Thu Oct 8 2:16pm ET
By DAVE SKRETTA
AP Sports Writer
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) The Chiefs began the season eagerly awaiting the return of Bashaud Breeland, the veteran cornerback so instrumental in slowing down the San Francisco 49ers and helping Kansas City win its first Super Bowl in 50 years in February.
Now that Breeland served his four-game suspension, though, there is no guarantee he will even start.
Defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo said Thursday that the Chiefs are slowly working Breeland back into the mix, but that he remains comfortable with the cornerbacks that already have helped them to a 4-0 start. That includes Charvarius Ward, who has played through a fractured hand, and Rashad Fenton, a 2019 sixth-round pick who's flourished after a move from nickelback to the outside that was needed when L'Jarius Sneed broke his collarbone.
''Bashaud was a starter for us. We know what he can do,'' Spagnuolo said. ''It's Game 5 and going down the stretch here we'll need everybody, so you want to get guys oiled up. We'll tread lightly and figure it out, but we have a lot of confidence in him and we have a lot of confidence in the guys that have been playing there.''
Spagnuolo has good reason. The Chiefs have the sixth-rated pass defense in the NFL through the first four weeks, despite Breeland's suspension and injuries to Ward and Sneed that have forced Spagnuolo to use different rotations.
It helps that the Chiefs have been fortunate when it comes to opposing quarterbacks.
After slowing down the Texans' Deshaun Watson in their season opener, the Chiefs caught a break when the Chargers' Tyrod Taylor was hurt in pregame warmups and rookie Justin Herbert made his first career start.
Then, after holding the Ravens' Lamar Jackson to just 15 for 28 for 97 yards passing, Cam Newton tested positive for COVID-19, forcing the Patriots to go with journeyman Brian Hoyer and untested youngster Jarrett Stidham last Monday night.
Up next is the Raiders' Derek Carr, who has struggled mightily just about every time he's visited Arrowhead Stadium.
''You look at the other players that they've played against, the other teams they've played against and what they've been able to hold them to - what a challenge for us,'' Carr said. ''We better step up to the plate and be ready to play.''
Especially now that Breeland is back in the mix in the secondary.
''He brings a lot of energy back,'' Fenton said. ''You know, he's another vet along with the Honey Badger'' - that would be Tyrann Mathieu - ''and Dan (Sorensen) on the defensive court. It's great because I'm a cornerback, so he brings the years into the DB room. It's great to have him back. The whole team loves him.''
The fact that he still has the support of his teammates is noteworthy. Breeland put them in a considerable bind in April, when he was arrested on multiple charges that included resisting arrest, having alcohol in a motor vehicle and possessing marijuana. He already was facing a suspension for a failed drug test prior to the arrest, so it merely sealed the deal on a four-game suspension. Breeland pleaded guilty last week and received a fine and 30-day suspended jail sentence.
The legal troubles out of the way and the suspension lifted, Breeland was finally back on the practice field this week.
''He should certainly get reps out there,'' Spagnuolo said. ''There's a lot of moving parts even during the week, guys with injuries and getting reps. We only get so many this time of year. We do more walk-throughs than anything else. We want to get Breeland up to speed, but we want to keep getting the other guys work.''
NOTES: Special teams coach Dave Toub said WR Mecole Hardman has been trying to do too much in the return game, and that has led to some miscues. He was fortunate to avoid a penalty Monday night when he started running after signaling for a fair catch on a punt return, and he let the ball bounce between his legs on another return. ... K Harrison Butker, who was the star of the Chiefs' win over the Chargers, missed a field goal against the Ravens and extra points each of the past two weeks. ''You have to look at it and say, `What's the problem?''' Toub said. ''We figured out exactly what it was, we worked on it yesterday, we hit nothing but extra points. We know where the miss is happening. We just have to eliminate the miss.''
Five Hot Plays: Week 7
Seattle Seahawks running back Chris Carson was dealing with a knee injury heading into the bye week, but now that he's rested, he's ready to go for Week 7 against the Arizona Cardinals. He's the RB8 on the year despite playing in just five games, and he's firmly entrenched as his team's starter. He has 45 more carries than any other Seahawks running back and he's added on to that with 18 more receptions than either of the other two backs on the team. The Cardinals are allowing a healthy 19.7 fantasy points per game to running backs, and Carson has a safe floor as an RB2 with RB1 upside.
