In this Sunday, Sept. 20, 2020, file photo, Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady (12) looks to pass against the Carolina Panthers during the first half of an NFL football game in Tampa, Fla. The Bucs face the Broncos on Sunday, Sept. 27, 2020, in Denver. (AP Photo/Mark LoMoglio, File)
In this Sunday, Sept. 20, 2020, file photo, Denver Broncos quarterback Jeff Driskel (9) plays against the Pittsburgh Steelers during an NFL football game in Pittsburgh. The Broncos host the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday, Sept. 27, 2020. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic, File)
Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back Leonard Fournette (28) runs off the field with quarterback Tom Brady (12) after Fournette ran 46-yards for a score against the Carolina Panthers during the second half of an NFL football game Sunday, Sept. 20, 2020, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Mark LoMoglio)
Denver Broncos quarterback Jeff Driskel (9) throws a pass during the second half of an NFL football game against the Pittsburgh Steelers, Sunday, Sept. 20, 2020, in Pittsburgh. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)
Tampa Bay Buccaneers linebacker Shaquil Barrett (58) chases Carolina Panthers quarterback Teddy Bridgewater (5) during the second half of an NFL football game Sunday, Sept. 20, 2020, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Jason Behnken)
DENVER (AP) After watching Von Miller and Bradley Chubb team up for 24 1/2 sacks in Denver in 2018, Shaq Barrett didn't want to be a backup anymore and took his talents to Tampa.
When he returns with the Buccaneers (1-1) Sunday to face the Broncos (0-2) he'll saunter into Empower Field as the NFL's defending sacks champion.
And although he's still searching for his first sack of 2020, he'll bring with him zero regrets.
''I just want to show them that they did have a chance to have me and they let me go,'' Barrett said. ''But I am happy with my situation down here. I love it.''
It was a good move for Barrett before he'd ever played a down for the Bucs.
His one-year, $5 million deal last season represented some $53,000 more than he'd earned in Denver, where he spent his rookie year on the practice squad after going undrafted out of Colorado State before a four-year run backing up the likes of Miller, Chubb, DeMarcus Ware and Shane Ray.
He parlayed that into the $15.88 million franchise tag he's playing on this season after a monster year in which he collected an NFL-best 19 1/2 sacks, forced six fumbles and earned his first Pro Bowl nod.
''I didn't even want to stay in Denver no more after my last two years there. I felt there was zero percent chance I'd start,'' Barrett said. ''They weren't even giving me the opportunity to compete to start. I did as much as I could there. I learned as much as I could there. There was no more on-the-rise there.''
If anyone's lamenting Barrett's departure it's the Broncos.
Chubb suffered a season-ending knee injury last September and when he returned to the lineup this month, Miller suffered a season-ending ankle injury.
Had he stayed, Barrett would be in his second season as a starter in Denver.
''No, I most definitely don't think about that,'' Barrett said. ''That's the only reason why they had me was like if one of them did get hurt, they knew they had a secure, comfortable backup who could come in, make some plays and be a somewhat starting-caliber player.
''But that's not the role that I wanted'' anymore, Barrett said. ''It worked initially, but as I got older, I did want to see if I could be a full-time starter in the league and that just wasn't an option there or a role I could possibly have.''
Still, he's thankful for his time in Denver.
''All my time there was a blessing,'' Barrett said. ''I wouldn't be the player I am now without'' it.
Other subplots Sunday when Tom Brady goes for just his fifth win in a dozen trips to Denver and the Buccaneers seek their first win over the Broncos since 1999:
STILL THE BEST
Brady has thrown interceptions in his past four starts, three of them pick-6s. But Broncos coach Vic Fangio sees no signs the 43-year-old QB is showing his age.
''He doesn't look any different to me,'' Fangio said. ''He's still got really good arm strength and strong football intelligence in recognizing things. I don't see a major difference other than the new uniform that he's wearing.''
Broncos cornerback Bryce Callahan shared similar sentiments about TB12.
''Tom Brady being one of the G.O.A.T.s, you never want to sleep on a guy like that even if he isn't looking the same as he has in the past,'' Callahan said. ''We're still going to approach the game like he's The Man. We don't want to get caught slipping.''
With Drew Lock (shoulder) sidelined for the second straight season, Jeff Driskel gets his first start for Denver and is seeking his second career win, which is 248 fewer than Brady.
