It’s hard to believe we are through 10 weeks of the NFL season, and of course there is plenty to digest and discuss in fantasy football as we head into the weekend of games following the Baltimore Ravens’ 34-20 win over the Cincinnati Bengals on Thursday.
Each Tuesday and Saturday during the season, ESPN fantasy analyst Eric Moody will ask our NFL Nation reporters the most pressing questions heading into the weekend and what to make of the fallout after games are played. Who is primed for a big performance, who is impacted by injuries and what roles might change? Here’s what our crew had to say about some of the biggest storylines heading into Week 11.
Should fantasy managers feel comfortable playing Justin Fields in his first game back against the Lions?
Fields carries no injury designation and will be full go against the Lions, likely with only a taped right thumb. This is the longest stretch of games the quarterback says he has missed dating back to high school, and it’s clear the 24-year-old is chomping at the bit to get back under center. Before he got injured, Fields was one of the league’s best deep-ball throwers, completing 13 of 26 pass attempts of 20 or more yards for 332 yards, 6 touchdowns and no interceptions. It’s natural to expect Fields might have to knock off some rust as a passer after missing Chicago’s past four games, but fantasy managers should feel good knowing how much of a threat the quarterback can be with his legs and the issues Detroit’s defense had containing another running QB — Lamar Jackson — earlier this season. — Courtney Cronin
Do you expect Tyjae Spears to continue to get more work with Derrick Henry struggling?
Spears is averaging 11.6 touches per game. The rookie back will continue to get more touches because of the offensive line struggles that result in the Titans consistently being behind the chains. Henry only has 20 or more carries in three out of nine games this season, so it’s clear Spears has cut into his workload. The Titans have moved toward more of a passing offense this season under offensive coordinator Tim Kelly. They’re throwing the ball 30.2 times per game this season, an increase just short of four attempts from last year. That bodes well for Spears, especially on third downs, where his pass-catching ability makes him Tennessee’s best option at running back. — Turron Davenport
What can we expect from the Browns’ skill position players now that Deshaun Watson is out for the season?
Potentially, not much different from what we’ve seen. Remember, Watson missed four games this year with the shoulder cuff strain before the latest shoulder injury, a fracture, ended his season. The Browns will still find a way to get wideout Amari Cooper the ball. Jerome Ford and Kareem Hunt will remain viable fantasy running backs (Ford because of the yards, Hunt because of the short-yardage touchdowns). Tight end David Njoku is capable of big games but isn’t consistently targeted. Beyond that, there’s not much there to utilize in fantasy. But for Cleveland, that’s nothing new. — Jake Trotter
How will the return of Pat Freiermuth impact the Steelers’ passing game?
Even before his injury, Freiermuth was less involved in the Steelers’ offense than he was a year ago. In 2022, Freiermuth averaged more than six targets per game. In four games this season, Freiermuth was targeted four times in three games and just once in the Week 2 win against the Browns. While Freiermuth, who has two touchdowns, should be a boost to the red zone offense, his inclusion isn’t going to drastically change an offense that appears allergic to throwing to the middle of the field. — Brooke Pryor
Halfway through the 2023 college football season, the national championship race feels more wide open than it has been in years.
But is it really?
“I think I would say if there was a 12-team playoff this year, it would be tremendous,” FOX Sports analyst and former Washington quarterback Brock Huard said.
That will have to until 2024. For now, the College Football Playoff is still a four-team bracket (and the first rankings are coming up on Oct. 31).
The CFP era has been mostly dominated by super teams. An exclusive group of programs have had a realistic shot at winning a national title. Five teams have split up the nine CFP championships: Alabama has three, Clemson and Georgia have two each, and LSU and Ohio State each have one.
Coming into this year it looked like defending national champion Georgia and Michigan, coming off two straight playoff appearances, would be a cut above the rest with the usual suspects of Ohio State and Alabama closest behind.
With half the season in the books, No. 1 Georgia and No. 2 Michigan have not lost or budged from their spots at the top of the AP Top 25.
