Green Bay Packers' Aaron Rodgers celebrates a touchdown run by Aaron Jones during the second half of an NFL football game against the Detroit Lions Monday, Sept. 20, 2021, in Green Bay, Wis. (AP Photo/Mike Roemer)
Green Bay Packers head coach Matt LaFleur talks to Aaron Rodgers during the second half of an NFL football game against the Detroit Lions Monday, Sept. 20, 2021, in Green Bay, Wis. (AP Photo/Mike Roemer)
San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo (10) prepares to run on to the field with teammates before an NFL football game against the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday, Sept. 19, 2021, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)
SANTA CLARA, Calif. (AP) Staying on the road between East Coast games has been a successful formula for the San Francisco 49ers under coach Kyle Shanahan.
The problem has been how they played once they got back home. Shanahan and the Niners are looking to change that pattern when they host the Green Bay Packers on Sunday night after opening the season with road wins at Detroit and Philadelphia.
This is the fourth time under Shanahan that the team stayed East between road games and the Niners (2-0) have won the back end of those trips every time. But they've been flat once they returned home, surviving a five-turnover performance to beat Pittsburgh in 2019 and then losing to Atlanta later that year and the Eagles last season.
''We talked about it, which I think is the most important thing, being aware of it because I don't think we did realize that in the first year,'' Shanahan said. ''I don't really chalk it up to that, but after having that feeling three (times) in a row of it, I do think that there is something to be said on it. So, you talk about it so guys are aware.''
Shanahan changed the approach heading into this game against the Packers (1-1), cutting the Monday schedule in half and having a light practice Wednesday.
Green Bay also has to make some adjustments coming off a Monday night game before the long flight West.
The Packers have lost four of their past five games in California but quarterback Aaron Rodgers is always happen to return, having grown up cheering for the Niners as a kid in Chico.
''I have so many great memories watching those great teams from the late 80s and early 90s - before many of my teammates were born - and still have a lot of love and affection for the area,'' he said. ''Went to college there, still keep in touch with many folks from Cal that I got to meet or play with, and that area will always be special to me for sure.''
The Packers are making their fourth trip to Levi's Stadium in less than two years. They lost in the regular season in November 2019 and then again two months later in the playoffs in what was the last meaningful game with fans at San Francisco.
Green Bay won the matchup last November in the Niners' last home game before they got relocated to Arizona for the final month because of COVID-19 protocols.
The Packers already are playing without injured All-Pro left tackle David Bakhtiari, who tore his anterior cruciate ligament Dec. 31. They now face the possibility of missing Elgton Jenkins, the Pro Bowl guard who has been filling in for Bakhtiari at left tackle.
Jenkins suffered an ankle injury Monday night against Detroit, leaving his status uncertain for Sunday's game.
DEPENDING ON DEEBO
The 49ers' passing game has revolved around receiver Deebo Samuel with defenses focusing on tight end George Kittle and Brandon Aiyuk having a lesser role as he works his way back from a hamstring injury in camp. Samuel leads the NFL with 282 yards receiving this season on 15 catches. Samuel has been targeted on 36.4% of passes, second highest in the NFL to Cooper Kupp of the Rams.
''Deebo has come a long way,'' quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo said. ''He kind of started off as more of an athlete. Did some running stuff for us, some catching but his route-running has come a long way.''
GETTING MVS INVOLVED
Packers receiver Marquez Valdes-Scantling drew plenty of praise for his training camp performance and seemed on the verge of a breakthrough season, but he has only three catches for 17 yards this far.
Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers blamed himself after Monday's game for failing to hit Valdes-Scantling on some deep routes.
Valdes-Scantling had a two-touchdown game at San Francisco last season.
When reports surfaced before the draft that Rodgers might be traded, Shanahan didn't really believe it, but still called Packers coach Matt LaFleur just to check. He quickly got the answer he expected and the Niners went on to take Trey Lance with the third pick in the draft.
''I thought it'd be a quick no,'' he said. ''I think everyone knew what was going on at that time that it didn't seem like it was worth the call, but I know how we would've felt if it was going to happen and we didn't call. So, you call, you get a quick answer which what was what you're expecting and then you move on.''
Cleveland Browns running back Kareem Hunt (leg) was assisted off the field during Sunday's matchup against the Arizona Cardinals. He will not return. The veteran suffered a non-contact injury during the third quarter, and he went down holding the back of his right leg. With the team already withoutNick Chubb (calf) heading into Week 6, the news is even worse, especially if both men aren't available moving forward. As a result, Demetric Felton and D'Ernest Johnson could be in store for more work in the coming weeks.
Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Ja'Marr Chase finished with four catches for a team-high 97 yards during the decisive win over the Detroit Lions on Sunday. Chase had scored a touchdown in all but one game entering Week 6, so his failure to find the end zone in this one was certainly a little disappointing. Still, realistically, he won't score every week, so fantasy managers should continue to appreciate the fact that he is arguably a top-five wideout at the moment. As a result, keep him starting in all formats for the divisional matchup against the Baltimore Ravens.
Eight catches for 80 yards sounds like a stat line any fantasy manager would be happy with from one of their starting wide receivers. But in a game in which the Minnesota Vikings threw for 373 yards and three touchdowns, wide receiverJustin Jefferson's managers had to feel like there was a lot of production left on the field. Quarterback Kirk Cousins threw three touchdowns to other pass-catchers on the team, but he did target Jefferson a team-high 14 times. As long as Cousins keeps targeting the talented second-year wide receiver at this rate, the big games will come. Jefferson will continue as a locked-in WR1 when the Vikings return after their Week 7 bye.
Carolina Panthers kicker Zane Gonzalez connected on two field goals and two extra-point attempts in Sunday's loss to Minnesota. Since joining the team in Week 2, Gonzalez has missed only two field goals and one extra point. He is 8-for-10 on field goals and 12-for-13 in extra points. The 26-year-old is proving to be a reliable option for Carolina and can certainly be in the streaming tier going forward if the matchup is right.
Updating an earlier report, Cleveland Browns wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. (shoulder) returned to Sunday's matchup against the Cardinals. The veteran was bothered by a right shoulder ailment, labeling him questionable heading into the second half. However, although he made his way back to the field, he's had trouble staying healthy over the years. As a result, he will likely appear on the injury report heading toward the Thursday Night Football matchup against Denver.
Carolina Panthers wide receiver Robby Anderson managed three receptions for 11 yards and a score on 11 targets in Sunday's loss to Minnesota. This performance summed up Anderson's 2021 season, little production with many targets. In Week 4, Anderson managed 46 yards on 11 targets, and in Week 5, he compiled only 30 yards on seven targets. The target share is not the issue, but what Anderson makes of it is. The WR hasn't produced at a high level with the number of looks he is getting and that means his fantasy value should still be considered low going forward.
Cincinnati Bengals running back Chris Evans got some additional attention during the win over the Lions on Sunday. With Samaje Perine out of the equation while adhering to the league's policy surrounding COVID-19, Evans came in handy for fantasy managers in deeper formats, finishing with 18 yards off four carries. He also caught three passes for 44 yards, one of which resulted in a touchdown. However, the rookie's value is somewhat limited moving ahead, primarily once Perine returns and Joe Mixon is healthy.
Indianapolis Colts kicker Michael Badgley converted his lone 41-yard field goal attempt and all four extra-point attempts during a 31-3 blowout win over the Houston Texans in Week 6. Badgley was signed in relief of injured second-year starter Rodrigo Blankenship after attempting to play through a hip injury that ultimately derailed the Colts' chances of beating the Baltimore Ravens in a Week 5 overtime loss. Badgley is a viable streaming option while Blankenship recovers from his injury.
Carolina Panthers tight end Ian Thomas amassed one reception for 41 yards on two targets in Sunday's loss to Minnesota. With Dan Arnold now gone, Thomas should be a candidate to see more looks. Last week, he saw five targets and produced 40 yards, and this week, he posted 41 yards. While these past two weeks have been encouraging in terms of yardage, it's worth monitoring Thomas going forward and avoiding starting him for now. The TE has been rather inconsistent and his target share may not be high each week, especially considering he is competing with another tight end in Tommy Tremble and other WRs.
Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Adam Thielen took advantage of a suddenly generous Carolina Panthers defense as he led the team with 11 catches and 126 yards while hauling in an incredible five-yard third-quarter touchdown. His 13 targets were a season-high as he bounced back from two straight subpar performances. The entire Vikings offense rolled in this one, with Thielen once again rewarding his fantasy managers with a WR1 performance. He continues to be one of the best red-zone threats at the position, finding paydirt for the fifth time in six weeks. Thielen's managers will have to look elsewhere in Week 7 as the Vikings head into their bye.
