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.
Sunday Morning Update: Week 7
Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Andy Isabella wasn't able to contribute much in the team's 37-34 win over the Seattle Seahawks in Week 7. Isabella caught just one pass for seven yards on three targets in the game. It's been a rough stretch for Isabella lately. He has just five receptions over his last four games. Christian Kirk has been coming on strong lately, which has led to far fewer opportunities for Isabella to contribute. Isabella should remain on waivers in all leagues at this point.
The Cardinals Defense was the latest victim of the scorching hot Seattle Seahawks offense. The Seahawks compiled 572 yards from scrimmage and put 34 points on the board against the Cardinals in Week 7. Luckily, the Cardinals offense kept pace and managed to lead the team to a win. The Cardinals defense did come up with some key turnovers as they forced three Russell Wilson interceptions and also recorded two sacks. Safety Budda Baker almost scored a defensive touchdown, but was tackled by DK Metcalf inside the 10-yard line after a long interception return.
Arizona Cardinals tight end Dan Arnold had his best game of the season so far in Week 7 against the Seattle Seahawks. He caught two of his three targets for 57 yards. His 41-yard reception was the team's longest passing play in the game. No other Cardinals tight end recorded a catch in the game. Arnold is the clear top pass-catching tight end on the Cardinals, but just hasn't been involved enough to warrant any fantasy consideration. He had four receptions in Week 4 against the Carolina Panthers, then failed to record a catch in his next two games. He should remain on waivers in all leagues for now.
Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Christian Kirk came up with some big plays for the team in Week 7 against the Seattle Seahawks. Kirk caught five passes for 37 yards and two touchdowns on eight targets. Kirk has now posted back-to-back two-touchdown games. He tied with Larry Fitzgerald for second on the team in targets in this week's game. DeAndre Hopkins led the way with 12 targets. Kirk has been delivering great production lately. While he may be a bit inconsistent going forward, he's a solid WR3 or flex option most weeks.
Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald had his most productive game of the season so far in Week 7 against the Seattle Seahawks. Fitzgerald caught all eight of his targets for 62 yards. He was second on the team in receiving yards in the game, behind DeAndre Hopkins, and he tied with Christian Kirk for second on the team in targets. It was the first time this year that Fitzgerald had topped 50 receiving yards in a game and only the second time he'd compiled over four receptions in a game. This week's performance puts Fitzgerald back on the PPR map, though the Cardinals have a bye next week, so he should remain on waivers in all leagues for now.
Arizona Cardinals wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins caught 10 of his 12 targets for 103 yards and a touchdown against the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday night in Week 7. It was his fourth 100-yard game of the season and he now has three touchdowns on the year. Hopkins benefitted from a fantastic performance from Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray, who threw for 360 yards and three touchdowns in the game. Murray and Hopkins have been clicking all year long as Hopkins has dominated targets for the team. Hopkins leads the NFL with 704 receiving yards on the year. He is a no doubt, high-end WR1 going forward.
Arizona Cardinals running back Chase Edmonds gave the offense a solid boost in the team's 37-34 win over the Seattle Seahawks in Week 7. Edmonds carried the ball five times for 58 yards and caught all seven of his targets for 87 yards. He severely outplayed the team's No. 1 back Kenyan Drake (ankle), who managed just 34 yards on 14 carries before leaving the game late with an ankle injury. Drake was carted off to the locker room, which suggests his injury could be significant. Edmonds is going to be a hot waiver wire add this week as he could potentially be the team's new No. 1 back. Keep in mind that the Cardinals have a bye next week, but Edmonds could be a great Week 9 start against the Miami Dolphins.
Arizona Cardinals running back Kenyan Drake (ankle) couldn't get anything going on Sunday night against the Seattle Seahawks. Drake received 14 carries in the game, but managed to gain just 34 yards. He was targeted twice in the passing game and came down with one catch for seven yards. On his last run of the game, Drake injured his ankle and he had to be carted to the locker room. We don't know much about the injury at this point, but Drake could be forced to miss some time, which would make Chase Edmonds the team's new No. 1 back. The Cardinals have a bye next week, so Drake will have extra time to recover before the team's Week 9 matchup against the Miami Dolphins.
Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray took advantage of a fantastic matchup against a weak Seattle Seahawks secondary in Week 7. Murray completed 34 of 48 passes for 360 yards, three touchdowns and one interception. He also rushed for 67 yards and a touchdown. Murray has now through for over 350 yards in two of his past three games. However, he's been held under 200 passing yards in two of his past four. This week's game was Murray's best fantasy output of the year. It was the first time he scored four touchdowns in a game this year. He's a no doubt QB1 going forward and this week's performance was clear evidence that he can be a high-end QB1 when he is at his best.
Seattle Seahawks running back Chris Carson was forced from the Sunday Night Football game against the Arizona Cardinals with a foot injury. Coach Pete Carroll described it as a mid-foot sprain, and Carson will have an MRI to determine the extent of the injury. Carlos Hyde took over as the lead running back after Carson exited the game, after missing the last two games with his own injury, and is now looking like one of the top waiver wire adds for Week 8. Hyde racked up 15 carries for 68 yards and a touchdown, and also added three receptions for eight yards. Stay tuned for further updates on Carson's injury and how long he may be sidelined for.