''As long as I can remember, I've watched him play,'' said Driskel, who is 16 years younger than Brady. ''He's been playing for 20 years or whatever it's been. He's been a constant in this league. He's been one of the best, if not the best for a majority of those years.''
There's no denying Rob Gronkowski is off to a slow start in Tampa Bay with just two catches for 11 yards. He was held without a catch last week for just the fifth time in his 117-game career.
''He doesn't look any less daunting,'' Fangio insisted. ''In fact, he looks like he's in pretty good shape. He's running better than he was late in the final season of his career with New England. I think he's healthy and ready to go. ... He hasn't gotten his yet, but I'm sure by the end of the season, he's going to have some good numbers.''
Maybe even by game's end Sunday. In six career games against the Broncos, Gronkowski has 34 receptions for 445 yards and three TDs.
Leonard Fournette, who signed with the Bucs this month, rumbled for 225 yards on 29 carries in the Jaguars' 26-24 win at Denver a year ago.
After that game, Fangio shuffled his defense, moving Mike Purcell to nose tackle and switching Shelby Harris to end while inserting linebacker Alexander Johnson into the lineup.
''Hopefully, we'll have a better day against him than we did last year,'' Fangio said.
Five Hot Plays: Week 8
Buffalo Bills wide receiver Gabriel Davis has put together a few decent performance this season. Sadly, his production has been inconsistent and it's tough to predict when he's going to see a significant role in the offense. Last week, Davis saw three targets and caught one of them for 11 yards in the victory over the New York Jets. Davis is not expected to be a reliable streaming option against the top-10 secondary of the New England Patriots in Week 8. Fantasy owners might be able to use him as a low-end desperation deep league option, but that's about it.
The Seattle Seahawks will have a running back active Sunday versus San Francisco, although whether it's any of the trio of Chris Carson (foot), Carlos Hyde (hamstring), or Travis Homer (knee) remains to be seen. None of the aforementioned trio practiced in any capacity Thursday, furthering the notion that DeeJay Dallas may be heavily relied upon for the game versus the 49ers. Of the three, Carson seems the most likely to miss the contest after initially being deemed week-to-week with a foot injury. Should Hyde or Homer suit up (with the other being ruled out), they'd immediately garner RB2/Flex intrigue due to the lack of depth in the Seattle backfield. Check back over the coming days to get a better idea of how the Seahawks' backfield woes will shake out.
Indianapolis Colts tight end Trey Burton has emerged as a legitimate weapon over the past two games. Over the last two games, he has nine catches for 91 yards and a touchdown on 11 total targets. However, he is matching up against a Lions Defense that ranks second against opposing tight ends. Burton is also sharing snaps with Jack Doyle, but Burton is seeing many more targets in the passing game. The Lions have one of the worst run defenses in the league, so there's a chance that the Colts will not have a heavy passing attack unless they get behind early. Burton has been productive, but all this data points to him having some bust potential this week. He may have TE2 or flex potential, but he is certainly a risky play.
Kansas City Chiefs defensive tackle Chris Jones (groin) was able to record a full practice session Thursday, a likely sign that he'll ultimately be given the green light to play Sunday against the Jets. The Chiefs Defense was already in a golden spot even with Jones' availability up in the air, but having the reigning Pro Bowler patrolling the line only enhances their value. Having accrued 21 tackles, nine quarterback hits, and 4.5 sacks in six games, Jones' presence should wreak havoc against a Jets offense that has struggled to muster much lightning in 2020. Despite Kansas City's struggles at stopping the run (149.9 yards per game) this year, they should be rostered in all season-long leagues on a streamer basis with the news of Jones likely being in the mix.
New Orleans Saints wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders (COVID-19) will be absent from Sunday's contest versus Chicago, marking his second consecutive game out of the mix. Prior to hitting the COVID-19 list, Sanders reeled off his best performance of the year with a 12-catch, 122-yard outing versus the Chargers, with his absence creating an opening in the WR ranks for the Saints. With Michael Thomas (hamstring) returning to practice Thursday, New Orleans may have some reinforcements against a stout Bears Defense, but Sanders' next chance to return to action comes next Sunday against Tampa Bay. The nature of the virus puts Sanders' availability up in the air, so check back for updates on his status as they emerge.
