Fri Oct 9 6:39pm ET
By JOSH DUBOW
AP Pro Football Writer
San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo (10) passes against the Arizona Cardinals during the first half of an NFL football game in Santa Clara, Calif., Sunday, Sept. 13, 2020. (AP Photo/Tony Avelar)
San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, right, greets quarterback Nick Mullens during warm-ups before an NFL football game against the New York Giants, Sunday, Sept. 27, 2020, in East Rutherford, N.J. (AP Photo/Bill Kostroun)
SANTA CLARA, Calif. (AP) Jimmy Garoppolo will return as starting quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers this week after missing the past two games with a sprained ankle.
Coach Kyle Shanahan said Garoppolo will start Sunday at home against the Miami Dolphins. Shanahan wanted to see how Garoppolo made it through a full week of practice before making his decision.
''Each day he got better,'' Shanahan said Friday. ''Never felt too sore the next day. So, we needed to hear that today and see him out there today and we feel good to go.''
Garoppolo had hoped not to miss any time with the injury, having played through ankle sprains before. But this was a more severe high ankle sprain which made it impossible for him to move well enough to avoid danger in the pocket.
He was able to show he was healthy in practice and will provide a needed spark for the 49ers (2-2), who lost 25-20 at home last week to Philadelphia.
''Ankle is feeling really good right now,'' Garoppolo said. ''Got the last couple of weeks off to get it right. The training staff, I tip my hat to those guys, they did a great job with me, just preparing me and everything. But, as far as getting out there, I mean, we've had the whole week to work on it. So, it's feeling pretty good right now.''
San Francisco has a 20-6 record when Garoppolo starts, compared to a 5-21 mark with any other quarterback since Shanahan arrived in 2017.
Garoppolo threw for 3,978 yards and 27 TD passes last season to lead the Niners to 13 wins and was 33 for 49 for 390 yards, four TDs and no interceptions in six quarters this season.
The Niners could have almost all of their key pieces back on offense with running back Raheem Mostert questionable after missing two games with a knee injury and receiver Deebo Samuel questionable with an illness.
Samuel hasn't been allowed at the facility the past two days because he had a fever and aches earlier in the week. Samuel has taken part in meetings and will be allowed back once he passes one more coronavirus test.
Mostert, Samuel, All-Pro tight end George Kittle and first-round receiver Brandon Aiyuk have all missed games this season so the Niners are looking forward to the possibility of having all their important pieces available together for the first time.
''That's exactly how we envisioned it in the offseason,'' fullback Kyle Juszczyk said. ''It's great to finally have everybody healthy and in there together.''
Shanahan also said C.J. Beathard has moved ahead of Nick Mullens on the depth chart and will be Garoppolo's backup Sunday. Mullens played well in his first start this season before getting pulled in last week's loss to Philadelphia after committing three turnovers.
Beathard played well in relief and now will get the first shot if anything happens to Garoppolo.
NOTES: LB Dre Greenlaw will also return after missing two games with a quadriceps injury. ... CB Ahkello Witherspoon (hamstring) is questionable for the game, while DE Ezekiel Ansah (biceps), CB Dontae Johnson (groin), CB Emmanuel Moseley (concussion) and CB K'Waun Williams (knee, hip) are out. ... Ansah and Williams will be placed on IR on Saturday and the Niners will call up at least one more cornerback from the practice squad.
Five Waiver Wire Adds: Week 8
Carolina Panthers running back Mike Davis is in a great spot to redeem himself in Week 8 against the Falcons after last week's dud. Christian McCaffrey (ankle) is back practicing, though he is a long shot to play, particularly on a short week. That would leave Davis as the lead back for one more contest against a Falcons' defense that has allowed the 12th-most fantasy points to running backs. Oh, and Davis himself picked up 149 scrimmage yards and a touchdown against Atlanta in Week 5. Start the veteran back for one more week as a high-end RB1.
Carolina Panthers quarterback Teddy Bridgewater gets a great matchup in Week 8 against the Falcons. Bridgewater had arguably his best game of the year against Atlanta back in Week 5, as it's the only game where he's thrown for at least 300 yards and multiple touchdown scores this season. The Falcons Defense has been the most giving unit in the league to opposing signal-callers, making Bridgewater a good bet for strong numbers on Thursday Night Football. Treat him as a back-end QB1 this week.
New Orleans Saints tight end Jared Cook is a low-end TE1 this week against Chicago. Cook has been an integral part of this offense this season and with the WR unit banged up right now, he could see more targets this week. The TE has now scored a touchdown in the past two games as well. The Bears Defense, though stingy, has been middle-of-the-pack in covering tight ends, so Cook would be one of the best players to start from this Saints offense.
The New Orleans Saints Defense is a streaming option this week against the Bears. This unit hasn't been consistent or potent at all this season, but the Bears do not have an explosive offense and have struggled to even put up points at times, as evidence of their losses to the Rams and Colts. Add in the fact that top WR Allen Robinson II is injured and Nick Foles could always have turnovers and you have a defense that is in the streaming tier this week.
New Orleans Saints kicker Wil Lutz is a solid play this week against a Bears team allowing the seventh-most points to fantasy kickers. Lutz has gone 11-for-11 in field goals and 21-for-21 in extra points this season, meaning he is one of the most reliable players at his position. The kicker is a great play this week.
New Orleans Saints wide receiver Michael Thomas would be a solid play this week even against a tough Bears Defense due to his talent and predicted high volume in the passing game. Nevertheless, the WR is dealing with a hamstring and ankle injury and it's important to monitor his status heading into Sunday's clash to see if he will play.
