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How Urban Meyer, Jaguars can avoid ruining Trevor Lawrence after picking him in 2021 NFL Draft

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The Jaguars have hit the Jacksonville jackpot when it comes to their future at head coach and starting quarterback. They have hired three-time college national champion Urban Meyer and will most certainly draft four-time College Football Playoff QB Trevor Lawrence with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft..

If the Jaguars wanted to make a splash around the league, it would be hard to hand-pick a better combination. But “on paper” and “in theory” are different concepts when it comes to producing actual results. 

Meyer was drawn back out of retirement from his Fox Sports analyst gig at age 56 for the chance to return to Florida and work with a generational talent at the game’s most important position. Although owner Shad Khan is expected to be more involved in football operations, Meyer should still have the strongest say (and sway) in key personnel decisions.

Getting Lawrence is a big step toward getting back to playoff-caliber relevance in the NFL. Here’s what Meyer and the Jaguars need to do this offseason to quickly get on track to get the best of the elite Clemson prospect as soon as he becomes a Jaguar in April:

MORE: How Meyer can succeed in NFL, somewhere between Nick Saban & Pete Carroll

1. Hire a smart and creative offensive coordinator

Right off the bat, Meyer carries weight to assemble an all-star coaching staff. There are two play-callers the Jaguars should go after first and foremost: former Texas coach Tom Herman and Clemson offensive coordinator Tony Elliott.

Herman had great success under Meyer at Ohio State. Elliott worked with Dabo Swinney to get elite, prolific play from Lawrence for three seasons. Either of those guys would be home runs to attach to Lawrence to maintain his explosive playmaking in the NFL. If Meyer cannot get those guys, he should make sure he hires someone who would build an offense around Lawrence’s immense skill set instead of trying to fit him in a scheme with mostly unfamiliar concepts.

The Cardinals had this fortune a couple years ago, knowing that Kliff Kingsbury, as head coach, would be an ideal pairing for Kyler Murray at No. 1. Last year, the Bengals were very comfortable with Zac Taylor being the established man for Joe Burrow.

Meyer has had success with many styles of QBs over the years, from Alex Smith to Tim Tebow to J.T. Barrett to Cardale Jones. The Jaguars should have all that confidence he will connect Lawrence with the right OC to mesh with his personality and talent.

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2. Be aggressive in free agency to get veteran help

The Jaguars are sitting on the most salary cap room in the NFL for 2021, around $73 million. They have some promising skill-position talent for Lawrence’s arrival. Undrafted James Robinson quickly established himself as a worthy feature back as a rookie. D.J. Chark Jr., Laviska Shenault Jr. and Collin Johnson bring the youthful juice at wide receiver.

But those guys have limited experience in the NFL and will be adjusting to a new offense while they also get settled with Lawrence. The Jaguars still have veteran tight end Tyler Eifert under contract for another year to be better deployed for Lawrence, but Chris Thompson, Chris Conley, Keelan Cole, Dede Westbrook and James O’Shaughnessy all are free-agent pass-catchers.

The Jaguars could think about bringing back Allen Robinson or signing Marvin Jones Jr. as someone to put outside opposite Chark and move Shenault full time into the slot to replace Cole. If the Chargers let Hunter Henry hit the market, he would be the top tight end target. The Jaguars also could look cheaper and deeper to complement Eifert with Jonnu Smith, Jacob Hollister or Trey Burton.

If they don’t re-sign Cam Robinson and they become available, they could look at a sturdy older left tackle, Alejandro Villanueva or Trent Williams. The Jaguars also have plenty of market options to better flank Brandon Linder and Andrew Norwell inside, led by Brandon Scherff and Joe Thuney. Meyer and Lawrence are big splashes, but a couple of worthy splurges would be good, too.

NFL MOCK DRAFT 2021: Projecting where Alabama, Ohio State players will land in first round

3. Use the extra first-rounder to upgrade the offensive line

The Jaguars will have a second pick in the top 32 overall (to be determined) because of their Jalen Ramsey trade with the Rams. The Jaguars did have major defensive issues last season, but one pick won’t solve that. They have got to look to sign and draft to upgrade a little on every level.

There’s good edge pass-rushing, linebacker and safety depth in the draft class for Jacksonville to steal players later and the values at defensive tackle and defensive back in the late first round (No. 25 or below) aren’t there. Should they miss out on top free agents up front or limit it to one big addition, there are prospects such as Texas tackle Samuel Cosmi and USC guard Alijah Vera-Tucker to target.

The Jaguars could also think about tight end in that range in Penn State’s Pat Freiermuth or go for a dynamic offensive weapon in Purdue’s Rondale Moore. The Jaguars need to think defense often this offseason, but with Lawrence, they can also think offense first.

(Getty Images)

4. Create a stronger quarterback room

Mike Glennon is a free agent and not exactly the textbook mentor type as a willing backup. Gardner Minshew had his mania, but in the end, he is a third-year sixth-rounder about to learn a new offense after a second year of struggling to read defenses. The Jaguars could use a locker-room leader type with starting experience behind Lawrence, with Jacoby Brissett, Tyrod Taylor and Ryan Fitzpatrick topping the most appealing available options. Minshew is worth having around as a smart, still developing player, but the Jaguars need that headset/clipboard guy to act like an extension of the coaching staff.

