Patriots

For the NFL, the smart move would be to tap the brakes on 2020 season

For the NFL, the smart move would be to tap the brakes on 2020 season

Maybe tap the brakes for a month, NFL? Wouldn’t that make sense? A little “discretion is the better part of valor” being exercised?

Knock everything back 30 days. The start of training camp, Week 1, all of it. If you need to lose some games to get the Super Bowl in on time, lose some games. If you want to push into early March, you can do that too.

Deciding to put off a decision isn't necessarily indecision. Sometimes it's smart.

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Right now, you’re scrambling. You pulled it off with free agency and the draft. Good. Great. But don’t mistake success holding virtual events as an indicator that you’re the outlier American sport that’s got it all figured out. You don’t. And all non-Mahomes headlines this week have shown that.

We have a financial skirmish.

We have a preseason skirmish.

We have a size of roster skirmish.

We have a skirmish over face shields.

We have a mess of players that live and train in states that are in the grip of the virus the way Massachusetts was in April and May. And those players are going to be relocating to their respective cities all over the country.

The proposed date for rookies to report? July 19. Ten days away. Which means — if they’re smart — they’re arriving in their new towns by this weekend, limiting contacts and getting ready for their tests. And a few will come back positive, which will surprise the players but shouldn’t since, as Dr. Anthony Fauci and others have been saying for months, as much as 50 percent of cases can be asymptomatic.

And while the likelihood any player would even need hospitalization is infinitesimally small, there’s a whole boatload of people the young, vibrant and healthy are going to be in close contact with who are not so young, vibrant and healthy.

The Patriots have coaches on their staff who’ve battled cancer.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach Bruce Arians, a 67-year-old cancer survivor, said on Monday, “The players, they’re going to all get sick, that’s for sure. It’s just a matter of how sick they get.”

Players will be going home to spouses, girlfriends and kids and inevitably some of them are going to have conditions which put them at greater risk than the average person if they contract COVID-19.

Can those players simply opt out of the season? Well, according to NFLPA Vice President Sam Acho, the league is trying to prevent that.

“The league is very hesitant to have any player opt out,” Acho said on SIRIUS XM NFL Radio. “Their position is if the player doesn’t want to go to training camp, well that’s their decision. Obviously, fines could take player and you could lose your starting spot, all those things could take place.”

Which, to me, is an insane stance. If a guy doesn’t want to play, passively threatening, cajoling or bribing him into playing is an absurd idea.

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Not that the NFLPA is flawless in its logic either.

NFLPA President J.C. Tretter of the Browns took issue with the number of preseason games.

“The NFL has recently stated it wants to play two preseason games,” Tretter wrote. “When we asked for a medical reason to play games that don’t count in the standings during an ongoing pandemic, the NFL failed to provide one. The league did provide a football reason, though — to evaluate rosters. The NFL also stated that it was important to stage preseason games to check how our game protocols will work.”

There’s no medical reason to play any games, J.C., whether they count or not, pandemic or not. Playing football is the wrong thing to do medically. Period. Has been since the country tried to ban it last century.

But if it’s going to be played — and it will be — being able to judge participants in a game setting is kind of a baseline ask.

Players, coaches, agents and executives I’ve been in contact with as the season looms have a default answer to almost everything: “Dunno.”

Nobody in their right mind is asking for guarantees that there are no cases. Nobody in their right mind should need the entirety of the season mapped out through the Super Bowl.

But with the proposed start of camp barely two weeks away, not enough is pinned down. Actually, it seems like almost nothing is. It’s nobody’s fault. Standing down isn’t an admission of failure.

Committing to getting it right rather than committing to getting it going would actually be a show of strength, decisiveness and leadership. Never a bad time for that.

NFL Rumors: Patriots, RB Lamar Miller agree to one-year contract

NFL Rumors: Patriots, RB Lamar Miller agree to one-year contract

The New England Patriots added a veteran running back to their roster on Monday.

According to ESPN's Adam Schefter, ex-Miami Dolphins and Houston Texans RB Lamar Miller reached an agreement with the Patriots on a one-year contract.


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Miller, 29, missed the entire 2019 campaign after suffering a torn ACL in the preseason. In 2018 with Houston, he rushed for 973 yards and five touchdowns in 14 games and was named to the Pro Bowl.

Miller's most productive NFL season came in 2014 with Miami when he tallied 1,099 rushing yards and eight touchdowns.

With Miller now in the fold, he joins a Patriots running back depth chart that also consists of Sony Michel, Rex Burkhead, James White, Damien Harris. Michel underwent foot surgery in May and was placed on the PUP list earlier this month.

Fantasy football 2020: Projections for Tom Brady, other Bucs players

Fantasy football 2020: Projections for Tom Brady, other Bucs players

Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski leaving the New England Patriots to join the Tampa Bay Buccaneers didn't just send a shockwave through the NFL. It also altered the fantasy football landscape.

The fantasy values of both the Patriots and Bucs' skill players will be much different in 2020 following Brady and Gronk's departure from Foxboro. We've gone over what to expect from the go-to guys in New England's offense, so now it's time to go over Tampa's weapons.

