9

Fantasy Premier League: Which Liverpool and Manchester City players should you pick?

But enough about the FA Cup. The Premier League teams fielded weakened starting lineups, with many key players rested. Whether you watched the FA Cup this weekend or not, the last round of Premier League fixtures probably seems like a distant memory … with the exception being the final game played.nfl nike jersey cheap

Manchester City’s 2-1 toppling of Liverpool last Thursday means we still have a proper title race on our hands, to the delight of everyone besides Liverpool fans. But what did it mean from a fantasy perspective?

Sergio Aguero and Leroy Sane scored the goals for Manchester City, yet finished with relatively meager points totals of 17.5 and 18.4, respectively. Fourteen outfield players in the league finished with more points than Sane, and 20 with more than Aguero. Roberto Firmino scored Liverpool’s goal, but he still finished with just 16.1 points — 24 players were ahead of him.9

The problem with this game, fantasy-wise, is that it pitted two evenly matched teams against each other, and was a virtual tie numbers-wise. Liverpool won the possession battle, but by an extremely slim margin, finishing with 50.6 percent of the ball. And the teams combined for only 16 shots — nine by Manchester City, seven by Liverpool.

Manchester City had only four shots on goal, and Liverpool had just one more. And in terms of expected goals, it finished Manchester City 1.03, Liverpool 1.24.

Aguero took three shots, and no one else on his team had more than one. Firmino and Sadio Mane led Liverpool, but took just two shots apiece.cheap nike nfl jerseys wholesale

Is this a long-term concern? It depends on which player you’re talking about.

I’m more worried about Manchester City. Even though they lead the league in goals scored, it feels like it’s becoming harder and harder to predict who will score them.

12

Ryan Broekhoff finding rhythm in the NBA madness

Dwight Powell interrupts Ryan Broekhoff’s pregame media availability and answers the question about how easy it is for the Australian to find his rhythm despite not playing consistent minutes during his rookie NBA campaign.

Broekhoff proved his Dallas Mavericks teammate prophetic against the Philadelphia 76ers on Saturday, finishing the game with a career high 15 points and three assists in 21 minutes of court time.nike nfl jerseys wholesale cheap

“Obviously I came into this league wanting to play and wanting to compete,” Broekhoff said post-game. “Having the opportunity, with a few guys sitting out tonight, it was good. The coaching staff and the players continue to show a confidence in me to shoot the ball. Tonight some of them went in which was a good feeling.12

Broekhoff spent five years plying his trade in Turkey and Russia before coming to the NBA this season, and as is the case with a lot of rookies — even those with his basketball pedigree — he’s found it hard to come by regular minutes in coach Rick Carlisle’s rotation.

Broekhoff has appeared in just 17 of the Mavericks 39 games, and prior to Saturday, his career high of 9 points came against the Pelicans in early December. Broekhoff says he’s been adjusting to the pace of the NBA season on the fly, and is growing more comfortable as the season rolls on.

“Definitely more comfortable, just adjusting to the game, as well as the travel and schedule and how many games — and how quickly the games seem to pop up each week. But I’m definitely feeling more comfortable and more confident in myself to compete at this level,” he said.china nike nfl jerseys cheap

“Although opportunities have been a little up-and-down, when I have got on I feel like I can compete with anybody that I’ve come up against. It’s been fun learning and adjusting to all that.”

To go back to Powell’s statement, Broekhoff, who entered the league with a reputation as a sharpshooting marksmen, admits it’s been difficult to find that rhythm when entering a game given his sporadic — at best — minutes.

11

Rockets’ James Harden falls 2 points short of extending 40-point streak

With a missed layup with five seconds remaining, James Harden’s historic scoring five-game run of at least 40 points came to an end in the Houston Rockets’ 110-101 loss to the Portland Trail Blazers on Saturday night.

“Well, we held [Harden] under 40, so I guess that’s a win,” Blazers coach Terry Stotts said.

