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FFL: Preseason | NFL: Week 1

NFL opens football academy in London

Sun Jul 14 3:03am ET

Players: JuJu Smith-Schuster

NFL player Mario Addison of the Carolina Panthers complains to the referee as he coaches a young team during the final tournament for the UK's NFL Flag Championship, featuring qualifying teams from around the country, at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London, Wednesday, July 3, 2019. The new stadium will host its first two NFL London Games later this year when the Chicago Bears face the Oakland Raiders and the Carolina Panthers take on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)


Youngsters play on the pitch during the final tournament for the UK's NFL Flag Championship, featuring qualifying teams from around the country, at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London, Wednesday, July 3, 2019. The new stadium will host its first two NFL London Games later this year when the Chicago Bears face the Oakland Raiders and the Carolina Panthers take on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)


Tahir Whitehead from Oakland Raiders coaches a young team during the final tournament for the UK's NFL Flag Championship, featuring qualifying teams from around the country, at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London, Wednesday, July 3, 2019. The new stadium will host its first two NFL London Games later this year when the Chicago Bears face the Oakland Raiders and the Carolina Panthers take on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)


Player Giovani Bernard of the Cincinnati Bengals coaches a young team during the final tournament for the UK's NFL Flag Championship, featuring qualifying teams from around the country, at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London, Wednesday, July 3, 2019. The new stadium will host its first two NFL London Games later this year when the Chicago Bears face the Oakland Raiders and the Carolina Panthers take on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)


Player Giovani Bernard of the Cincinnati Bengals coaches a young team during the final tournament for the UK's NFL Flag Championship, featuring qualifying teams from around the country, at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London, Wednesday, July 3, 2019. The new stadium will host its first two NFL London Games later this year when the Chicago Bears face the Oakland Raiders and the Carolina Panthers take on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)


NFL player Cameron Brate of Tampa Bay Buccaneers leaves the pitch after coaches a young team during the final tournament for the UK's NFL Flag Championship, featuring qualifying teams from around the country, at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London, Wednesday, July 3, 2019. The new stadium will host its first two NFL London Games later this year when the Chicago Bears face the Oakland Raiders and the Carolina Panthers take on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)


NFL player Mario Addison of the Carolina Panthers coaches a young team during the final tournament for the UK's NFL Flag Championship, featuring qualifying teams from around the country, at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London, Wednesday, July 3, 2019. The new stadium will host its first two NFL London Games later this year when the Chicago Bears face the Oakland Raiders and the Carolina Panthers take on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)


NFL Player Akiem Hicks of the Chicago Bears coaches a young team during the final tournament for the UK's NFL Flag Championship, featuring qualifying teams from around the country, at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London, Wednesday, July 3, 2019. The new stadium will host its first two NFL London Games later this year when the Chicago Bears face the Oakland Raiders and the Carolina Panthers take on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)


NFL Player Akiem Hicks of the Chicago Bears coaches a young team during the final tournament for the UK's NFL Flag Championship, featuring qualifying teams from around the country, at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London, Wednesday, July 3, 2019. The new stadium will host its first two NFL London Games later this year when the Chicago Bears face the Oakland Raiders and the Carolina Panthers take on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)


NFL Player Akiem Hicks of the Chicago Bears coaches a young team during the final tournament for the UK's NFL Flag Championship, featuring qualifying teams from around the country, at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London, Wednesday, July 3, 2019. The new stadium will host its first two NFL London Games later this year when the Chicago Bears face the Oakland Raiders and the Carolina Panthers take on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)


NFL player Tahir Whitehead gestures as he coaches a young team during the final tournament for the UK's NFL Flag Championship, featuring qualifying teams from around the country, at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London, Wednesday, July 3, 2019. The new stadium will host its first two NFL London Games later this year when the Chicago Bears face the Oakland Raiders and the Carolina Panthers take on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)


NFL player Tahir Whitehead reacts as he coaches a young team during the final tournament for the UK's NFL Flag Championship, featuring qualifying teams from around the country, at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London, Wednesday, July 3, 2019. The new stadium will host its first two NFL London Games later this year when the Chicago Bears face the Oakland Raiders and the Carolina Panthers take on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)


NFL player Samson Ebukam of the Los Angeles Rams coaches a young team during the final tournament for the UK's NFL Flag Championship, featuring qualifying teams from around the country, at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London, Wednesday, July 3, 2019. The new stadium will host its first two NFL London Games later this year when the Chicago Bears face the Oakland Raiders and the Carolina Panthers take on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)


