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Week 6 Love/Hate: Reinvent your fantasy football season with a new format

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I swore I was never writing this column again.

But here we are.

To be clear, I am talking about the specific topic of today’s column, not writing overall. For me, the biggest issue with it is when the column comes out.

It should be written in the preseason when you could do something with it. But then the preseason comes and all anyone wants to read is player evaluation and draft strategy and sleepers and busts and mock drafts and, well, there’s never really a place for it.

But then you write it, say, just before Week 6 and everyone is like … OK, it’s sort of interesting, but what the hell am I supposed to do with this?

So I swore I’d never write this column again.

But here we are.

The topic at hand is, for lack of a better phrase, reinventing fantasy football.

I’ve written a version of this before, and people are always like, “That’s a super interesting idea … that I can’t do anything with, Berry! Thanks. It’s the middle of the season! What am I supposed to do with this?”

So I was done, never writing about new fantasy league ideas again. Done, I tell you. Totally done-zo.

And then I got an email alerting me to some changes here at ESPN Fantasy HQ.

And here we are.

So here’s the big news.

You can start a league today. Like, right now. Like, starting in Week 6 and going through the rest of the season. Right here on ESPN and in the ESPN Fantasy App. All for free, of course.

Want a do-over on your Saquon Barkley pick? Wishing you waited on a QB instead grabbing Lamar Jackson in the second? Want another shot at drafting DK Metcalf?

Now’s your chance.

But even better than that. Ever wanted to try a “Vampire” league? What about an Eliminator League? All Play? Super flex? No Bench? Pirate leagues? Two games a week? Punters … you wanna play with punters? Now you can do all that and more.

If some of those titles don’t make sense to you, don’t worry. We’re gonna explain a bunch of new league formats in a bit. But first the basics of starting a new league on ESPN.

Understand there’s no looking back with these leagues. If you start a league today, you begin with a fresh, 0-0 record. No retroactive scoring. You won’t be able to go back and “force” scores. It starts now up until kickoff for Week 6 (1 p.m. Sunday).

It’s not just for this week, however. If you can’t find enough people to do a new league between now and 1 on Sunday, you can start one next week for Week 7. In order to help with any confusion, in leagues that draft after a season starts, instead of seeing Week 1, the labels will be NFL Week 1. Which means player pages and player cards will still have the stats that were accumulated before your draft took place. Confused? Don’t worry. More details, tips and messages will be on fantasycast, the welcome page and scoreboard.

So I think that’s cool; I’m always in favor of more fantasy. And I especially love new ideas. I asked for new and different formats and got over 1,000 responses between the posts. Tons of great ideas. I encourage you to read the whole thread on both apps if you want even more ideas, but here were some really cool new formats folks listed. Formats that you could try as soon as this weekend.

Vampire leagues: The idea is that in a 10-person league, you have one player who is the “Vampire.” So nine others draft. I’d add two extra bench spots for all teams, but those nine people draft. You then enter the results from the offline draft onto ESPN. Once that is done, the rosters of those nine teams are frozen until the playoffs. They can make start/sit moves, but they can’t pick up any free agents. After the results are entered, the “Vampire” makes his or her lineup entirely out of waivers/free agents. The Vampire can make any free-agent moves wanted all season long. And there are no trades at all. Here’s where the Vampire part comes in. As the season plays out, if the Vampire wins, the Vampire gets to choose one starting player from the losing team and swap it with a player on the Vampire team. Now it has to be a player who was started, and it has to be a position-for-position trade (no dealing a kicker for a running back). But yeah, as the season goes along, the Vampire gets stronger. If you want more in-depth details about how to play Vampire leagues, I wrote about them in this 2018 column.

One cool twist on the Vampire league was suggested by @Cupocheddar on social media. He tells of a salary-cap version of a Vampire in which everyone drafts and you use your actual money for the salary cap, and then every player has their draft-day price attached to them. Say you acquired Zeke for $60. It would cost $60 of your own money, and that goes into the pot. OK, well you go through the season and every week, when a team wins, the fantasy players get to swap one player with the team they beat. Your payout at the end of the year is the total salary of all the players you acquired throughout the year. Free agents are $0, and the last-place team has to “donate” all its players to the first-place winner. It takes some work, but I like this idea.

Eliminator leagues: My good friend Paul Charchian runs these type of leagues under a different name, but the premise is still the same. It’s very simple. Everyone drafts. There’s no head-to-head matchups. It’s just total points. At the end of a given week, the lowest-scoring team is eliminated. Period. Year over. And all that team’s players are released into the free-agent pool to be picked up by the remaining teams. And you keep doing that, week after week, until only one team remains. This is really a great idea to do with ESPN’s new ability to start leagues whenever. Because we are in Week 6, you could do a 12-team draft by Sunday and the season would end Week 16. Or start in Week 7 and do an 11-person league (to end in Week 16) or 12-person league (to end in Week 17). Paul recommends using a Super Flex lineup (QB/2 RB/2 WR/TE/4 FLEX /1 OP, which can be a second QB), and he suggests using FAAB for the free agents. But whether you do that or a standard D/ST and K type lineup and waivers for free agents, it sounds really fun and wild. You don’t have to be great. Just not last. But as teams dwindle and the free-agent pool is stocked with huge name players, decisions become tougher and tougher. I really want to play in a version of this. Maybe I’ll try to do a version of this with readers for charity or something. Stay tuned.

Super Flex leagues: As described above, these get rid of D/ST and K and instead add additional flex spots (usually 4), one of which can be a second QB. A variation of these is having TE-premium scoring, in which TEs get 1.5 points per reception. I love Super Flex.

Playing multiple teams: This requires some manual adjustments and/or some on-paper recordkeeping, but there are two versions of this. One is “all-play,” which means that you, in essence, “play” every team in the league. So say it’s a 10-team league and you scored the third-highest points that week. Two teams had more points than your starting lineup and you outscored seven teams. Your record for the week would be 7-2. And so on.

Meanwhile, another version of this that I have played and really enjoy is where you play your normal head-to-head matchup. But then your score is compared to everyone else’s. So in a 10-team league, the five teams that win their head-to-head matchup get a win. And the five teams with the five highest scores also get a win. So you either go 2-0, 1-1 or 0-2. This also requires some additional bookkeeping off-site, but it is worth it.

I heard ideas about No Bench leagues, where, yes, you literally have to start everyone on your team.

I heard about Pirate leagues, where before the game, fantasy players lists four players on their team who are protected and one player they want to steal or pirate from their opponent. You screenshot these choices with time stamps and then both reveal. If your opponent has “pirated” a player you didn’t protect … you lose that player.

