New York Giants cornerback Logan Ryan (23) plays against the Chicago Bears during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 20, 2020, in Chicago. The Giants play the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday, Sept. 27. (AP Photo/Kamil Krzaczynski)
San Francisco 49ers quarterback Nick Mullens (4) throws a pass during the second half of an NFL football game against the New York Jets, Sunday, Sept. 20, 2020, in East Rutherford, N.J. With Jimmy Garoppolo likely sidelined by a sprained ankle, Mullens appears set to get his first start at quarterback for the Niners in nearly 21 months, against the New York Giants. (AP Photo/Bill Kostroun)
San Francisco 49ers defensive end Nick Bosa (97) is driven off the field after being injured during the first half of an NFL football game against the New York Jets Sunday, Sept. 20, 2020, in East Rutherford, N.J. After losing four players to knee injuries last week against the New York Jets, the Niners complained about a sticky new turf at MetLife Stadium and expressed some concern about returning to the same field a week later. (AP Photo/Bill Kostroun, File)
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) The San Francisco 49ers and the New York Giants are battling the injury bug after just two games, as well some other scary issues.
Wondering what might scare NFL players?
For the Niners (1-1), it's just being back at MetLife Stadium on Sunday and having to face the winless Giants (0-2) without quarterback Jimmy Garappolo, NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year Nick Bosa, halfback Raheem Mostert and defensive tackle Solomon Thomas, and All-Pro tight end George Kittle.
The Giants are not scary. They are enduring yet another bad start and facing the prospect of missing the playoffs for the eighth time in nine years.
San Francisco's concern is the stadium and it's new artificial surface. In a 31-13 win over the Jets last weekend, the 49ers saw Garappolo sprain an ankle and Mostert, Thomas and Bosa, and backup halfback Tevin Coleman leave with knee injuries. Kittle is going to miss a second straight game with a knee injury after being hurt in the season opener.
The Niners complained to the league about the ''sticky'' surface and now they have to play on it again. This time Nick Mullens is starting at quarterback for the first time since 2018.
San Francisco coach Kyle Shanahan says he has put the field issue to rest, and told his players to focus on the game. The league inspected the field Wednesday and said it meets all applicable standards and protocols for a field surface.
''I'm a big believer of controlling the controllables, doing what I can and controlling what I can control,'' 49ers linebacker Fred Warner said. ''The playing surface that we're going to play on Sunday, I have no control over that. I'm letting everybody else handle that.''
Giants coach Joe Judge has had his team work on the field since training camp opened in late July. None of his players complained about it, he said.
What Giants fans have to complain about is the team's anemic offense, which will be without running back Saquon Barkley (knee) for the rest of the season. Wide receiver Sterling Shepard (toe) is out for at least three games.
New York is averaging 14.5 points and turned the ball over four times, with quarterback Daniel Jones throwing three interceptions and losing a fumble. The offensive line has struggled and the running game is last in the league.
The defense has been surprisingly good, allowing 43 points, only 10 in the second half.
It has left Judge looking for his first win, which is par for the course. The Giants have started 0-2 every year since 2013, with the exception being in 2016, the only year they made the playoffs.
''We're not going to raise the white flag on anything,'' Judge said. ''Our guys are going to fight straight on through. We have a job to do regardless of the circumstance or outcome of the previous game.''
Some things to watch for Sunday:
With Barkley gone, the Giants will employ a backfield by committee.
Dion Lewis handled the load against the Bears with Wayne Gallman inactive. Expect Gallman back this week along with former Falcon Devonta Freeman, who was signed to a one-year, $3 million contract.
Judge said the game plan will utilize each of their strengths. He added if one back starts to rip off yards, he may become ''the guy'' for a time.
Mullens will be starting for the first time since the final eight games of the 2018 season when Garoppolo was sidelined. He averaged 284.6 yards passing with a 90.8 rating. Mullens didn't throw a single pass last season and went 8 for 11 for 71 yards and one interception last week against the Jets.
''I know our players believe in him and he'll be fine,'' Shanahan said.
THE OTHER CORNERBACK
Free agent signee James Bradberry gives the Giants a solid cornerback. He leads the league with six passes defended and last week he rallied New York with an interception and a tip that led to another pick by Julian Love.
The other cornerback is a problem. Corey Ballentine started the first two games. He was replaced by Isaac Yiadom for the second half last week. The position is wide open and coordinator Pat Graham said Ryan Lewis and Brandon Williams are also in the mix for the job.