NFL player Samson Ebukam of the Los Angeles Rams coaches a young team during the final tournament for the UK's NFL Flag Championship, featuring qualifying teams from around the country, at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London, Wednesday, July 3, 2019. The new stadium will host its first two NFL London Games later this year when the Chicago Bears face the Oakland Raiders and the Carolina Panthers take on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)


NFL player DJ Chark speaks to young players during the final tournament for the UK's NFL Flag Championship, featuring qualifying teams from around the country, at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London, Wednesday, July 3, 2019. The new stadium will host its first two NFL London Games later this year when the Chicago Bears face the Oakland Raiders and the Carolina Panthers take on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)


NFL player Mario Addison of the Carolina Panthers complains to the referee as he coaches a young team during the final tournament for the UK's NFL Flag Championship, featuring qualifying teams from around the country, at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London, Wednesday, July 3, 2019. The new stadium will host its first two NFL London Games later this year when the Chicago Bears face the Oakland Raiders and the Carolina Panthers take on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)


NFL player DJ Chark speaks to young players during the final tournament for the UK's NFL Flag Championship, featuring qualifying teams from around the country, at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London, Wednesday, July 3, 2019. The new stadium will host its first two NFL London Games later this year when the Chicago Bears face the Oakland Raiders and the Carolina Panthers take on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)


NFL player Samson Ebukam of the Los Angeles Rams coaches a young team during the final tournament for the UK's NFL Flag Championship, featuring qualifying teams from around the country, at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London, Wednesday, July 3, 2019. The new stadium will host its first two NFL London Games later this year when the Chicago Bears face the Oakland Raiders and the Carolina Panthers take on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)


NFL Player Giovani Bernard of the Cincinnati Bengals pauses before an interview during the final tournament for the UK's NFL Flag Championship, featuring qualifying teams from around the country, at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London, Wednesday, July 3, 2019. The new stadium will host its first two NFL London Games later this year when the Chicago Bears face the Oakland Raiders and the Carolina Panthers take on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)


NFL player Jonathan Joseph of the Houston Texans gives interviews during the final tournament for the UK's NFL Flag Championship, featuring qualifying teams from around the country, at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London, Wednesday, July 3, 2019. The new stadium will host its first two NFL London Games later this year when the Chicago Bears face the Oakland Raiders and the Carolina Panthers take on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)


NFL player Josh Lambo of the Jacksonville Jaguars addresses the media during the final tournament for the UK's NFL Flag Championship, featuring qualifying teams from around the country, at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London, Wednesday, July 3, 2019. The new stadium will host its first two NFL London Games later this year when the Chicago Bears face the Oakland Raiders and the Carolina Panthers take on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)


General view at the NFL pitch during the final tournament for the UK's NFL Flag Championship, featuring qualifying teams from around the country, at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London, Wednesday, July 3, 2019. The new stadium will host its first two NFL London Games later this year when the Chicago Bears face the Oakland Raiders and the Carolina Panthers take on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.(AP Photo/Frank Augstein)


Player Giovani Bernard of the Cincinnati Bengals coaches a young team during the final tournament for the UK's NFL Flag Championship, featuring qualifying teams from around the country, at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London, Wednesday, July 3, 2019. The new stadium will host its first two NFL London Games later this year when the Chicago Bears face the Oakland Raiders and the Carolina Panthers take on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)


LONDON (AP) For the past three years, the only way Sergei Starodoubtsev experienced the NFL was by watching highlights of JuJu Smith-Schuster and other players on Instagram.

That the 17-year-old found himself sharing a field with the Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver - he was the one in workout clothes, not Smith-Schuster - was a little more than even he could comprehend.

''He's a different athlete and such an amazing player,'' Starodoubtsev said, awe-struck and struggling to find his words as Smith-Schuster addressed a group of fellow teenagers nearby. ''I'm trying to succeed in this career and be on the big TV and play in the NFL and be in the same situation as JuJu.''

At 6-foot-3 and 238 pounds with eye-catching quickness, Starodoubtsev is, in many ways, exactly what football coaches and recruiters across the United States desire. His only disadvantage? He lives in East London, where opportunities to play the American game are difficult to find.

That's why Starodoubtsev was at soccer power Tottenham Hotspur's new stadium earlier this month, one of 150 hopefuls trying to land one of 80 spots in the inaugural class of the NFL Academy this fall. The league, which has been playing regular-season games in London since 2007, wants to maintain a more lasting presence in the city beyond those few weekends a year. It believes it can do that - and grow the sport - by identifying and cultivating young British talent.

