11

Paul Pogba dismisses Juventus return, says Manchester United is ‘home’

Paul Pogba has ruled out a return to Juventus and reiterated his commitment to Manchester United by describing the club as his “home.”

Pogba joined United’s youth academy in 2009 but having failed to break into the first team, joined the Serie A champions in 2012 where he established himself as one of the game’s leading midfielders. He made his return to Old Trafford for a then world record £89 million deal in 2016.cheap nike nfl jerseys paypal

In recent months, there have been question marks over Pogba’s United future following various bust-ups with manager Jose Mourinho. The midfielder has been linked with a return to Juventus but Pogba said his stint with the Bianconeri was like a “holiday” rather than anything long term.11

“When I came back to United, it was the best feeling ever,” Pogba told Inside United. “I came back home.

“I always dreamed of playing for United, to have many games and score goals. Nothing had really changed, except for maybe the team and the manager, but the rest of the club was the same.

“I just came back home, it was like I didn’t really leave — I just went on holiday. It was a great feeling to come back home.”

Pogba started the campaign as United’s vice-captain, as he wore the armband for the opening matches in the absence of skipper Antonio Valencia.nfl nike jerseys for cheap

However, following comments about the club’s playing style, Mourinho stripped the France international of the vice-captaincy role.

Pogba missed Sunday’s 3-1 defeat in the Manchester derby through an injury which also forced him to pull out of the France squad, having been called up for the upcoming internationals against Netherlands in the UEFA Nations League as well as the friendly with Uruguay.

12

Saints’ offense erupts with five first-half TDs in win vs. Bengals

Bold prediction: The New Orleans Saints will keep their spot as the No. 1 team in ESPN’s NFL Power Rankings this week.

The Saints (8-1) scored on each of their first nine possessions Sunday in a 51-14 rout of the Cincinnati Bengals — – making them just the third team to do so since 2001, according to ESPN Stats & Information.

The only thing that stopped them was the clock. Backup QB Teddy Bridgewater started taking a knee after the two-minute warning.cheap nike nfl jerseys from china

Apparently the Saints’ offense was just getting warmed up during the first half of the 2018 season.

They scored touchdowns in each of their first five possessions Sunday to take a 35-7 halftime lead. And they have now scored a total of 96 points over the past two weeks to leapfrog the Kansas City Chiefs as the top-scoring team in the NFL this season (36.7 points per game).12

“We just found our swag, we found our stride,” said Saints running back Alvin Kamara, who scored two more touchdowns to bring his season total to 14. “This team is persistent, consistent, we take advantage of opportunity. The schemes that Sean [Payton] and those guys upstairs, the offensive coordinator [Pete Carmichael Jr.] put in place, we execute. We execute and we make sure we handle our business, from top to bottom, no matter who’s in.

“Everybody knows their role and plays their role. Nobody’s trying to one-up each other.”

The Saints have now won eight straight games as they head toward a showdown with the reigning Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles in New Orleans next week.

But they took it up a few notches on Sunday.cheap official nike nfl jerseys

Drew Brees was 22 of 25 passing for 265 yards and three touchdowns — including two to receiver Michael Thomas. Mark Ingram had 162 yards from scrimmage and a touchdown. And Kamara had 102 yards from scrimmage, along with his two TDs.

Ingram, Kamara and Thomas were all throwing up “Xs” in the end zone during the first half as an homage to receiver Dez Bryant, who tore his Achilles tendon Friday just two days after joining the team.

11

Which players are benefiting most from a bump in usage rate?

On a night long associated with reanimation, Derrick Rose’s season-long reawakening reached dizzying heights against the Utah Jazz on Halloween.

Already averaging 14.3 points and 4.9 rebounds per game, the 2011 MVP put on a throwback performance that also marked a career high with 50 points, plus he added 6 assists, 4 3-pointers, 2 steals, 4 rebounds and a win-preserving block.

As with any player in a relatively new situation (he appeared in only nine games for the Timberwolves last season), it’s important to track how said player’s role is evolving. Trades, free agency, the draft, injury (or recovery from injury), a new coaching staff, dissension in the rotational ranks —nike nfl jerseys cheap paypal  there are many factors that can suddenly thrust a player into a new role.