There’s no question that Taylor and Fitzpatrick, who got displaced by Justin Herbert and Tua Tagovailoa in 2020, were extremely supportive and professional in helping to make their rookie replacements do well with a team-first mentality. That should make the Jaguars want to have either in the room during an NFL offseason that won’t be as “virtual.”

MORE: Why Trevor Lawrence is a much better fit with Jaguars than Jets

5. Don’t try to limit the playbook for a rookie Trevor Lawrence

The Chargers let Herbert loose with aggressive throwing and running and the result was one of the best rookie QB seasons ever. The Bengals gave Burrow full command and he didn’t let down with his smarts and savvy beyond his years. Meanwhile, the Dolphins probably reined in Tagovailoa too much early in his starting tenure, and that cost them a playoff berth in the end.

Lawrence is an experienced starter from a major college offense with established pro-style assets. He can pick up things quickly like that other Clemson star NFL QB Deshaun Watson and like Burrow, can earn instant teammate respect with his intangibles. Meyer is also an NFL rookie, but there’s no doubt he needs go into 2021 with the mind-set that Lawrence is already capable of performing like a fearless, efficient veteran passer (and runner).

It will take a team effort for the Jaguars to lift Lawrence into the top QB he should be for a long time. As the man in charge of putting that all together, to that end, Meyer can waste no time proving he was a great hire.

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Why Josh Allen’s MVP case is closer to Aaron Rodgers’ than you think

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Aaron Rodgers is almost certainly going to win NFL MVP. It may even be in a landslide after he closed the regular season stronger than Patrick Mahomes.

That’s what it was all about down the stretch: Rodgers vs. Mahomes. That was after Russell Wilson had made an early-season run at the award before falling off. Lamar Jackson entered the year as a potential repeat winner after claiming the honor in 2019, but his start pushed him out of the running, too. But the second-place MVP finisher when the award is announced the night before the Super Bowl is someone who was never realistically considered by the public to win the award: Bills quarterback Josh Allen.

In his third NFL season, Allen took major leaps across the board, becoming a more accurate passer while limiting mistakes and leading Buffalo to a 13-3 record. The Bills closed the season red hot, winning nine of their last 10 regular season games, with the only loss coming on the Cardinals’ miraculous “Hail Murray.” Allen quickly became the face of a franchise that had been lacking one since the days of Jim Kelly.

None of that is to say Allen should win the award over Rodgers, one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time who may have just had the best season of his career. But no matter what the vote totals say at NFL Honors, Allen deserves a long MVP look of his own. It’s a lot closer between Allen and Rodgers than one might think.

MORE: How Josh Allen rose from junior college, Wyoming to NFL MVP contender leading the Bills

Josh Allen vs. Aaron Rodgers stats

 Completion %Passing yardsTotal TDsINTsRushing yardsQBR
Josh Allen69.24,544511042181.7
Aaron Rodgers70.74,29945514984.4

(Getty Images)

Josh Allen vs. Aaron Rodgers perception

There are two layers of public perception working against Allen. Let’s start with the broader one, team and market affiliation.

Allen is quarterbacking the Buffalo Bills, one of the NFL’s consistent losers over the past two decades, and in one of the league’s smaller media markets, too. Rodgers leads the historic Green Bay Packers, having taken over for Brett Favre and starred for more than a decade at Lambeau Field. While Green Bay is an unusual market by NFL standards, it’s also a major player in the public eye because of how good the Packers are.

That doesn’t help Allen garner the type of mainstream notoriety he probably deserves. It came by the end of the season because Allen made himself impossible to ignore, but he basically balled out from day one in 2020 whether anyone was watching or not. 

In the season’s first four games, Allen threw 12 touchdowns compared to one interception, and he ran for another three scores in those games. But because he’d yet to become a full-on superstar and is in a less-noticed market, it was easier to pay attention to the numbers of Dak Prescott and Russell Wilson without acknowledging that Allen was playing just as well as them.

That starts to get to the second perception issue, timing. Allen had the bad luck of never being at first during any point of the race. Prescott was on pace to shatter the NFL’s single-season passing yardage record before his season-ending injury. Wilson brought on the “Let Russ Cook” refrains. Mahomes and Rodgers both had their moment in the sun. But at least based on mainstream conversation, Allen was never in first. That meant he never had his case examined as fully as that of Prescott, Wilson or Kyler Murray early on or Mahomes and Rodgers down the stretch.

If Allen had broken out to an early lead in MVP talks and kept playing how he did, maybe he would’ve stayed in first for the whole season. But instead he was forced to come from slightly behind in a race where he’d face more obstacles than more established players. It likely made it slightly too difficult to catch up. 

The MVP case for Josh Allen over Aaron Rodgers

If any one season of Rodgers’ career deserved an MVP award, which he’s already won twice, it’s this one. The statistics above speak for themselves. He had career-bests in both completion percentage and passing touchdowns this season, and if anything, MVP awards occasionally trend toward the “career achievement award” when a veteran player has an amazing year.

That’s all fine and dandy, but think for a second about what Allen accomplished this year. He led the Bills to their first 13-win season since 1991. He vanquished the AFC East’s mighty Patriots (albeit with some help from shaky GM Bill Belichick). Allen threw for one fewer touchdown than Patrick Mahomes, ran for one more touchdown than Lamar Jackson, threw for more yards than Rodgers, had a better quarterback rating than Wilson, Drew Brees and Tom Brady.

