MLS navigates resuming the season in local markets

first_imgLast Updated: 10th August, 2020 11:17 IST MLS Navigates Resuming The Season In Local Markets In light of Major League Baseball’s trouble with its season, Major League Soccer’s plan to resume play in its local markets is under scrutiny. First Published: 10th August, 2020 11:17 IST WATCH US LIVE LIVE TV Associated Press Television News Written Bycenter_img FOLLOW US In light of Major League Baseball’s trouble with its season, Major League Soccer’s plan to resume play in its local markets is under scrutiny. The league has been buoyed by the success of its MLS is Back tournament in Florida, which concludes Tuesday with the title game between the Portland Timbers and Orlando City. With teams headed home, the plan now is for an abbreviated season.“It started with a tournament in a bubble, but in our minds it had always been that we would get back into the markets at some point soon,” MLS Commissioner Don Garber said. “And that transition from the successful tournament to playing in our home markets is no different than the process with our tournament: It is very closely following the guidance of our medical experts and our infectious disease advisors, and in consultation with the local health authorities and government officials in all of our local markets.”The tournament got off to a rocky start when both FC Dallas and Nashville were forced to withdraw because of positive coronavirus tests. But only two other players have tested positive in the bubble at ESPN’s Wide World of Sports complex at Walt Disney World.MLS, the National Women’s Soccer League, the NBA and the WNBA have been able to successfully play games amid the pandemic, but in controlled environments with players sequestered from the general public. The NHL has resumed its season in “secure zones” in Toronto and Edmonton, and the league says it has not had any positive tests.But MLB, playing in home stadiums without fans, has had some two dozen games postponed because of the coronavirus. Outbreaks have notably impacted the Marlins and Cardinals. The NFL is planning games in the fall, although 67 players have opted out. The players association says 56 players have tested positive since the start of training camps on July 26.The USL Championship, the tier below MLS in American soccer, has been playing in local markets since July 11 but there have been more than a dozen games postponed because of positive tests. LA Galaxy II has had 11 positive tests. The MLS plan comes amid increasing coronavirus cases in the United States, with more than 5 million contracting the virus and 162,000 deaths.Dr. Carlos del Rio, an infectious disease expert who is chairman of the Hubert Department of Global Health at Emory University’s Rollins School of Public Health, has reviewed Major League Soccer’s plans for playing out the season and believes it is sound.He pointed to the league’s mandate that teams take charter flights or buses to the games, with no overnight hotel stays. That will cut down on the contact the teams have with the public. The league’s rigorous testing program also should help prevent outbreaks.“I think the major difference between what MLS does and what baseball is doing is, let’s say Atlanta United was playing in New York. They’re flying in the morning, they’re playing and they’re flying back home. So they’re not staying there overnight, there’s no risk of the players going to hotels, staying at an unknown place, having to get meals in a restaurant or go out to eat,” del Rio said. “They’re not having back-to-back games. And that will give them the opportunity to test them again before the next game. So I think there’s some fundamental differences.”But players will individually need to be diligent in protecting themselves away from the team, he said.“I think that’s where the issues are. And that’s why I think it’s very going to be very important that the players have the discipline and have the education about those risks and try to avoid that, because the reality is those are the things you cannot control,” he said. “So it’s less about the bubble or the market, it is more about what happens outside of those settings.”Del Rio is on the NCAA’s COVID-19 advisory panel. He is not so certain about college football this fall, considering all the variables involved. The most important thing, he said, was that the nation needs to comprehensively address the pandemic.For Chicago Fire coach Raphael Wicky, the resumption of the season is a chance for his team to move on from a disappointing showing at the MLS is Back tournament. But he too emphasized the importance of individual responsibility.