Tue Oct 4 5:15pm ET
By JOSH DUBOW
AP Pro Football Writer
San Francisco 49ers safety Talanoa Hufanga (29) returns an interception for a touchdown during the second half of an NFL football game against the Los Angeles Rams in Santa Clara, Calif., Monday, Oct. 3, 2022. (AP Photo/Godofredo A. Vsquez)
San Francisco 49ers defensive end Nick Bosa (97) reacts after sacking Los Angeles Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford during the first half of an NFL football game in Santa Clara, Calif., Monday, Oct. 3, 2022. (AP Photo/Godofredo A. Vsquez)
LAS VEGAS (AP) Nick Bosa wasn't shy about stating his expectations for the San Francisco 49ers defense.
''I think it's to be best in the league,'' he said. ''It's kind of our mindset every year and this year we have the personnel to do it. Not that we haven't in the past, but at all three levels are elite players.''
That was on display Monday night when the Niners shut down the Super Bowl champion Los Angeles Rams, keeping them out of the end zone and putting Matthew Stafford on his back repeatedly in a 24-9 victory.
The Niners (2-2) had seven sacks, an interception return for a touchdown, a fumble recovery and three forced three-and-outs against the Rams. Bosa and the front line dominated a banged-up offensive line for Los Angeles and the back end limited any big plays from Cooper Kupp.
''It wasn't just any one area that we dominated in, but all areas had their opportunities,'' coach Kyle Shanahan said Tuesday.
It's been that way most of this season for the Niners, who except for a couple of breakdowns in a rainy opener at Chicago have given up next to nothing.
Over the past three games, the Niners defense has scored as many touchdowns as it has allowed (one). The 37 points allowed by the defense are tied for the second fewest through four games since 2010, trailing only the 14 by the 2019 Patriots.
San Francisco has allowed only 3.81 yards per play, the lowest mark in the NFL through four games since 2008 when the Steelers allowed 3.78 and the Ravens allowed 3.56.
That's making life easy on an offense that hasn't been great yet as quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo shakes off the rust after missing the entire offseason and training camp.
''There was honestly a point, I think it was 14-9 and it's not that we relaxed on offense, but you feel confident in the guys on defense,'' Garoppolo said. ''I don't watch much of it, but the couple plays that I do see, it's hell for the quarterback and it's just, that's tough. So I love having them on my side.''
Pass rush. Bosa led the way in a dominant performance, generating 14 pressures on his own, according to PFF. He had two sacks to give him an NFL-leading six on the season and he became the first player in franchise history to have at least one sack in each of the first four games of the season.
He had help with Samson Ebukam getting two sacks of his own, and Charles Omenihu, Hassan Ridgeway and Deommodore Lenoir adding one apiece.
WHAT NEEDS HELP
Downfield passing. Garoppolo didn't push the ball downfield at all, missing on both deep shots he tried and completing only 2 of 6 passes thrown at least 10 yards downfield.
Talanoa Hufanga. The second-year safety delivered the play of the game with his 52-yard interception return for a touchdown that sealed the victory. Hufanga has shown a knack for making big plays all season and is quickly establishing himself as a star in his first season as a starter in the NFL.
K Robbie Gould missed a 42-yard field goal in the fourth quarter with the Niners looking to make it a two-score game. Gould has missed two FGs so far this season, with one getting blocked in Week 2 to set up a touchdown for Seattle.
Colton McKivitz, filling in for injured All-Pro LT Trent Williams, left the game with a sprained MCL and is expected to miss about two months. ... DT Arik Armstead, who missed last week's game with a foot injury, left this game with the same injury and was undergoing tests Tuesday. ... WR Jauan Jennings (ankle) is day to day. ... S Jimmie Ward (hamstring) and CB Jason Verrett (knee) are expected back at practice Wednesday.
101. Deebo Samuel topped the 100 mark in yards after catch in a game for the fourth time in his career thanks to the 52 yards he ran after the catch on his electric 57-yard TD. Since Samuel entered the NFL in 2019, no other wide receiver has more than two games with at least 100 yards after the catch.
