Thu Jul 19 7:02am ET
By BARRY WILNER
AP Pro Football Writer
ESPN is going with a fresh approach for its first 2018 regular-season broadcast of ''Monday Night Football.''
Two announcers with plenty of NFL credentials but far more entrenched in the college game these days will be handling the Jets-Lions game from Detroit: Beth Mowins and Brian Griese.
''We are pretty excited to bring the franchise on the air, and hoping some pretty good story lines will play out,'' says Mowins, who did last year's second half of the opening doubleheader with analyst Rex Ryan. Mowins also does a few CBS telecasts of NFL games during the season, as well as Oakland Raiders preseason contests, but her main gig is college sports.
Griese is one of the top analysts of the college game, an insightful and often critical but fair voice.
''Guys who can shoot from the hip are always fun to work with,'' Mowins says.
Of course, he also played 11 pro seasons, starting 83 games. So his knowledge of both levels of football is expansive.
''I think the pro game in a lot of ways is more familiar to me than the college game,'' Griese notes. ''I have had to learn the college game as it has grown. I spent 11 years in the NFL playing quarterback and it's more similar to what I know.''
What both Mowins and Griese know is that the fan bases of both teams will be stoked for the game, even though Jets-Lions isn't quite the marquee matchup. Indeed, the NFL gave ESPN what appears to be a better game in the nightcap, Jon Gruden's return as the Raiders host the Rams. The regular and new Monday night crew of Joe Tessitore and Jason Witten will be in the booth for that one.
''No question both these teams have reasons for optimism, for different reasons,'' Griese says. ''Jets fans should be excited about Sam Darnold, who can be a game changer and a franchise quarterback in the making. For Detroit, it's a whole new ballgame for the fans with Matt Patricia hired as coach, a new way of doing things. I'm eager to see how he will impact the franchise. And they have their bellwether in Matthew Stafford at quarterback.''
Adds Mowins: ''You tell the truth with a heavier emphasis on the hope, and that is what all of these fan bases are having. The history is part of the story heading into the season and something we absolutely talk about graphically. The nice thing about the opener is everyone has hope again, and we can also focus on the changes these teams have made to improve.''
To its credit, ESPN is willing to make changes or go outside the box for its Monday night showcase. One area of expertise that Mowins and Griese - and sideline reporter Laura Rutledge - bring to the telecast is an advanced awareness of NFL newcomers.
That could be particularly enlightening for Jets-Lions with the likes of Darnold - even if he doesn't play and Josh McCown starts - and Lions rookie running back Kerryon Johnson on hand.
''One of the things I have noticed over the last several years and doing the Raiders games in preseason, you have a head start on rookies coming into the league,'' Mowins says. ''I sort of have that background of who they were and relationships they might have with other players and coaches. That provides a nice jumping-off point, especially early in the season. Some of the rookies the NFL fans may not have seen in college, but I have had a chance to call their games in college, and so has Brian.''
Mowins and Griese have not done game broadcasts together, but have had many conversations and learning sessions. Last year, when the Broncos played in the opener Mowins and Ryan announced, she reached out to Griese, who does Denver's preseason games.
''I've talked with Beth quite a bit through the years, we are in the same college football realm, so we see quite a bit of each other's work,'' Griese says. ''I'm very familiar with her work in college football.
''The approach for me will be a little bit different because I will probably go to both teams' training camps to familiarize myself with the teams. I don't ever do a game where I have not seen a team live or in person (at practice or in a game). That will be the only difference for you in preparation.''
San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Marquise Goodwins fantasy stock skyrocketed in Week 6 after he amassed 126 yards including touchdowns of 67 and 30 yards. Goodwins explosiveness seemingly convinced quarterback C.J. Beathard to stray from his dink and dunk ways. The tandem will try to carry the momentum to Week 7 against the Los Angeles Rams who have struggled against the pass in the past three weeks, allowing almost three scores per game through the air and 7.8 yards per attempt. While his outcome variance remains wide, Goodwin is the perfect option to complement high-floor receivers on fantasy rosters. Hes a solid WR3 with upside.
