Tue Aug 11 6:24pm ET
By NOAH TRISTER
AP Sports Writer
In this Nov. 10, 2019, file photo, Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford watches from the sidelines during warmups before an NFL football game against the Chicago Bears in Chicago. Since the start of last year, Matthew Stafford has had to deal with a health scare involving his wife, his own injury problems -- and more recently, a coronavirus test that the team later described as a false positive. It's been a difficult period for the Detroit star. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast, File)
In this Nov. 3, 2019, file photo, Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford warms up before an NFL football game against the Oakland Raiders in Oakland, Calif. Since the start of last year, Matthew Stafford has had to deal with a health scare involving his wife, his own injury problems -- and more recently, a coronavirus test that the team later described as a false positive. It's been a difficult period for the Detroit star. (AP Photo/D. Ross Cameron, File)
DETROIT (AP) Matthew Stafford says he didn't give much thought to opting out of this coming season.
It would have been understandable if he'd considered it.
''I think like everybody, you hear it and you talk with your spouse and your family about it. I never gave it serious, you know, thought,'' Stafford said Tuesday. ''I want to play football. I want to be out here. I have a supporting wife and family that know I love doing what I do and know it's important to me, so they were right on board.''
Stafford and his family have dealt with their share of stress over the past couple of years. His wife had surgery last year to remove a brain tumor. Then Stafford went through football-related injuries that halted his 2019 season. His status was momentarily uncertain again recently when he was put on the reserve/COVID-19 list Aug. 1. He was removed three days later, with the Lions saying it was a false positive.
Stafford's wife Kelly expressed her frustration on Instagram, suggesting that information such as that shouldn't be released until it's absolutely certain the person has COVID-19. Shortly after that, the NFL's chief medical officer said the league was establishing a new protocol for positive tests.
''It's totally unknown times for all of us. The league, the players, coaches, the organization as a whole,'' Stafford said. ''Everything is new and it's unknown. I know everybody's doing the best that they possibly can.''
It's hard to blame Stafford and his family for being a little on edge. Kelly Stafford had surgery to remove a brain tumor in April 2019. Matthew Stafford's injuries later that year seemed trivial by comparison, but it was a tough season for the Detroit quarterback, who dealt with back and hip problems and missed the final eight games.
Stafford had been enjoying a fine season before the injuries caught up with him. He ended up with a career-best passer rating of 106 in the eight games he did play. When he was finally sidelined, it was the first time he'd missed any game since the 2010 season.
''Obviously last year with Matthew didn't go the way we wanted it to go,'' coach Matt Patricia said recently. ''Certainly his drive, his competitiveness, I knew he'd be right back at it as soon as he could. Just keeping him healthy and making sure that he went into the offseason as safe as possible was important for us, and certainly through training camp as we go with him knowing the offseason was limited.''
There was already uncertainty about this NFL season - and whether it could even be played - when Stafford tested positive and went on COVID-IR.
''I had no reason to not believe the results or whatever, except for the fact that I was feeling fine. But there's plenty of people out there that are positive and asymptomatic as well,'' he said. ''There was no doubt there was some fear, as I think everybody would have if they got a test that came back positive. And just knowing how much that I'm around and have been around my family and my kids, that's a little bit of a scary thing.''
Now, those fears have subsided a bit, and Stafford can focus more on the upcoming season.
''I feel good. It's obviously exciting to get back in the building,'' Stafford said. ''Not having an offseason, OTAs, and just being able to be around the guys, throw and catch - all that kind of stuff is stuff you miss, so I'm happy to be back. I feel good, body feels good.''
So Stafford feels healthy, and this latest bit of drama with his positive test is behind him. It was an episode that underscored the potential worries that can come up as the NFL tries to play through the virus.
Stafford is trying to keep his situation in perspective.