The 49ers begin a two-week road trip on Sunday at Carolina. They will head to West Virginia for the week following that game and finish the trip at Atlanta on Oct. 16.
Denver Broncos defensive back K'Waun Williams (knee) has been downgraded to out for the Week 13 contest against the Baltimore Ravens, according to a source. Williams was listed as questionable on Friday but now won't travel with the team to Baltimore. The 31-year-old is recovering from arthroscopic knee surgery and will miss his third straight game. The good news is he was able to return to limited practices this week, so Williams should have a shot to return in Week 14 against the Kansas City Chiefs. Denver's D has been good at limiting opponents total yards and points per game, but they don't have much fantasy upside, especially in a tough matchup against Ravens dual-threat quarterback Lamar Jackson this Sunday.
Seattle Seahawks wide receiver Marquise Goodwin (illness) wasn't given an injury designation on Friday and will play in Week 13 against the Los Angeles Rams on Sunday. Goodwin was added to the injury report on Thursday, but he'll be good to go this weekend. The 32-year-old pass-catcher had a two-touchdown game in Week 7 and also scored a touchdown in Week 10 in the loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, but outside of those games he's done very little for fantasy managers. He caught all three of his targets for 48 yards in Week 12 and has 19 receptions for 265 yards and three TDs on 25 targets in nine games for Seattle in 2022. With both DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett healthy, Goodwin has no business being in starting fantasy lineups in Week 13.
New York Giants wide receiver Kenny Golladay (illness) was added to the injury report on Saturday and is now questionable to play in Week 13 against the Washington Commanders. The Giants could be short-handed at receiver on Sunday, as Darius Slayton (illness) and Richie James (knee) are also up in the air to play. The 29-year-old Golladay is nowhere near fantasy relevance this year, catching only four of 10 targets for 51 yards in seven games. Depending on which receivers can actually play for the Giants this weekend, Isaiah Hodgins, Marcus Johnson and David Sills could see expanded roles in the passing attack against the Commanders.
Los Angeles Rams head coach Sean McVay said that quarterback John Wolford will start in Week 13 against the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday, but rookie Bryce Perkins will also be available for the Rams, and there's "a chance" he could also play. Matthew Stafford (concussion, neck) will miss another game and may not return to play in 2022 with the Rams well out of playoff contention, so the Wolford-Perkins show could continue beyond this weekend. The 25-year-old Perkins has much more scrambling ability than Wolford, which probably makes him slightly more attractive as a desperation low-end QB2 in superflex leagues if he makes another start to close out the season. In his first career start last week, Perkins went 13-for-23 for 100 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions while also carrying the ball nine times for 44 yards.
With New York Jets running back Michael Carter (ankle) doubtful to play in Week 13 against the Minnesota Vikings, the Jets are prepared to use a backfield by committee involving rookie Zonovan Knight, Ty Johnson and James Robinson on Sunday. Carter took over the starting gig when rookie Breece Hall (knee) was lost for the season in Week 7. The Jets are confident in Knight and Johnson, who combined for 131 rushing yards and a touchdown last week against the Chicago Bears. Knight had 103 yards from scrimmage, the most by a Jets rookie in his debut. Robinson was a healthy scratch last week. The Vikings run defense isn't anything special, so both Knight and Johnson could be productive again while sharing touches in New York's backfield this weekend.
Buffalo Bills wide receiver Jamison Crowder (ankle), who was placed on Injured Reserve before the Week 5 game due to a fractured ankle, is targeting a late-December return. Crowder suffered a clean break of his fibula and he began walking again a little under a month ago. He's been running on an underwater treadmill for the last two weeks and is intending to get back on the field to start jogging in "maybe like, two weeks." Getting Crowder back for the postseason would be big for the team's receiver depth, but they could also add free-agent Odell Beckham Jr. (knee) after they visit with him this weekend. Crowder would be an upgrade over normal slot receiver Isaiah McKenzie when working against zone coverage, but he's unlikely to have any fantasy appeal the rest of 2022.
