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Richard Sherman’s biggest challenge with the Buccaneers might not be his age

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Cornerback Richard Sherman’s decision to sign a one-year deal with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, on paper, makes sense. Sherman needs a job, and he seems to be in a better place mentally more than two months after his early-morning arrest in suburban Seattle.

And the Buccaneers need help at corner, with Sean Murphy-Bunting on injured reserve and Jamel Dean reportedly out a couple of weeks with a knee injury. Tampa made room for Sherman on its roster Wednesday by placing wide receiver Scotty Miller on IR.

But is this a move of desperation or savvy on the part of the Buccaneers, who lost last week for the first time since Thanksgiving weekend 2020? Put more bluntly, does Sherman have anything left in the tank at age 33?

Can Richard Sherman still play at a high level?

Sherman, whose 36 interceptions since 2011 are the most in the NFL, addressed those doubts during his podcast announcing his decision to sign with Tampa.

“I feel comfortable and confident in my abilities to go out there and execute and help that team win,” said Sherman, who appeared in just five games for the San Francisco 49ers last year due to a calf injury. “I’m ready to strap ’em back up and go out there and show that these old legs still got some juice.”

Sherman, of course, won’t be the player he was a decade ago when he had 24 interceptions in his first four NFL seasons. If he could still play at that level, he wouldn’t have been without a job for the past six months.

But will he be the player from 2019, who limited opposing quarterbacks to a passer rating of just 63.0? Or the player from 2020, who surrendered 4 touchdown passes on 29 targets?

Richard Sherman’s advanced stats

First off, it’s important to note that the Buccaneers are not getting a bad player, even if he is diminished. The advanced statistics suggest Sherman was either an average or slightly above-average cornerback in his three seasons with San Francisco.

His yards allowed per completion were 9.5 in 2020, 8.6 in 2019, and 12.0 in 2018. The NFL’s average was 10.5, 10.6, 10.5, respectively.

His yards allowed per attempt the last three years were 6.9, 8.6, and 7.4, compared to the NFL median of 7.3, 7.2, and 7.3.

In 2020, his completion percentage against was a garish 72.4%, but the previous two years, he beat the league average. And his interception percentage the past two seasons was well above the median.

Is he a fit in Todd Bowles’ scheme?

Sherman has dropped 15 pounds this offseason, and assuming he’s healthy, should still be able to run. It’s not like he was ever a burner, anyway, but instead thrived using his size, technique, and ball skills.

But he’s also presumably going to be asked to do something he did little of in Seattle and San Francisco — play a lot of man coverage. That’s what Todd Bowles does with regularity in his blitz-happy scheme. Through three weeks, no team had blitzed more times (61) than the Buccaneers.

Sherman, meanwhile, thrived in Seattle’s system of Cover 3, playing more deep zone.

“It’s about having an understanding of the game, having an understanding of positioning and getting my body in the right position to be successful,” Sherman said on his podcast. “… In a decade of work, you see just about everything. I think over the years, I’ve given myself the best opportunity to be successful by studying, and I plan on doing a ton of that. I think Todd calls a great game, and I think it’ll go hand in hand.”

Tom Brady had enough confidence in Sherman’s fitness and position flexibility that he took it upon himself to recruit the five-time Pro Bowler. The Buccaneers have a win-it-all mindset this year, with only one deficiency — their defensive backfield. If Sherman can play like he did even in 2019, it’ll be a win-win. And if not, he’ll go to the bench when Murphy-Bunting and Dean return from injury.



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Keenan Allen is worth the investment

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Someone once told me, “If you’re not trading, you’re not trying.” Or something like that. I can’t remember who whispered these fateful words to me. Maybe it was NFL Network’s Adam Rank, or maybe I just read it scribbled in a tweet somewhere. Regardless, I’ve been a fantasy football trade junkie ever since because capitalizing on the constantly fluctuating values of players is a great way to bolster your roster — here are some buy-low and sell-high candidates.

Let’s start by looking at some players who you might be able to acquire at a discounted price right now.

