If you are a Pittsburgh Steelers fan, your heart broke for offensive tackle Zach Banner on Monday night. After spending nearly a year working for the opportunity to be the starting right tackle in Pittsburgh, Banner got the job. It was a remarkable physical transformation that really highlighted his dedication and commitment to this team.
But unfortunately, late in the Steelers win over the New York Giants, Banner suffered a nasty knee injury and the torn ACL will cost him the season. Banner took to social media on Tuesday even to let everyone know how much he appreciates them, that he is having surgery on Friday and that he will be back.
Banner is in the final year of his contract with the Steelers and is set to be a free agent. Hopefully this will be an opportunity for Banner to rehab, be ready to roll when training camp rolls around next year and he can get a reasonable contract with the Steelers to keep him in Pittsburgh.
Steelers HC Mike Tomlin gave permission for Alejandro Villanueva to switch names on helmet
Jeff Wilson Jr., Joshua Kelley lead
We’re now one-eighth of the way through the 2020 fantasy season. With 14 games left to play for each team comes 14 more weeks of overseeing one’s own virtual team. The most dedicated and passionate managers find zeal in exploring the concepts and happenings occurring under the radar. While there are times your roster may allow for snoozing on sleepers, it’s always beneficial to keep tabs on emerging trends and players. This weekly column is for those who understand the satisfaction of digging deep.
All of the listed players are rostered in under 60 percent of Yahoo leagues (at time of writing) and/or are a significant value in our daily game. They’re not the obvious picks, and they’re not without their risks… but that’s what makes them so intriguing. Last week Tre’Quan Smith produced WR3 FF numbers (5 of 7 for 86) and Jordan Akins continued to work as a safety valve for DeShaun Watson (converting all 7 of his targets), but AP didn’t get the volume and both Jimmy G and Parris Campbell left with injuries.
Let’s see what we uncover in Week 3!
As someone who’s been in a long-standing, on-again, off-again relationship with the Chicago Bears, I’ve developed some quarterback-related trust issues. Mitch has done little to alleviate my anxieties, but the matchup this Sunday is too juicy to ignore. Facing a Falcons defense that’s allowing the highest completion percentage (77.4%) and second-highest YPA (9.2) to opposing signal callers, Mitch is in a spot to produce.
[Week 3 Fantasy Rankings: QBs | RBs | WRs | TEs | FLEX | DST | Kickers]
For what it’s worth, he’s also not been terrible over the past two weeks, posting two multi-touchdown efforts and committing just two turnovers since the start of the season. He’s additionally padding his stats with rushing yards, as he’s attempted three red zone carries (QB7) and recorded 42 rushing yards (QB11) over his last pair of games. While he’s not Russell Wilson or Dak Prescott, he does have a capable and healthy complement of receiving talent at his disposal as well as the swag necessary to believe he can hang with Matty Ice. Pre-order those lemon pepper wings — I see you, A-Town — because Sunday figures to be a perfect mix of tart and spicy.
Joshua Kelley, RB, Los Angeles Chargers (51% rostered – $18)
A top-25 fantasy producer for two consecutive weeks, the rookie running back has averaged 18.5 touches per contest and even out-toted Austin Ekeler by a margin of 23:16 in Week 2. Well-built and utilizing a compact frame (5’11, 212 lbs), Kelley is a downhill runner with plus balance and power who can push past tacklers.
Since the start of the season, he’s understandably been used in short-yardage situations. While his YPC last week left a lot to be desired (2.8), it’s worth noting that he’s been tackled for a loss on a total of just two occasions. He’s also in possession of impressive long speed (not much initial burst though), which he demonstrated via a 35-yard gain after the catch on Justin Herbert’s first completion vs. Kansas City. The 1B to Ekeler’s 1A, Kelley’s many gifts figure to be on full display in Week 3 when he takes on a Panthers defense that is allowing opposing runners a YPC of 4.8 and has given up the most rushing scores (6) so far this season. Kelley is the Yahoo consensus RB24 heading into Sunday’s action.
