Category Archives: Sports

Fantasy Football Sleeper Picks (Week 7)

It’s time to look forward to Week Seven in the NFL, and there are some pretty exciting games coming this weekend that should produce some great fantasy performers for owners. The biggest matchup of the weekend will be when the Atlanta Falcons visit the New England Patriots on Sunday night for a Super Bowl rematch. No matter the game, there is always fantasy relevance to be found, maybe there will even be some sleepers in the lower profile games. So here is the list of sleepers going into Week Seven.

Alvin Kamara, RB New Orleans Saints:

Kamara has been pretty great already this season, so he is an unusual sleeper pick. He should already be owned in every league, but if somehow he remains a free agent, he may be worth picking up before their game against the Packers on Sunday. The rookie has looked great with the ball in his hands so far this season and has already provided some solid fantasy production. Kamara started the year as the main passing down back in the Saints’ offense but has now transitioned into a larger role following the departure of Adrian Peterson. New Orleans ran the ball a total of 37 times against Detroit in Week Six which is unusual for the pass-heavy offense, but it could be a sign of things to come for the rest of the season. Coach Sean Payton showed last week that Mark Ingram would get the majority of the work (25 carries vs. Lions,) but Kamara still has a big enough role to provide fantasy relevance (14 total touches vs. Lions). Expect the Saints to go run-heavy against the Packers who will have a tough time controlling the clock without Aaron Rodgers. The star rookie should see around 15 touches this week and flirt with RB2 potential.

Taylor Gabriel, WR Atlanta Falcons:

The Atlanta offense hasn’t been sharp the past two games, and the entire team has not been as dominant as they were last year. On Sunday they travel to Foxborough to play the Patriots, another team who does not look as good as when the two played each other in the Super Bowl back in February. Things could go a little different in this game, given New England has the worst defense in football, they had a tough time beating the Jets in Week Six. The Falcons did lose to the Dolphins last week but should have no problem putting up some nice numbers against a pass defense that has allowed 325 yards per game to opposing quarterbacks. Gabriel is the biggest threat in the passing game besides Julio Jones, and while he hasn’t been able to bust out like he did last year, this could be the week the speedster breaks free for a long touchdown. Keep in mind that the veteran posted 76 yards on three catches against a better Patriots defense in the Super Bowl. Slot Gabriel in as a solid flex option with some nice touchdown upside.

Jared Goff, QB Los Angeles Rams:

Goff and the entire Rams team have improved this season and are looking to make a difference\\\\\\\, at earning a playoff spot with four wins before their bye week. The second year signal caller has slowed down a bit posting a combined 17.6 fantasy points in standard scoring over the last two games, but give him some slack since he played Seattle and Jacksonville, two elite pass defenses. This week the Rams host the Cardinals, and there is no reason to be scared of their secondary as they have allowed 13 passing touchdowns and 250 passing yards per game. It’s true that Patrick Peterson and Co. do a great job taking the opposing number one wide receiver out of the game, but they haven’t had as much success stopping passing offenses as a whole. Goff should be able to get his solid play going again, look for a couple of passing touchdowns and more than 200 yards through the air on Sunday.

Brice Butler, WR Dallas Cowboys:

In last week’s edition of this article I recommended Redskins wide receiver Josh Doctson as a deep sleeper with some nice touchdown potential, it ended up working out as owners were rewarded with a touchdown early in the game. This week I want to talk about Brice Butler as a deep sleeper with nice touchdown upside. It’s tough to trust many receivers in the Cowboys passing game, but they face a terrible 49ers secondary on Sunday and the offense should be able to take advantage of the matchup. Last week when I said to start Doctson he was also facing off against San Francisco, Butler could very well be my next deep sleeper who scores a touchdown against this defense. The fifth year wide receiver is averaging only about two targets per game but has two touchdowns already this season and is producing almost 26 yards per catch. Only play Butler if you are desperate for someone to put in the flex spot, but he could produce some solid fantasy points this week.