Laviska Shenault Jr., WR, Jacksonville Jaguars

The perpetually frustrating season of Laviska Shenault continued on Sunday, but it wasn’t all bad. Shenault finished with 6 receptions for 54 yards, including a clutch diving catch on a slant for a first down right at the end of regulation that set up the Jaguars’ game-winning field goal.

His fantasy day could have been even bigger, considering he had 10 targets and didn’t secure a touchdown. Shenault and Marvin Jones Jr. each saw 10 targets in this game, separating themselves from the rest of the pack.

Shenault is highly athletic — he’s big, fast, and physical with the ball in his hands. His fantasy managers might be frustrated with the up-and-down performances so far this season. If you can trade for him, do it. Rookie quarterback Trevor Lawrence is only getting better as he continues to adjust to the NFL.

Keenan Allen, WR, Los Angeles Chargers

The Los Angeles Chargers have a Mike Williams problem — he’s battling an injury that he just can’t seem to shake. Williams was questionable to play today, suited up, and then couldn’t finish the game.

It was a horrible day all the way around for the Chargers, who got boat raced 34-6 by the Baltimore Ravens. Allen was no different, finishing today with 5 receptions on 5 targets for 50 yards.

While Williams has been all the talk this year because of his touchdown numbers, Allen has been pacing along with him, leading him in targets (53 to 51) and receptions (34 to 31).

The Chargers are on their bye week next week, making it a good time to pounce on Allen’s suppressed value.

Miles Sanders, RB, Philadelphia Eagles

Miles freaking Sanders, man. He’s so good, but head coach Nick Sirianni seemingly refuses to get him involved in the game plan. I know Tampa Bay’s run defense is the best in the NFL, but Sanders logged only 9 carries, marking the third time in the last four weeks that he wasn’t given double-digit attempts.

It’s not like Sirianni is choosing to go with another running back over Sanders. He’s simply not running the ball. The Eagles are running the ball the fifth-least of any team in the NFL at only 22 carries per game — and 8.83 of those are on the legs of quarterback Jalen Hurts.

This can’t continue. Sanders has looked great when he’s been given the chance. He converted his 9 carries into 56 yards (6.2 yards per carry) against the Buccaneers. I’m buying Sanders at what I think is his floor and hoping that the Eagles will begin to feature him in the offense.

Which potential trade targets should you sell high on?

Now that we’ve discussed some candidates to acquire, let’s talk about who to consider trading away.

Cooper Kupp, WR, Los Angeles Rams

So, let’s talk about Cooper Kupp. He’s coming off yet another monster game, taking 9 receptions for 130 yards and 2 TDs. He’s looked unstoppable this year with Matthew Stafford at quarterback, and he’s currently sitting at third in yards and receptions and second in receiving touchdowns among wide receivers.

Through six weeks, pending Sunday Night Football and Monday Night Football, Kupp is the overall WR1.

Understand what I’m suggesting — do NOT trade Kupp away for just anything. However, his perceived value is so sky-high right now that you might be able to get someone to offer you a massive haul in exchange for him. By massive, I’m talking about a back-end WR1 and a high-end RB2 — at minimum. Test the waters. Shoot super high and see what happens. You might get someone to bite.

Derrick Henry, RB, Tennesee Titans

Everything I said about Cooper Kupp above? Apply that here. The Titans are currently on a bye, but Henry piled on 640 rushing yards and 7 TDs over the first five weeks. He’s receiving an otherworldly workload, averaging 31.25 carries and 2.75 receptions per game since Week 2. That’s insane.

Taking out his “light” workload in Week 1, if you extrapolate his 31.25 carries per game over the remaining 16 games, you get a grand total of exactly 500 rushing attempts.

The single-season rushing attempts record is 416, set by Larry Johnson in 2006. There have only been five seasons in the history of the NFL where a running back has logged over 400 carries.

Any time you’re getting into statistical territory that approaches NFL-record levels, it’s a clear statistical anomaly that should probably be bet against. Henry is currently tearing up the league, but it remains to be seen if he can hold up under this workload. With as high as his price is, if you can get someone willing to give you two elite players for him, I’d be willing to sell.