Harden finished with 38 points on 13-of-35 shooting, including 5-of-17 from 3 and maybe most notably just 7-of-7 from the free throw line.nfl cheap jerseys nike

“Honestly that streak is pretty cool for stats and whatnot, but honestly the win is more important,” Harden said. “So, came up short and now we’ve got another opportunity to go home and play Denver, who’s playing exceptionally well. So we’ve got to regroup.”11

Harden said he was unaware he was two points short of 40 when he drove to the rim down nine with a few seconds left. He had an obvious off night, with coach Mike D’Antoni suggesting there was possibly some lingering emotion hanging on Harden and the team after their stunning overtime win against the Golden State Warriors on Thursday. Harden started slowly, scoring only nine points on 3-of-15 shooting in the first half.nike nfl jerseys wholesale cheap

“My shots were flat in the beginning of the game,” he said. “So I just had to adjust a little bit, get them up. That was another thing, for myself I’ve got to get off to a better start. I picked it up in the third quarter and the second half, but that first half I had the same opportunities I normally get but my shot was just a little flat.”

Harden got it going in the third, scoring 20 in the quarter on 8-of-13 shooting. He had the full arsenal at his disposal — step-back 3s, drives to the rim and, of course, free throws. But after playing the entire third, he sat out the opening of the fourth quarter and didn’t score in the final frame until hitting a 3 with 2:13 left. He got three free throws after an unusual call when Evan Turner fouled PJ Tucker while Harden was taking a 3, and hit a deep 3 with 34 seconds left.

12

Patriots’ game plan vs. Chargers must start with slowing Melvin Ingram

When the New England Patriots were preparing to face the Los Angeles Chargers in October 2017, Bill Belichick noted the presence of pass-rushers Melvin Ingram and Joey Bosa by saying they put the Chargers’ defense into a “special category.”

“There’s not many teams in the league that have one player like this. They have two,” he said.china nike nfl jerseys cheap

Belichick talking up the opposition is standard operating procedure, but anyone watching the Chargers’ 23-17 wild-card victory over the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday would be hard-pressed to disagree — particularly with Ingram’s ability to control a game.

His speed, first-step quickness and dynamic pass-rush moves contributed to making him a first-round NFL draft choice out of South Carolina in 2012. Offensive tackles across the NFL can attest to how challenging it has been to face him, particularly over the past four seasons, as he has totaled 36 of his 42 career sacks over that span.12

But the Chargers also move Ingram inside, where his speed is a tough matchup for guards and centers at times.

So it’s not just Patriots offensive tackles Trent Brown and Marcus Cannon who have to study up on Ingram and Bosa this week, but left guard Joe Thuney, center David Andrews and right guard Shaq Mason, as well.

That group on the interior has been a strength for the Patriots, with Thuney playing every snap this season and Andrews (99 percent) and Mason (84 percent) not far behind. This is their third year playing together, which has also helped from a cohesion standpoint.

“That group’s been pretty solid, pretty dependable, pretty reliable for us. We’ve been pretty fortunate in that part of the offensive line,” Belichick said in late November.cheap nfl jerseys china nike

Quarterback Tom Brady has also helped his own cause at times with his knack for getting rid of the football quickly, which has negated pressure; the Patriots finished the regular season ranked third in the NFL in fewest sacks allowed per pass play. Brady will need a quick trigger Sunday against a Chargers defense that totaled seven sacks against Ravens rookie quarterback Lamar Jackson, tying a franchise postseason record. All seven of those sacks came with the Chargers rushing four or fewer defenders, which is consistent with their approach in the regular season.

11

With third pick, Jets select … a player in CFP title game?

The New York Jets’ higher-ups won’t make the trek to Santa Clara, California, for the College Football Playoff championship game — the team is kind of tied up with a coaching search — but the Jets’ top talent-evaluators will probably catch the game on TV. They most certainly will study the tape at some point before the draft.

The Jets are picking third, and there’s a decent chance that the player they ultimately select will be playing Monday night, along with a bunch of other potential first-rounders. The most likely candidates for the Jets are Alabama’s Quinnen Williams and Clemson’s Clelin Ferrell, two of the top defensive linemen in what is considered a vintage year for the position.

“You know how excited we were last year by the quarterback class? Well, multiply that by 10 with the defensive linemen that could go in the first round,” said New York-based draft analyst Tony Pauline, publisher of draftanalyst.com. “This will be a historic class.”cheap nfl jerseys china nike

The Jets know all about first-round defensive linemen. They picked Leonard Williams in 2015, Sheldon Richardson in 2013, Quinton Coples in 2012 and Muhammad Wilkerson in 2011. Remarkably, the only one left is Williams, who is entering the final year of his contract. In fact, the only regular contributors on the defensive line under contract for 2019 are Williams, Nathan Shepherd and Mike Pennel. Henry Anderson and Steve McLendon will be unrestricted free agents. Folorunso Fatukasi, inactive for 15 games as a rookie, is a total wild card.11

The New York Jets’ higher-ups won’t make the trek to Santa Clara, California, for the College Football Playoff championship game — the team is kind of tied up with a coaching search — but the Jets’ top talent-evaluators will probably catch the game on TV. They most certainly will study the tape at some point before the draft.