The question of what “valuable” means in MVP is always a sticking point, and the “How would their team play without them?” argument can get silly. Of course the Packers would be much worse without Rodgers, and the Bills would be much worse without Allen.

The point here is that Allen had nearly as good a year as Rodgers, by the numbers, and he did it in a place much less used to winning. Allen grew up before the NFL’s eyes, turning from a raw, inaccurate passer at Wyoming to a dominant force in his third year. Any questions about Stefon Diggs fitting in were answered when Allen made him the league’s leading receiver in multiple categories. Slot man Cole Beasley’s had a career revival with Allen. Offensive coordinator Brian Daboll will likely be a head coach elsewhere in 2021 thanks to how Allen executed his system.

Just look at the packed Buffalo airport that greeted Allen and the Bills after they clinched the AFC East. Green Bay loves Rodgers, yes, and he loves his city back. But Allen was working against two decades of incompetence and the question of whether he had been worth trading up for in 2018. Allen’s magical season just meant so much.

It’s almost eerie the things Allen and Rodgers have in common. Two California kids who had to go first to junior college to prove themselves, eventually breaking through in the NFL because of incredible arm talent and high-level mobility. One, Allen, is still near the start of his pro journey, while the other, Rodgers, is on the down slope. 

They, of course, would both tell anyone that they’d rather hoist the Lombardi Trophy as Super Bowl champion than the MVP award, and maybe one will at Super Bowl 55 in Tampa, Florida. But the night before that, one of them, likely Rodgers, will be named the National Football League’s Most Valuable Player. It could just as easily be Allen, no matter what the final vote totals say.

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Is Jared Goff playing vs. the Packers? Rams make decision on QB for divisional round

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Jared Goff will start at quarterback for the Rams in their NFC divisional round playoff game against the Packers on Saturday.

Goff has not started since the Rams’ Week 16 defeat to the Seahawks. He suffered a broken right thumb in the game and underwent surgery the next day.

NFL PLAYOFFS: Divisional round picks against the spread

John Wolford, who played in Week 17 and then again in the playoff opener against Seattle, took a blow to the head last weekend. Wolford was not able to return — which required Goff to step up, still nursing his thumb — and the 25-year-old has now been ruled out against the Packers, the team confirmed Thursday.

That means a return for Goff, who completed just 9 of 19 passes from the bench last time out but threw for a touchdown and no interceptions in an upset win.

The 2016 first overall draft pick has failed to convince since a dismal Super Bowl defeat at the end of the 2018 season. Goff was rewarded for that playoff run with a new $134 million contract, including a then-record $110 million in guarantees, yet he has thrown 29 picks over the subsequent two campaigns.

Meanwhile, the Week 17 win over the Cardinals was Wolford’s NFL bow, and he put up 231 passing yards and another 56 over the ground.

With Wolford not involved at all against Green Bay this week, Blake Bortles is in line to serve as backup to Goff.

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All-time Nick Saban-coached team, from Tua Tagovailoa to DeVonta Smith

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DeVonta Smith in 2020 earned one of the most decorated seasons in the history of the wide receiver position.

He secured the Heisman Trophy, Maxwell Award, Walter Camp Award, Paul Hornung Award, Biletnikoff Award, Sporting News Player of the Year, AP Player of the Year, SEC Offensive Player of the Year and unanimous All-America honors. That’s part of a season in which he caught 117 passes for an SEC-record 1,856 receiving yards and 23 touchdowns. His final game was equally impressive, with 12 receptions for 215 yards and three touchdowns — in a half.

The wirey receiver didn’t merely enjoy a flash-in-the-pan season, either: He led Alabama’s uber-talented receiving corps in 2019 in yardage (1,256) and touchdowns (14) and was brilliant in the two years prior as well, helping him break Amari Cooper’s school records for receptions (235), yards (3,965) and touchdowns (46). That includes two game-winning touchdown receptions as a freshmanagainst Mississippi State and, of course, Georgia.

Other considerations: Josh Reed, LSU (1998-2001)

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Divisional Round DraftKings Picks: NFL DFS lineup advice for daily fantasy football playoff tournaments

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It’s one of the best weekends of the year for football fans, as the NFL’s top eight teams are in action in the divisional round of the playoffs. Some of the league’s biggest stars are available for DFS contests, and our DraftKings lineup is loaded with studs and a couple key value sleepers.

We don’t have any Packers, Buccaneers or Bills in this lineup, and fading those high-powered offenses is definitely a risk. With four Saints, this lineup definitely has a boom-or-bust vibe to it, but sometimes you have to take those chances on short slates, so let’s hope we picked correctly for our primary stack.

MORE DIVISIONAL ROUND DFS: Top valuesLineup Builder

Divisional Round DraftKings Picks: NFL DFS tournament playoff lineup

QB Drew Brees, Saints vs. Buccaneers ($5,600). Brees has averaged 252.8 yards and two TDs over his past four games, three of which were played without Michael Thomas. Even more noteworthy is that he posted six total TDs in his two games against Tampa this year. With the Bucs ability to stop the run, you can bet New Orleans will air it out often, giving Brees a good chance for 300-plus yards and bonus points. Obviously, Patrick Mahomes ($8,000), Lamar Jackson ($7,600), and Josh Allen ($7,400) have higher ceilings, but Brees represents major value as the sixth highest-priced QB on the slate. 

