Thu Oct 17 6:01pm ET
By JOSH DUBOW
AP Pro Football Writer
In this July 29, 2019, file photo, Oakland Raiders linebacker Vontaze Burfict attends NFL football training camp in Napa, Calif. Oakland defensive coordinator Paul Guenther lashed out at the NFL for the severe suspension the league handed Burfict for his latest infraction for a helmet-to-helmet hit. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg, File)
ALAMEDA, Calif. (AP) Oakland defensive coordinator Paul Guenther lashed out at the NFL for the lengthy suspension the league handed to Raiders linebacker Vontaze Burfict for a helmet-to-helmet hit, one of a series of violations for which he has been punished.
Burfict was suspended for the final 12 games of the regular season and the playoffs for the hit to the head of Indianapolis tight end Jack Doyle on Sept. 29. It was longest suspension ever handed down by the league for an on-field infraction.
Burfict appealed the penalty hoping to get it reduced but that was denied last week by appeals officer Derrick Brooks. The previous longest suspension was five games handed to Tennessee's Albert Haynesworth in 2006 for kicking and stomping on Cowboys center Andre Gurode's face, leading to 30 stitches.
''I think it was a witch hunt from the beginning quite honestly,'' Guenther said Thursday. ''Somebody at the league didn't want him playing football and they got what they wanted.''
NFL Vice President of Football Operations Jon Runyan handed down the penalty to punish Burfict severely for ''repeated violations of unnecessary roughness rules'' after the hit on Doyle. It was the third time Burfict has been suspended for a dangerous hit on the field to go along with several others that led to fines.
The suspension is without pay, costing Burfict more than $1.1 million in salary and per game active roster bonuses.
Guenther said he's most upset about the lack of a clear standard and that he and the team will keep a close eye on other infractions to see if they are dealt with the same way.
''Now they've opened up a whole can or worms as far as the next guy who is going to do this,'' he said. ''We have to make sure if we do this to this one guy, this one guy driving 38 miles per hour in a 30 mile per hour zone, a cop looking for one guy doing it, then all the players should be held to the same one standard. To me that's where I have the issue.''
During his time in Cincinnati, Burfict was repeatedly suspended by the NFL for egregious hits and violating its policy on performance-enhancers. He was fined regularly for hits that crossed the line, most notably the one to Antonio Brown's head that helped the Steelers rally for an 18-16 playoff win in the 2015 season. That led to a three-game suspension to start the 2016 season.
Burfict then was penalized with a five-game suspension for a blind-side block against Kansas City fullback Anthony Sherman in the 2017 preseason. The suspension was later reduced to three games.
Burfict was also fined $112,000 last season for hits on Brown and James Conner in a game against Pittsburgh.
Despite that history, Burfict said after signing with the Raiders that he disputes accusations that he is a ''dirty'' player.
But it was that history that led to this punishment, with Runyan telling Burfict in a letter that he ''continued to flagrantly abuse rules designated to protect yourself and your opponents from unnecessary risk.''
''Does it make any sense to sign a guy if after one infraction he's going to get thrown out of the league for a year? No, it doesn't,'' Guenther said. ''I think it's very unfair. It's unfair to our team and unfair to Vontaze.''
Cleveland Browns wide receiver Antonio Callaway was a surprise healthy scratch ahead of his team's Week 10 game against the Buffalo Bills. According to head coach Freddie Kitchens, Callaway's benching was a "one-game thing" so the second-year wideout should be active for Thursday's game against the Pittsburgh Steelers. A source told the Plain Dealer that Callaway's benching was for disciplinary reasons. When asked, Kitchens responded, I dont know if hes gotten the message or not, but Im not wavering. It was only for yesterday, yes.'' With Callaway back in the fold, Sunday's hero Rashard Higgins will presumably go back to the bench in three-wide packages.
Los Angeles Rams QB Jared Goff was not injured in the third quarter of the Rams' Week 10 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers as previously thought when Blake Bortles came on to replace him for a play. Instead, head coach Sean McVay told reporters Monday, Nov. 11, that Bortles' third-and-2 run was designed for Bortles.
