Thu Oct 17 4:31pm ET
By STEPHEN WHYNO
AP Sports Writer
In this Dec. 15, 2013, file photo, then-Washington Redskins offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan speaks to then-Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III, before the first half of an NFL football game against the Atlanta Falcons, in Atlanta. Kyle Shanahan is in a better place now. After serving as the Washington Redskins offensive coordinator under his dad, Mike Shanahan, from 2010-2013, he returns Sunday to face them as coach of the undefeated San Francisco 49ers. (AP Photo/John Bazemore, File)
In this Sept. 15, 2019, file photo, San Francisco 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan works the sideline during the second half an NFL football game against the Cincinnati Bengals in Cincinnati. Almost nothing has gone wrong for Shanahan and the unbeaten 49ers, who are in position to establish themselves as the favorite in the division that the Los Angeles Rams dominated since head coach Sean McVays arrival. (AP Photo/Gary Landers, )
LANDOVER, Md. (AP) Kyle Shanahan is in a better place now.
After serving as the Washington Redskins' offensive coordinator under his dad, Mike Shanahan, from 2010-2013, he returns Sunday to face them as coach of the undefeated San Francisco 49ers.
Six years after the Shanahans were fired, the Dan Snyder-owned and Bruce Allen-run Redskins are about to embark on another coaching search. The position might be harder to fill if candidates go to Kyle for advice.
He said the best part of Washington was being able to work with his dad and be around some other good coaches. The worst part? ''Everything else.'' The 49ers coach paused. ''I liked a lot of the players - some good people,'' he said.
''We've accepted what we had to deal with there, and we've moved on,'' Shanahan said. ''We'll watch other people deal with it.''
Shanahan was one of three future NFL head coaches on the Redskins' staff in 2012 and 2013, along with Sean McVay and Matt LaFleur. McVay took the Rams to the Super Bowl last season, LaFleur is in his first season in charge of the Green Bay Packers, and the three coaches' teams have combined to go 13-4 this year.
Snyder and Allen fired Jay Gruden after the Redskins lost their first five games, and Washington eked out a 17-16 win at the hapless Miami Dolphins last week in interim coach Bill Callahan's debut. The 5-0 49ers look like justifiable double-digit favorites and are rolling under Shanahan, who has transformed the culture in San Francisco, in part because his time with the Redskins taught him what not to do.
''I just learned it's very important to work with people that have the same intentions and you want to go in the same direction,'' Shanahan said. ''Football is a very tough game and no matter how close you are with people, there's adversity that faces everyone and when you lose one game, two games in a row, you know what's going to be written and everything and (if) people live off that type of stuff, it's very hard to survive and get through any tough times.
''So, you've got to make sure people are made of the same stuff you are, that have the same intention, same goals and they're ready to fight and work through things and see it to the end.''
Shanahan, who coached a game with the Niners at FedEx Field two seasons ago, said his well-timed visit this time on Redskins alumni ''Homecoming Weekend'' is not personal. The only offensive players left from his time with Washington are injured running back Chris Thompson and holdout left tackle Trent Williams.
''I've moved on with my life in many other ways, and I think my family has also,'' Shanahan said. ''It's not an issue. We've got our team coming to play their team and we're looking forward to that.''
Shanahan has grown significantly from the introverted, closed-off offensive coordinator he was in Washington to now. Players then appreciated his football acumen, but more goes into being a head coach.
''As an OC in Washington, you saw kind of how smart he was, the way he saw the game,'' said Houston Texans tight end Logan Paulsen, who played for Shanahan in Washington and San Francisco.
''The thing that I thought that was really cool going from Washington to San Francisco was seeing his maturity in terms of talking and dealing with players and different personalities. He was always a very bright football guy and to see his leadership skills really come into his own was really cool to see.''
Paulsen said Shanahan exercised patience waiting for the right opportunity to take a head job and ''did it on his own time.'' With quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo running his offense and one of the best defenses in the league, Shanahan is an early front-runner for coach of the year.
''He is a football junkie, and I think guys really respect that,'' Paulsen said. ''They see kind of the standard that's set by him in terms of what they need to know and how they need to respond in certain situations, and I think that's really special.''