Sterling Shepard, WR, New York Giants

Now that we’re out of the realm of superstar performances, let’s come back to earth a little bit. In the midst of the New York Giants getting squashed by the Los Angeles Rams, Sterling Shepard logged 10 receptions for 76 yards. On the surface, it looks like a big performance, especially in PPR scoring.

What the box score doesn’t include, however, is the fact that Kenny Golladay didn’t play. Additionally, Kadarius Toney left the game early with an injury. With no Saquon Barkley either, Shepard was essentially all the Giants had left.

Toney has come on strong as of late. As he and Golladay return, the opportunities will likely be inconsistent for Shepard, who hasn’t scored a touchdown since Week 1.



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Kareem Hunt, Antonio Gibson, Mike Williams injury updates

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The unfortunate reality of the return of the NFL is that when players are allowed to go full speed, injuries are bound to happen. Week 6 of the NFL season was no exception. Now that fantasy football managers are updating their lineups for the coming week, several players have found themselves on the injury report, leaving their status for Week 7 in the air.

Here is where we currently stand in terms of the fantasy football QB options dealing with an injury.

Baker Mayfield, Cleveland Browns

Baker Mayfield has been playing with a partially torn labrum in his left shoulder and appeared to further aggravate it on Sunday. He was in clear discomfort but returned to the game after being evaluated on the sideline. It’s worth keeping an eye on, but given Mayfield finished the game, I doubt it will force him to miss time.

How is the injury bug affecting RB committees heading into Week 7?

Kareem Hunt, Cleveland Browns

With Nick Chubb already out for Week 6 (calf), the last thing the Browns needed was an injury to Kareem Hunt. Unforuntalty, Hunt could be out for an extended period of time. He had to be helped off the field in the fourth quarter after suffering a calf injury. He was unable to put any weight on his right leg.

Per Nate Ulrich of the Akron Beacon Journal, Browns head coach Kevin Stefanski said Hunt did not injure his Achilles. This is an important note, as the “calf” label is often used in place of Achilles early in the process. We will have more information in the coming days.

Already entering the game with a stress fracture in his shin, Antonio Gibson appeared to be in clear pain as the ailment took him off the field for some time. He appeared to re-aggravate his shin after roughly 10 carries and would eventually be taken out of the game once it was out of reach. 

In his postgame press conference, head coach Ron Rivera stated they will evaluate Gibson on Monday [October 18]. “We’ll see how he is,” Rivera said. “We did take him out at the end of the game because he was struggling with it a little, so we have to be careful and see how he responds. I don’t know much more than that. We’ll see how he is [Monday] morning.”

Should Gibson miss time, J.D. McKissic would be in line for a significant role against Green Bay in Week 7.

WR Injury Update for Week 7

News for pass catchers is essential in PPR leagues — let’s break down the WR fallout.

Kadarius Toney, New York Giants

This was easy to see coming, unfortunately. After pregame reports indicated Kadarius Toney was on his injured ankle, it seemed inevitable the rookie WR would re-aggravate the injury during the game — and he did. After 3 targets, Toney left the game in the first quarter. His demeanor on New York’s sideline clearly indicated he knew something was wrong. Toney was taken back into the locker room and ruled out for the remainder of the game. I would not be surprised if Toney misses Week 7 against the Carolina Panthers.

Mike Williams, Los Angeles Chargers

Similar to Toney, Mike Williams was a major question mark as he failed to log a practice all week — but was still active against the Ravens. I was concerned Williams would either serve as a decoy or suffer a further injury. Both seemed to happen.

In the middle of a career year, Williams saw just 5 targets, catching 2 for 27 yards. He also seemed to re-aggravate his knee early in the game when trying to make a catch. He left the game for a bit, and although he eventually returned, he made little impact. Williams played on just 20 of 58 snaps in Week 6 and did not see action in the fourth quarter.

Terrace Marshall Jr., Carolina Panthers

Terrace Marshall Jr. was ruled out early against the Vikings with a concussion. As a result, he will enter the NFL’s concussion protocol. The rookie wide receiver hasn’t contributed much this season, posting only 14 receptions for 116 yards and no scores through six weeks.