A reshuffled role can radically alter a player’s fantasy outlook. In Rose’s case, several forces have coalesced to reignite Rose’ statistical fortunes. Rose’s long-term recovery from injury, the roster-wide ripple effect of the Jimmy Butler situation, his relationship with coach Tom Thibodeau, and Jeff Teague’s injury have intersected to give Rose a real chance to turn back the clock on a night-in, night-out basis.11

Hopefully, you were fortunate enough to pick up Rose’s services before last night. It’s been clear from the jump that Rose could prove tp be more than Jeff Teague insurance for fantasy managers.

It’s a common fantasy trap to place too much worth on early-season performance. It’s also a common fantasy trap to be lured into the promise of acquiring the services of a former big name. But in this case, there’s been one second-level stat that portended Rose’s revival: usage rate.cheap nike nfl jerseys wholesale

If you’re unfamiliar with usage rate, our NBA Analytics Glossary defines it as such:

“The percentage of a player’s possessions in which he was directly involved in the attempt at a basket (via a shot attempt, free throw attempt) or a turnover. Can give fantasy players an expectation of volume for certain counting statistics.”

Usage rate’s impact within fantasy is easy to assess: The more you have the ball in your hands, the more you’re liable to accrue production. (If you hail from the world of fantasy football, think of usage rate as touches, carries, targets.)

Any usage rate above 30.0 is elite. Fourteen players cracked a 30.0 usage rate in 2017-18. It’s no shocker that star players dominate usage rate. Lead roles demand possession. Last season’s leaders: James Harden (36.3), Russell Westbrook (34.1), Joel Embiid (33.5), DeMarcus Cousins (32.3), LeBron James (31.6) and Devin Booker (31.4).

But what position dominates usage rate’s upper middle class? Point guard. One look at the second tier in usage rate (25.0-29.9) underscores the point guard’s importance in fantasy basketball.

12

Why the Eagles’ deal for Golden Tate makes sense

The Philadelphia Eagles traded a third-round pick to the Detroit Lions for wide receiver Golden Tate before Tuesday’s deadline. At first glance, that seems like a pretty steep price for a 30-year-old wideout who will become a free agent at the end of the season.nfl cheap jerseys nike
If the Eagles don’t re-sign Tate in free agency, they could get a third- or fourth-round compensatory pick back in 2020. So, depending on how it plays out, their only cost of acquiring Tate might be having the third-rounder in 2020 instead of 2019.

The Lions’ motivation was to get a guaranteed third-rounder, and sooner, while moving some of Tate’s money off the books. (He carried a cap number of $9.35 million into the season.)12

It also fits into the “optionality” model the Eagles have successfully used in recent years. When bringing in veterans, they prefer to do so on short deals. If the player fits, they’ll sign them to an extension, as they did with Alshon Jeffery. And if he doesn’t, they’ll let him walk. They liken it to dating instead of jumping into a marriage.

It will be interesting to see how the Eagles use Tate. He has been one of the most productive receivers from the slot this season. The slot-receiver role has belonged to Agholor — to this point the team’s second-best receiver — so coach Doug Pederson will have to figure out how to make the pieces fit.nike nfl jerseys wholesale cheap

One thing you can bet on is Pederson will use Tate in the screen game.

It isn’t easy to get a player acclimated to a system midseason. But Tate, who ran a 4.42-second 40-yard dash coming out of Notre Dame, should be able to use his speed and ability to create in space, which is just what the doctor ordered for Wentz and the Eagles offense.

11

Texans make necessary move with trade for WR Demaryius Thomas

By trading for wide receiver Demaryius Thomas, the Houston Texans have filled a much-needed hole left when receiver Will Fuller V tore his ACL on Thursday night.