Washington's current offensive coordinator, Kevin O'Connell, could be the coach next season, and Steelers coach Mike Tomlin's name has been tossed around. Whoever interviews and gets offered the job, Shanahan doesn't expect to be asked for his thoughts on the organization.
''Just look into it, see what the situation is and who you want to work for,'' Shanahan said. ''Any time you get opportunities you've got to look into it, but I'm not there and I don't know how it is right now. That would be up to that person. I'm probably not the person they want to call on that advice.''
Some things to watch when Shanahan's 49ers visit the Redskins:
After going winless on the road last year, the Niners have been outstanding away from home so far this year. They opened the season with back-to-back wins at Tampa Bay and Cincinnati and then won 20-7 last week at Los Angeles against McVay and the defending NFC champion Rams. San Francisco hasn't had a winning record on the road since going 6-2 in 2013 on the way to the NFC title game.
''I know we didn't win a road game last season, preseason or regular season, so those plane rides weren't very fun,'' tight end George Kittle said. ''Being able to get on those planes and come back with a victory makes it so much more fun.''
The Redskins haven't won at home since Week 7 in 2018.
RUN, RUN, RUN?
Callahan promised to commit to the ground game after taking over for Gruden, and boy, did he. Adrian Peterson rushed 23 times for 118 yards at Miami.
San Francisco's run defense might force more throws from still starting QB Case Keenum.
''We'll do whatever we need to do,'' Callahan said. ''Of course we want to establish the run and we want to keep that identity just like everybody else around the league, but they're good.''
The Niners managed to win last week despite playing two backups at tackle. Rookie Justin Skule made his third straight start at left tackle in place of Joe Staley, while Daniel Brunskill got his first career start at right tackle in place of Mike McGlinchey. San Francisco was still able to move the ball fairly consistently without altering the offense too much.
''I thought the two rookies did a great job stepping in and filling their roles,'' Garoppolo said. ''Those guys are just battling up front. What they do in the run game and pass game is so impressive.''
Washington's Terry McLaurin is the first rookie with 50-plus yards receiving in each of his first five NFL games since Terry Glenn in 1996. McLaurin leads all rookies with 23 catches, 408 yards and five touchdowns and is already the Redskins' best offensive player.
''He's done a really good job for them stepping in as a rookie, which is rare for receivers,'' Shanahan said. ''But you've got a very good football player and he's tough and the game's not too big.''
San Francisco's defense has played at a high level all season but might have been at its best last week. The Niners are allowing a league-low 150.2 yards per game passing, and rank second in points allowed (12.8 per game) and total defense (237.4 yards per game) thanks to a dominant defensive line that has put heavy pressure on opposing passers. San Francisco allowed just 48 net yards passing last week against the Rams and held Los Angeles to no conversions on third or fourth down.
Houston Texans wide receiver Kenny Stills recorded just one catch for six yards during the Thursday night win over the Indianapolis Colts. Stills logged his worst performance of the year and was a victim from a production standpoint by the return of Will Fuller (hamstring), who missed the team's previous three games. He likely has a few more decent performances left in the tank between now and the end of the season, but his potential will continue to be relegated by Fuller's presence in the lineup moving ahead.
Houston Texans wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins played well against the Colts on Thursday night, finishing things up with six catches for 94 yards and two touchdowns. After recording just two scores during the first six games of the year, the 27-year-old has turned it up as of late by visiting the end zone in three of his last five games. Hopkins continues to get his looks from quarterback Deshaun Watson, and besides Michael Thomas, he remains the most efficient fantasy wide receiver in the league. He will look to keep things going against a rough Patriots Defense in Week 13.
Houston Texans wide receiver Will Fuller was targeted 11 times during the win over the Colts, finishing with seven catches for 140 yards. After accumulating 217 yards and three touchdowns against the Falcons in Week 5, Fuller fizzled in his previous two contests coming into Thursday night, so this performance was a step in the right direction. Fantasy managers shouldn't expect this type of production consistently moving ahead, especially in Week 13 against a tough Patriots Defense, but the ceiling is always high when the matchup is in his favor, as long as he can stay healthy and on the field.
