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Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

The Steelers lost a pair of defensive backs in the 20-17 win over the Colts.

Case Keenum, QB, Minnesota Vikings (34.4 percent): Although bye weeks are no longer a consideration, difficult matchups are. Let’s say you believe your quarterback’s opponent in Week 12 or later is one you would rather avoid. In that case, a streaming option such as Keenum should be on your radar. He has at least 280 passing yards and 17 fantasy points in three straight games. He has played so well for Minnesota.

The Saints keep marching with their defense and running game, with Drew Brees providing the ultimate gravy. Special teams also joined the fun against Tampa Bay. This is a more complete team with each passing week, still with a top passing game to go along with an emerging pass defense.

Packers running back Aaron Jones left Sunday’s 23-16 win over the Bears with a knee injury. He will have an MRI on Monday and the Packers hope it’s just a sprained MCL. The Packers also lost running back Ty Montgomery with injured ribs.

The Steelers lost a pair of defensive backs in the 20-17 win over the Colts. Cornerback Joe Haden was first lost with an injured left leg and came out in the second half on crutches. Safety Mike Mitchell left in the third quarter with a right ankle injury and did not return.

It feels like this could be headed toward more of an Anderson/Booker split after Charles had just three carries this past Sunday, and that would put Booker on the flex radar in deeper leagues. He’s a consideration in 12-team or larger leagues for someone who needs to add running back depth. With a new offensive coordinator in Denver, we’ll see if that impacts the way the backfield rotation shakes out each week.

After excoriating the Giants secondary’s effort in their Week 9 loss to the Rams, NBC’s Rodney Harrison on “Football Night in America” singled out cornerback Janoris Jenkins for his lack of effort. After showing Jenkins ducking two tackles, Harrison noted, “This is why the Giants are so terrible.”

Host Dan Patrick added that the Giants, who seem to think “tackling is optional,” are off to their worst start since 1980.

Leave it to the New York Post to sum up the feelings of Giants fans. As columnist Mark Cannizzaro wrote, the Giants should have left McAdoo in San Francisco, along with what used to be their hearts:rays_435

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

NASCAR wants more drama and got it at Martinsville

Many people will disagree with what Denny Hamlin did with his car in the final laps Sunday at Martinsville Speedway, squarely hitting Chase Elliott in the rear bumper and wrecking him on the way to what Hamlin had hoped would earn him a spot among the four finalists in the season finale.

Wondering what you can expect from players who are dealing with injuries in Week 8? Injury expert Stephania Bell gives her thoughts on each notable player.

To help you set your lineups and avoid starting a player who won’t take the field, we will post fantasy-relevant updates and analysis here as NFL teams release their Sunday inactives lists before kickoff. Any rankings cited in this column come from our ESPN Fantasy staff ranks.

The Panthers are more diversified without Kelvin Benjamin, who they weren’t ready to pay big money, and they’re betting on Devin Funchess to step up.

Panthers interim GM Marty Hurney told ESPN’s David Newton that the Bills reached out to Carolina and expressed interest in Benjamin. Beane and Hurney have a long-standing working relationship that began when both joined the Panthers in 1998 and continued through 2012, when Hurney was fired by Carolina and replaced by Beane as interim GM.

“Marty and I talk every so often,” Beane said Tuesday. “We spoke a little bit [Monday] and then this morning via text. But I really didn’t sense at practice [Tuesday afternoon] that anything was going to go down. And then we did circle back up around 2 [p.m.] and again around 3:25, and it got serious by 3:40, knowing we had 20 minutes to agree on the deal.”

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Brooks-James’ 52-yard run led to Nelson’s scoring pass to Breeland.

Nelson took a reverse and barely escaped a tackle before finding Breeland in triple coverage.

The coaches drew up the play for Nelson after he told Taggart his wish, and the team practiced it once this week.

“Might have been my best touchdown here yet,” Nelson smiled afterward.