RB Alvin Kamara, Saints vs. Buccaneers ($7,900). The worry with this pick is Kamara won’t do much on the ground, which limits his ceiling. Paying less for Nick Chubb ($6,600) or Cam Akers ($5,700) seemingly makes more sense, but we’ll hope others think that way and pay up for the NFL’s touchdown leader. In two games against the Bucs this year, Kamara managed just 56 yards on 21 carries, but he scored three times and had 10 catches for 60 yards. Expect even more out of him in the receiving game this week, boosting his PPR totals, and if he can hit 100 yards receiving — something he did once this year — he could get us the bonus points that Chubb and Akers seem more likely to get. That might be needed for him to really pay off, but we know multi-TD upside is always there to save his day.

SATURDAY PLAYOFF DFS LINEUPS: FanDuel | DraftKings 

RB JK Dobbins, Ravens @ Bills ($6,000). There are potential tweaks we could make to afford Nick Chubb ($6,600), who has a higher ceiling, but with Dobbins riding a seven-game scoring streak, we’re fine using him in this spot. It’s a bit worrisome he saw just nine carries last week, but he had averaged just under 13 since the start of Week 11, so it’s likely he’ll see an uptick in this game. Cam Akers ($5,700) figures to be a more popular play, and Kareem Hunt ($4,800), Devin Singletary ($4,500), and whoever starts for the Chiefs will also be highly owned, cheaper options, so Dobbins might actually offer a bit of contrarian value. 

WR Michael Thomas, Saints vs. Buccaneers ($6,700). Thomas scored for the first time all year last week, but he had been receiving steady targets since returning from injury/suspension in Week 9. In seven games during that span, he’s averaged 8.1 targets, six catches, and 70.6 yards per game. We know the upside is there for much more, so grabbing Thomas in a game where New Orleans figures to throw a lot only makes sense.

WR Tyreek Hill, Chiefs vs. Browns ($8,000). On a slate loaded with stud receivers, Hill might be the scariest of them all. His elite speed should wreak havoc on a Browns defense that allowed the fourth-most DraftKings points to WRs this year. It’s extremely risky to fade both Travis Kelce and Hill, and since few WRs have favorable matchup this week, we’re opting for Hill.

WR Rashard Higgins, Browns @ Chiefs ($4,100). Higgins was one of the few Browns who didn’t do much last week, but he still saw seven targets. A steady producer most of the year, Higgins has averaged 6.8 targets per game over his past five contests. That number could bump up against the Chiefs if Cleveland falls behind by multiple scores in the second half. Either way, Higgins will be involved, and his big-play potential gives him value.

TE Mark Andrews, Ravens @ Bills ($5,000). If you don’t want to pay up for Travis Kelce ($7,800), Andrews is the next-best option. He has a favorable matchup against a Buffalo defense that allowed the fourth-most DraftKings points to TEs, and he’s a better bet for targets than Austin Hooper ($3,800), who also has a great matchup. Robert Tonyan ($4,200) might be even more likely to score, but his targets vary wildly, making him tougher to trust in DraftKings full-point PPR format.

FLEX Josh Reynolds, Rams @ Packers ($3,200). It might be smarter to pivot to Van Jefferson ($3,000) if Cooper Kupp (knee) is out, as Jefferson saw eight targets in Week 17 when Kupp was out. But either way, Reynolds should be a solid play despite not seeing a target last week. He still played 59 percent of snaps, and he saw 10 targets in Week 16 when Kupp was active and six in Week 17. He’s an excellent value to slide into your flex with Kupp ailing. 

D/ST New Orleans Saints vs. Buccaneers ($3,300). It’s safe to say New Orleans owned Tampa in their two games this year, racking up six sacks, six takeaways, and a defensive TD while allowing just 13 offensive points per game. We don’t expect that good of a showing this time around, but the Saints definitely have something figured out against Tom Brady and company. If we could afford the Packers ($3,900), we might have opted for them, but New Orleans isn’t a bad consolation prize.

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Steelers rookie Chase Claypool backpedals from inflammatory comments about AFC North rival Browns

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That it has been a brutal week for Steelers wide receiver Chase Claypool would seem obvious, given that it began with the team’s 48-37 elimination from the NFL playoffs by the rival Cleveland Browns.

Somehow, though, things only have gotten worse since.

Thursday, he was compelled to declare that he had spoken to “friends” who play for the Browns to mitigate inflammatory statements he had made in multiple venues regarding their comportment in last Sunday night’s game at Heinz Field and his lack of belief in their ability to challenge the Super Bowl champion Chiefs this weekend.

NFL PLAYOFF PICKS: Straight up | Against the spread

After that crushing defeat against the Browns — which occurred after the Steelers won the AFC North division and entered the game favored by a touchdown — Claypool said on TikTok, “A bad loss, but Browns are going to get clapped next week, so it’s all good.”

