Larry Fitzgerald

Fantasy implications in Eagles' Week 5 matchup with Cardinals

Fantasy implications in Eagles' Week 5 matchup with Cardinals

There are plenty of startable fantasy players in the Eagles' Week 5 home game against the Cardinals, especially because of bye weeks for the Saints, Falcons, Broncos and Redskins.

Let's take a look at Sunday's matchup from a fantasy perspective:

WR Alshon Jeffery
If you have Jeffery, you're most likely starting him unless it's a 2-WR league and you're just super deep at wide receiver.

But temper your expectations for Jeffery this week. He'll be shadowed by Cardinals star cornerback Patrick Peterson, who followed Dez Bryant all over the field in Week 3.

There are 79 cornerbacks so far this season who've played at least 50 percent of their team's snaps, and Peterson has allowed the second-fewest catches (5) and third-fewest yards (56). If you're basing your wide receiver decisions on what has happened the first four weeks, then Peterson is the top shadow corner to avoid.

No. 1 outside receivers just haven't fared well against the Cardinals. Marvin Jones had two catches for 37 yards in Week 1. T.Y. Hilton had four catches for 49 yards in Week 2. Bryant had two catches for 12 yards and a TD in Week 3, but the touchdown was a 5-yard pass over the middle that Bryant caught before morphing into beast mode and carrying tacklers into the end zone. 

The Eagles don't move Jeffery around a whole lot. He has lined up on the outside in nearly nine of every 10 snaps.

Projected Jeffery stat line: 4 catches, 45 yards

• • •

WR Larry Fitzgerald
You're obviously starting Fitzgerald this Sunday, so we're mentioning him here only to note that he could be the top wide receiver play in the NFL this week.

The ageless Fitzgerald has had just one quiet game out of four this season. He went 6-for-74 against the Lions, 3-for-21 against the Colts, 13-for-149 with a TD against the Cowboys and 4-for-32 with a game-winning TD against the 49ers.

This week, he'll face Eagles cornerbacks who will simply be overmatched. The Eagles have been burnt by enormous gains from slot receivers in back-to-back weeks. Sterling Shepard had the 77-yard TD two weeks ago. Tyrell Williams — who wasn't technically the slot receiver on the play but did line up inside the numbers — caught a 75-yard pass over the middle for a TD last week. Keenan Allen later added a 50-yard catch-and-run out of the slot.

Fitzgerald lines up all over the place and Bruce Arians and Carson Palmer get him involved early and often. Fitzgerald already has 41 targets through four games.

The Eagles are pleased with how Patrick Robinson has adjusted to the slot, but this is a journeyman going up against a Hall of Famer.

The last time the Eagles faced Fitzgerald (Dec. 20, 2015) was the first time he faced them and didn't score. In the previous seven meetings, he had 47 catches for 802 yards and 11 touchdowns.

Projected Fitzgerald stat line: 7 catches, 110 yards, 2 TD

• • •

RB Wendell Smallwood, RB LeGarrette Blount
Smallwood had an impressive day in Los Angeles with 79 total yards, four catches and a rushing touchdown. He will still cede most of the goal-line work to LeGarrette Blount, but Smallwood last Sunday got his short rushing TD after a long run by Blount and a few failed attempts by the bigger back.

Smallwood owners will like the fact that he led the Eagles' backfield in snaps in Week 4, got 10 rushing attempts and six targets in the passing game. With Darren Sproles out for the season, it looks like Smallwood will benefit the most with checkdowns, which gives him additional value in PPR leagues.

Statistically, this doesn't look like a great matchup for Smallwood or Blount. The Cardinals have allowed the eighth-fewest rushing yards and receiving yards to running backs this season. Ezekiel Elliott had 22 carries for 80 yards and a TD against them in Week 3, and Carlos Hyde had 22 touches for 95 total yards in Week 4. It seems unlikely that Smallwood or Blount will accrue 22 touches in this game.

I'd start Smallwood and Blount this week over guys like Doug Martin, Joe Mixon, Latavius Murray, Isaiah Crowell and any Seahawks running back.