But in the eyes of poll voters, the field has gained on the Bulldogs and Wolverines. This week, No. 3 Ohio State, No. 4 Florida State and No. 5 Washington all received first-place votes. No. 8 Texas also made a case for No. 1 before losing to No. 6 Oklahoma.
The top teams in the country are either unbeaten or in the case of No. 9 Oregon and No. 11 Alabama, beaten only by another highly-ranked team.
Michael Penix Jr. leads Washington to an unbelievable win over Oregon
“NIL has kept players like (Washington quarterback) Michael Penix on campus. The transfer portal has leveled the playing field as far as depth goes in a lot of places,” Huard said.
The first tier might seem more crowded this season because it’s filled with high-ceiling programs. The top-nine teams in the country have all won at least one national championship or played for a BCS title or reached the CFP — or some combination of the three. And that doesn’t include No. 11 Alabama.
The analytics seem to be telling a similar story.
ESPN’s SP+ has the difference between Michigan at No. 1 and Alabama at No. 9 as a mere five points.
For comparison, at this point last season, the difference between the top team in SP+, Ohio State, and No. 5 Tennessee was seven points, while the Volunteers were almost seven points better than No. 11 Utah. The difference this year between No. 5 Texas and No. 11 Florida State is about four points.
“I’m seeing it as an 11-team race right now,” ESPN’s Bill Connelly, the brains behind SP+, said on the “GameDay Podcast.”
Here’s a caveat, and a hunch: There is a chance Georgia and Michigan emerge as a tier all to themselves, though reaching peak performance just got tougher for the Bulldogs after star tight end Brock Bowers was sidelined with an ankle injury.
The schedules for both the Wolverines and Bulldogs pick up significantly in the second half. If they can be at their best against their best opponents, the separation at the top come playoff time could look a lot more like it has in recent years.
Here are some highlights, low-lights, awards, and predictions for the second half.
Surprise team: No. 16 Duke
It has been a chalky season so far. Twenty of the 25 teams currently ranked were in the preseason poll.
The Blue Devils (5-1) get the nod as the most pleasant surprise halfway through the season. Regression was predicted for coach Mike Elko’s team after it won nine games in his debut last year. Instead, Duke started the season by beating Clemson and went toe-to-toe with No. 15 Notre Dame. The back half of the schedule is tough, but even an eight-win season would exceed expectations.
Disappointing team: Clemson.
This might be overly harsh, and look foolish in a few weeks. The Tigers (4-2) still look capable of closing strong behind a really good defense. But when Clemson is eliminated from playoff contention and buried in the ACC standings before the end of September it’s a disappointment.
Most frustrating for Clemson fans is the offense is still mediocre after the splashy offseason hiring of coordinator Garrett Riley.
In a couple weeks the answer to this question might be No. 18 Southern California.
Best game: Washington 36, Oregon 33.
The Huskies and Ducks played 60 minutes of intense and intriguing football and did so at a remarkably high level. The Pac-12 (and soon-to-be Big Ten) rivals combined to run 145 offensive plays and committed one turnover and 10 penalties.
September sensation: Colorado.
Coach Deion Sanders’ transfer-heavy team became must-see TV while getting off to a 3-0 start. Reality has set in since, but the Buffaloes were great for the content business for a few weeks.
Halfway Heisman: Jayden Daniels, LSU.
Washington quarterback Michael Penix Jr. emerged from the Oregon game as the new favorite to win the Heisman Trophy after USC’s Caleb Williams played the worst game of his career against Notre Dame on the same day.
Sam Hartman and Notre Dame dominate Caleb Williams and USC | Joel Klatt Show
Joel Klatt analyzed No. 18 USC Trojans vs. No. 15 Notre Dame Fighting Irish. He explained how USC’s mistakes on offense led to them giving up 28 points on turnovers. Joel broke down how this offense has shown some flaws in past matchups.
Still, Daniels is the choice here. No. 19 LSU (5-2) has serious defensive issues, and if not for Daniels, who leads the nation in total offense at 401 yards per game, the Tigers would likely have another loss or two.