As the lowest remaining seed in the playoffs, the Browns must travel to KC for a 3:15 p.m. Sunday game at Arrowhead Stadium. The Chiefs earned the AFC’s No. 1 seed with a 14-2 regular season. Claypool suspects they’ll be overmatched. It is a common opinion, but not everyone who holds it is expressing it publicly, and few of those who are must play against the Browns twice per season.

Claypool did not stop there. In an interview with DAZN Canada for its “Rookie Diaries” program, Claypool went even further with host Adnan Virk.

“Someone just asked me a score prediction, and that was kind of a way of me saying I think the Chiefs are going to beat the Browns,” Claypool told DAZN. “I think if the Browns had won with more class, then I wouldn’t have been so salty about it. But them mocking JuJu (Smith-Schuster) during the game and after the game just didn’t sit right with me.”

Virk asked, “What specifically were they doing?” Claypool’s responded, “They were just super classless against JuJu, toward JuJu, what they were saying on the field at the end of the game. I’m not going to have respect for a team that doesn’t have respect for us.”

Being angered at seeing a teammate mistreated by the opposition isn’t problematic. It’s desirable. But when a team loses as decisively as the Steelers, such admonishments would be better delivered privately.

MORE: NFL playoff schedule: Updated bracket, TV channels

Virk pointed out that Browns players had responded to his comments, including defensive end Adrian Clayborn telling him, “Just go on vacation already, young fella.” Claypool did not take that advice, at least not immediately.

“I don’t mind it,” Claypool said. “They can enjoy the win and another week of football. But they’ll be on the couch next week, right next to me, so it’s all good.”

When clips of that interview began making the Twitter rounds Thursday, Claypool chose to, somewhat, disown them. Which might be even more disconcerting than any of his criticism of the Browns.

“This is an OLD interview happening right after the fact,” Claypool said in a tweet, a curious attempt at an excuse given that the game concluded three days earlier. So it’s not that old.

“Talked to some friends on the Browns and it’s all love! Hoping them nothing but the best for the rest of the playoffs! Go rep the division.”

As you can see, that vacation idea is not a bad one.

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Divisional Round Saturday FanDuel Picks: NFL DFS lineup advice for daily fantasy football playoff tournaments

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The Rams-Packers and Ravens-Bills kick off the second round of the NFL playoffs on Saturday, and daily fantasy football players will have some tough decisions to make when putting together DFS lineups. Our FanDuel picks center around three likely popular Bills, but we find some differentiation with secondary receivers from the Rams and Packers. 

Ultimately, you can only afford so many contrarian picks on slates like this, and certain “chalk” picks are hard to avoid. For this slate, Cam Akers and even Devin Singletary might be those guys. Singletary can be faded (though we don’t), but Akers is almost a must-play. If you fade him and he struggles, you’ll be in great shape, but that’s a big risk, especially with so few high-upside backs available.

MORE DIVISIONAL ROUND DFS: Top valuesLineup Builder

Divisional Round Saturday FanDuel Picks: NFL DFS tournament playoff lineup

QB Josh Allen, Bills vs. Ravens ($8,800). Lamar Jackson, who’s priced $800 less than Allen, is a better value, but Allen has just as high of a ceiling, if not higher. He’s been matchup-proof this year, and he showed last week with 11 carries for 54 yards and a TD that he’ll run more in the playoffs. With Zack Moss (ankle) out, Allen is a better bet for a rushing TD, and you know the passing volume will be there. Even at the highest price point in a fairly tough matchup, Allen is a great option.

RB JK Dobbins, Ravens @ Bills ($6,500). Dobbins will look to extend his seven-game scoring streak against a below-average Bills run defense that just allowed over 150 rushing yards and a TD to Jonathan Taylor and Nyheim Hines. It was a bit disappointing and surprising to see Dobbins receive just one more carry than Gus Edwards last week, but the rookie remains more explosive and is trusted everywhere on the field, giving him a good amount of upside. 

SATURDAY PLAYOFF DFS LINEUPS: DraftKings

RB Cam Akers, Rams @ Packers ($7,000). Akers is guaranteed volume, which is shown by his almost 25 touches per game since the start of Week 13. He’s produced with all those opportunities, too, averaging just over 122 total yards per game in that span. The Packers allowed the fifth-most FanDuel points per game to RBs during the regular season, so expect Akers to be heavily owned. If you fade him and he goes off, which seems likely, you’ll have a tough time cashing.

WR Josh Reynolds, Rams @ Packers ($5,200). With Cooper Kupp (knee) limited or out, Reynolds figures to see a significant uptick in targets. There’s a chance he becomes a chalky play, but considering he wasn’t even targeted last week, he probably won’t be as highly owned as he should. Even if Kupp is active, Reynolds, who had 10 targets in Week 16 when Kupp played and six targets in Week 17 when Kupp was out, is a solid value. 

WR Stefon Diggs, Bills vs. Ravens ($8,600). Diggs has had at least 128 yards in four of his past five games and at least six catches in all but one game this year. He’s as automatic as you can find at this point in the season, and if you’re playing Allen, you almost have to stack Diggs with him.

WR Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Packers vs. Rams ($5,500). With Jalen Ramsey expected to cover Davante Adams, Aaron Rodgers might not throw to him quite as much. That opens the door for MVS, who remains one of the ultimate bom-or-bust plays in the entire league. Just look at his past four games: 85 yards and a TD, no catches, no catches, 87 yards and a TD. Even in the games in which he didn’t have a catch, he still played a healthy amount of snaps, so the potential is there for him to get loose for one big play and pay off. 