You can obviously do an entirely auto-draft league in which you just see what the computer picks for you. I heard of leagues where you draft an NFL division. Like, you’d have the AFC West. And then every week you’d have to make your lineup only out of Chiefs, Raiders, Chargers and Broncos. Everyone in the league has just one NFL division to choose from. I’ve also heard of a version of this where you draft three NFL teams and just get every offensive player from those three teams and set your lineups from those.

I was on Pat McAfee’s show and he asked about fantasy punter leagues. I’ve actually played in a league with punters. You get points for punts inside the 20 and punting average. You can play with punters, you can play with head coaches and you can play with any variety of individual defensive players.

I enjoy Best Ball leagues (only drafts, no in-season trades or waiver claims), where, after all the games are played, your best possible lineup is set for you. I’ve heard of re-draft leagues where you re-draft the league literally every week. You are drafting for just that week. After that week, every team throws every player back and you could just draft via free agency once waivers clears.

There are lots of DFS/season-long hybrids as well that I enjoy, and honestly, we’d be here all day if I described every version and variation I heard. I really do encourage you to read the full threads if you’re curious. But my point is ultimately this: It’s a super weird year. Monday doubleheaders, Tuesday games, games being postponed, bye weeks moved all over. It’s wild. If ever there was a year to YOLO it and try something new, this is the year, so why not try?

And try it with ESPN because, you know, I am a company man.

And if there’s a format you think I should hear about, let me know on social media.

In the meantime, let’s get to it. Any odds quoted are from the Caesars Sportsbook by William Hill as of the time of writing and my thanks, as always, to The Stat-a-Pillar from The Fantasy Show on ESPN+ and “Thirsty” Kyle Soppe from The Fantasy Focus 06010 podcast for their help at various points in the column.

Here we go.

Quarterbacks I love in Week 6

Stafford is only QB21 on the season. Don’t love that. But, in his past 10 games with Kenny Golladay active, Stafford is averaging 20.7 fantasy points. I definitely love that. I love it even more against a Jaguars defense that allows the fourth-most passing yards and allows opposing QBs to complete 75.8% of their passes (that’s the highest rate in the NFL). Three of the four quarterbacks they’ve faced this year have put up at least 24 fantasy points (Phillip Rivers in Week 1 was the only one not to do it). With two weeks to prepare for, ahem, this defense, I like Stafford to have a top-10 day in Week 6.

The problem with Ryan Fitzpatrick is, in fact, the name Ryan Fitzpatrick. Because you have that name ingrained in your head. You see the beard, you know about his well-traveled career, all the Fitz-tragic jokes hahaha. Except you know who’s laughing now? The person in your league starting him. Since Week 10 of last year, here’s the entire list of QBs with more total points: Lamar Jackson, Dak Prescott, Patrick Mahomes and Josh Allen. That’s it. That’s the list. The seventh-best QB in fantasy in 2020, he has 21 fantasy points or more in four in a row. Still available in about 75% of ESPN leagues prior to waivers running Wednesday night, he should be a popular starter this season in a revenge game against the Jets. In fairness, almost every game is a revenge game for Fitzy, but still. The Jets are bottom 10 in completion percentage against, yards per attempt against, passing yards allowed, total scoring allowed and probably a lot of other stats I’m too lazy to look up. They’re bad, Fitzy is hot, don’t overthink this.

OK sure, Dak Prescott is not playing, but the Cowboys’ defense still is. My point: This game will be a shootout; in fact, it has one of the highest over/unders of Week 6. Dalton will have to throw a lot in his first game as the Cowboys’ starter (Dallas averages a league-high 47.2 pass attempts per game this season), while Arizona has allowed every quarterback it has faced this year not named Dwayne Haskins Jr. or Joe Flacco to put up at least 18 fantasy points. The Cowboys lead the NFL in offensive snaps per game, so Dalton will be out there a lot. and while he doesn’t have Dak’s immense upside, he’s closer than you might think at first glance. Did you know that since Dalton entered the league in 2011, the ONLY quarterbacks with more rushing touchdowns than Dalton are Cam Newton and Prescott? If you got Dalton off the wire this week, you’ll do well to put him right into your lineup. He’s a Love.

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Matthew Berry calls Andy Dalton “a borderline top-10 play” in his Week 6 start vs. the Cardinals.

Others receiving votes

Atlanta allows a league-high 30.1 fantasy points per game to quarterbacks and has given up at least 20 quarterback fantasy points in every single game this year. Congratulations, Kirk Cousins, you are this week’s winner of the Quarterback Who Gets to Play the Falcons Award. … I’m going to keep putting Gardner Minshew II here until people start believing in him. Multiple touchdown passes in four of five games and multiple touchdown passes AND 300 passing yards in three of his past four weeks. Patrick Mahomes is the only other quarterback to do that. Minshew has a good chance to continue his run of success this week against a Lions defense allowing touchdown passes at the fourth-highest rate this season. You already know I like Stafford this week, so expect Minshew to keep pace.

Quarterbacks I hate in Week 6

I feel like it’s bullying to keep putting Wentz on this list almost every week, but not as much as the Ravens’ defense is going to bully him Sunday. If you take away Baltimore’s Week 1 game against Patrick Mahomes, the other four quarterbacks to face the Ravens have averaged just 11.9 FPPG and put up a total of two passing touchdowns. Baltimore also ranks third in blitz rate and 10th in pressure rate, a bad combo for Wentz, who once again will play with a beat-up offense around him. If you’ve watched the Eagles this year it won’t surprise you to know Wentz has the second-highest off-target passing percentage this season. You might not know the only QB worse than him is … Mitchell Trubisky. Yeesh.

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Field Yates lists a few quarterbacks he would consider dropping in fantasy, including Carson Wentz and Matt Ryan.

Yes, the Browns are 4-1, but the important part is they’ve done that by playing good defense, running the ball well and not asking Mayfield to win games for them. On pace to throw for just over 3,100 yards on the season (he’s just 25th among QBs in pass attempts per game), Mayfield has fewer than 16 fantasy points in every game this year. And, when pressured this season, Mayfield ranks 28th among qualified quarterbacks in completion percentage and 30th in yards per pass attempt. That suggests another sub-16-fantasy-point game against the Steelers, who lead the league in both pressure and blitz rate.

I love Teddy Bridgewater as a season-long replacement for fantasy managers who lost Prescott and missed out on Dalton on waivers … I just don’t love his matchup this week against a Bears defense that has:

  • Allowed the second-fewest fantasy points to quarterbacks this season

  • Held four of the five quarterbacks it has faced under 14.5 fantasy points

  • Given up a league-low four passing touchdowns and no multiple passing touchdown games

  • Yielded a league-low 57.4% completion rate

Do grab and stash Bridgewater if you have roster space. He has been and will continue to be good this year. I just wouldn’t want him in my lineup until Week 7.