Projected Smallwood stat line: 60 total yards, 4 catches

Projected Blount stat line: 55 total yards, rushing TD

• • •

TE Zach Ertz
Starting tight ends have not fared well against Arizona. Aside from Colts TE Jack Doyle's 8-catch, 79-yard performance in Week 2, tight ends have combined for five catches and 47 yards with no TDs against the Cards. That's 2-for-15 per game. Yuck.

Granted, Eric Ebron, Jason Witten and George Kittle aren't nearly as threatening as Ertz.

Ertz has been targeted between 8 and 10 times each game by Carson Wentz. He's gone 8-for-93, 5-for-97, 8-for-55 with a TD and 5-for-81. Ertz has been the most consistent option in the league at a volatile fantasy position.

With Wentz unlikely to test Peterson by targeting Jeffery often, he'll need to find his yards somewhere. That will mean more targets than usual for Torrey Smith and Nelson Agholor, but it should also mean another heavy dose of Ertz.

Projected Ertz stat line: 6 catches, 66 yards

• • •

WR Jaron Brown
Jaron Brown, not John Brown, was a popular waiver-wire pickup this week because of how heavily involved he's been in Arizona's aerial attack the last three weeks. In those three games, he's drawn 29 targets and caught 14 passes for 205 yards and a TD.

With John Brown (quad) and J.J. Nelson (hamstring) banged up, Arizona's passing game isn't nearly as crowded as usual. This figures to be another high-volume game for Jaron against a shaky Eagles secondary.

Projected Brown stat line: 5 catches, 85 yards

• • •

Eagles D/ST
This is a great spot for the Eagles' fantasy defense against a bad Cardinals offensive line that has allowed 16 sacks in its last three games and a turnover-prone Palmer who already has five interceptions and a fumble.

The best way for Palmer to combat the Eagles' pass rush will be to replicate Eli Manning's method of getting the ball out ASAP. That will mean checkdowns to Andre Ellington and quick slants to Fitzgerald. But you can't do that for four full quarters, and it's pretty tough to imagine a washed-up Chris Johnson gouging the Birds on the ground to help Palmer.

I predicted a big game from the Eagles' D/ST against the Giants and it didn't happen, but the stars are all aligned in this one. Palmer is also significantly worse on the road.

Projected Eagles D/ST stat line: 4 sacks, 2 interceptions, fumble recovery, defensive TD, 17 points allowed

NFL Notes: As Cowboys prep for training camp, Jerry Jones backs Ezekiel Elliott again

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NFL Notes: As Cowboys prep for training camp, Jerry Jones backs Ezekiel Elliott again

OXNARD, Calif. -- Jerry Jones interjected some bad-boy anecdotes from his youth, smiled at the thought of life before social media and even asked a couple of questions himself Sunday at his annual training camp opener with reporters.

When the topic is the multitude of off-field issues confronting the Dallas Cowboys -- headlined by star running back Ezekiel Elliott -- their owner, president and general manager can dance with the best of them.

"I can give you the same old excuses -- young, aggressive, got a lot of energy," Jones said. "Hard to paint that picture of the days when it won't be this easy, they won't be as pretty and they won't have the money. Somehow you've got to paint the picture."

Elliott is still waiting for clearance from the NFL on a year-old domestic violence case that prosecutors didn't pursue. The NFL rushing leader last season as a rookie, Elliott didn't help himself with his involvement in a bar fight a week before the Cowboys flew to California for camp.

Jones reiterated his belief that Elliott wasn't guilty of domestic violence in a dispute with his ex-girlfriend last summer in Columbus, Ohio, where he starred for Ohio State. But the Dallas owner still wouldn't speculate on whether Elliott will get suspended.

The Cowboys will have two suspended defensive players when the season starts in pass rushers David Irving and Randy Gregory. Two more could be: cornerback Nolan Carroll (drunken-driving charge) and linebacker Damien Wilson (aggravated assault charges).

Receiver Dez Bryant was late to report at the team's practice facility in suburban Dallas on Friday, a day before he was on the team flight to California. Irving decided to stay in California rather than report in Texas, and running back Darren McFadden missed the charter flight (see full story).