The Jets are picking third, and there’s a decent chance that the player they ultimately select will be playing Monday night, along with a bunch of other potential first-rounders. The most likely candidates for the Jets are Alabama’s Quinnen Williams and Clemson’s Clelin Ferrell, two of the top defensive linemen in what is considered a vintage year for the position.

“You know how excited we were last year by the quarterback class? Well, multiply that by 10 with the defensive linemen that could go in the first round,” said New York-based draft analyst Tony Pauline, publisher of draftanalyst.com. “This will be a historic class.”china nike nfl jerseys cheap

The Jets know all about first-round defensive linemen. They picked Leonard Williams in 2015, Sheldon Richardson in 2013, Quinton Coples in 2012 and Muhammad Wilkerson in 2011. Remarkably, the only one left is Williams, who is entering the final year of his contract. In fact, the only regular contributors on the defensive line under contract for 2019 are Williams, Nathan Shepherd and Mike Pennel. Henry Anderson and Steve McLendon will be unrestricted free agents. Folorunso Fatukasi, inactive for 15 games as a rookie, is a total wild card.

9

West Ham’s Felipe Anderson making a strong case for a role with Tite’s Brazil

The Brazilian, who arrived from Lazio in the summer, is suddenly exceeding expectations in his debut season with West Ham. There were fitful signs of promise in an uncertain start for him and Manuel Pellegrini’s new look lineup.

After just one goal in his first 10 Premier League games, Anderson has now hit the target seven times in his last nine matches. Many of these have been match-winners — like the pair against Southampton on Thursday night that turned defeat into victory. It did him no harm at all that this came in the only match played on the night. here was nothing else to share the spotlight and so, back home, the question is starting to be asked; how long until he has a place in the Brazil squad?cheap nike nfl jerseys china

His chances are clearly increasing. He has been around the squad for a while but to this point, there have probably been three things against him.9

One is his inconsistency. He had an up and down time in five years with Lazio. With no international games until the end of March, he now has to keep producing in order to gain the approval of Brazil coach Tite.

The second blemish is his previous record in the famous yellow shirt, which is hardly impressive. Nearly six years ago, Felipe Anderson was one of the main hopes of a Brazil side that went to Argentina to dispute the South American Under-20 Championships — always an important conveyor belt to the senior side. The tournament was an unmitigated disaster, both for him and for his teammates as Brazil failed to qualify for that year’s Under-20 World Cup. Worse than that, they failed even to reach the decisive second round of the South American competition. And even worse than that, they managed to finish bottom of their group of five. Felipe Anderson made little impact, scoring one goal from the penalty spot.buy nike nfl jerseys cheap

He treasures an Olympic gold medal from the Rio Games of 2016 but it is not a competition that he can look back on with a great deal of pleasure. He was in the starting lineup for the opening game — a dire 0-0 draw against South Africa. he scoreline was the same, and the performance even worse in the next match against Iraq. Felipe Anderson was withdrawn at half-time, and spent the rest of the tournament on the bench. He came on towards the end of the final against Germany, but was not trusted to take a penalty in the shootout.

11

It’s time for Panthers to shut down Cam Newton for the season

It’s not just time to sit Cam Newton for the rest of the season. It’s time for the Carolina Panthers to consider a potential long-term replacement for their franchise quarterback in free agency or the NFL draft.

The uncertainty surrounding lingering problems with Newton’s right shoulder raises many questions that extend beyond Carolina’s six-game losing streak and 1 percent chance of making the playoffs. If the 2015 NFL MVP needs to have a second shoulder surgery in less than two years, what are the long-term implications? Would he miss an entire season, as Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck did in 2017 after having a similar surgery?cheap nfl jerseys china nike

And if surgery isn’t the answer, would resting Newton for the next two games and the entire offseason assure this issue won’t reappear in 2019?11

Newton played well the next two weeks to help Carolina improve to 6-2. Even after the team fell to 6-5, the 2010 Heisman Trophy winner boasted he was playing the best football of his career. Then he threw four interceptions the next game in Tampa Bay.