Coach of the first half: Kyle Whittingham, Utah
Coach awards can be a little weird because they usually go to the guy leading the team that most exceeded preseason expectations.
On the surface that’s not the 14th-ranked Utes (5-1), but keeping this team afloat without what figured to be its two best offensive players — QB Cam Rising (knee) and TE Brant Kuithe (knee) — has been a testament to Whittingham and his staff.
It could also be tough to keep it up.
— Texas A&M finishes 7-5 and pays a nearly $78 million buyout to fire coach Jimbo Fisher. UTSA coach Jeff Traylor is hired to replace him.
— The Heisman Trophy usually goes to a player on a team that enters championship weekend in playoff contention. That probably won’t be Daniels. The race will come down to Michigan quarterback J.J. McCarthy, Florida State’s Jordan Travis and Penix. The Huskies’ prolific passer becomes Washington’s first Heisman winner.
— New Year’s Six Bowls:
Fiesta Bowl: Air Force vs. Washington.
Cotton Bowl: Oklahoma vs. Penn State.
Orange Bowl: Florida State vs. Ohio State.
Peach Bowl: Alabama vs. North Carolina.
Rose Bowl: Michigan vs. Oregon.
Sugar Bowl: Georgia vs. Texas.
National championship: Georgia vs. Michigan. The Bulldogs pull off the three-peat.
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This week’s edition of ‘How Can this Benefit My Brand?’ includes insights surrounding how to efficiently repurpose other channels to form long-form content, how YouTube SEO can be optimised, ways to meet the needs of the TikTok algorithm, how X posts can maximise the same impact as a blog post alongside a super engaging way fighters can optimise Instagram reels.
Wow, I’ve officially been featured on the DAZN x Series YouTube channel.
Now that’s a big deal! Ahead of #KSIFury, Misfits Boxing has gotten crossover boxer Slim Albaher to react to comments from the crossover boxing community around updates in the industry.
One of these posts came from me posting on X about how an anticipated fight between AnesonGib & Slim would’ve been electric, but unfortunately, due to financial issues between Gib and Mams Taylor, Gib is currently unwilling to be affiliated with Misfits Boxing…
However, combat sports athletes and brands can learn from this YouTube video alone to use comments and fan-led reactions across different channels to be repurposed through reaction videos like this.
It clearly pays dividends and almost makes your marketing strategy work like a human skeleton where every channel you have is interdependent towards growing your brand in some shape or form.
How can combat sports athletes optimise their YouTube SEO game through descriptions?
None other than Viddal Riley became an English cruiserweight champion this weekend, and there are many tick boxes that he’s applied to marketing this incredible achievement.
Firstly, he’s affiliated with his hashtag through the custom keyword feature on his YouTube upload, allowing him to optimise visibility through his content.
Secondly, he’s remembered to endorse his sponsor, Myprotein, alongside utilising the discount code ‘VIDDAL’, which can act as a tracker to show how influential Riley is towards an ambassador for the brand.
Thirdly, he’s plugged his editors responsible for crafting this vlog of his fight which can inspire other fighters to consider using them for leverage.
Last but certainly no means least, he’s left a link to all of his socials via Linktree! This is great for third-party traffic and gaining more of a community aside from subscribers on one platform.
If I were to be hyper-critical, Viddal could’ve optimised his description further by allocating timestamps of certain parts in his video to give viewers more accessibility towards when particular events occur during the video.
Aside from that, well done to the Rilist!
Cage Titans demonstrating they know how TikTok works!
When it comes to producing content on TikTok, it’s essential to capitalise on viral trends/audios/content to maximise the impact of your personal content!
In MMA, Khamzat Chimaev is a big deal who has gone from strength to strength to becoming one of the biggest stars in the West.
As a result, many other things will get attached to him, such as popular audio used for user-generated content pieces, fight compilation clips, catchphrases that will be a part of his fighter slogan and nickname and much more!
Cage has maximised this by promoting one of their fighters, Jay Curley, with some fight highlights accompanied by audio centralised around Khamzat Chimaev clips.
To maximise brand engagement on the platform, they’ve even taken time to respond to comments about the video, which is fantastic for community building and growing an audience.