New Orleans Saints wide receiver Tre' Quan Smith is not an ideal play this week against a stingy Bears Defense that is allowing the third-fewest points to fantasy wideouts. Smith would be in line for an elevated role if Michael Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders are out again this week, and he had four catches for 54 yards on four targets last week. Nevertheless, the tough matchup and the fact that guys such as Deonte Harris and Marquez Callaway are seeing more targets means Smith is better left on the bench.
New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees is not a strong option at QB in Week 8 against the Bears. Chicago allows the fewest fantasy points to QBs and Brees may be without Michael Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders once again this week. Therefore, this week will pose a stiff challenge for Brees if he doesn't have a strong receiving corp against a top defense. If there are better options, it's best to go forth with them for this week.
New Orleans Saints running back Alvin Kamara is an RB1 this week against a tough Bears Defense. Kamara posted 14 carries for 83 yards and eight catches for 65 yards last week, displaying his versatility and importance in both the rushing and passing game. The Bears present a tough matchup for RBs generally, but Kamara's volume should keep him as a strong play, and his value would only escalate if Michael Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders don't suit up.
Atlanta Falcons WR Russell Gage Jr. (knee) was limited during practice Wednesday, Oct. 28, but is not on the injury report for Week 8.
Fantasy Spin: Gage has been targeted 16 times over the last three games and has posted at least 50 yards in each of the last two games. He should see a handful of targets against the Carolina Panthers and can be a flex option in deeper leagues.
Cleveland Browns RB Kareem Hunt (ribs) was a limited participant in practice Wednesday, Oct. 28.
Fantasy Spin: Hunt played 90 percent of the offensive snaps in the Browns' Week 7 win over the Cincinnati Bengals and totaled 102 yards from scrimmage and a touchdown. He'll continue to be an RB1 in Week 8 against the Las Vegas Raiders with Nick Chubb still sidelined.
Atlanta Falcons WR Julio Jones (hamstring) fully participated in practice Wednesday, Oct. 28, and is not on the injury report for Week 8.
Fantasy Spin: Jones appears to have recovered from his injury and remains one of the top receivers in the NFL. He is a must-start option in all fantasy leagues this week.
Cleveland Browns WR Jarvis Landry (hip, ribs) was a limited participant at practice Wednesday, Oct. 28.
Fantasy Spin: Landry threw another 19-yard pass and rushed twice for four yards to go with his five catches for 48 yards in Week 7. He'll likely pick up more work in the passing game with WR Odell Beckham Jr. on the Reserve/Injured list and needs to be in lineups once again.
Chicago Bears TE Jimmy Graham (non-injury) received a veteran rest day and didn't practice Wednesday, Oct. 28.
Fantasy Spin: Graham caught another five of six targets in the Bears' Week 7 loss and is a very safe-floor TE1 play. He'll have a chance to return to the end zone in Week 8 against a New Orleans Saints team struggling against tight ends.
Chicago Bears LB Khalil Mack (ankle), WR Ted Ginn Jr. (non-injury) and C Cody Whitehair (calf) didn't practice Wednesday, Oct. 28. TE Cole Kmet (back), S Eddie Jackson (knee) and S Sherrick McManis (hamstring) were limited. OL Rashaad Coward (finger) and OL Jason Spriggs (back) practiced in full.
Cleveland Browns TE Austin Hooper (abdomen) didn't participate in practice Wednesday, Oct. 28.
Fantasy Spin: Hooper will likely need to split work with Week 7 breakout star Harrison Bryant upon his return. Fantasy managers can drop him and look to stream tight ends until he's expected to play.
Green Bay Packers PK Mason Crosby (back, calf) and CB Kevin King (quadriceps) did not participate in practice Wednesday, Oct. 28. OT David Bakhtiari (chest), LB Krys Barnes (biceps, shoulder), LS Hunter Bradley (groin), RB Tyler Ervin (wrist), LB Rashan Gary (ankle), S Raven Greene (oblique), DT Tyler Lancaster (shoulder), TE Marcedes Lewis (knee), TE John Lovett (knee), LB Kamal Martin (knee), S Darnell Savage (quadriceps), LB Preston Smith (shoulder), LB Za'Darius Smith (ankle) and WR Equanimeous St. Brown (knee) were limited during practice. CB Jaire Alexander (hand, knee) fully participated in practice.
Updating a previous story, Chicago Bears WR Allen Robinson (concussion) didn't practice Wednesday, Oct. 28.
Fantasy Spin: Robinson caught all four of his targets for 70 yards but was again held out of the end zone in Week 7. He'll need to be in lineups if active for Week 8 as the unchallenged top weapon in the Bears' struggling passing game.
Chicago Bears WR Cordarrelle Patterson (quadriceps) didn't participate in practice Wednesday, Oct. 28.
Fantasy Spin: Patterson is coming off one of his quietest games of the season. He retains FLEX appeal in deeper leagues due to his moderate floor helped by his usage out of the backfield, but he isn't a high-ceiling play.
Cincinnati Bengals DT Geno Atkins (non-injury), DT Mike Daniels (non-injury), OT Bobby Hart (knee), C Trey Hopkins (concussion), CB Darius Phillips (knee), OT Jonah Williams (stinger) and S Brandon Wilson (knee) did not participate in practice Wednesday, Oct. 28. LB Markus Bailey (neck), TE Cethan Carter (shoulder), CB William Jackson III (concussion) and OG Michael Jordan (back) were limited during practice. WR John Ross (illness) fully participated in practice.