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Tom Brady hints at eventual return to New England Patriots after emotional homecoming

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FOXBOROUGH, Massachusetts — Almost every second of Tom Brady’s return to New England was subject to dissection and debate Sunday, with tens of millions of Americans tuning in to perhaps the most anticipated regular-season game in NFL history. But the most fascinating part of the evening was what happened far from any camera’s reach.

Tom Brady and Bill Belichick share lengthy pregame chat

A half-hour after Brady’s new team (the Tampa Bay Buccaneers) beat his old team (the New England Patriots) 19-17 Sunday night, the two men at the center of this epic soap opera got together and talked.

Patriots coach Bill Belichick sought out Brady in the visiting locker room, and their conversation lasted longer than anyone might have expected. The media waited. Heck, even the Buccaneers’ team charter waited. But after two decades and six titles together, they deserved to share the moment alone. Sunday night will probably be the last time the future Hall of Famers are on the same field at the same time.

Reflecting on relationship with Belichick

“Yeah, I mean, all those are personal,” Brady said of what was said during that closed-door chat. “We’ve got a personal relationship, you know, for 20-plus years. He drafted me here. We’ve had a lot of personal conversations that should remain that way and are very private.

“And I would say so much is made of our relationship,” Brady continued. “You know, as I said earlier this week, from a player’s standpoint, you just expect the coach to give you everything he’s got, and I’m sure as a player that’s what he was hoping from me.

“But nothing is really accurate that I ever see. It’s all kind of – definitely doesn’t come from my personal feelings or beliefs. I got a lot of respect for him as a coach and obviously a lot of respect for this organization and all the different people here that try to make it successful.”

Perhaps Brady was alluding to the soon-to-be-released Seth Wickersham book, “It’s Better To Be Feared,” which purports to give an inside look at the two-decade Patriots dynasty, which ended in early 2020 when Brady signed with the Buccaneers. Part of the drama of his return Sunday was how the relationship between coach and player deteriorated over time and how it might have added to Brady’s motivation to leave.

Foxborough appreciative of prodigal son

The other big question entering Sunday night was how the Patriots faithful would receive Brady. Turns out, they showered him with love — until the game began. Then the standing ovations gave way to the competitive boos. Still, the memory most will carry — other than his embrace of owner Robert Kraft and many others — will be the “Brady! Brady!” chant that echoed through Gillette Stadium like it was still 2015.

“I’m not surprised,” Brady said. “I tried not to predict what was going to happen and how I would feel. Had a few emotional moments this week just thinking about the people that have really meant so much to me in my life and that are a part of this community. Just very grateful for an amazing time here.

“Like I said, my football journey took me somewhere else, but I’m really enjoying that, and great to get a win. 3-1, I know to make it about the game, but 3-1 against a really good football team tonight is what we wanted to get done.”

Perhaps those emotions impacted his performance. Brady wasn’t his best Sunday. His accuracy was off, and the stats — 22 of 43, 269 yards, and no touchdowns — reflected it. The Buccaneers’ running game and defense were the engine that powered this win. In that way, it was a bit like the Patriots’ first championship, 20 years ago, in Brady’s second NFL season.

Tom Brady surpasses Drew Brees for career passing yards

Here’s how unique this evening was: Brady broke the NFL’s career passing record, surpassing Drew Brees, and it was hardly a subplot. And when he did it on a 28-yard pass to Mike Evans in the first quarter, he refused to even take 30 seconds to recognize it.

“I just think it’s an amazing statistic in that so many people can share in it with me,” Brady said, who finished the night with 80,560 passing yards in 305 career games. “Quarterback doesn’t throw and catch. Quarterback can just throw it. It’s yards. Passing yards have to be caught, so I just hope that everybody who caught passes from me over the years just had a little smile on their face tonight knowing they contributed to a very cool record.

“There are some people that have kind of preceded it by name, Drew Brees, who I look up to, hell of a guy. Peyton Manning, who is one of my all-time favorites. Brett Favre, Dan Marino.

“But obviously my teammates who caught all these passes over the years, mean an awful lot to me.”

Could Brady come back to the Patriots?

What will probably mean just as much? Eventually retiring as a member of the Patriots, which Kraft very much wants to happen.

