Sat Aug 17 6:30pm ET
By PAT GRAHAM
AP Sports Writer
Players: Jimmy Garoppolo
San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo throws a pass during a combined NFL training camp with the Denver Broncos Saturday, Aug. 17, 2019, at the Broncos' headquarters in Englewood, Colo. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
Retired NFL head coach Mike Shanahan, center, talks to reporters during a combined NFL training camp at which the Denver Broncos hosted the San Francisco 49ers Saturday, Aug. 17, 2019, at the Broncos' headquarters in Englewood, Colo. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
San Francisco 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan, back, tosses a ball as defensive backs coach Joe Woods looks on during a combined NFL training camp with the Denver Broncos Saturday, Aug. 17, 2019, at the Broncos' headquarters in Englewood, Colo. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
Denver Broncos head coach Vic Fangio, left, chats with San Francisco 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan during a combined NFL training camp Saturday, Aug. 17, 2019, at the Broncos' headquarters in Englewood, Colo. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (AP) Mike Shanahan patrolled the sideline with his familiar stare as he watched his son's team practice against his former one.
No way could the former head coach stay away from the Denver Broncos headquarters this weekend.
For a decade, Shanahan avoided the facility where he won two Super Bowl titles before getting fired after the 2008 season.
Time, though, has thawed any hard feelings. And so has golf with Broncos boss John Elway, who made it clear that Shanahan was always welcome around team headquarters.
Shanahan certainly had good reason to drop by the past two days with Denver holding joint practices with the San Francisco 49ers coached by his son, Kyle.
''It's great to be back,'' said the elder Shanahan, who won back-to-back Super Bowl titles with Elway under center in the late 1990s. ''I haven't been here in 10 years and to see all the changes, a lot of people you were here before working with - it's great to see.''
Shanahan been a frequent guest of the 49ers since his son was hired by San Francisco in 2017. He mentored Jimmy Garoppolo after the QB suffered a torn ACL three games into the 2018 season. The two talked schemes and blitzes with Garoppolo's year finished.
''It was a chance for him to relax and have some fun and at the same time get to study some football together,'' Shanahan said.
Shanahan does miss coaching. A lot. Shanahan hasn't been a head coach since going 3-13 with Washington in 2013. He had conversations with Elway and nearly got another shot with the Broncos, who have turned things over to 60-year-old first-time head coach Vic Fangio.
''It didn't work out and sometimes it works out for the right reasons,'' said Shanahan, who also attended a Broncos practice last month. ''I made a decision a long time ago, right when I got fired, I said if I didn't get the right job right away that gave us a chance to win a Super Bowl, that I was going to do what I'm doing - be a dad, follow your son and the organization and be a part of that.''
Kyle Shanahan didn't get a chance to spend much time with his dad Saturday.
He had a practice to run.
Still, it was a surreal experience to be on the same turf where his father guided all those Broncos teams. Although the facilities have been updated, it's still the familiar place where he used to spend a bulk of his teen years.
''I've got a lot of memories here,'' Kyle Shanahan said. ''It's a very special place for me.''
Same goes for Mike Shanahan, who has a standing invitation to return anytime he wants - with one exception.
''Unless we're playing the 49ers in a real game,'' cracked Fangio, whose team faces the 49ers in a preseason matchup Monday night.
Shanahan has long been friends with Fangio, forged by years and years of matching wits. That helped pave the way for Shanahan's return. So did rounds of golf with Elway.
''It's always good to see him out here because I enjoy talking football with him,'' Elway said. ''As you all know, he's very knowledgeable in the game, so I'm glad that he's able to come back and know that this is home for him.''
One question that makes Shanahan sheepish is the notion that he belongs in the Broncos' Ring of Fame or even in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
''When people just mention you about those things, you go, `Wait a minute,''' said Shanahan, who amassed 170 wins with the Raiders, Broncos and Washington. ''You think Hall of Fame and you just say, `what a great honor,' when people talk to you about it. ... But I never even think about things you can't control.''
Shanahan does think the Broncos made the right move in hiring Fangio, who's trying to turn around a franchise that hasn't been to the postseason since winning the Super Bowl following the 2015 season in Peyton Manning's final game.
''No-nonsense guy, that understands the game,'' Shanahan said of Fangio. ''I think players will follow him very quickly.''
Naturally, Shanahan's a big fan of the coach in San Francisco, too. He believes the 49ers have put the pieces around his son to be competitive.
''All you want to have is the opportunity to have success,'' the father said. ''Kyle has been given that opportunity.''
