Thu Oct 10 4:12pm ET
By JOSH DUBOW
AP Pro Football Writer
In this Aug. 13, 2019, file photo, Carolina Panthers' Efe Obada (94) takes the field during an NFL football training camp in Spartanburg, S.C. For Panthers defensive end Efe Obada the game Sunday between Carolina (3-2) and the Bucs (2-3) is a homecoming. The Nigerian native who arrived in England as a 10-year-old after being trafficked with his sister from the Netherlands, comes back to London as an NFL player and a star attraction after first picking up the sport of American football at age 22. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome, File)
Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston (3) passes in the first half of an NFL football game against the New Orleans Saints in New Orleans, Sunday, Oct. 6, 2019. (AP Photo/Bill Feig)
LONDON (AP) For most members of the Carolina Panthers and Tampa Bay Buccaneers, a game in London is an opportunity to see a new country and experience a different culture.
For Panthers defensive end Efe Obada the game Sunday between Carolina (3-2) and the Bucs (2-3) is a homecoming.
The Nigerian native who arrived in England as a 10-year-old after being trafficked with his sister from the Netherlands, comes back to London as an NFL player and a star attraction after first picking up the sport of American football at age 22.
''I'm a bit overwhelmed right now,'' Obada said Thursday at an NFL-sponsored flag football event for local kids in the town of Harrow, just north of London. ''I'm just enjoying the moment.''
On a team with many more high-profile players such as star running back Christian McCaffrey, 2013 Defensive Player of the Year Luke Kuechly, and three-time Pro Bowl tight end Greg Olsen, it was a player with just 15 career games who got the biggest reaction when the team arrived at the airport.
''What are the chances of me being on a team that's going to go back to London? I feel like the stars are aligning,'' Obada said.
Obada started playing in London in 2013 and was signed as an undrafted free agent by Dallas two years later. He spent time on the Cowboys practice squad and in the offseason with Kansas City and Atlanta before joining Carolina in 2017 as an International Pathway player, given an extra spot on the practice squad.
He then became the first International Pathway player to make a 53-man roster the following season and is part of Carolina's rotation on the defensive line.
''He deserves it,'' Kuechly said of the attention this week. ''He's worked super hard since he got here. ... His journey from where he was until now shows how hard he works and how persistent he is.''
While coming home brings back good memories for Obada, Tampa Bay coach Bruce Arians is hoping for a happier time in London this year than he had two years ago in his first game here with the Arizona Cardinals.
''Not very good,'' Arians said about his memories from the 33-0 loss to the Rams in 2017. ''We got beat soundly, and our quarterback (Carson Palmer) broke his arm and we lost him for the season in the second quarter. So it was not fond.''
The Bucs are waiting until Friday to arrive, getting in close to a full practice week back home before holding a final one here in London.
Arians said he relied on experts to determine the plan and the approach of when and how much players should sleep to make sure the team is in the best position to win Sunday.
Here are some other things to watch:
Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston is off to one of the best starts of his career with a franchise-record 1,371 yards passing through five games. He's also tied for second in the league with 11 TD passes, one behind Seattle's Russell Wilson. The fifth-year pro, who's earning $20.9 million in the final season of the contract he signed as the No. 1 overall pick in the 2015 draft, had a pair of interceptions returned for touchdowns during a season-opening loss to San Francisco. He's been solid since, stringing together solid performances against the Panthers, Giants, Rams and Saints as makes his case for being the Bucs' long-term solution at quarterback.
ADDISON ON A TEAR
Panthers defensive end Mario Addison is off to the best start of his NFL career with six sacks in the past three games, including a sack-fumble last week against the Jaguars that was returned 56 yards for a touchdown by teammate Brian Burns. Addison had at least six sacks in six straight seasons for the Panthers and is on pace to top his career high of 11 set in 2017.
Tampa Bay's Chris Godwin is coming off consecutive games in which he's had at least 125 yards receiving and two TDs. If he does it again Sunday, the third-year receiver will join Andre Rison (Falcons, 1990), Hall of Famer Don Maynard (Jets, 1967-68) and Cloyce Box (Lions, 1952) as the only players in NFL history with three straight games with those gaudy numbers. Two weeks ago, Godwin had 12 receptions for 172 yards and two scores against the Giants. He had seven catches for 125 yards and two more TDs vs. the Saints.