“It’s been a great stadium for me for a long time,” Brady said. “I don’t know what the future holds. Obviously could be an opportunity to come back here. We’ll see. I feel like I’ll always be a part of this community. I’ll be up here quite a bit when it’s all said and done. When I retire I’m sure there will be a lot of time for – you know, I have a lot of friends up here and it’s a great place. My kids were born on Beacon Street in the city. It’s been an amazing place for me, it still is.”



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Darrel Williams, CeeDee Lamb, and Noah Fant among fantasy heroes

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When Sunday ends, my focus is on understanding not just what happened in Week 6, but what it means for my fantasy football team. Which of my guys are overvalued? Who’s undervalued? And who can I acquire to bolster my chances in Week 7? With that in mind, here are the most notable fantasy takeaways from each Sunday game.

What performances and situations should we take note of from the 1 PM ET set of games?

Jaguars vs. Dolphins

A week after Laviska Shenault Jr. and Marvin Jones Jr. inexplicably caught just a pass apiece, they both got back on track once Jacksonville put the game more in Trevor Lawrence’s hands. Both earned 10 targets, and both should be no worse than weekly streamers, thanks to relatively soft schedules in the coming weeks.

For Miami, Jaylen Waddle and Mike Gesicki capitalized on the absence of Will Fuller, DeVante Parker, and Preston Williams. They are both screaming sell-high candidates if you can sell Gesicki as a top-eight TE and Waddle as a top-28 WR. If you can’t get that value, hold and hope they can be consistent fantasy starters.

Bears vs. Packers

Third-string rookie RB Khalil Herbert dominated. No one rostering a starter — in this case, David Montgomery, who averaged 18.8 touches in four starts — wants to see a backup shining. Fortunately for those rostering Montgomery, the Bears travel to Tampa Bay next week, where Herbert likely won’t be better than an RB5 (particularly if Damien Williams returns).

Aaron Jones and AJ Dillon both exceeded 5.0 yards per rushing attempt while splitting carries 13-11, respectively. Jones remains the 1A, and that showed up in the fantasy box score. But any given week, Dillon could be this backfield’s fantasy winner.

Lions vs. Bengals

Jared Goff has not scored a touchdown in three of Detroit’s last four games. That is almost an impossible feat in the NFL. And if you listened to my warnings about the overvalued Jamaal Williams two weeks ago, you sold high at the right time — he’s entirely TD-dependent.

Meanwhile, I pushed Chris Evans as a surprisingly good dart throw yesterday morning, and he came through for bold fantasy managers. His pass-catching skills should bump him above Samaje Perine on the depth chart, giving him strong handcuff value and potential RB5+ stand-alone value.

Colts vs. Texans

Jonathan Taylor is making a push for October’s fantasy RB MVP. I tried trading for him last week, and my opponent wisely laughed at me (or I can only assume he laughed). Also, T.Y. Hilton surprised me with an impressive return and leading Indianapolis with 4 targets. Those rostering Michael Pittman Jr. can officially worry that his weekly startability is now in serious doubt unless Hilton’s quad injury suffered in the fourth quarter turns out to be serious.

And Houston’s ugly offensive output should not overshadow the fantasy return of Brandin Cooks and the physical return of Nico Collins, who could wind up as Davis Mills’ No. 2 target going forward. Collins is an intriguing waiver add on a team that will be playing from behind often.

Giants vs. Rams

Kadarius Toney exited early, and Sterling Shepard resumed his spot atop the Giants’ WR pecking order. Most notably, former fantasy prospect Dante Pettis earned 11 targets and would be a solid streaming candidate if this receiving corps remains decimated by injuries.

For the Rams, Darrell Henderson got the job done and now has 5 touchdowns in five games. Admittedly, he has been more dominant than I anticipated. The talent has always been there. Yet, the ability to remain healthy has not. Thus far, he’s been able to manage a bell-cow workload.

Washington vs. Chiefs

Antonio Gibson’s injury issues returned, but J.D. McKissic and Ricky Seals-Jones came up big. If you listened to Tommy Garrett and me on the In the Mood podcast last week, you heard us tout both players for Week 6. McKissic was a weekly fantasy starter last year and should be again going forward.

I expected Patrick Mahomes to have an even bigger day, but most managers will take the points. More interestingly, Darrel Williams was a fantasy hero with 2 touchdowns, while Jerick McKinnon netted only 4 touches. However, Williams’ 3.0 yards per carry were less than inspiring, so let’s see how he fares next week at Tennessee.