Following Brooks-James’ touchdown run in the fourth quarter, Utah closed the gap with Huntley’s 29-yard touchdown pass to Siaosi Wilson.

Watching Game 6 from a neighbor’s house in Oakdale, Long Island, will be Hill’s one-time, two-game manager. “They’re having a Halloween party,” Baez says. “I hope I can get my kids settled down after trick-or-treating. I want to be able to tell them that the Dodger pitcher on the mound used to play for me.”

He can tell them one of the great stories in baseball, a fairy tale about a Duck who became a swan.

“People don’t know he can shoot,” Johnson said. “Buckets.”

Philadelphia head coach Brett Brown said Simmons’ ability to reliably make jump shots will complement his ability to drive or use his length in the paint even more effective.

Fournier said winning on the second night of back-to-back games is “the hardest thing to do in NBA basketball,” and that the Magic should be proud to have done it twice already this season.

The victory in New Orleans came a night after a loss in Charlotte.

“But we should have the same mindset all the time,” Fournier added. “That’s the way we should play for 82 games.”

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Cowboys K Dan Bailey out for game vs. 49ers, S Jeff Heath kicking off in his place

Heath isn’t a complete stranger to kicking and handled the duties for his high school in Michigan.

The most flagrant dirty hit of Week 6, though, was Mitchell taking an unnecessary shot at the knees of Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith. Mitchell was just fined $9,115 for that one.

Mitchell insists he’s not a dirty player, according to ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler.

“But if you saw the play, you know there was no intent or egregiousness there on his part,” Tomlin said, via Joe Rutter of the Tribune-Review. “He got tripped, but Alex doesn’t have eyes in the back of his head and, in-game, he doesn’t know that, so it’s reasonable to have the response that he had.”

It seems like the league doesn’t care about excuses. That’s a hefty fine for Mitchell. With a hit that egregious and his history, he’s lucky he wasn’t suspended.

The Falcons’ offense ranked first in points per game (33.8) and second in yards per game (415.8) last season. Those respective rankings this year are 12th (24.2) and fifth (378.4) going into Week 7. They had only 11 giveaways in 2016 and are already up to seven in ’17.

Matt Ryan, the reigning NFL MVP, has thrown as many TDs as INTs (six) and seen his passer rating plummet from an interstellar 117.1 to an average 87.3. Go-to wide receiver Julio Jones has only one 100-yard game and zero touchdowns, with only one red zone target. The Falcons, with their strong run-blocking line and explosive backs, Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman, also have gone from No. 5 in rushing yards per game to No. 16.

The Patriots’ defense allowed the fewest points per game (15.6) and were eighth in average yardage allowed (326.4) last season. Now they are 30th in scoring defense (26.5) and last in total defense (440.7 yards per game). They are No. 32 against the pass and No. 20 against the run.49ers_217_ff569ddcf9cf30b8-150x150

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Harden and Gordon are a tad shrimpy.

At least the sieve in the Rockets’ super-small, anti-Golden State units is their best offensive player — James Harden. Houston has a deep, versatile roster that can shape-shift depending on the opponent. When the Warriors engage Death Lineup mode, Houston can slot two of P.J. Tucker, Luc Mbah a Moute, Eric Gordon and Troy Williams around the Chris Paul/Harden/Trevor Ariza trio in ultra-small groups.

If Tucker and Mbah a Moute hit enough corner 3-pointers — they shot 40 percent combined last season — those lineups approach anti-Warriors optimization. But Golden State will still slough away from them to clog the lane, and recover in a flash to contest shots; Golden State holding opponents to 32.4 percent from deep, lowest in the league, wasn’t complete luck. The Warriors are long, and they are ferocious, and they do not make mistakes.

Insert Ryan Anderson to juice Houston’s shooting, and the Warriors will eat him alive on the other end. Three-guard setups with Paul, Harden and Gordon are a tad shrimpy.