Match of the Day demonstrates how to optimise an X post.
Away from combat sport, MOTD has shared some content surrounding speculation around the Spurs vs. Liverpool game over the weekend.
Regarding how they’ve optimised their X post for this, they’ve included a branded graphic that follows the MOTD logo’s colour schemes, an essential code for generating brand awareness towards prospective audiences.
Secondly, there’s a VERY comprehensive alt-text description about what the imagery is illustrating, which makes your content more accessible towards disadvantaged audiences who might be visually impaired; it’s a good tactic for making your content more inclusive.
Thirdly, including three hashtags relevant to their content house style is key, such as #BBCFootball for general fans, #LFC for Liverpool supporters and #THFC for Spurs supporters.
There are three simple ways for a brand to make its content brand-sensitive.
Joshua & Joel Iyalla & Glitch Boxing show us how to make boxing tutorials engaging in Instagram Reels.
If you’re a fighter with an upcoming event, utilise the location to endorse engagement, virality and culture to optimise your brand.
What I mean by this is both Joshua and Glitch Boxing have their socials on point to educate their audience about boxing knowledge through tutorials, tips and tricks.
However, both gentlemen have optimised an opportunity at a beautiful spot with a view of the Eiffel Tower to undergo what would be regular content for both creators. Therefore, think proactively when it comes to content creation opportunities.
That’s enough from me. Do you have any further insights that I may have missed out?
In the past, Oklahoma vs. Cincinnati could have made for an intriguing early-season non-conference litmus test, a matchup between a traditional powerhouse and a rising Group of 5 heavyweight.
Now, though, it’s an important Big 12 showdown, a contest between two teams who will have little chance to build up their rivalry before their paths diverge next season.
‘Big Noon Kickoff’ crew previews huge weekend
For the Bearcats, the goal is to make a splash in their first game as a Big 12 team. The Sooners, meanwhile, are looking for one last year of conference dominance before they jump ship for the SEC.
It all kicks off what should be a great day of college football, and “Big Noon Kickoff” is in Cincinnati to document it all.
With the pregame show wrapping up, it’s time to settle in for the game, with live in-game analysis from FOX Sports’ Bryan Fischer!
No. 16 Oklahoma (3-0) at Cincinnati (2-1)
Halftime — Notes at the break
If Cincinnati fans were expecting a shootout for their first Big 12 conference game, they were very mistaken after the first half from Nippert devolved into a slugfest between two physical defenses.
QB Dillon Gabriel was the most consistent source of yards for the visitors from Norman, throwing for 212 yards and the game’s only touchdown while tacking on 8 more yards on the ground. The rest of his backfield was somewhat missing in action, as the team rushed for just 1.9 yards per carry and it felt like every handoff was met by a defender in the backfield.
Luckily for Brent Venables, his defense has been able to pick up the slack to hold the Bearcats to just 2-of-9 on third down while picking off Emory Jones once (the Florida/Arizona State transfer also completed just 13 passes in the half). The Bearcats had just two plays that went beyond 15 yards offensively, and they again struggled in the red zone. Still, it’s remarkably just a seven-point game and there for the taking by either side.
Woof, Cincy’s red zone issues have continued. They drew a penalty, made some errant throws, and then yanked kick to keep points off the board. Far from how the Bearcats wanted to enter Big 12 play, this has become a real thorn for Scott Satterfield as his offense seems almost allergic to crossing the goal line. The silver lining is at least they’re only down a score despite the uneven offensive effort.
0:58 2Q: Sooners avoid disaster
The Sooners were lucky to punt it away as a Dillon Gabriel lateral was a bounce or two away from Cincinnati scooping up a big play. It’s a big opportunity for Cincinnati to tie things up before halftime with 58 seconds.
1:41 2Q: Playing it safe
The Sooners clearly don’t think UC has any speed to beat them deep. They’re playing everything in front of them and daring the Bearcats to dink and dunk down the field without making a mistake.
05:02 2Q: Picked off!