Seattle Seahawks wide receiver D.K. Metcalf is the WR8 on the year through six weeks, and he's looking to keep that rolling in Week 7 against the Arizona Cardinals. Metcalf is expected to match up with cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick, and that's an advantage in favor of Metcalf, who has a decent speed advantage over Kirkpatrick. Metcalf has gone for at least 90 yards in every game thus far, and he's scored a touchdown in four out of five games. With the connection he has with quarterback Russell Wilson right now, he's an easy start in all formats this week as a WR1.
Seattle Seahawks wide receiver Tyler Lockett cooled off in Weeks 4 and 5 after a hot start to the year, but he has a strong chance to bounce back in Week 7 against the Arizona Cardinals. Lockett has seen at least four targets in every game, and he's quarterback Russell Wilson's first or second read on every play. He's catching just under 80 percent of the passes thrown in his direction, and he's been a great threat to all areas of the field over the last three seasons. With players on byes, you can have a good amount of confidence slotting him into your lineups this week as a WR2 in Seattle's high-scoring offense.
Los Angeles Rams wide receiver Robert Woods has played well to start the year, as he's the WR10 through six weeks, but his matchup for Week 7 against the Chicago Bears is going to make things very difficult to maintain that pace. The Bears are allowing just 17.4 points per game to fantasy receivers, and Woods primarily lines up outside, where Chicago's two best corners are. The matchup is certainly a difficult one, but Woods has been the Rams most consistent wideout this year as a chain-mover. Because of his consistent target share, he remains in play as a WR2 in PPR leagues, albeit one with a lower floor this week.
The Los Angeles Rams Defense has been one of the better units through the first six games of the season, and they should be able to continue that in Week 7 against the Chicago Bears. Outside of their Week 1 win over the Detroit Lions, Chicago has turned the ball over at least once in every game. They've also given up 11 sacks so far this year. With a couple of good defenses on byes this week, the Rams slot in as a solid top-five option this week. They should be able to keep the score low while generating turnovers and sacks while looking to bounce back from their divisional loss to the 49ers in Week 6.
Los Angeles Rams kicker Samuel Sloman has some heat on him after the team signed kicker Kai Forbath this week, but he's still the starter for Week 7 against the Chicago Bears. This matchup has the potential to be a defensive struggle like it was in 2018, and that could give Sloman more scoring chances if the offense moves the ball consistently enough. If they're able to get the ball into field-goal range, he could put up some points, but the Bears are allowing fewer than 20 points per game to opposing teams. Although four teams are on byes this week, you should be able to find a better option than Sloman in standard-sized leagues.
Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson is well-rested following his bye week, and he'll be looking to continue his quest for an MVP in Week 7 against the Arizona Cardinals. The Cardinals are allowing fewer than 17 fantasy points per game to opposing quarterbacks, but they haven't faced an outfit like the one Seattle is trotting out. With two top receivers along with a strong leading running back in Chris Carson in tow, Wilson has too many weapons at his disposal. In addition to that, the Cardinals lost star edge rusher Chandler Jones for the season due to injury. They won't be able to generate a consistent amount of pressure, and you'll feel extremely confident with Wilson in your lineups in all formats.
Los Angeles Rams quarterback Jared Goff has been a low-end QB1 for the majority of the season, but that is not the case in Week 7 against the Chicago Bears. The Bears Defense has been playing lights-out football through the first six weeks of the season, and they haven't shown signs of slowing down. They're allowing an average of just under 17 points per game to the quarterback position. Goff has solid weapons all around him, but this is just a brutal matchup from a fantasy perspective. With four quarterbacks on a bye this week, Goff could be in the streaming conversation in deeper leagues, but you should temper expectations. He should be in the middle tier of QB2s this week.
Los Angeles Rams running back Darrell Henderson will be looking to bounce back in Week 7 against the Chicago Bears after a decent performance in Week 6, but it won't be that easy. The Bears are tied for 10th in fewest fantasy points allowed to the running back position, and Henderson remains in a crowded backfield that also includes rookie Cam Akers and Malcolm Brown. Week 6 was the first game that Henderson cleared 50 percent of the offensive snaps this season, and he just barely beat out Brown for that honor. Due to his command of the carries as of right now, you have to slot him in as an RB2 option, but temper your expectations against a strong Bears Defense.