Panthers kicker Joey Slye will be looking to bounce back from a troubling performance last Sunday when he missed two field goals and an extra point. That came after Slye was selected as the NFC special teams player of the month when he made 10 of 11 field goals in September, including four from beyond 50 yards. So the big question is whether it was a just a blip on the radar or if the team needs to be concerned moving forward with the undrafted rookie. Panthers coach Ron Rivera believes Slye might have sped up his kicking motion last week after his initial field-goal attempt was blocked.
Bucs OLB Shaquil Barrett leads the NFL with nine sacks, despite having none in Sunday's 31-24 road loss at New Orleans. With opposing teams beginning to make adjustments to try to slow the sixth-year pro who had just 14 sacks in four seasons with Denver before signing a one-year, $4 million contract with the Bucs in free agency, Tampa Bay coach Brian Arians said other members of the Bucs defense have to take advantage of the extra attention being paid to Barrett.
Dallas Cowboys WR Randall Cobb (back, hip) has been declared inactive for the team's Week 6 game.
Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield appeared to injure his lower back in the third quarter against the Seahawks. Mayfield was taken to the locker room for evaluation, but he promptly returned without missing a single snap and is currently back in the game. It appears Mayfield will tough this one out, but his Week 7 status needs to be monitored.
New York Jets WR Demaryius Thomas (hamstring, knee) is officially active for the team's Week 6 game.
Fantasy Spin: Thomas likely will receive a handful of targets against the Dallas Cowboys, but fantasy players may be able to find better options for their lineups this week.
Seattle Seahawks tight end Will Dissly went down in Week 6 against the Browns with an injury to his achilles. The injury was non-contact, and Dissly was quickly ruled out for the remainder of the game. At the time of the injury, Dissly was just targeted just once and failed to haul it in. Luke Willson is in at tight end for the rest of the afternoon, and currently has one catch for five yards. Dissly's Week 7 status is in doubt and needs to be monitored.
Arizona Cardinals WR Christian Kirk (ankle) has been declared inactive for the team's Week 6 game.
Arizona Cardinals RB David Johnson (back) is officially active for the team's Week 6 game.
Fantasy Spin: Johnson likely will receive a lot of touches during the game despite the injury and should be a starting option in all fantasy leagues.
San Francisco 49ers TE George Kittle (groin) is officially active for the team's Week 6 game.
Fantasy Spin: Kittle is one of the best right ends in the NFL and is a must-start option in all fantasy leagues.
The Panthers Defense brutalized the Tampa offense during the Week 6 matchup in London. With seven sacks on the day, including receiving 2.5 from Gerald McCoy against his former team, Carolina was relentless by also forcing quarterback Jameis Winston to throw five interceptions. With a week off, the team will have a stiff challenge against a sound 49ers offense in Week 8.
Carolina Panthers tight end Greg Olsen was targeted seven times against the Buccaneers on Sunday and finished with four catches for 52 yards. After failing to record a catch against the Jaguars in Week 5 while recording just two in Week 4, the veteran's performance in London was a slight improvement. Nonetheless, Olsen has been a disappointment from a fantasy perspective and should only be expected to produce efficient performances on sporadic occasions throughout the remainder of the season regardless of who is under center for the Panthers.