Without Fuller and with rookie receiver Keke Coutee still recovering from a hamstring injury, the Texans (5-3) simply didn’t have enough depth at the position. Although Texans coach Bill O’Brien said the team would first look at internal options — including whether they could throw the ball more to tight ends or other receivers already on the roster — he also made a point about the other receivers who could possibly fill in for Fuller, saying, “obviously, if they could do them like Will [Fuller], they would’ve been out there like Will.”cheap nfl nike jerseys from china

Fuller has been a very important part of the Houston offense, and the numbers show it. In the 11 games quarterback Deshaun Watson and Fuller have played together, they have connected for 11 touchdowns.11

The pair’s success started last year, in Watson’s rookie season. This season, they picked up where they left off as Fuller averaged 11.7 yards per target. According to ESPN Stats & Information, among players averaging six targets per game when Fuller went down, that ranks second in the NFL. According to ESPN’s Mike Clay, Fuller had a 22 percent target share (6.3 per game) in his six full games this season for the Texans.

Although Thomas will become the Texans’ No. 2 receiver (Coutee will see more time in the slot), he doesn’t have the same skill set as the speedy Fuller. Still, he should help take some pressure off DeAndre Hopkins even if he can’t spread the field in the way Fuller can.

Thomas got off to a slow start in the Broncos’ first two games, but has 36 catches for 402 yards and three touchdowns. He is not the perfect fix but certainly gives Watson another good target.nfl cheap jerseys nike

After Fuller’s injury, O’Brien said he and general manager Brian Gaine were going to “explore everything” when looking to replace him. They clearly found the right price in trading for Thomas, for whom Broncos president of football operations John Elway said Tuesday he received calls from “three or four” interested teams before the trade deadline.

12

Riyad Mahrez fits Pep Guardiola’s template while adding something new to City

In basic terms, the reigning Premier League champions’ purchase of a former PFA Footballer of the Year, for a club record fee, was clearly a huge statement of intent. But when Manchester City completed the signing of Riyad Mahrez in the summer, there was a legitimate question about his precise role in Pep Guardiola’s starting XI.nfl cheap jerseys nike

After all, City had just won the Premier League with a record 100 points, courtesy of a side based around two outright wingers, Leroy Sane and Raheem Sterling, stretching the play. This was arguably the most fundamental part of City’s attacking approach, and when Guardiola occasionally played Bernardo Silva — a left-footed midfielder, always coming inside — on the right flank, more for the sake of rotation than tactics, City’s attacking wasn’t quite so dynamic.

Mahrez was a curious fit. Somewhere between an inverted winger and a No. 10, the Algerian was a dribbler accustomed to playing on the counter-attack and carrying the ball directly towards goal, and the outside-right position at City demanded entirely different characteristics. So far, though, Mahrez has proved his worth. After a slow start at the Etihad, where he was gradually eased into the side, now Mahrez is increasingly looking like one of City’s key players. His tactical role at City can be summarised concisely by assessing the nature of his four league goals so far.12

Mahrez scored two in a 5-0 thrashing of Cardiff City, one in a 5-0 victory over Burnley, and then came his first major goal for City, the winner in Monday’s 1-0 victory over Tottenham Hotspur. Those four goals, stylistically, can be divided into two; Mahrez has scored two pairs of identical goals.nike nfl jerseys wholesale cheap

His second strike against Cardiff, and his late goal against Burnley, were the type of goal we’ve come to expect from left-footed right wingers, strikes that can now be described, and universally understood, as Arjen Robben-esque.

Against Cardiff, Mahrez collected a loose ball on the edge of the box, cut inside by using the outside of his favoured left foot, and then whipped a shot into the far corner. His goal against Burnley was a more elegant variation: collecting a forward pass from Fernandinho, 25 yards out in an inside-right position, Mahrez touched the ball once with the inside of his left foot, then three times with the outside to work the ball into a shooting position, opened out his body, before majestically bending the ball into the top corner. Joe Hart didn’t move. It was the archetypal goal from an inverted winger.

But playing purely in that manner would mean City losing their most prolific route to goal from last season. Time and time again, City unlocked opposition defences through Sane and Sterling, with one winger charging down the outside, sending a low cross into the box, and the other winger arriving at the far post to convert, often into an open goal.

12

James Conner takes over Heinz Field, dominates Browns again

Conner’s monstrous second half helped seal the Steelers’ 33-18 win over the Cleveland Browns and strengthen their position in the AFC North. Over the span of two drives in the third and fourth quarters, Conner gashed the Browns for 95 total yards and a score. The Steelers were reeling after several mental mistakes before Conner spun his way to a 30-yard gain to start a third-quarter scoring drive.