Just when Cincinnati’s pass game was starting to roll with some nice throws by Emory Jones, the transfer quarterback wound up taking too much of a risk by throwing into double coverage and was picked off. On top of spoiling some nice receptions from Xzavier Henderson and Chamon Metayer, it put UC’s defense back on the field.
8:44 2Q: Sooners settle for three
An errant throw by Dillon Gabriel in the red zone led to a field goal for OU, which Cincy will take after allowing another lengthy drive. The key play was that third-and-19, which Oklahoma improbably picked up on a simple draw. The Bearcats defense has to be kicking itself for not getting that stop as they stayed on the field even longer than they should have.
13:31 2Q: Sputtering Cincy
The Bearcats have punted it away again and Scott Satterfield can’t be happy with how his offense is playing right now (3.4 yards per play). They had a second-and-3 but wound up failing to pick up the first down to put the pressure back on their own defense to get another stop. It feels a little too early to say it’s a dangerous time for the home side, but it feels like this upcoming drive is a critical one.
0:34 1Q: TOUCHDOWN SOONERS!
That was more like what we’ve seen so far this season from Oklahoma on that six–play, 66-yard touchdown drive that took just 1:47 off the clock. Dillon Gabriel was in the thick of it as the team’s leading rusher, opening up the RPO game considerably as we saw on that pass Nic Anderson took into the end zone. UC’s linebacking corps is banged up and OU is taking advantage by going sideline-to-sideline and seeing if they can catch up.
Dillon Gabriel finds Nic Anderson for a 5-yard TD
4:23 1Q: Cincinnati has control
Wow, just when OU started to get things going with the ground game, Cincy’s defense came up with a big stop on third down and saw Bryon Threats punch the ball away from Dillon Gabriel to force the fumble. All the momentum on the side of the Bearcats.
7:39 1Q: Bearcats strike first!
Cincinnati still hasn’t done anything offensively — 2.7 yards per play — but the Bearcats took advantage of the short field to knock home the first points of the game and an early 3-0 lead. Not sure if QB Emory Jones is going to settle down given the atmosphere, but it sure seems like he’s a little overeager and not getting a good base on his throws, as he is just 2-of-5 for eight yards on dropbacks.
11:34 1Q: Sputtering start for Sooners offense
Not the start that Brent Venables was hoping for on offense, with the snap hitting Dillon Gabriel in the facemask on third down and the veteran QB doing well enough to even get a pass off to avoid the sack. UC’s defense, playing without star LB Deshawn Pace, looked solid against the run on that first drive as the Nippert crowd made their voice heard.
13:29 1Q: Defense rules
Good first series for Oklahoma’s defense in forcing an early three-and-out. Been a lot of talk about the Sooners’ improved front seven, and you can tell early on they got some solid push up the field as they try to establish themselves in the trenches.
Unnecessary roughness … Ingram on the Bearcat!
Coach Bob Stoops joins the BNK team.
Former Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops helps preview the game
Nice try, Coach.
Oklahoma’s Brent Venables and Bearcats’ Scott Satterfield talk strategy ahead of their matchup.
Brent Venables talks with Jenny Taft ahead of the game
Scott Satterfield on what it means to have ‘a seat at the table
Ribs for breakfast?!
Nick Lachey had 98 degrees of disrespect for this Sooners fan.
Cincinnati native Nick Lachey is in the house.
Jowon Briggs is hitting all the right notes.
Cincinnati’s Jowon Briggs shows his passion off the field | CFB on FOX
Cincinnati Bearcats’ Jowon Briggs discussed his love for singing and his family.
Breaking down eight key unbeaten teams
There’s a “promposal” on the table in Cincy.
Mark Ingram always knows how to get the crowd hyped!
Pregame party in session …
‘Big Noon Kickoff’ crew give their top four teams so far this college football season
Week 4 wagering: Chris “The Bear” Fallica shares predictions for his favorite Week 4 matchups. Read more.
Are they done: Here’s Fallica’s take on Alabama’s “test of humility.”
Jordan Travis on his mentality ahead of the Seminoles meet up with Tigers.