Running backs I love in Week 6

You can’t spell “Christian MkCavfred” without M-I-K-E D-A-V-I-S. OK, fine, it’s not exactly a fit, but it’s close. And that’s kind of my point: Davis has provided production very close to what Christian McCaffrey used to churn out every week. At least 22 fantasy points and a touchdown in each of his past three games, and he already has three different games with at least eight receptions — tied for the most among all running backs. And while I expect the Bears to shut down Teddy Bridgewater (he’s on the “hate” list for a reason), he’s still going to check down. Four of the five running backs to get at least 14 touches versus Chicago so far this season have scored at least 14 fantasy points. Playing his former team, I expect another MkCavfred-esque performance from Davis this week.

Whether you have Mattison as insurance for Dalvin Cook, drafted him late as an upside flier or managed to grab him off waivers, this is your week. This is the week you’ve been waiting for. Talented running back who will get the majority of work in one of the best matchups you could ask for. The Falcons cough up 29.3 fantasy points per game to running backs and have allowed an NFL-worst four receiving touchdowns to RBs, as well. The Vikes average the second-most running back carries this season (28 a game), and the bulk of those in Cook’s absence will go to the Mattison, as we saw on Sunday night (23 touches for 136 scrimmage yards). Minnesota has a bye after this week and then Cook is expected back, so Mattison’s fantasy glory may be short-lived. But right now? This is your week, baby.

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Field Yates and Matthew Berry agree that Alexander Mattison will be busy in the Vikings’ Week 6 matchup against the Falcons.

A funny thing happened on the way to Taylor receiving a huge workload after Marlon Mack’s injury. It didn’t happen. Just 46 touches over the past three weeks, which, now that I write, isn’t that funny at all. Hmm. Even while the Colts mess around with Jordan Wilkins and Nyheim Hines getting more touches than you’d expect, Taylor is still the Colts’ clear No. 1 back, especially in the red zone. Since Week 2, he ranks fifth among all backs in red zone rushes, and he has a rushing touchdown in three of his past four games. Facing a Bengals defense this week that gives up 131.4 rushing yards per game to running backs on 5.3 yards per carry, Taylor is a good bet to be efficient with the touches he gets.

Here we are in mid-October with a Dolphins-Jets matchup, and Gaskin is a running back on the Love list while Le’Veon Bell isn’t even in the league. I can’t say I predicted that in the preseason. But I could have predicted that the Jets’ defense would be terrible. It has allowed the fifth-most fantasy points to running backs this season, which sets up well for Gaskin to produce: He has averaged 20.3 touches per game over the past three weeks. The one knock on Gaskin was that Jordan Howard would vulture him at the goal line, but with 19 red zone rushes and six goal-to-go carries over the past three games that worry is no longer relevant. And not for nothing, the Jets have given up 7 rushing TDs to RBs, tied for second most. Huh? Fitzy and now Gaskin? Apparently I’m a Miami fan this week. Fins up!

Others receiving votes

Kenyan Drake hasn’t lost his job to Chase Edmonds yet, but it’s getting closer; Edmonds has outscored Drake each of the past two weeks despite getting a lot fewer touches. Still, operating as Arizona’s pass-catching RB in a game with one of Week 6’s highest over/unders, Edmonds has flex value this week against a Cowboys defense that has allowed the fourth-most rushing yards to running backs. … David Johnson is just RB24 on the season, but there’s a glimmer of hope that he’s on the upswing. His touches have increased in each of the past three weeks, and he actually got 82% of backfield touches in Houston’s first Bill O’Brien-free game. A solid workload should result in fantasy production this week against a Tennessee D that, over the past four weeks, is 28th against the run. … Devonta Freeman isn’t exactly making Giants fans forget Saquon Barkley, but he does have double-digit fantasy points in each of his past two games and 64% of the Giants’ RB touches in that span. He has emerged as the lead back for the Giants out of that committee, and as an RB3 or flex play in deeper leagues in a game the G-Men should be competitive.

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Matthew Berry sees Devonta Freeman as the lead running back with the Giants and would consider him as a flex option as bye weeks approach.

Running backs I hate in Week 6

As of this writing on Wednesday, I don’t know if Gordon will face disciplinary action due to his recent DUI citation. Maybe he misses this game, maybe he misses a quarter or half, maybe nothing happens. But it’s not great, Bob. Not great. The Patriots have had two weeks to prepare for this game, and as Bill Belichick always does, he takes away the strength of an offense. All due respect to the Broncos’ QBs, he’s likely to focus on the Broncos’ run game. If you think the Patriots win this game (they are favored by 10), that’s also bad. Denver is bottom 10 in the NFL in rush rate when trailing and 29th in the league when trailing by seven or more. Of the four RBs with 13-plus touches vs. New England this year, only Chris Carson scored more than 12.1 points. By the way, that ain’t a lot. David Johnson had 12.3 points last week, good for RB25. Add in a potential timeshare or uncertainly on playing time and this feels like a touchdown-dependent flex, nothing more.

Speaking of tempering expectations … yes, Harris looked outstanding in his 2020 debut the last time the Patriots took the field. But he played fewer snaps than both James White and Rex Burkhead, Burkhead got three of four red zone carries, and Harris had zero targets and ran just one route. Considering all that, and that Denver allows a league-low 16.3 FPPG to running backs, you’re gonna need a TD from Harris for him to pay off. And Cam Newton is back this week, which helps elevate the offense but also represents another player competing for rushing touchdowns. The fantasy graveyard is littered with folks who tried to make sense of the Patriots’ backfield over the years. I want to see it again before I trust him.

I love Henderson. The issue is I am not head coach of the Rams. And while I love Henderson, you know who hates us? Sean McVay. Right when we think a lead back is emerging from that Rams committee, he changes it up on us. Super annoying when coaches decide to focus on things like “winning” and keeping their opponent “off balance.” Sigh. Such is the life we have chosen. Cam Akers led the Rams in rushing last week, and McVay said he’d get a bigger role in Week 6, while Malcom Brown continues to average double-digit touches. Henderson might very well have another big game — he has been great in three of the past four — but your confidence in starting him can’t be super high. Especially against a San Fran defense allowing just 63 rushing yards and 3.0 yards per carry to running backs this season.

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2:57

Field Yates claims that Darrell Henderson is a great sell-high candidate, and while Matthew Berry agrees, he questions who fantasy managers would get in return.