New York Jets quarterback Sam Darnold (illness) said he has "full confidence" that he'll be ready to play in Week 5 against the Eagles after the team's Week 4 bye. Darnold missed Monday night's game with mononucleosis and will also sit out in Week 3 against the Patriots. Wide receivers Robby Anderson and Jamison Crowder have little fantasy upside this weekend with third-stringer Luke Falk throwing them passes, but they should be back on the fantasy map when Darnold returns. A Week 5 matchup with Philadelphia is promising, but Darnold will be a QB2 until he shows otherwise.
After playing just two snaps in the opener, San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Dante Pettis participated in 40 percent of offensive snaps in Week 2 but did not record a target. Through two games, the former breakout candidate has one catch for seven yards and shouldnt be in any fantasy lineups. Pettis has ceded looks to emerging rookie wideout Deebo Samuel and the criticism he absorbed during preseason was apparently not for show. While his nonexistence thus far is a low bar to overcome, Pettis will need to show consistency on the field before returning to relevance in fantasy or the Niners offense.
Oakland Raiders wide receiver J.J. Nelson got in a limited session at Wednesday's practice as he still recovers from an ankle injury. His ailment dates back to Week 2 of the preseason, which limited him to eight snaps in Week 1 and him not even dressing up for last week's game. Nelson has a shot to suit up for the team's matchup versus the Vikings this weekend, but he'll carry no fantasy value whatsoever. He'll be fourth in line for targets as Darren Waller and Tyrell Williams will remain dominating opportunities while Hunter Renfrow's role continues to grow as the slot man. Nelson has big-play ability but can't be relied upon even when he returns to full health.
New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady (calf) was a limited participant in practice on Wednesday. Brady is often listed on the team's injury report but always winds up playing. He'll be fine for another great spot in Week 3 at home against the reeling Jets. The ageless wonder will keep a high ceiling as a QB1 as long as Antonio Brown remains on the team, and he could be facing a Jets Defense without top linebacker C.J. Mosley and rookie defensive lineman Quinnen Williams. Fire Brady up as a top-five fantasy quarterback this weekend.
San Francisco 49ers running back Matt Breida is a safe RB2 in Week 3 against the Pittsburgh Steelers. The third-year back raced for 121 yards in Week 2 on just 12 carries and should again operate in a near-even split with Raheem Mostert. Behind one of the best offensive lines through two weeks, both Breida and Mostert rank top-15 in rushing DVOA and success rate. While the Niners will deploy bigger back Jeffery Wilson at the red-zone, Breida should have enough opportunities between the 20s to solidify his floor. Against unproven Steelers quarterback Mason Rudolph, a lopsided time of possession in favor of San Francisco should benefit the entire Niners backfield.
Oakland Raiders running back Josh Jacobs got in a limited practice Wednesday after dealing with a groin issue following Sunday's loss to the Chiefs. The fact that the rookie participated early in the week is a good sign, and owners should be confident that he suits up for Week 3 barring any setbacks. Jacobs has dominated the Raiders backfield in carries through two weeks making him a solid RB2 for fantasy, but he's only seen one pass target which caps his upside. In a game where the team will likely be playing from behind against a stout Vikings Defense, Jacobs should be treated as a low-end RB2 for this week.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston (foot) practiced in full on Wednesday and will start in Week 3 against the Giants. Winston looked a little better last Thursday than he did in Week 1, but fantasy owners were still expecting more from him in Bruce Arians' offense. Against New York's porous defense this weekend, Winston should be able to have his best game yet, making him a low-end QB1/high-end QB2. He's not a bad streamer if you just lost Ben Roethlisberger (elbow) or Drew Brees (thumb).
Seattle Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll said that wide receiver David Moore (shoulder) has a "really good chance" to play in Week 3 against the Saints. If Moore makes his debut in Week 3, he'll likely be limited in three-wide sets with Tyler Lockett and rookie D.K. Metcalf, although Moore will likely be the third receiving option, at best. He's one to watch in deeper leagues, but he shouldn't be in any starting lineups if he gets cleared for Sunday's game. Jaron Brown, who hasn't caught a single pass in the first two games, will rightfully fall down the depth chart with Moore returning.
Indianapolis Colts linebacker Darius Leonard (concussion) did not practice on Monday after being placed in the concussion protocol following the Week 2 game. Leonard had a team-high 10 tackles and a sack against the Titans, but he'll have to be cleared by an independent neurologist before he's allowed to play in Week 3 against the Falcons. The second-year player had a huge rookie season and is a top IDP linebacker when he's healthy, but you'll need to have other options ready in case he's not cleared by Sunday. Indy's defense/special teams is off the radar this week against Atlanta's high-octane offense.