‘Just be us and ball out’ – Jordan Travis’ mentality on Florida State going into Death Valley to face Clemson | Big Noon Kickoff
Coach Meyer talks key components in the Notre Dame vs. Ohio State game.
Urban Meyer on how Ohio State’s Kyle McCord can succeed against Notre Dame defense | Big Noon Kickoff
How Andrel Anthony became an Oklahoma star: WR Andrel Anthony was languishing at Michigan before entering the transfer portal. He eventually found a home at Oklahoma, along with an offense to suit his skill set. Read more from Michael Cohen.
Who scouts are watching in Week 4: Is undersized Oklahoma QB Dillon Gabriel a future pro? He’s only one of several players NFL scouts will be watching closely in a stacked Week 4 slate. NFL Draft expert Rob Rang reveals what he’ll be looking for.
Who will lead the Spartans?
Bruce Feldman on who can replace Mel Tucker at Michigan State | Big Noon Kickoff
What we’re watching in Oklahoma-Cincinnati, and the rest of Week 4: Can Oklahoma pass its first real test? Can Colorado and Notre Dame pull off upsets? Our experts share the storylines they’re most interested in during Saturday’s action. Read more.
Contenders or pretenders?: A quarter of the way through the season, it’s a good time to examine each Power 5 conference and analyze which teams are legitimate contenders. Can Oklahoma challenge Texas? Can anyone stop Michigan? And who will emerge in a loaded Pac-12? Bryan Fischer has the story.
PREGAME NUMBERS TO KNOW
2010: The last time Oklahoma and Cincinnati met. The Sooners are 2-0 all-time against the Bearcats.
30: The number of tackles Oklahoma LB Danny Stutsman has this season, which leads the Big 12.
9.3: The average number of points Oklahoma’s defense is allowing per game through three weeks.
+139: Oklahoma has the highest scoring differential in the FBS this season, having outscored opponents 167-28.
3: Rushing TDs this season by Cincinnati QB Emory Jones, which is tied for the most of any Big 12 quarterback.
10: The number of sacks Cincinnati’s defense has through three games, which is tied for second-most in the Big 12 this season.
45.5%: Completion rate the Bearcats are holding opposing quarterbacks to — third-best in the nation.
[More numbers to know in Week 4 games]
And more reading around the sport …
The engine that makes Colorado go: Quarterback Shedeur Sanders has lit a fire in the Buffaloes, just like his father and coach Deion Sanders has done across the entire sport. RJ Young explains the impact of both.
The next great Buckeyes QB?: Kyle McCord had his best game yet in Week 3, but with No. 9 Notre Dame waiting in South Bend on Saturday, it’s time for Ohio State’s first-year starter to sink or swim. Laken Litman has the story.
Who’s up next at Michigan State?: With Mel Tucker on the way out, here are two potential candidates to take over the Spartans program. Read more.
Bryan Fischer is a college football writer for FOX Sports. He has been covering college athletics for nearly two decades at outlets such as NBC Sports, CBS Sports, Yahoo! Sports and NFL.com among others. Follow him on Twitter at @BryanDFischer.
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John Smoltz, Tom Glavine aren’t surprised by ex-MLB teammate Deion Sanders’ success
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Buie has seen it all during his four years at Northwestern. The 6-foot-2 guard helped Northwestern to the NCAA tournament and has seen every defensive coverage, taken every shot on the floor and been through all of the highs and lows this sport has to offer. Buie has over 1300 shot attempts in four years and has used at least 24 percent of Northwestern’s possessions in each of his collegiate seasons.
There’s no reason to think he won’t flirt with 30 percent usage again this season, but his chances of ending the year as an All-Big Ten first-teamer hinge on Northwestern’s ability to grind out wins in a similar fashion to last season.
Buie hit a career-high in 2-point shooting last year at 46.7 percent but shot just 31.8 percent from 3-point range on 201 attempts. The next step for him individually is matching that volume while making better than 35 percent of his attempts.
Forecasting an up-transfer to the Big Ten is always tricky, but Young made the transition look easy.
