Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Nelson Agholor (13) makes the catch against the Atlanta Falcons during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 15, 2019, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Amis)
Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford (9) throws in the first half of an NFL football game against the Los Angeles Chargers in Detroit, Sunday, Sept. 15, 2019. (AP Photo/Duane Burleson)
PHILADELPHIA (AP) Jim Schwartz struggled to remember any of his former players still on the Detroit Lions other than Matthew Stafford.
Long snapper Don Muhlbach, punter Sam Martin and cornerback Darius Slay also remain from the teams Schwartz coached from 2009-2013. Schwartz, now a Super Bowl champion defensive coordinator for the Eagles, will see all his guys when the Lions (1-0-1) visit Philadelphia (1-1) on Sunday.
''It's funny, I don't recognize anybody on that team,'' Schwartz said. ''Stafford, the long snapper, the punter and then I think Darius Slay might be the only guys that were there. That shows you how much turnover there is in this league because it really doesn't seem that long ago. Maybe it has been.''
Schwartz was a first-year head coach when Detroit drafted Stafford No. 1 overall in 2009. He was fired after going 7-9 in 2013, two years after helping the Lions reach the playoffs for the first time in 11 years. He was 29-51 over five seasons.
''He was part of that process, so I appreciate him a lot for giving me the chance,'' Stafford said. ''We went to playoffs for the first time in a long time in this franchise's history and did a lot of good things in kind of getting us to where we are now, which I'm proud of, and I know he is, too.''
Schwartz has faced Stafford twice already. He was the defensive coordinator under Doug Marrone in Buffalo when the Bills beat the Lions in Detroit. Schwartz was carried off the field by Bills players. Stafford led the Lions to a home win over Schwartz and the Eagles in 2016.
''Matt's always been a guy that is a very accurate passer,'' Schwartz said. ''He's not afraid to put a ball in any window. He's got a strong arm. He can make all the throws. He's a really good game manager. That's gone maybe a little bit under the radar with him, and you can see that in the way they are playing. They are playing a little different scheme. They have a defensive head coach. They have an offensive coordinator that came from a run-first, Seattle-type scheme. So they have maybe a little bit different flavor, but he's still a very dangerous guy. Goes to the right spot with the ball. Makes accurate throws and moves the ball around to a lot of different people.''
Some things to watch for when the Eagles host the Lions:
The Eagles will likely be without their two top receivers. Alshon Jeffery has a calf strain and DeSean Jackson has an abdominal injury. Rookie J.J. Arcega-Whiteside and third-year pro Mack Hollins would start in their place with Nelson Agholor in the slot. Agholor had eight catches for 107 yards and one touchdown in a 24-20 loss to Atlanta. He also dropped what would've been a go-ahead 60-yard TD catch. Hollins had five catches for 50 yards and Arcega-Whiteside only caught one ball for 4 yards.
Detroit hopes linebacker Jarrad Davis can play for the first time since injuring his right ankle nearly a month ago in a preseason game. Lions offensive tackle Taylor Decker has been playing through a back ailment, which he said feels good some days and not so good on others.
''Anyone who has had a back (injury), you know how they can be finicky,'' Decker said.
The last time Lions coach Matt Patricia faced the Eagles was in the Super Bowl on Feb. 4, 2018. The former New England defensive coordinator saw Nick Foles carve his unit for 41 points in a loss to the Eagles.
''I personally try to not look back at that Super Bowl,'' Patricia said.
WHERE'S THE RUSH
The Eagles have only two sacks in two games and already have lost two defensive tackles to injury. Malik Jackson, who started opposite All-Pro Fletcher Cox inside, sustained a season-ending foot injury in Week 1. Tim Jernigan took his place but broke his foot last week. Hassan Ridgeway takes over for Jernigan. While there's been a lot of shuffling at the tackle spots, edge rushers Brandon Graham, Derek Barnett and Josh Sweat haven't been able to get to the quarterback, and that's problematic.
Carson Wentz and Philadelphia's offense continue to start slow. The team has scored an NFL-low 41 points in the opening quarter since the start of last season.
''I just have to find the magical plays,'' coach Doug Pederson said.
The Washington Redskins Defense will head to Minnesota on Thursday night to take on a Vikings team that has averaged 36 points a game over the last three weeks. Minnesota's recent offensive success directly coincides with its newly established willingness to air the ball out from the arm of Kirk Cousins, who has averaged 325 yards per game and thrown 10 total touchdowns in this span. Adding fuel to the grease fire that is Washington's fantasy outlook for Week 8, the Vikings also have a running back by the name of Dalvin Cook who just so happens to lead the NFL in rushing yards per game at 103.6. Even with Adam Thielen in danger of missing this game for the Vikings, there is no conceivable reason to deploy the Redskins defense in fantasy lineups this week.
Washington Redskins tight end Jeremy Sprinkle will presumably start for the fourth consecutive week on Thursday night against the Vikings, but that starting role has yet to yield any positive fantasy results. Vernon Davis has missed Washington's last three games, a time frame in which Sprinkle has caught a total of six passes for 54 yards. Even a visit to the endzone can't necessarily save him from a usage rate that low. The Vikings are allowing double-digit PPR production on average to tight ends, but the last thing you want to do is needlessly roll the dice on a risky Thursday night player and have it go up in flames. Whether Davis (who is currently listed as doubtful) unexpectedly suits up or not, there are safer and more proven options at tight end than Sprinkle for Week 8.
Washington Redskins wide receiver Paul Richardson has a relatively favorable matchup on his hands Thursday, but has done nothing this season to convince fantasy owners he can capitalize. The Vikings are allowing an average of 15 receptions and 159 yards per game to opposing receivers, along with 11 total touchdowns. Richardson hasn't caught a pass for two straight weeks, and Terry McLaurin is a productive target vacuum in Washington's offense, so the reliability scale tips in the latter's direction. As much as the Redskins would probably like to involve someone other than McLaurin and diversify their attack, Richardson simply cannot be trusted as a fantasy play in any format based on his output to this point in the season.
