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NFL picks, predictions against spread Week 8: Seahawks clip 49ers; Eagles, Bills bury Cowboys, Patriots

Week 7 was a solid week of picks and predictions against the spread. But Week 8 brings some tighter matchups in one of the the 2020 season’s best overall sets of games.

There are seven division games coming up, including a few rematches. There also is the most massive spread of the year on the slate.

Here’s diving into our latest fearless forecast of pigskin prognostications. The odds come courtesy of the consensus of Las Vegas sportsbooks.

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NFL picks against the spread for Week 8

NFC Game of the Week: 49ers at Seahawks (-3, 54 o/u)

Sunday, 4:25 p.m. ET, Fox

The 49ers have found their offensive groove again with Jimmy Garopppolo. The Seahawks keep on rolling with Russell Wilson, but their defensive woes finally caught up to them. San Francisco will be down wide receiver Deebo Samuel again, while Seattle is set to have running back Chris Carson out of the lineup. It’s easier to trust Wilson to execute on more big plays and shake off a multiple-interception game at home vs. Jimmy G on the road. With the rushing attacks contained, Wilson operates the more dangerous overall passing game.

Pick: Seahawks win 34-27 and cover the spread.

Game of the Midweek: Falcons at Panthers (-2.5, 49 o/u)

Thursday, 8:20 p.m. ET, Fox, NFL Network and Amazon Prime Video

The Falcons lost the first matchup at home when Matt Ryan struggled without Julio Jones. They should be effective in running the ball with Todd Gurley and Jones’ presence creates a tough coverage trickle down for the Panthers, even with their strong pass rush led by Brian Burns. The Panthers are still likely to be without Christian McCaffrey, a needed difference-maker. Still, Jones and Calvin Ridley have the bigger night than Panthers counterparts Robby Anderson and D.J. Moore as a shootout develops between Ryan and Teddy Bridgewater.

Pick: Falcons win 31-27.

AFC Game of the Week: Steelers at Ravens (-3, 46.5 o/u)

Sunday, 1 p.m. ET,  CBS

The Ravens get the benefit of a bye to prepare for the perfect Steelers (6-0). They should fix some things offensively in terms of getting more receivers involved for Lamar Jackson and streamlining the traditional running game. The Ravens will get some big plays from Marquise Brown and Mark Andrews is a tough red zone cover for the Steelers as Jackson’s running neutralizes the Steelers’ pass rush a bit. The Ravens’ tough defensive backs will contain what Ben Roethlisberger can do to counter after slowing down the running game.

Pick: Ravens win 24-20 and cover the spread.

Lock of the Week: Chiefs (-19.5, 49 o/u) over Jets

Sunday, 1 p.m. ET, CBS

The Jets held the Bills to all field goals to cover an 11-point spread. That’s not happening again against the Chiefs’ offense in the ultimate revenge game for Le’Veon Bell. Patrick Mahomes and his weapons will pour it on early and get plenty of help from more sacks and takeaways produced by the defense. Then it will be turning over the game to plenty of Bell and Clyde Edwards-Helaired to keep up the ball control and scoring. The Jets will go back to being ripped by the Super Bowl favorites as best doesn’t hold back against worst.

Pick: Chiefs win 44-10 and cover the spread.

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Upset of the Week: Raiders over Browns (-2.5, 54.5 o/u)

Sunday, 1 p.m. ET, Fox

The Raiders are little more put together in terms of a team identity and overall, Derek Carr is playing better than Baker Mayfield in similar offenses where the passing game is set up by success in the running game. Las Vegas’ defense has plenty of holes, while Cleveland is powered by Myles Garrett and little else. Jon Gruden will come in with the better overall game plan and the Browns cannot slow down Carr’s principals, Josh Jacobs and Darren Waller. The Browns’ limited receiving pop gives the Raiders the little break they needed.

Pick: Raiders win 30-27.

Rams (-3.5, 49 o/u) at Dolphins

Sunday, 1 p.m. ET, Fox

The Rams have to make a long road trip on a short week, but history with Sean McVay says they are excellent in handling these types of situations. They fell at Buffalo but rallied well and took care of business in Washington and Philadelphia. Here, Miami is throwing rookie first-rounder Tua Tagovailoa at Aaron Donald and Jalen Ramsey behind a shaky offensive line. The Dolphins’ defense has been active and much better of late, but they are still vulnerable against run-heavy attacks and are vulnerable inside against tight ends and the slot.

Pick: Rams win 27-20 and cover the spread.

Vikings at Packers (-6.5, 54.5 o/u)

Sunday, 1 p.m. ET, Fox

The Packers set the tone for their follow-up season as NFC North champions by ripping the Vikings in Week 1, holding on 43-34. Green Bay had a hiccup against Tampa Bay, but quickly washed that away in Houston. Back home at Lambeau, the Packers should feel confident for the sweep, even with Aaron Jones hurting and Minnesota returning from a bye with Dalvin Cook likely back healthy. Simply, Aaron Rodgers is sharper and cleane than Kirk Cousins in these types of shootout matchups. 

Pick: Packers win 31-27 but fail to cover the spread.

Colts (-2.5, 50.5 o/u) at Lions

Sunday, 1 p.m. ET, CBS

Don’t look now, but Detroit has won two straight games coming off a bye and the defense is starting to have some impact under Matt Patricia. The Lions are finding out more things offensively around Matthew Stafford, too, using T.J. Hockenson and D’Andre Swift more and in the right ways. The Colts are coming off a bye more confident in Philip Rivers, but even though Jonathan Taylor can run to big things back in Big Ten country, Rivers is hard to trust on the road even in a contained environment in Ford Field. Stafford plays well in a tough spot and gets the Lions shockingly above .500 while the Colts regress more to the mean. Matt Prater knocks home the game-winner this time.

Pick: Lions win 23-20.

Titans (-5.5, 54.5 o/u) at Bengals

Sunday, 1 p.m. ET, CBS

The Titans should get back to running the ball at a high level to facilitate a strong passing game for Ryan Tannehill. Tannehill and Joe Burrow will be involved in a high-scoring affair but Tennessee will make more key stops with sacks and takeaways. Cincinnati will sell out to stop Derrick Henry and be exposed against the Titans’ tight ends and speedy receivers. Burrow has the wideouts to work over the Titans’ secondary to keep his team in it with a late rally, but the Bengals fall a little short coming back.

Pick: Titans win 27-24 but fail to cover the spread.

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Patriots at Bills (-3.5, 44 o/u)

Sunday, 1 p.m. ET, CBS

The 5-2 Bills didn’t get pretty against the Jets but they did get well from the tough losses to the Titans and the Chiefs, maybe having a breakthrough in their traditional running game with rookie Zack Moss. This seems like a chance for the 2-4 Patriots to get back into the division race and they couldn’t lose four straight games badly, could they? But there’s a big advantage at quarterback for Josh Allen over Cam Newton and New England can’t simply win this one with a run-heavy, defensive-minded approach.

Pick: Bills win 24-17 and cover the spread. 