“I’m just running hard,” Conner said when asked if he’s getting stronger by the week after compiling 525 yards over a three-game stretch.cheap nfl jerseys china nike

Conner started the game with 36 yards on 12 carries but finished with an explosive 146 yards on 24 carries along with five receptions for 66 yards. That gives Conner a startling 404 total yards in two games against the Browns.

Steelers players kept pumping up Conner publicly over the last two months, and it was not an empty proposition. They feel strongly about their running back, with or without Le’Veon Bell. He’s ready for AFC North football, and so is an offensive line that has been stellar the last three weeks.12

“He wants to be that guy,” guard Ramon Foster said of Conner. “He plays with a passion that’s out of this world.”

But the cheers for Conner and the offense sounded more like boos early on after the Steelers failed to record a first down in the first 17 minutes. Completions to the sideline to Antonio Brown and Justin Hunter loosened things up.

The avalanche of big plays followed. The Ben Roethlisberger-Brown improv show commenced, with the quarterback escaping the rush and throwing on the run to a sprinting Brown for the 43-yard score. Minutes later, cornerback Joe Haden went high for the interception on a Baker Mayfield deep ball.cheap nfl nike jerseys from china

The Steelers have been brilliant all year in the two-minute offense to end the first half. A 16-play, 87-yard scoring drive spanning seven-plus minutes marked the Steelers’ fourth touchdown of the season in the final two minutes before halftime. Roethlisberger capped the game with a 1-yard score to Brown on a screen pass with 8 seconds left.

The Steelers gave the Browns too much life in the third quarter with four mental mistakes in a span of minutes. Pittsburgh had a 10-point lead and the ball with eight minutes left in the third, but the Browns recovered a free kick that the Steelers let drop. Returner Ryan Switzer admitted he and Brown thought the play was dead when the ball hit the ground. Fullback Roosevelt Nix appeared to call for the ball but didn’t secure it. “Just a miscommunication,” said Switzer, who stressed he has to know the rules.

12

With the Astros, Morton changed his pitching — and his career

Morton, who will start Game 4 of the American League Championship Series for the Astros, their best defense against a 3-1 deficit in this series, is one of the top starters in baseball’s best rotation. He is 34 years old, and a little more than a year ago he stood on the mound in Dodger Stadium after getting the last out of the World Series. His deliberative nature seems to stem from two competing facts: 1) he still can’t quite believe his good fortune, and; 2) he hasn’t fully come to terms with how long it took to realize it.cheap nike nfl jerseys free shipping

Rare among athletes and even rarer among pitchers, Morton found his greatest professional success at a time when it was least expected. His career has been marked by a series of career-altering injuries — two hip surgeries, elbow surgery, hamstring and shoulder issues — and a lingering sense that his talent would remain forever unfinished.

“It’s kind of frustrating in a way,” he says. “I’ve always been told I have good stuff. I’ve always been told I could be really, really good, but I was always just average. And here I am, 34 going on 35, having figured a lot of things out, and I don’t know how much longer I want to play. And that’s fine. It’s fine, really it is. I’ve had a rewarding career. I’ve experienced a lot — a lot of ups and downs, and the downs have been as fulfilling to me as the good things.12

“I don’t regret the struggles. I’ll say this: It’s nice to know that if I reach my physical potential with the repertoire and methodology of the way I’m pitching, that I can be good. I can do the things I want to do, and I know that now.”

He was an All Star for the first time this season, and his 15-3 record gave him the best winning percentage in baseball. (Do wins matter? Your mileage may vary.) He had a career-best WAR of 3.2 and a career-best WHIP of 1.17. Along with Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole, he was part of just the fifth trio in MLB history to each record 200 strikeouts.china nike nfl jerseys cheap

Despite all of that, there’s a chance Morton might decide to leave the game after this season to devote more time to his wife, Cindy, and their four children, the oldest of whom is 5. (They went boy-girl-boy-girl, like a good pitch sequence, and fellow Astros are astounded by the couple’s insistence on raising their children without outside help — in other words, no nanny — even though they can obviously afford it.) He will be one of the most desirable starters on the free-agent market this offseason, and this is his last great chance to sign a two- or three-year contract that sets up generations of his family for life.