The Celtics decided to call Bradley first thing the next morning, and the Pistons were going to do the same with Morris. But Bradley didn’t pick up his phone and when the team finally tracked down his wife, Ashley, the Celtics found out Bradley had caught an early flight from Austin, Texas, to Seattle to attend a wedding. It would be impossible to alert Bradley before news of the deal leaked, as Detroit had already successfully informed Morris.

Bradley told Bleacher Report over the summer that he turned on his phone late in his flight and, connecting to the on-board Wi-Fi, was so inundated with messages that he knew immediately he had been dealt. Instead of even scrolling through his messages, he opened a browser window and Googled his name. The first result told Bradley he was headed to Detroit.


Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Todd Gurley hurdled a Washington defender like it was nothing on his way to a touchdown

The Rams are trying to keep up with Washington in Los Angeles, and Todd Gurley did everything he could to make sure that happened. That included this incredible hurdle.

Hurdles in the NFL aren’t as rare and eye popping as they used to be, but this one by Gurley was as clean as they get. He even finished the play with a touchdown to make it a 20-17 game.

The best we can do to project how long this may take is look at a similar appeal. There’s clearly a big difference between domestic violence and deflating footballs, but because these are actually labor law matters, the federal court process would be the same for Tom Brady and Elliott.

Green Bay’s loss to Atlanta last season was the only one the team has suffered over its last 10 games, going 9-1 SU and 8-2 ATS over that stretch. The Packers won with their defense on Sunday against Seattle, holding the Seahawks to just nine points in a 17-9 victory.

Aaron Rodgers’ presence under center ensures that Green Bay will have one of the best offensive attacks in the league this season, but the Packers will be especially dangerous if the defense is able to perform at a high level. Green Bay is 3-7 SU in its last 10 road games against Atlanta.

Sunday night’s total is set at 55.5 points. The OVER is 9-1 in Atlanta’s last 10 games and 7-1 in Green Bay’s last eight games.

The Packers and Falcons have combined for an average of 70 points per game in their last three games against each other. Both teams looked good on defense last Sunday, but recent history tells us that this one will be a shootout.nike_chargers_1137

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Bengals’ Andy Dalton historically atrocious in shutout loss to Ravens

Cincinnati’s 2017 NFL season got off to a horrendous start, as the Bengals were shut out at home by the Ravens, 20-0.

Culprit No. 1 for the Bengals? Andy Dalton, who tossed four interceptions (three in the first half) and coughed up a fumble in the red zone in the third quarter.

To be fair, it was an uncharacteristic performance for Dalton. He’s had only one multiple-interception game in each of the last two seasons and hasn’t thrown three picks in a game since a 24-3 loss at home to Cleveland on Nov. 6, 2014. Also, Sunday was the first time he’s committed four turnovers in one game since 2013.

“It’s always a huge blow to lose a top player,” Arians said at a news conference Monday. “But it’s not the end of the world. We’ve got quality guys on our team. It’s an opportunity for somebody to step up. David Johnson became David Johnson because of somebody’s injury.”

Hue Jackson wants to have a run-first offense, especially to take pressure off his rookie QB. But Isaiah Crowell had only 33 yards on 17 carries. The Steelers, however, have a stonewalling run defense and were geared up to try to make Kizer beat him, which he almost did. Crowell can expect more loaded boxes until Kizer can find his groove on deep shots.

They were supposed to run away from the Browns with a rested Bell pounding out big yardage all afternoon. So much for volume — he got only 13 touches and managed only 47 yards. Chalk it up more to rust for now, but the heat is on Bell to rebound against a tough Vikings defense at home next week.steelers_104

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

The Texans have shown that they can win with replacement-level quarterbacks

yankees_1406_a71cbc10c21ba74a-180x180The first order of business for McVay and LaFleur is to teach Goff how to take care of the ball and not force his throws. Based on the early comments from the coaching staff, they feel confident that their project can be successful.