Given an opportunity in Week 2, San Francisco running back Raheem Mostert broke out with 151 scrimmage yards and a touchdown. The fourth-year special teams veteran played well in limited opportunities last season (34 carries, 7.7 YPC) and should continue co-chairing the backfield with Matt Breida in Week 3 against the Pittsburgh Steelers. While the Steelers rush defense is no slouch, the Niners offensive line grades as fifth best in the run game through two contests. Both Mostert and Breida rank top-15 in rushing DVOA and success rate. Mosterts also showed his receiving chops with 10 grabs on 12 targets. Slated for a near-even split with Breida and clocking as one of footballs fastest players, Mostert is an upside RB3/flex with a steady floor.
Indianapolis Colts running back Marlon Mack (calf) wasn't seen at practice on Wednesday. It doesn't mean that Mack won't play in Week 3 at home against the Falcons, but it's certainly something to monitor as the week progresses. Indy is tied for second in the NFL in rushing with 185 yards per game after two weeks, so Mack would be a low-end RB1/high-end RB2 if he plays. Atlanta ranks in the middle of the pack against the run (110.5 rushing yards allowed per game). If Mack is unable to suit up, Jordan Wilkins would see a big value boost on early downs, while third-down back Nyheim Hines would become more attractive in PPR leagues.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers QB Jameis Winston (foot) appeared as a full participant on the injury report Wednesday, Sept. 18, but will start in Week 3 against the New York Giants.
Fantasy Spin: Winston would be a high-end QB2 under standard circumstances with a nice matchup in Week 3, but he could be the best available option for fantasy managers who've already lost a quarterback early in the season.
Los Angeles Rams kicker Greg Zuerlein was perfect during the teams 29-7 Week 2 victory over the New Orleans Saints with two field goals and three extra points. Zuerlein was able to show his range in Week 1 with a 56-yard kick against the Carolina Panthers, quieting any health concerns after the veteran had suffered a leg injury during the latter half of last year. Lock in Zuerlein as a top option in all leagues thanks to the explosiveness of the Rams offense.
Indianapolis Colts WR T.Y. Hilton (quad) was limited in practice Wednesday, Sept. 18.
Fantasy Spin: Hilton played 90% of snaps and caught four of six targets for 43 yards and a touchdown in Week 2. There isn't yet any concern this early in the week, and he should stay locked in as a WR1.
Indianapolis Colts QB Jacoby Brissett (knee) was listed as a full participant in practice Wednesday, Sept. 18.
Fantasy Spin: Brissett has been held below 200 yards passing in each of the first two games of the season. He has thrown five touchdowns against one interception. He's a low-end QB2.
Carolina Panthers S Rashaan Gaulden (groin), OT Brandon Greene (neck), LB Bruce Irvin (hamstring) and DT Kawann Short (shoulder) did not participate in practice Wednesday, Sept. 18.
Indianapolis Colts LB Darius Leonard (concussion) didn't practice Wednesday, Sept. 18. CB Pierre Desir (knee), DE Al-Quadin Muhammad (shoulder), DE Jabaal Sheard (knee), DE Kemoko Turay (neck) and RB Jonathan Williams (rib) were all limited.
Los Angeles Rams wide receiver Cooper Kupp appears to be the WR1 in Los Angeles two weeks into the season thanks to his rapport with quarterback Jared Goff. Kupp enters Week 3 leading the team in receptions, yards and targets, an impressive feat considering he had torn his ACL just one year ago. In Week 3, Kupp will be matched up against the Cleveland Browns, a team with a young but talented defense that could apply heavy pressure on the Rams offensive line. If the O-line collapses, expect Goff to continue to look Kupps way when under pressure, as the wide receivers average depth of target has been just 5.9 yards (84th in the NFL). Lock Kupp in as a high-end WR2, as his chemistry with Goff will keep his floor stable and his ceiling sky-high.
Los Angeles Rams wide receiver Robert Woods struggled in the teams Week 2 29-7 victory over the New Orleans Saints. After all, he only had two receptions on two targets for 33 yards. However, fantasy owners should treat Week 2 as an anomaly; Woods had multiple plays called back due to holding penalties and the game script aligned with a run-focused offensive scheme with the Rams leading for the majority of the contest. With a Week 3 matchup against the Cleveland Browns on the horizon, he should see a larger target share in what could end up being a high-scoring, offensive duel thanks to a potent Browns offense. Woods remains a mid-tier WR2 across all formats.
Los Angeles Rams wide receiver Brandin Cooks rebounded in the teams Week 2 29-7 victory over the New Orleans Saints with three receptions on four targets for 74 yards and a TD. However, his five receptions through two games remains extremely concerning and indicates that the veteran could very well be the WR3 on the Rams depth chart. Still, Cooks should be a WR2, as he is the teams best deep threat and faces a Browns secondary that gave up chunk-yardage plays during Week 1 to rookie wideout A.J. Brown of the Tennessee Titans. Be wary, though, that Cooks could be behind both teammates Cooper Kupp and Robert Woodsin target share.