Marlon Mack, RB Indianapolis Colts:

Here’s another deep sleeper for this list, a rookie who has been explosive with the ball in his hands but hasn’t gotten a lot of work thus far. Mack has only played in four games this season but has a run of at least 22 yards in three of them, he also has two touchdowns to start his career. The ageless wonder Frank Gore remains the most used running back in the Colts offense, but one wonders why Indianapolis won’t let the rookie see more work so he can be the starter at the beginning of next season. Mack only received two carries in Monday night’s game against the Titans after getting nine the previous week, but he gets to play a Jaguars run defense that has allowed a league high 5.2 yards per carry this season. The rookie isn’t more than a low end flex option this week but his carries could increase giving him opportunity to break off a big run and possibly score his third touchdown of the year.

NFL Viewership Down – But Why?

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Credit: @WashTimes

The NFL has had issues in the past, but never at the magnitude they are facing now. Dwindling viewership, injuries, protests, and matchups are the main factors.

Fans like seeing their favorite players in the game instead of on the sidelines, or even worse, not there at all. In the six weeks of the 2017 NFL regular season, the list of players that are injured for at least multiple weeks includes Aaron Rodgers, Andrew Luck, Teddy Bridgewater, JJ Watt, Odell Beckham Jr, Brandon Marshall, Julian Edleman, David Johnson, Greg Olson, Tyler Eifert, and Eric Berry. Outside of injuries, there are suspensions being handed out and court decisions being waited on. Cowboys’ Ezekiel Elliot, the fourth pick in the 2016 NFL Draft, has been battling a six-game suspension based on misconduct during the offseason. Elliot has been fighting the suspension to this day. This is the second big-name player to fight against the NFL in recent years as Tom Brady eventually was suspended due to his role in ‘Deflategate’. These are some big names that are not able to see the field for an extended period and some names that fans tune in just to see their performances.

The protests are something that have been covered extensively over the past year. In a nutshell, Colin Kaepernick took a knee during the playing of the “National Anthem” to show there are inequalities in the country. However, some fans have made it about other factors, like disrespecting the military and President Trump’s tweets. As a result, many viewers are boycotting the NFL entirely. Week Five of the 2017 season saw the viewership drop eighteen percent from Week Five of the 2015 season the last season before Kaepernick took a knee. With this in mind, the NFL has not taken action against any player that has not stood for the “National Anthem.” The protests sprouted as an NFL issue, but recently a German Football (Soccer) Club, Hertha Berlin, joined the protest. With fans booing their favorite team as they take a knee in solidarity, the NFL has a major public relations issue brewing.

Concussions have taken a step back since the protests arose, however they are still a serious topic of discussion. The emergence of CTE, Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy, has taken people by storm and has a possibility of taking a huge hit on the league’s future if appropriate actions are not taken. CTE is a degenerative brain disease that is found in a large percentage of athletes in contact sports due to constant head trauma. A Boston University study conducted earlier this year showed 99 percent of players’ brains had displayed signs of CTE. The only issue is that CTE is not determined until the brain is studied after the death of the person. With these alarming numbers and information coming out, football is seemed more barbaric than ever. People fear that they are watching the men on the field destroy each other physically and mentally for a lot longer than the four quarters. Parents are fearful for their children obtaining such a disease and are decreasing participation, which will affect the NFL as time goes on.

When a football fan is flipping through the channels, they want to watch the best game possible. Sometimes the fan will sacrifice watching their favorite team to see a more compelling matchup.    The NFL is having an issue with that as the bottom-tier teams in the NFL are getting more diluted as the top-tier teams are lessening. Major market teams, such as the New York Giants, currently sit with a record of 1-5 while teams like the Buffalo Bills, that have a very small fanbase compared to the Giants, are currently slated to be a wild card team. Some would argue that teams like the Bills being good is a positive, but in actuality it is not. The New York media barely mentions the Buffalo Bills, a team located in upstate New York is in the playoffs while the Jets and Giants are not and still get mainstream media attention. Week six had a Sunday Night matchup of the New York Giants and the Denver Broncos, two very historic franchises in the league, sounds like a recipe for success? Only issue is that the Giants were heading in 0-5 and Denver’s quarterback situation has been mediocre at best. Why would an average viewer want to tune in to the game if stars are not on the field and the product is not up to par?