TE Mark Andrews, Ravens @ Bills ($6,600). Opting for Robert Tonyan ($6,200) at a cheaper price makes sense if you buy into the theory that Ramsey will shut down Adams, but we’re fine paying up slightly for Andrews, who should see more targets and has a much better matchup. Buffalo allowed the sixth-most FanDuel points to TEs this year, making Andrews a threat for 80-plus yards and multiple scores.

FLEX Devin Singletary, Bills vs. Ravens ($5,700). Singletary feels like a bit of a trap, as he’ll be popular with Zack Moss (ankle) out, but Singletary averaged 17.3 touches and 77 total yards per game when Moss missed three weeks earlier this year. He should see at least 12 touches, and even though it’s a slightly unfavorable matchup, Singletary should have a fairly high floor. His touchdown upside could be capped by Allen’s short-yardage prowess, but Singletary is still a decent play.

D/ST Green Bay Packers vs. Rams ($4,600). Jared Goff (thumb) still doesn’t figure to be 100 percent, which gives the Packers by far the most favorable matchup on the slate. L.A. ($3,800) and Baltimore ($3,600) have better defenses and could always make a big play, so if you want to save some money, take a chance with one of them. 

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Hornets’ LaMelo Ball putting up numbers rarely seen by NBA rookies

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LaMelo Ball’s NBA career with the Hornets got off to a subpar start. 

In fact that might just be a generous description of his NBA debut. It was downright brutal. 

The third overall pick of this year’s draft played a scoreless 15 minutes in his first game, missing all five of his field-goal attempts in Charlotte’s 121-114 loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers on December 23. 

Not only did he fail to score, the highly-touted playmaker also turned the ball over three times, becoming only the second player in the last 35 years to finish without a point while taking at least five shots with three or more turnovers in 15-plus minutes in their NBA debut, joining the Golden State Warriors’ Brandon Williams in 1998. 

While he got off to a shaky start, things have since gone much better. 

Better actually might not be kind enough in describing his recent play. He’s been outstanding. 

MORE: Where are all of the Ball brothers now?

On the onset of the 2020 draft, the 6-foot-7 point guard was widely considered to have the highest ceiling of all the prospects. An adept ball-handler, scouts marvelled at his passing, court vision and his ability to push the ball up the court. 

Though Ball possesses an immense skillset and has a comprehensive understanding of the game, making the jump from Australia’s National Basketball League to the NBA would admittedly take time. 

It took him all of one week. 

With 22 points, eight rebounds and five assists in a win over the Dallas Mavericks on December 30, he became the first player in the last 35 years to reach those numbers in just his fourth game, and he’s continued to stuff the stat sheet with impressive numbers. 

Since then, he’s had two more games with 15 or more points, eight or more rebounds and five or more assists. Only four other players have had more such games in that span – the Denver Nuggets’ Nikola Jokic (six), Mavericks’ Luka Doncic (five), New York Knicks’ Julius Randle (five) and Los Angeles Lakers’ LeBron James (four). 

Over the course of three games from January 8-11, he racked up 42 points, 36 rebounds and 27 assists, joining Ben Simmons in 2017 and Lamar Odom in 2000 as the only rookies in the last 35 years with at least 40 points, 35 boards and 25 assists over a three-game span. 

In the middle game of that three-match stretch, Ball made history. At 19 years and 140 days, he became the youngest player ever to record a triple-double by notching 22 points, 12 rebounds and 11 assists in Saturday’s win over the Atlanta Hawks. 

Despite stumbling out of the gate with his forgettable debut, he still reached the 10-game mark with 131 points, 63 rebounds and 59 assists. In the last 35 seasons, only two other rookies have reached those numbers after 10 games – James in 2003 and Simmons in 2017. 

Ball’s passing has been as advertised. He’s finding his open team-mates and setting them up for success. 

Among the 100 players with at least 30 assists, he has the league’s 10-best assist rate – the estimation of percentage of field goals made by team-mates while he’s on the floor. At 36.8 per cent, Ball sits just a bit back of James, whose eighth at 37.6. 

With 71 assists on the season, Ball has eight fewer assists than Devonte’ Graham for the most on the Hornets. He does, however, lead Charlotte with 84 rebounds, and if he does surpass Graham and finish the season leading the team in both rebounds and assists, he’ll join Michael Jordan in 1984-85 and Blake Griffin in 2010-11, as the only rookies in the last 40 years to lead their team in both categories. 

Not only is Ball flourishing in the part of his game many thought he would eventually excel in, he is also finding success in areas that were believed to be some of his biggest weaknesses – shooting and defense. 

MORE: Why LaMelo Ball spurned BBB to sign with Puma

After shooting a dreadful 24 per cent from 3-point range in Australia’s NBL, Ball is making a respectable 33.9 per cent of his 3s. Nothing outstanding, but the league average on 3s is 36.6 per cent. 

He’s also showing a proficiency at knocking down shots just inside the arc. His 50 per cent shooting on mid-range jumpers is tied with seven others for 17th in the NBA among those with at least 100 field-goal attempts. 