Chargers (-3, 45 o/u) at Broncos

Sunday, 4:05 p.m. ET, CBS

The Chargers have gotten an offensive jolt from Justin Herbert and he’ll keep lighting up an overrated defense with his big arm and legs. He’s spreading the ball around like a veteran and leaning on the run when needed. Drew Lock, meanwhile, is quickly proving not to be the answer for the Broncos and he’s not making good use of their weapons with former Charger Melvin Gordon running well but not at an elite level.

Pick:  Chargers win 24-13 and cover the spread.

Saints (-3, 47 o/u) at Bears

Sunday, 4:25 p.m. ET, Fox

This is not a good matchup for Chicago because the Saints aren’t as reliant on the pass with Drew Brees outdoors and will attack the Bears’ weakness in run defense more.  The Saints’ struggling secondary gets a break with the Bears having only one dominant wide receiver. The Bears will struggle to run the ball against the Saints’ stout front, put Nick Foles in more uncomfortable situations than Brees.

Pick: Saints win 23-17 and cover the spread.

Cowboys at Eagles (-7.5, 43.5 o/u)

Sunday, 8:20 p.m. ET, NBC

The Eagles are fueled by the relentless energy of Carson Wentz. His mental and physical toughness has brought them back from a rough start based on injuries around him. The Cowboys showed little life after Dak Presccott went down and even less when Andy Dalton did. There’s a big disconnect under Mike McCarthy. The Eagles can smell a chance to run away with a weak division vs. sweating it out until December. There’s a good chance rookie seventh-rounder Ben DiNucci starts and maybe he provides some spark on the road. But the well-rested Eagles should rip into them on both sides of the ball.

Pick: Eagles win 27-14 and cover the spread.

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Buccaneers (-10.5, 46.5 o/u) at Giants

Monday, 8:15 p.m. ET, ESPN

The Bucs are rolling with big wins over the Packers and the Raiders. Tom Brady has their offense operating on all cylinders and now it’s deeper than ever in the running game game and wide receiver corps. The defense is nasty against the run and the pass rush is teeing off on one-dimensional opponents. There’s no reason to think the Bucs won’t dominate against a defense with limited playmakers and rattle Daniel Jones in catchup mode vs. Brady.

Pick: Buccaneers win 34-17 and cover the spread.

Stats of the Week

Week 7 straight up: 11-3

Week 7 against the spread: 9-5

Season straight up: 70-34

Season against the spread: 67-38

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Browns donate $350,000 to close digital divide in poverty-stricken East Cleveland schools

Football briefly took a backseat for the Cleveland Browns on Friday morning. 

Rather than kick off their day with their typical planning meeting for the final practice leading up to Sunday’s game, coach Kevin Stefanski and his players carried out a more pressing mission: continuing their fight for social justice in their community. More specifically, the Browns took steps toward eliminating the digital divide that has placed students in the East Cleveland City Schools district at a severe educational disadvantage.

The Browns held a Zoom call with administrators, educators and students to inform them that they are donating $350,000 to East Cleveland’s schools to better equip students for virtual learning. The funds will purchase 325 Chromebooks for students, improve internet connections for 500 families, provide 200 hotspots for others, and get five teachers Dolby voice room kits, plus additional educational tools. 

“We’ve heard a lot about the digital divide and how difficult it’s been for students to learn,” defensive tackle Larry Ogunjobi told the team’s Zoom guests, “and we know how education is such an important part of everyone’s overall success and we want to help. … We understand that we’re going through some dark times, but just understand that there’s a light at the end of the tunnel.”

Larry Ogunjobi, a key figure on the Browns' social justice committee, helped organize a $350,000 donation from Browns players, coaches and the organization to East Cleveland schools. (Photo: Ken Blaze, USA TODAY Sports)

With the support of owners Jimmy and Dee Haslam, Browns players since 2017 have made a concerted effort to bring light to the underprivileged in their community. As a result, Cleveland has ranked among the NFL’s most active teams on the social justice front. They have worked with local and state government officials on criminal justice reform, and the Browns have strived to eliminate educational barriers for children in the area.

When the team convened for training camp after an offseason marked by tumult as COVID-19 and racial tensions gripped the country, members of the Browns’ social justice committee began discussing how to make a bigger impact than in years past. The organization already had plans to partner with a statewide initiative called the “Stay in the Game! Keep Learning, Every Day” Network, which focuses on ending school absenteeism. But the Browns' social justice committee wanted to do more. 

They zeroed in on the East Cleveland area, which is the fourth-poorest city in the country, where 46% of the district's 1,610 students are chronically absent, according to figures provided by the Browns. The impact of the coronavirus pandemic added to the pre-existing challenges for students and educators in the school district.

“Looking at social justice reform and in some of the meetings and things we’ve talked about, we realized that the digital divide was such a big thing,” Ogunjobi told USA TODAY Sports by telephone. “These kids are at such a disadvantage, especially now that everything is going virtual. Not having internet connectivity at home, not having the resources to get online and learn puts these kids at such a disadvantage. We’re trying to level the playing field because so many things in life, whether it’s systemic or whether people are just kind of down and out, a lot of times, basic needs just aren’t being met.

"The world is so technological now, so if you don’t have certain needs being met, or basic technologies, you’re just at a disadvantage. So, seeing the digital divide was such a big point, we really wanted to make a difference in that area.”

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The social justice committee – Ogunjobi and teammates Baker Mayfield, Jarvis Landry, Odell Beckham Jr., Sheldrick Redwine, Charley Hughlett, Myles Garrett, Joel Bitonio, Chris Hubbard, Kendall Lamm, Olivier Vernon and coaches Stefanski, Joe Woods and Stump Mitchell – learned how the Browns could meet the East Cleveland City Schools’ digital needs and then presented the idea to the rest of the Browns' roster. The players and coaches pooled their own money to come up with the bulk of the donation, and then upon learning of their mission, the Browns organization made up the difference to ensure that the school district would receive the needed $350,000.

“It was an awesome outpouring,” Ogunjobi said. “The Haslams have always been pushing education, being one of the mainstays. And to have everyone jump on board, wanting to donate, wanting to give.”

Earlier this week, Ogunjobi and members of the Browns' social justice committee held a Zoom call with students and teachers to hear about the educational challenges they have encountered during the pandemic. On Friday, those same students and educators were on the Zoom call in which the Browns announced their plan of action.

“We understand this is a difficult learning environment, what we’re doing right now,” Stefanski said on the Zoom conference. “We’ve been doing this since April. We’ve had a ton of Zoom calls with our players doing just this, trying to learn virtually, and it’s not easy. … Our players, our entire organization, the Haslam family, we want to make a positive impact on this community, and what better way to do that than to help ensure students are getting a quality education, that students and teachers have a quality environment for learning?”

Ogunjobi then took over and announced the donation, much to the delight of the East Cleveland students, teachers and administrators.

Later in the day, fueled by the hope that he saw on their faces, Ogunjobi expressed hope that his team’s contributions are only the start to a continued partnership and true launching pad for change in the area.