Odell Beckham Jr., Cleveland Browns

Odell Beckham Jr. went to the locker room after suffering a right shoulder injury when two Arizona Cardinals defenders landed on top of him. After going to the sideline for examination in the medical tent, Beckham Jr. jogged to the locker room for more evaluation and treatment. He returned to the game but should be monitored going forward.

Tyreek Hill, Kansas City Chiefs

Tyreek Hill entered the game with a quad injury and seemed to have his snaps limited at times. He missed a few series and was questionable to return at one point, but he did come back into the game and almost immediately scored a touchdown. 

T.Y. Hilton, Indianapolis Colts

T.Y. Hilton’s return could be short-lived after he left the game on Sunday and was ruled out with a quad injury. However, head coach Frank Reich said after the game that there’s no serious concern about Hilton’s injury. The veteran wideout had a great first game back from injured reserve, catching all 4 targets for 80 yards.

Parris Campbell, Indianapolis Colts

Parris Campbell suffered a foot injury and was ruled out for the remainder of the game against the Texans. After catching a 51-yard touchdown pass, Campbell went to the locker room to be evaluated for a foot injury. He later came back to the sideline but was ruled out during the second quarter.

TE Injury Update for Week 7

Which tight end injuries should we be mindful of when setting our fantasy lineups?

Jody Fortson, Kansas City Chiefs

Jody Fortson was quickly ruled out after being carted off in the third quarter with an Achilles injury. Head coach Andy Reid later announced that Fortson tore his Achilles, meaning he will miss the rest of the 2021 season.



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Should recently concussed Giants quarterback Daniel Jones even have played in Week 6?

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Just because someone can do something doesn’t mean they should. The latest example to that age-old axiom: New York Giants quarterback Daniel Jones, who was absolutely brutal against the Los Angeles Rams — just seven days after suffering a head injury.

Daniel Jones was awful in Week 6

Jones — who staggered off the field in Week 5 and was ultimately carted to the locker room after taking a direct shot to the helmet — could have hardly played worse in Week 6 even if he was still concussed. He threw 3 interceptions and completed just 29 of 51 passes for 242 yards in a 38-11 home loss to the Rams.

His passer rating (44.7) was the second-worst of his career. And even with the game’s outcome long determined, Jones was still on the field taking hits.

“We’re going to compete for 60 minutes,” Giants coach Joe Judge said.

With Jones under center, there was nothing remotely competitive about how the Giants played. In fairness, the Giants’ offensive line was also terrible. But at least 1 of the 4 sacks Jones took was a function of holding onto the ball too long. Along with his 3 picks, Jones also fumbled twice, losing one of them. The Rams hit Jones 7 times.

Did concussion impact Jones’ play?

All of this raises the unavoidable question — was Jones’ performance a result of his injury?

We aren’t neurologists. And it doesn’t sound as though his concussion was severe. Jones told reporters after the game that he didn’t have any of the other symptoms last Sunday and passed all the tests.

Still, he was unable to practice Wednesday and worked only in a limited capacity Thursday before clearing the concussion protocol Friday and working fully. The average return to play is historically more than twice that long.

The NFL’s concussion protocol established a five-phase evaluation process for players diagnosed with one. For Jones to have been cleared to play Sunday, he must have cleared all five. The process includes rest, then light cardio, followed by football-specific exercise, then non-contact training drills.

“Neurocognitive and balance testing should be completed no later than the end of Phase Four with the results interpreted as back to baseline,” according to the NFL.

Once the concussed player meets that requirement and is cleared by a club physician for full football activity, he must still undergo an examination by the independent neurological consultant assigned to the club. If the INC agrees with the assessment of the team doctor, the injured player is allowed to play in the team’s next game.

Jones got all of that clearance. However, he did not have the full week of physical, and perhaps even mental, preparation. It’s not a surprise that he put together his worst game of the year (and maybe his career) on Sunday.

The Giants are now 1-5, and changes are coming. Jones, Judge, and general manager Dave Gettleman are all on notice. It would surprise no one if all three are gone after this season.



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