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FFL: Playoff Week 8 | NFL: Superbowl

Giants take on 49ers in battle of cellar dwellers

Thu Nov 8 9:58 pm

The New York Giants take on the San Francisco 49ers in Santa Clara in a battle of cellar dwellers on Monday night.

One thing that you can mark down in stone is that long-time Giants quarterback Eli Manning will be under center, according to head coach Pat Shurmur, who put any speculation to rest about who the team's quarterback would be earlier in the week.

"We just want to play good football," Shurmur said when asked what his expectation was for Manning this week. "What's important is, stick with the progressions, get the ball out on time, understand all the situational football. He's done this at a high level for a very long time, and my conversation with him over the weekend is what coaches and quarterbacks do as you plot the course moving forward.

"He's like everybody on the team; there's areas where he can improve, we talked about that, and we'll get ready to go and put all our efforts toward beating San Francisco."

Although Shurmur didn't commit to whether Manning would be the starter beyond this week, the quarterback, who has stayed cool in the face of pressure throughout his career, did so again when peppered with questions regarding the sense of urgency he must be feeling.

"I think there's urgency to get things going, for sure," Manning said. "We got to get some wins. We got to get going, and everybody wants it. The team needs it, for the morale and for just the hard work and everything we put in. Just need to reap the benefits of the work and feel good about what we're doing."

But is he worried about losing his job if the Giants offense lays another stink bomb?

Manning shook his head no.

"You worry about this week," he said. "We got the 49ers. I got a job to do, and I'm going to do it to the best of my ability."

The 49ers are also having quarterback issues.

49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan formally announced Thursday that Nick Mullens has moved ahead of C.J. Beathard at quarterback on the depth chart and will get the start Monday night.

The game, coincidentally, will come exactly one year to the day after Beathard achieved the high point of his rookie season, directing the 49ers to their first victory of 2017, 31-21 over these same Giants.

That was a factor in this week's decision.

To ride the hot hand of Mullens, who came right off the practice squad to throw three touchdown passes against the Oakland Raiders in a Thursday night masterpiece?

Or return to Beathard, who already has a win under his belt against the Giants, to his starting spot after he'd had time to recover from thumb and wrist injuries?

Shanahan even got a few extra days to think about it because of his team's three-day head start on the rest of the league in Week 9.

Thursday, he assured he didn't need the extra time to decide.

"I don't think it was too tough of a decision," Shanahan admitted. "Our team played really well (against the Raiders) and he (Mullens) played well. It was going to be hard to not give him the opportunity."

As for the future, Shanahan was noncommittal, calling it a "week-to-week" decision. The club's star quarterback, Jimmy Garoppolo, won't be a part of that decision -- this year, anyway -- as he recovers from knee surgery.

But is it possible Mullens could play so well that even Garoppolo's return to his former status would be in question?

Shanahan remains focused on the Giants, not next year's training camp.

That said, he has insisted from Day 1 that competition makes everyone better.

"Those guys are very self-motivated. There's not a time that you've got to give them a kick in the butt to do something. Those guys, they put more pressure on themselves than someone else," Shanahan said of Mullens and Beathard.

"I think C.J. started off well and I think he went through a tough stretch. I think it is good for him to sit back and get fully healthy and heal up and watch someone else do it. He's only a play away from getting in. So he'll be ready."

The Giants defense is about to find out Monday night if Mullens is for real. All Mullens did in his first extensive playing time last week on a national stage was complete 16 of 22 passes for 262 yards, and three touchdowns for a 151.9 passer rating in a 34-3 spanking of the Raiders.

Mullens doesn't offer ideal size nor arm strength for the position, but his quick feet in the pocket helps him avoid the pass rush, and he has a rapid set-up and release that gets the ball out of his hand in a snap. Because he doesn't have ideal arm strength, he figures to push the ball underneath on slants and crossing patterns and let his receivers and tight end do the heavy lifting. If so, the Giants defense better make sure they are getting off their blocks and that they're not getting caught flat-footed in coverage while trying to watch Mullens' eyes.