“I feel like we’re at a time where talking is kind of over with,” he said. “When you’re able to really put actions behind your words, that’s when you can really impact the lives of these kids and that’s the most important thing.”

Follow USA TODAY Sports’ Mike Jones on Twitter @ByMikeJones and listen to the Football Jones podcast on iTunes.

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Tom Brady: The Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback has turned Bruce Arians’ team into legitimate contenders

The older Tom Cruise gets, the more spectacular the save-the-world, age-defying stunt seems to be in his Mission Impossible films. It’s a little like Tom Brady on a football field.

Neither Brady or his cinematic namesake possess unrivalled physical gifts, nor are they the freakishly shifty athletes or strapping assassins of their respective disciplines at this stage in their careers. But both are still somewhere near the top of your list of seasoned protagonists.

No matter how hard you try and hide from it, a 43-year-old Tom Brady 20 years on is still the story in the NFL.

It was a point in favour of team ‘should have kept Brady’ in Week Seven as Cam Newton and the New England Patriots’ pass offense stalled in rather alarming fashion against the San Francisco 49ers.

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Brady’s successor in Foxborough threw just nine of 15 for 98 yards and three interceptions, with the scheme recalibrating to incorporate the read option and quarterback design runs following two decades of a pocket-passer having lost its early-season sparkle.

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Earlier that day Brady had put on a clinic in the Bucs’ win over the Las Vegas Raiders, finishing 33 of 45 passing for 368 yards and four touchdowns, as well as sneaking in another from a yard out.

In the latest installment of Mission Impossible, Cruise fights Henry Cavill on the edge of a cliff, at one point hanging off the edge in a helicopter he just crashed, before removing the key from a detonator threatening to set off two nuclear bombs.

In the latest installment of what could be Brady’s thrilling finale, he rolled back the days to his time with Wes Welker as he expertly navigated the pocket before dropping an inch-perfect pass into the path of Scotty Miller at the back corner of the end zone for a 33-yard touchdown.

‘That used to be me,’ you could hear a distant Julian Edelman utter, with five-foot-10 little-known Miller, a 2019 sixth-round pick out of Bowling Green, having emerged Brady’s new undersized go-to target in Tampa.

Poor Scotty was ignored amid excitement over the weapons awaiting Brady in Tampa upon his arrival. For him to lead the team with 365 receiving yards from a joint-second most 22 catches is a sign of his quarterback making this offense his own.

Brady’s 18 touchdown passes and four interceptions tie for his third-best ever after seven games, while his 15-1 touchdown-interception ration since Week Three ranks first in the NFL.

It should not come as a shock that it has taken him some time to settle down in a new environment. When you spend 20 years playing to the tune of one team, particularly with the Patriots’ way of doing things, time was always needed, even more so when considering delays to training camp and the absence of preseason.

A lot of the early concerns stemmed primarily from the opening game defeat to the New Orleans Saints when Brady was intercepted twice, Janoris Jenkins returning one of those for a touchdown.

The Bucs offense was out of sync, a banged-up Mike Evans was barely involved, rookie left tackle Tristan Wirfs was tasked with a tough debut assignment and Brady was working with head coach Bruce Arians and offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich in a live situation for the first time.

Brady went on to throw another interception against the Carolina Panthers in Week Two, followed by a fourth of the season in the comeback win over the Los Angeles Chargers, during which he became the oldest quarterback to throw for five touchdowns in a single game.

Injuries have not helped either. Pro Bowl wide receiver Chris Godwin will miss Monday’s clash with the New York Giants with a fractured finger having missed three games earlier this year due to a concussion and hamstring issue, Evans has not been fully healthy at all times and tight end O.J. Howard is out for the year with a torn Achilles,

Of Cruise’s crack teams down the years, his most recent of Simon Pegg, Rebecca Ferguson and Ving Rhames is up there with his most talented. The same can be said for Brady, with Antonio Brown still to come – we just have not seen it at full strength just yet.

The emergence of Rob Gronkowski in recent weeks has been a major plus point after his old friend had spent the opening month brushing off the cobwebs upon his return to the NFL.

The win over the Raiders saw Brady and Gronk connect for their 92nd touchdown, tying for second most in NFL history with Steve Young and Jerry Rice behind only Peyton Manning and Marvin Harrison.

Having hauled in just 12 catches in his first five games as a Buccaneer, Gronkowski has 10 receptions for 140 yards and two touchdowns across his last two outings. That includes a sideline catch on a beautifully-weighted pass between two defenders in the win against the Green Bay Packers.

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“It just takes time,” coach Bruce Arians said of Brady’s start. “I think the lack of continuity also hurt him a bunch. Hopefully we can have some continuity going forward, and he can continue to work with timing and all those things.

“I think Byron (Leftwich) has done a great job of having him ready to play, him seeing the coverages and where we want to place the ball.”

Arians made a point of noting that Leftwich takes note of Brady’s preferences in view of adding them to the offense, which again alludes to a relationship that is only going to strengthen and garner more results on the field as the season progresses.

In leading the NFL’s No 3 ranked scoring offense, Brady has shunned suggestions that he has lost his arm strength. It’s not the same, of course it is not, he’s a 20-year vet in his 40s? But he can still sling it.

Brady’s deep pass rate is ranked fourth in the NFL this season, while he has thrown a third-most 505 yards on deep passes. His deep pass rate (14.6) is the highest it has ever been in the Next Gen States era since 2016 and his passer rating when targeting go routes (137.9) is fourth-highest in the league.

According to Pro Football Reference, Brady’s 2,289 intended air yards are also fourth-most in 2020.

His efforts were recognised this week with the NFC Offensive Player of the Month award for October after he had led all quarterbacks with 12 touchdown passes and 13 scores in total, helping the Bucs average a second-most 35 points per game.

Brady will meet a familiar face on Monday when he comes up against Giants head coach Joe Judge, who was on the Patriots coaching staff from 2012 up until his departure earlier this year.

For Judge, who is five years younger than Brady at 38, his former six-time Super Bowl-winning colleague’s recent form is no surprise.

“He was a ton of fun to be around,” he said. You really got to see one of the great competitors on a daily basis of not only how he performed, but more importantly how he prepared.

“I think that’s some of the things that get overlooked. It’s not accidental this guy’s playing this late in his timeline of being 40-plus years old and still playing at this high level.”

Todd Bowles’ exceptional defense are equally deserving of a nod, ranking third overall and first against the run as well as recording a second-most 25 sacks. And as he was in the latter stages of his Patriots career, Brady has been complemented well by a capable run game led by Ronald Jones and Leonard Fournette.

Right now, the Bucs look like one of the NFL’s juggernauts, stacked with talent on both sides of the ball and, crucially, led by a quarterback threatening to put together one of his best seasons.

“We’re 5-2. I don’t think anything has been perfect out there,” Brady said. “We’re fighting and clawing for every win. I think we’re improving every week, which has really been fun for me to see dating back to the offseason when we started talking about football.”