There is "considerable doubt" around the league that free-agent wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. (knee) is healthy enough to play football this year, according to an NFC executive. It's a problem because Beckham has told teams he's seeking a multi-year deal that he hopes will end up being worth $20 million per season. He met with his old team, the New York Giants, on Thursday, but the Giants remain "the longest of long shots" to sign OBJ. The most likely team to sign him remains the Dallas Cowboys, who have been talking Beckham up for months. Beckham tore the ACL in his left knee twice in a 16-month span, with the last time less than 10 months ago in the Super Bowl. The Buffalo Bills will also visit with Beckham this weekend. If he signs with a team soon, there's no guarantee he'll become fantasy relevant anytime soon.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady threw for 190 yards and a touchdown while completing only 52.9% of his throws against the Saints in Week 2. In all fairness, the signal-caller was forced to navigate his way though that one without Chris Godwin and Julio Jones. Although the signal-caller will be without tackle Tristan Wirfs (ankle), he'll at least have most of his weapons on the offensive end. With New Orleans also banged up defensively, the 45-year-old garners fantasy attention and starting consideration, despite the potential for another lackluster outing.
Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Skyy Moore has totaled 10 catches for 99 yards in his previous two games. Although the rookie hasn't scored a touchdown, his increase in production has been a welcome sight, especially for those who'd thought he'd be hot right out of the gate in 2022-23. While Moore has a way to go before being a must-start fantasy option, he may continue to benefit without Kadarius Toney (hamstring), Mecole Hardman (abdomen), and Clyde Edwards-Helaire (ankle) for the Week 13 AFC Championship rematch versus Cincinnati. However, Travis Kelce, JuJu Smith-Schuster (illness), and Marquez Valdes-Scantling (shoulder) will be on the field, so Moore will need to fight for targets from Patrick Mahomes. That said, the wideout has upside for those with nowhere else to turn, so he deserves starting considering for a likely high-scoring affair.
Chicago Bears tight end Cole Kmet had a slow start to the 2022-23 campaign. However, he turned things around by totaling five touchdowns over a three-game span, beginning in Week 8. Unfortunately, the 23-year-old couldn't find the end zone in his previous two games, although he didn't have Justin Fields (shoulder) for the Week 12 loss to the New York Jets. Fields will be back against the Packers on Sunday, which is a plus. At the same time, the season-ending injury to Darnell Mooney (knee) could open up more targets for Kmet in Week 13, so fantasy managers should consider him a starting option in all formats.
Los Angeles Rams running back Kyren Williams had 11 carries in the Week 12 loss to the Chiefs, three more than Cam Akers. He finished with two fewer rushing yards than Akers (35), although he was more involved on the receiving end, catching all three targets for 25 yards. Both men should have a role in Week 13 for the NFC West showdown with Seattle. However, Williams may be the lead option against a horrendous Seahawks run-stop unit, especially since Akers was under the weather throughout the week. That said, L.A. has averaged a second-worst 79.7 rushing yards per game this season, so Williams' outlook isn't bright by any means. Yet, his pass-catching prowess could be somewhat beneficial for desperate managers in deeper PPR fantasy setups.
Cincinnati Bengals tight end Hayden Hurst caught six passes for a season-high 57 yards in Week 12 against the Titans. With Joe Mixon (concussion) and Ja'Marr Chase (hip, labrum) sidelined for that one, Hurst got some extra attention from Joe Burrow. However, the 29-year-old hasn't scored a touchdown since early October, leaving many frustrated with his lack of production. Yet, with David Njoku (knee), Kyle Pitts (knee), Dallas Goedert (shoulder), and Darren Waller (hamstring) out, fantasy managers are struggling to fill the tight end spot on the roster. While Hurst has had plenty of underwhelming performances in 2022-23, he certainly has a higher upside than others for Sunday's meeting with the Chiefs, even if Chase and Mixon are back in the lineup.