“Knock on wood, we never had a positive test in our team and in our club. So, I think we were very disciplined, but it’s very important that we keep doing that,” Wicky said. “Especially now, everyone’s back home. It’s summer, everyone has a life, but we tell the players, `Look, you’ve got to be very careful and you’ve got to follow the rules, wearing masks, social distancing.’”Garber said that if circumstances merit it, he won’t hesitate to pull the plug on the rest of the season.“We believe we have a good plan, we believe our players and our staff are focused on adhering to our protocols, and if we’re able to do that, we ought to be able to get our games in,” Garber said. “And if we can’t do that in a way that’s safe, and one that’s ensuring the health of our players, we’ll have to address it. If it doesn’t work then we won’t move forward.” SUBSCRIBE TO US COMMENTlast_img

2019 Fantasy Football All-Bust Team

first_imgAt the conclusion of every fantasy football draft, each owner sits there and quietly (or not so quietly) hopes that none of his or her players are the dreaded b-word: Busts. Inevitably, though, some of the top draft picks will get hurt or simply disappoint. In the spirit of torturing ourselves and fellow fantasy owners with predictions gone wrong, we present to you our fantasy football 2019 All-Bust Team.There were some key factors that had to be considered when we put together this roster. How would we account for injures? That’s the biggest thing that could sway the names on this list one way or another, but in general, we’ve placed players here whose performances warranted it just as much as any potential injuries. Any player with a much higher ADP than overall performance was eligible for the list, and to make sure we fit all the special cases, we stretched the roster limits a little bit (although in reality, we’ve just given the roster a FLEX spot in the form of an extra running back). This was easy. The Jags were being drafted as the third D/ST off the board, as if their 2017 season would magically come back after an off year. The real truth was that the Jaguars weren’t that good, and this season proved that. Hopefully you moved on quickly and streamed.Kicker: Stephen Gostkowski, PatriotsCalling any kicker a bust is kind of silly, but Gostkowski is the closest fit (along with Adam Vinatieri, but he went undrafted in enough leagues to not be considered). Gostkowski was the fourth kicker taken in drafts, often going a bit before the final round (which is too early for kickers).The veteran missed four extra points and a field goal in the season’s first four weeks before being ruled out for the season with an injury. Hopefully you picked up someone solid. It’s just a lesson that you should never reach on a kicker, even the most predictable and talented ones like Justin Tucker and Greg Zuerlein. Below, you’ll also see us revisit the players we made preseason selections to our boom-or-bust team. That list wasn’t so much intended to single out guys who would be total busts, but rather players we thought may struggle to live up to their draft hype. As you’ll see, we hit some and missed on others.Without further ado, we present to you the biggest fantasy football busts of the 2019 NFL season.RELATED: 2019 All-Value TeamBiggest 2019 Fantasy Football BustsNote: All average draft positions (ADP) referenced below are via FantasyPros.QB: Baker Mayfield, BrownsYou weren’t going to find a bigger supporter of Mayfield this preseason. I predicted that he’d be the NFL MVP. I bought into all the hype — the strong finish to his rookie season, the addition of Odell Beckham Jr., a new offensive coordinator who figures to call more passes, etc. It wasn’t just me, though. Mayfield was the fourth QB off draft boards, on average, behind Patrick Mahomes, Deshaun Watson and Aaron Rodgers. There were some fantasy analysts cautioning to stay away at that price, but by and large, fantasy owners believed in Mayfield.Then came the struggles. Mayfield wasn’t identifying defenses and wasn’t hitting receivers. He didn’t throw more touchdowns than interceptions in an individual game until Week 9. Beckham wasn’t the help he should’ve been. The Browns rode Nick Chubb and the running game. The list goes on.After being drafted fourth among QBs, Mayfield finished the 16-week fantasy season as the No. 20 scoring quarterback.  