Fantasy fallout: ‘Lightning backs’ Chris Thompson, Austin Ekeler strike in Week 1

Timeshares can be a blessing and a curse in fantasy football. We’d all prefer to start a Le’Veon Bell (or a James Conner) and enjoy about 30 touches in a given week. But there’s nothing wrong with a good “thunder and lightning” combo now and then — as long as it produces a pair of fantasy-relevant backs who complement each other well.

That was the case in Week 1 with the Washington Redskins, Los Angeles Chargers and Denver Broncos. Here’s a breakdown of each situation, with intel from ESPN’s NFL Nation reporters:

Chris Thompson: What a start for Washington’s backfield. Adrian Peterson defied conventional wisdom yet again by gaining a total of 166 yards from scrimmage at age 33. But in some ways, Thompson’s 11 touches for a total of 128 yards and a touchdown were even more promising.cheap nike nfl jerseys china

Yes, we’ve seen this kind of dynamic impact from Thompson before. But we didn’t know how quickly he would return to form after suffering a broken fibula last season. Even Thompson himself suggested last month that he might not truly feel back to 100 percent until November.2

But as ESPN Redskins reporter John Keim wrote, Thompson said he started to feel like his old self about a week before the season opener.

“It was huge,” Thompson said of his return performance. “Once that clock started and I got on the field, that was the best I had felt since my injury.”

Although the Redskins’ goal for Thompson is just 12 to 15 touches per game, he has proved he can do enough with that workload to make a fantasy impact, especially in PPR leagues.nfl nike jersey cheap

Austin Ekeler: It was even more surprising to see the Chargers produce two backs with more than 100 yards from scrimmage in Week 1. But Melvin Gordon owners shouldn’t worry after Ekeler gained a career-high 126 yards and a touchdown on a total of five carries and five receptions. Gordon is still a true “RB1,” while ESPN Chargers writer Eric D. Williams said Ekeler is more of a “changeup guy.”

But Williams does think Ekeler should get enough touches to be a fantasy consideration and wrote this week about how well they feed off each other. Gordon’s desire is to be the workhorse back this season, but he’s willing to share some of the spotlight.

Natasha Howard shines in starring role for WNBA champion Storm

Natasha Howard had been a reserve in the WNBA Finals the past three seasons. This year, she played a starring role. Howard had a career-high 29 points, plus 14 rebounds, in the Seattle Storm’s 98-82 victory over the Washington Mystics in Game 3 on Wednesday.

It completed a sweep for the Storm, who know they couldn’t have done it without the 6-foot-2 post player. Howard was the league’s most improved player this season, progress that came mostly because she had more of a chance to play in Seattle. She came off the bench for Indiana in 2015, and for Minnesota in 2016 and ’17.cheap nfl nike jerseys china

A February trade sent her to a franchise that needed her exact skill set. And her experience with the Fever and the Lynx in previous WNBA Finals showed in how well she played throughout this year for the Storm.2

After 13.2 points and 6.4 rebounds per game during the regular season, she averaged 15.8 PPG and 8.3 RPG in Seattle’s eight playoff games.

“Natasha Howard, what an incredible story to me,” Seattle coach Dan Hughes said. “The way she realized that opportunity, and what she did, and how she blended with this basketball team.”

Howard is a native of Toledo, Ohio, and Hughes was once an assistant coach at the University of Toledo when Howard’s father played there. When he was coach in San Antonio, Hughes always hoped he might get to mentor Howard, who starred collegiately at Florida State and then was drafted No. 5 by Indiana in 2014.cheap nike nfl jerseys wholesale

But it didn’t look as if it was ever going to happen when Hughes retired after the 2016 season. The chance to come back in 2018 with a championship-caliber team was something Hughes couldn’t pass up. It meant getting to coach a veteran leader like Sue Bird, an MVP-caliber star like Breanna Stewart and — at last — a player like Howard, with so much potential waiting to be realized.

Bears LB Khalil Mack torments Aaron Rodgers, Packers in debut

Chicago Bears outside linebacker Khalil Mack was worth every penny of the $90 million guaranteed he signed for with Chicago during the first half of Sunday night’s season opener at Green Bay.

Mack, who entered the 24-23 loss early in the first quarter, was involved in three game-altering plays that helped the Bears open a 17-0 lead at halftime.nike nfl jerseys cheap china

“You prepare all offseason for the first game of the season, so I wanted to come back and make an impact, but you want to win these games,” Mack said. “That is the only thing on my mind. I hate losing.”1

A former NFL Defensive Player of the Year, Mack was at times unblockable, tormenting Green Bay quarterbacks Aaron Rodgers and DeShone Kizer.china nike nfl jerseys cheap

“I was pretty confident the Packers would have a hard time blocking him,” Bears defensive lineman Akiem Hicks said.

At the 9:22 mark of the second quarter, Mack and Bears defensive end Roy Robertson-Harris broke through the Packers’ offensive line and forced Rodgers to the ground. Robertson-Harris was credited with the sack, and the play resulted in Rodgers leaving the game with a knee injury. Rodgers later returned to start the second half.

Later in the first half, with Green Bay’s offense picking up a little momentum behind backup quarterback Kizer, Mack registered a sack, forced fumble and fumble recovery — all on the same play — to thwart a Packers drive that had reached the Bears’ 9-yard line.