Jeff Wilson, RB, San Francisco 49ers (3% rostered – $10)
From start to finish, the 49ers franchise battled with Murphy’s Law last Sunday — they didn’t win. Down several key players on both sides of the ball, San Fran is expected to start Nick Mullens at QB, while Jerick McKinnon leads the backfield in the stead of Raheem Mostert (MCL) and Tevin Coleman (knee). While McKinnon is (or at least was before his own injury woes) an explosive and versatile athlete (100 percentile SPARQ) it’s unlikely that Kyle Shanahan will give him the workhorse treatment. After all, McKinnon has recorded a total of 3 totes since joining the 49ers in 2018. In fact, the last time he carried the ball more than 15 times was Week 6 of the 2017 season when he was still in Minnesota.
All of this is to say that Jeff Wilson could be a short-yardage hero in Week 3. Undrafted out of North Texas (where he scored 30 TDs over his final two campaigns), Wilson is a power back who isn’t afraid of contact and, in his own words, doesn’t “waste time” and likes to “get downhill.” On the active roster since 2018, Wilson is no stranger to stepping in and stepping up. During Weeks 2 and 3 of last year, while Tevin Coleman was dealing with a high ankle sprain, Wilson logged 18 carries for just 52 yards but FOUR touchdowns. That ability at the goal line (4 scores on 27 carries in 2019) is what gives the 24-year-old such sneaky touchdown appeal, especially in a game that figures to be run-heavy. In Week 3 he’ll take on a Giants defense that has yet to give up a rushing score but is allowing a YPC of 4.6.
Allen Lazard, WR, Green Bay Packers (46% rostered — $17)
We have yet to gain full clarity regarding Green Bay’s receiving options behind Davante Adams and Aaron Jones. There’s a good chance that neither Allen Lazard nor Marquez Valdes-Scantling will ever pull ahead, instead remaining matchup-based options for both Aaron Rodgers and fantasy managers. What we do know presently, however, is that Lazard has logged more snaps (85.4% share to MVS’ 58.3%) and run more routes (61 to 50) while Valdes-Scantling has drawn more targets (13 for MVS and 9 for Lazard).
Of Lazard’s 129 offensive snaps, 96 of them have come via the slot. MVS, on the other hand, has only recorded 66 snaps in the slot. That means if Davante Adams (hamstring) can’t go on Sunday night, Valdes-Scantling will likely move outside. This could result in more opportunities for MVS but also suggests he’ll draw top-end coverage from Marshon Lattimore. Meanwhile, Lazard figures to see the best matchup, as he’s likely to be P.J. Williams’ primary assignment. Last year Williams allowed a passer rating of 118.3 (CB62) and was manhandled by Darren Waller in Week 2 after sitting out the opener with a hamstring injury. With Vegas projecting a point total of over 52, good fantasy fortune figures to be bestowed upon at least one of these wideouts. I’ll give the edge to the guy who’s in a favorable matchup, and on the field more.
Drew Sample, TE, Cincinnati Bengals (1% rostered – $10)
Sample’s sample size as a receiver is decidedly small. But his opportunity heading into Week 3 is huge. Selected primarily for his blocking experience (he posted a 46-487-5 stat line over his four-year college career at Washington) in the second round of last year’s draft, Sample flashed unexpected athleticism in relief of C.J. Uzomah (Achilles) last Thursday night.
Second in team targets behind only A.J. Green, the former Huskie converted 7 of 9 balls for 45 yards. With Uzomah done for the year, Sample figures to work as an underneath target for his young QB. This Sunday he’ll face an Eagles defense that has struggled to contain the middle of the field, giving up a score to Logan Thomas in Week 1 and three tubs to Tyler Higbee in Week 3. The stream is real, friends.
Dig deep with Liz on social @LizLoza_FF
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Nadal faces Gerasimov, Williams plays Ahn
PARIS (AP) —
Rafael Nadal will begin his bid for a record-extending 13th French Open title against Egor Gerasimov in the first round, while Serena Williams starts her attempt for a record-equaling 24th major against Kristie Ahn in all-American matchup.
The 34-year-old Nadal, who is seeded second and has never faced the 83rd-ranked Belarusian, is aiming to equal the absent Roger Federer’s men’s record of 20 Grand Slam titles.
The sixth-seeded Williams, who turns 39 on Saturday, fell short in her bid to equal Margaret Court’s record at the U.S. Open, losing to Victoria Azarenka in the semifinals. Williams has won the French Open three times, the first in 2002 and the last in 2015.