The NFL will have reasoning for lower viewership (they used the Election last year) but less people are interested in watching the NFL from the stadium and the comfort of their living rooms. The league has a big mess in front of it and only time will tell if they can fix it.

Best Fantasy Football Performance from Week Six

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Adrian Peterson looked fantastic with his new team on Sunday running for 134 yards and two touchdowns. Credit:@NFL

Another week in the NFL is over and there is plenty to talk about. There were great plays around the league, exciting games that came down to the wire, and some more injuries that look to alter season outlooks for certain teams. Of all the great performances this past weekend, here are some of the best that really helped out fantasy football owners. 

 Mark Ingram, RB New Orleans Saints: 

It didn’t take long after the Adrian Peterson departure for Ingram to look like his usual self in the backfield. The veteran running back ran for 114 yards on a generous 25 carries, he also had five catches for 36 yards. The 30 total touches were his most since 2014 and certainly gives owners assurance that he is the lead running back in the Saints offense going forward. Rookie Alvin Kamara also ran well and received 10 carries, proving that New Orleans is more than capable of supporting two running backs worth starting in fantasy football. Don’t expect this much running every week from the usual pass-heavy team, but it is important to know that both players are featured in the passing attack every week as well. Ingram could be creeping back into the RB2 range, but I’d like to see another solid workload before we shoot him up the weekly rankings. Next week the Saints travel to play a stingy Green Bay defense that just gave up 112 yards on the ground to the Vikings. 

 Kirk Cousins, QB Washington Redskins: 

This is a player who is looking to get paid big this offseason. The consensus is that Cousins will hit the free agency market and go to the highest bidder, and with his recent play it could result in a massive contract. The veteran quarterback is also making fantasy owners pretty happy with 27.8 points in standard scoring, marking the third week in a row he has had at least 20 points. The Redskins haven’t been playing great football and have had trouble scoring at times, but Cousins is up to nine passing touchdowns compared to only two interceptions, he also added his first rushing touchdown of the season with a 6-yard scamper against the 49ers. Washington utilizes a pass-heavy offense that gives the signal caller a high floor every week based on volume of pass attempts alone. With Aaron Rodgers hurt and Matt Ryan struggling, expect Cousins to finish the year as a Top-5 quarterback and carry many teams to a championship. 

 Rob Gronkowski, TE New England Patriots: 

On draft day it’s never easy to trust Gronkowski because his elite production usually comes at the cost of his health. The big tight end hasn’t played a full 16 games since 2011 and he has already missed one so far this season. Luckily for owners, “Gronk” has been pretty great when he has played this year and is still the most elite tight end when he is on the field. The two touchdowns and 83 receiving yards against the Jets gave owners a solid 20.3 points in standard scoring and is the third time in five games that he has topped 14 fantasy points. He was drafted in the early third round on average in fantasy drafts this summer and has so far been rewarding owners for taking the risk on him. Expect Tom Brady to keep feeding the ball to Gronkowski as long as the latter can stay healthy down the stretch.  

 Adrian Peterson, RB Arizona Cardinals: 

Whoever was brave enough to start a struggling 32 year-old running back in his first game with a new team got a very nice surprise this weekend. Peterson ran the ball 26 times in his first game with Arizona, which was the first time he got double digit carries this year, and it was the most work he had received since Week 12 of the 2015 season. The veteran looked rejuvenated on Sunday totaling 134 yards on the ground (5.2 YPC) and two touchdowns. His 25.4 fantasy points in standard scoring was better than performances by the likes of Le’Veon Bell and Kareem Hunt. It’s going to tough to predict how the rest of the season will go for “AP”, at 32 years-old we’ll have to see how his body holds up after a huge workload, and there is no way of knowing if this amount of running will be the new norm for the Cardinals offense. For now, it’s best to wait and see what will happen over the next couple weeks. I wouldn’t recommend trying to trade for Peterson just yet, but if he is a free agent in your league he should be your top priority on the waiver wire. The veteran gets to the play a Rams defense next week who just allowed 130 rushing yards to Leonard Fournette on Sunday. 