Houston Texans running back Duke Johnson finished with 22 yards on five carries to go along with one catch for eight yards during the win over the Colts on Thursday night. This was yet another disappointing performance from the 26-year-old, who has now recorded just three receptions over the last two games. While he may have a few more games where he catches four or five passes, his ability to get it done on the ground will continue to be relegated by Carlos Hyde, who is averaging 16 touches per outing on the year. For those who are desperate, Johnson does have the potential to score from a week-to-week basis but don't hold your breath waiting for consistent production.
Houston Texans running back Carlos Hyde Ran for 67 yards on 16 carries during the win over the Colts on Thursday night. This was a routine performance from the 29-year-old, who is averaging 76 yards on 16 touches per game this season, and while he has only four touchdowns on the year, he is well on his way to the first 1,000-yard rushing season of his career. With this game in the books, Hyde will have a tough matchup in Week 13 against the top-ranked Patriots Defense.
Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson played better against the Colts on Thursday, finishing the night with nearly 300 yards and two touchdowns (one interception) on 19-for-30 passing. After struggling during the Week 11 blowout loss to the Ravens, it was an acceptable showing from the 24-year-old. He has struggled to some degree over his last six outings, and while he has thrown for nine touchdowns during that span, he has also thrown six picks after tossing just one throughout the first five games of the year. Things aren't looking good moving ahead, nonetheless, as Watson and the Texans will host the Patriots in Week 13.
Indianapolis Colts running back Jonathan Williams was announced as the starter for the team's Week 12 game against the Houston Texans, and he made the most of his opportunity. He finished with 26 carries for 104 yards and a big touchdown in the second half. He also caught all three of his targets for 17 yards. The Colts continued their strategy of establishing the run, and it worked well for the majority of the game. As long as starting running back Marlon Mack (hand) remains out, it looks like Williams is going to have fantasy relevance every week.
Indianapolis Colts running back Nyheim Hines was expected to see more work in Week 12 with starting running back Marlon Mack (hand) out, and he showed a little bit of something with those snaps. He finished with nine carries for 51 yards and two catches for 10 yards. That's good enough for 8.1 PPR points, and that's likely more than you were hoping for after the quiet season he has had thus far. Hines still remains nothing more than a deep league flex option in PPR formats, but this was a positive development to see with Mack out.
Indianapolis Colts wide receiver T.Y. Hilton (calf) had been out for a couple of weeks before his return in Week 12, and it wasn't a triumphant one. He caught three of his six targets for just 18 yards. While some of that lack of production could be contributed to rust, the offense as a whole wasn't able to get anything going through the air and Hilton was also on a pitch count in his return. The matchups don't get particularly easy moving forward for Hilton, but you'll likely be forced to start him because of the connection he has shown with quarterback Jacoby Brissett.
Indianapolis Colts tight end Eric Ebron relies on touchdowns for the majority of his value, but in Week 12 he was able to get some solid yardage. He caught four of his five targets for 44 yards, and he'll likely finish among the top 10 in tight ends for scoring this week with just 8.4 PPR points. Ebron has remained a pretty big disappointment after the elite fantasy season that he produced in 2018. When the team has gotten down into the red zone, a number of their scores have come on the ground. Ebron remains the No. 2 receiving target in this offense, but that doesn't turn into much when the offense struggles to move the ball.
Indianapolis Colts tight end Jack Doyle failed to register a target in Week 11, but he showed some life in Week 12. He caught three of his four targets for 28 yards, which fell right in line with his level of production that he's maintained throughout the year. He's now caught three or more passes in seven out of the team's 11 games. Doyle will likely never be the breakout player that he was two seasons ago, but when you need to make sure that you don't have a zero in your tight end spot, he's about as safe as you can get.
Indianapolis Colts quarterback Jacoby Brissett had his second straight game with under 150 passing yards in Week 12. He finished the night 16 of 25 for 129 yards. Thankfully for his fantasy owners, he scampered into the end zone on one of his four carries that went for a total of 20 yards. It was still a quiet night for Brissett, and he hasn't displayed the same level of production that we saw from him earlier in the season. He only has a couple of easy matchups remaining on the schedule, so his days as your starting quarterback may be numbered.