Pass-catchers I love in Week 6

While we aren’t sure what, if anything, the result of firing coach Dan Quinn will have on the Falcons as a whole and the offense specifically (Dirk Koetter is still their offensive coordinator), here’s one thing I can guarantee: It still will feature A LOT of Ridley in Week 6. Tied for the second-most end zone targets, Ridley has as good a shot as any player in football this week at scoring against a Minnesota defense that has allowed a league-worst nine touchdowns to wide receivers. Of the four receivers to get at least seven targets versus Minnesota this season, three of them scored more than 22 fantasy points. And Ridley is averaging 9.8 targets per game. DeAndre Hopkins is the only WR I’d start over Ridley this week. Giddy up.

So, among other misdeeds, Jacksonville last week allowed Texans receivers to catch seven of 11 deep targets for 199 yards and two touchdowns. And that wasn’t a fluke. Giving up the long ball is very #onbrand for Jacksonville. The Jaguars have allowed 18 deep receptions this year, sixth worst in the NFL. Enter Golladay, arguably the best deep-ball receiver in the NFL. Golladay has a touchdown in both games he has played since returning from injury. I like his chances of making it 3-for-3 on Sunday.

Am I about to say something nice about a Jets player? I am. Don’t let all the smoke from the New York Jets’ dumpster fire prevent you from seeing how good Crowder has been this season. He has at least 100 yards and 17 fantasy points in the three games he has played this year, and he’s averaging 22.5 FPPG and 11 targets per game. Meanwhile, the Dolphins allow the fourth-most slot receptions, which means Crowder once again will be the only Jet who is a fantasy must-start.

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1:50

Field Yates lists off Jamison Crowder’s impressive stats this season, saying Crowder might have to be considered a top-20 fantasy WR until given a reason to believe otherwise.

In a disastrous year for tight ends, Smith remains one of the lone bright spots. Two more touchdowns on Tuesday night, at least seven targets in three of four games, Smith is TE2 on the season on a per-game basis, trailing Travis Kelce by just 0.6 points per game. And for the rest of the season, the only tight ends I’d prefer to him are Kelce, George Kittle and Mark Andrews. He’s basically right there with Darren Waller, and I prefer him to Zach Ertz and anyone else, especially this week against Houston. The Texans have allowed a touchdown and 13-plus fantasy points to an opposing tight end in two of their last three games. A locked in top four play this week.

Others receiving votes

CeeDee Lamb didn’t need any time to adjust to the NFL — he has at least five catches and 10 fantasy points in every game this season — so there’s no reason to expect he’ll need time to adjust to Andy Dalton. In fact, his production probably won’t dip at all. Last year, with Dalton throwing to him, Tyler Boyd led the Bengals in fantasy points from the slot and on deep passes, two areas in which Lamb currently ranks top five among wide receivers. … Justin Jefferson leads the Vikings in slot routes, targets and yards, while the Falcons are bottom seven in both touchdowns to the slot and yards allowed to the slot. … More than 80% of Christian Kirk‘s routes have come on the perimeter this year, and Dallas gets lit up by receivers on the perimeter (among other players at other locations of the field, of course). … Laviska Shenault Jr. has double-digit points in four of five games this year, 20 targets in his past three and gets a great matchup with Detroit. Like him a lot for the season and as a top-20 play on Sunday. … Evan Engram finally broke out a bit last week, and he might actually make it two good fantasy games in a row thanks to playing My Football Team, which allows the fifth-most fantasy points per game to tight ends this season. … Will Robert Tonyan score three touchdowns again this week? No, probably not. But it wasn’t a complete fluke. He has touchdowns in three straight games and 11 targets in his past two games, as well — second most on the team. He’ll get plenty of looks again this week against a Bucs defense that allows the seventh-most yards per reception to tight ends on the season.

Pass-catchers I hate in Week 6

Christian McCaffrey and Moore were the fantasy must-starts on the Panthers entering the season. Now McCaffrey is injured and Moore is the third receiving option on the team. Really. In the past three games, Moore has just a 15% target share, compared to Robby Anderson at 30% and Mike Davis at 25%. Even if he gets more targets Sunday, it will be hard to do much with them against a Bears defense that has given up just one WR touchdown all year and allows just a 56.3% catch rate to opposing receivers, best in the NFL. I have Moore outside my top 20 this week.

This pains me as you know McScorin (his official name) is one of my favorite players in the NFL. But for everything that has gone wrong this year for New York, one thing that has gone really right is James Bradberry being a true shutdown corner. Allen Robinson II had a 3-for-33 performance on nine targets against New York, Amari Cooper was just 2-for-22 on four targets. Now, McLaurin has dusted other top corners before, but with QB still a question mark for Washington and what is expected to be a low-scoring, competitive game (i.e. there’s unlikely to be a lot of junk-time passing), I have McLaurin outside my top 20 for the week.

Brown might be back in Buffalo’s lineup this week, but he shouldn’t be in your lineup. Kansas City allows the second-lowest catch rate on deep passes this year and just 2.4 deep receptions per game. It’s hard to have any confidence in Brown this week coming off injury against a passing defense that shuts down deep threats.

Ertz while Dallas Goedert has been out might be the biggest disappointment in fantasy this year (non-injury edition), and I say this in the same week the Jets straight up released Le’Veon Bell. For the season, Ertz is averaging just four receptions and 29 yards per game. And he’s only getting worse: 15 yards COMBINED in his past two games, under 20 yards in three of his past five and, over the past four weeks, he has zero end zone targets. Zero. He’s still getting looks, so that’s good and you likely don’t have a better tight end option, but it’s hard to be excited about Ertz against Baltimore’s tough defense.

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Field Yates and Matthew Berry rate their level of panic with Eagles TE Zach Ertz after a rough fantasy showing vs. the Steelers.

The only person who might like Ertz’s recent performance is Higbee because he’s keeping Higbee from being 2020’s biggest TE disappointment. If you take away Higbee’s three-touchdown game, he’s averaging just 5.8 FPPG for the season and ranks 31st among all tight ends in routes run per game. Only one tight end playing the 49ers this year has had more than 35 receiving yards, so expect Higbee’s disappointing 2020 to continue in Week 6.

Matthew Berry, The Talented Mr. Roto, is preparing himself for Chris Carson to be undervalued in a bunch of new formats too.

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Way-too-early 2021 MLB Power Rankings: What’s next for Dodgers, Rays and all 30 teams

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We can only hope 2021 will be a more normal season, with 162 games and fans in the stands and hot dogs to eat and overpriced beer to drink. We don’t know what the state of things will be come April 1, when the 2021 season is scheduled to begin, but we can speculate on the state of the 30 franchises.

