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FFL: Week 7 | NFL: Week 7

Panthers' Matt Rhule faces major quarterback decision

Wed Jan 8 5:09pm ET
By STEVE REED
AP Sports Writer

Players: Tom Brady, Drew Brees, Eli Manning, Case Keenum, Cam Newton, Ryan Tannehill, Dak Prescott, Teddy Bridgewater, Marcus Mariota, Jameis Winston, Will Grier, Kyle Allen

Former Baylor head football coach Matt Rhule speaks to reporters outside his home Tuesday Jan. 7, 2020, in Waco, Texas. According to a person familiar with the situation, the Carolina Panthers are completing a contract to hire Baylor's Matt Rhule as their coach. The Panthers have not spoken publicly about the coaching search. (Jerry Larson/Waco Tribune-Herald via AP)


Former Baylor head football coach Matt Rhule speaks to reporters outside his home Tuesday Jan. 7, 2020, in Waco, Texas. According to a person familiar with the situation, the Carolina Panthers are completing a contract to hire Baylor's Matt Rhule as their coach. The Panthers have not spoken publicly about the coaching search.(Jerry Larson/Waco Tribune-Herald via AP)


Carolina Panthers NFL football team new head coach Matt Rhule talks to the media during a news conference at the teams practice facility, Wednesday, Jan. 8, 2020, in Charlotte, N.C. (AP Photo/Mike McCarn)


Carolina Panthers NFL football team's new head coach Matt Rhule talks to the media during a news conference at the teams practice facility, Wednesday, Jan. 8, 2020, in Charlotte, N.C. (AP Photo/Mike McCarn)


Carolina Panthers NFL football team new head coach Matt Rhule poses with his wife, Julie, and children from left, Vivi, Leanna and Bryant after a news conference at the teams practice facility, Wednesday, Jan. 8, 2020 in Charlotte, N.C. (AP Photo/Mike McCarn)


Carolina Panthers NFL football team's new head coach Matt Rhule talks to the media during a news conference at the teams practice facility, Wednesday, Jan. 8, 2020, in Charlotte, N.C. (AP Photo/Mike McCarn)


Carolina Panthers NFL football team owner David Tepper talks to the media about new head coach Matt Rhule during a news conference at the teams practice facility, Wednesday, Jan. 8, 2020 in Charlotte, N.C. (AP Photo/Mike McCarn)


Carolina Panthers team owner, David Tepper, from left, poses with new head coach Matt Rhule, team president of business Tom Glick and general manager Marty Hurney during a news conference at the teams practice facility, Wednesday, Jan. 8, 2020, in Charlotte, N.C. (AP Photo/Mike McCarn)


Carolina Panthers NFL football team's new head coach Matt Rhule talks to the media during a news conference at the teams practice facility, Wednesday, Jan. 8, 2020, in Charlotte, N.C. (AP Photo/Mike McCarn)


CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) One of the biggest decisions new Carolina Panthers coach Matt Rhule will have to make is choosing a quarterback - a move that could determine the direction of his tenure with the club and the franchise's future for years to come.

Rhule said Wednesday he spoke to Cam Newton after accepting the Panthers job, but added that it's way too early to make any decisions about the roster before sitting down and talking at length with general manager Marty Hurney.

''I did talk to Cam (on Tuesday) and I have the utmost respect for him and what he has done,'' Rhule said Wednesday during an introductory news conference at the team's new practice bubble. ''And I love the way he talked to me quite honestly. He didn't want to talk about the past, he wanted to talk about the future.''

But Rhule isn't quite ready to talk about the future just yet, ''I would much rather talk to those guys and kind of get a feel for not just Cam, but all of the players on the roster, and really have a good process in place moving forward.''

Hurney, who kept his job after coach Ron Rivera was fired, said he has not discussed the quarterback situation with Rhule.

''That is something we will have to sit down and talk about,'' Hurney said. ''We have a guy who was the MVP of the NFL. And Matt knows that. This is all going to be a process. He is going to have to get to know these guys and get to know the roster. It's a process.''

Much like Newton's playing status has been, which adds another element of uncertainty to the decision-making process.