The 6-foot-1 lefty averaged 15.8 points, 4.6 rebounds and 3.1 assists in his first season in College Park and led the Terps to an NCAA tournament appearance in Kevin Willard’s first season.
Young knows how to balance facilitating and generating offense for himself. His assist rate ranked in the top ten in the Big Ten, but he can also score from anywhere on the floor. He shot close to 38 percent on 3s in conference play last season, ranked 15th in free throw rate (FTA/FGA) and converted at an 83.2 percent clip from the line.
Defensively, he’s one of the better on-ball perimeter pests in the conference. He ranked fifth in league play in steal percentage.
After testing the NBA draft waters, Young is back for a fifth college season and is expected to be the centerpiece on a Maryland roster looking to improve upon last season’s eight-seed in March Madness.
3. Tyson Walker, Michigan State (6-foot-1, guard, fifth-year senior)
Walker is one of the best tough-shot makers in the entire country. Per Synergy Sports, he scored .19 points over expected on his half-court shot attempts last year and shot better than 40 percent on off the dribble and catch-and-shoot jump shots.
Walker cut turnovers out of his game last season, with a 21.2 percent turnover rate down to 10.3 percent, and attempted almost twice as many threes as the previous season. He still connected at a 41.5 percent clip from deep, finishing the year 59-of-142 for the year.
If you are shooting over 40 percent from 3-point range, you generally need to shoot more often. That applied to Walker after his junior year, when he made 47.3 percent of 74 attempts, and still applies to him this year after making 41.5 percent of 142 attempts. There’s no reason that Walker can’t attempt more 3-point shots in his fifth year.
In previous eras, Walker’s impressive play in the NCAA tournament would have felt like the bittersweet end for a player who had put everything together in the closing moments of his career. Instead, he’ll use his COVID year and lead the Spartans for one more year – one with more preseason expectations than we’ve seen for a while in East Lansing.
It seemed like a foregone conclusion that last season would be Shannon’s only campaign in the Big Ten, but the Chicago native is running it back for a fifth season.
As a likely second-round NBA draft pick, Shannon’s decision to return to school was likely driven by the NIL deals he secured as one of the best guards in college basketball. And he’ll be worth every penny to the Illini.
Shannon was a problem for Big Ten guards to defend last season as he used his size and shiftiness to get to his spots and score or draw fouls. He had the best free throw rate (FTA/FGA) in the Big Ten, an impressive feat in a league featuring Trayce Jackson-Davis and Zach Edey.
His outside shot isn’t the most consistent – 32.1 percent last season – but it’s good enough to keep defenses honest. As one of the better perimeter defenders in the league and one of the league’s premier open-court scorers, improving his shooting consistency is the key for Shannon in his final season.
1. Zach Edey, Purdue (7-foot-4, center, senior)
There’s not much more to say about Zach Edey, who racked up 22 KenPom MVPs last year, including the first 11 games of the regular season. Edey is returning for another season despite sweeping every national player of the year honor in 2022-23.
Edey let the nation at 17.4 points per game created out of post-ups and anchored a Purdue defense that allowed the 10th fewest shot attempts per game around the basket.
His size and ability changes the floor dynamic in every game. He demands attention from multiple defenders and helped Purdue finish 1st in the Big Ten in offensive rebounding rate, defensive rebounding rate, free-throw rate and free-throw rate allowed.
Purdue fell short in the NCAA tournament with a shocking upset defeat against Farleigh Dickinson. Still, there’s no reason to think Edey shouldn’t be the national player of the year frontrunner again this season.
Kevin Seifert, ESPN Staff WriterSep 7, 2023, 07:17 AM ET
The Minnesota Vikings and safety Josh Metellus have reached a two-year extension worth up to $13 million that includes $6 million guaranteed, a source told ESPN’s Adam Schefter on Thursday.
The Vikings announced they had signed Metellus through the 2025 season but did not disclose terms.
Metellus was entering the final season of his rookie contract after being drafted by the Vikings in the sixth round in 2020.
He has long been one of the Vikings’ top special teams players and was named its captain for the 2023 season. But Metellus also has been tapped for a more robust role on defense this season by new defensive coordinator Brian Flores.