Yes, we’re back with our annual Way-Too-Early Power Rankings. There are a few obvious teams at the top, a handful at the bottom and a whole bunch in the middle. Throw in the difficulty of analyzing a 60-game season and the uncertainty of how the offseason will play out due to the financial losses of this season, and these are the most difficult rankings we have had to do. But we fearlessly move forward.

(Title odds for 2021 from Caesars Sportsbook by William Hill)

2020 record: 43-17
Won World Series
2021 title odds: 4-1

They’re reigning champs. They’ve won eight straight division titles. They have Mookie Betts signed for the long term. They have young starters such as Walker Buehler, Dustin May, Julio Urias and Tony Gonsolin to keep the rotation strong for years to come. They have players capable of better seasons (Cody Bellinger, Max Muncy, Gavin Lux). They have a good farm system. They have financial flexibility, with only Betts signed past 2022 and all those young players to help them keep the payroll in check. Justin Turner is a free agent, but he would be a nice DH option if the NL makes that permanent. We know they will be good. But we know it’s really all about October.


2020 record: 35-25
Lost NLCS to Dodgers
2021 title odds: 12-1

The offense gives them a high floor:Freddie Freeman, Ronald Acuna Jr., Ozzie Albies, Dansby Swanson, even Travis d’Arnaud and Adam Duvall raked in 2020. Marcell Ozuna is a free agent and it would be nice to bring him back, but rookie center fielder Cristian Pache is ready and he looks like he’ll be valuable on both sides of the ball. The rotation will see the return of Mike Soroka from his Achilles injury and a full season of Ian Anderson to back up Max Fried. Kyle Wright and Bryse Wilson have potential, and Atlanta will probably bring in a veteran starter on a one-year deal the way they did with Dallas Keuchel in 2019 and tried to do with Cole Hamels in 2020. The Braves will be favored to win a fourth straight division title even if they don’t do anything this offseason.


2020 record: 37-23
Lost Division Series to Dodgers
2021 title odds: 17-2

Sure, an argument can be made to put the Padres ahead of the Braves, but I think we have to first make sure Dinelson Lamet and Mike Clevinger are completely healthy in spring training. San Diego brings back essentially every significant player after running out the youngest lineup in the NL, with Jake Cronenworth and Trent Grisham looking like foundation additions alongside Fernando Tatis Jr. (All were acquired in trades; good job, A.J. Preller!) We’ll see if Eric Hosmer and Wil Myers can match their 2020 rate of production, but if Luis Patino and MacKenzie Gore become impact starters, the Padres are poised to make a multiyear run in challenging the Dodgers for NL West supremacy.


2020 record: 40-20
Lost World Series to Dodgers
2021 title odds: 10-1

The Rays won their first division title since 2010 and did it in quite remarkable fashion, with 12 different relievers recording a save and the pitching staff overcoming a slew of injuries along the way. They were able to pull that off because of the depth of their staff, but having expanded rosters over the 60-game season made it possible to rely so heavily on the bullpen. Of course, you can argue that pitching depth will be even more valuable over 162 games. The offense isn’t elite, although we can’t wait to see what Randy Arozarena will do over a full season or if super rookie Wander Franco is ready to make an impact at some point in 2021.


2020 record: 35-25
Lost Wild Card Series to A’s
2021 title odds: 12-1

Much like the Braves, the offensive firepower of the White Sox should give them a high floor. Even if you see some regression coming from Jose Abreu or Tim Anderson, Luis Robert and Yoan Moncada should improve and a full season of Nick Madrigal will help. Michael Kopech, who opted out of 2020, will hopefully be back, but he hasn’t pitched in two years, so finding another veteran arm to go with ace Lucas Giolito and Dallas Keuchel will be key. Closer Alex Colome is a free agent, but the White Sox have several power arms in their organization, including 2020 first-round pick Garrett Crochet, who could be a dominant reliever right away. Manager Rick Renteria and longtime pitching coach Don Cooper got the boot, with A.J. Hinch a possible replacement for Renteria. That would be an upgrade.


2020 record: 33-27
Lost Division Series to Rays
2021 title odds: 6-1

You can make an argument to put them a couple of spots higher, but not winning the AL East in 2020 points to some flaws. They simply can’t count on Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton being healthy for an entire season, plus DJ LeMahieu and Masahiro Tanaka are free agents, two important players to re-sign or replace. Of course, we know the Yankees will do something big, perhaps signing J.T. Realmuto and moving on from Gary Sanchez or trading for Francisco Lindor and shifting Gleyber Torres to second. Getting Luis Severino back from Tommy John surgery will be a big boost as well.


2020 record: 36-24
Lost Wild Card Series to Astros
2021 title odds: 14-1

The Twins didn’t do it quite like they did in 2019, when they bashed a record 307 home runs (although their 162-game pace for 2020 was still 259), as their team batting average dropped nearly 30 points, and they fell from second in the AL in runs to 10th. Still, they’ve established a foundation of success with three playoff appearances in four seasons. The big issue is they have a lot of free agents to replace or re-sign, starting with 40-year-old Nelson Cruz, but also Jake Odorizzi, Marwin Gonzalez, Rich Hill, Tyler Clippard, Trevor May and Homer Bailey. Those players were minor contributors, but with Eddie Rosario, Byron Buxton and Taylor Rogers getting more expensive in arbitration, the Twins may not be able to fill out the roster with minor free agents the way they’ve done of late. They need a healthy Josh Donaldson, especially if Cruz leaves, and they will have to discard the emotional baggage of 18 consecutive playoff losses to get revved up for 162 games just to get back to October again.


2020 record: 36-24
Lost Division Series to Houston
2021 title odds: 14-1

The A’s weren’t as impressive as they were in 2019 — Matt Olson morphed into an extreme “three true outcomes” slugger, Matt Chapman‘s OBP dipped to .276 and Marcus Semien declined from his third-place MVP performance. They still coasted to the AL West title though, and the division projects as being pretty soft, at least right now. Semien and closer Liam Hendriks are free agents as are several other key role players, so this ranking is not presented with a high degree of confidence. The A’s always seem to maximize their talent, and I do think the rotation will be much better, making up for some of the likely bullpen regression.