''It's not lost on me that there's plenty of people that are having a much harder time than we did,'' Stafford said. ''Ours was a few days that lasted and got corrected, and I know the league is going to do everything they can to correct that. But at the same time, there's plenty of people walking out there - or not walking, they're in hospitals - that are really fighting for their life.''
Five Cold Plays: Week 2
New England Patriots WR Julian Edelman was on the field for five of the 27 offensive snaps played with two receivers against the Miami Dolphins in Week 1. From 2017 to 2019, he was on the field for 41 percent of the snaps in two-receiver sets.
Fantasy Spin: One game isn't a big sample, and Edelman was still New England's most productive receiver in the opener. Fewer snaps would lead to less consistency, but Edelman is going to have WR3 potential regardless.
Baltimore Ravens TE Mark Andrews played a career-high 71 percent of the offensive snaps against the Cleveland Browns in Week 1, topping his previous high of 55 percent of the snaps.
Fantasy Spin: Andrews emerged as an elite fantasy tight end last year despite playing about half the snaps. If his increased usage from Week 1 becomes the norm, he should be a lock for top-five production.
Los Angeles Rams TE Gerald Everett (back) is expected to play against the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 2, according to head coach Sean McVay. 'We put him as questionable, but he ended up going today,' McVay said. 'He felt good. I fully expect him to be ready to go.'
Free-agent S Doug Middleton (Titans) was signed to the Jacksonville Jaguars' practice squad Friday, Sept. 18.
Free-agent LB Devante Bond (Bears) and OG Dieter Eiselen (Bears) were signed to the practice squad of the Chicago Bears Friday, Sept. 18.
Cincinnati Bengals TE Mason Schreck was promoted from the practice squad to the 53-man roster Friday, Sept. 18.
Cincinnati Bengals TE C.J. Uzomah (Achilles) was placed on the Reserve/Injured list Friday, Sept. 18.
Miami Dolphins WR Antonio Callaway will be eligible to return from his suspension after the Dolphins have played seven games in 2020.
New York Jets rookie running back La'Mical Perine (ankle) is questionable to face the 49ers in Week 2. Perine was limited in practice the last two days, so he has a real chance to make his NFL debut after he was inactive in the season-opener. The Jets could really use some depth with Le'Veon Bell on Injured Reserve. But even if Perine suits up on Sunday, he's unlikely to see much of a workload behind veteran Frank Gore. Plus, he'll be facing a really tough San Francisco defense after an offseason in which he didn't get many on-field repetitions.
San Francisco 49ers defensive end Dee Ford (neck) is listed as questionable for Week 2 against the Jets. Ford didn't practice the last two days after dealing with some neck stiffness following the season-opening loss to the Cardinals. San Francisco placed cornerback Richard Sherman on the Injured Reserve this week, so they won't be at full strength against New York. Ford had just three combined tackles in Week 1. He should be avoided in IDP leagues because of his injury, but even at less than full strength, the 49ers Defense remains a must-start fantasy defense against a Jets team that will be missing both Le'Veon Bell and Jamison Crowder.
Denver Broncos kicker Brandon McManus didn't attempt a single field goal in the 16-14 Week 1 loss to the Titans, but he did make both of his extra-point tries. McManus has a very strong leg and kicks half the time in high altitude, but he'll be on the road this week and just can't be trusted in fantasy yet while the Broncos offense tries to get in sync. Quarterback Drew Lock showed potential last week, though, and he has plenty of talented weapons to work with in 2020. The 29-year-old kicker will become a streaming option at some point this year, but it won't be in Week 2 against the Steelers, especially if wide receiver Courtland Sutton (shoulder) misses another game.
Denver Broncos tight end Noah Fant caught five of his six targets for 81 yards and a touchdown in the Week 1 loss to the Titans, leading the team in receiving yards with Courtland Sutton (shoulder) inactive. Sutton is questionable heading into Week 2 against the Steelers, so Fant could once again be the team's leading receiver this Sunday. He'll obviously be a better upside TE1 if Sutton sits out, but at the very least, Fant will have some low-end TE1 appeal as one of quarterback Drew Lock's favorite targets. Some people believe the second-year tight end is primed for a breakout season with Lock under center for a full year.