 Larry Fitzgerald, WR Arizona Cardinals: 

Here’s the second part of a Cardinals double feature on the best performances list. It was a nice showing by the Arizona offense and it was a blowout against Tampa Bay as they were leading 31-6 going into the fourth quarter. Along with the great performance from new teammate Adrian Peterson, Larry Fitzgerald had a great game with 10 catches for 138 yards and a touchdown. Even quarterback Carson Palmer could have made this list with a three touchdown performance resulting in 20.9 fantasy points. The trio of Peterson, Palmer, and Fitzgerald is the  oldest in the league but they all looked fantastic on Sunday. The entire offense was great, but this section is focused on Larry Fitzgerald so let’s talk about him. The veteran receiver got off to a fast start on Sunday getting almost all of his production in the first half of the game. Fitzgerald hasn’t lost a step now in his age-34 season, as this was the second 100-yard game so far and he is on track to catch at least 100 passes for the third straight year. Keep slotting the future Hall of Famer in as a quality WR2 with a solid floor against any opponent. 

Fantasy Football Sleeper Picks for Week 6

@postbroncos
Jalen Richard could be featured much more in the Raiders run game with Marshawn Lynch Struggling. Credit: @postbroncos

This week in the NFL features some great matchups and figures to give us some great fantasy football performances. So far this season there have been some sleeper picks that ended winning people matchups with their great performance and hopefully that can continue this week. Here are the top sleepers in fantasy football for Week Six.

 

Robby Anderson, WR New York Jets:

There aren’t many Jets worth starting usually, but in a matchup against a terrible Patriots defense, there are some names worth exploring. Heading into Week Six the Jets and the Patriots somehow both sit at 3-2 but it is pretty obvious that New York will most likely lose this divisional matchup. With that being said, Anderson figures to be a sneaky option at wide receiver this week seeing as the Jets may have to air it out a lot to keep this game competitive. The speedy wide receiver only has one touchdown this season but has a good chance to break a long score this week against the worst secondary in football. All Anderson needs is one big play to make him have starting value, and this could be the week Josh McCown finds him deep down the field. Consider the second year wide receiver to be a low-end flex play this week in a great matchup.

 

Jalen Richard, RB Oakland Raiders:

This will be a tough sell for most people, but there is reason to believe Richard can provide some value this week. This is Marshawn Lynch’s job no doubt, but last week Lynch received 12 carries and Richard got a season high nine carries, possibly due to the fact that the Raiders would like to keep the ball on the ground more even if Derek Carr returns from his injury this week. The sophomore running back is currently producing 5.3 yards per carry and has looked much better than the struggling Marshawn Lynch (3.4 YPC). Lynch’s struggles could allow the younger running back to see more opportunity behind one of the league’s best offensive lines. This week the Chargers come to town with the worst run defense in football, Richard should be given even more chances by the coaching staff in this game to show what he can do. Richard probably won’t receive any goal line carries but should be able to get some nice yardage making him an intriguing flex option in deeper leagues this week.

 

Trevor Siemian, QB Denver Broncos:

The third year quarterback has slowed down a bit since he started the season hot with six touchdowns in the first two games of the season. The Broncos had a Bye in Week Four, but the two games before that Siemian only had a combined one touchdown to go along with two interceptions. There is reason for optimism this week when the Giants come to the mile high city as their defense has allowed 10 passing touchdowns to go along with only one interception. The Giants are still looking for their first win and this should be a fairly easy matchup for Denver now that Odell Beckham Jr. is done for the season. If Siemian can play mistake-free football, expect a couple of passing touchdowns to go along with around 200 passing yards. With quarterbacks like Dak Prescott and Russell Wilson on bye weeks, Siemian can be an above average fill-in with some nice upside.