2020 record: 26-34
Tied for fourth in NL East
2021 title odds: 30-1

I feel like we need another National League team here, but let’s be honest: There is a wide gap between the NL’s top three teams and the block of mediocre teams in the middle. Let’s roll the dice on the Mets with new owner Steve Cohen to the rescue (once he gets formally approved). Let’s just say Mets fans are pumped about Cohen’s WAW (wins above Wilpon). There have already been reports about all the money he’ll sink into the franchise, not just on players but things like building out a more robust analytics staff. Aside from any splashy moves Cohen may make — trading for Nolan Arenado or Francisco Lindor? Signing J.T. Realmuto or Trevor Bauer? — there is a strong base of talent here. They ranked third in the majors in wOBA (behind the Braves and Dodgers) and fifth in the majors in pitcher strikeout rate. They should be better — a familiar refrain for Mets fans, unfortunately.


2020 record: 34-26
Lost Wild Card Series to Marlins
2021 title odds: 25-1

Everyone was down on the Cubs, especially after that sad two-and-out to the Marlins, but we do need to point out Chicago still won the NL Central despite Javier Baez (59 OPS+), Kris Bryant (73) and Kyle Schwarber (88) all producing well below an average major league hitter and Anthony Rizzo and Willson Contreras performing below their career norms. That continues a downward trend for this once-great offensive core, from second in the NL in runs in 2016 and 2017 to fourth in 2018, fifth in 2019 and 10th in 2020. Baez, Bryant, Schwarber and Rizzo are all free agents after 2021, but frankly, the trade value for Bryant and Schwarber — and even Baez, to a lesser extent — has cratered. Theo Epstein also hinted that 2021 will be his last season with the Cubs. Does this group get one last chance? In a weak division, with some bounce-back potential, the Cubs could be better than everyone believes. Or maybe the front office will just tear it all down.


2020 record: 29-31
Lost ALCS to Rays
2021 title odds: 20-1

It promises to be a busy winter for the Astros. George Springer, Michael Brantley and Josh Reddick are all free agents, while Carlos Correa, Lance McCullers Jr. and Zack Greinke are set to be free agents after 2021, as are Justin Verlander and Roberto Osuna, both of whom will likely miss the season following Tommy John surgery. They’ll need more from Jose Altuve and Alex Bregman (and don’t forget about Yordan Alvarez) but they could have a strong rotation if they keep McCullers and Greinke to go with Framber Valdez, Cristian Javier and Jose Urquidy. The outfield free-agent market is thin, so if Springer and Brantley sign elsewhere, the Astros may have to scramble to find help for Kyle Tucker.


2020 record: 35-25
Lost Wild Card Series to Yankees
2021 title odds: 20-1

We start with one of the biggest questions of the entire offseason: Will Cleveland trade Francisco Lindor? It seems weird to say this, but there isn’t an obvious fit, as most of the top teams are set at shortstop. It will be interesting to see if a team tries to pull the Mookie Betts maneuver: trade for Lindor, then sign him to a big extension before he hits free agency after the 2021 season. Aside from the Lindor issue, it’s going to be a similar Cleveland team as we’ve seen the past two years: enough starting pitching to be a playoff team, but an offense that may prevent them from getting there. Please, find some competent outfielders. Cleveland’s outfielders hit .196/.270/.304.


2020 record: 30-28
Lost Wild Card Series to Padres
2021 title odds: 30-1

In one sense, it’s harder to evaluate what the Cardinals did in 2020 than any other team, with them having to play 11 doubleheaders after the team’s COVID-19 outbreak early in the season. On the other hand, they were exactly what we thought they would be: below-average offense with no power, good defense, good bullpen, decent starting pitching. I just don’t how they’re going to get better, especially given that some of their pitching peripheral numbers don’t quite match the ERA figures. Look, as always, you can never discount the Cardinals. They haven’t had a losing season since 2007. The division is wide open. Jack Flaherty will be better. Dylan Carlson could give them an impact outfielder. The bullpen projects as a big strength.


2020 record: 26-34
Tied for fourth in NL East
2021 title odds: 30-1

No team had less incentive in 2020 than the Nationals, and once Stephen Strasburg went down, it kind of felt like the entire team went down with him. Juan Soto played at an MVP level for 47 games, leading the NL in batting average and the majors in OBP and slugging. It wasn’t a full season so I’m not saying it compares, but his 212 OPS+ was the best since Barry Bonds in 2004.

There are concerns in the starting rotation, however, beyond Strasburg’s nerve issue. Anibal Sanchez fell apart, Patrick Corbin got knocked around (85 hits in 65⅔ innings) and even Max Scherzer had his highest ERA since 2012.The real problem may have been the defense: The Nationals ranked last in the majors with minus-43 defensive runs saved. As always, depth is an issue and they need youngsters Carter Kieboom (no home runs in 99 at-bats) and Victor Robles (.608 OPS) to contribute at the plate. If Strasburg is healthy, don’t ignore the 2019 champs.


2020 record: 32-28
Lost Wild Card Series to Rays
2021 title odds: 50-1

The Blue Jays face a very interesting offseason after making the playoffs as a wild card and ranking third in the AL in runs. The offense potentially looks even better if you’re buying the breakouts of Teoscar Hernandez and Rowdy Tellez. Worth noting: The Jays hit much better at their temporary home in Buffalo, so we have to be careful about overrating the offense. Hyun-Jin Ryu was terrific (at least until his playoff start), but the rest of the rotation was so problematic that the Jays acquired Taijuan Walker, Robbie Ray and Ross Stripling for the stretch run. Walker and Ray are free agents, but Nate Pearson will help, and the Jays should have some money to spend in free agency.


2020 record: 28-32
Third in NL East
2021 title odds: 40-1

It’s hard to see the Phillies much better than the .500 team they’ve been the past three seasons, which led to general manager Matt Klentak being reassigned within the organization. They had two great starters in Aaron Nola and Zack Wheeler and finished fourth in the NL in runs, but the bullpen (6.92 ERA, worst of all time) undermined all the positives. The Phillies allowed a .345 average on balls in play, and maybe that would drop over a full season, but it stands as the highest ever. This has been a multiyear problem. They were middle of the pack in BABIP allowed in 2019, but fifth-worst in 2018 and sixth-worst in 2017. They’ve been unable to fix the defense. Anyway, J.T. Realmuto and Didi Gregorius are free agents. The payroll would have been more than $200 million given a full season in 2020, so you wonder if there is room to re-sign Realmuto and fix the bullpen and replace/re-sign Gregorius and maybe add another starter.


2020 record: 26-34
Fourth in AL West
2021 title odds: 40-1

Billy Eppler is out as general manager after a five-year run that included no winning seasons. Yes, he inherited the bad Albert Pujols contract, but he also inherited Mike Trout and was never able to build a successful team around him, despite additions like Andrelton Simmons, Shohei Ohtani and Anthony Rendon. Simmons is a free agent, Pujols is finally down to his final season and Jared Walsh (.971 OPS, nine home runs in 99 at-bats, a low 13.9% strikeout rate) has to play. The immediate concerns are trying to turn Jo Adell into a major league hitter (.161, 55 strikeouts, seven walks in 132 PAs), figure out what happened to Ohtani (.190) and Justin Upton (.204) and — as always — address the pitching. Sounds like the same story as the past five years.