The Denver Broncos won't have any rowdy fans to worry about on their trip to Pittsburgh in Week 2, but a healthy quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and his cast of weapons will pose a big challenge to a defense missing Von Miller (ankle) for the year and cornerback A.J. Bouye (shoulder) for at least three weeks. Inside linebacker Mark Barron (hamstring) will also be out. Denver's run D didn't allow Derrick Henry to run wild last week, but their inexperienced rookie cornerbacks Michael Ojemudia and Essang Bassey will surely be tested by Big Ben with talented wideouts JuJu Smith-Schuster and Diontae Johnson leading the charge. While the Broncos Defense was worth starting last week, they should be avoided this week with key injuries mounting.
Denver Broncos rookie wide receiver Jerry Jeudy showed off some of his trademark route-running ability and quick feet in the team's Week 1 loss to the Titans, but he also had a couple uncharacteristic drops in his NFL debut. The 21-year-old from Alabama caught only four of his eight targets for 56 yards as the team's lead wideout last Monday with Courtland Sutton (shoulder) inactive. There's a lot to like in the long-term with Jeudy in this offense, but there will continue to be some growing pains throughout his rookie campaign. He'll be a more attractive upside WR4/flex in deeper leagues if Sutton misses another game, but the matchup against the Steelers is a difficult one regardless.
Denver Broncos running back Royce Freeman will be the primary backup to Melvin Gordon in the team's Week 2 matchup against the Steelers after Denver ruled Phillip Lindsay (toe) out for the week. Freeman won't have any standalone fantasy value, though, after he saw just two touches -- a carry for no gain and a 12-yard reception -- in the second half of the Week 1 loss to the Titans when Lindsay didn't return after the first half. On top of it, Pittsburgh's rush defense was one of the best in the league last year and held Saquon Barkley down in their season opener. The 24-year-old will see more than two touches over the full game, but he should be ignored in pretty much any fantasy format.
Denver Broncos WR Courtland Sutton (shoulder) was limited during practice Friday, Sept. 18, and is listed as questionable for Week 2.
Fantasy Spin: Sutton is expected to be a game-time decision, so fantasy players will need to check the inactive list. Players will need to have other options available in case Sutton is ruled out, but Sutton would be a risky option if he is active.
Updating a previous report, Tampa Bay Buccaneers WR Chris Godwin (concussion) was limited during practice Friday, Sept. 18, and is listed as doubtful for Week 2.
Fantasy Spin: Godwin likely will be a game-time decision, so fantasy players will need to monitor his progress during the weekend. He is a must-start option when healthy, but players should have other options available in case he is ruled out.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers WR Mike Evans (hamstring) fully participated in practice Friday, Sept. 18, and is not on the injury report for Week 2.
Fantasy Spin: Evans should be more involved in the passing game this week since he was limited in Week 1 because of the hamstring injury. He should be considered a No. 1 or No. 2 receiver in fantasy leagues.
Houston Texans WR Will Fuller (non-injury) did not participate in practice Friday, Sept. 18, but is not on the injury report for Week 2.
Fantasy Spin: Fuller led the team in receptions, receiving yards and targets last week and showed good chemistry with Deshaun Watson. He will be facing a tougher opponent in Week 2 but can still be a No. 3 receiver in fantasy leagues.
Tennessee Titans WR Corey Davis (hamstring) fully participated in practice Friday, Sept. 18, and is not on the injury report for Week 2.
Fantasy Spin: Davis was upgraded during each day of practice this week and will be ready for his normal workload against the Jacksonville Jaguars. He likely will be the main option in the passing game for the Titans and can be at least a No. 3 receiver in fantasy leagues.