''In the last two or three years, this has been about, whilst being quintessentially American, could we be more British (and) locally relevant?'' said NFL UK managing director Alistair Kirkwood. ''(Can we) have grassroots and a commitment to having British players who look like you and talk like you, and then at the same time have younger kids playing the game right down to flag football?''

Players in the United States have a well-developed path to playing professional sports, progressing from youth leagues to high school and college. The setup in Europe differs significantly. It's far more common for prospects to join a sports club's academy at a young age and receive coaching in a structured environment all the way through to a senior-team debut.

Kirkwood wants to follow that model - with a twist. By partnering with Barnet & Southgate College in north London, those who have been selected to enroll in the NFL Academy will begin classes in September with up to 12 hours of football practice added on each week.

The initial enrollment will include boys ages 16-18. Kirkwood speculated about plans to target other age groups, and even girls, at other locations over time.

''I'd be taking over the world by now if I had this opportunity,'' said Carolina Panthers defensive end Efe Obada, who was raised in London, played in several local leagues and made his NFL debut last season. ''For it to now be real, and to be getting kids who are 15, 16, introduced to the sport and having them surrounded by some major role models and real NFL players ... it's crazy. It's amazing.''

More than 1,500 prospects applied for a spot in the academy, with 150 finalists drawn from that pool after two months of workouts and interviews. Those finalists, invited to join Obada, Smith-Schuster and other program ambassadors at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, were put through a final round of combine-style workouts, including the 40-yard dash, the broad jump, the vertical leap and the 20-yard shuttle run.

Nearly half the participants were from London, the rest from other parts of Britain - a few traveled from elsewhere in Europe, including Poland's Kacper Jaszewski, who completed the fastest shuttle run in 4.3 seconds.

Tony Allen, who will serve as the academy's head coach, believes applicants' backgrounds aren't important as long as they show some degree of athletic ability. Starodoubtsev, for example, plays rugby. David Ani, a 16-year-old from Manchester who is already 6-foot-2, has a basketball background. Some said they are sprinters, a few play handball and one even said he plays water polo.

''I just don't think it's fair to bring in a kid with a rugby, soccer or cricket background and run them through positional drills because they're going to look like Bambi the first time around and be falling over the bags,'' said Allen, who was formerly the NFL's director of international player development and a coach with the London Monarchs of NFL Europe.

''I don't know where we'll start from. It could be, `This is a center and this is a guard,' in all honesty, but we'll give them bespoke training, in class, film analysis, kind of fast-tracking them so that when they get on the field, they know what drills to do.''

The finalists will be put through another round of character assessments before the initial class is decided in late July. Although Kirkwood and Allen both said they'd be pleased for the program's graduates to obtain Division I scholarship offers, the goal, for now, is personal development.

Still, nearly all who tried out harbor that NFL dream. Starodoubtsev, who thinks he'll be a defensive end, was reassured he'll have a place in the initial class once a coach saw him run the 40-yard dash in 4.85 seconds. Ani, who plays in a league in Manchester as a tight end, wants to be back at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, which begins hosting NFL games in October.

''Hopefully, when I'm older, I'll be here,'' Ani said, gesturing toward the field. ''I'll be here balling out for everybody.''

Player Notes
Christian Kirk Aug 24 10:30pm ET

Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Christian Kirk only caught two of his six targets for five yards, including a dropped pass Saturday against the Minnesota Vikings. The upside though was that Kirk was second in targets for the afternoon. Even though the Cardinals' offense this preseason has been very bland, there is too much talent and too much upside to be ignored. Expect Kirk and this offense to light it up this season and he will come in as a nice WR2/3. With his poor showings this preseason, now might be a good time to buy Kirk at his lowest in dynasty formats.

From RotoBaller

Chase Edmonds Aug 24 10:30pm ET

Arizona Cardinals running back Chase Edmonds put in a strong performance Saturday afternoon against the Vikings, rushing three times for 13 yards and hauling in both of his two targets for 24 yards. Edmonds continues to be a top handcuff to own in the fantasy world and would be a solid weekly starter if something were to happen to David Johnson. With starters likely resting for the fourth and final preseason game, look for Edmonds to get his fair share of touches against the Denver Broncos.

From RotoBaller

Ty Montgomery Aug 24 10:30pm ET

New York Jets running back Ty Montgomery carried the ball eight times for 21 yards and caught all four of his targets for 24 yards and a touchdown against the Saints on Saturday. Montgomery has been the Jets most productive running back so far with Le'Veon Bell not playing preseason games. The former wide receiver finishes the preseason with 67 yards on 17 carries with a touchdown running to go along with five catches. He should be considered the primary backup to Bell with some PPR value in deep leagues as he should see plenty of work on passing downs.