Defense was another area that many expected would take Ball time to grasp and be competent in, but he’s already proven to be up to speed, leading all rookies with 22 defensive stops. 

Not only does he lead all first-year players in defensive stops, he also leads all rookies in points (143), rebounds (84), assists (71), as well as steals (18). 

If Ball continues to thrive on the court and finishes the season leading all rookies in points, rebounds and assists, he’ll become just the seventh player in NBA history to accomplish that feat, joining Elgin Baylor (1958-59), Wilt Chamberlain (1959-60), Oscar Robertson (1960-61), Walt Bellamy (1961-62), Alvin Adams (1975-76) and Michael Carter-Williams (2013-14). 

Not surprising, but each of the previous six won the Rookie of the Year Award. 

Playing at a level few rookies have before him, Ball is the early frontrunner to win this season’s award. 

Good thing for him the trophy isn’t handed out after one game. 

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How to Trick Your Brain into Eating Less

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How to Trick Your Brain into Eating Less

We have always maintained that in order to lose weight, it’s essential to create a calorie deficit, and for such a low calorie expenditure to happen, a great deal of importance should be placed on dieting. Exercise is an important aspect too which accelerates the whole weight loss process, but look at the huge percentage gap between what can be achieved through dieting alone compared to doing just exercise. Our body needs minimum amount of calories to do its daily activities, from maintaining the core temperature to digestion,  and even for breathing. But when there is calorie surplus, more than the body can actually burn, all the extra calories are converted into fat molecules, and get stored as subcutaneous and visceral fat. Over a period of time, calorie surplus would lead to weight gain. A lot of people believe that just by training the body, they can lose weight; however, the formula that works is “train the brain, not the body.” Overeating, stress, emotional eating, binge eating, comfort food, wrong dietary practices are the major reasons leading to weight gain and obesity, with direct links to stimulation from brain. Some people find it extremely challenging to attain control over hunger pangs and frequent snacking and it’s not entirely about will power anymore, the trick lies in training the brain to eat less food without going into starvation mode. In this post, we list out amazing ways to trick your brain into eating less so that you can fall into a calorie deficit and burn stored fat for energy, leading to weight loss.

1. Plan Meals Ahead: Following healthy weight loss diets such as on the Rati Beauty app, helps you steer clear of unhealthy food. With weekly diets readily available, with meal and snack timings in place, you can always plan ahead about your next meal and there would hardly be any room for unhealthy and junk food. This way, you can slowly wean yourself away from unhealthy eating practices.
2. Eat Food on Red Plates: There’s quite a lot of research that diners tend to eat less when food is served on red dinnerware, isn’t that amazing? If you want to eat less, shop for red dinner plates now.
3. Eat from a Bowl and Hold it in Hands: Eating out from a small bowl will trick your brain that you are having lots of food and the weight of the bowl in your hands will make you believe that there’s a lot of food in the bowl, leaving you satiated with a smaller portion.
4. Eat on Small Plates and Spoons: If you do not like the idea of eating out of a bowl, using smaller plates and spoons to eat your meals would convince your brain that you are eating more food than usual.
5. Eat without Distractions: One of the prerequisites of mindful eating – eat without any distractions, which means switch off the TV, keep away the phone, and eat in peace so that once the satiety hormone kicks in, you can keep away the fork and spoon to avoid consuming extra calories. Eat without any kind of distraction, in peace, and enjoy each bite, so that the brain feels fuller with the optimum amount of calories, without pushing you to overeat.
6. Imagine Eating your Guilt Food: This simple trick can actually curb the appetite for high-calorie guilt food (such as chocolates, red velvet cake, pizza), that you cannot have on a weight loss diet. When cravings hit hard, just close your eyes and imagine you are actually eating the food, and in a few minutes, the cravings will go away! This is because the brain reacts and releases dopamine (neurotransmitter which is linked to satiety and pleasure), upon imagining the food that you love to eat, making the cravings vanish.
7. Clean the Kitchen and Fridge of Unhealthy Food: “Out of sight, out of mind” concept comes into play when you replace unhealthy and processed food with healthy and whole foods in the kitchen, fridge, and pantry. If you cannot see it, you would not eat it.
8. Eat a Protein-Rich Snack Before Each Meal: Do not forget to indulge in a protein-rich snack such as a handful of nuts, a cup of Greek yogurt, or even a small bowl of oats with a sprinkling of chia seeds to get a good dose of protein before a major meal to keep the hunger hormone low and satiety hormones high.
9. Make Food Presentable: In some studies done recently, if you plate vegetables and salads creatively and beautifully, you would tend to enjoy it more, and in fact, look forward to eating such kind of healthy food that would keep you in calorie deficit.
10. Cut the Food into Smaller Pieces: Researchers have found out that breaking down or cutting food into smaller pieces tricks the brain into eating slowly, giving you enough time to get cues from the satiety hormone “leptin,” which takes just about 20 minutes to kick in. Practicing this technique can help you feel full with less food.

Hope these tips would help you stay on track with healthy eating and prevent unnecessary snacking and binge eating.