During training camp practices, Metellus appeared extensively in three-safety sets Flores favors. Based on matchups, he could be on the field for the first defensive snap in the Vikings’ season opener Sunday against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Metellus has played in 48 career games, making three starts in 2022 while recording his first interception. In the past three seasons, Metellus has been on the field for 929 special teams snaps, third-most on the Vikings over that period.
Brian Windhorst, ESPN Senior WriterAug 30, 2023, 06:31 AM ET
MANILA, Philippines — Team USA’s Anthony Edwards and Jordan’s Rondae Hollis-Jefferson added some spice to what otherwise would have been a low-drama game, staging an American playground-style duel that isn’t normally seen at the FIBA World Cup.
The two shooting guards went back-and-forth racking up points and giving the crowd at Mall of Asia Arena something to pay attention to besides the score as Team USA won 110-62 on Wednesday to finish first-round pool play 3-0.
The U.S. moves on to the World Cup’s second round and will play Montenegro (2-1) on Friday and Lithuania (3-0) on Sunday.
Edwards delighted in the meeting with Hollis-Jefferson, who was one of his mentors in training camp with the Minnesota Timberwolves his rookie year in 2020. Hollis-Jefferson, a six-year NBA veteran, came in as the event’s second-leading scorer and one of the happy stories of the first week.
“We haven’t seen each other since then, so it was fun,” Edwards said. “And yeah, we was talking with smack out there for sure.”
Edwards threw in several dunks, three 3-pointers and even a behind-the-back pass. He finished with 22 points in 19 minutes and also had eight rebounds and four assists.
Edwards also fouled Hollis-Jefferson twice, which is something Hollis-Jefferson has become an expert at while playing overseas the past two seasons. After drawing 15 fouls in a 39-point showing against New Zealand on Monday, Hollis-Jefferson drove, twisted and baited the U.S. into fouling him eight times.
Hollis-Jefferson finished with 20 points and 7 rebounds, though he was slowed after spraining his left ankle on a drive to the basket in the first half.
In a moment that sort of summed up the show, Edwards scored on back-to-back breakaways during the third quarter. On the first, Jordan’s Amin Abu Hawwas tried to get in Edwards’ way and forced him to abandon a highlight dunk attempt and settle for a layup. Edwards gave him a sideways look for ruining the chance.
Seconds later, after a Jordan turnover, Edwards had the ball on a break again. This time Abu Hawwas slowed down behind Edwards as he threw down a windmill dunk to the delight of the crowd.
Team USA coach Steve Kerr had seen enough late in the third, calling timeout to take out his starters. Edwards said farewell by tossing in a 35-footer that didn’t count.
Edwards was in one of his typical good moods after the contest and, with an average margin of victory of 34 points through three games, was feeling confident about Team USA’s chances of winning the World Cup for the first time since 2014 — especially after being asked about Sunday’s second-round game with Lithuania, which is also undefeated.
“I think we gonna win,” Edwards said with a smile. “We’re undefeated also. I think we have a great chance to win. We got great coaching staff. We got great players. And our confidence is at all times we not really worried about those guys.”
The most important thing that happened for the Americans in the game was a starting lineup change, Kerr’s first of the past month. He put in Josh Hart, who played strongly in the win over Greece on Monday, for Brandon Ingram.
The move was made for Ingram’s benefit, as he was struggling mostly as a spot-up shooter. With the second unit, he was able to play with the ball more in his hands, as he’s used to with the New Orleans Pelicans.
Ingram immediately looked more comfortable as a playmaker and had his best game in Manila, racking up five assists with seven points in 15 minutes.
“We just felt like it was important to take a look at Josh with the starting group and Brandon with the next group to see if the combinations fit,” Kerr said. “I liked what I saw. The game wasn’t competitive, but there was good flow with both groups.”
Jaren Jackson Jr. also had a strong game, with 12 points, 6 rebounds and 2 blocks.
Serbia, Georgia and Brazil also advanced to the second round with victories Wednesday.