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Friday, December 13, 2019

Fantasy Football

ESPN apologizes for offending some with fantasy football auction

ESPn auction

ESPN apologized in a statement sent Tuesday for airing a fantasy football auction that some found to be offensive because of their feeling that it was too similar to a slave auction.

Teams in fantasy football leagues are often formed in one of two ways: via a draft system, where participants select players one at a time, or via an auction, where participants are given a “salary cap” and bid on players using their theoretical money. ESPN decided to air their version of an auction Monday, and that’s led to some backlash.

Shaun King, who is a leader in the Black Lives Matter movement, sent this tweet that included a video clip from the auction. He demanded an apology from ESPN.

King demanded an apology and received one.

“Auction drafts are a common part of fantasy football, and ESPN’s segments replicated an auction draft with a diverse slate of top professional football players,” ESPN said in a statement to The Big Lead. “Without that context, we understand the optics could be portrayed as offensive, and we apologize.”

Though ESPN was being thoughtful and respectful in apologizing, many wonder whether that was even necessary. What ESPN was doing was portraying a live fantasy football auction, which is something football fans of all races participate in every single year. All NFL players — white and black alike — are eligible to be selected by fantasy football participants. Yes, even Tom Brady and Matt Ryan get auctioned off in similar fashion. King and other critics probably did not understand that context, leading to their criticism. Though with a white auctioneer and all white people doing the bidding on mostly black athletes, it’s understandable why many would feel offended.

Still, ESPN does not want to offend anyone, which is why they ultimately apologized. If they televise a similar segment in the future, they may want to consider changing the optics and execution of the bit.

DraftKings, FanDuel terminate plans for fantasy sports merger

Hopes of a daily fantasy sports giant went out the window on Thursday when DraftKings and FanDuel collectively announced that plans of a potential merger had been terminated.

The decision to terminate the merger came roughly a month after the Federal Trade Commission said they would block any potential union in court to prevent a digital monopoly. Although other DFS companies exist, DraftKings and FanDuel make up the vast majority of the market.

“We have determined that it is in the best interest of our shareholders, customers, employees and partners to terminate the merger agreement and move forward as an independent company,” FanDuel CEO Nigel Eccles said in a statement published by the New York Daily News.

The merger would have made sense for each company as part of a continued battle for legalization around the country, but there was fierce opposition over the fear of a monopoly. Accordingly, each company will now remain independent.

“We believe it is in the best interests of our customers, employees, and investors to terminate our agreement to merge with FanDuel and move forward as a separate company,” DraftKings CEO Jason Robins said in a similar statement. “This will allow us to singularly focus on our mission of providing the most innovative and engaging interactive sports experience imaginable, forever changing the way fans connect with teams and athletes worldwide.”

The two companies announced last year the plans for a potential merger, but will now focus solely on customer satisfaction and the competition will ideally yield better products for the customer base.

Kenneth Farrow, Ronnie Hillman to see extra carries with Gordon out

Ronnie Hillman

Kenneth Farrow and and Ronnie Hillman are set to get extra carries for the San Diego Chargers in Week 16 with starter Melvin Gordon ruled out.

Gordon has a hip and knee injury that kept him out of Week 15 and will also force him to miss this Saturday’s game at Cleveland.

Farrow saw the bulk of the carries against the Raiders last weekend, rushing 15 times for 39 yards and catching two passes. Hillman carried seven times for 34 yards. But Farrow fumbled twice — losing one — so you figure he might receive a slight demotion given the way the two performed.

Neither player is a great bet to see huge action this weekend, but Hillman might be the better play if you’re in your fantasy football finals.

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Dak Prescott a fantasy must-add after Tony Romo injury

Dak Prescott

Dallas Cowboys rookie quarterback Dak Prescott is going to be thrust into a starting role much sooner than anyone expected. With news breaking on Saturday that Tony Romo has a broken bone in his back, the Cowboys are Prescott’s team indefinitely.

From a fantasy football standpoint, Prescott is as intriguing as they come. He has the ability to make plays with his legs and has looked terrific passing the ball in the preseason. Just look at his stats:

We all know preseason stats mean very little, but Prescott is one of those players who can post decent fantasy stats without even having a good “real life” game. In standard scoring leagues, he should be good for at least four or five points per week with scrambling alone. If Prescott adds a rushing score, that means he can grab you about 10 points without attempting a single pass.

Prescott needs to be owned in all formats. Initial reports are that Romo is expected to miss 6-10 weeks. The Cowboys’ schedule over the first 10 weeks is not insanely difficult.

Christine Michael fantasy stock on rise after great preseason

Christine Michael

Christine Michael is, once again, a name fantasy football enthusiasts need to be watching.

I know, I know — you’ve heard this too many times before. Michael was the running back the Seattle Seahawks in the second round that was “just a Marshawn Lynch injury away from being a stud.” He then got traded to the Dallas Cowboys for the equivalent of a bag of footballs, and once again we bought into the hype. Whoops.

Michael has now made his way back to Seattle, and he has looked nothing shy of explosive during the preseason. With Lynch having retired and Thomas Rawls easing back from an ankle injury, Michael has arguably been the MVP of the preseason. He has 24 carries for 157 yards, which works out to a whopping 6.5 yards per carry. And on most of those runs, Michael has shown why the Seahawks felt he was worthy of such a high draft pick back in 2013.

Rawls isn’t going to be shipped off to sea simply because Michael has turned it on in the preseason. However, we still don’t know how rusty Rawls will be when he returns. We also don’t know if the Seahawks plan to lean heavily on one of the backs or use both, but Pete Carroll has showered Michael in praise for several weeks now.

With Michael’s fantasy draft stock rising, now is the time to grab him. We don’t blame you if you say “I’ve heard that before” and ignore the advice, but we’re giving it one more shot.

Todd Gurley thinks he should go No. 1 overall in your fantasy draft

Todd Gurley

Todd Gurley is not lacking in the self-confidence department.

The Rams running back was asked where he should go in fantasy drafts in an NFL Network appearance, and he answered definitively.

“No. 1 overall for sure,” Gurley said, via Michael David Smith of ProFootballTalk.

Gurley did hedge a bit as he continued, conceding that Cam Newton and Antonio Brown also had a case.

“You maybe could choose Antonio Brown over me, but no one else. Maybe Cam. That’s it,” Gurley said.

At minimum, Le’Veon Bell and Adrian Peterson would have something to say about this, as would Michael Bennett. Still, Gurley has been working hard, dropping weight, and preparing himself for a big season. We’re not quite sold on him as a top overall pick in fantasy, though.

Bryce Brown, Christine Michael fantasy: they will split carries

Christine Michael

Bryce Brown and Christine Michael will continue to split carries moving forward for the Seattle Seahawks, providing no clearer picture for fantasy football owners, sadly.

Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll said Monday that he plans to continue rotating the two running backs.

Michael, who was originally drafted by Seattle, was re-acquired by the team last week after the Cowboys released him in November. He was the leading carrier Sunday against the Browns with 16 totes for 84 yards. Brown carried nine times for 43 yards in his only action of the season, while Derrick Coleman had 10 yards on five carries.

If you are trying to handicap the situation moving forward, we would guess Michael will continue to lead the team in carries while Marshawn Lynch recovers from his abdomen injury.

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