Offensively, the Giants need to get their running game going against a 49ers defense that is somewhat banged up and that is allowing opponents 102.8 rushing yards per game. It would also probably help the Giants offense if it made more of an effort to get running back Saquon Barkley into space to help bring down one of the defenders that usually teams up on double coverage against Odell Beckham Jr.

Player Notes
Albert Wilson Jan 23 8:10pm ET

Miami Dolphins wide receiver Albert Wilson (hip) has progressed in his rehab without setbacks since suffering a hip injury in October, according to a league source. Doctors have ruled out surgery once and for all for Wilson and has raised hope that he will be able to get back on the field this spring. The belief is that Wilson will be ready for the start of the offseason program in April. Wilson ranked third on the team in touchdowns (four receiving and one passing) despite missing nine games, and his yards-per-catch average (15.0) led the team. Although Miami's quarterback situation is up in the air, Wilson should have a prominent place in the team's offense next year regardless.

From RotoBaller

Sam Darnold Jan 23 8:10pm ET

The New York Jets officially hired Dowell Loggains as their next offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach on Wednesday. Loggains has worked under head coach Adam Gase in both Chicago and Miami. With Gase likely running the show on offense, Loggains' main task will be to continue the development of quarterback Sam Darnold, who was very up and down in his rookie season. The Jets ranked 29th in yards per game (299.2), 25th in passing yards (197.8), 26th in rushing yards (101.4) and 23rd in the league in points per game (20.8) in 2018.

From RotoBaller

Larry Fitzgerald Jan 23 12:10pm ET

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From RotoBaller

Greg Schiano Jan 23 10:53am ET

Former Ohio State defensive coordinator Greg Schiano is expected to land with the New England Patriots in a top defensive role when linebackers coach Brian Flores heading to the Miami Dolphins.

Steve Spagnuolo Jan 23 10:43am ET

Former New York Giants defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo has emerged as the favorite to be hired as Kansas City Chiefs defensive coordinator, according to sources.

Larry Fitzgerald Jan 23 9:43am ET

Arizona Cardinals WR Larry Fitzgerald announced Wednesday, Jan. 23, that he'll return for the 2019 season.

Fantasy Spin: Fitz had a 69-734-6 season, which was well below the 100-catch, 1,000-yard seasons the three years previously. The rookie quarterback was part of the problem, but he doesn't have much more upside next season. He's still a PPR asset, but he'll be a mid-round option as a WR3.

Larry Fitzgerald Jan 23 9:43am ET

Updating an earlier report, Arizona Cardinals impending free-agent WR Larry Fitzgerald re-signed with the Cardinals on a one-year deal. Financial terms weren't disclosed.

Albert Wilson Jan 23 2:13am ET

Miami Dolphins WR Albert Wilson (hip) is on schedule with his recovery from an October hip injury that landed him on IR and could be at full speed when the team's offseason workout program begins in April.

Fantasy Spin: After four largely nondescript seasons in Kansas City, Wilson flashed some playmaking ability before getting injured against the Lions. There are far too many variables in Miami for an accurate read on Wilson's fantasy prospects for 2019, but he did enough last year to warrant your attention.

Nick Foles Jan 23 1:53am ET

Philadelphia Eagles QB Nick Foles would be eligible to be franchise or transition tagged and then traded if the team decides not to pick up his option, which ESPN's Chris Mortensen believes is a possibility as doing so would allow the Eagles to influence Foles' destination.

Fantasy Spin: Mortensen indicates such a move would prevent Foles from going to a division rival, but it's all speculation at this point. While it's far from a sure thing, Foles could have some fantasy value in the right situation.

Daryl Worley Jan 23 1:03am ET

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Michael Crabtree Jan 22 11:53pm ET

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Cole Beasley Jan 22 5:23pm ET

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Fantasy Spin: Beasley's frustrations are evident and understandable, although Amari Cooper, Ezekiel Elliott and Michael Gallup are all bigger, more talented threats with the ball. Beasley does have a role to play and put together his second best season from a statistical standpoint. That being said, he's only a mid- to late-round PPR flier if he stays in Dallas.

