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IDP Start em, Sit em – Week 1 (2022 Fantasy Football) – FantasyPros

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Thursday Night Football was a joy. The Buffalo Bills defense had a coming out party on the national stage as the number one ranked defense from 2021 showed just how dominant they can be when they add one of the best pass rushers of our generation. The fact that Tre’Davious White did not play should strike fear into every team without an exceptional offensive line. Von Miller racked up two sacks in his Bills debut while the defense as a whole had a whopping seven, the most ever allowed in the Sean McVay era (it looks like they will miss Andrew Whitworth. Bobby Wagner had five solos and a sack in his debut for the Rams, assuaging any fears anyone may have had about his move to an odd front. We will take a look at five players fantasy managers should do their best to plug into their lineups and five others, who are better left on benches for the opening week of the season. Let’s dig in.

Start em

C.J. Gardner-Johnson (S – PHI)
CJGJ is a talented, fiery competitor who was always a better prospect as a safety than as a full-time slot corner. Yes, he will still log a bunch of snaps in the slot but will now get to use his full range of talents more often by lining up in the box and around defensive line. The Eagles defense is suddenly studded, and CJGJ will be a major part of it. He should be a near every snap player who sees his fantasy value explode with the position change. He gets a team he is familiar with in Week 1 in Atlanta and is expected to shine brightly for the City of Brotherly Love. Atlanta allowed the eighth most fantasy points to the safety position in 2021, putting CJGJ on the DB1 periphery for the plus matchup against Kyle Pitts and the Falcons.

Keanu Neal (S – TB)
Keanu Neal is moving back to a full-time safety role now that he is with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Former backup Mike Edwards is currently listed as the starter but Keanu Neal being added to the team and immediately moved back to safety, was a direct response to losing starter Jordan Whitehead to free agency. Neal should log the bulk of the snaps in a revenge game versus his former team and should supplant the rookie as the official starter within a couple of weeks. Edwards has talent, but you don’t add Neal and move him back to safety if you don’t intend to play him in a heavy box role like they did with Whitehead. Logan Ryan is expected to be sidelined for Week 1, so there should be more than enough opportunity for both Neal and Edwards to rack up some tackles. The two are expected to share the field in nickel looks. Neal is a DB2 option with DB1 upside whenever he sees regular snaps, and for Week 1, it looks like he will. Start him where needed.

Jaelan Phillips (DE – MIA)
Phillips should have a big game against a Patriots offense that is struggling to move the ball in the passing game. He will be a DL2 most weeks but gets the bump to DL1 territory thanks to the plus matchup. Phillips is still looking for his first sack against New England and reported struggles could help him get home. He should be more of a full-time player this season and is strong against the run, which is important against a team that will try to run whenever possible in Week 1. The extra opportunities the run game should afford him buoys his floor enough to make him a strong DL2 option with DL1 upside against New England. Start him where possible.

Randy Gregory (DE/LB – DEN)
Randy Gregory is primed for a big game against a Seattle Seahawks team that was forced to insert Geno Smith under center. He will be a mid-tier DL2 most weeks but will be a high-end option when he gets plus matchups like this. Seattle has made some improvements to their offensive line (finally) but is going to have major problems contending with Bradley Chubb, Randy Gregory, Nick Bonitto, and Baron Browning. The stand up role will be new for Gregory in the NFL but is one he should have success with. He has been practicing this week and is expected to play, so for those in leagues where he is floating on the wire due to concerns over his Week 1 status, now is the time to make the add. Start him with confidence as an upside DL2 option.

David Long (LB – TEN)
David Long was excellent when healthy last season, grading out as the LB22 in fantasy points per game. He was the LB66 overall due to playing in just 10 games but was impressive enough to allow the Titans to move on from both Jayon Brown and Rashaan Evans, both of whom were starters in 2021. As mentioned in our waiver wire column earlier this week, Long averaged 4.6 solo tackles per game, a number that extrapolated over a full season would put him at 78 solos (which would have been more than Shaquille Leonard last season). Start him everywhere.