The 31-year-old Newton missed 14 games last season with a Lisfranc foot injury and finished the season on injured reserve. Newton was the league's MVP in 2015, but has struggled with shoulder and foot injuries since and has lost his last eight starts for Carolina.

The team is waiting to see how Newton responds from foot surgery before making a decision on his future.

The Panthers have not given a timetable for his return.

Newton is entering the final year of his contract and is scheduled to cost $21.1 million under the 2020 salary cap. However, the team could free up $19.1 million in cap space if they trade or release him this offseason.

The other options on the roster are Kyle Allen and Will Grier.

Allen was 5-7 in 12 starts last season in place of Newton but committed 23 turnovers - 16 coming on interceptions and seven on fumbles. Allen was eventually benched after losing six straight games and his confidence seemed to deteriorate.

Grier, a third-round pick in 2019 out of West Virginia, started the final two games of the regular season but struggled. The Panthers lost those games by a combined score of 80-16, and Grier was intercepted four times and failed to throw a touchdown pass.

There will be other options if Rhule decides to go in a different direction altogether.

The Panthers have the seventh overall pick in this year's NFL draft.

Tom Brady, Drew Brees, Dak Prescott, Eli Manning, Phillip Rivers, Jameis Winston, Teddy Bridgewater, Ryan Tannehill, Marcus Mariota and Case Keenum highlight an unusually attractive class of free agent quarterbacks, although it's possible some of them may re-sign before they hit the free agent market.

Rhule hasn't had much time to dig into the situation.

He officially agreed to become the Panthers coach on Tuesday after owner David Tepper and Hurney flew to Waco, Texas to meet with him on Monday.

Hurney said it only took about 90 minutes before he switched from interview mode to recruiting mode.

''After talking with him I was like, `oh man, we have to convince this guy that Carolina is the right place for him,''' Hurney said.

Then came the Panthers' aggressive seven-year contract offer worth $62.5 million with incentive for even more, according to a person familiar with the situation. The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity Tuesday because the team has not released details of the contract.

The move was made to prevent Rhule from going to his hometown of New York and interviewing with the Giants.

Rhule said the seven-year commitment and the bond he felt with Tepper and Hurney were enough to enough to convince him to forego the Giants interview. Rhule said he never spoke with anyone at the Giants, although his agent did.

''There's no doubt that we share a common vision,'' Rhule said after meeting with Tepper and Hurney. ''There is no doubt that we believe in doing things the right way.''

Rhule said midway through his interview with the Panthers he spoke to his wife Julie in the other room and she told him, ''What are you waiting for? You need to go work for them!''

Now outside of naming a coaching staff, that work begins with the quarterback situation.

Player Notes
Sam Darnold Oct 21 12:20pm ET

New York Jets quarterback Sam Darnold (shoulder) will be limited in practice on Wednesday. It's a positive step for Darnold, who has missed the last two games with a sprained shoulder. Even if the 23-year-old gets cleared to return to the field this Sunday, he'll be hard to trust as a low-end QB2 in superflex leagues against the Bills. Darnold was 21-for-35 for 215 yards, one touchdown and an interception in the 27-17 loss to Buffalo back in Week 1. Veteran Joe Flacco hasn't been any better in the last two games in place of Darnold, going 39-for-77 for 381 yards, one touchdown and an interception against the Cardinals and Dolphins. The only player you should be using in your starting lineups for the 0-6 Jets is wide receiver Jamison Crowder.

From RotoBaller

Lamar Jackson Oct 21 12:20pm ET

Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson's passing numbers are down across the board through six weeks this season, from completion rate to passing yards and touchdowns, but he says it has nothing to do with his mechanics. Jackson's sidearm delivery has been scrutinized over the last three seasons, but quarterbacks coach James Urban isn't worried about Jackson's delivery. Last year's MVP ranks 24th in completion rate (63 percent), 25th in passing yards (1,135), 23rd in yards per attempt (7.01) and 14th in passer rating (99.2). He ranks 13th with 10 touchdown passes after leading the league in 2019. Baltimore doesn't seem too worried, but it's certainly not the start Jackson's fantasy managers were hoping for. Hopefully he'll pick it up in the passing department after the team's Week 7 bye, but Jackson remains a high-end QB1 for his elite rushing ability.