Alex Smith Jan 22 4:50pm ET

Washington Redskins general manager Bruce Allen said the team is "optimistic" that quarterback Alex Smith (leg) will be ready for the start of the 2019 season, but he also said "we'll see." In his first year with Washington, Smith was a disappointment, throwing for 2,108 yards, 10 touchdowns and five interceptions with an 85.7 QB rating in 10 games before his gruesome leg injury. He'll be heading into his age-35 season and is unlikely to be ready for training camp or the regular season, so he's one to avoid for fantasy purposes. The 'Skins are in dire need of a long-term quarterback.

From RotoBaller

Chris Jones Jan 22 4:30pm ET

The Kansas City Chiefs relieved defensive coordinator Bob Sutton of his duties on Tuesday. Sutton was head coach Andy Reid's defensive coordinator for all six of his years in KC, but the Chiefs defense continued to trend downward in 2018 and was their Achilles heel in the AFC Championship loss to the Patriots last weekend. Defensive end Chris Jones -- third in the NFL with 15.5 sacks in 2018 -- and linebacker Dee Ford are the linchpins of this defense, but they must improve their talent in the secondary. The Chiefs ranked 31st in yards allowed per game (405.5), 31st in passing yards allowed (273.4), 27th in rushing yards allowed (132.1), 24th in points allowed (26.3) and tied for eighth in takeaways (27) in 2018.

From RotoBaller

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Fantasy Spin: Cook was one of the few bright spots for the Raiders this season, and maybe the lone bright spot. He's a top-five fantasy tight end candidate now after finishing 2018 as the TE5.

Julio Jones Jan 22 2:03pm ET

Atlanta Falcons WR Julio Jones led all receivers with 24 receptions for first downs on 30 third-down targets this past season.

Fantasy Spin: Despite a slow start in the TD department (none in his first seven games) Jones also wound up leading the league in receiving yards (1,677) for the second time in the last four seasons. And even with Jones turning 30 this offseason (on Super Bowl Sunday), he remains an elite WR1 in all fantasy formats.

Marshawn Lynch Jan 22 2:00pm ET

Oakland Raiders head coach Jon Gruden said the team is unsure if impending free-agent running back Marshawn Lynch plans to play in 2019. Gruden said "we'd love to have him back" if he decides to play another season. Beast Mode will turn 33 in April and is coming off a season in which he played in just six games due to injury. Lynch ran 90 times for 376 yards (4.2 yards per carry) and three scores. Even if Lynch returns, he'd be more of a low-upside, injury-risk RB2 for Oakland that is more attractive in standard-scoring leagues.

From RotoBaller

Jared Cook Jan 22 2:00pm ET

Oakland Raiders head coach Jon Gruden said the team would like to re-sign impending free-agent tight end Jared Cook, but he knows the market for his services will be competitive. He'll be in high demand after he set career highs across the board in catches (68), targets (101), yards (896) and touchdowns (six) for the Raiders. Given the sad state of the tight end position in fantasy, Cook was a strong TE1 this year and will likely be drafted as one again this year, depending on where he lands. Staying in Oakland might be the best for his value.

From RotoBaller

Andy Dalton Jan 22 1:50pm ET

The Cincinnati Bengals are hiring former Oakland Raiders quarterbacks coach Brian Callahan as their next offensive coordinator. Callahan has never been an offensive coordinator in the NFL but has been a QBs coach since 2015. He'll oversee an offense that could easily bounce back after serious injuries to quarterback Andy Dalton and wide receiver A.J. Green derailed them in 2018. Cincinnati finished 26th in yards per game (310.8), 24th in passing yards per game (205.6), 21st in rushing yards per game (105.1) and 17th in points per game (23.0) in 2018.

From RotoBaller

Marshawn Lynch Jan 22 1:43pm ET

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Fantasy Spin: Lynch will be 33 by the time next season rolls around, but he'd still be a fantasy RB2 consideration if were to be projected to be the primary RB in Oakland.