It may not be 2007 Brady or 2016 Brady, but 2020 Brady could shape up to be something special.

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How does political perception differ from reality in American sports?

    Previously a Staff Writer at Bleacher Report
    Cornell University graduate

Editor’s note: This is one in a series of six pieces that shows how professional sports owners in America contribute to political campaigns, why they spend millions in the space and what that financial power means as athletes across sports continue to embrace activism of their own.

THE LOS ANGELES DODGERS faced a decision. They had just paid one of baseball’s highest-profile stars, Mookie Betts, $365 million. And now their star, after expressing hesitancy in 2016 to kneel during the national anthem because of his father’s military service in Vietnam, had changed his position.

“I wasn’t educated,” Betts said in July about why his stance changed. “That’s my fault. I need to be educated on the situation. I know my dad served, and I’ll never disrespect the flag, but there’s also gotta be change in the world, and kneeling has nothing to do with those who served our country.”

How would the team respond?

The organization backed him publicly — a purposeful move into politics that historically hasn’t been a choice that sports franchises have been all that comfortable making. Image, the saying goes, is everything, and businesses have long been concerned about alienating customers. Yet the Dodgers’ move, like so many similar efforts seen in 2020 from throughout the sports industry, would seem to indicate a significant philosophical change that emanates right from the top of these organizations.

Not so much, at least by one measure: Campaign donations by owners to politicians and parties can be at odds with the public statements and actions of the teams they own. According to an ESPN study of publicly accessible Federal Election Commission donation records, owners of American pro sports teams have tended to support Republican politicians over their Democratic counterparts since 2015.

Looking closer over the past two years, owners in the NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL and NASCAR all donated significantly more money to the Republican Party than they did to Democrats. Among these leagues, owners in the NBA — the league most often at the center of discussion regarding its overt messaging — actually contributed the second-most cash to the GOP ($8.4 million), trailing MLB ($15.1 million).

The WNBA, a league that has been on the forefront of social activism in American professional sports, provides a clear example of perception vs. reality. The league is the only one of the six in ESPN’s research with a liberal tilt, though it’s small, with owners sending $1,634,153 (51.7%) to purely Democratic causes vs. $1,338,459 (42.3%) to Republicans. The conservative donations from the league as a whole come largely from a single source, Atlanta Dream co-owner and U.S. Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R-Georgia). She accounts for more than 65% of the WNBA ownership’s GOP donations. (WNBA players have worn shirts reading “Vote Warnock” to support Raphael Warnock, one of Loeffler’s opponents in her 2020 Senate race.)

“It appears there’s no link between a league’s image and the politics of its owners, or at least their political spending patterns,” said University of California, Davis political science professor Ethan Scheiner, who studies the intersection of sports and politics. “This pattern of no connection between image and politics is common in business.”

WHILE THE NBA might have embraced the Black Lives Matter movement more strongly than any of the other four major men’s sports leagues, the audience of the league also differs from the NFL, MLB or the NHL. At the height of social unrest in the nation, public support was strong.

A Nielsen study in July found growing support for Black Lives Matter among American sports fans, with 83% of NBA fans, 81% of NFL fans, 80% of MLB fans and 78% of NHL fans supporting the role of athletes in raising awareness for racial injustice. Additionally, 76% of NBA fans, 72% of NFL fans, 69% of MLB fans and 66% of NHL fans supported the Black Lives Matter movement at the time.

“There was such overwhelming support in the country for athlete activism and for teams supporting their athletes and for the public, even wanting their brands to be engaged in social justice issues,” said Richard Lapchick, director of the Institute for Diversity & Ethics in Sports at the University of Central Florida and a human rights activist involved in the intersection of sports and race since the 1970s. “From a business perspective, when you read stuff like that, it’s also good business to do what I would call the right thing.”

It’s easier to do “the right thing” when the issues are popular among a broad array of a business’ demographics — and even easier when those issues affect a significant portion of its core fan base.

According to a Morning Consult poll from September 2020, the NBA has the highest percentage of Black and Hispanic fans at 27% and 23%, respectively, with also the highest percentage of fans identifying as Democrats among the four major men’s sports leagues at 42%, versus 38% in the NFL and MLB, and 36% for the NHL.

Additionally, 58% of sports fans believe brands are making a difference in combating racism, according to an October study by Kantar. And 51% of the overall population feels the same way.

Still, Brooklyn Nets guard Kyrie Irving questioned before the NBA restart whether playing games in the bubble would take attention away from the social justice movement across the country. That early skepticism from Irving and additional players, including Dwight Howard and Avery Bradley, helped push the NBA to make financial commitments beyond the painting of Black Lives Matter on the court and printing social justice phrases on the back of jerseys.

The NBA board of governors and the NBPA finalized a deal in August to contribute $300 million to the Black community over the next decade, with each team donating $1 million. But Heat forward Andre Iguodala questioned whether this support from the league amounted to marketing for its core fan base.

In an interview before Game 3 of the 2020 NBA Finals, NBA commissioner Adam Silver tamped down expectations that such displays of activism would continue next season: “I would say in terms of the messages you see on the court on our jerseys, this was an extraordinary moment in time, when we began the discussions with the players and what we all lived through this summer.”

“My sense is there will be some sort of return to normalcy. That those messages will largely be left to be delivered off the floor,” Silver continued. “And I understand those people who are saying ‘I’m on your side, but I want to watch a basketball game.'”

The shift in rhetoric also alludes to waning public enthusiasm. In the Kantar poll in October, the number of sports fans saying they considered themselves supporters of the Black Lives Matter movement had dropped to 60%.

Harry Edwards, a professor emeritus of sociology at the University of California, Berkeley, and a mentor to Colin Kaepernick, said that in large part, fans do not support a sports franchise based on the political leanings of team ownership. If activist messaging no longer makes business sense to buoy a fan base, owners have little incentive to abide by politics incongruent with their own.

Edwards said: “Part of that transactional structuring has been the owners saying, ‘OK, look, we’ll let you wear the T-shirts. We’ll let you make the statements. We’ll even get behind you in not playing the first game, and hold meetings and town halls. We’ll even open up the pavilions for voting registration and casting votes, and so forth. But in exchange, you play out this season as scheduled.'”

TEN DAYS AFTER George Floyd’s killing, NFL stars including Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes, Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott, Cleveland Browns wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. and Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson filmed a video asking the league to “listen to your players.”

“On behalf of the National Football League, this is what we, the players, would like to hear you state,” the players said in the video. “We the National Football League condemn racism and the systematic oppression of Black people. We the National Football League admit wrong in silencing our players from peacefully protesting. We the National Football League believe Black Lives Matter.”

A day later, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell released a video through Twitter where he said, “We, the NFL, admit we were wrong for not listening to NFL players earlier and encourage all to speak out and peacefully protest. We, the NFL, believe Black Lives Matter.”

Amid pressure from players and a changing social landscape, Goodell later told ESPN he encouraged teams to sign free-agent quarterback Colin Kaepernick. No team has taken him up on that.

