It’s hard to believe we are officially in the back half of the fantasy season, but here we are at the start of Week 9. Before we get into Thursday night’s matchup between the Green Bay Packers and the San Francisco 49ers, let’s dive into some of the happenings around the NFL.
Unfortunately, the coronavirus continues to be an issue. Early in October, the NFL tightened up their COVID-19 protocols after the outbreak in the Titans organization. As the season progresses, the league continues to adapt their safety measures. Per Tom Pelissero, a memo was sent to out to all 32 teams that strongly encouraged players to wear masks while on the sideline and in the locker room. They are also mandated to wear a mask during any post-game interactions.
This will likely not be the last tweak to COVID-19 protocols nor will it stop future positive tests, but it does show that the NFL is taking the virus and its spread seriously.
No organization knows this better than the Las Vegas Raiders who felt the hammer blow from the league on Thursday. They have been deemed “repeat offenders” and the team was fined $500K, HC Jon Gruden was fined $150K, and they also lose their sixth-round draft pick in 2021. Offensive tackle Trent Brown, who could be labeled as the catalyst for the sanctions, was placed on the COVID-19 reserve list for the second time in two weeks, although subsequent tests were negative. In total, the Raiders have been fined $800K and Gruden has been fined $250K.
It’s therefore not surprising that we are seeing numerous teams, almost half of the league, take the term “extra precautions” to the next level. Several players are being placed on the reserve list for coming into close contact with any player or staff member who has tested positive in their organization as well as shutting down their facilities. If a player has not tested positive but has been placed on the reserve list due to close contact, they may still be eligible to play if they have five negative tests in a row. This means that QB Matthew Stafford (currently on the COVID-19 reserve list) may still have a chance to play this Sunday.
The Green Bay Packers and the San Francisco 49ers were not so lucky last night with both teams missing some key players due to positive tests and injury.
Week 9 Thursday Night Matchup
The 49ers have had a rough 2020 season. Despite the numerous injuries, they still managed to pull out a 4-4 record heading into Week 9. QB Jimmy Garoppolo and elite TE George Kittle were both ruled out of last night’s game due to injury with plenty of notice for managers to both lament and then make adjustments. However, WR Kendrick Bourne tested positive for the coronavirus on Wednesday and the 49ers swiftly placed WRs Brandon Aiyuk, Deebo Samuel, and starting tackle Trent Williams on the reserve list due to close contact. Bourne subsequently tested negative, but all players were still ineligible to play this week.
Spoiler alert: Jones did suit up and play and looked great while he split carries with Tyler Ervin.
Despite having a majority of their starting lineup, the Packers were only ahead 7-3 with under nine minutes to play in the first half. The 49ers defense was holding their own, forcing Green Bay to punt twice after their opening touchdown to Adams.
Unfortunately for San Francisco, it wouldn’t last for long. Rodgers found a wide-open Marcedes Lewis (of course, because we all started Robert Tonyan) and it was off to the races for the boys in green. They scored two more touchdowns, both to Valdes-Scantling, while the 49ers either turned the ball over or were forced to punt.
To their credit, the 49ers didn’t quit despite getting punched in the mouth and kicked in the teeth until near the end of the game. With just over six minutes to play, backup QB Nick Mullens led the team on a touchdown drive. It was too little too late, however, with the Packers ahead 34-10. On the ensuing drive, Green Bay kicked a field goal, which gave the ball back to San Francisco with 2:32 left on the clock. They drove down the field again and RB Jerick McKinnon found the end zone in a score that cut the lead to the final 37-17.
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You were very happy if you started Rodgers and Adams and even more so if you had the stack. Rodgers finished with 28.9 points and Adams with 33.3. But, while it was a great game for Adams, he does not finish as our fantasy leader in PPR. WR Richie James for the 49ers has that honor, edging Adams out by 0.1 point.
The two touchdowns for Valdes-Scantling provided the majority of his statline and 19.3 points. Those two TDs came on four targets, two receptions, and 53 yards. One of those targets was a big time drop. Rodgers clearly forgave him and targeted him in the end zone twice after that. Before you rush to the waiver wire to make a claim and waste FAAB, remember that Allen Lazard should be back from his core muscle surgery soon. He had a shot to play yesterday and even travelled with the team to California. Valdes-Scantling also has not been fantasy-relevant since Week 1 against the Minnesota Vikings. I am chalking this production up to TNF weirdness until he proves otherwise.
McKinnon, Jones, and Ervin all had decent performances with 15.8, 12.9, and 11.2 points respectively. They’re modest scores, but if you started either of these players, you shouldn’t have been expecting much given their circumstances. JaMycal Hasty, however, was a huge disappointment. He rushed four times for only three yards and had two receptions for 10 yards finishing with 3.3 points on the day.
I feel I should add that Mullens did not repeat his 2018 TNF debut of three touchdowns. He played admirably with a patchwork offense throwing 291 yards, a touchdown, and an interception ending with 11.64 points. Again, I have to give the 49ers kudos for showing grit in the face of major adversity. Even if they didn’t win the game, they also didn’t give up.
The Packers are atop the NFC North at 6-2 with the Bears behind them at 5-3 while the 49ers fall to the bottom of the NFC West at 4-5.
Miami RB Myles Gaskin is headed to IR with a sprained MCL and will miss a minimum of three games. RB Matt Breida did not practice Thursday … Ravens RB Mark Ingram did not practice Thursday. … Jets WR Jamison Crowder did not practice with a groin injury. QB Sam Darnold also did not practice with his lingering shoulder injury. … Cowboys RB Ezekiel Elliott is limited at practice. … Raiders RB Josh Jacobs missed practice on Thursday with a knee injury and an illness after being a full participant on Wednesday. … Colts WR T.Y. Hilton missed practice again on Thursday. … Lions QB Matthew Stafford was placed on the COVID-19 reserve list due to close contact with a non-player who tested positive. WR Kenny Golladay continues to deal with his hip injury and is doubtful for Week 9. It is likely he will be out.