Many a gym-goer have experienced the frustration of putting in a ton of work without seeing any immediate results in the mirror. Should you fall in that boat, Denver Broncos tight end Jeff Heuerman feels your pain. Heuerman has seen 17 targets over the Broncos last three games (tied with Demaryius Thomas for the second-most on the team) but has produced a mere nine receptions for 98 yards. In other words, less than four fantasy points per game. Despite facing four of the league's premier TEs, Arizona has held opposing tight ends to an average of 43.8 yards per game (eighth-fewest) so while quarterback Case Keenum has looked his way quite often in recent weeks, Heuerman shouldn't warrant much consideration outside of the deepest of leagues.
San Francisco 49ers running back Raheem Mostert was the teams biggest surprise in Week 6, racing for 87 yards on 12 carries. After experiencing fumbling issues throughout his career, Mostert earned the trust of head coach Kyle Shanahan by working on ball security. He was rewarded with 40% of offensive snaps, rendering veteran Alfred Morris to the bench. Shanahans played coy on Mosterts usage going forward, but its apparent the fourth-year back provides a spark spelling starter Matt Breida (ankle, shoulder). Mostert shouldnt be on starting rosters in Week 7, but his role is something to monitor. Hes a speculative add for managers with bench flexibility.
San Francisco 49ers Matt Breida (ankle, shoulder) isnt fully healthy but has suited up for all six games in 2018. Breidas proven his toughness and also been effective, leading the NFL in yards per carry (6.8). The Niners take on the Los Angeles Rams in Week 7, who surrender just 99.0 rush yards per game but are fifth-worst in yards per attempt (4.8). With the Niners structurally dedicated to a committee running game, hell share snaps with backfield mates Raheem Mostert and Kyle Juszczyk. However, hes immune to game script. This bodes well against the high-powered Rams offense. Despite the timeshare risks, Breida is a back-end RB2 with upside if he factors into the passing game.
Denver Broncos wide receiver Demaryius Thomas ranks 46th among WRs at 55 receiving yards per game. Unsurprisingly, all three of his double-digit fantasy point performances this season (standard scoring) have come in games where he was able to showcase his dancing ability. Thomas has found the end zone in two-straight games, and while I'd normally ride the wave, the Cardinals have yet to allow a TD to an opposing WR at home this season - while allowing the fewest to the position overall (two). Even more concerning is the fact that Thomas has now seen a total of 22 targets over the Broncos last four games after amassing 21 through their first two. Factor in the inconsistent quarterback play and Thomas should be viewed as a WR3/flex option heading into this Thursday night matchup.
Michael Jordan once told us that "The ceiling is the roof!" Well, the floor might be the ceiling this week for Denver Broncos wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders. Sanders has seen seven or more targets in five of six games -- catching at least five passes in all five -- so it's safe to assume he'll see around five receptions Thursday night against the Cardinals. Problem is, Arizona has yet to allow a receiver to find the end zone at home and the two touchdowns opposing WRs have put up on them on the season are the fewest in the league. Sanders should be viewed as a WR2 in PPR leagues -- based on volume alone -- but owners in standard leagues would be wise to look elsewhere if upside is the goal this week.
Having put up at least 75 yards from scrimmage in four of his six games this season, Denver Broncos running back Phillip Lindsay quietly ranks among the Top-20 RBs in terms of scrimmage yards per game (including the ejection-shortened Week 3). Meanwhile, the Cardinals have allowed opposing RBs to pick up 138.8 rushing yards per game on 4.5 yards per carry while giving up an additional 57 yards through the air - all of which rank among the dregs of the league. He doesn't see the volume some of the league's elite backs see -- his 12.5 touches per game rank 32nd -- but he's averaging 14 PPR fantasy points per game (over the five games in which he played all four quarters) and shouldn't have much trouble surpassing that number this week given the matchup.