 

Ameer Abdullah, RB Detroit Lions:

Anyone who bought into the Ameer Abdullah hype in the preseason has been somewhat disappointed thus far. He hasn’t been a bad flex play with at least eight fantasy points in three of five games this year in standard scoring, but he hasn’t been showing the breakthrough play we’ve all been waiting for. The third year running back is getting the majority of the touches in the backfield as he has been averaging around 15 carries per game, now it’s time for him to start producing consistently. The Lions have a nice matchup against a Saints defense that has thus far given up 4.5 yards per carry, so it’s a great matchup for Abdullah. He has shown he can produce like a star running back with a great performance in Week Four when he ran for 94 yards and a touchdown. It was discouraging to see Zach Zenner get a goal line touchdown last week but this is Abdullah‘s backfield and he should be able to put up RB2 numbers in this great matchup on Sunday.

 

Eric Decker, WR Tennessee Titans:

It’s tough to trust anyone in the Titans passing game especially if Marcus Mariota isn’t playing, but this week the team has a solid matchup against an awful pass defense. Eric Decker has been very disappointing thus far and hasn’t even been startable on his new team, but a nice matchup on Monday night might be able to change things. The veteran wide receiver is a big target in the short passing game and it wouldn’t be shocking to see him score his first touchdown of the season against the Colts. Even if Marcus Mariota doesn’t play, Decker provides a nice target for any quarterback to throw to. It hasn’t panned out for owners thus far, but a nice prime time matchup could make him a nice sleeper option to slot into your flex spot this week. Hold onto Decker for at least one more week to see if he can take advantage of a nice matchup at home.

 

Josh Doctson, WR Washington Redskins:

Doctson makes this list as the final player to be featured, he’s being added on here as a very deep sleeper, meaning that he should only be given a shot in leagues larger than 12 teams. The bad thing about the second year wide receiver is that he’s only received six targets over three games, so there is a very low floor associated with him. The good news is that he has scored a deep touchdown on one of his three catches and Kirk Cousins looked his way in the end zone at the end of their Week Four game. If the trend continues, Doctson will keep building his chemistry with Cousins and may have a good chance to find the end zone against the 49ers. San Francisco has been one of the worst defenses against the pass this year and the former first round pick might be able to find the end zone.

Best Fantasy Football Performances from Week Five

 

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Melvin Gordon had his best performance of the season with a two touchdown effort against the Giants. Credit: @SNFonNBC

Week Five in the NFL season is now over and there is plenty of newsworthy headlines to talk about. Elite players such as J.J. Watt and Odell Beckham Jr. both sustained season-ending injuries that will have big impacts on their respective teams. Rookie quarterback Deshaun Watson was back to making a case that he was the best quarterback taken in the draft with five passing touchdowns against a solid Chiefs defense. Unfortunately, Watson won’t be talked about in this article because he was featured last week. So let’s take a look at some of the other great performances from this past weekend in fantasy football.

 Melvin Gordon, RB Los Angeles Chargers:

            It hasn’t been a great season for Gordon or the Chargers offense as a whole. The team has been struggling to score significant points, and Gordon has only been averaging around 11 fantasy points per game in standard scoring leagues, which is good, but not nearly what owners who drafted him had been expecting. The 27 points scored by the offense on Sunday was a season high, and hopefully this can help turn their season around. Gordon has been reliable so far with double digit point games in all but one outing this year, though this week was the first time he scored more than 15 in a game this season (28.3 standard points). The running back is somewhat touchdown-dependent seeing as he has not surpassed 3.9 yards per carry over an entire season in any of his three years in the league. Luckily for owners, the Chargers seem intent on giving Gordon plenty of goal line rushes and he now has three receiving touchdowns after only having two last year. The young running back remains an elite fantasy asset given his heavy workload and his ability to produce touchdowns at a high rate.