ON THE ROAD
The 49ers requested back-to-back East Coast games so they could stay over for the week and reduce travel. They ended up spending the week at The Greenbrier resort in West Virginia, which has hosted training camps in the past. The resort offers bowling, falconry, horseback riding and a gun club among other activities, although the 49ers are focused mostly on football.
EVAN, PLEASE STAND UP
Evan Engram looked so good in training camp, many predicted this would be the breakout season for the tight end who was New York's first-round pick in 2017.
It hasn't happened. The oft-injured Engram had a drop on his first target this season and then was invisible for almost the next seven quarters. He woke up in the final 19 minutes against the Bears, catching six passes for 65 yards.
Will he show up Sunday?
Five Sleepers: Week 7
The Las Vegas Raiders defense has been statistically one of the worst defenses in the league this season. They are averaging under two fantasy points per game and face an ascending Buccaneers offense this week. Tom Brady is currently fourth in the league in passing touchdowns, and this Tampa Bay offense is ascending after hanging 31 offensive points on Green Bay in Week 6. The Raiders rank 27th in scoring defense and 24th in yards allowed. There is nothing to suggest they will have a good performance this week and should be kept on the bench or dropped entirely.
Las Vegas Raiders tight end Darren Waller has a tough test against the Buccaneers this week, but he should be able to produce a solid fantasy performance. Waller has been great at home this season, with 21 catches, 193 yards, and a touchdown in two games. The Buccaneers have one of the league's best defenses, but the Patriots are the only team to hold Waller under five catches so far this season. He currently ranks third in fantasy points per game among tight ends, and he leads the Raiders in targets. The Buccaneers rank sixth in the league against tight ends, but fantasy owners should feel comfortable starting him based on his performances so far this season.
Las Vegas Raiders wide receiver Henry Ruggs III will have a tough matchup against a good Buccaneers secondary in Week 7. Ruggs had a breakout performance in his last game against the Chiefs, but his value rests with the deep ball at this time. That is not great news considering the Buccaneers are one of the best defenses against the deep ball, ranking third in the league in allowing receptions of over 20 yards. He was able to get loose in the Chiefs secondary with a 72-yard reception in the first half but caught just one other pass the rest of the game. Ruggs' big-play potential makes him a fringe flex option in deeper leagues, but don't expect a lot of targets for the rookie this week.
Las Vegas Raiders running back Josh Jacobs will face one of the league's best run defenses this week in the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Buccaneers are allowing just three yards per carry and rank second in the league in total rushing yards allowed. Jacobs is having a productive year and is certainly a must-start option, but he is averaging just 3.6 yards per carry on the season. Jacobs has just one game this season where he has rushed for over four yards per carry. With that being said, he is still seventh in points per game among running backs. It will not be an easy day for Jacobs, but fantasy owners should feel encouraged that he can put up a solid fantasy performance despite a difficult matchup.
Las Vegas Raiders quarterback Derek Carr will have one of his most difficult tests of the year against a great Buccaneers Defense. The Buccaneers defense has allowed just seven passing touchdowns and have grabbed eight interceptions in their six games this season. Opposing quarterbacks have a passer rating of 82 against this Todd Bowles defense. They confused Aaron Rodgers and made him uncomfortable, so this will not be an easy day for Carr. With that being said, Carr has thrown for almost 600 passing yards with five touchdowns and no interceptions in two home games this season. The Raiders are coming off a bye, and Carr is having a career year. However, he is likely a bench option this week due to the matchup.
The New Orleans Saints Defense faces a middle-of-the-pack matchup against the Carolina Panthers in Week 7. It's a date with former Saint Teddy Bridgewater, who started five games for the team in 2019. New Orleans' defense is finally starting to get healthy after a rash of injuries, as they will get Janoris Jenkins (shoulder) back and essentially be at full strength. This unit may start to put together some good performances, starting with this week. They can be used as a starting option.
New Orleans Saints kicker Wil Lutz faces a favorable matchup in Week 7 against the Carolina Panthers. Lutz is perfect on the season, having made all nine field-goals and all 18 extra-points. Carolina ranks 22nd in fantasy points allowed to kickers, making this a juicy matchup for Lutz. Expect strong fantasy numbers from the 26-year-old.
New Orleans Saints tight end Jared Cook could see more opportunities in Week 7 against the Panthers. Cook had one of his better games against the Chargers, catching two passes for 52 yards and a score. New Orleans is down two of it's best pass-catchers- Michael Thomas (ankle, hamstring) and Emmanuel Sanders (COVID-19)- heading into the contest against the Panthers. The veteran tight end should see more targets, making him a good start as a TE1 in Week 7.