Sit em

Dante Fowler (DE – DAL)
Fowler should be left on fantasy benches, even as a DL3 until we see what the snap rotation looks like opposite DeMarcus Lawrence. Fowler has the name and past production, but there are some other intriguing names competing for snaps that could leave Fowler as more of a part-time player than one with a full-time role. Also competing for snaps on the edge will be superstar Micah Parsons, who will continue to be given opportunities to rush the passer off the edge, rookie Sam Williams, Tarell Basham, and the man listed as the starter ahead of Fowler in Dorance Armstrong. The hope is that Fowler (or possibly Williams) supplants Armstrong as the starter eventually, but for now, Fowler needs to be left on benches, even in deeper leagues.

Rasheem Green (DL – HOU)
Rasheem Green has received a lot of IDP hype this offseason, and it is not unwarranted based on his 2021 play. However, what role he plays now that he is with the Houston Texans is in question. Green played the bulk of his snaps on the right side for the Seahawks but now may be blocked by the likes of Jerry Hughes and Mario Addison. Jonathan Greenard is locked into a high snap role, and Addison and Hughes are capable vets. For what it’s worth, the Texans have listed Hughes as the starter opposite Greenard, with Addison as Hughes’ backup and Green behind Greenard. All of this is to say that without a defined role and with snap count uncertainty, the defensive end (who appears on more Yahoo rosters than DL1s like Brian Burns and Montez Sweat) should be left on fantasy benches until further notice.

Divine Deablo (LB/S – LV)
Deablo is set to play more of a full-time linebacker role this season and has been practicing with the position. Deablo played most of his snaps in the box or on special teams last season, but there was some hope with the Raiders not picking up Jonathan Abram’s fifth-year option that Deablo would increase his weekly snap count by seeing more time at safety. That is not the case. The Raiders will be starting Denzel Perryman in the middle, and after adding Jayon Brown this offseason, there is some well-founded concern about how many snaps Deablo will see in nickel looks. Brown did not sign the contract of a star but was a locked-in starter for the Tennessee Titans’ formidable defense for the past few seasons. It is okay to maintain hopes that Deablo scratches the surface of his true potential this season, but for Week 1, fantasy managers should plug in another option and evaluate the Raiders usage of the talented second-year man.

Isaiah Simmons (LB/S – ARI)
Simmons is transitioning to the STAR role in the Cardinals defense, a role that calls for him to play more of a hybrid linebacker/safety role, similar to what we saw from Jalen Ramsey most of last season and what Derwin James plays. This means that instead of soaking up tackles as a traditional middle linebacker that he will be tasked with heavy coverage snaps on Travis Kelce. He will also likely see snaps as a pass rusher sprinkled in throughout the game. Simmons has the talent to flourish in this role as it is more akin to how he was used in college (and what helped make him a top-10 pick in the first place). Full-time off-ball linebacker never made much sense for a talent like Simmons. His role last season was closer to what got him drafted out of Clemson. With that said, Simmons is expected to see his weekly tackle upside take a hit and is now more of an LB2 option than an LB1. He will be an elite DB option if granted eligibility this season, but a wait-and-see approach is recommended for those who have designs on him being their LB1.

For those who want to know a little more, here is what Vance Joseph had to say about the STAR role

“A ‘star’ linebacker is a guy that plays a little linebacker, a little safety, a little dime,” Joseph said. “In this scheme it can be a lot of places. … They are ‘star’ players. Big, fast guys who can cover, play halves (half-field safety coverage) and blitz.”

T.J. Edwards (LB – PHI)
Edwards is set to open the season as the starting middle linebacker but is expected to cede snaps to rookie Nakobe Dean. It remains to be seen whether Dean will take more snaps from Edwards or Kyzir White, but with Shaun Bradley also in the mix to see snaps in the middle on Sunday, Edwards falls from potential LB2 consideration to more of an LB4. Dean, who many have high hopes for, also needs to be left on benches as he did not earn a starting role this offseason.