Indianapolis Colts wide receiver T.Y. Hilton has been unreliable so far this season, so it may be difficult to insert him in a fantasy lineup against the Lions this week. Philip Rivers threw the ball for over 370 yards in Week 6 against the Bengals, but Hilton caught just one pass for 11 yards. He has just one game all season with more than five catches. He also has not been able to salvage any poor fantasy days by finding the end zone. Rivers seems to have a new receiving option he likes to go to every week, so it has been incredibly difficult to find any bright spots for Hilton. It is hard to consider him a fringe flex option at this point, so he is probably best suited on the bench in Week 8.
Cleveland Browns running back Kareem Hunt (ribs) and wide receiver Jarvis Landry (hip/ribs) were both limited during practice Thursday, marking the second consecutive day that their workload was managed. Despite the limited practice time, there's no reason to believe that either is in danger of not suiting up Sunday against the Raiders for what should be an advantageous matchup for both. With Nick Chubb (knee) still out of the equation, Hunt should remain the bell cow out of the backfield, while Landry should see an increase in targets in the wake of Odell Beckham Jr.'s (knee) season-ending knee injury. Check back prior to kickoff Sunday just to make sure that both eventually get the green light, but something would have to go sideways over the coming days for either to be held out.
Indianapolis Colts running back Jonathan Taylor will have a great opportunity to put up a good fantasy performance against the Lions this week. The Lions rank 30th against opposing running backs, and Taylor continues to improve on his yards per carry. The Lions Defense is giving up 4.5 yards per carry and have surrendered nine rushing touchdowns so far this season. Taylor is averaging 16 carries per game since being name the starter, and he has picked up three rushing touchdowns in those five games. He has mostly put up respectable fantasy performances, and he should be able to again this week. Taylor is a must-start option in Week 8.
Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Jalen Reagor (thumb) is in line to play Sunday against Dallas, making his first appearance since Week 2. Reagor sustained a torn UCL in his right thumb, but is expected to revamp the team's wide receiving corps after losing DeSean Jackson (ankle) to injured reserve. Taken with the team's first-round selection in the 2020 NFL Draft, Reagor combined to make five catches for 96 yards in his first two games, logging 60 snaps in his final outing before hitting IR. With limited consistent options in the passing game for Carson Wentz to target, Reagor carries WR3/Flex potential this Sunday, especially when considering his matchup against an exploitable Cowboys secondary.
Green Bay Packers kicker Mason Crosby (calf/back) was held out of practice Thursday for the second consecutive day, a worrisome note that may force Green Bay to get creative Sunday against Minnesota. Crosby has been the team's kicker for every game since Week 1 of the 2007 season, continuing to excel this year while going 9-for-9 on field-goal attempts. Special teams coach Shawn Mennenga is confident that he'll have Crosby at his disposal, but even if that's the case, current weather projections have the wind gusts in Green Bay expected to approach 40 MPH. The combination of injury concerns and bad weather opens the door for season-long fantasy managers to consider another placekicking option Sunday despite Crosby's sustained excellence.
Denver Broncos running back Phillip Lindsay (concussion) was able to practice in a limited capacity Thursday, leaving the door open that he could be cleared from the league's concussion protocol in time to suit up Sunday against the Chargers. Lindsay has reclaimed his prior form over his last two games, having compiled 180 yards rushing on 32 carries. The return of Melvin Gordon III is sure to complicate Denver's backfield situation moving forward, but when given the green light, Lindsay holds RB2/Flex appeal due to past success. With that being said, his matchup Sunday against a Chargers Defense that has allowed just one rushing touchdown all year -- when combined with his injury -- makes for an avoidable DFS spot. Check back to get updates on Lindsay's status as they become available.
Indianapolis Colts quarterback Philip Rivers will face off against the Lions in Week 8. Rivers is coming off his best performance of the season against the Bengals, but he will likely to revert back to what he was prior to Week 6. The Lions Defense has actually been fairly good against the pass, currently ranking ninth against opposing quarterbacks. They are allowing less than two passing touchdowns per game, and opposing quarterbacks have a passer rating of just 94. Week 6 was the only game of the year where Rivers threw multiple touchdown passes, and that is largely due to them falling behind early. Fantasy owners can feel comfortable with Rivers on the bench this week.