Thursday’s draw at Roland Garros also pitted top-ranked Novak Djokovic against No. 80 Mikael Ymer of Sweden in their first career meeting.
Djokovic is trying again for a 19th major title.
Like Williams, he fell short at Flushing Meadows but for a very different reason.
The 33-year-old Serb was kicked out for accidentally hitting a line judge in the throat when angrily swiping away a tennis ball during a match. His only title at the French was in 2016 and he lost the final in ’14 to Nadal and ’15 to Stan Wawrinka.
The draw was carried out electronically because there were no players present amid a strict coronavirus health and safety protocol.
Wawrinka, seeded 16th, faces another three-time major winner in Britain’s Andy Murray, the runner-up in 2016. Murray leads Wawrinka 12-8 overall but is still trying to get back to his best after having hip surgery last year.
Djokovic tuned up for this tournament with victory at the Italian Open, beating Diego Schwartzman in the final for a record 36th Masters title. Schwartzman beat a patchy Nadal in the quarterfinals – the Spaniard’s first tournament in seven months after he skipped the U.S. Open amid COVID-19 concerns.
Dominic Thiem, who beat Alexander Zverev in five sets in the U.S. Open final for his first major, takes on big-hitting Marin Cilic in their first meeting at Roland Garros.
Thiem has lost the past two finals at Roland Garros to Nadal.
Zverev plays Austrian Dennis Novak.
Top-seeded Simona Halep, the 2018 champion and two-time runner-up, faces Spaniard Sara Sorribes Tormo.
U.S. Open champion Naomi Osaka pulled out of the tournament with an injured hamstring.
Halep is seeded first because No. 1 Ash Barty of Australia opted out of defending her title amid coronavirus concerns.
Australian Open winner Sofia Kenin, seeded fourth, plays Russian Liudmila Samsonova; third-seeded Elina Svitolina of Ukraine is up against Varvara Gracheva, and the 10th-seeded Azarenka faces Danka Kovinic.
Also, 2017 champion Jelena Ostapenko of Latvia takes on American Madison Brengle and the 40-year-old Venus Williams, runner-up to her sister in 2002, opens against Slovakian Anna Karolina Schmiedlova.
More AP tennis: https://apnews.com/apf-Tennis and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports
Royals outfielder Gordon to retire after 14 seasons
Kansas City Royals outfielder Alex Gordon, the former first-round pick whose rollercoaster career took him from near bust to All-Star and Gold Glove winner, announced Thursday he will retire after the season.
Gordon was the second overall pick in the 2005 first-year player draft following a standout career at Nebraska, where he won the Golden Spikes Award as the best amateur in baseball. He made his big league debut two years later and, after a few years shuttling back and forth to the minors, moved from third base to the outfield and finally found success.
He wound up playing his entire 14-year career in Kansas City, joining only George Brett and Frank White as position players with that much longevity with the franchise. He heads into a weekend four-game series against Detroit with the third-most walks (682), fourth-most homers (190), fifth-most doubles (357) and sixth-most games played (1,749) in club history.
The three-time All-Star also holds the dubious distinction of being the Royals’ career leader in getting hit by pitches.
While he never quite hit with the kind of average the Royals hoped he would, Gordon did through sheer grit turn himself into one of the best defensive players in the game. He is the only outfielder to earn seven Gold Gloves in a nine-year span, a number that trails only White’s eight for the most in franchise history, and there are enough replays of him crashing into the outfield wall at Kauffman Stadium or throwing out a runner at the plate to run for hours.
Gordon won the first of three defensive player of the year awards in 2014, when he helped Kansas City return to the World Series for the first time since its 1985 championship. The Royals wound up losing to the Giants in a seven-game thriller, but they returned to the Fall Classic the following year and beat the Mets in five games to win the World Series.
It was during the 2015 that Gordon hit one of the iconic homers in Royals history. His tying shot off Mets closer Jeurys Familia in Game 1 forced extra innings, and the Royals won in 14 to set the tone for the rest of the World Series.
Gordon signed a one-year contract to return this season, and he never considered opting out when the coronavirus pandemic caused spring training to be halted and forced Major League Baseball to play a dramatically reduced 60-game schedule.
More AP MLB: https://apnews.com/MLB and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports
Royals outfielder Gordon to retire after 14 seasons originally appeared on NBCSports.com
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