Tommy Gilligan/USA Today Sports

Fall is in the air—so are a hell of a lot of changes in the NFL.

Le'Veon went from worst to first, Dan Quinn is out of job, and like college athletes, sports journalists apparently aren't allowed to make money from sponsorships. Meanwhile, coronavirus is running in the background, taking out teams before opponents even get the chance.

Here are the oofs and ahhs in this week's edition of Shots Taken.



The NFL Is Done With The Rona, But The Rona Isn't Done With The NFL

Coronavirus has been a headline for the entire year, and it's still making NFL headlines in a season that's chugging along despite an outbreak that may have officially killed the Patriots dynasty.

Meanwhile, the Colts are coping with four false positives, rushing to reopen their facility before their Sunday game against the Bengals. But with false positives and confirmed cases, the Rona is on the brink of a full-on takeover.

In a matter of weeks, the coronavirus has knocked out half of the Titans roster, it's taken out the Patriots' best players on offense and defense, and it's switched around nine bye weeks and seven weeks of scheduling. Sure, infected players are being sidelined as teams move forward, but there's going to be more cases, and there is only so much rescheduling teams can do. What happens, for example, if the Patriots see even more cases, or the Steelers experience an outbreak and need another bye week?


Moving the Chains with Ashmere | COVID in the NFL www.youtube.com


While discussions of a bubble seem unrealistic for the NFL, perhaps they'll be a two-week hiatus that allows everyone to quarantine. Maybe players will have to shuffle into a controlled hotel environment for the second half of the season. Whatever they decide to do, coronavirus will be running in the background like the virus that took over your Windows computer.


The Bell Now Tolls For Kansas City

If you're not first, you're last.

While there is some truth in Ricky Bobby's wisdom, it's still early in the season, and we don't quite know who's taking home the Lombardi this year. But we do know who isn't taking it home (the Jets) and who did last year (the Chiefs). We also know that in a matter of days, Le'Veon Bell just jumped from last to first by getting cut by the Jets, then signing with the Chiefs.



It almost seems like there should be a rule against the Chiefs accumulating so much talent, but no, the Jets may have ruined everyone's postseason chances by letting them snag the former Steelers star. While Bell's woes began over contract negotiations, he's slated to only make $690,000 with the Chiefs with the opportunity to make up to $1.69 million.

The best part of it all? Bell is being treated to a revenge game opportunity against the Jets in Week 8. Here's to hoping Bell can rebuild his reputation by swerving, stiff arming and straight-up shaming the Jets defense.


After Quinn's Departure, Will The Falcons Finally Take Flight?

The only surprising thing about Dan Quinn's dismissal from the Falcons is that it took this long to execute. Liz Roscher of Yahoo Sports summarized Quinn's tenure as "six years on the job, two winning seasons and one memorably painful Super Bowl appearance", the worst part being that his team hasn't had a winning season since 2017.

The Falcons lost that Patriots Super Bowl, they lost Kyle Shanahan to the 49ers, and they haven't been the same since. After an eerily-similar repeat of their Super Bowl loss in Week 2 against the Cowboys, the calls to fire Quinn were louder than ever, yet Quinn and GM Tom Dimitroff were given three more weeks to redeem themselves. With Matt Ryan, Julio Jones, Todd Gurley and Calvin Ridley, there's no reason that the Falcons couldn't have won one game—well, besides coaching.

If players win games and coaches lose them, then perhaps the Falcons still have a chance to salvage their season without Quinn leading the charge.


Ian Rapoport Gets Cut Down For Endorsing Manscaping

In some football-adjacent news, prominent NFL reporter Ian Rapoport has been suspended by NFL Network until October 22nd for something racy he shared on his Instagram… an ad for Manscaped.

Manscaped, which specializes in full-body hair trimming options for men, has employed a highly-effective viral marketing model by getting celebrity endorsements in the spaces men typically frequent—on podcasts, social media and in the sports world. Rapoport was one of these celebrities, but apparently he didn't get clearance from the network to share the endorsement on his social channels, thereby violating network guidelines.


While Rapoport said he respects and understands the network's decision and is "deeply sorry for his mistake", it brings about an interesting discussion about how sports journalists, like athletes, may be limited in the ways they can make money through their celebrity. Already-shrinking newsrooms have been slashed by COVID cuts, and though Rapoport likely isn't affected by this, there shouldn't be anything wrong with trying to earn a side hustle in an impoverished journalistic landscape—even if that means Rapoport breaks the news on the best way to, uh, mow the lawn.

DMX on the Madison Square Garden marquee

Madison Square Garden

For many managers, their playoff prospects are dark and hot as hell heading into the final week of the fantasy basketball regular season.