From RotoBaller

Alshon Jeffery Oct 21 12:10pm ET

Philadelphia Eagles head coach Doug Pederson said it would be hard to get wide receiver Alshon Jeffery (foot) ready on a short week against the Giants on Thursday night. Jeffery has been limited so far in practice this week, but the Eagles remain cautious with him since he has yet to play in 2020 while coming off foot surgery. The good news is that Philly could get DeSean Jackson (hamstring) back in Week 7. Regardless, Travis Fulgham remains the most attractive fantasy wideout for the Eagles against a shaky Giants Defense on Thursday night. Rookie John Hightower and Greg Ward will also see playing time even if Jackson is active. Jeffery could return in Week 8 against the Cowboys and is a stash option for receiver depth.

From RotoBaller

Joey Slye Oct 21 12:00pm ET

The Carolina Panthers placed kicker Joey Slye and offensive lineman Trent Scott on the Reserve/COVID-19 list on Wednesday. They are going on the list not because of a positive COVID-19 test, but because of close contact, according to a source. Slye has made a league-leading 16 field goals on 18 tries this year, so this is a blow to fantasy managers that were planning to use him in Week 7 against the Saints. He's also made 10 of his 12 extra points, ranking him fourth in fantasy points among kickers through six weeks. Slye hasn't been officially ruled out for this weekend, but you need to make other plans at this point.

From RotoBaller

DeSean Jackson Oct 21 12:00pm ET

Philadelphia Eagles head coach Doug Pederson said that he anticipates both wide receiver DeSean Jackson (hamstring) and offensive tackle Lane Johnson (ankle) playing on Thursday night against the Giants. Jackson has missed the last three games and has been limited in practice so far this week. The 33-year-old deep threat could be listed as questionable again, but he's on the right track to return. Even against a beatable New York secondary, D-Jax is a risky boom/bust WR4/flex option at risk of re-injury. His return to the lineup could also make things more difficult for Travis Fulgham, Greg Ward and rookie John Hightower in the receiving pecking order. Johnson's return would be great news for quarterback Carson Wentz and running back Boston Scott.

From RotoBaller

Michael Thomas Oct 21 11:40am ET

New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton said the team hasn't decided on whether wide receiver Michael Thomas (ankle) will play in Week 7 against the Panthers. "We'll see. I think he's feeling better. We really don't get into injuries or predictions, so you guys will be the first to know," Payton said. It was believed that Thomas was read to go in Week 5 -- the Saints had a bye in Week 6 -- but the All-Pro wideout was inactive because of a disciplinary decision after he got into a fight with a teammate at practice. The 27-year-old could be listed as questionable with his injury this week, but all signs point to him making his return this weekend. If Thomas is active for the first time since the season-opener, fantasy managers must get him back into their lineups.

From RotoBaller

Mark Ingram Oct 21 12:30am ET

Baltimore Ravens running back Mark Ingram II's (ankle) MRI exam showed a mid- to high-ankle sprain that isn't considered serious, according to a source. With the Ravens on bye this week, head coach John Harbaugh said on Monday that Ingram will likely be back on Nov. 1 for the Week 8 game against the Steelers. Those types of ankle sprains can often sideline players for multiple weeks, so we wouldn't consider it a lock that the 30-year-old veteran will be ready for the Week 8 showdown with Pittsburgh. Rookie J.K. Dobbins and Gus Edwards would see more work in the backfield if Ingram is limited or out in Week 8, making them worth waiver wire pickups if you're looking two weeks into the future. Ingram has rushed the ball 50 times for 225 yards (4.5 yards per carry) and two touchdowns in six games in 2020.

From RotoBaller

John Brown Oct 20 8:33pm ET

Buffalo Bills WR John Brown (knee) wasn't 100 percent recovered from injury against the Kansas City Chiefs Monday, Oct. 19, according to head coach Sean McDermott.

Fantasy Spin: It may help to explain Brown's disappointing catch-less performance. He scored a touchdown in each of the first two games of the season but has clearly taken a backseat to Stefon Diggs and Cole Beasley. He'll be a risky FLEX play in Week 7, even against the New York Jets.

From TheHuddle

Kai Forbath Oct 20 8:03pm ET

Los Angeles Rams PK Kai Forbath was placed on the Exempt/Commissioner Permission list Tuesday, Oct. 20.