“I think as a society, we have kind of listened to athletes casually. It’s always been like singular voices here and singular voices there,” Lapchick said. “Now, with athletes acting as a group, they have, like any other group that forms, a bigger voice than a single leader.”

Before the season, the NFL announced it would paint the phrase “It Takes All of Us” and “End Racism” in each team’s end zone. The league also announced it would play “Lift Every Voice and Sing” — known as the Black national anthem — before games on opening weekend while supporting the right for players to freely protest, a marked change from the Kaepernick era. After decades of controversy surrounding the team’s name, the Washington Football Team adopted its new moniker.

“The biggest factor in shaping the extent to which leagues are going to take a stand, make statements … absolutely is the workforce,” Scheiner said.

But that hasn’t changed how owners donate. In 2020, NFL owners have donated more than $1.2 million to Republican campaigns. Six owners across sports — Ken Kendrick (Diamondbacks), Dan Gilbert (Cavaliers), Micky Arison (Heat), Josh Harris (76ers), Dan DeVos (Magic) and Charles Johnson (Giants) — have collectively donated $26,000 to Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton’s campaigns or to PACs supporting the Republican in this election cycle. In June, Cotton called for “an overwhelming show of force” against protesters in the wake of George Floyd’s death while in police custody.

At the same time, Texas Sen. John Cornyn questioned the idea of systematic racism in America. Cornyn is among the most popular politicians in ESPN’s database. Over the past two election cycles, 15 owners have contributed more than $340,000 to his campaigns either directly or indirectly. That list includes Charles and Greg Johnson, Clark Hunt, Edward Roski, Jimmy and Susan Haslam, John Stanton, Josh Harris, Kelly Loeffler, Ken Kendrick, Micky Arison, Philip Anschutz, Ray Davis, Stephen Ross and Tilman Fertitta.

The group approach behind recent athlete activism, Edwards said, has forced leagues and owners to at least acknowledge player demands. Instead of a single target for criticism, such as Kaepernick, many star players are standing together in the fight against racial injustice and police brutality.

As owners and leagues begin to roll back public support, it’s easy to allow the perception of progressiveness to fill their societal obligation. The pressure that athletes have collectively wielded in recent months will be increasingly important.

“These athletes realize now that they can demand a seat at the table,” Edwards said. “When you demand a seat at the table, you’re not talking about, ‘Put a chair against the back wall.’ You’re not talking about, ‘Put an additional chair in the room.’ Somebody has got to get up! Somebody who had influence and power, who determined how these things go, has to get up.”

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Trevor Lawrence: Clemson Tigers quarterback tests positive for coronavirus

Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence has tested positive for COVID-19, putting into doubt whether the face of college football will be available to play the top-ranked Tigers’ biggest game of the season.

Clemson coach Dabo Swinney said in a statement released by the school on Thursday night that Lawrence is in isolation with mild symptoms.

Swinney said Lawrence would miss Clemson’s game on Saturday against Boston College. The Tigers are scheduled to play No. 4 Notre Dame in South Bend, Indiana, on November 7.

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Individuals who test positive for COVID-19 must isolate for a minimum of 10 days.

Lawrence said in a statement on Twitter that his symptoms have been relatively mild and he was following protocol from Clemson and the ACC about the virus.

“The only thing that hurts is missing an opportunity to be with my teammates this weekend and play the game I love,” he said.

Lawrence said he’d be watching and cheering for the Tigers from isolation.

The junior from Georgia is a leading contender for the Heisman Trophy and potentially the top overall pick in next year’s NFL draft.

pic.twitter.com/bj9A33te65

He led the Tigers (6-0, 5-0 Atlantic Coast Conference) to a national championship as a freshman and back to the College Football playoff championship game last season. Clemson’s loss to LSU in the title game was the first and still only game the Tigers have lost in Lawrence’s 32 career starts.

Clemson is tested three times a week per Atlantic Coast Conference protocol.

Lawrence created a stir earlier this week when asked about his NFL future.

“My mindset has been that I’m going to move on,” Lawrence said on Tuesday. “But who knows? There’s a lot of things that could happen.”

Swinney said that while Lawrence will be missed against the Eagles (4-2, 3-2), it was an opportunity for other guys to step up.

Freshman passer D.J. Uiagalelei has been the first in after Lawrence this season when games get out of hand. Uiagalelei was rated the country’s second-best college prospect by Rivals.com last season. He enrolled in January and went through spring drills until the coronavirus pandemic shut down college sports in March.

Uiagalelei has completed 12 of 19 passes for 102 yards. The Tigers also have used sophomore Taisun Phommachanh and Hunter Helms at quarterback this season.

Clemson has won its past 27 games against ACC competition and the past nine against Boston College.

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Dallas Cowboys’ release of Dontari Poe was due to his weight and lack of production

The Dallas Cowboys' release of defensive tackle Dontari Poe on Wednesday was due to his weight and lack of production, team owner Jerry Jones told ESPN. 

The eternally open-door Cowboys defense currently ranks 27th in yards allowed per game (408.1) and last in the league in points allowed per game (34.7). That prompted some roster changes this week. Defensive end Everson Griffen was traded to the Detroit Lions on Tuesday. Then on Wednesday, the Cowboys released Poe and defensive back Daryl Worley.

"When you're 30 pounds overweight and you're not doing anything about what's keeping you from performing well on the field, there is no reason to get into the other stuff," Jones told ESPN.

According to ESPN, the "other stuff" Jones was referring to is Poe being the only Cowboys player to protest during the national anthem. Jones had been among the strongest voices in the NFL opposing the form of peaceful protest in its early days. He had insisted players stand at attention. Jones softened his tone heading into the 2020 season.

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Dontari Poe (95) kneels during the national anthem prior to the Week 2 game against the Atlanta Falcons at AT&T Stadium. (Photo: Matthew Emmons, USA TODAY Sports)

In the offseason, Poe – a nine-year NFL veteran and a 2012 first-round pick by the Kansas City Chiefs – signed a two-year, $8.5 million contract with the Cowboys. That deal included $3.5 million guaranteed. In seven games – all starts – for the Cowboys this season, Poe had just seven tackles and no sacks.

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NFL Fantasy Football Start 'Em, Sit 'Em Week 8: Intro

I was on KNBR recently, doing a segment with my guy Mark Willard called “mistakes were made.” And like an idiot, I was talking (bragging?) about not having any major blowups this year. And then I faded Tyler Lockett in this space last week. I mean, he has been inconsistent. The Cardinals hadn’t allowed a lot of production to wide receivers. There seemed like there were some other good options out there.

But mistakes were made.

And it’s not like Lockett just scored a pair of touchdowns and it was bad. Russell Wilson apparently took this all very personally as he targeted Lockett 20 times. TWENTY TIMES. I haven’t seen a level of devotion this big since my boy Sully first purchased Chumbawamba’s CD when we were kids and he kept playing Tubthumping over and over again. (And kids, ask your parents who Chumbawamba was, and what a CD was as well.)