2020 record: 29-31
Lost Wild Card Series to Dodgers
2021 title odds: 50-1

This is a difficult team to read. The Brewers didn’t hit at all in 2020 (I think the NL must have stored its balls in Lake Michigan, because nobody could hit). Two-time batting champ and 2018 MVP Christian Yelich hit just .205, and I know it was just 58 games, but his strikeout rate went from 20.3% to 30.8%. Something doesn’t add up there.

They do have two great one-two combos in Brandon Woodruff and Corbin Burnes in the rotation and Devin Williams and Josh Hader in the bullpen. Does Williams’ stunning breakout (53 K’s in 27 innings) make Hader trade bait? Burnes certainly looked like the real deal with his new cutter, but he’ll have to prove he can do it over 30 starts instead of 10. David Stearns is one of the more creative GMs around, although he’d probably like a do-over on the Trent Grisham/Zach Davies for Luis Urias/Eric Lauer deal.


2020 record: 24-36
Fifth in AL East
2021 title odds: 60-1

This was the hardest team to project. The pitching was so awful — 5.85 runs per game, the most for the franchise since 1932 — that it’s easy to assume it will be bad again in 2021. It was also bad in 2019 (5.11 runs per game), so we have a two-year track record. Maybe they get Chris Sale back at midseason and Eduardo Rodriguez returns from his COVID-related heart issue. There is a nice offensive core with Xander Bogaerts, Rafael Devers, Alex Verdugo and Christian Vazquez (and J.D. Martinez if he bounces back). I’m not sure what Bobby Dalbec will be. I guess his upside is Joey Gallo, if that’s a good thing. More importantly, is Chaim Bloom playing the long game or will there be pressure to get the Red Sox immediately back into contender status?


2020 record: 31-29
Lost Wild Card Series to Braves
2021 title odds: 25-1

The Reds sneaked into the playoffs as a wild card with a late surge, but the team embarrassingly exited with two shutouts to the Braves, including a 13-inning defeat. The Reds have morphed into the most extreme example of a “three true outcomes” offense we’ve seen in this launch-angle era. They ranked fourth in the NL in home runs and first in walks, but hit a pathetic .212. The entire package added up to ranking just 13th in the NL in runs, then you dig deeper and realize they hit 55 home runs at home and 35 on the road, so much of their power was simply a result of their home park. It’s a bad offense, and I’m not sure it improves much in 2021. Trevor Bauer is a sure bet to sign elsewhere as a free agent, and we still don’t know if Nick Senzel is the solution in center field or an injury-prone role player.


2020 record: 31-29
Lost Division Series to Braves
2021 title odds: 60-1

It was a fun ride to their first postseason trip since 2003, but once you get past the starting trio of Sixto Sanchez, Sandy Alcantara and Pablo Lopez, holes remain. The pitching staff was next to last in the majors in strikeout rate, and the team’s top five relievers were all 30-something guys you can’t necessarily count on for 2021. There are no offensive stars as the lineup relied on stopgap veterans, while the young hitters still have trouble controlling the strike zone (and the young hitters aren’t really all that young). The minus-41 run differential is a little misleading as the Marlins had to use more players than any other team due to the COVID-19 outbreak, but I’m not sure I see another .500 season unless some of the young hitters suddenly develop into solid regulars.


2020 record: 29-31
Third in NL West
2021 title odds: 80-1

Call me skeptical. They went from the second-worst offense in the NL to a top-five offense — without making any significant additions. Brandon Belt with a 1.000 OPS? Mike Yastrzemski and Alex Dickerson over .900? Donovan Solano chasing a batting title? I smell a lot of regression coming on, and the Giants don’t have the rotation to back that up. They also had the oldest lineup in the league: Mauricio Dubon is the only returning regular who won’t be 30 or older in 2021. Maybe catcher Joey Bart makes an impact, but a 41 to 3 strikeout-to-walk rate suggests he’s not ready for prime time. Several of their big contracts come off the books after 2021 if you factor in buyouts, so look for the Giants to wait until that big 2021-22 free-agent class to start flipping over the roster.


2020 record: 27-33
Third in AL West
2021 title odds: 100-1

There were some nice positives in 2020: Kyle Lewis may win Rookie of the Year, Justus Sheffield was much improved, Marco Gonzales solidified himself as one of the most underrated starters in the majors, Dylan Moore turned into one of the best utility players as a power/speed combo. But there is still zero star power here, at least until Jarred Kelenic and Julio Rodriguez arrive as potential All-Star outfielders, Kelenic in 2021 and Rodriguez probably in 2022. Jerry Dipoto will have to reconstruct a bullpen that was one of the worst in the league (5.92 ERA). The Mariners are on the rise and have other potential impact prospects, including pitchers Logan Gilbert and Emerson Hancock, but look for them to hold the course in 2021 and push forward in 2022.


2020 record: 26-34
Fourth in AL Central
2021 title odds: 150-1

The Royals have some interesting young pitchers in Brad Keller, Brady Singer and Kris Bubic, with Josh Staumont as a potential closer, but there are still huge gaps across the roster, especially on the offensive side of things. They need to figure out center field, second base and left field, and even Adalberto Mondesi Jr. now looks like just a placeholder at short until Bobby Witt Jr. arrives in a couple of years. This ranking could be selling the Royals a bit short, as young pitching can carry a team if it comes fast (and 2020 top pick Asa Lacy may not need much time in the minors), but they need to find some hitters.


2020 record: 25-35
Fifth in NL West
2021 title odds: 60-1

That was ugly, and the fans are turning on the team after a couple of years of trades (Paul Goldschmidt, Zack Greinke and the deadline deals this season) that don’t appear to have returned any front-line talent. Ketel Marte and Eduardo Escobar, so good in 2019, fell off, with Marte inexplicably deciding he no longer wanted to walk. Robbie Ray couldn’t throw strikes and was finally traded. Merrill Kelly hurt his shoulder. Madison Bumgarner didn’t win a game. The problem for 2021? The Diamondbacks had the second-oldest lineup in the NL (six of their top eight regulars were 29 or older). Bumgarner now looks like a bad $80 million gamble. They’re only a season removed from going 85-77, so there is rebound potential, but the Snakes are a mess at the moment.