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If you want to dive deeper into fantasy football, be sure to check out our award-winning slate of Fantasy Football Tools as you navigate your season. From our Start/Sit Assistant – which provides your optimal lineup, based on accurate consensus projections – to our Waiver Wire Assistant – that allows you to quickly see which available players will improve your team, and by how much – we’ve got you covered this fantasy football season.

Raju Byfield is a featured writer for FantasyPros. For more from Raju, check out his profile and follow him @FantasyContext.

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Auger-Aliassime, Sock cut Team World's deficit at Laver Cup – TSN

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LONDON (AP) — The last to arrive, befitting his reputation in the locker room, Frances Tiafoe strutted into the post-match news conference after clinching Team World’s Laver Cup victory over Roger Federer’s star-studded Team Europe and shouted, “Champs are here!”

Then the 24-year-old from Maryland joined his teammates at the table where the silver trophy was resting Sunday night, put down a bottle of water, pulled a Budweiser out of his red jacket and smiled that wide smile of his.

Performing with the same infectious showmanship and crunch-time success he displayed en route to his first Grand Slam semifinal at the U.S. Open earlier this month, Tiafoe staved off four match points and came back to beat Stefanos Tsitsipas 1-6, 7-6 (11), 10-8, giving Team World its first triumph in five editions of an event founded by Federer’s management company.

“I don’t like losing,” said Federer, a 20-time major champion whose final match before retirement was a loss alongside Rafael Nadal in doubles against Tiafoe and Jack Sock on Friday night. “It’s not fun. It just leaves not the best taste.”

When Tsitsipas put a forehand into the net to end Sunday’s contest — and the three-day competition — Tiafoe dropped his racket and fell to his back on the court, where teammates piled atop him. After getting on his feet, Tiafoe cupped a hand to his ear, asking spectators for more noise, then pointed to his chest and yelled, “I’m him! I’m him!”

“When it becomes a circus out here, and I’m just using the crowd and acting like a little kid and having a bunch of reactions … I end up playing really well and I start building momentum off it,” Tiafoe said. “I’m able to play and function in that better than my opponents, it seems.”

Using the nickname other players gave Tiafoe to reflect the way he embraces big moments, Team World captain John McEnroe said: “Frances is ‘Prime Time.’ He loves this stuff.”

McEnroe had been 0-4 while leading his squad against his former playing rival, Team Europe captain Bjorn Borg; both indicated they would be back for the 2023 Laver Cup in Vancouver, but that might be their last go-round.

This one served as a celebration of Federer and the 41-year-old Swiss star’s career.

Tiafoe responded with a quip when asked whether he might owe Federer some form of “I’m sorry” for beating him in his finale or for defeating his team, which also included Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray for a total of 66 major singles titles. That, incidentally, is 66 more than Team World, a collection of 20-somethings (Sock turned 30 on Saturday).

“I’m not going to apologize to him. He’s got a lot to apologize for after the last 24 years — after beating everybody on the tour,” said Tiafoe, who went 0-3 against Federer in singles head-to-head. “I will say thank you for having me in this amazing event, what he’s done for the game. He’s a class act. Happy to know him, happy to call him a friend, happy to call him a colleague, and best wishes in his second act. But I will not apologize.”

Team Europe entered Sunday at O2 Arena with an 8-4 lead; the first team to 13 points would win.

Each match on Day 3 was worth three points, and Team World went ahead thanks to a pair of victories by Felix Auger-Aliassime, a 22-year-old from Canada. He beat Djokovic 6-3, 7-6 (3), after partnering with Sock to edge Murray and Matteo Berrettini 2-6, 6-3, 10-8 in doubles.

Tiafoe then made it 13-8, but it wasn’t easy.

He went a tournament-record 8-0 in tiebreakers at Flushing Meadows this month and was just as resilient Sunday.