 Leonard Fournette, RB Jacksonville Jaguars:

            The impressive rookie campaign continues for the LSU product as he ran for a career high 181 yards and added two touchdowns in the process. The rookie led all flex eligible players in standard scoring with 30.4 points and is well outperforming his third-round selection from most drafts. Fournette has not been very efficient thus far as this was his first game he had more than 3.8 yards per carry and his long run of 90 yards was the first time he surpassed 17 yards on a single play this season. The star rookie has been helped by receiving a large workload that has given him at least 24 carries in three games so far. The Jaguars offense has been much improved this year and Fournette could get even better as the season goes on and his offensive line continues to improve with run blocking. Expect the bruising running back to carry many teams into the fantasy playoffs and be one of the first names off the board next season.

 A.J. Green, WR Cincinnati Bengals:

            The veteran wide receiver continues to be one of the most sure things when it comes to fantasy football. He has now scored a touchdown in three straight games and already has two games of over 100 receiving yards to start the season. This is his seventh year in the league and he has had at least 1,000 receiving yards every season except in 2016 when he appeared in only 10 games. The Bengals offense is back to scoring at its usual rate and Green has been one of Andy Dalton’s favorite targets yet again. The elite wide receiver is on pace for what would be a career high 1,600 receiving yards and a solid 10 touchdowns. Many didn’t trust Green as a first round pick after his injury shortened season, but he is erasing all doubt by providing great value no matter where he was drafted.

 Dak Prescott, QB Dallas Cowboys:

            A star in his rookie season, Dak Prescott has gotten better in his second year even with the Cowboys having a losing record. He is on pace to throw for 35 passing touchdowns this season which would completely shatter his total of 23 last year. Prescott is being asked to throw a lot more this season as the defense just hasn’t been able to hold a lead, and with a possible suspension of Ezekiel Elliot looming, the offense may be even more pass heavy in the near future. Dak has given a great return on investment this year after being drafted in most leagues behind Matt Ryan and Russell Wilson. Expect the star quarterback to slow down a bit seeing as the Cowboys prefer to keep the ball on the ground and eat up the game clock, but a big fantasy season could be just beginning. Keep him locked in as your quarterback for the rest of the year because a sophomore slump doesn’t seem to be a thing for Prescott.

 DeAndre Hopkins, WR Houston Texans:

            Fantasy owners got a nice surprise on Sunday night when Hopkins was able to score three times, two of which were in the final three minutes of the game. The Chiefs led the Texans for the entire game but only blew open the lead in the fourth quarter after a De’Anthony Thomas catch and run touchdown followed by a Tyreek Hill punt return for an additional score. Until that point in the game, Hopkins had been struggling with only one catch for a short touchdown earlier in the contest. Luckily for Hopkins owners, Deshaun Watson has been looking his way early and often as the veteran wide receiver has at least 12 targets in four of five games this season. Don’t expect this kind of performance to happen all the time, but Hopkins appears to have the same high floor he did back in 2015 when he finished the year with 1,500 receiving yards.

 

Athletes Bring the Nation to its Knees

@theatlantic
A poll conducted by USA Today found that over two-thirds (68 percent) of responders said that Trump’s call for NFL owners to fire players and for fans to boycott their game was inappropriate. Twenty-seven percent of responders agreed with the President’s response Credit:@theatlantic

In recent months, there has been a growing sentiment among professional athletes to kneel during the national anthem at sporting events. This action has been done for a myriad of reasons and has attained many different opinions from many sides. With attitudes ranging from full-on support to violent condemnation, the anthem and the flag have become another battleground for a nation already viciously divided.

The controversy began in 2016 with Colin Kaepernick, the then-starting quarterback of the San Francisco 49ers, sitting during the playing of the Star-Spangled Banner at an NFL game.

Throughout the season, the sitting became kneeling during the anthem after Kaepernick consulted Nate Boyer, another NFL player, and Green Beret military veteran. Kaepernick stated that the kneeling was out of respect for former and acting military members and that it was what Boyer advised Kaepernick to do rather than sitting. Kaepernick also stated that the action was in protest of the recent highly publicized shootings of various African Americans by police officers. The same events that led to the formation of the Black Lives Matter movement also led to Kaepernick’s kneeling.