Cardinals: Larry Fitzgerald motivated by quest for championship
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Training camp is a drag at this point in Larry Fitzgerald's long and accomplished NFL career. Of course, the quest for the ring is the main reason the 14-year veteran continues to play.

The longtime Arizona Cardinals wide receiver isn't sure what his future holds as far as retirement.

"That's the only reason I'm playing at this point," Fitzgerald said Sunday, the second day of Cardinals training camp. "From a personal standpoint, things I've accomplished, they're fine. But the thing that you will say is out of your control because you're in a team sport is a championship."

Fitzgerald said he feels good, and when retirement comes there won't be a podium or tears because "that's not who I am."

Yet it is important to him to still be productive as a player when he decides to step away. Fitzgerald admitted it would be a struggle to accept a diminished role due to not being able to give 100 percent.

"The end is never really pretty for elite athletes. It never looks good. You watch Michael Jordan in a Washington Wizards uniform or see Tony Dorsett playing for the Denver Broncos. ... It's weird because you're used to seeing them at their most dominant stage," Fitzgerald said. "For me, I really want to do things at a high level and be able to walk away and still be someone who can play at a high level."

Fitzgerald has asked others who are closer to retirement or have retired about their thought process going into it. He's been doing that for the last few years, checking in with the likes of Tom Brady, Peyton Manning and Tony Gonzalez.

For now, he still enjoys being around teammates and staff, asking questions in an effort to improve as a player and setting an example and providing leadership for young players (see full story).

Browns: Rookie Peppers signs, full class under contract
CLEVELAND -- Browns rookie defensive back Jabrill Peppers has signed and now Cleveland's entire draft class is under contract.

Peppers and the Browns had been haggling over guaranteed money on his four-year-deal, which is worth $10.3 million and includes a $5.6 million signing bonus.

The Browns chose Peppers -- one of Cleveland's three first-round selections -- with the No. 25 overall pick. The former Michigan standout played numerous positions for the Wolverines, but the Browns will try him at strong safety and as a kick returner.

Peppers may have been passed over by other teams after he had a diluted urine sample at the scouting combine. Peppers was placed in the first stage of the NFL's substance abuse policy, but he can be cleared from the program after 90 days if he has not positive tests.

Cleveland's rookies were scheduled to report to training camp Sunday night with the veterans arriving on Wednesday. The Browns will open their second training camp under coach Hue Jackson on Thursday.

NFL Notes: Cardinals ink Carson Palmer, Larry Fitzgerald to 1-year extensions

NFL Notes: Cardinals ink Carson Palmer, Larry Fitzgerald to 1-year extensions

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald and quarterback Carson Palmer have signed one-year contract extensions with the Arizona Cardinals.

The deals put Fitzgerald under contract through the 2017 season and Palmer through 2018.

Fitzgerald, holder of virtually all the franchise receiving records with statistics among the NFL's all-time greats, turns 33 on Aug. 31.

Palmer is 36 and entering his fourth season with the Cardinals. He set franchise records and personal bests for yards passing, touchdown passes and quarterback rating in leading Arizona to a 13-3 record last season.

Fitzgerald's 109 catches last season broke the franchise mark he set a decade earlier.

General manager Steve Keim said in a news release that the signings reaffirm the team's intention that "these two great players end their stellar careers with the Cardinals."

Patriots: Brady talks decision to not appeal suspension
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Addressing reporters for the first time since opting not to pursue further appeals of his four-game suspension in the "Deflategate" saga, New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady called it a personal decision and said he is trying to move on.

The four-time Super Bowl winner spoke to the media Friday at New England's training camp. He is allowed to practice with the team and play in the Patriots' preseason games but will miss the first four regular-season games.

"I tried to come out here and just focus on what I need to do to get better and help our team," he said. "I'll be excited to be back when I'm back, and I'll be cheering our team on, hoping they can go out and win every game."