“It’s been a long time that Frances has been playing the big guys close and losing a lot of close battles. It’s great to see lately he’s been winning,” said Taylor Fritz, an American who is the same age as Tiafoe and has known him for years. “It’s about time that he steps up and the matches go the other way. Today was a joke.”

That’s because Tiafoe was a single point from losing to Tsitsipas four times in their second-set tiebreaker, but somehow got through that. Then, at 4-all in the concluding match tiebreaker — first to 10, win by two — Tiafoe sprinted from behind the baseline to near the net and barely got to a drop shot by Tsitsipas, somehow lunging to flick an angled winner.

While most of the 16,365 fans went wild, Tiafoe went around the net and stood still, hands on his hips, relishing the atmosphere.

“We put him in the slot that he was in today for a reason,” said Team World’s Tommy Paul, a 25-year-old American, “and he stepped up for us, big time.”

___

More AP tennis: https://apnews.com/hub/tennis and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

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Homer-happy Blue Jays regain 2-game lead over Rays in AL wild-card race – CBC Sports

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Tampa Bay’s two-year reign as AL East champion is over.

George Springer homered twice, Alejandro Kirk and Teoscar Hernandez also went deep and the Toronto Blue Jays beat the Rays 7-1 on Sunday to gain a four-game split.

The New York Yankees hold a comfortable lead in the AL East, and Sunday’s loss eliminated the third-place Rays from the division race, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

Toronto (86-67) opened a two-game lead over Tampa Bay (84-69) for the top AL wild card with nine games left. Seattle (83-69) is 2 1/2 games back of the Blue Jays and a half-game behind the Rays after blowing a big lead in a 13-12 loss to Kansas City. Baltimore remains four games behind the Mariners for the third and final spot.

“I think we’re kind of where we need to be,” Blue Jays interim manager John Schneider said. “I think we’ve kind of continued to put ourselves in position if we do get into the postseason, we’re in a good spot.”

The Blue Jays return home for six games against the Yankees and Boston before heading to Baltimore for three.

The Rays close out the regular season with a nine-game trip to AL Central champion Cleveland, AL West champion Houston and Boston.

“We control our own destiny on this,” Tampa Bay infielder Taylor Walls said. “Not winning today hurts a little bit, but at the same time we have enough games ahead of us if we play well enough, I’m pretty confident that we can be where we want to be.”

Toronto allowed 20 runs in losing the first two games of the series, but limited Tampa Bay to a total of two runs in winning the final two.

“We showed that we can fight and not quit,” Springer said. “We got down pretty quick to an extremely talented ballclub that’s playing well. To get down and to split, it’s huge.”

Ross Stripling (9-4) permitted one run and six hits in five innings. Zach Pop, Adam Cimber, Trevor Richards and Yusei Kikuchi combined to give up one hit over four innings.

Rays all-star Shane McClanahan (12-7), pulled in the fifth inning of his previous start due to neck tightness, gave up four runs and six hits, including a career-high three homers, over five innings.

McClanahan said he is healthy, but struggled with command. This was his third start since spending 15 days on the injured list with a left shoulder impingement.

“I felt good. … Just didn’t have it today,” McClanahan said. “I’ve got to do better. It’s frustrating.”

The left-hander is 2-4 with a 4.26 ERA in nine outings since the all-star break.

Springer had a two-run shot in the third and added a fifth-inning solo drive for his 23rd homer this season as the Blue Jays took a 4-1 lead. He finished with three hits in his 20th career multi-homer game — 19 in the leadoff spot. Only Mookie Betts (20) has more in major league history.

Kirk had a solo homer during the second, and Hernandez made it 6-1 with a two-run homer in the eighth off Garrett Cleavinger.

Vladimir Guerrero Jr. hit a ninth-inning RBI single.

Randy Arozarena pulled the Rays to 3-1 on a sacrifice fly in the third.