Newton has now thrown at least one interception in six straight games after throwing one in only three of the first eight.

Newton’s arm strength has been such an issue that backup quarterback Taylor Heinicke has come in for a Hail Mary pass three times.

“You can’t rub magic dust on it, go to this or that person, have the placebo things done where you think certain things are what they are — and you come out and you’re still the same,” Newton said. “Over the past couple of weeks, nothing has really changed.”nfl nike jerseys for cheap

One thing has. The Panthers (6-8) are for all practical purposes out of the playoff picture, and they’re focused on next season with two games remaining against Atlanta and New Orleans.

That puts the onus on coach Ron Rivera and the medical staff. As of Tuesday, Rivera wasn’t willing to commit to sitting Newton the final two games because the Panthers have a “slim glimmer” of hope of making the playoffs.

12

Angels have no choice but to rebuild on the fly — and it might work

It was a form of what is called “rebuilding on the fly,” though the Yankees, true to their nature, executed it on a grander scale.

Eppler — a key assistant to Yankees GM Brian Cashman for the first three of those years — is on the cusp of a similar, albeit more subtle, transition with the Angels, bucking the trend of an industry that is increasingly operating on both ends of the spectrum.

The Angels aren’t “all in,” because they won’t surpass the luxury-tax threshold and won’t trade quality prospects for short-term fixes. But they aren’t “rebuilding,” because they’re still doing whatever they can — within whatever they consider reasonable — to win in 2019. It’s a product of employing Mike Trout, the greatest player of his generation, for at least two more seasons; of being saddled with what remains ($87 million) on Albert Pujols’ contract; and of being run by an owner, Arte Moreno, who has no interest in pushing the proverbial reset button.nfl nike jerseys cheap china

Eppler defined the approach this way: “What you’re trying to do is give yourself an opportunity to continue to win every year, and if everything kind of falls right from a projection standpoint, you might push yourself even into the postseason. You might be there. It’s within your band of outcomes. That’s how I determine ‘rebuild on the fly.’ But you’re going to make some short-term decisions. And you’re most likely not going to trade things that have multiple, multiple years of control. Maybe one more year of control, things like that. But you always have to kind of keep yourself in a competitive window to still have, within your band of outcomes, an 86-or-better-win team.”12

Since their run of five division titles from 2004 to 2009, the Angels have won as many as 98 games (2014) and as few as 74 (2016). But the other seven seasons finished somewhere between 78 and 89 wins — good enough to have a chance, bad enough to fade.

The Angels operated aggressively from 2012 to 2014, a stretch that saw them acquire Pujols, Josh Hamilton, C.J. Wilson, Zack Greinke and Huston Street. Since then, they have lived in that awkward middle space widely considered baseball purgatory, going cheap on free agents and staying conservative in the trade market.

In some weird way, it might actually be working. The Angels’ farm system ranked 30th — dead last — as recently as 2017 and jumped all the way to 10th in August 2018, according to Baseball America’s organizational talent rankings. Jo Adell, Jahmai Jones, Brandon Marsh, Griffin Canning and Matt Thaiss — all drafted between 2015 and 2017 — performed well as they matriculated through the system. So did Luis Rengifo, acquired from the Tampa Bay Rays for C.J. Cron in February. With three international signing periods, Eppler also restocked the lower levels.cheap nike nfl jerseys from china

“I can see the growth,” Eppler said. “I know people outside can see the growth. I’ve had opposing general managers tell me, ‘Wow, you guys have grown a lot.’ So that makes me feel kind of good. Is it all ready to pop into the big leagues next year? No, not all of it. Is some of it? Probably. Probably some. We have to just keep making decisions that don’t jeopardize our health or put us in a financially unhealthy situation.”

11

How to spice up the winter meetings after a dull week in Vegas

The only significant free-agent signings during the three days in Vegas were the Philadelphia Phillies with Andrew McCutchen, the Tampa Bay Rays with Charlie Morton and the Texas Rangers with Lance Lynn — and none of those deals is official until the players pass their physicals. The two biggest trades were Tanner Roark going from the Washington Nationals to the Cincinnati Reds and the Pittsburgh Pirates trading Ivan Nova to the Chicago White Sox.cheap nike nfl jerseys from china

None of this is necessarily a problem except in the context that the meetings are billed as a newsmaking event. Important stuff is going to happen. That’s why everyone is here. It’s supposed to be baseball’s time to lead the sports news cycle.