Denver Broncos running back Royce Freeman has been held out of the end zone in two-straight games but a matchup with the Arizona Cardinals could be just what he needs to bring the scoring drought to an end. No team has allowed more rushing touchdowns to opposing running backs than the eight allowed by the Arizona Cardinals, and while I could run through their statistics, just trust me when I say their run defense has been lousy. In nearly every way imaginable. Freeman lands in the RB2 conversation this week -- due to the presence of Phillip Lindsay -- but don't be surprised if he outperforms his ranking on Thursday night.
Detroit Lions tight end Luke Willson is the starter in name only. He did not garner a target in Week 5 against the Packers and only has seven targets on the season, which leads all Lions tight ends. He's been able to corral four of those looks for 29 yards, but hasn't found the end zone, and has yet even draw a red zone target. The tight end position isn't of use to the Lions right now and is often the fourth, and sometimes fifth option in the passing game. Fade Willson and any other Lions tight end until we see a shift in target share.
The boos were audible Sunday, but sometimes you have to take the good with the bad. Unfortunately, the bad for Denver Broncos quarterback Case Keenum is that his back-to-back 300-plus yard, two touchdown passing performances have been overshadowed by Denver's four-game losing streak. It also doesn't help that this offense is averaging the seventh-fewest points per game at 20 or that he's riding an every game this season interception streak. Keenum enters this Week 7 matchup against the Cardinals on the heels of his two best games of the season, yes. However, Arizona's defense has held opposing QBs to the second-fewest passing TDs (6), 243.2 passing yards per game, and the seventh-fewest fantasy points per game (14.99) - making him nothing more than a last resort option for fantasy owners.
Detroit Lions wide receiver Marvin Jones saved his owners in Week 5 when he hauled in an eight-yard touchdown, his only reception against the Packers. As each game is played, it seems as though Kenny Golladay has supplanted Jones as the big-play threat for the Lions. With just 16 receptions for 231 yards, Jones has served his purpose by finding the end zone three times. This week against the Dolphins, things won't get any easier for him as Miami's secondary has been one of the best in the league this year. In his favor though is that the average yards per attempt against the Dolphins is 8.1 yards, so if Stafford can find Jones for one deep ball, it could pay off big for owners. However, tread lightly this week and label Jones as a boom-or-bust WR4.
Detroit Lions wide receiver TJ Jones has played just 20 combined snaps in his last two games and has not been targeted once. Jones is an afterthought in the offense with receivers like Golden Tate, Kenny Golladay, and Marvin Jones in the mix. Especially in a tough matchup with the Dolphins, leave the Lions fourth wide receiver on waivers where he belongs.
Detroit Lions wide receiver Kenny Golladay has vaulted himself into the fantasy limelight with a strong start to the season, posting 27 catches for 428 yards and three scores through five games. However, Golladay is welcomed out of the bye week with a likely matchup of Xavien Howard. Despite the tough matchup, the second-year receiver very well may be the best pass catcher on his team, and that alone will have Matthew Stafford looking his way. Expect a floor of a WR3 with his touchdown upside giving him a big boost. Regardless, he should be in your lineup.
Free-agent OT Dieugot Joseph was signed to the New York Jets practice squad Wednesday, Oct. 17. The team also released RB De'Angelo Henderson from their practice squad.
Washington Redskins DT Stacy McGee (groin) participated in practice Wednesday, Oct. 17. He is currently on the Reserve/Physically Unable to Perform list.
Free-agent TE Devante Bond (Buccaneers) signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Wednesday, Oct. 17.
New York Jets RB Elijah McGuire (foot) participated in practice Wednesday, Oct. 17. He is currently on the Reserve/Injured list.
Detroit Lions WR Andy Jones (undisclosed) participated in practice Wednesday, Oct. 17. He is currently on the Reserve/Physically Unable to Perform list.
Houston Texans SS Andre Hal (illness) participated in practice Wednesday, Oct. 17. He is currently on the Reserve/Non-Football Illness list.
Miami Dolphins C Jake Brendel (calf) and LB Mike Hull (knee) participated in practice Wednesday, Oct. 17, and are the two players that will be activated from the Reserve/Injured list this season.