchup from a fantasy perspective. With four quarterbacks on a bye this week, Goff could be in the streaming conversation in deeper leagues, but you should temper expectations. He should be in the middle tier of QB2s this week.
Los Angeles Rams running back Darrell Henderson will be looking to bounce back in Week 7 against the Chicago Bears after a decent performance in Week 6, but it won't be that easy. The Bears are tied for 10th in fewest fantasy points allowed to the running back position, and Henderson remains in a crowded backfield that also includes rookie Cam Akers and Malcolm Brown. Week 6 was the first game that Henderson cleared 50 percent of the offensive snaps this season, and he just barely beat out Brown for that honor. Due to his command of the carries as of right now, you have to slot him in as an RB2 option, but temper your expectations against a strong Bears Defense.
Los Angeles Rams wide receiver Cooper Kupp had a down game in Week 6, and it looks like those struggles could continue in Week 7 against the Chicago Bears. The Bears are allowing just 17.4 points per game to the wide receiver position, and their cornerbacks are playing lights-out. The one advantage that Kupp may have in this game is that he plays primarily out of the slot. With cornerbacks Jaylon Johnson and Kyle Fuller primarily operating on the outside, that gives Kupp the easier matchup against Buster Skrine. Against a strong Bears Defense on Monday night, Kupp should be considered more of a low-end RB2 play. He just hasn't found the connection with quarterback Jared Goff this year yet that his fantasy managers expected.
Cincinnati Bengals DLs Geno Atkins and Carlos Dunlap are being phased out of the team's defensive game plan, and they're each frustrated with their lack of playing time, according to multiple sources. Atkins was on the field for 18 snaps in Week 6 against the Indianapolis Colts, mostly on third down, while Dunlap was in for 28 total defensive plays.
The Carolina Panthers Defense, though improving and showing signs of efficiency, is not a viable starting option this week. They face the Saints, who have a potent offense consisting of Drew Brees, Alvin Kamara, Jared Cook, and elite WR Michael Thomas, who could potentially return this week. In addition, the Saints have been the third-worst matchup for fantasy defenses. The Panthers' defense should be on the bench this week.
Carolina Panthers wide receiver D.J. Moore should best be viewed as a low-end WR2 for this week. Moore hasn't been the most productive receiver for Carolina this season as Robby Anderson has emerged into a top option. Nevertheless, Moore's role is still decent as he has seen at least four targets in each game. There is no reason to discount the WR's value completely as he has still gotten over 90 yards in three games as well. That's enough to give him starting value against a New Orleans defense allowing the 11th-most points to fantasy WRs.
Carolina Panthers wide receiver Curtis Samuel is currently dealing with a knee injury and his status for Week 7 remains unclear. Samuel also missed Week 6. The WR has offered very modest value in the passing and rushing game this season, getting no more than 51 receiving yards and 28 rushing yards in any contest. Even if he's active, there are certainly better flex options for this week.
The New York Giants Defense has been better in recent weeks and has another good matchup in Week 7 with a Thursday night matchup with a banged-up Eagles offense. Philadelphia is missing starters across the offensive line and skill positions, and will face the challenge of playing on a short week. Led by cornerback James Bradberry, whose shut down play on the outside has taken away opposing number-one receivers, the Giants are a startable unit in fantasy at Philadelphia.
Carolina Panthers tight end Ian Thomas is well off the fantasy radar heading into Week 7. The TE has only gotten three receptions for 14 yards and a score on seven targets in the past three games. His role is simply not large enough for him to merit good fantasy value.
Updating a previous report, New York Jets QB Sam Darnold (shoulder) saw limited reps in practice, and head coach Adam Gase spoke about it after. 'Right now, we're just saying that all options are available,' Gase said Wednesday, Oct. 21. 'We'll have him on a pitch count.'
Fantasy Spin: Darnold sprained the AC joint in his right shoulder on Oct. 1, and he hasn't played or practice since, with Joe Flacco starting the previous two. Even if Darnold were able to play against a very giving Buffalo Bills pass defense, only fantasy owners in deeper leagues using two starting quarterbacks should even consider him at this point.