Fantasy Spin: It's impossible to know for sure if this will be a one-time occurrence or the first hint McVay isn't happy with the way Goff is running the offense, but the Rams appear to be searching for answers on offense. This is likely much ado about nothing, but it's something to keep an eye on moving forward if Goff continues to struggle. Consider him a low-floor, high-upside QB2 in Week 11 against the Chicago Bears.
The Green Bay Packers Defense put up decent numbers in their Week 10 victory. The unit posted three sacks, an interception and a fumble recovery. They also held a Carolina offense averaging 25 points per game this year to just 16 points. The highlight of the day for the Green Bay defense was their game-saving goal-line stand against Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey. The Packers will rest up during their Week 11 bye before a tough matchup against the San Francisco 49ers.
Green Bay Packers kicker Mason Crosby had a solid game against the Carolina Panthers. The veteran kicker made a 47-yard field goal and all three extra-point attempts. He's now made at least one field goal in three straight games. For the season, Crosby has made 13 of 14 field goals and all 29 extra-point attempts. He'll enjoy a bye next week before a tough Week 12 date with the San Francisco 49ers.
Green Bay Packers tight end Jimmy Graham had a decent day that could have been even better. The 32-year-old caught two of four targets for 59 yards but had a touchdown catch overturned. It was nice to see Graham eclipse 50 receiving yards for the first time since Week 7, though 48 of his yards came on one catch. The veteran tight end has become a touchdown-or-bust option in fantasy. He'll get a bye in Week 11 before taking on the best pass defense in the NFL, the San Francisco 49ers.
Houston Texans WR Will Fuller (hamstring) returned to practice Monday, Nov. 11.
Fantasy Spin: It's his first football activity since going down in Week 7 and at least puts him on track to return against the Baltimore Ravens in Week 11. Outside of the one incredible three-touchdown game he had in early October against the Atlanta Falcons, it's been an unspectacular season for him. It seems unlikely that will change versus the Ravens, so owners should look for better options to start in Week 11.
Tennessee Titans TE Delanie Walker (ankle) was spotted running on the field Monday, Nov. 11, and anticipates returning to action against the Jacksonville Jaguars following the team's bye week.
Green Bay Packers wide receiver Allen Lazard saw a season-high six targets against the Carolina Panthers in Week 10. He only caught two of them for 27 yards. Still, Lazard might be quietly staking claim to the Packers' number-two wide receiver role. Marquez Valdes-Scantling has gone missing the last two weeks. Geronimo Allison hasn't eclipsed 50 receiving yards or caught a touchdown since Week 4. Meanwhile, Lazard has seen at least four targets in every game and has at least 40 receiving yards in four of five games. Lazard and the Packers get a bye in Week 11 before their Week 12 matchup with the tough San Francisco 49ers.
Green Bay Packers wide receivers Marquez Valdes-Scantling and Geronimo Allison were both unproductive in their team's Week 10 victory over the Carolina Panthers. Valdes-Scantling didn't register a catch for the second straight week. Meanwhile, Allison caught all three targets for a paltry six yards. For perspective, fellow receiver Davante Adams had more receiving yards in Week 10 than these two combined for the last three weeks. They both cannot be trusted for fantasy purposes anymore, at least until they prove otherwise. Hopefully, they'll shape up during their Week 11 bye because they'll face the San Francisco 49ers' league-best pass defense in Week 12.
Green Bay Packers wide receiver Davante Adams got back on track in Week 10 against the Carolina Panthers. Adams hauled in seven of 10 targets for 118 yards. The Pro Bowl receiver benefited from the absence of Panthers' star corner James Bradberry (groin) as he worked the other Carolina corners for his third 100-yard receiving game this year. Quarterback Aaron Rodgers only completed 17 passes in this one, but seven of them went to Adams. He's been the only trustworthy Green Bay wide receiver so far and has double-digit targets in back-to-back games. Adams will enjoy a bye week and then will take on a tough San Francisco 49ers Defense in Week 12.