Seattle Seahawks tight end Dissly missed last season with an injury to his right knee, so this is a brand new injury to his left Achilles. We don't know the severity yet, but it was bad enough to immediately rule him out for the rest of the game. It took him a couple of minutes to get off the turf and it sure seems like this is a serious injury. Stay tuned. At tight end, Luke Willson will take over and he's an athletic TE who may become a threat.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back Peyton Barber was unable to get anything going against the Panthers in Week 6, gaining just 28 yards on 10 carries on the day. Barber did get more carries than backfield mate Ronald Jones II, but could not find any holes and was otherwise a non-factor in what turned out to be a pass-heavy game. Barber has established himself through the first 6 weeks of the season as borderline unstartable in any fantasy format and should be treated as such. The Bucs have a bye in Week 7 before another tough matchup against the Titans in Tennessee in Week 8.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back Ronald Jones II was unable to get going Sunday, gaining only 10 yards on four carries, but did score a touchdown to save his day. Jones again fell victim to the Bucs unpredictable backfield rotation after starting to seemingly separate himself from the pack, seeing fewer snaps and touches than fellow backfield mate Peyton Barber in Week 6. It will be hard for fantasy owners to trust any of the Bucs running backs until something changes in that backfield. Until then they can both be considered very low-end bye week fill-in options. The Bucs are off in Week 7 before a tough matchup against the Titans in Week 8.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston disappointed fantasy owners in a big way Sunday, completing 30-of-54 passes for 400 yards and a touchdown to go along with an absurd five interceptions. Winston wasn't given an inch on the day, getting sacked seven times and losing a fumble in the process. Anything Winston did through the first four weeks to gain fantasy owner's confidence has been thrown out the window over the last two weeks. This shouldn't come as the biggest surprise though, as inconsistency has been the theme of Winston's career. The Bucs have a bye in Week 7 before a tough matchup against the Titans in Tennessee, Winston will slot in as a mid-range QB2 for that matchup.
Carolina Panthers wide receiver Curtis Samuel recorded four catches for 70 yards, while also recording a pair of touchdowns against Tampa Bay on Sunday. Samuel got it done in all areas in London, rushing for a score midway through the third quarter before catching a touchdown off of a 13-yard pass from quarterback Kyle Allen in the fourth. With Cam Newton (foot) potentially returning after the Week 7 bye, the 23-year-old will continue to split the bulk of the targets with fellow wideout D.J. Moore and running back Christian McCaffrey regardless of who is under center.
Carolina Panthers wide receiver D.J. Moore recorded 73 yards off of seven catches during the win over the Buccaneers in London. With 10 targets on the day, Moore kept it going after recording six receptions for 91 yards against the Jaguars in Week 5. The quarterback situation remains a mystery as the team heads toward the bye, but the 22-year-old should remain involved regardless of who is under center while continuing to split the majority of the targets with Curtis Samuel, who finished with two touchdowns on the day.
Carolina Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey recorded just 57 total yards against Tampa Bay on Sunday, but still managed to find the end zone twice in Week 6. While McCaffrey was stuffed by the Buccaneers Defense by rushing for an abysmal 31 yards on 22 attempts, he offset his shoddy numbers with a touchdown run late in the first quarter, while acquiring his second off of a 25-yard pass from Kyle Allen. With the team heading into a bye, the potential MVP will look to keep it going in Week 8 against the 49ers.
Carolina Panthers quarterback Kyle Allen recorded his fourth straight win on Sunday against Tampa Bay in London. While Jameis Winston recorded five interceptions on the day, Allen was able to get it done by finishing with 227 yards and two touchdowns on 20-for-32 passing. With the Panthers heading into a bye, things will get interesting for the Panthers if Cam Newton (foot) can return for the Week 8 matchup with San Francisco. Fantasy managers will want to monitor the situation, but Allen should remain on rosters until Newton is officially back in the mix as a starter.
New Orleans Saints running back Alvin Kamara (ankle) is active against the Jacksonville Jaguars. Kamara gets a juicy matchup in Week 6, though he might be limited. Even if he has a smaller role, he should still put up RB1 numbers against Jacksonville.
Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Marquise Brown (ankle) is inactive against the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 6 while tight end Mark Andrews (shoulder) will play. Andrews is a TE1 with upside, as quarterback Lamar Jackson will lean on him in the passing game. Ravens slot receiver Willie Snead could be a sneaky sleeper without Brown in the fold.
Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Sammy Watkins (hamstring) is officially inactive for Week 6. His absence should give the rest of the Kansas City offense more opportunities. In a likely shootout against the Houston Texans, Mecole Hardman and Demarcus Robinson are flex plays while Tyreek Hill is back and ready to resume his WR1 role.