Preseason Boom-or-Bust QB: Cam Newton, PanthersNewton’s early-season struggles may have been injury-related, but that was always part of the consideration with him. He was the 10th QB off the board on average, so playing two subpar games before missing the rest of the season isn’t what fantasy owners hoped for.RB: David Johnson, CardinalsJohnson was the seventh RB taken in drafts and the ninth overall player to come off the board. So, the fact that he was playing but had become droppable by the start of the fantasy playoffs is not a good sign.Things started just fine, with Johnson rushing for 82 yards while catching six passes, including a touchdown, in Week 1. It was a bumpy road in the next few weeks, but some of that could be chalked up to a new offense and a rookie quarterback. Johnson figured to right the ship.Then came Week 7. Johnson was questionable during the week, but once he was activated for the game, everyone figured he’d get a pretty regular workload. Instead, he played the first two snaps, carried the ball once, and was never heard from again as Chase Edmonds had a monster game. Johnson hasn’t touched the ball more than six times in a game since, as he missed time and Kenyan Drake took over the backfield.There’s really no lesson to be learned here. This was just unfortunate luck of an offense not living up to its potential ahead of an injury-laden season. Johnson will enter his age-28 season as a total wild card.RB: Saquon Barkley, GiantsBarkley was the consensus No. 1 pick in fantasy drafts. And, really, why not? He averaged 5.0 yards per carry in a standout rookie season while catching 91 passes, too. His talent had already been realized in his first year on NFL fields. It seems obvious that nothing would stand in the way of a repeat campaign.So, when Saquon ran for more than 100 yards in each of the season’s first two weeks, it was business as usual. The only problem? Barkley didn’t topped 100 rushing yards in a game between then and Week 14. He might’ve been a reason you missed out on the fantasy playoffs. The only way you benefited from his massive Weeks 15 and 16 is if you managed well enough elsewhere to get to the postseason.To be fair, the sprained ankle Barkley dealt with in the middle of the season sapped something from him. Since his return through Week 14, he’d averaged 3.2 yards per rush, compared to 6.4 yards per carry before the injury. But he was back to 6.5 yards per carry in Weeks 15 and 16, and if your team managed to make the fantasy championship game with Barkley on your roster, he helped put you over the top. It’s not like it’s been a totally useless season for Barkley like how it’s been for Johnson. Barkley still ranks in the top-20 among RBs in fantasy points per game. But if you could do it over again, knowing what we know now, he wouldn’t be the top overall pick, and that’s enough to make the obvious 1.1 a bust.RB: Alvin Kamara, SaintsIf you’re in a PPR league, you might not have noticed Kamara’s disappointing season quite as much. He ranks 18th in fantasy points per game in standard scoring but 11th in PPR. But even that 11th in PPR is lower than you would’ve hoped for based on ADP. Kamara was the third player off the board in drafts behind Barkley and Christian McCaffrey (and if you drafted closer to the season, perhaps behind Ezekiel Elliott). But surely some leagues saw Kamara taken ahead of McCaffrey, and that’s where it really hurts.Kamara has dealt with injury himself — he didn’t play in Weeks 7 or 8, and New Orleans hasn’t given him the ball on the ground as frequently since he returned. But the real lost nature of Kamara’s season comes in finding the end zone. After scoring 18 total touchdowns a year ago (14 on the ground, four through the air), Kamara had two total scores this season through Week 14 (one of each), and then he added two more TDs in Week 16.Touchdowns can be fluky at times, sure. Heading into next season, this season’s touchdown numbers probably won’t matter a ton in creating a valuation for Kamara. But in this season, when you’ve plugged Kamara loyally into your lineup each week, the lack of scoring matters, a lot. And that’s why he’s a bust.Preseason Boom-or-Bust RBs: Derrick Henry, Titans | Damien Williams, ChiefsHenry was a miss. Turns out his torrid end to 2018 was foreshadowing things to come. Henry was one of the most consistent backs in the NFL this year after being one of the most inconsistent in his prior three seasons. Williams has been an interesting case all year because in the games he was healthy and trusted by Andy Reid, he was good. Those were just few and far between, and injury issues have marred the second half of his season.WR: Odell Beckham Jr., BrownsIf you put Baker Mayfield and Beckham in a room and asked them whose fault it was that they were 2019 fantasy busts, there might be a lot of finger pointing. From afar, it feels very much like a chicken or the egg question. But regardless of the reasons, we know OBJ hasn’t lived up to his status as the No. 6 WR taken in drafts.Through 14 weeks, Beckham has topped 100 yards twice and