During the 2017 season, Kaepernick became a free agent, meaning that he was no longer the starting quarterback for the 49ers. Throughout the season, he remained unemployed, leading many to wonder about the true reason why he was remaining unsigned.

Statistics website FiveThirtyEight concluded that it is “…obvious Kaepernick is being frozen out for his political opinions.” The site used the Total Quarterback Rating, an objective way to rate quarterbacks created by ESPN, to say that Kaepernick is an “above average” quarterback and that no other player with skill similar to him had remained unemployed as long as he had.

This dispelled the belief that Kaepernick was remaining unsigned due to his skill and not his political statements. In March, President Trump took credit for Kaepernick remaining unemployed. Trump stated that no team would sign Kaepernick because they were afraid that he (Trump) would use Twitter and his position to create a “PR crisis.” This led to a very concerning thought that Trump would later expound on: is it right for the President to call for somebody to be unemployed?

Just this past September, after a few months of continued racial tensions and kneeling protests, Trump took to Twitter to say that NFL players who did not stand during the national anthem should be fired or suspended. This led to national outcry and support for the movement, leading to the trending of #TakeAKnee on Twitter. Many players and celebrities from all backgrounds came out of the woodwork to voice their opinions on Trump, the NFL, and the anthem.

Some people cited that the players’ free speech gave them the right to do whatever they like, as it is not illegal to kneel during the anthem. Other people voiced their support for Trump, citing that you do not have a right to free speech when you are at work. However, this is not a matter of the players versus the teams’ coaches and owners. Many coaches and team owners have also recently taken a knee or even stayed in the locker rooms during the playing of the anthem. An example of this is Jerry Jones, owner of the Dallas Cowboys, who took a knee with his players.

Many people are arguing that Trump is using intimidation and threats in stating that players should be fired for exercising their freedom of speech. There have even been lawsuits filed, with Democratic lawyers citing that Trump is violating 18 U.S. Code § 227, which makes it a federal crime for any government employee to influence or threaten to influence a private company’s employment decisions. If violated, the code has the ability to fine the perpetrator or to sentence them to as many as 15 years in prison.

Even more people on social media and news pundits have pointed out the unfairness of Trump calling athletes who kneel in protest “sons of bitches” while calling the white supremacists who attended the deadly Charlottesville protests “very fine people.”

Athletes from other sports have also expressed their displeasure towards Trump, with Stephan Curry of the Golden State Warriors basketball team denying Trump’s invitation to the White House. After Curry’s denial, Trump tweeted that the invitation was withdrawn, leading to Lebron James noting in a tweet at Trump that there was no invitation to withdraw if Curry had already declined, even calling the President a “bum.”

Dale Earnhardt Jr., NASCAR royalty to many fans of the very conservative-leaning sport, also took the side of the kneeling movement. He tweeted that all Americans are granted rights to peaceful protest, adding a John F. Kennedy quote that reads, “Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable.” This tweet came only moments after Trump spoke in support of NASCAR owners stating that any driver who did not stand for the anthem would be fired.

In times of a nation so divided, it is important for people to be able to speak their minds. With athletes, especially major stars like Lebron James and Stephen Curry that have so many children and teenaged fans that look up to them, it would almost be a disservice to the country not to speak their minds and give their fans the bravery to also speak for what they believe in.

If athletes feel so strongly about something that they believe, they should speak about it on their platforms. It would be irresponsible for them not to do so. If free speech and peaceful protest are stifled, then what else is there to do?

NBA Preview: The Finals Won’t Be The Same Tough Times

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Credit:@GoldenStateWarriors

 

The end of one of the most nomadic off-seasons has reached as the NBA has gone into its preseason. This leads to one thing, predictions about where your favorite team’s season will end or if your favorite player will play well enough to collect some hardware (for length reasons, this will only include playoff seeding).

With the Eastern Conference looking subpar compared to the West, will LeBron James have a cakewalk to his eight straight finals appearance? Is Lonzo Ball going to be able to bring the Lakers to the playoffs like his father promised on live television? Is the Western Conference going to have enough All-Star slots for their team?