9 Mindful Eating Hacks to Eat Right and Lose Weight
14 Brilliant Tips to Follow While Eating Out on a Weight Loss Diet
How High Protein Diet Can Help you Lose Weight





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Divisional Round Saturday DraftKings Picks: NFL DFS lineup advice for daily fantasy football playoff tournaments

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The NFL playoffs roll on with two games on Saturday (Rams-Packers, Ravens-Bills), and that means daily fantasy football players have more chances to cash in. Our divisional round DraftKings tournament lineup feels a bit chalky, but on a two-game slate, that’s largely unavoidable unless you really decide to fade the stars, which is a risky DFS strategy in its own right. 

All four teams are represented with multiple picks in our lineup despite some strong defenses in action. Our biggest stack is a Ravens trio going against the worst defense of the day. We’re also banking on a couple bounce-back performances from players who likely won’t be as popular as they should be.

MORE DIVISIONAL ROUND DFS: Top valuesLineup Builder

Divisional Saturday DraftKings Picks: NFL DFS tournament playoff lineup

QB Lamar Jackson, Ravens @ Bills ($7,600). Jackson has the best QB matchup of the weekend, and he continued his season-ending hot streak last week with 136 rushing yards and 179 passing yards. He only managed one TD, but we know he always has the potential for multiple scores. He’s $200 more than Josh Allen and $700 more than Aaron Rodgers, so you’re not exactly breaking the bank to use him.

RB JK Dobbins, Ravens @ Bills (6,000). Dobbins has scored in seven straight games, and even though his rushing numbers took a bit of a hit last week (nine carries, 43 yards), he’s still Baltimore’s best back and most likely to be involved in the passing game. The Bills gave up 153 yards on 27 carries to Colts’ backs last week, and the Ravens should pound them even more. 

RB Cam Akers, Rams @ Packers ($5,700). It’s tempting to opt for Devin Singletary ($4,500) with Zack Moss (ankle) out, but Akers has the much better matchup and has been a beast down the stretch. Over his past five games, he’s averaged just under 25 touches and just over 122 total yards per contest. He’s also scored twice in that span. Green Bay has struggled against the run all year, so Akers will be a very chalky pick, but you know he’s going to get the opportunities, so fade him at your own risk.

WR Robert Woods, Rams @ Packers ($5,900). With Cooper Kupp likely to be out or limited because of a knee injury, Woods should be peppered with targets. Fading Woods and instead targeting cheaper options like Josh Reynolds ($3,200) or Van Jefferson ($3,000) isn’t a bad idea, but L.A. loves to get Woods the ball on short passes or end-arounds, and he’ll still get those opportunities even with tougher coverage. He’s had at least seven targets in eight straight games, so, at the very least, he should be able to rack up catches in DraftKings full-point PPR format.

WR John Brown, Bills vs. Ravens ($4,600). We really liked Brown last week, and he proceeded to catch none of his four targets. Meanwhile, Cole Beasley (7-57) and Gabriel Davis (4-85) were both all over the field. As a result, Brown will likely be heavily faded this week, especially with the aforementioned Rams and Bills receivers presenting good value. That’s fine. We’ll stick with the talented Brown, who, before last week’s shutout, had posted at least four catches for 72 yards in each of his previous three games.

WR Allen Lazard, Packers vs. Rams ($3,900). It’s always difficult to pick a secondary Packers receiver, which is why many just choose to ignore them, but with Jalen Ramsey expected to be draped all over Davante Adams, it makes sense to take a chance on another green-and-gold pass-catcher. Marquez Valdes-Scantling ($3,800) has more big-play upside, which is more appealing in most DFS contests, but Lazard has been playing a higher percentage of snaps lately and has more red-zone potential. Aaron Rodgers is still going to throw the ball, and while Adams will get his targets, it’s likely Lazard and/or MVS will see an uptick in looks, so it makes sense to play one at their cheap prices.

TE Mark Andrews, Ravens @ Bills ($5,000). Robert Tonyan ($4,200) has been solid this year, but Andrews is still the best TE on the slate. More important, he has by far the most favorable matchup, as Buffalo allows the fourth-most fantasy points to tight ends. Andrews disappointed a bit last week with just four catches and 41 yards, but he has multi-TD upside every time out. It never hurts to pay down at TE and hope for a random touchdown, like Dawson Knox ($3,100) scored last week, but Andrews gets enough targets to pay off his high price.

FLEX Stefon Diggs, Bills vs. Ravens ($7,300). We tried to make this lineup without Diggs, as crazy as that sounds, but when we got down to our last pick, we still had enough money for him. Instead of taking a chance with a backup RB like Jamaal Williams ($4,400) or Gus Edwards ($4,200) or a WR deeper down the depth charts, we decided not to overthink it and take the guy who’s arguably been the best receiver in football this year. Diggs has been automatic in any matchup, often racking up receptions and going over 100 yards — both of which are big on DraftKings. We couldn’t afford Davante Adams ($8,600) and didn’t really feel great about Aaron Jones ($6,800), so Diggs was our pick.  

D/ST Green Bay Packers vs. Rams ($3,900). The Packers are the obvious pick given that they have the most favorable matchup against a shaky QB, but we all know the best D/ST play often comes down to a random big play that any defense can pull off. Any of the four defenses on this slate are worth considering, and the other three are all at least $1,000 cheaper than Green Bay. If you are looking for some differentiation, you can probably find it with another defense. 

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