Cincinnati Bengals running back Samaje Perine got the start in Week 12 against the Titans, filling in for Joe Mixon (concussion). He played well, too, finishing the day with 58 yards and a touchdown off 17 attempts while catching four of his seven targets for 35 yards. With Mixon still in concussion protocol, Perine may lead the backfield once again on Sunday for the AFC Championship rematch versus the Chiefs. If that's the case, the 27-year-old, who has amassed four total touchdowns over the last two weeks, could be in store for another productive outing, so fantasy managers should keep him on the roster for now.
Los Angeles Chargers kicker Cameron Dicker was not asked to do much last week but projects as a great option in Week 13 against the Las Vegas Raiders. Dicker has proven himself to be reliable as he is perfect through his first five starts and could be busy on Sunday with the Raiders allowing over 25 points per game. Fantasy managers can start Dicker with full confidence in what could be a high-scoring divisional affair.
Los Angeles Chargers wide receiver DeAndre Carter posted a career performance last week and will hope to keep the momentum going in a Week 13 contest against the Las Vegas Raiders. Carter has finished as a top-30 fantasy WR in three of his last four games and should stay highly involved with Mike Williams (ankle) inactive once again. Both Keenan Allen and Joshua Palmer should be viewed as superior options, but Carter is worth a look as a flex option in deeper leagues as the Raiders' defense ranks as a bottom-10 unit against the pass.
Los Angeles Chargers tight end Gerald Everett disappointed fantasy managers in a great matchup last week but will have an opportunity to redeem himself against the Las Vegas Raiders in Week 13. The Raiders have allowed the sixth-most PPR fantasy points per game to opposing tight ends this season and surrendered a touchdown to Everett back in Week 1. His inconsistencies make him difficult to trust as a top fantasy option, but the list of reliable tight ends is so short that Everett should still be viewed as a low-end TE1 with solid upside.
Los Angeles Chargers wide receiver Joshua Palmer has been up-and-down for fantasy purposes this season but will have an excellent opportunity in Week 13 against the Las Vegas Raiders. Palmer exploded for over 100 yards and two scores in Week 11 but was outshined by DeAndre Carter last Sunday. Both should remain involved this week with Mike Williams (ankle) inactive, but Palmer will be the preferred fantasy option due to his more consistent target volume. With Las Vegas allowing over 25 points per game, Palmer has great upside and can be deployed as a WR3 or flex option in all formats on Sunday.
Los Angeles Chargers running back Austin Ekeler has found the end zone in seven of 11 games this season and should be able to find success against the Las Vegas Raiders in Week 13. Ekeler leads all running backs with 98 targets and could easily feast as a PPR option against a Las Vegas defense allowing over 28 PPR fantasy points per game to opposing RBs. This divisional matchup has one of the highest projected point totals of the week, so fantasy managers should have supreme confidence deploying Ekeler as a high-end RB1 in all formats.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers tight end Cameron Brate (illness) missed his second straight practice this week on Friday with an illness. If Brate doesn't return to practice on Saturday, there's a good chance he won't be available to play on Monday night against the New Orleans Saints. But even if the 31-year-old veteran tight end is out there in Week 13, he's not even much of a realistic TE2 streamer in fantasy with rookie Cade Otton's emergence. Brate is still searching for his first touchdown of the 2022 season in seven games and has only 16 receptions on 29 targets for 137 yards. In his last two games, he's hauled in three of his seven targets for 23 yards. Look elsewhere.
Los Angeles Chargers wide receiver Keenan Allen has provided a much-needed spark to the team's offense since returning to the starting lineup and will have a great opportunity to produce in a Week 13 bout with the Las Vegas Raiders. With Mike Williams (ankle) ruled out once again, Allen will operate as the clear WR1 for the Chargers and should see a healthy number of targets from quarterback Justin Herbert. With the Raiders currently ranking as a bottom-10 pass defense in the NFL, Allen has obvious top-12 upside this week, especially in PPR formats. He projects as a great option in all lineups for what could be a divisional shootout.