Panthers vs. Vikings

Four of Minnesota’s six games have been decided in overtime or by less than 4 points. Although they almost gave this one away, it was a complete effort with Dalvin Cook, Adam Thielen, Justin Jefferson, and K.J. Osborn all helping fantasy managers. Kirk Cousins has everyone he needs to produce another top-10 QB season. And remember, he had a preseason QB19 ADP. Don’t forget this next summer when your opponents are once again ignoring him.

Robby Anderson logged 11 yards on 11 targets, which has to be some kind of NFL record for target-based futility. While he salvaged his day with a late touchdown, he now has only 179 yards on 12 receptions through six games. Either his high target count suggests he’s vastly undervalued, or that target count is poised to decline if/when other WRs step up. We’ll know more in the coming weeks.

Ravens vs. Chargers

The last time Devonta Freeman, Latavius Murray, and Le’Veon Bell scored on the same day was forever ago. Last week, I warned readers to dump Murray because, in any given game, one of four RBs would rise to the occasion. I did not anticipate three of them would. Seriously, who would have thought after Week 1 that we’d see a game like this, where the only RB not to score (or even earn a touch) was Ty’Son Williams?

This was a disastrous loss for the Chargers. Credit Baltimore’s defense, and don’t overthink this: Justin Herbert, Austin Ekeler, Keenan Allen, and a healthy Mike Williams form one of the most top-heavy teams in the NFL. They’re not likely to get shut down again this year.

Which fantasy-relevant players from the 4 PM ET slate bear discussion?

Browns vs. Cardinals

All eyes are on Kareem Hunt’s injury, which reportedly concerns his calf rather than his Achilles. So, fantasy managers can exhale a bit as we await the MRI. And Donovan Peoples-Jones went from “streamer” to “wow” in one afternoon. In light of Jarvis Landry’s imminent return, it will be interesting to see how one of the most run-friendly teams in league history can feed more than one wideout per game.

And James Conner out-carried Chase Edmonds 16-4. After a quiet opening couple of weeks, Conner has been on fire in fantasy with 5 touchdowns in Weeks 3-5. Although his Week 6 fantasy output was unremarkable, his usage told the most compelling story.

Broncos vs. Raiders

I was wrong to dismiss Fant this summer as a back-end TE1. He’s earned 10+ targets in two of the last three games and is now the No. 6 fantasy tight end. However — and this is a big “however” — the bigger test will be when Jerry Jeudy returns. Will Fant remain a consistent top-three receiving option?

After getting only 3 touches combined in the last two contests, Kenyan Drake shook off the cobwebs to amass 73 yards and 2 scores on 6 touches. I have written continually these last 12 months about Josh Jacobs’ TD dependency. He is startable in fantasy because of scoring opportunities, not efficient running or a steady dose of receptions. If Drake is ascending, that will be trouble for those rostering Jacobs.

Patriots vs. Cowboys

Somehow, Damien Harris and Rhamondre Stevenson both had good days. I keep waiting to see which one will seize control of this backfield. Meanwhile, after averaging 38 pass attempts in his first five games, Mac Jones threw a career-low 21 passes. In other words, head coach Bill Belichick probably game-planned Sunday to be a Harris/Stevenson-led offense. Don’t get used to both of them helping fantasy managers in the same week.

I traded for CeeDee Lamb Saturday night. He’s been one of my top acquisition targets for the past three weeks. There’s no conceivable way he should have had about the same fantasy point total as Dalton Schultz. Something had to give, and yesterday it did. I won yesterday on Lamb’s game-winning touchdown. Savvy fantasy management begins with paying attention to stats, expectations, and shifting market values.

What were the biggest fantasy football takeaways from Sunday Night Football in Week 6?

Steelers vs. Seahawks

Ben Roethlisberger went toe-to-toe with a longtime backup QB, which pretty much sums up the 39-year-old’s injured body and/or declining abilities. Most notably, while Eric Ebron got a goal-line touchdown, fellow TE Pat Freiermuth earned more attention — 6 receptions for 56 yards (both career-high marks). Last night might have signaled that Freiermuth overtook Ebron as the better fantasy TE in Pittsburgh.

For Seattle, I was right about DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett being incredibly risky fantasy starters. However, I was wrong about Alex Collins’ low ceiling. Collins carried an offense that couldn’t do much of anything through the air. He will be the team’s only semi-safe fantasy starter until Russell Wilson or Chris Carson returns.



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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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