So that was fun to live through, what with it being a prime-time game and all. And me having numerous shares of DK Metcalf all over the place. I did thankfully start him in one league against IMPACT Wrestling’s Eric Young, so I wasn’t completely left out of the party. Which is of small consolation. (Although beating a world champion is always nice.)

And if you’re wondering why I had Lockett in one of my lineups when I had him as a sit, I’m glad you asked. Because while I talked about my reasons for sitting Lockett (he wasn’t being targeted and it was a bad matchup), you need to apply reason. I had Lockett rated behind guys like Terry McLaurin, Tee Higgins, Davante Adams and some others last week. And if you started one of those guys ahead of him, that made sense. They all got into the end zone. I did have Lockett behind Chase Claypool, which wouldn’t have been so bad if Diontae Johnson hadn’t been taking all of his production. Ultimately, that was a terrible choice. The others look bad in hindsight as well because Lockett put up 50-plus points in various scoring formats. That’s fantasy and it happens some time. Put it behind you and move on. Let’s get ready for Week 8. WEEK EIGHT ALREADY. We are getting close to the fantasy playoffs. It’s hard to believe.

Follow Adam Rank on Twitter @adamrank.

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2020 NFL trade deadline: John Ross, Ryan Kerrigan, Will Fuller and David Njoku among possible movers

As the NFL’s November 3 trade deadline approaches, postseason contenders are gearing up to boost their hopes while those already staring at losing records eye draft capital. 

The NFC East could be a prime chopping block in light of a dismal start to the year for all four teams, wide receivers are likely to be in demand and one or two high-profile surprises may be in the offing.

Defensive end Yannick Ngakoue was recently traded by the Minnesota Vikings to the Baltimore Ravens for a 2021 third-round pick and a conditional 2022 fifth-round pick. He had played just five games in Minnesota having been acquired via a trade with the Jacksonville Jaguars on August 31.

The New York Giants also traded their 2019 sack leader Markus Golden back to the Arizona Cardinals in exchange for a 2021 sixth-round draft pick. A day after it was reported he was on the trade block, veteran defensive end Everson Griffen, who signed a one-year deal with the Dallas Cowboys in August after 10 seasons with the Minnesota Vikings, was traded to the Detroit Lions for a conditional 2021 sixth-round pick.

Cornerbacks Jalen Ramsey and Marcus Peters, running back Kenyan Drake, wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders and defensive end Leonard Williams were among the high-profile movers prior to the 2019 cut-off point.

This year’s deadline is at 4pm ET on Tuesday, after which teams will not be able to trade until the 2021 league year begins.

We take a look at some of the players who could be on the move next Tuesday…

David Njoku – Tight End, Cleveland Browns

Mayfield to Njoku! #Browns take the lead.

📺: #CLEvsCIN on CBS
📱: NFL app // Yahoo Sports app: https://t.co/MIIkbfUwYk pic.twitter.com/Uf7qpUmf8z

Having made an initial trade request on July 3 this summer, tight end David Njoku recently played down a report that he had made a second request ahead of Tuesday’s deadline.

Njoku eventually revoked his initial request in August this past offseason, with the Browns not prepared to move on from the 2017 first-round pick.

The 24-year-old has seven catches for 83 yards and two touchdowns in four outings so far this year, missing three games having been placed on injured reserve with a knee injury.

Cleveland spent big money to sign tight end Austin Hooper in free agency, while rookie Harrison Bryant has asserted himself as a shrewd addition. Could Njoku’s future lie elsewhere?

J.J. Watt/Whitney Mercilus – DE/OLB – Houston Texans

JJ Watt kept his answers short as to what went wrong for the Texans 😬 pic.twitter.com/KGa5UAXijX

Bill O’Brien may be out of the picture, but that has not stopped the trade rumours from surfacing.

At 1-6, the season has fizzled out rather quickly for the Texans and regardless of interim head coach Romeo Crennel’s ability to galvanise his players, this is a team preparing for a new era.

The Texans currently do not own a first-round pick or a second-round pick in 2021 as a result of the trade that saw them acquire left tackle Laremy Tunsil. With that in mind, both of their leading pass rushers having shifted into focus with the trade deadline looming.

J.J. Watt is far from his happy and spirited self right now and while it would come as the week’s major shock, it is impossible to ignore the prospect of the Texans re-gaining those early-rounders by moving him on. But could the Houston brass stomach allowing another of the team’s star players to leave? Maybe not just yet.

That is why Whitney Mercilus looks the more likely of the two to go, should either of them go at all. The pair have three sacks apiece so far in 2020, Watt one away from 100 in his NFL career and Mercilus currently sitting on 53.

Quinnen Williams – DE, New York Jets

New York Daily News’ Manish Mehta reported Tuesday that the New York Jets are attempting to trade defensive end Quinnen Williams before next week’s deadline. Though that claim was quickly shut down by multiple Jets beat reporters, the noise refuses to go ignored.

Williams was selected third overall at the 2019 Draft but has struggled to make an impact during an ugly period for the franchise, which has already shipped safety Jamal Adams and running back Le’Veon Bell in the past year.

The 23-year-old played in just 13 games due to injury in his rookie year, producing just 28 tackles and 2.5 sacks. He has already matched his tackles tally in 2020, as well as putting up three sacks and a forced fumble.

His departure would signify full rebuild mode for the Jets, who look certain to have a new head coach at the helm to begin the 2021 season.

Julio Jones – WR, Atlanta Falcons

The Falcons’ franchise leader in all-time receiving yards has been one of the surprise names to appear on the rumour mill in recent weeks amid the team’s 1-6 start to the year.

NFL Network’s Rapoport reported on Sunday, however, that Atlanta were not planning to trade Jones or quarterback Matt Ryan before Tuesday’s deadline.

When asked if he wanted to be traded after the Week Seven loss to the Detroit Lions, Jones said: “No. I play football. I know who I am, I know what I got going on. I know what I mean to this team.”

Jones signed a three-year, $66m extension in September to become the highest-paid wide receiver in the league at the time, again meaning an enormous hit on the salary cap to any team that might wish to trade for him.

Evan Engram – TE, New York Giants

One of the biggest fears for the current Giants set-up will be tight end Evan Engram failing to fulfil his potential with the team. The ability to be one of the most exciting offensive weapons in his position is there, but between injuries, a stuttering rebuild and individual errors on his part, it just has not quite happened.

Engram looms as one of the most lucrative bargaining chips for an organisation no doubt already planning for 2021, but despite interest from teams NFL Network’s Rapoport claims the Giants have no intention of moving on from the 2017 first-round pick.

The 26-year-old has 179 catches for 1,989 yards and 12 touchdowns in 41 games with the Giants, having been limited to just eight games in 2019 due to injury.

Golden Tate – WR, New York Giants

We will stay in East Rutherford for the time being, this time with an eye on Golden Tate.

The veteran wide receiver was signed at the end of the 2018 season, his yards after catch ability making him a logical arrival as the Giants prepared for life without Odell Beckham Jr.