From TheHuddle

Randy Gregory Oct 20 8:03pm ET

Dallas Cowboys DE Randy Gregory was activated from the Exempt/Commissioner Permission list Tuesday, Oct. 20.

From TheHuddle

Jared Cook Oct 20 8:00pm ET

New Orleans Saints tight end Jared Cook was Drew Brees primary red zone threat while Michael Thomas remained sidelined, but with the All-Pro wideout expected back Sunday versus Carolina, Cooks time as a TE1 in season-long formats may have passed. While Cook managed to receive seven targets Week 1 when Thomas was alongside him, the veteran has been a touchdown-dependent option since then. In addition, the Panthers Defense has been stout against opposing tight ends this season, allowing just 221 yards and two touchdowns across six games. With a plethora of options at Brees disposal, Cook remains an appealing play, albeit a tenuous one that carries sizable risk.

From RotoBaller

Mike White Oct 20 7:53pm ET

New York Jets QB Mike White was designated as a protected practice squad player for Week 7 Tuesday, Oct. 20.

From TheHuddle

Deon Cain Oct 20 7:53pm ET

Pittsburgh Steelers WR Deon Cain, RB Trey Edmunds, DE Henry Mondeaux and RB Wendell Smallwood were chosen as protected practice squad players for Week 7 Tuesday, Oct. 20.

From TheHuddle

Jeremiah Ledbetter Oct 20 7:53pm ET

Tampa Bay Buccaneers PK Greg Joseph and DT Jeremiah Ledbetter were protected from selection off the practice squad for Week 7 Tuesday, Oct. 20.

From TheHuddle

Daren Bates Oct 20 7:53pm ET

Tennessee Titans LB Daren Bates, PK Tucker McCann, G David Quessenberry and QB Trevor Siemian were designated as protected practice squad players for Week 7 Tuesday, Oct. 20.

From TheHuddle

Ezekiel Elliott Oct 20 7:50pm ET

Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott was given a vote of confidence from head coach Mike McCarthy on Tuesday, confirming that the star running back would be the starter for Sundays contest against Washington. Elliott lost two fumbles Monday versus the Cardinals, ceding way to Tony Pollard at times, but with Andy Dalton once again to likely receive the start, Elliott will need to be relied upon for Dallas to have success offensively. Unfortunately for Elliott, the teams offensive line is heavily banged up due to injuries. Factoring that in on top of his fumble woes (five in 2020, four of which have been lost), DFS fantasy managers may want to look elsewhere Sunday, especially considering his price tag. Season-long managers can continue to role Elliott out and bank on his perpetual upside paying off.

From RotoBaller

Doug Middleton Oct 20 7:43pm ET

Jacksonville Jaguars TE Ben Ellefson, LB Joe Giles-Harris, DB Doug Middleton and TE Eric Saubert were protected from selection off the practice squad for Week 7 Tuesday, Oct. 20.

From TheHuddle

Oct 20 7:43pm ET

Las Vegas Raiders PK Dominik Eberle, DE David Irving, DB Dylan Mabin and DE Chris Smith were chosen as the team's protected practice squad players for Week 7 Tuesday, Oct. 20.

From TheHuddle

Russell Wilson Oct 20 7:40pm ET

Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson has made each of the five defenses that he has faced 2020 look rather pedestrian on his way to becoming the favorite to claim the NFLs MVP trophy this season. On paper, his matchup Sunday versus Arizona should be another such instance, which is backed up by his gaudy DFS price tag. But gleaning his numbers against the Cardinals over the past two seasons tells a different story; over their last four matchups, he has exceeded the 200-yard passing threshold just once and has not rushed for a touchdown in any of those outings. The Cardinals Defense ranks in the top half of the league in passing yards allowed per game this season (226.5), another notch in the belt of why DFS fantasy managers may want to consider other QB options during Week 7.

From RotoBaller

Kyle Lauletta Oct 20 7:33pm ET

Cleveland Browns RB John Kelly, QB Kyle Lauletta, DE Cameron Malveaux and PK Matthew McCrane were chosen as protected practice squad players for Week 7 Tuesday, Oct. 20.

From TheHuddle