Wed Oct 13 5:12pm ET
By STEVE REED
AP Sports Writer
Carolina Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey (22) rushes for a gain as Houston Texans cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III (26) defends during the first half of an NFL football game Thursday, Sept. 23, 2021, in Houston. (AP Photo/Eric Christian Smith)
Carolina Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey watches play from the sideline against the Dallas Cowboys in the first half of a NFL football game in Arlington, Texas, Sunday, Oct. 3, 2021. (AP Photo/Michael Ainsworth)
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) Panthers coach Matt Rhule said running back Christian McCaffrey is ''50-50'' for Carolina's game against the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday.
McCaffrey has missed Carolina's last two games with a hamstring injury. The Panthers (3-2) have lost both games without their 2019 All-Pro running back in the lineup.
''I think it will probably come right up until Sunday,'' Rhule said of McCaffrey's status this week. ''It will be like a game-time decision. It could go one way or the other right now.''
McCaffrey was officially listed as limited in practice Wednesday. He also practiced last week on a limited basis, but was designated on Friday as doubtful for the game.
''I think it will come down to how he feels, and we have to wait and see how he responds to today,'' Rhule said. ''But I couldn't say either way right now.''
Quarterback Sam Darnold said he misses having McCaffrey in the backfield with him, even though rookie Chuba Hubbard ran for 101 yards on 24 carries last week against the Eagles.
''There is just something about him,'' Darnold said. ''When he has the ball in his hands, he's able to do things a lot of people aren't able to do.''
The Panthers did get starting left tackle Cam Erving back to practice after he missed Carolina's 21-18 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday. If Erving returns this week, Taylor Moton will slide back over to the right tackle spot, Rhule said.
Carolina also designated guard Pat Elflein for return from injured reserve after being out with a hamstring injury.
Rhule also said linebacker Shaq Thompson will miss his second straight week with a foot injury.
The Kansas City Chiefs defense will get defensive end Chris Jones (wrist) back for Sunday's game against the Titans after Jones had missed the last two games. But while the return of Jones is a boon for the real-life Chiefs and should help slow things down at the point of attack, but the KC run defense has been too bad for this to change much in terms of fantasy. Derrick Henry is still arguably the top running back play on this slate. The Chiefs defense is one of the worst fantasy plays.
The expectation and belief is that Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson will be traded before the Nov. 2 trade deadline. Rumors spread rapidly earlier this week that the Miami Dolphins and Texans were nearing a deal for Watson, but those rumors turned out to be false. It doesn't mean that the Dolphins won't eventually trade for Watson, and multiple teams remain interested in acquiring the signal-caller, including the Carolina Panthers, Denver Broncos, the Philadelphia Eagles and others. Watson's legal issues involving 20-plus lawsuits for sexual misconduct and assault are ongoing, but he has yet to be placed on the commissioner's exempt list. It remains to be seen if Watson will play in 2021, but he's likely to be facing a lengthy suspension in 2022.
Miami Dolphins wide receiver Preston Williams (groin) will play in Week 7 against the Atlanta Falcons. With DeVante Parker (hamstring) out, Williams should serve as the No. 2 wideout for Tua Tagovailoa in what should be a good matchup for the Dolphins passing attack. The last time he played without Parker was in Week 5, when he was targeted five times, catching three passes for 60 yards while playing 74 percent of snaps. Consider him an intriguing flex option and a good value play in DFS contests.
New England Patriots running back Brandon Bolden (thigh) and kicker Nick Folk (knee) are both active for Sunday's contest against the Jets. With Rhamondre Stevenson being a healthy scratch, Bolden should have some role on Sunday, but not enough for fantasy managers to use him in any lineups. Folk has been a solid kicker this season and would be a solid fantasy play this week, even with the knee injury, as he's already been playing through it.
Washington Football Team quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick (hip), who suffered a hip subluxation in the season-opening loss to the Los Angeles Chargers, is still weeks away from returning, according to sources. Fitzpatrick remains on crutches, meaning Taylor Heinicke will remain the starter for the foreseeable future. The 38-year-old Fitzpatrick likely undergo an MRI exam next week, but the belief is that he won't be able to return until at least after the team's Week 9 bye. The team is hopeful that he will return this year, but his rehab has gone slower than expected, and it's not a certainty that he'll return. Although Heinicke has struggled of late, head coach Ron Rivera still has confidence in him, and his starting job doesn't appear to be in danger. Against the Green Bay Packers in Week 7, Heinicke will remain a midrange QB2.
New York Giants TE Evan Engram (calf) is active for Week 7's game against the Carolina Panthers.
Fantasy Spin: Engram returned to practice in a limited fashion Friday, Oct. 22, after sustaining a calf injury which had sidelined him on the previous day, so it's not surprising that he was cleared to play this afternoon. He should be viewed as a low-end TE1 option in deeper fantasy leagues.
New York Giants tight end Evan Engram (calf) and wide receivers Darius Slayton (hamstring) and John Ross (hamstring), who were all listed as questionable, are active in Week 7 against the Carolina Panthers. Engram and Slayton could have very big roles in the passing game with receivers Kenny Golladay (knee), Kadarius Toney (ankle) and Sterling Shepard (hamstring) all out on Sunday. Slayton is returning after a three-week absence, though, so he'll still be hard to trust in fantasy, even as a deep-league flex play. Dante Pettis saw a much bigger workload last week with Golladay and Toney out, and Collin Johnson and Ross should also be involved as well. Engram will be a low-end TE1 play with upside with so many of New York's offensive weapons on the shelf.
