Thursday Night Football is traditionally a sloppy affair with NFL teams expected to take the field on just four days of rest, and Arizona and San Francisco seemed determined to produce another low-scoring contest with Blaine Gabbert and Drew Stanton locked in a scoreless tie after one quarter. The final three periods of Thursday night’s game continued to feature extremely poor quarterback play, but 54 points managed hit the scoreboard in that span. Once Gabbert was fished from a pile of Arizona defenders in his own end zone late in the fourth quarter, the Cardinals had put the finishing touches on a 33-21 win over the San Francisco 49ers.
With no defensive touchdowns and both teams combining for only 286 passing yards, it is amazing that 54 points were scored and fantasy production was squeezed from this game. Only three receivers in the entire game caught more than one pass with both quarterbacks locked on to their primary receivers, while both the Arizona and San Francisco running games saw success. On the Arizona side, both David Johnson and Larry Fitzgerald scored two touchdowns and combined for 266 of Arizona’s 288 total yards. Johnson handled a season-high 30 touches on the night, which he used to dice up the San Francisco defense repeatedly. While Fitzgerald was Stanton’s top target, Michael Floyd and John Brown disappointed, combining for just one catch on seven targets. Carson Palmer (concussion) will not have a long layoff before Week 6 and his return is vital for fantasy owners hoping to see any production from Floyd or Brown.
San Francisco had done a stellar job of protecting Blaine Gabbert through four weeks as the quarterback had taken just three sacks on the season. That changed in a hurry on Thursday night, as the Cardinals hammered Gabbert to the ground seven times, including a safety. While he did see constant pressure, Gabbert was terrible as usual while completing 18 of 31 passes for 162 yards and two interceptions. The lone highlights for Gabbert were his 70 rushing yards and a garbage time rushing score that salvaged his night for deep or superflex league fantasy owners who took the plunge and started the San Francisco signal caller. Like Stanton, Gabbert was locked on one receiver and that was Jeremy Kerley, who snared eight of 13 targets for 102 yards and a touchdown. Kerley now has 14 catches on 22 targets for 190 yards and two touchdowns over the last two weeks and deserves attention in leagues of all sizes.
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Cardinals at 49ers Quick Slants
Carlos Hyde was fed 28 touches, which he turned into 114 total yards including a touchdown and six catches. Hyde remains the only bankable commodity in the San Francisco offense. … With Chris Johnson out, Andre Ellington served as David Johnson’s backup and ran for 19 yards on six carries. Ellington won’t be anything more than a handcuff moving forward. … 49ers tight end Vance McDonald (hip) was inactive, and Garrett Celek failed to perform in his absence. Celek caught only one of his six targets, including one brutal drop. … Torrey Smith failed to catch his lone target in the game and has just nine catches through five weeks.
In Other News…
Dallas coach Jason Garrett hoped Dez Bryant (knee) could participate in a portion of Thursday’s practice but the stud wide receiver was unable to hit the field. With Bryant now unlikely to play in Week 5, Dallas will rely on other receiving options as they take on Cincinnati. In Dez’s absence last week, tight end Jason Witten and wide receiver Brice Butler tied for the team lead in targets with nine, with Butler leading the Dallas receivers by playing 82 percent of the team’s offensive snaps. Butler, Witten, and Cole Beasley are the best bets for production in the Dallas passing game this week, with Ezekiel Elliott expected to lead the Cowboys offense once again.
Carolina’s Cam Newton (concussion) has yet to practice this week and coach Ron Rivera said he will likely determine the status of his quarterback by the end of the week. Whether that determination comes Friday or Saturday, fantasy owners should hit the wire and have a replacement lined up. If Newton does indeed sit out, Derek Anderson will take over and is a reasonable streaming option against the Tampa Bay defense that is surrendering a brutal 32.0 points per game. Other lesser-owned quarterback options like Joe Flacco (at Wash), Brian Hoyer (at Ind), and whoever suits up for Denver (vs Atl) all have cushy matchups and could help fill-in for Cam owners as well.
Karlos Williams was in the news on Thursday as he is now eligible to return to the NFL after serving a four-game suspension. Williams reportedly had a workout scheduled with the Buffalo Bills for Friday and was expected to re-sign with his former team, but the workout was cancelled and Williams remains a free agent. The interest from the Bills made some sense, as Rex Ryan has given only nine carries to backup running back Mike Gillislee through four weeks and could use the familiarity of Williams back in the fold. Williams should be placed on fantasy watch lists moving forward, as he could contribute in the right scenario if he is back in playing shape.
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Rob Gronkowski (hamstring) was limited at New England’s Thursday practice. Gronk will likely suit up and hopefully he is able to unleash his skills in a nice Week 5 matchup. … Demaryius Thomas (hip) was limited on Thursday but should be ready to roll in Week 5. … Eric Decker (shoulder) did not practice on Thursday but is still holding out hope of playing in Week 5. Decker’s status will be determined on Friday but he likely will miss Sunday’s game. … Julian Edelman (foot) popped up on New England’s injury report on Thursday and although he did practice in limited fashion, his status should be monitored over the weekend. … Arian Foster (groin, hamstring) practiced again on Thursday but is still likely shooting for a Week 6 return to action. … Stefon Diggs (groin) did not practice on Thursday and should be added to weekend injury watch lists. … Latavius Murray (turf toe) did not practice on Thursday and is still likely to miss Week 5. Fire up DeAndre Washington. … Antonio Gates (hamstring) was a limited participant in practice on Friday but is still a dicey bet to return to the field for the first time since Week 2. … Matt Forte (knee, ribs) squeezed in a full practice on Thursday and is ready for Week 5. … Trevor Siemian (non-throwing shoulder) was limited in practice on Thursday and his playing status will be updated in the next day or two. … Rashad Jennings (thumb) was limited on Thursday but is a dicey bet to see the field in Week 5. … Charles Sims (knee) missed practice on Thursday and should be monitored on Friday and Saturday. … Dan Bailey (back) is not practicing and should be replaced by another safer kicking option this week.