Point guards Steve Nash, Jason Kidd and Maurice Cheeks among Hall inductees

Lefty Driesell had the crowd laughing. Dino Radja fought back tears. Blue Devils and Tar Heels brought their rivalry to the Basketball Hall of Fame, and Ray Allen made a peace offering to his spurned Celtics teammates.

And they did it with an assist from three of the greatest point guards in NBA history.

The Springfield shrine inducted its 13-member Class of 2018 on Friday night, recognizing the players, coaches and contributors who broke records and barriers in equal measure.nike nfl jerseys for cheap

Rick Welts, the NBA’s first openly gay executive, went in along with Charlie Scott, the first African-American to receive an athletic scholarship at North Carolina. Ora Mae Washington was honored for a pre-World War II career in which she won 11 consecutive Women’s Colored Basketball Championships. Tina Thompson was the first-ever draft pick in the WNBA.

Also inducted were New York Liberty coach Katie Smith, the leading scorer in women’s professional basketball history; longtime NBA executive Rod Thorn; and Grant Hill, the first Duke player in the Hall.1

“It’s a real honor to go in with all of you guys,” said Steve Nash, who was inducted along with fellow point guards Jason Kidd and Maurice Cheeks.

“I was never even supposed to be here,” said Nash, who was born in South Africa and grew up in Canada and went on to win back-to-back NBA MVP awards. “Play the long game. You don’t have to be the chosen one. If you’re patient, the plateaus will become springboards.”

Allen gave a shoutout to Celtics teammates Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce, calling the 2008 NBA championship teammates “future Hall of Famers”; both posted congratulatory messages on social media, a thaw in the relationships that have been icy since Allen left Boston for Miami to chase another title in 2012.

But Allen spent most of his speech describing a life “repeating those boring old habits” that made him the most prolific 3-point shooter in league history.cheap nike nfl jerseys china

“What’s so incredible about it is that I loved it,” he said. “I wouldn’t have rather been anywhere else in the world.”

Kidd trudged up the steps into Springfield’s Symphony Hall carrying a baby stroller. Nash carried his son in his arm. Dikembe Mutombo stopped to take a selfie with Julius Erving and Kyrie Irving. Mark Cuban and Dirk Nowitzki made their way up the red carpet. Larry Bird was a late arrival.

Nuggets to decline option on Nikola Jokic, clearing way for max deal

The Denver Nuggets filed paperwork to decline the team option on star forward Nikola Jokic’s contract on Monday night, clearing the way to sign him to what likely will be a five-year, approximately $147 million maximum contract in July, league sources told ESPN.authentic nfl jerseys

Declining the $1.5 million team option for the 2018-19 season makes Jokic, 23, a restricted free agent and allows the Nuggets and Jokic to execute the long-term deal.82

Had Denver not declined the option, Jokic could have been an unrestricted free agent in 2019.

Both sides are intent on working together toward the new deal, which should be completed as soon as July 1, league sources said.

Jokic has developed into Denver’s franchise star, averaging 18.5 points, 10.7 rebounds and 6.1 assists last season. Denver won 46 regular-season games, missing the playoffs on the final game of the regular season. Denver is hoping to re-sign guard Will Barton, who will be an unrestricted free agent.official nfl jerseys cheap

Jokic was the 41st pick of the 2014 NBA draft and signed a typical deal for a second-round pick that includes unrestricted free agency after the fourth year.

Real or Not? Miggy might never dominate at the plate again

Miguel Cabrera is an all-time great, one of the most lethal right-handed batters ever with four batting titles, two home run championships and a Triple Crown season. You have to wonder, however, if we’ll ever see Super Scary Miggy again.

Cabrera ruptured a biceps tendon on a swing in Tuesday’s 6-4 loss to the Twins and he’ll require season-ending surgery. His season is over after 38 games and only three home runs. Once one of the iron men of the game, Cabrera averaged 157 games per season from 2004 to 2014 without landing on the DL. But check out his list of injuries since 2014:

? 2014: Played 159 games and hit .313 with 25 home runs but had surgery after the season to repair a stress fracture in his foot and bone spurs in his ankle.cheap nike nfl jerseys from china

? 2015: Landed on the DL for the first time, missing six weeks because of a calf strain and playing only 119 games (he still hit .338 to win his fourth batting title, although he hit only 18 home runs).43

? 2017: Bothered by back problems all season and played 130 games, hitting .249 with 16 home runs.

? 2018: Missed time earlier because of a hamstring issue and now he’s out for the season. While he managed to hit .301 while in the lineup, he never did find his power stroke.

Cabrera is now 35 years old — turning 36 next April — with a body struggling to handle the rigors of playing baseball every day. There is still ability there when healthy, as witnessed by a strong 2016 season when he hit .316 with 38 home runs, but will he be able to tap into that ability in the future? The worrisome aspect for the Tigers? Cabrera’s future salaries: $30 million per season in 2019, 2020 and 2021, then $32 million per year in 2022 and 2023… and then a $30 million vesting option (or an $8 million buyout) for 2024, and a $30 million vesting option for 2025.nfl cheap nike jerseys

That’s a minimum of $162 million owed an aging superstar who probably moves to DH next season. Look, maybe Cabrera bounces back and this won’t end up as bad as the Albert Pujols contract. He’s a better hitter than Pujols, who turned into a one-dimensional slugger in his mid-30s, with declining batting averages and worsening control of the strike zone. Cabrera still had a .397 OBP, so there’s some hope he’ll age better if the body does.