Los Angeles Rams wide receiver Cooper Kupp had a down game in Week 6, and it looks like those struggles could continue in Week 7 against the Chicago Bears. The Bears are allowing just 17.4 points per game to the wide receiver position, and their cornerbacks are playing lights-out. The one advantage that Kupp may have in this game is that he plays primarily out of the slot. With cornerbacks Jaylon Johnson and Kyle Fuller primarily operating on the outside, that gives Kupp the easier matchup against Buster Skrine. Against a strong Bears Defense on Monday night, Kupp should be considered more of a low-end RB2 play. He just hasn't found the connection with quarterback Jared Goff this year yet that his fantasy managers expected.
Cincinnati Bengals DLs Geno Atkins and Carlos Dunlap are being phased out of the team's defensive game plan, and they're each frustrated with their lack of playing time, according to multiple sources. Atkins was on the field for 18 snaps in Week 6 against the Indianapolis Colts, mostly on third down, while Dunlap was in for 28 total defensive plays.
The Carolina Panthers Defense, though improving and showing signs of efficiency, is not a viable starting option this week. They face the Saints, who have a potent offense consisting of Drew Brees, Alvin Kamara, Jared Cook, and elite WR Michael Thomas, who could potentially return this week. In addition, the Saints have been the third-worst matchup for fantasy defenses. The Panthers' defense should be on the bench this week.
Carolina Panthers wide receiver D.J. Moore should best be viewed as a low-end WR2 for this week. Moore hasn't been the most productive receiver for Carolina this season as Robby Anderson has emerged into a top option. Nevertheless, Moore's role is still decent as he has seen at least four targets in each game. There is no reason to discount the WR's value completely as he has still gotten over 90 yards in three games as well. That's enough to give him starting value against a New Orleans defense allowing the 11th-most points to fantasy WRs.
Carolina Panthers wide receiver Curtis Samuel is currently dealing with a knee injury and his status for Week 7 remains unclear. Samuel also missed Week 6. The WR has offered very modest value in the passing and rushing game this season, getting no more than 51 receiving yards and 28 rushing yards in any contest. Even if he's active, there are certainly better flex options for this week.
The New York Giants Defense has been better in recent weeks and has another good matchup in Week 7 with a Thursday night matchup with a banged-up Eagles offense. Philadelphia is missing starters across the offensive line and skill positions, and will face the challenge of playing on a short week. Led by cornerback James Bradberry, whose shut down play on the outside has taken away opposing number-one receivers, the Giants are a startable unit in fantasy at Philadelphia.
Carolina Panthers tight end Ian Thomas is well off the fantasy radar heading into Week 7. The TE has only gotten three receptions for 14 yards and a score on seven targets in the past three games. His role is simply not large enough for him to merit good fantasy value.
Updating a previous report, New York Jets QB Sam Darnold (shoulder) saw limited reps in practice, and head coach Adam Gase spoke about it after. 'Right now, we're just saying that all options are available,' Gase said Wednesday, Oct. 21. 'We'll have him on a pitch count.'
Fantasy Spin: Darnold sprained the AC joint in his right shoulder on Oct. 1, and he hasn't played or practice since, with Joe Flacco starting the previous two. Even if Darnold were able to play against a very giving Buffalo Bills pass defense, only fantasy owners in deeper leagues using two starting quarterbacks should even consider him at this point.
New York Giants tight end Evan Engram is off to a disappointing start to the season, but draws another favorable matchup in Week 7. Philadelphia allows the fourth-most fantasy points to opposing tight ends this season, though it may not matter as Engram has not taken advantage of other favorable matchups. Engram has not found the end zone this season and has just one game with more than 35 yards. New York completed just 12 passes last week so it's hard to trust anyone in this pass offense. Engram is a risky starter, but does possess upside and can be started in deeper formats.
Carolina Panthers wide receiver Robby Anderson is a WR2 this week against New Orleans. Anderson has emerged as the top target for Teddy Bridgewater this season and already has three 100-yard games. He has also seen at least four receptions and five targets in all six games. Given the increasing rapport with Bridgewater along with a large role in this offense, Anderson is a solid starter against a Saints team allowing the 11th-most points to fantasy WRs.
Carolina Panthers quarterback Teddy Bridgewater is a QB2 for this week against the Saints. From a fantasy perspective, the QB has been mostly mediocre aside from Week 5 against the Falcons and overall has six passing touchdowns to five interceptions thus far. Though the Saints allow the fourth-most fantasy points to quarterbacks, Bridgewater hasn't proven that he can be an explosive fantasy option. Only consider him in two-QB leagues for this week but there are certainly better options based on matchup.