Updating a previous report, Oakland Raiders S Lamarcus Joyner (hamstring) remains without a timetable to return, but his hamstring injury is not considered to be season-ending, according to ESPN's Jeremy Fowler.
Jacksonville Jaguars WR Dede Westbrook (shoulder, neck) is expected to practice Monday, Nov. 11.
Fantasy Spin: Westbrook sat out Week 9 in London against the Houston Texans, but the bye apparently gave him all the time he needed to heal. He'll be returning to Nick Foles as the starting quarterback - a notable development considering the pair had great chemistry this summer. Assuming he and Foles can stay healthy, Westbrook stands a good chance of returning WR3 value down the stretch.
Pittsburgh Steelers RB James Conner (shoulder) is tentatively expected to return from a two-game absence and play in Week 11 versus the Cleveland Browns, according to comments made by head coach Mike Tomlin on Monday, Nov. 11.
Fantasy Spin: The Steelers play on Thursday this week, so owners won't have to wait very long to see if Tomlin's enthusiasm carries over to the field. In two full games as James Conner's replacement, Jaylen Samuels has rushed for 39 yards on 22 carries, so it is safe to say he didn't exactly put heat on him. Of more concern to Conner is Pittsburgh's inability to block well in the running game and a passing game that is doing just enough to get by. Consider Conner an RB2 for now, even in a favorable matchup.
Green Bay Packers running back Jamaal Williams had a decent day on the ground in his team's Week 10 win. The 24-year-old tallied 13 carries, the same number as backfield mate Aaron Jones, and 63 rushing yards. The 13 carries were his second-highest total this year, as he and Jones benefited from the run-heavy game script. It was nice to see Williams receive the same volume as Jones, though the latter hogged all the touchdowns. Williams, like Jones, didn't register a catch after logging four straight touchdown catches. Williams continues to be involved in Green Bay's offense heading into their Week 11 bye. They'll take on a stingy San Francisco 49ers Defense in Week 12.
Updating previous reports, Cincinnati Bengals RB Giovani Bernard (knee) was diagnosed with a knee sprain Monday, Nov. 11. He is not expected to miss significant time, according to ESPN's Jeremy Fowler.
Green Bay Packers running back Aaron Jones bounced back from last week's dud in a big way. The 24-year-old picked up 93 rushing yards on 13 carries and scored three touchdowns in his team's 24-16 win over the Carolina Panthers. Jones sliced and diced through the Carolina defense all afternoon and was a touchdown machine in the red zone yet again. It's his second game this year with at least three touchdowns scored. The former UTEP star didn't register a target, but this may have been a result of the Panthers' run-funnel defense. Jones and the Packers head into a bye week before taking on a stingy San Francisco 49ers Defense.
New Orleans Saints CB Marshon Lattimore (hamstring) is considered week to week with a hamstring strain.
Atlanta Falcons TE Austin Hooper (knee) will have an MRI on his knee Monday, Nov. 11, and he's expected to miss time. The MRI will determine how much he'll miss.
Fantasy Spin: Hooper is having a breakout season with a 56-608-6 line. Luke Stocker has no fantasy value if Hooper is forced out of action for a prolonged period.
Atlanta Falcons RB Devonta Freeman (foot) will have an MRI Monday, Nov. 11, to determine the severity of his foot sprain.
Fantasy Spin: Freeman has been a disappointment with a 107-371-0 rushing line and a 38-282-3 receiving line. Brian Hill rushed 20 times for 61 yards in Week 10, and he could be a flex candidate if Freeman is out for a prolonged period. Snag him off waivers either way.
Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers had a quiet day against the Carolina Panthers in Week 10. Rodgers completed 17 of 29 passes for 233 yards with no touchdowns or interceptions. With a lead at halftime, the Packers were content to run the ball in the second half- that explains why Rodgers had his fewest pass attempts since Week 3. The veteran quarterback proved earlier in the year that he can still win games for the Packers with his arm when needed. He'll have better fantasy days. Rodgers and the Pack will head into their Week 11 bye with their next matchup a Week 12 date with the San Francisco 49ers' number-one pass defense.