“From what I’ve seen on tape, he’s got some of the key attributes that you always look for in a quarterback,” LaFleur said in February. “He’s a natural thrower. You never want to see your quarterback getting hit too much, but he doesn’t shy away from contact. That’s true of any good quarterback in this league.”

In March, Rams general manager Les Snead sat down with NFL Network’s Steve Wyche and laid out another task for McVay and Goff this year: understanding the offense around him.

“Because at that point, during the course of a game he should know where his protections are weak and strong, and know ‘uh oh, we’ve got a problem coming — but the offense has a built-in answer and I’ve got to get to that answer real quick.’”

In May, Snead said Goff was “exceeding expectations,” which is what you’d expect him to say. We’ll soon find out if that’s just rhetoric or if Goff is where the team needs him to be heading into his second season.

The Texans have shown that they can win with replacement-level quarterbacks. Two straight division titles is evidence of that. However, to truly get over the hump, O’Brien and Co. need more production out of the position.

When Osweiler hit free agency last year, he was expected to be in high demand because teams are desperate to find anyone resembling a starting NFL quarterback these days. Denver didn’t make a serious effort to retain him despite Peyton Manning’s retirement. But that didn’t stop the Texans from opening up the checkbook and signing Osweiler to a four-year deal worth up to $72 million, including $37 million in guaranteed money.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

NFL schedule 2017: The best and worst games this season

After much anticipation, the NFL released its entire schedule for the 2017 season. There are 256 regular season games in each season, and while plenty will be worth watching, we want to highlight the best and worst matchups of each week.

This list isn’t just focused on how last year’s playoff squads could fare in their most exciting matchups, either. It also aims to find some of the lesser-known games that could be of interest, as well as the games whose on-field product won’t match the hype.

With that, here are the best and worst matchups for all 17 weeks of the 2017 season.

Those two make up the top tier of quarterbacks in the draft. The next one consists of DeShone Kizer of Notre Dame and Patrick Mahomes of Texas Tech. They’re also similarly rated with Kizer coming in at No. 33 and Mahomes at No. 36. To a large degree, the rating on both is mostly a projection.

That’s the same for Michigan safety Jabrill Peppers, one of the draft’s more polarizing prospects. After playing all over the field at Michigan, it can be hard to rate Peppers but I have him at No. 16 overall.

No position in the top 100 is featured more than cornerback, where there are 17 ranked. However, Lattimore is the only one in the top 20. What this class lacks in top end cornerback talent it more than makes up for in depth. Ten of the top 64 are cornerbacks, and expect that many to go in the first two rounds of the draft.yankees_808-115x115

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

NFL needs a new officiating czar. Mike Carey is the only person for the job.

Dean Blandino, the NFL’s senior vice president for officiating, is leaving the league to pursue a career in television. The league notified teams Friday morning with a memo.

Blandino’s been in charge of officiating and interpreting the rulebook since 2013. He’s been synonymous with replay in the NFL. His first major task as part of the officiating department was to oversee the implementation of instant replay in 1999.

Under his watch, the NFL moved to a centralized replay system — approved just last month to begin with the 2017 season — the culmination of a project that started in 2015 when refs began consulting with Blandino’s team in New York to expedite the replay process and, ideally, iron out its kinks.

Wall was hugely helped on Sunday by his finishers, namely Marcin Gortat and Markieff Morris, who made his passes look great. But those passes were there over and over again, as Wall beat whomever was guarding him repeatedly. He set up a small business in the middle of the floor underneath the three-point line, where he could ship the ball to either side or down low with molecular precision.

In another season, if there weren’t historic MVP candidates who demanded our focus, we could have talked a lot more about Wall. He’s averaging career highs in points, assists, and field goal percentage, and his constant pushing of the ball and full-court blurring when he takes off makes Washington’s offense into a deadly transition attack all by himself. Here’s one.