New York Giants tight end Evan Engram is off to a disappointing start to the season, but draws another favorable matchup in Week 7. Philadelphia allows the fourth-most fantasy points to opposing tight ends this season, though it may not matter as Engram has not taken advantage of other favorable matchups. Engram has not found the end zone this season and has just one game with more than 35 yards. New York completed just 12 passes last week so it's hard to trust anyone in this pass offense. Engram is a risky starter, but does possess upside and can be started in deeper formats.
Carolina Panthers wide receiver Robby Anderson is a WR2 this week against New Orleans. Anderson has emerged as the top target for Teddy Bridgewater this season and already has three 100-yard games. He has also seen at least four receptions and five targets in all six games. Given the increasing rapport with Bridgewater along with a large role in this offense, Anderson is a solid starter against a Saints team allowing the 11th-most points to fantasy WRs.
Carolina Panthers quarterback Teddy Bridgewater is a QB2 for this week against the Saints. From a fantasy perspective, the QB has been mostly mediocre aside from Week 5 against the Falcons and overall has six passing touchdowns to five interceptions thus far. Though the Saints allow the fourth-most fantasy points to quarterbacks, Bridgewater hasn't proven that he can be an explosive fantasy option. Only consider him in two-QB leagues for this week but there are certainly better options based on matchup.
Carolina Panthers running back Mike Davis is a low-end RB1 this week against the Saints. Davis is coming off a modest week in which he had 52 rushing yards and three receiving yards. Nevertheless, the volume is there in both the rushing and passing game, as he has seen at least 13 carries and anywhere from three to 10 targets in the past four games. The Saints allow the 11th-most points to fantasy RBs, giving Davis a generally favorable matchup.
New York Giants wide receiver Golden Tate is coming off his worst performance of the season last week and will look to bounce-back versus Philadelphia. In Week 6, Tate caught just one pass for 11 yards as the New York offense was stuck in neutral most of the game. Tate is yet to have more than five catches in a game this season and is yet to eclipse the 50-yard mark or score a touchdown. Most fantasy managers should be able to find a better WR option on the waiver wire.
San Francisco 49ers CB Richard Sherman (calf) isn't expected to return to the field until closer to the team's Week 11 bye, according to head coach Kyle Shanahan Wednesday, Oct. 21. 'Now he's in a boot just taking care of it, making sure it heals and let those take course,' Shanahan said. 'I thought it would be, I'd have more answers this week, but I still think it's going to be a few weeks on that. ... It's obviously going a little longer than we expected. (We've) got to play it smart with him, but I don't see it being week-to-week right now. I see it being probably until around our Bye week.'
New York Giants wide receiver Darius Slayton has been the best receiving option in New York this season and will look to continue his success versus the Eagles in Week 7. In their first matchup last season, Slayton torched Philadelphia for 154 yards and two touchdowns. The Auburn Tiger was quieter in their second meeting, but has had had splash performances this season including a two-touchdown game and two 100-yard efforts. While Slayton has had his ups, he has had quiet games as well and will draw the coverage of Pro Bowl cornerback Darius Slay in this matchup. The Giants only completed 12 passes last week so there is risk in starting Slayton, but he does have big-game upside as a WR3.
New York Giants running back Devonta Freeman has seen his workload increase in each week with the team since signing after Week 2. Freeman has been the clear lead-back for Big Blue, but faces a quick turnaround this week with a Thursday night game against the Eagles. Freeman handled 17 and 18 touches in the past two games and has reached 60 yards in each game. Neither Wayne Gallman nor Dion Lewis handled a carry last week but could be more involved with the Thursday matchup this week. Philadelphia gives up the eighth-fewest fantasy points per game to opposing running backs. Freeman is startable as a flex based on his volume, but does carry some risk in Week 7.
Seattle Seahawks WR Tyler Lockett (non-injury) received a 'load management' day Wednesday, Oct. 21, and didn't participate in practice.
Fantasy Spin: Nothing to see here. Make sure Lockett is in your lineups for Week 7.
Arizona Cardinals WR DeAndre Hopkins (ankle) did not participate at practice Wednesday, Oct. 21.
Fantasy Spin: Hopkins caught just two of eight targets but still racked up 73 yards against the Dallas Cowboys in Week 6. The blowout victory allowed for a little extra rest, as he played just 77 percent of the offensive snaps, and he should be good to go by later this week.