From RotoBaller

Sam Darnold Aug 24 10:20pm ET

New York Jets quarterback Sam Darnold went 8-for-13 for 97 yards and a touchdown in the team's third preseason game on Saturday. Darnold's night was highlighted by a 41-yard strike to Robby Anderson and a 2-yard touchdown pass to Ty Montgomery against the Saints backups. It wasn't all good for Darnold as the offense looked sloppy with three of their five starting offensive linemen out of the game leading to several hits on the sophomore QB. Darnold finishes the preseason 17-25 for 211 yards and most importantly no interceptions. The Jets hired an offensive-minded coach and upgraded the weapons around Darnold going into his second NFL season. He should be drafted in all two quarterback leagues and is a backup with upside in standard leagues.

From RotoBaller

Michael Thomas Aug 24 10:20pm ET

New Orleans Saints wide receiver Tre'Quan Smith was held without a catch in his team's third preseason game against the New York Jets on Saturday. Smith was targeted just once in the game. Smith finishes the preseason with two catches for 17 yards in two games played. The second-year wideout will look to take a big step forward this year after a solid rookie season which saw him catch 28 balls for 427 yards and five scores. Smith is still behind target hogs Michael Thomas and Alvin Kamara but he also plays for one of the top offenses in the league. That makes him worth selecting toward the end of fantasy drafts this season.

From RotoBaller

Michael Thomas Aug 24 10:10pm ET

New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees completed 4-of-6 passes for 68 yards and a touchdown in his team's preseason game against the New York Jets on Saturday. That marked Brees' only preseason action as he will not play in the team's fourth game next week. Brees was out there for just one drive and he made it count by tossing a 19-yard score to star wide receiver Michael Thomas. While Brees is now 40, he still has plenty of upside at the helm of one of the top offenses in the NFL. In fact, no one in the league can match his upside when he is playing at home in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. He can be drafted as a low-end QB1 in fantasy leagues this season.

From RotoBaller

Jacoby Brissett Aug 24 10:10pm ET

Indianapolis Colts quarterback Jacoby Brissett has become the starting quarterback. Star quarterback Andrew Luck informed the team of his intention to retire from the NFL. Luck, who has been dealing with injuries this offseason, told the team after reportedly multiple weeks of mulling the decision. Brissett gives the team some running ability, and he showed some flashes during his time as the starter back in 2017. He obviously doesn't have the same ceiling as Luck, but he has gotten all of the first-team reps throughout training camp. He should be ready to go with a full arsenal of weapons when the season starts.

From RotoBaller

Bilal Powell Aug 24 10:00pm ET

New York Jets running back Bilal Powell was getting snaps with the starters during the team's preseason game with the Saints on Saturday. Powell is clearly ahead of Elijah McGuire for the role of primary backup according to Manish Mehta. Starting running back Le'Veon Bell was not playing in the game but head coach Adam Gase has said they will not give Bell the astronomical number of touches he got in Pittsburgh. Powell won't have much fantasy value on draft day but has proved a usable fantasy back in the past including a 58 reception season in 2016. If Gase does limit Bell's touches then Powell could provide some PPR value as a passing-down back.

From RotoBaller

Michael Thomas Aug 24 10:00pm ET

New Orleans Saints wide receiver Michael Thomas caught both of his targets for 39 yards and a touchdown in his team's third preseason game against the New York Jets on Saturday. Thomas played on just the first offensive drive of the game but he made his presence felt in that short period of time. His touchdown came on a 19-yard pass from Drew Brees in which a closely-covered Thomas jumped up and snatched the ball out of the air near the right corner of the end zone. Among the most efficient receivers in the game, Thomas is a locked-in WR1 in fantasy and worthy of selecting toward the end of the first round.

From RotoBaller

Andrew Luck Aug 24 9:50pm ET

Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck has informed the team that he intends to retire from the NFL, citing that the mental aspects of the game have worn him down. Luck's dealt with a variety of injuries over the past few seasons and was already looking like he'd miss the start of the 2019 season with a leg injury, but to see a player with Luck's skill call it quits before the age of 30 is a huge shock. Jacoby Brissett is Indianapolis' starting quarterback now, and while he's got the potential to be a top-20 fantasy quarterback, you can go ahead and downgrade this entire offense from a fantasy perspective. Running back Marlon Mack is likely the least affected, but TY Hilton's value falls tremendously as he's struggled when a quarterback who wasn't Luck has been throwing the ball.