Disappointing turnout

Sunday’s announced crowd was 16,394, giving the Rays a final home attendance for the season of 1,128,127. The total will be the third lowest in the majors. Tampa Bay drew 1,178,735 in 2019, the least year before two seasons with COVID attendance restrictions in place. The Rays have drawn under 1.3 million at home every year since 2015.

Numbers

Springer has three homers in 13 at-bats against McClanahan. … Rays shortstop Wander Franco extended his career-high hitting streak to 12 games with a third-inning single. … Tampa Bay first baseman Harold Ramirez had three hits.

Happy trails

Retiring Rays bullpen coach Stan Boroski and major league medical coordinator Paul Harker threw ceremonial first pitches. Boroski is in his 13th season with the team, while Harker joined the Rays for their inaugural season in 1998.

Trainer’s room

Rays: Third baseman Yandy Diaz (left shoulder) was out of the lineup for the sixth straight game but could start Tuesday.

Up next

Blue Jays: Open a home series Monday night against the New York Yankees.

Rays: Corey Kluber (10-9) will pitch in Cleveland for first since leaving the team after the 2019 season. Kluber, who won the AL Cy Young Award with Cleveland in 2014 and 17, will face fellow right-hander Shane Bieber (12-8).

Glasnow expected to start Wednesday

Rays right-hander Tyler Glasnow is scheduled to rejoin the rotation Wednesday night at Cleveland after missing nearly 14 months because of Tommy John surgery.

The Rays’ opening day starter last year hasn’t pitched this season after undergoing the procedure on Aug. 4, 2021.

“I think we’re pretty confident he’ll be starting for us Wednesday,” Tampa Bay manager Kevin Cash said Sunday. “This is the first time he’s thrown pain-free in quite some time, so he’s encouraged by it.”

The six-foot-eight right-hander went 5-2 with a 2.66 earned-run average in 14 starts last year and is a key addition as the Rays near a wild-card spot.

“Compared to the past, like, three years it feels way better … the week leading into starts and stuff,” Glasnow said. “It’s good to have an [ulnar collateral ligament], you know.”

Cash said Glasnow would throw around 45 pitches in his initial outing, which should allow him to go two or three innings.

Kiermaier playing future unclear

Injured Tampa Bay centre-fielder Kevin Kiermaier had an eventful week during the Rays’ final regular-season homestand.

He was the third person in the television booth for Wednesday night’s game against Houston, and got a video tribute during Saturday night’s game with Toronto.

The 32-year-old Kiermaier, in the final season of a six-year deal worth $53.5 million, faces an uncertain off-season following season-ending left hip surgery nearly two months ago. The Rays have a $13 million option for 2023, which they will likely decline in favor of a $2.5 million buyout.

Kiermaier said no when asked if he thought the video tribute felt like a goodbye.

“It was more of an appreciation to me,” Kiermaier said before the Rays’ regular-season home finale Sunday. “Being realistic, I don’t know if that was my final Saturday game for me here in the regular season. A lot of unknowns. I don’t know if I will be putting on this uniform and taking that field again.”

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Kyle Dubas begins Maple Leafs training camp with an Intro to Tragedy 101 lecture – The Globe and Mail

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General manager Kyle Dubas of the Toronto Maple Leafs looks on from the draft floor prior to Round Two of the 2022 Upper Deck NHL Draft at Bell Centre in Montreal on July 8.
BRUCE BENNETT/Getty Images

At this point, you sort of feel sorry for Kyle Dubas every time he talks.

What’s he going to say that will change anybody’s mind? And given that impossibility, why does he have to keep saying it?

But the Toronto Maple Leafs general manager keeps getting pushed out on stage at the end of a sword. Once there, he keeps saying the same silly things. He was out there again this week as training camp started, doing this semester’s first lecture of Intro to Tragedy 101.

“Nobody wants to hear us talking about it,” Dubas said. “They want to see us do.”

Fair enough. Under the circumstances, not bad.

Then, not one minute later: “Our goal is not to win one round. It’s to win four.”

