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We kicked off our fantasy playoffs with a Thursday filled with drama. The Jaguars fired Urban Meyer, the NFL had to deal with the most COVID-19 cases in one day, and there was also a game with massive implications for both real and fantasy football.
The Jaguars Fired Head Coach Urban Meyer at 12:30 am
The Jaguars have been dealing with some serious issues since the preseason. In fact, “serious issues” may be an understatement. A majority, if not all, of the problems, start and end with Meyer.
It all began with the hiring of Meyer despite a plethora of coaching talent available to Jacksonville. For the Jaguars, it seemed like hiring a head coach with extensive collegiate experience was a priority for the number one overall pick in Trevor Lawrence. That collegiate experience came at the expense of NFL experience. The Jaguars elected to go with Meyer instead of powerhouses like Robert Saleh, Eric Bieniemy, Raheem Morris, and Arthur Smith.
Meyer’s message was one of greatness, love, and respect for each player. Then, the Jaguars hired Chris Doyle who had been accused of mistreating players and using racial slurs during his time at the University of Iowa. He did resign after the backlash, but that should have been a giant red flag.
After Jacksonville picked Lawrence first in the draft, they signed Meyer’s former college quarterback, Tim Tebow, on May 10th even though he had not played in the NFL for nine years. Then, there was the faux quarterback competition between Gardner Minshew and Lawrence that was a flat laughing stock.
This all happened before the season even began. This continued to stack up against Meyer, heavily weighing the measures against him with little in his favor. There was the vaccination status issue with regards to roster cuts, a video that came out of a lady who was not his wife dancing with him when he did not travel home with the team after a loss, Tom Pelissero’s article about tension in the locker room, not knowing which player is on the field or not, and then former kicker, Josh Lambo, coming out with his story. Meyer had allegedly kicked the kicker during the preseason and told him to start making his kicks. Oh, let’s not forget that Lawrence was rendered obsolete as Meyer turned the Jaguars into a punchline.
Shad Khan and the Jaguars had no choice but to rip the bandaid off and get rid of Meyer. Offensive coordinator, Darrell Bevel, will take over as the interim head coach for the remainder of the season.
COVID-19 Ravages the NFL
It might take me less time to just tell you about the players who have NOT been impacted by COVID-19 than to list those who have.
Every team, aside from the Panthers, 49ers, and the Buccaneers (so far), have at least one player who has either tested positive or is a close contact.
The Browns are one team who have fared the worst heading into their Saturday matchup. Head coach Kevin Stefanski and Jarvis Landry were placed on the list early, but since then Baker Mayfield was added to the list. Case Keenum would have been next up in line at the quarterback position, but he too was placed on the reserve list. That leaves Nick Mullens, who was just signed to the team, to take the reins against a pivotal matchup against the Raiders.
The NFL recently announced that effective immediately, all 32 teams will be placed in mandatory intensive COVID-19 protocols. That means such things as mandatory masks, outdoor and Zoom meetings, grab-and-go meals, among other rules. The most notable change is an easier pathway for players who have tested positive to return to play. The new policy revolves around a “cycle threshold” that evaluates the viral load of players and whether or not said player would be contagious.
The NFL only has a handful of weeks left to play and does not have the time nor the opportunity to move games around like last season. In essence, this should help alleviate player availability, but it could easily lead to more confusion and irritation.
List of COVID-19 Players with Fantasy Impacts (as of this article date and not limited to)
- Allen Robinson
- Baker Mayfield
- Case Keenum
- Austin Hooper
- Jarvis Landry
- Cedrick Wilson
- Jamaal Williams
- Josh Gordon
- Odell Beckham
- Jalen Ramsey
- Darrell Henderson
- Jaylen Waddle
- Phillip Lindsay
- Salvon Ahmed
- Myles Gaskin
- Alexander Mattison
- Mark Ingram
- John Ross
- Kadarius Toney
- Quez Watkins
- Tyler Lockett
- Alex Collins
- Dez Fitzpatrick
- Cam Sims
- Elijah Moore
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Chiefs Take the Win in Overtime
Justin Herbert has a cannon of an arm. That's not breaking news, but receivers have to deal with the torpedo that comes their way when the Chargers are on offense. There were numerous drops in the first half from the Los Angeles' receivers even though Herbert's passes were on the numbers or in their hands. To be fair, even seeing his passes in slow motion looked like it was in real-time. That's how fast his passes are.
This game promised high scoring with both defenses having gaping holes in at least one aspect of their play. Surprisingly, it was a defensive showing for a majority of the game for first-place implications in the AFC. Both teams left significant points on the board and it was only 13-14 in favor of the Chargers at the start of the fourth quarter.
The lack of scoring wasn't due to a lack of trying. Both teams went for it on fourth down numerous times, but the respective defenses hit the "deny" button. However, with each fourth-down attempt that was missed, there was a possible field goal that wasn't given a chance.
Early in the fourth quarter, the Chargers looked to second-year player Josh Kelley at the goal line. He hurtled the pile but the ball was punched out. Kansas City recovered and the Chargers hung their heads all the way to the sidelines. On the next play, Patrick Mahomes threw an interception that set up Austin Ekeler for a Chargers' touchdown. Travis Kelce made a long play for the Chiefs that set them up at second and goal. Mahomes found Tyreek Hill to cut the home team's lead to 19-21. The Chiefs went for two (only their second time this season) and Mahomes found Clyde Edwards-Helaire to tie the game 21-21 with under eight minutes left to play.
The Chargers drove down the field and tried to burn as much time off of the clock as they could. Herbert hit Keenan Allen for a touchdown with just over two minutes to play for a 28-21 lead.
The Chiefs weren't about to quit. Mahomes had to scramble for two first-downs and even scrambled a third time for a long gain to get KC to the seven-yard line. He found Kelce in the end zone and tied the game 28-28 with 1:16 left for Herbert and the Chargers. They couldn't capitalize and were forced to punt, which give the Chiefs the ball back with 17 seconds on their 28-yard line. Kansas City didn't do much better and the game went into overtime.
KC won the coin toss and elected to take possession. The game was over shortly after when Mahomes found Kelce on a 27-yard play, Hill on a 14-yard play, then Kelce again for a 34-yard touchdown to take the win.
Quick Hits/Injury Updates
Jaguars interim head coach, Darrell Bevel says that James Robinson is their lead back and will be treated as such. … Ravens QB Lamar Jackson and Marquise Brown did not practice on Thursday. … 49ers Elijah Mitchell was working out on the side during practice. … Raiders TE Darren Waller is out for Saturday’s game against the Browns. … Packers RB Aaron Jones did not practice Thursday. … Giants RB Saquon Barkley returned to practice. … Broncos RB Javonte Williams was limited at practice with a knee injury.