Tate missed the first four games of the 2019 campaign having violated the NFL’s policy on performance-enhancing substances, before making 49 catches for 676 yards and six touchdowns upon his return. The former Super Bowl has been something of a non-factor so far in 2020, recording just 20 receptions for 195 yards and one score in six games.

Though his production has declined, he can still be a valuable threat for teams eyeing a Super Bowl run, with the cost of his experience something for the Giants to consider.

John Ross – WR, Cincinnati Bengals

From @gmfb: #Bengals WR John Ross approached the team about a trade recently. The speedster, in the last year of his rookie deal, hasn't been playing much of late and wants a fresh start if that's going to continue being the case. pic.twitter.com/0LbfY9ODb4

The 40-yard dash record holder is one of the leading contenders to find a new home before Tuesday having grown unhappy with his lack of action in Cincinnati, as reported by NFL Network’s Mike Garofalo.

Ross had zero catches in three games in his rookie year as he was hindered by injuries, before making 21 catches for 210 yards and seven touchdowns in 13 games in 2018.

He was again frustrated by injuries in 2019, by the end of which he had registered 28 catches for 506 yards and three touchdowns having started the year with back-to-back 100-yard games. So far in 2020 he has just two receptions for 17 yards in three games.

The New England Patriots are in desperate need of a speedy deep threat at wide receiver – could Bill Belichick turn to the wantaway Bengal?

Ryan Kerrigan – EDGE, Washington Football Team

Washington pass rusher Ryan Kerrigan is another of the more realistic movers as he closes out the final year of his contract.

The 32-year-old is a reliable option for any playoff-chasing team down the stretch having played all 16 games in each of his first eight seasons before missing four in 2019.

Kerrigan has 94 sacks and 26 forced fumbles in 147 career games, including four sacks in seven games so far in 2020. An ideal target for the Seattle Seahawks’ 32nd ranked defense, perhaps?

Will Fuller/Brandin Cooks – WR, Houston Texans

The need for draft picks may lead the Texans to trading away another of Deshaun Watson’s leading weapons, whether it be Will Fuller, Brandin Cooks, Kenny Stills or perhaps even two out of the three.

Fuller, when healthy, poses as the kind of deep threat capable of being a useful contributor in any offense, particularly that of a team likely on its way to the playoffs. He leads the Texans with 31 catches for 490 yards and five touchdowns so far this season and is set to become a free agent in 2021.

Cooks is not far behind with 34 catches for 427 yards and two scores, while Stills has been quiet with 10 receptions for 138 yards and just one trip to the end zone.

With Odell Beckham Jr out for the season, the Cleveland Browns may be among the teams searching for a new weapon for Baker Mayfield in view of securing a long-awaited return to the playoffs.

A.J. Green – WR, Cincinnati Bengals

It has been a frustrating return to the field for A.J. Green, who has managed just 29 catches for 297 yards and zero touchdowns this season after missing the entire 2019 campaign through injury.

Tyler Boyd has instead emerged as rookie quarterback Joe Burrow’s No 1 target, while running back Joe Mixon has registered a tied-third most carries out of the backfield.

Green recently insisted he wanted to stay in Cincinnati through the November 3 deadline. Whether the team feel the same way remains to be seen.

Although he is 32 and coming off the back of a season out, Green could still present an intriguing outlet for a receiver-needy team, with the Browns and Patriots potentially in the market. Might the Green Bay Packers even seek a veteran partner for Davante Adams?

Geno Atkins – DT, Cincinnati Bengals

The eight-time Pro Bowl selection, who missed the first four games of the year, has played just 10.45 per cent of defensive snaps in 2020 and is yet to record a sack or a tackle.

Tyler Dragon of the Cincinnati Enquirer reported earlier this month that Atkins has become frustrated by his lack of snaps in a situational role, although added that there were no plans to trade him ahead of the deadline.

Atkins has built a reputation as one of the NFL’s elite interior defensive linemen over the last 10 seasons, collecting 382 total tackles, 75.5 sacks and eight forced fumbles.

The 32-year-old signed a four-year, $65.3m extension with the Bengals back in August 2018, leaving any team that trades for him with a hefty contract on their books.

Defensive end Carlos Dunlap meanwhile appears to be making no secret of his desire to move on, listing his house for sale on Twitter after Sunday’s defeat to the Cleveland Browns, during which he was seen arguing with defensive line coach Nick Eason. The tweet has since been deleted.

Dwayne Haskins – QB, Washington Football Team

Washington are done with second-year quarterback Dwayne Haskins. The only question is, when will the two part?

Head coach Ron Rivera did not just bench the 2019 first-round pick for Kyle Allen, but he made him third-string behind the comeback kid Alex Smith.

One of the glaring issues is the absence of a team prepared to give up anything worthwhile to acquire him? Plus, there are not many clear vacancies.

Right now, it wreaks of a Josh Rosen-like situation for the Ohio State product.

Michael Thomas – WR, New Orleans Saints

Saints head coach Sean Payton recently rubbished an ‘insider’ report suggesting star wide receiver Michael Thomas could be traded, tweeting: “Insiders on the Outside where they belong.”

Thomas has not featured for the Saints since Week One due to injuries and an altercation with team-mate Chauncey Gardner-Johnson, which saw him benched by the team as punishment.

The three-time Pro Bowl selection set an NFL record for receptions in 2019 with 149 for a league-high 1,725 receiving yards. He signed a five-year, $100m extension in July 2019.

Alshon Jeffery – WR, Philadelphia Eagles

Should the right offer come in, the Eagles look almost certain to move on from wide receiver Alshon Jeffery, with Sports Illustrated’s Albert Breer describing him as ‘very clearly available’.

Jeffery has been one of multiple Eagles players to be hit by injury in 2020, so far missing every game this season with a Lisfranc issue.

The 2012 second-round pick has missed 32 games since entering the league, playing a full 16-game season just three times.

Sky Sports NFL is your dedicated channel for NFL coverage through the season – featuring a host of NFL Network programming, a new weekly preview show as well as at least five games a week and NFL Redzone, you won’t miss a moment. Don’t forget to follow us on skysports.com/nfl, our Twitter account @SkySportsNFL & Sky Sports – on the go!

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DraftKings Picks Week 8: NFL DFS lineup advice for daily fantasy football tournaments

The Week 8 NFL slate is going to be a fun one for DFS players. There are a ton of great values that have been created by the plethora of injuries across the league. In particular, there are some bottom-dollar receivers that could end up having big days, and per usual, the low-budget quarterbacks have upside, as well. Our Week 8 DraftKings tournament lineup will target these value plays at QB and WR along with some other lower-cost sleepers to land two of the highest-paid players on the slate.

The main reason we were able to land two high-cost players was spending down at QB. Doing that is always a good strategy, and this week, our starting QB is the third-lowest priced starter on the slate. Mining for that value allowed us to get great players at RB, which is crucial to improving the floor of any quality GPP lineup.