From RotoBaller

Andrew Luck Aug 24 9:35pm ET

Adam Schefter is reporting Andrew Luck has informed the Colts he is retiring from the NFL, per source. There will be a press conference Sunday to make it official, but Luck is mentally worn down, and now checking out.

Mark Thompson Aug 24 9:20pm ET

Detroit Lions running back Mark Thompson had eight carries for 34 yards and a touchdown along with one catch for 5 yards in Week 3 of the preseason against the Buffalo Bills. Thompson is battling for a roster spot and Friday night's outing will certainly help. However, Thompson falls below four other running backs and even if he makes the roster will likely not see many touches, if any. Thompson has no fantasy value.

From RotoBaller

Danny Amendola Aug 24 9:10pm ET

Detroit Lions wide receiver Danny Amendola has been struggling with an undisclosed injury but was able to catch three of four targets for 30 yards on Friday night in the Lion's third preseason game against the Bills. Amendola remains below wide receivers Kenny Golladay and Marvin Jones on the depth chart so his workload could remain somewhat limited throughout the season. However, Amendola is an excellent slot receiver and having 10+ catches in a game or two throughout the season is not out of the question. Amendola has much more value in full PPR leagues.

From RotoBaller

Ty Johnson Aug 24 9:00pm ET

Detroit Lions running back Ty Johnson continues to prove that he deserves the third spot on the Lions running back depth chart. Johnson rushed four times for just nine yards and had one catch for 11 yard against the Bills in Week 3 of preseason but he showed off his lethal speed. Johnson is a player to keep an eye on; right now, he is totally off fantasy radar but if Kerryon Johnson or C.J. Anderson go down with an injury, Ty Johnson could begin to make an impact.

From RotoBaller

Zach Zenner Aug 24 8:50pm ET

Detroit Lions running back Zach Zenner had just four carries for 21 yards in the Lions third preseason game against the Bills. It appears that Zenner will likely fall behind running back Ty Johnson on the depth chart, into the fourth position. Regardless, Zenner is a talented special team player and should still make the final squad. Zenner is not fantasy relevant.

From RotoBaller

Jameis Winston Aug 24 8:32pm ET

Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston was scrambling for his life most of the night in the preseason game against the Browns on Friday, but he managed to continue building chemistry with wide receiver Chris Godwin, hooking up with him four times for 52 yards. Winston finished 9-for-19 for 88 yards and a 60.9 passer rating. He scrambled well and didn't make bad decisions or risky throws, which is what he needs to cut out of his game in a contract year. Winston has all the things in place to have his best season to date in head coach Bruce Arians' offense, making him a low-end QB1/high-end backup for fantasy owners. Godwin should see heavy targets as well, making him a popular breakout candidate in 2019.

T Y Hilton Aug 24 8:31pm ET

Indianapolis Colts wide receiver T.Y. Hilton is likely out until the start of the season. Head coach Frank Reich stated that it would be unlikely to see any starters during the team's Week 3 matchup against the Chicago Bears. Hilton has not played any snaps during the team's first two preseason games, and he doesn't appear slated to play any this week. The strategy of keeping your best player's healthy when you can is usually the right decision. As he's not battling any injuries, this isn't an issue to be worried about as he will play when the games count.

D'Onta Foreman Aug 24 7:53pm ET

Indianapolis Colts RB D'Onta Foreman (biceps) was waived from the Reserve/Injured list Saturday, Aug. 24, after the two sides reached an injury settlement.

From TheHuddle

Lamar Miller Aug 24 7:33pm ET

Houston Texans RB Lamar Miller (leg) was carted off the field after suffering an apparent leg injury during the preseason game Saturday, Aug. 24.

Fantasy Spin: Fantasy players will need to monitor the situation to determine the severity of Miller's injury. Duke Johnson likely would take over the starting job if Miller misses an extended period of time and could be a No. 2 running back in all fantasy leagues.

From TheHuddle

Lamar Miller Aug 24 7:30pm ET

Houston Texans running back Lamar Miller was carted off the field after a first quarter hit in Saturday's preseason game against the Dallas Cowboys. Miller hadn't played in a preseason game before this one. A Pro Bowler last year, Miller is expected to see the bulk of Houston's offensive touches this year with Duke Johnson coming in on passing downs, but a potentially serious knee injury would lead to huge changes in this Houston offense. Monitor the situation over the next few days.

From RotoBaller