2020 record: 25-35
Fourth in AL East
2021 title odds: 150-1

Don’t get me wrong, there were a lot of positives in 2020, especially after losing 108 games in 2019 and 115 in 2018. Anthony Santander had a small-sample breakout with the metrics to back it up. Ryan Mountcastle looks ready to join the lineup in 2021 and Trey Mancini will hopefully be back at full strength after finishing his chemo treatment in September. Keegan Akin and Dean Kremer could be arms to watch for the rotation.

They do have financial flexibility, especially as they get closer to the end of Chris Davis‘ deal, and with Adley Rutschman close to the majors and starters D.L. Hall and Grayson Rodriguez perhaps ready in 2022, the farm is better than it’s been in at least 10 years. But the base level of talent here remains pretty low.


2020 record: 26-34
Fourth in NL West
2021 title odds: 100-1

Right now, Nolan Arenado and Trevor Story are still on the roster. Will they be there come spring training? The relationship between Arenado and the Rockies is strained, making him a trade candidate this winter. He won’t be easy to trade, though: He didn’t have a good 2020 at the plate, ended the season on the IL, has a full no-trade clause and can opt out of his deal after 2021. If Arenado is traded, you could see the Rockies dealing Story as well since he’s a free agent after 2021. Mostly, this team just needs a makeover. They ranked eighth in the NL in runs, and for a Rockies team, that’s horrible. (They had finished below fifth just one other time in franchise history.)


2020 record: 23-35
Fifth in AL Central
2021 title odds: 200-1

Sometimes you just have to point out the obvious: Jeimer Candelario was the team’s best player in 2020 — a 26-year-old first baseman who hit .203 the year before. Look, Casey Mize and Tarik Skubal project as good starters at some point, but their struggles in limited action in 2020 suggest that may not be in 2021. Along with Spencer Turnbull and prospect Matt Manning, there is a rotation to dream on, but there is no offense, and Spencer Torkelson and Riley Greene, their top position player prospects, are more on a 2022 timetable.


2020 record: 22-38
Fifth in AL West
2021 title odds: 100-1

The Rangers continue to go backward. They were bad in 2020 in a year they thought they could contend, they weren’t particularly young and the farm system has struggled to develop pitchers and turn toolsy position players into quality hitters. The offense had a brutal year — and not just because of the new park. They didn’t hit on the road either. It’s time to admit that Joey Gallo and Rougned Odor are never going to be the core of a championship lineup, and if Lance Lynn is traded — he’ll be a free agent after 2021 — the rotation will have a huge hole to fill.


2020 record: 19-41
Fifth in NL Central
2021 title odds: 300-1

Let’s see, a small-market team coming off the worst record in the sport, won’t spend any money in free agency, and whose three best players in 2019 were all terrible in 2020. The first step is to hope Josh Bell, Bryan Reynolds and Kevin Newman rebound, but with most of the organization’s top prospects still a ways off, the short-term outlook looks bleak. Heck, the long-term outlook isn’t exactly full of roses and puppies.

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Bryant, out 2 years, joins Ravens practice squad

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OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Dez Bryant is back in the NFL.

The Baltimore Ravens signed the three-time Pro Bowl wide receiver to their practice squad, the team announced Tuesday. Bryant has been out of the league for two years.

Bryant appeared to acknowledge the deal in a tweet Tuesday: “My emotions running high right now… I’m thankful…I can’t stop crying”

The biggest question is when Bryant will suit up for the Ravens. Baltimore’s wide receivers rank last in the NFL in receptions (58) and receiving yards (737).

Bryant, 31, could become a physical possession-type receiver for reigning NFL MVP Lamar Jackson and can complement the speed of Marquise Brown.

The addition of Bryant might lead to a high-profile reunion on Dec. 3, when the Ravens play host to the Dallas Cowboys on Thursday Night Football. Bryant starred for the Cowboys for eight seasons, totaling 531 receptions for 7,459 yards and a franchise-record 73 touchdown catches.

“Obviously, that’s kind of like an ‘OG’-type guy,” Ravens tight end Mark Andrews said when asked about Bryant on Monday. “He’s been around the league for a long, long time. He actually followed me on Twitter a year or two ago, so I’m excited to meet him, and I’m excited to [be] around him hopefully, and just learn.”

This marked Bryant’s second workout with Baltimore in two months. When Bryant left in August without a contract, he was told to improve his conditioning, a source said.

The Ravens are off to a fast start at 5-1, but their passing game ranks 31st in the NFL. It looks as if Jackson would benefit from another target on the outside because Brown is the only Baltimore wide receiver with more than 11 catches this season.

Bryant is attempting to become the second Pro Bowl wide receiver to miss two full seasons and then return to the NFL since the 1970 merger, according to Elias Sports Bureau research. Josh Gordon was the first.

Bryant hasn’t played in a game since December 2017.

In November 2018, Bryant signed a one-year, $1.25 million deal with the New Orleans Saints. But he tore an Achilles tendon during his first practice with the Saints and has been out of the NFL since.

Bryant’s 531 career receptions would be the most by any wide receiver before missing two full seasons and then returning to the NFL, according to Elias’ data.

To make room for Bryant, the Ravens waived safety Marcus Gilchrist from the practice squad.

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Augusta National to host College GameDay during Masters

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ESPN’s College GameDay Built By the Home Depot show has originated from dozens of college campuses across the country since 1993.

On Saturday, Nov. 14, the show will combine two of sport’s greatest traditions — college football and the Masters.

ESPN announced on Tuesday that College GameDay will originate from Augusta National Golf Club, which is hosting the postponed Masters Tournament next month, Nov. 12-15.

Top matchups that day are No. 9 Wisconsin at No. 13 Michigan and No. 2 Alabama at LSU.

“Any time College GameDay travels to a new destination, it’s special, and the opportunity to be on the grounds of Augusta National Golf Club during the Masters is extraordinary,” said Jimmy Pitaro, chairman, ESPN and Sports Content. “As this iconic event coincides with the college football season for the first time, we look forward to getting fans ready for a football Saturday while also showcasing the Masters and the greatest golfers in the world.”

Longtime ESPN hosts Rece Davis, Lee Corso, Kirk Herbstreit, Desmond Howard and others will broadcast from the par-3 course from 9 a.m. to noon ET.

In its 13th year at the Masters, ESPN will once again televise the first and second rounds, Nov. 12-13, from 1 to 5:30 p.m. There will also be expanded coverage on ESPN+, including exclusive practice-round coverage Nov. 10-11.

Golf fans will also be able to watch featured holes coverage on ESPN+ on Nos. 4, 5 and 6 in each of the four rounds of the Masters.

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