The Western Conference is the most stacked it has ever been, with the West doubling the East in combined All-Star Game selections (141 to 67). ‘Superteams’ are being assembled to dethrone the reigning champion Golden State Warriors in Oklahoma City and Houston. With the champs keeping the same roster, except for acquiring Nick Young, the rest of the NBA seemed to be in a frenzy. Chris Paul was traded to the Houston Rockets for almost half of Houston’s roster while both Paul George and Carmelo Anthony were traded to the Oklahoma City Thunder to team with reigning-MVP Russell Westbrook. The San Antonio Spurs added veteran Rudy Gay to their team as they look to win 50 plus games for a record nineteenth consecutive season and be a force in the postseason. The Minnesota Timberwolves added Jimmy Butler on draft day with a huge trade with the Chicago Bulls to add to Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins. This is how the Western Conference playoff picture will end up:

  1. Golden State Warriors
  2. San Antonio Spurs
  3. Oklahoma City Thunder
  4. Houston Rockets
  5. Minnesota Timberwolves
  6. Memphis Grizzlies
  7. New Orleans Pelicans
  8. Portland Trail Blazers

The Eastern Conference is very top-heavy with 66 percent of the All-Star appearances remaining in the East belonging to either players of the Cleveland Cavaliers or Boston Celtics. The Boston Celtics have practically overhauled their team this offseason returning only four players from last year’s roster, which is the first time in NBA history only 4 players returned after the team made the conference finals the previous year. Their key acquisition was Kyrie Irving from Cleveland after Irving demanded a trade to “become a true point guard”. The Celtics acquired Gordon Hayward by way of free agency and solid role players like Aron Baynes and Marcus Morris as well. The Cleveland Cavaliers have arguably gotten better than last year’s team that lost to Golden State in the finals in five games. The Cavaliers acquired Isaiah Thomas, Jae Crowder, & the Brooklyn Nets’ first-round draft pick for Kyrie Irving as well as signing former MVP Derrick Rose and Dwayne Wade. The Nets first-round pick is projected to be very valuable and the Cavaliers will be faced with an interesting decision to either keep the pick and draft a player next year or trade the pick to a team for a big-time player, which can shift the entire league. The rest of the conference either stayed put or has gotten worse through the offseason so here is the Eastern Conference playoff picture:

  1. Boston Celtics
  2. Cleveland Cavaliers
  3. Toronto Raptors
  4. Washington Wizards
  5. Milwaukee Buck
  6. Miami Heat
  7. Charlotte Hornets

8.Philadelphia 76ers

There are a lot of sports analysts that will differ from some teams chosen on this playoff picture. One popular one is the 76ers making the playoffs after tanking the previous handful of seasons. The tanking will pay off as 76ers are ready to bring playoff basketball back for the first time since 2012. Another team is the Los Angeles Lakers, people need to remember that the team is coming off getting the second pick in the draft last year and playing in a stacked conference, in the East they would easily walk in the playoffs. Rookie Lonzo Ball will have a good season and compete for the eighth seed but nothing more.

The playoffs will lead to the conference matchups of the Cleveland Cavaliers vs Boston Celtics in the East and the Oklahoma City Thunder vs Golden State Warriors. The Cavaliers will advance to the NBA finals to play the Oklahoma City Thunder after a brutal seven-game series as Russell Westbrook gets the upper hand on Kevin Durant. The Cavaliers will eventually win the NBA title in 5 games with LeBron James becoming the third player in NBA history to win the regular season and finals MVP in the same season multiple times (Larry Bird and Michael Jordan).

Other regular season awards will be Rookie of the Year given to Lakers’ Lonzo Ball as he has Brook Lopez to give the ball to in need of assists as well as some formidable shooters. Sixth Man of the Year will be given to the Rockets’ Eric Gordon, who won the trophy last season as well. Coach of the Year will go to  the Thunder’s Billy Donovan for their success in the regular season.