scored two touchdowns. A season ago, in 12 games played, Beckham topped 100 yards five times and caught six scores. The worst part for fantasy owners have been the totally useless weeks, like the three games with receiving yards in the 20s along with five more contests of 60 yards or less. It’s not like he suddenly became not talented (though he has reportedly been dealing with a sports hernia all season). The flashes have been there, like the 89-yard touchdown against the Jets in Week 2 or a number of acrobatic catches that still grace the highlight reels. There just hasn’t been much else; none of the consistent, chain-moving, reception-building catches that made him such a sure-thing fantasy option. In standard leagues, Beckham finished Week 16 outside the top 30 in fantasy points among WRs, and he hasn’t been hurt, either, meaning you’ve probably started him in every week only to be disappointed yet again.WR: JuJu Smith-Schuster, SteelersOh, it felt so, so easy. Smith-Schuster was a star a year ago with Antonio Brown in town, so with Brown gone, surely he’d step into an even bigger target share and take the league by storm. Surely, the fantasy owners that took him seventh among WRs figured that was the case. But things get off to a good start. The early-season injury to Ben Roethlisberger was just the start. JuJu has only topped 100 yards once. He’s had fewer than 25 receiving yards in a game five times through Week 16, including a one-catch, seven-yard performance that somehow came in a Pittsburgh win. He’s been forced to catch passes from Mason Rudolph and Devlin ‘Duck’ Hodges.At least in the aftermath of the concussion and knee injury he suffered on the same play in Week 11, fantasy owners knew they could keep him out of their lineup instead of continuing to tell themselves, “You know, he’s due.” The spot on fantasy benches that Smith-Schuster’s injury brought him was long deserved, cementing his status as a 2019 bust.WR: Antonio Brown, Patriots/inactiveWe all had an idea of what we were getting into with this guy — but we didn’t know it could go this bad. If you’re like me and drafted him in the second round the night before the season, there was the obvious potential of it blowing up in your face, and blow up it certainly did.It’s really not worth digging much deeper here. At least by getting his Patriots release, Brown could be set free by fantasy owners and not worried about again, unlike the two names above him here. He’ll certainly have bust potential if he latches on with a team before next season, but he’ll still be one of the league’s most talented wideouts — and a headache for fantasy owners, to be sure.Preseason Boom-or-Bust WRs: Adam Thielen, Vikings | Sammy Watkins, Chiefs | Courtland Sutton, BroncosThielen was fine when he was healthy, but he’s dealt with a hamstring injury that’s cost him a good chunk of games, including two contests where he exited in the first quarter. And Watkins, aside from a massive Week 1, has been downright bad. Sutton’s been our biggest miss. It turns out he was simply too talented to be held down by a lame Denver quarterback situation, and he was helped by a midseason trade of Emmanuel Sanders.TE: O.J. Howard, BuccaneersHoward was drafted fourth among tight ends, and it made sense. His talent had already been realized at the NFL level. He was a rising star. The only thing that apparently none of us could account for enough was Bruce Arians’ offense.Sure, Arians never really involved the tight end, but this was a stud like Howard — he surely wouldn’t hold him back, would he? Week 2, when Howard was on the field for 55 plays but not targeted on a single one, answered that question. He’s only caught one touchdown through Week 16, only has one game of five catches, and has topped 50 yards just three times. His future is still bright, but most owners who drafted him moved on before the fantasy playoffs — the sure-fire mark of a fantasy bust.Preseason Boom-or-Bust TE: Vance McDonald, SteelersMcDonald was going off the board as the eighth TE in the preaseason. We actually listed him as a sleeper before we saw him going that high. He enters Week 17 as the No. 35 TE based on fantasy points, with a single-game high of 40 receiving yards. Yuck.D/ST: Chicago BearsThe Bears’ defense came back to earth, and maybe even more than we expected. They were still our No. 1 fantasy defense, so we were wrong, too. There’s just too much variation among the position — and too much success to be had by streaming defenses — to ever reach for a defense in the 10th or 11th round (and in the FantasyPros data, the Bears were the 84th overall off the board).Preseason Boom-or-Bust D/ST: Jacksonville Jaguarslast_img read more