But before you can compete to be grand champ, you need to stop, drop, shut your duds down and open up the waiver wire for your last gasp this regular season. Here are some names you should be looking for to give you that push you need.

Rest in peace, DMX.

Booms

Kyle Anderson Forward Memphis Grizzlies

The former UCLA star might have taken the tale of the tortoise and the hare a little too seriously, but the "slow and steady" mantra has given him a successful NBA career and impressive fantasy numbers. For the past week, Slow Mo has averaged 16.3 points on 48.9 percent shooting, seven rebounds, 4.8 assists, 2.3 made threes, two steals and one turnover a game.

Anderson has been a consistent contributor throughout the season and it's tough to see his numbers take a hit even when Jaren Jackson Jr. returns at the end of the month. If you haven't rostered him yet, it would be a huge mistake.

Jalen McDaniels Forward/Center Charlotte Hornets

Staying on the court has been a problem for McDaniels this season, but the absence of Gordon Hayward has forced the Hornets to look for other options on the court and the second-year player has been one of the beneficiaries. In the last three games, the San Diego State product averaged 16.3 points on 62.5 percent shooting, two made threes, five rebounds and 3.3 assists. He even threw in 1.3 steals and one block per game.

Hayward is expected to be out for at least three more weeks. Until he's back, expect McDaniels to continue his more proactive approach on this team.

Miles Bridges Forward Charlotte Hornets

McDaniels isn't the only one who has taken advantage of Hayward's injury. Bridges has cranked his game up a notch, averaging 21.7 points on 60.5 percent shooting, three made threes, six rebounds and one steal in the last three games. He may have even had the dunk of the year, posterizing Clint Capela on Sunday.

Until Hayward is back, Bridges will get a lot more freedom to operate and that means more fantasy contribution in the coming weeks.

Reggie Jackson Guard Los Angeles Clippers

Depth has not been a problem for the Clippers the last few seasons, but it has been trouble for fantasy managers looking for consistent contributors on that team. Rest and injuries haven't slowed the Clippers' winning ways this week because Reggie Jackson stepped up for them and gives fantasy participants a short-term high performer to lean on for the week.

In a week where Patrick Beverley, Rajon Rondo and Paul George missed time, Jackson thrived, averaging 17.3 points on 61 percent shooting, three made threes, 4.8 assists, and 1.3 turnovers in four games.

With Beverley out with a fractured hand and Rondo/George/Kawhi undoubtedly taking games off to save themselves for the playoffs, Jackson may not be a bad desperation option in standard fantasy and worth tracking in daily fantasy formats.

Busts

Tim Hardwaway Jr Guard/Forward Dallas Mavericks

The Dallas Mavericks' recent success has not translated into numbers for all players. Tim Hardaway Jr. is one of them.

The Michigan product averaged 12 points on 37.5 percent shooting, 3.5 rebounds and 1.8 assists in four games last week. He did make two three-pointers per game in that span, but that is like threading a silver lining on a used rag.

Hardaway is still the third scoring option on the team, so he will get more chances to increase his production, but this week was a tough pill to swallow for a lot of fantasy managers.

Derrick Rose Guard New York Knicks

Rose has found a home with the New York Knicks, but his role has not been kind to fantasy managers. We all know the former MVP can still score, but head coach Tom Thibodeau hasn't asked him to do much else.

In the last four games, Rose has averaged 14.3 points on 43.1 percent shooting, 0.8 made threes, 1.5 rebounds and 2.8 assists. That kind of one-dimensional play is a killer of many fantasy teams looking for a more diverse portfolio of contributions.

If you need a boost in scoring, Rose isn't a terrible option to consider, but if you need anything else, you should leave him on the waiver.

Lou Williams Guard Atlanta Hawks

Like Rose, Williams isn't asked to do anything other than score at this point in his career. But even in the past week, he can't even do that at an elite fantasy level. Only averaging 11.8 points per game, 1.8 made threes, 2.8 assists and basically non-existent in every other category in fantasy sports.

It's safe to say that Lemon Pepper Lou's effectiveness as a fantasy star is gone.

Jusuf Nurkic Center Portland Trail Blazers

Okay, I know Trail Blazers have been trying to ease Nurkic back into the lineup and giving him restricted minutes. However, with the fantasy managers looking for that final push to the postseason, there might have to be an executive decision on whether Nurkic needs to be played or pitched.

Teams firmly in playoff position can hold out for him to be used properly again, but other managers won't be able to stomach another week of missed games and low-end production.

Bogdan Bogdanovic

USA Today

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Getty Images

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