The winter meetings used to be a place of action instead of a place of text messages, like the epic 1992 meetings in Louisville when there were more than 30 free agents signed, including Barry Bonds and Greg Maddux. At the 2000 meetings, Manny Ramirez signed an eight-year, $160 million deal with the Red Sox, only to see that topped by Alex Rodriguez’s audacious 10-year, $252 million deal with the Rangers. One of the biggest challenge trades in MLB history occurred during the 1990 meetings, when the Blue Jays traded Fred McGriff and Tony Fernandez to the Padres for Roberto Alomar and Joe Carter in a monumental exchange of four All-Stars that would help the Blue Jays win two World Series. In 1984, the Oakland A’s traded Rickey Henderson to the Yankees, and the Expos traded Gary Carter to the Mets. Even as recently as 2011, the Angels signed Albert Pujols and C.J. Wilson after the Marlins had a temporary moment of insanity and signed Jose Reyes, Mark Buehrle and Heath Bell.11

Now the name of the game is caution. There are numbers to crunch and options to explore.

“They used to be old school back in the day,” Yankees general manager Brian Cashman told MLB Network, recalling his days as a baseball operations assistant in the late ’80s. “We’d all be down at the local bar doing stuff on napkins, and I remember, late night, waking up in the morning, [Lou] Piniella might be on the couch and Kevin Towers, one of my best friends in the game who’s no longer with us. Just GMs, managers and scouts all staying out all night trying to figure stuff out. Now you’re sequestered in a suite and you hardly see anybody, nfl nike jerseys cheap china maybe a text until they drag us out here to the media circuit.”

Technology has changed the offseason, of course. Texting is a 24/7 operation, and face-to-face meetings are unnecessary. Mostly, however, front offices don’t feel any urgency to make deals. Nobody wants to make that mistake that haunts a franchise. Here’s an example of what I mean. There were 40 players in 2018 who made at least $20 million. The worst 20 players on the list combined for just 5.4 WAR and over $470 million in salary. That’s a lot of money flushed down the toilet.

12

Australia’s Alen Stajcic ready for familiar foes Brazil, won’t underestimate Italy and Jamaica

Australia are set to face Brazil for the fourth consecutive time at the Women’s World Cup after Saturday night’s draw in Paris placed the Matildas in Group C, along with Italy and Jamaica.

Of their three opponents, Brazil poses the toughest, yet most familiar, challenge for Australia in the group stage. With 18 previous meetings against As Canarinhas, the honours are fairly even with the Matildas winning nine, losing eight, with one match ending in a draw.nike nfl jerseys wholesale cheap

Speaking exclusively to ESPN after the draw, Australia’s head coach Alen Stajcic says the fact that the two nations were once more pitted against each other was just fate.

“It’s developed into such a fantastic rivalry, we’ve played against each other so often and have a history of great matches, so as well as the rivalry there is a healthy respect between our sides.”12

While Australia defeated Brazil in Canada in 2015 to notch up their first win in the knockout stage of a World Cup, and then more recently in two friendly matches on home soil in September 2017, plus consecutive victories in the Tournament of Nations over the last two years, the Matildas will not have forgotten the pain of their last defeat at the hands of the world No. 10 side.

At the 2016 Olympics, a penalty shootout in Belo Horizonte saw the Matildas heartbreakingly dumped out in the quarterfinals by the hosts after the match ended scoreless in regulation time.

Before facing Brazil in Montpellier on June 13, the Matildas will open their campaign against Italy, whose women have qualified for their first World Cup in 20 years.nfl nike jerseys cheap china

The trajectory of the progress of La Squadra Azzurra, who qualified with a match to spare, is not lost on the Matildas boss.

“If you look at the professional teams that have evolved in Italy — Juventus being the most notable — you can see the level of effort they’ve put into women’s football and their national team reflects that,” Stajcic said.

“Italy qualified in a really difficult group and did it quite easily which shows how far they’ve come. I thought they were the best in Pot 3 so that will be a tough assignment for an opening match which is so important.”

Australia will round out their group stage against the lowest ranked side in the tournament, Jamaica, who are set to make their World Cup debut in France. But despite their lowly ranking — 53 in the world — Stajcic was typically circumspect.