Indianapolis Colts linebacker Darius Leonard (groin) is moving in the right direction as it pertains suiting up Sunday versus Detroit, as he was a full practice participant Thursday. Leonard has been out of the mix for the past two games due to a groin ailment, but the Colts Defense has still soared out into elite company through its first six games. In the three full contests that he has appeared this season, Leonard already has two double-digit tackle efforts, while also having defended two passes. Having led the NFL in tackles as a rookie in 2018 before being named an All-Pro last year in just 13 games, Leonard's addition to the Colts linebacking core makes them an even more vaunted unit moving forward.
Los Angeles Rams tight end Tyler Higbee (hand) was limited again at practice Thursday as he works his way back from a hand contusion that kept him out of the team's game Monday. The short week may prove problematic for Higbee, with an early Sunday start time against Miami on the horizon. In his absence, Gerald Everett (illness) secured his first touchdown of 2020, but he has also been tagged as questionable due to an illness. While Higbee has been consistent when on the field, his three-reception, 37-yard average leaves much to be desired from where many fantasy managers thought his production could be. If he does play Sunday, it sounds as if he'll still be nursing the injury, at best. Check back for the final word on his condition over the coming days.
Tennessee Titans LB Jadeveon Clowney (knee), CB Kristian Fulton (knee), CB Johnathan Joseph (illness), OT Dennis Kelly (knee) and C Daniel Munyer (hand) did not participate in practice Thursday, Oct. 29. S Dane Cruikshank (groin) and CB Tye Smith (shoulder) were limited during practice. DT Jeffery Simmons (non-injury) fully participated in practice.
New York Jets quarterback Sam Darnold (shoulder) was able to practice in full Thursday, an indication that he's ready to play Sunday against Kansas City with no remaining injury concerns. Darnold was able to suit up last Sunday, but it led to a rocky 12-for-23 performance that included two interceptions. While the Jets' offense is incrementally more reliable with Darnold under center as opposed to Joe Flacco, there's still little reason to fade away from the Chiefs Defense in both season-long and DFS formats. New York's offensive line has given Darnold very little time to make much happen in the passing game, making him a difficult QB to roster, even in two-QB leagues. Barring a significant setback, expect Darnold to be the starting signal caller Sunday.
Green Bay Packers CB Kevin King (quadriceps) and TE Marcedes Lewis (knee) did not participate in practice Thursday, Oct. 29. OT David Bakhtiari (chest), LB Krys Barnes (biceps, shoulder), LS Hunter Bradley (groin), RB Tyler Ervin (wrist), LB Rashan Gary (ankle), S Raven Greene (oblique), DT Tyler Lancaster (shoulder), TE John Lovett (knee), LB Kamal Martin (knee), S Darnell Savage (quadriceps), LB Preston Smith (shoulder), LB Za'Darius Smith (ankle) and WR Equanimeous St. Brown (knee) were limited during practice. CB Jaire Alexander (hand, knee) fully participated in practice.
Indianapolis Colts TE Trey Burton (non-injury) fully participated in practice Thursday, Oct. 29.
Fantasy Spin: Burton has been a reliable target for Philip Rivers over the last few weeks and has taken over the starting role. He can be a low-end No. 1 tight end in deeper leagues.
Indianapolis Colts TE Jack Doyle (non-injury) and C Ryan Kelly (knee) did not participate in practice Thursday, Oct. 29. TE Mo Alie-Cox (knee) was limited during practice. DE Denico Autry (non-injury), S Julian Blackmon (non-injury), DE Justin Houston (non-injury), LB Darius Leonard (groin) and OT Chaz Green (back) fully participated in practice.
Chicago Bears wide receiver Allen Robinson (concussion) and linebacker Khalil Mack (ankle) were both unable to suit up for practice Thursday ahead of Sunday's game against New Orleans. Robinson is working his way through the league's concussion protocol, which puts his status for Sunday heavily in jeopardy. Mack, who has been limited during practice for the vast majority of 2020, could be getting some extra rest, but may also be trending in the wrong direction to ultimately suit up. Should Robinson be held out versus the Saints, Anthony Miller would likely become Chicago's premier WR option, while the Saints Defense would also teeter into season-long consideration. If Mack is ultimately held back, the Bears Defense would essentially become a non-roster commodity, especially in light of the difficult matchup against New Orleans' high-octane offense.