As expected, the Kansas City Chiefs will have wide receiver Tyreek Hill (quad) and tight end Travis Kelce (neck) for Sunday's game against the Tennessee Titans. With the Titans missing multiple pieces in the secondary, this should be a strong game for the Chiefs passing attack. Even with the injury concerns, fantasy managers should fire Hill and Kelce up as a WR1 and TE1, respectively.
New York Giants WR Sterling Shepard (hamstring) is not active for Week 7's game against the Carolina Panthers.
Fantasy Spin: Shepard was injured during practice Thursday, Oct. 21, although he was able to practice in a limited role the following day, meaning that there is a good chance that he can return to action in Week 8. Expect the likes of WR Darius Slayton and TE Evan Engram to see increased numbers of targets this afternoon in his absence.
Kansas City Chiefs WR Tyreek Hill (quadriceps) is officially active for the Week 7 game.
Fantasy Spin: Hill did not do much during practice this week but should receive close to his normal workload in Week 7. He should be a No. 1 or No. 2 receiver in fantasy leagues.
Tennessee Titans WR Julio Jones (hamstring) is officially active for the Week 7 game.
Fantasy Spin: Jones has struggled with hamstring injuries over the last few seasons but will be able to play against the Kansas City Chiefs. He can be considered a No. 3 receiver or flex option in fantasy leagues.
Miami Dolphins wide receiver DeVante Parker (hamstring) is inactive for Sunday's contest against the Atlanta Falcons. He last played in Week 4 against the Colts. With Parker out, look for quarterback Tua Tagovailoa to focus on wide receiver Jaylen Waddle and tight end Mike Gesicki against a weak Falcons secondary. Gesicki had 115 yards last week against Jaguars and should be a strong DFS play on this slate.
New England Patriots running back Rhamondre Stevenson is a healthy scratch again in Week 7, returning to the inactive list after playing for the past two weeks. Considering Stevenson had eight touches, a touchdown, and a 33 percent snap rate last week, him returning to Bill Belichick's doghouse is a bit of a surprise. Damien Harris is the only running back in New England worth anything when it comes to fantasy right now.
New York Giants wide receiver Sterling Shepard (hamstring) has been ruled out for the Week 7 contest against the Carolina Panthers. He'll be joining running back Saquon Barkley (ankle) and receivers Kenny Golladay (knee) and Kadarius Toney (ankle), who were ruled out on Friday, on the sidelines. The good news is that tight end Evan Engram (calf) and receivers Darius Slayton (hamstring) and John Ross (hamstring) will play, but the Giants offense will be missing their best weapons. It will be Shepard's third missed game of the season with his hamstring injury. Slayton will be returning after three straight missed games, so there's no guarantee he'll be the top receiving option in his first game back. Dante Pettis and Collin Johnson figure to be involved in three-receiver sets as well.
Miami Dolphins WR DeVante Parker (hamstring, shoulder) has been declared inactive for the Week 7 game.
Fantasy Spin: Jaylen Waddle and Preston Williams probably will be the main receivers for the Dolphins while Parker is sidelined. Waddle should be at least a No. 3 receiver in fantasy leagues, while Williams can be a flex option in some leagues.
Washington Football Team running back Antonio Gibson (shin) is active, as expected, in Week 7 against the Green Bay Packers. Cornerback William Jackson III (knee) is out, so Washington's corner depth will be shaky against the Packers and quarterback Aaron Rodgers. Gibson has been playing through a hairline fracture in his shin the last couple weeks, although he did see only 10 carries in the Week 6 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs. Consider him more of an RB2 than RB1 this week, especially since backup and pass-catching back J.D. McKissic could see more run if Washington is playing catchup against a strong Green Bay offense for much of the day.
New York Jets running back Tevin Coleman (hamstring) is inactive for Sunday's Week 7 contest against the New England Patriots. He's joined on the inactive list by tight end Tyler Kroft and wide receiver Jeff Smith. With Coleman out, there should be a few more snaps available for Michael Carter, but Coleman only played five offensive snaps in Week 5 against Atlanta, so his absence doesn't really move the needle here.
Green Bay Packers linebacker Preston Smith (oblique) and cornerback Kevin King (shoulder) are out for the Week 7 battle against the Washington Football Team on Sunday. Smith will break his consecutive games played streak at 102 after suffering an oblique injury in last week's win over the Chicago Bears. King will be missing his second straight game with his shoulder injury. Eric Stokes, Chandon Sullivan and Rasul Douglas will once again serve as Green Bay's starting corners on Sunday. Green Bay's defense loses a little luster with Smith out of the lineup, but they're still on the streaming radar for this weekend against Washington.
The New York Giants have declared CB Sam Beal, RB Saquon Barkley, WR Sterling Shepard, DL Danny Shelton, CB Josh Jackson, WR Kadarius Toney and WR Kenny Golladay inactive for Week 7.
The Atlanta Falcons have declared DB Kendall Sheffield, LB Dorian Etheridge, CB Avery Williams, DL John Cominsky, DT Mike Pennel, QB Feleipe Franks and WR Frank Darby inactive for Week 7.