Carolina Panthers running back Chuba Hubbard recorded 16 carries for 61 yards and a score along with one reception for four yards on three targets in Sunday's loss to the Vikings. With Christian McCaffrey now on IR due to a hamstring injury, Hubbard should have a decent role going forward. The back has now posted at least 52 rushing yards in the past four games including a Week 5 performance with 101 rushing yards. As the unquestioned workhorse back for now, Hubbard should be in the starting conversation for the next few weeks.
Indianapolis Colts tight end Mo Alie-Cox caught one of three targets for a 28-yard touchdown reception during a 31-3 Week 6 win over the Houston Texans. The massive fourth-year tight end has seen his involvement within the passing game increase this season, meaning he is the ideal Colts tight end to roster in most PPR formats moving forward. However, the 49ers are the sixth-best team at defending the tight end position,, meaning Cox is a less than ideal start in a Week 7 Sunday Night Football game in the Bay Area.
Carolina Panthers wide receiver D.J. Moore finished with five receptions for 73 yards on 13 targets in Sunday's loss to Minnesota. On a day where the rest of the Carolina pass-catching unit struggled, Moore shined and delivered another solid performance. The WR has double-digit targets and at least 73 yards in four of the last five games. As the unquestioned WR1 on Carolina, Moore should see great volume each week and is in the WR1 tier weekly going forward.
Indianapolis Colts wide receiver T.Y. Hilton caught all four of his targets for 80 yards during a 31-3 Week 6 win against the Houston Texans. After expressing to the media that he contemplated retirement during a neck rehabilitation during the last few weeks, Hilton looked impressive in his return against the Texans, leading the team in receptions and receiving yards. Moving forward, Hilton can be valued as a WR3 with WR2 upside. He will face the San Francisco 49ers in Week 7.
Indianapolis Colts wide receiver Michael Pittman Jr. caught two of his three targets for 35 yards during a 31-3 Week 6 win over the Houston Texans. Pittman became second fiddle to T.Y. Hilton in his return from a neck injury, totaling only three targets and watching Jonathan Taylor churn out most of the Colts' offensive production. The San Francisco 49ers defense has been vulnerable against wide receivers at times, so the Week 7 road contest in San Francisco could see Pittman return some value if he is able to increase his target share.
Carolina Panthers quarterback Sam Darnold struggled in Sunday's loss to Minnesota, going 17-for-41 for 207 yards, one touchdown, and one interception. The QB did rush for a season-high 48 yards, though. Nevertheless, Darnold has cooled off quite a bit since starting the season hot. The 24-year-old now has four touchdowns to six picks in the last three games and hasn't been as explosive either. Going forward, Darnold should be off your starting radar, given his struggles.
Cleveland Browns wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. (shoulder) is questionable to return to Sunday's matchup against the Cardinals. The veteran is dealing with a right shoulder injury, and judging by his history, it wouldn't be a surprise if he were to miss time moving forward. Nonetheless, it will be next man up, with Donovan Peoples-Jones taking advantage of Beckham's premature departure by racking up three catches for 88 yards and two touchdowns so far.
Indianapolis Colts wide receiver Parris Campbell caught his lone target for a 51-yard touchdown to open the Week 6 31-3 win over the Houston Texans. Unfortunately, during the touchdown reception, Campbell suffered a foot injury that kept him sidelined for the rest of the game. Injuries have kept the speedy wideout from reaching his full potential. Still, he has been increasingly involved in his third season with the Colts. Monitor Campbell's status at practice this week heading into a Week 7 road contest against the San Francisco 49ers.
After sitting out last week and having his playing status up in the air all this week, Dalvin Cook's fantasy managers were rightfully anxious heading into the Minnesota Vikings matchup against a stout Carolina Panthers defense. Cook laid all those doubts to rest as he rumbled his way to 140 yards on 29 carries, including a third-quarter 16-yard touchdown. Cook briefly left the game after taking a hit, but he quickly returned and finished the game. In his post-game interview, he mentioned that despite a strong performance that he is still not quite 100 percent healthy. Cook will have two weeks to fully recover as the Vikings head into their Week 7 bye.
Indianapolis Colts running back Marlon Mack carried five times for 12 yards in a 31-3 Week 6 win over the Houston Texans. Mack has seen a few carries here and there but is primarily limited in the Colts offense behind Jonathan Taylor and Nyheim Hines. As a result, he should remain off of fantasy radars moving forward. However, rumors of a requested trade could result in an attractive landing spot for the fifth-year running back.