His teammates tell him they understand if he’s ready to hang them up. Dallas Keuchel says, “I get it, and I respect him for it, but I tell him: ‘Man, you could be looking at $20 million a year.'” Keuchel places his palms in front of his body and raises them up and down — the scales of justice, in Keuchel’s hands, inevitably land on the side of the $20 million a year. But in deference to his friend, he says, “It’s a tough call.”

11

Lakers’ LeBron James: ‘Can approach every day like a champion’

As LeBron James embarks on his 16th season when the Los Angeles Lakers open their season against the Portland Trail Blazers on Thursday, the three-time champion is imploring Luke Walton to keep him on the court.

“I’m always fresh,” James said after shootaround Thursday morning. “All my coaches want to figure out a way of how to lessen my minutes. I keep telling them I’m strong enough to play most minutes, but they won’t listen to me, so, it’s OK. I like it.”

Earlier this week, Walton said he would play James a “reasonable” amount of minutes this season. Last year, James led the league at 36.9 minutes per game.cheap nfl jerseys china nike

But that doesn’t mean Walton will keep James on the bench too often.11

“LeBron will play a lot of minutes, yes,” Walton said Thursday. “It will be a consistent theme for us this year.”

James will turn 34 in December and played sparingly in the preseason, but Walton said his star hasn’t shown any signs of aging.

“I told him … that his legs seem to be getting younger as training camp goes on,” Walton said. “It normally works the other way. But he’s jumping higher, he’s moving quicker the more we get out there and play. So it’s like I said: There’s one game tonight. We’re obviously excited to be playing regular-season games now, but he looks very good.”

Walton also commented on the mentality James has brought to the Lakers’ young core.

“He’s good,” Walton said. “He’s a pretty serious guy, but there’s moments of laughter and joy mixed in. But he’s got that locked-in look.”nike nfl jerseys cheap china

It would appear that for the first time in nearly a decade, James’ team isn’t considered a lock to compete for a championship. But that hasn’t affected his mental approach to the season and striving for a fourth ring.

“It’s just my goal. It’s always been my goal … maybe the last 10 or 11 years where I felt like it’s championships,” James said. “I want to win championships, and putting my mind into that and thinking about it. I think when you have championship habits, you have championship thoughts, and things come into fruition.

11

Joe Flacco reluctantly performs unusual batted-passes drill

“He’s standing there with a bag in his hand that goes up to 12 feet high, unrealistically high for anybody’s hands,” Flacco said. “[One time] I just threw the ball and hit the bag on purpose. It’s just like, ‘I get your point. We got it.’”

Flacco added, “I was kind of laughing at him and getting mad at him at the same time.”

Flacco has had 11 passes batted down in the first six games of the season, which are tied with Minnesota’s Kirk Cousins for most in the league, according to ESPN Stats & Information. They’re the only ones with more than seven deflected passes at the line this year.cheap nfl nike jersey

Flacco has had at least two passes knocked down at the line in four of his six games, including two in Sunday’s 21-0 win over the Tennessee Titans.11

“That’s something that’s a problem, because those are opportunities,” coach John Harbaugh said. “A lot of times, those guys are open, and those are chances to complete passes. That’s something that we’ve been working on the last couple of weeks. We still haven’t cleaned it up the way we want to, and we’re not happy about it. We need to clean that up.”

Should this be happening to one of the tallest quarterbacks in the NFL?cheap nike nfl jerseys wholesale

“Those guys that are in front of him are pretty tall, too, but [6-feet] Drew Brees, I don’t think, has a batted pass yet this year [Brees has one], to make that contrast,” Harbaugh said. “So it’s probably not as much about that as it is about other issues. It’s always a team effort. Anything like that is always a team effort, and we have to get better at it.”

This hasn’t been a major problem for Flacco throughout his career. Since entering the league in 2008, he has had 62 passes batted down at the line, which ranks 18th in the NFL.

In Flacco’s previous 10 NFL seasons, he never has ranked higher than 16th in any year in deflected passes.

“It is what it is, and it’s something we’ll continue to pay attention to as the year goes on,” Flacco said. “There are some that you can’t prevent, but at the same time, you have to look at it for what it is. There has to be a reason behind it. We have to correct it.”