Washington Redskins wide receiver Trey Quinn has totaled seven catches for 56 yards in his last three games. His only double-digit PPR outing came all the way back in Week 1 when he happened to score a garbage-time touchdown. With a short week to prepare for Thursday night's game and a Redskins offense that hasn't looked any good for pretty much the entire season, Quinn's outlook remains grim even against a Vikings Defense that has been somewhat friendly to wide receivers. If he miraculously has a productive night against Minnesota after catching three or fewer passes in four consecutive weeks, it unfortunately needs to happen on the waiver wire.
Washington Redskins wide receiver Terry McLaurin should be in line for a ton of targets in Thursday night's game at Minnesota, making him the only reasonably safe fantasy option among his teammates. The Vikings have allowed the most receptions to wide receivers of any team in the league, for 1,116 total yards and a league-high 11 touchdowns. McLaurin's well-established rapport with Case Keenum through the first half of the season suggests he should be the pass-catcher tasked with exploiting Minnesota's secondary. Game flow figures to work in his favor as well, as the Vikings could reasonably be expected to jump out to an early lead. McLaurin's volume keeps him in flex territory for WR-needy fantasy teams.
Washington Redskins quarterback Case Keenum will look to bounce back from Sunday's 9-0 loss in which he threw for under 100 yards, but a date with Minnesota doesn't provide him with much more fantasy appeal. This should be interpreted more as a lack of faith in Washington's offense than a vote of confidence in the Vikings' relatively exploitable pass defense, but the point remains. The Redskins are averaging 12.9 points per game on offense, and they could be without both of Adrian Peterson and Chris Thompson in the backfield. The hope here from a fantasy perspective is that Minnesota's suddenly explosive offense puts the Redskins up against a massive early deficit, thus forcing Keenum to air it out. Even if the Thursday night game unfolds as such, fantasy owners would be putting a ton of misguided faith in pass-catchers like Paul Richardson and Trey Quinn by starting Keenum in fantasy lineups. The reward does not outweigh the risk.
Washington Redskins running back Wendell Smallwood might be the starter by default in Thursday night's game at Minnesota. Adrian Peterson is questionable with a high ankle sprain, while Chris Thompson continues to nurse a toe injury that held him out of last week's contest. Considering the short week, it wouldn't be surprising to see the Redskins err on the side of caution regarding Peterson and Thompson. They don't have much to play for, and it wouldn't be worth risking further injury to either if one or both are not at 100% health. If Smallwood does have the backfield to himself, volume doesn't outweigh the unfavorable matchup. The Vikings are giving up 3.8 yards per carry to opposing backs, and have surrendered just one rushing touchdown to the position. Smallwood will have to turn in his fantasy value in the receiving game, which is not worth banking on. He is best avoided unless you find yourself in desperate need of a PPR flex.
Houston Texans CB Phillip Gaines (ankle) was placed on the Reserve/Injury list Tuesday, Oct. 22.
New York Giants LB Keion Adams (knee) was released from the Reserve/Injured list Monday, Oct. 21.
Baltimore Ravens LB Pernell McPhee (triceps) was placed on the Reserve/Injured list Tuesday, Oct. 22.
Chicago Bears DE Jonathan Harris was released Tuesday, Oct. 22; the move cleared a spot for the signing of DL Brent Urban.
Cleveland Browns RB Elijah McGuire was released from the practice squad Tuesday, Oct. 22.
Atlanta Falcons WR Calvin Ridley was listed as the No. 2 receiver on the version of the Falcons' depth chart released following the trade of WR Mohamed Sanu Tuesday, Oct. 22.
Fantasy Spin: Ridley was already Atlanta's second-most productive receiver behind Julio Jones, but he stands to gain at least a few extra targets per game without much depth behind the top two wideouts for the Falcons.
Detroit Lions RB Kerryon Johnson (knee) was placed on Reserve/Injured list Tuesday, Oct. 22.
Houston Texans RB Duke Johnson out-snapped RB Carlos Hyde 39-to-26 in the Week 7 matchup against the Indianapolis Colts Sunday, Oct. 20.
Fantasy Spin: Johnson received a total of nine touches and racked up 56 yards. It was his first start of the season but Carlos Hyde still had more carries. Johnson has the higher ceiling in PPR formats, but Hyde is the safer option in standard leagues.
New York Giants WR Sterling Shepard (concussion) said Tuesday, Oct. 22, he's confident he'll return to the field soon. 'Oh, I'll be back out on the field,' Shepard said. 'It's just whether it's gonna be this week or next week.'
Fantasy Spin: Shepard has been limited to four games this season, but he has been able to rack up 25 receptions on 34 targets for 267 yards and a touchdown. The more experience QB Daniel Jones acquires while Shepard is out of the lineup will only boost the receiver's production upon his eventual return. He's a solid buy-low candidate.
Free-agent DE Kasim Edebali (Eagles) signed an undisclosed contract with the Oakland Raiders Tuesday, Oct. 22.
Free-agent LB Nate Orchard (Dolphins) worked out for the Atlanta Falcons Tuesday, Oct. 22, along with free-agent DL Shane Ray (Ravens) and DE Quinton Bell (Raiders).
Free-agent DT Willie Henry (Ravens) worked out for the Philadelphia Eagles Tuesday, Oct. 22.
Free-agent S Kentrell Brice (Buccaneers) worked out for the Denver Broncos Tuesday, Oct. 22, along with fellow free agents S Marcus Gilchrist (Raiders) and DE Joel Heath (Texans).