The obvious benefactors -- at least one would think -- of Brady becoming a Buc are his primary wide receivers Chris Godwin and Mike Evans. But will their numbers, along with Brady's, see a significant increase as expected, or should we pump the brakes on the hype?

And then there are the running back and tight end positions. Can Tampa's intriguing rookie running back take over the starting job? What can we really expect out of Gronk after a year off from football?

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Here are our projections for the Bucs' key offensive players with Brady and Gronk in the fold:

Tom Brady, QB
Projected Stats
: 4,300 yards, 29 TD, 9 INT
Projected Draft Round: 5-7

Brady is set up to be a really solid starting quarterback in fantasy football this year. That being said, those who expect Brady to put up elite numbers and draft him any higher than Round 5 are just asking to be disappointed. There are going to be some growing pains in Bruce Arians' offense. Sure, having his old pal Gronk around as a security blanket will help, but it's going to take time for the six-time Super Bowl champ to get comfortable down in Florida. There's little doubt Brady's numbers will be better in nearly every category now that he has some real weapons at his disposal, just make sure you don't reach when plenty of other QBs will do just fine in the middle rounds.

Ronald Jones II, RB
Projected Stats
: 650 yards, 4 TD
Projected Draft Round: 7-9

Jones was an OK flex play at points last season, but overall he simply hasn't been the running back Tampa Bay has hoped for these last few seasons. That led to the Bucs selecting Vanderbilt product Ke'Shawn Vaughn on Day 2 of this year's NFL Draft. Jones is the No. 1 guy heading into camp, though it doesn't look like that will be the case throughout the 2020 campaign. Wait until the mid-to-late rounds to take Jones, and maybe even consider passing entirely to take Vaughn if you're so inclined to take a Bucs RB.

Ke'Shawn Vaughn, RB
Projected Stats
: 550 yards, 3 TD
Projected Draft Round: 8-10

Speaking of Vaughn, he could be a major difference-maker for the Bucs in Brady's offense this season. He rushed for 1,028 yards and nine touchdowns for Vandy last season and was pretty effective through the air too, tallying 270 yards and a TD. It's always tough to count on a rookie, but it's worth the risk and the ceiling definitely seems to be higher with Vaughn than it is for Jones. The addition of McCoy, however, makes Vaughn's fantasy outlook a bit murky.

LeSean McCoy, RB
Projected Stats
: 400 yards, 3 TD
Projected Draft Round: 8-10

It's impossible to now as of right now how the Bucs backfield is going to shape up in 2020. Although McCoy is a shell of what he once was, Bruce Arians definitely should find some sort of role for the 32-year-old veteran. The obvious question is whether that role will be more significant than Jones' or Vaughn's. If you're really that compelled to draft a Bucs running back, something I'd avoid entirely, it's a total toss-up and a matter of personal preference.

Mike Evans, WR
Projected Stats
: 75 receptions, 1,250 yards, 7 TD
Projected Draft Round: 2-3

There's no question the Brady-to-Evans connection is going to excite people heading into the new season. However, I'm somewhat skeptical about how their playing styles will mesh. Brady isn't one to take many risks, and Evans made a living out of catching Jameis Winston's ridiculous jump-balls downfield. It really is impossible to know how that'll work itself out, but nonetheless we're believers in Evans' elite talent and project him as a solid WR1 again in 2020.

Chris Godwin, WR
Projected Stats
: 90 receptions, 1,350 yards, 10 TD
Projected Draft Round: 2-3

Godwin was the breakout star of the 2019 fantasy football season as he put up absolutely ridiculous numbers with Jameis Winston under center. Now, the question is whether he can do it again with Brady. That may seem like a silly question, but again we have no clue what to expect from Brady in Arians' offense and how it will differ from what Godwin thrived in a year ago. Regardless, he definitely should be one of the first WRs off the board.

Rob Gronkowski, TE
Projected Stats
: 50 receptions, 700 yards, 5 TD
Projected Draft Round: 6-8

How do you make stat projections for a guy who took a year off from football to party in Miami and join the WWE? With injury concerns to boot, that makes drafting Gronk in fantasy football an extremely risky move. Obviously, with that high risk could come high reward as Tampa's offense has the potential to be one of the best in the entire NFL and Brady is going to look to Gronk early and often as a security blanket. Draft the former Pats tight end in the middle rounds, long after guys like Travis Kelce, George Kittle, and Zach Ertz are off the board.

O.J. Howard, TE
Projected Stats: 25 receptions, 450 yards, 3 TD
Projected Draft Round: 8-10

The Bucs are going to run two-tight end sets in 2020, so don't think that Gronk's presence will limit Howard's production. In fact, it could even help it. Howard was a huge fantasy disappointment in 2019 and is out to prove he isn't a bust this year. There's also still a chance he gets traded to a TE-needy team and benefits from a change of scenery. Either way, you could do worse than Howard in the later rounds of your draft.