There you go talking about it. How about you win one round and then start lipping off about how you’ve got the big one right there in your sights.

At this point, you sound like a guy who’s just booked his flight to Kathmandu, looks off in the general direction of Everest and says, “Just a few more steps.” Maybe get to base camp before you start setting your intentions in front of the class.

This is the conundrum of modern sports communications. You don’t want to say nothing, because people will fill the void for you. But anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of media law.

Nobody’s good at explaining losing, but right now no one is as bad at it as the Leafs. Their answer to everything is that meme of a cartoon dog drinking coffee in the midst of a house fire saying, “This is fine.”

Has that dog been copyrighted? Because he should be the new Leafs mascot. Then they can send him out to do the talking.

To varying degrees, everyone on this team is trapped in a conversational loop from four years ago.

“We’ve obviously been right there,” captain John Tavares said.

To whom is that obvious, exactly? And how are you defining “right there?”

“We’ve established ourselves as an elite team in this league,” head coach Sheldon Keefe said.

I’ve just realized the perfect thing to get the Leafs for their birthday – a dictionary.

First thing you do, look up the words ‘established,’ ‘elite’ and, just for kicks, ‘team.’

Everybody’s bad at it, but the weight falls on Dubas. He’s the boss, plus he wears glasses. So he must know what’s going on.

Once one of the more forthcoming, three-dimensional GMs in hockey, Dubas’s public persona has been beaten flat by years of failure. He still sounds excited, but excited about talking so fast, for so long, that there is the slim possibility he may avoid facing more questions.

When he gets one he doesn’t have a great answer to (ie. a lot of them), he retreats into hockey boilerplate.

Why do you like this team, someone asked (an inside-out way of asking the more interesting question – why don’t you dislike this team?).

“Everything they are doing now is about winning,” Dubas said.

What were they doing before when, you know, they were losing? Was that about winning, too? When I’m in my car, is everything I’m doing about driving, even when I’m wrapping it around a phone pole?

‘Leafs disease’ – that’s what they used to call losing on the steady with no hint of an intention to change. The virus has mutated. Leafs disease is now a condition whereby rampant verbosity replaces results.

The miserable teams of Leafs yore knew enough to hang their heads when things were going sideways. This team believes the answer to every disaster is to schedule a TED Talk called Losing Your Way to Victory.

The sentences are a problem, but the presentation may be worse.

Has there ever been a more mirthless pro sports organization? When it gets dark for other teams in other sports, a few of them are able to triangulate the ridiculousness of treating who wins this or that game like a real-world problem.

Not the Leafs.

No jokes. No little asides. Absolutely zero capacity to laugh at themselves, from any member of the organization.

To be fair, this isn’t just a Toronto problem – it’s a hockey problem. But it’s still a shame. Canadians are supposed to be funny and hockey is meant to be a retreat from real life. A little gallows humour might put this team’s situation into perspective. It might even win you some credit for having your priorities straight.

Instead, the Leafs have confused solemnity for seriousness. That doesn’t leave them any room to say, “Listen, I didn’t blow that play. I was trying to wave at my mom in the crowd as the puck drifted between my skates” when things go wrong.

They have figured out one thing – that no one is going to believe this team is for real until the second after it proves it is.

That moment cannot arrive until the third or fourth week of April (though it can certainly be disproven before then).

That leaves the Leafs with seven months of sound bites to fill. When you lose three in a row, “four rounds,” “proved we are elite” and “been right there” is not going to work. You’ve set yourself a standard both so high and so hard to credit that you have no rhetorical wiggle room. All you can do is repeat the same affirmations while your audience turns into 20,000 hecklers. That’s a lot of pressure.

So forget about the playoffs. If the Leafs can make it to December without at least one of them cracking it’ll be a Christmas miracle.

The obvious solution – from here until April, don’t say anything. If you feel you must, hire Rick Mercer or Ali Hassan as your next assistant GM. I’m not sure how big they are on hockey, but they will vastly improve the entertainment value of your excuses.

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