San Francisco 49ers tight end George Kittle (ankle, knee) and wide receivers Emmanuel Sanders (ribs) and Deebo Samuel (shoulder) were all limited in practice on Thursday. It's NBC Sports Bay Area's Matt Maiocco's opinion that all three will play on Sunday night against the Packers. That'll especially ring true if all three get in at least another limited practice on Friday. If that's the case, Kittle will be a must-start TE1, with both Sanders and Samuel being acceptable WR3 cases with upside. The rookie Samuel has back-to-back 100-yard games and is closing the season out hot. Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo would also be a more appealing QB2 if all of his receivers are active.
The New England Patriots won't be re-signing wide receiver Antonio Brown, according to a source. There were rumors circling that the Pats were looking at Brown again with Mohamed Sanu (ankle) potentially missing multiple games with a high ankle sprain. That's not the case, though, and Brown is highly unlikely to be signed with the NFL still investigating sexual-assault charges tied to Brown. Even after the investigation is up and if Brown avoids a suspension somehow, it's hard to say if an NFL team will take a chance on him in 2020. Julian Edelman and rookies N'Keal Harry and Jakobi Meyers might be in three-receiver sets if both Sanu and Phillip Dorsett (concussion) don't play this weekend.
Concerns have surfaced around Dallas Cowboys linebacker Leighton Vander Esch (neck), who has already missed one game this year with a neck injury, and he's not expected to play in Week 12 against the Patriots, according to sources. Vander Esch underwent an MRI exam on Thursday after a flare-up of the injury. It would be a big blow to Dallas' defense on the road against a Patriots offense that is vulnerable right now with their receivers banged up. LVE being out would be good news for mainly running backs Sony Michel and James White and slot wideout Julian Edelman. You'll need to look elsewhere at linebacker in IDPS leagues with Vander Esch expected to sit. Expect Sean Lee to see more playing time on Sunday.
The Houston Texans activated tight end Jordan Thomas (ribs) from the Injured Reserve on Thursday and waived defensive end Joel Heath and wide receiver Steven Mitchell in corresponding moves. As a sixth-round rookie last year, Thomas had 20 receptions for 215 yards and four touchdowns. Thomas has some long-term intrigue, but he'll return to a team that has been using Jordan Akins and Darren Fells at the position. It's possible that Thomas could produce a spark here and there, but don't expect him to see a ton of playing time over the other two to close out the season. You can leave him to the waiver wire in most redraft leagues.
New York Giants WR Sterling Shepard (concussion) is 'looking good' to play against the Chicago Bears in Week 12, according to Jordan Raanan of ESPN.com.
Fantasy Spin: Shepard has been out since early October, and while he has the potential to be a WR3, you will probably want to take a wait-and-see approach whenever he makes his return.
Miami Dolphins CB Eric Rowe is expected to be a full-time starter at safety moving forward after CB Bobby McCain (shoulder) and S Reshad Jones (chest) were placed on the Reserve/Injured list, according to Cameron Wolfe of ESPN.com.
Detroit Lions running back Bo Scarbrough looked solid in Week 11, posting 55 yards on 14 attempts and one touchdown just one day after being promoted from the practice squad. Week 12 presents an excellent opportunity for Scarbrough to take control of a Lions backfield that has been in disarray since Kerryon Johnson (knee) was lost for the season. Backup quarterback Jeff Driskel's tendency to run and the lack of a pass-game role for Scarbrough does limit Scarbrough's ceiling, but he has a real chance to take over as the go-to running back on this squad with no other real threats around. The Lions play the lowly Washington Redskins in Week 12. Fantasy owners can slot Scarbrough in as a RB3 for this matchup.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back Peyton Barber is trending towards being cemented as the clear cut No.2 option in the Bucs backfield. Barber did not get a touch in Week 11, and while he did find the end zone on one of his two targets on the day, it looks like Ronald Jones II is the back to own on this team. The Bucs travel to Atlanta to take on the Falcons in Week 12, and while the Falcons are not the scariest squad, they are not the most giving on the ground. Barber is not a recommended start in Week 12 and can be safely dropped in all formats.