Brady was suspended for his role in the use of deflated footballs in the 2014 AFC championship win over Indianapolis. He initially won a court appeal, but that was overturned, and Brady chose not to continue the legal fight.

The 39-year-old led the league with 36 touchdown passes last season. He must be away from the team beginning Sept. 3, the day of final cuts, and can return on Oct. 3, the day after the Patriots' fourth game of the season, against AFC East rival Buffalo. The first game for which Brady will be eligible is Oct. 9 at Cleveland.

The suspension will snap his streak of 126 consecutive games played -- 112 in the regular season and 14 playoff games.

Asked if it was a difficult decision not to pursue legal avenues to dismiss the suspension imposed by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, Brady replied:

"I think it's just personal and I've tried to move on from it so I try to, like I said, focus on the positive and being out here with my teammates and getting better. I don't want to go out and do anything but try to be a great example for your teammates, and we've got a lot of competitive guys that are down here on the practice field, and I think that's where the focus needs to be (see full story)."

Chiefs: Nick Foles signing announced
ST. JOSEPH, Mo. -- The Kansas City Chiefs announced the signing of quarterback Nick Foles on Friday, giving them a veteran backup to Alex Smith and alleviating one of the biggest question marks on the roster.

The sides had agreed to terms of a contract earlier this week.

Foles was granted his release from the Rams this past summer after they chose quarterback Jared Goff with the first pick in the NFL draft. Foles had been linked to the Cowboys before deciding to sign with Chiefs coach Andy Reid, who originally drafted him in Philadelphia.

Foles was expected to begin practicing with the Chiefs on Friday.

Kansas City was poised to begin the season with Aaron Murray, Tyler Bray or rookie Kevin Hogan as the No. 2 quarterback. None of them have taken a meaningful snap in the NFL.

Bills: LB Reggie Ragland injures left knee
PITTSFORD, N.Y. -- Buffalo Bills rookie linebacker Reggie Ragland left practice Friday with a left knee injury.

Bills coach Rex Ryan says the team does not believe any knee ligaments were damaged, but Ragland will undergo further testing to determine the severity of the injury.

The non-contact injury took place in a team drill near the end of Buffalo's morning practice. Ragland was going after the ball carrier on a running play before pulling up and going to the ground. He was able to walk to the locker room under his own power.

Ragland is projected to start at inside linebacker for Buffalo after being drafted 41st overall. The Bills are already without first-round pick Shaq Lawson, projected to start at outside linebacker.

In other Bills injury news, Ryan said defensive tackle Marcell Dareus (undisclosed non-football illness) will likely return to practice on Monday.

NFL: Montee Ball sentenced to jail for domestic abuse
MADISON, Wis. -- Former NFL and Wisconsin running back Montee Ball has been sentenced to 60 days in jail after pleading guilty to disorderly conduct and battery for his role in two domestic abuse incidents. 

In an agreement with prosecutors, the 25-year-old Ball entered the plea to three of six charges against him. Ball was charged with battery and disorderly conduct in February after his girlfriend told police he had thrown her across a Madison hotel room. About a month later, a previous girlfriend told police she had been assaulted by Ball in 2014. He was charged with strangulation, substantial battery and disorderly conduct. 

A Dane County judge Friday also ordered Ball to serve 18 months of probation. Ball holds touchdown records at Wisconsin. He was drafted by Denver in 2013 and cut after two seasons.

Cowboys: Trial set in Darren McFadden civil lawsuit
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. -- A federal judge in Little Rock has scheduled an August 2017 jury trial in Dallas Cowboys running back Darren McFadden's lawsuit against his longtime business manager.

McFadden filed the $15 million civil lawsuit in June against Michael Vick of Mabelvale and 10 others named only as "Doe." The lawsuit alleges that Vick misappropriated and mishandled money throughout McFadden's NFL career, including $3 million lost in a bitcoin business venture.

In court filings this week, the case was set for a jury trial before U.S. District Judge Kristine Baker the week of Aug. 21, 2017. 

In his response to the lawsuit, Vick, who is not the former NFL player, denies all allegations and asks that the lawsuit be dismissed.