Seattle Seahawks RB Carlos Hyde (shoulder, toe) fully participated in practice Friday, Oct. 23, and is not on the injury report for Week 7.
Fantasy Spin: Hyde will serve as the backup for Chris Carson but should see a handful of touches during the game. Fantasy players should be able to find better options and can keep Hyde on the bench.
San Francisco 49ers RB Raheem Mostert (ankle) did not participate in practice Friday, Oct. 23, and has been ruled out for Week 7.
Fantasy Spin: Mostert is expected to miss multiple weeks because of the injury, so fantasy players should look for other options to use. Jerick McKinnon and JaMycal Hasty likely will share playing time while Mostert is sidelined. McKinnon probably has more fantasy value and can be a flex option in leagues. Hasty should be rostered in leagues and has a chance to be a flex option depending on the opponent.
Los Angeles Chargers WR Keenan Allen (back) fully participated in practice Friday, Oct. 23, and is not on the injury report for Week 7.
Fantasy Spin: Allen has been targeted at least eight times in four of the five games this season and seems to have a good connection with Justin Herbert. Allen can be considered a No. 1 or No. 2 receiver in fantasy leagues.
Arizona Cardinals WR DeAndre Hopkins (ankle) was limited during practice Friday, Oct. 23, and is listed as questionable for Week 7.
Fantasy Spin: Hopkins likely will be able to play despite the injury, but fantasy players will need to check the inactive list for his status. He is a must-start option in all leagues if he is active for the game.
New Orleans Saints wide receiver Tre'Quan Smith faces a tricky matchup in Week 7 against the Panthers. However, matchup concerns are alleviated by the fact that New Orleans will be without Michael Thomas (ankle, hamstring) and Emmanuel Sanders (COVID-19). Smith will be busy against a Panthers Defense that has surrendered the fourth-fewest fantasy points per game to wideouts. With a good chance of finding the end zone, Smith is looking like a high-end WR3 in Week 7, despite the matchup.
Kansas City Chiefs WR Sammy Watkins (hamstring) did not participate in practice Friday, Oct. 23, and has been ruled out for Week 7.
Fantasy Spin: Demarcus Robinson served as the No. 2 receiver for the Chiefs last week and probably will have a similar role this week. He can be a flex option or bye week replacement in fantasy leagues.
New Orleans Saints running back Alvin Kamara gets an excellent matchup against the Panthers Defense. Kamara has offered fantasy managers the safest floor of any running back, particularly in PPR formats, as he's had at least 19 fantasy points in every game this season. He'll go up against a Panthers defense allowing the fourth-most fantasy points per game to opposing halfbacks. The Saints will probably go with a more run-heavy approach, seeing as their top-two wideouts- Michael Thomas (ankle, hamstring) and Emmanuel Sanders (COVID-19)- are out for the contest. Kamara is a must-start in redraft leagues and is well worth the price in DFS formats.
New Orleans Saints running back Latavius Murray has a favorable matchup in front of him against the Panthers in Week 7. Murray has had at least 13 touches in three of five contests this season, with two of those games coming against teams that struggle to stop the run. New Orleans will be without Michael Thomas (ankle, hamstring) and Emmanuel Sanders (COVID-19) against the Panthers' 24th-ranked run defense. Murray is a good bet for 12-15 touches in Week 7, putting him squarely in the flex discussion.
Los Angeles Rams WR Robert Woods (groin) did not participate in practice Friday, Oct. 23.
Fantasy Spin: Fantasy players will need to keep an eye on the situation to see if Woods will be able to play in Week 7. He can be a No. 2 or No. 3 receiver in fantasy leagues if he is cleared to play.
Los Angeles Rams TE Tyler Higbee (hand) did not participate in practice Friday, Oct. 23.
Fantasy Spin: Higbee probably will need to practice Saturday, Oct. 24, if he wants a chance to play in the Week 7 game. He is coming off his best game of the season and would see a few targets if he plays this week. He could be a low-end No. 1 tight end in some leagues.
Los Angeles Rams OT Andrew Whitworth (non-injury) and DT Aaron Donald (non-injury) fully participated in practice Friday, Oct. 23.
New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees faces the Panthers in Week 7. Brees will face a sneakily-good Carolina defense without his top two receivers, Michael Thomas (ankle, hamstring) and Emmanuel Sanders (COVID-19). Despite not having Thomas, Brees has thrown for at least 250 yards or two touchdowns in each game this season, giving fantasy managers a solid floor. The Panthers allow the fourth-fewest fantasy points per game to quarterbacks, limiting Brees' upside. However, he should be able to finish as a solid QB2 in Week 7.