WEEK 8 STANDARD RANKINGS: 
Quarterback | Running back | Wide receiver | Tight end | D/ST | Kicker

It was also important for us to target some of the weaker defenses and higher-scoring matchups. We went after the Vikings and Seahawks, two teams that have struggled against receivers, and also ended up with plenty of shares in the Raiders-Browns game since that one should be an offensive battle. Stacks at QB-WR and RB-D/ST help to give this lineup plenty of upside, and this lineup should have a good chance to get above the cash line in tournament play.

WEEK 8 PPR RANKINGS: 
Quarterback | Running back | Wide receiver | Tight end | D/ST | Kicker

This lineup is for Week 8 DraftKings main slate tournaments.

Carr is one of the lowest-priced starting quarterbacks on the slate, but his upside in this matchup is undeniable. The Browns give up the seventh-most DraftKings points per game (DKPPG) to QBs at a mark of 24.1, and they’re fresh off allowing Joe Burrow to throw for over 400 yards. Carr has been a steady producer this season, logging at least 20.3 DK points in four of his past five games. He also doesn’t turn the ball over, so he should have a good chance to efficiently move the ball down the field against a Cleveland defense that allows 31.6 points per game this season, fourth most in the NFL. Spending down for Carr lets us save money and spend up at other positions to give our lineup a really high ceiling.

For yet another week, we’re trusting Alvin Kamara even though he’s the highest-priced RB on this slate. Kamara has yet to log fewer than 19.9 DK points in a single game, and while he has slowed down a bit after a torrid start, the ceiling remains for him to eclipse the 40-point mark if he’s at his best. The Bears might look like a tough matchup on paper, but they have allowed six TDs to RBs this season and the Rams ran well against them on Monday Night Football. That will give Kamara a chance to reach the end zone, so we’ll take a chance on his high-floor, high-ceiling combination in a matchup that could drive down ownership.

The Raiders are one of just five teams to allow nine total TDs to RBs this season, but the big draw with Hunt here is his ability to catch passes. The Raiders have allowed a 380 receiving yards to RBs this season, tied for second most in the NFL, and with Odell Beckham Jr. (torn ACL) out for the season, Hunt may see some more work as a pass-catcherin this matchup. Hunt has only failed to log double-digit DK points once this year, and that came against the Steelers. He will have a chance to put up his best game of the year if he can take advantage of one of the Raiders’ biggest defensive weaknesses.

Not only do we have the top-priced RB on this slate, we also have the top WR. Adams has been a bit hit-or-miss in this season, as he has two outings with fewer than 12.2 DK points and two with 44.6 or more. That said, one of Adams’ massive outings came against the Minnesota team he is facing in Week 8. Adams should continue to rack up catches and will have a chance to make some big plays as Aaron Rodgers continues to show the Packers that they had no reason to spend a first-round pick on a future QB replacement for him.

And here’s where we start spending down again. Since we have Carr at QB, we wanted to stack him with one of his top receivers. Nelson Agholor and Henry Ruggs may have more upside as deep threats, but at this price, Renfrow is a potential DK steal. Renfrow has been a reliable target for Carr and saw six targets against the Bucs last week, catching four for 42 yards. He is averaging 9.2 DKPPG this year, and if he can reach that number or exceed it, he will be well worth it. Renfrow had a 20-plus-point game earlier in the year against the Patriots, so he is capable of popping off as a PPR machine.

Another sub-$4K receiver? You bet! Bourne’s recent performance against the Patriots might not inspire much confidence, but it’s notable that he was the only receiver not named Brandon Aiyuk or Deebo Samuel to see a target. Now, with Samuel (hamstring) sidelined, Bourne may go back to being the 49ers’ No. 2 receiver. When Samuel was out to start the season, Bourne saw 5.3 targets per game. Given that target upside and the fact that he has 10 TDs over his last 39 games played, Bourne is a great low-cost flier to take on in a matchup against a Seahawks defense that gives up far and away the most DK points to WRs (64.3 per game, next closest is 50).

Smith has just one reception in each of his past two games, and that has caused his price to drop to just $4,100. That could make him a steal. Smith’s dip in production is directly related to an injury he suffered against the Texans. He fought through it against the Steelers, but he couldn’t do much in a tough matchup. With an extra week to heal, Smith should be in better shape and could break out with a big performance once again. Helping his cause is the Bengals’ poor TE defense, which has allowed 480 yards to the position (second most in the NFL) and is fresh off allowing Harrison Bryant and David Njoku to score three times against them.

We’re taking a chance here with Bell as our flex option, but this could work out well. This is a big-time revenge game for Bell, and the Chiefs will surely want to get him more opportunities,if only to appease their newest acquisition. He should know exactly how to attack the Jets’ discombobulated defense and rack up yardage against them. The Jets allow the seventh-most DKPPG to RBs (28.1) so even if Bell is splitting carries with Clyde Edwards-Helaire, there will be plenty of scoring opportunities to go round for Kansas City’s RBs.

The Chiefs have had two outings with 20-plusDK points on the year, and one of them came last week against Denver. They have allowed 20 points or fewer in all but one game this season, and they should have no trouble dominating the Jets’ hapless offense, which stalled out after 10 points against the Bills last week. We’ll grab the Chiefs at this reasonable price and stack them with Le’Veon Bell in what could end up being a high-scoring duo from that game.

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Antonio Brown: Tampa Bay Buccaneers officially sign free agent wide receiver

Free agent wide receiver Antonio Brown has officially signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers after agreeing a one-year deal with the team.

Brown had reportedly also been in discussions with the Seattle Seahawks.

The 32-year-old, who is suspended through Week Eight, will join an already impressive receiver corps including Pro Bowlers Mike Evans and Chris Godwin, as well as Scotty Miller, who leads the team with 365 receiving yards.

WR Antonio Brown now has officially signed with the Buccaneers, per source.

Brown could be on the field for Tampa Bay in Week Nine when the Bucs host the New Orleans Saints on Sunday, November 8 in a matchup of two leading NFC contenders.

Tampa Bay quarterback Tom Brady and Brown were briefly teammates last season in New England, the Patriots keeping Brown for just one game after his short tenure with the then-Oakland Raiders.

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Brown has been a free agent since September 2019, when the Patriots released him after one game following allegations of sexual assault and sending intimidating text messages to an accuser. Those allegations led to an NFL investigation.

In June 2020, Brown was sentenced to two years’ probation, ordered to undergo a psychological evaluation and enrol in a 13-week anger management course by a Florida court after pleading no contest to an assault charge unrelated to the allegations of sexual assault.

As part of the discipline, the league directed Brown to continue his counselling and treatment program.

Brown, a seven-time Pro Bowl selection, had 104 catches for 1,297 yards and a league-best 15 touchdown receptions for the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2018, his last full season. He has 841 career receptions for 11,263 yards and 75 TDs over nine full seasons and part of another.

Sky Sports NFL is your dedicated channel for NFL coverage through the season – featuring a host of NFL Network programming, a new weekly preview show as well as at least five games a week and NFL Redzone, you won’t miss a moment. Don’t forget to follow us on skysports.com/nfl, our Twitter account @SkySportsNFL & Sky Sports – on the go!

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