Arizona Cardinals running back Kenyan Drake injured his ankle against the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday Night Football. This did not look like a minor injury as he had to be carted to the locker room and even had a towel over his head. Drake was ruled out for the game and we should know more about the extent of the injury in the coming days. This is a tough break for Drake, the Cardinals and fantasy football managers. Chase Edmonds is now the lead running back for the Cardinals, and had a strong showing against the Seahawks. Edmonds is currently rostered in 62% of fantasy football leagues, and is the top waiver wire pickup for Week 8 if he's somehow still available.
The Atlanta Falcons Defense had another quiet statistical day in a 23-22 loss to the Detroit Lions. Not only did they record just two sacks and no interceptions, but they also gave up the game-winning score to tight end T.J. Hockenson. This unit is definitely one to avoid for fantasy purposes, especially considering they offer no upside. Leave them on the waiver wire.
Atlanta Falcons kicker Younghoe Koo had just two opportunities- a pair of extra-points- and he made both of them in a 23-22 loss to the Detroit Lions. It was Koo's first game this year without at least one field-goal made. Otherwise, he's been an excellent fantasy kicker playing on a team whose offense constantly finds itself in or near the red zone. That alone gives Koo upside in most weeks. He should be in lineups for next week's divisional clash against the Panthers.
The Pittsburgh Steelers Defense was quiet in a 27-24 win over the Tennessee Titans in Week 7. Pittsburgh was unable to force a turnover and was credited with just two sacks in the game. While it wasn't a fantasy-scoring bonanza for the Steelers, they held their own against a Tennessee offense that had been one of the highest-scoring in the league coming into Week 7. T.J. Watt and Vince Williams both led the way in the win with one sack apiece. Pittsburgh's defense draws another tough matchup in Week 8 against the Baltimore Ravens.
Atlanta Falcons tight end Hayden Hurst caught six of seven targets for 68 receiving yards against the Lions. Hurst and Matt Ryan had a rhythm all game, as the former worked the intermediate routes to perfection. That's two games in a row for the 27-year-old with at least 50 yards receiving, as the coaching staff seems to be finding more ways to get him the ball. A tough matchup with the Panthers awaits- they held him to just eight yards- though Hurst is playing too well to bench right now.
Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Russell Gage hauled in six of seven targets for 54 receiving yards in a loss to the Lions. Gage tied with Calvin Ridley and Hayden Hurst for second on the team in targets. The 24-year-old did injure his knee in the first quarter but was able to return to the action. He has seen at least seven targets in two of the three games that fellow wideout Julio Jones has been healthy for, indicating that Jones' presence does wonders for Gage in terms of opening up opportunities on the outside. As long as Matt Ryan continues to play well, Gage should be in the conversation as a WR3/4.
Pittsburgh Steelers tight end Eric Ebron caught six of his eight targets for 50 yards in a 27-24 win over the Tennessee Titans in Week 7. Ebron finished third on the team in receiving, behind Diontae Johnson and JuJu Smith-Schuster, and surprisingly ahead of rookie Chase Claypool. It continues a strong stretch of play for Ebron, who has caught at least five passes in three of his past four games. While he only has one touchdown on the year, Ebron is turning out to be a high-end TE2 for fantasy purposes in his first season with the Steelers. He will face the Baltimore Ravens in Week 8.
Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Chase Claypool lost two yards on his lone reception in a 27-24 win over the Tennessee Titans in Week 7. It goes down as a disappointing outing for the rookie, who had scored five total touchdowns in the previous two games. The return of Diontae Johnson certainly played into Claypool's slow outing, as did the resurgence of JuJu Smith-Schuster, who drew 14 targets. Claypool's fantasy value going forward appears to be tied to the availability of Johnson, who is the clear alpha wide receiver in Pittsburgh. That being said, Johnson injured his ankle late in the game. The injury doesn't appear to be serious but neither did the back injury that held him out of almost all of the past two games. After looking like a must-start heading into Week 7, Claypool is all of a sudden a shaky flex play for Week 8 against the Baltimore Ravens.
Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Calvin Ridley caught five of seven targets for 69 receiving yards and a touchdown in a narrow 23-22 loss to Detroit. Ridley corralled Matt Ryan's lone touchdown throw of the day and made a couple of highlight-reel grabs, including a nifty sideline catch where he got both feet in-bounds. Ridley has produced at least seven targets in all but one game and has eclipsed 100 yards four times already, after doing it twice all of last year. The breakout is in full effect and should continue into Week 8 against the Panthers, who Ridley torched for 136 receiving yards back in Week 6.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers tight end Rob Gronkowski had another terrific performance in Week 7, getting five receptions for 62 yards and a score on eight targets. Gronk is starting to look like himself and that's encouraging for fantasy managers. The big tight end has now scored a touchdown in two straight games. He has also seen at least six targets in the past three games and has gotten over 52 yards in those games as well. Gronk is definitely in the starting conversation going forward.