NFL look-ahead lines for every game of the 2020 NFL season
NFL look-ahead lines for every game of the 2020 NFL season
Lookahead Week 5 NFL Vegas spreads, betting odds: First ...
Breaking down betting splits ahead of NBA Finals Game 4 ...
NFL Betting Week 4 Lookahead - Which Games Are "On The Move?"
Kieran Trippier withdraws from England vs Denmark to ...
[!!WaTcH!!]#Dolphins vs Colts Live Stream NFL Game 2018 Miami Dolphins vs Indianapolis Colts
Indianapolis vs. Miami live stream info, TV channel: How to watch NFL on TV, stream online. Miami have had a week off and are no doubt ready to get back on the field. They will square off against Indianapolis at 4:25 p.m. ET on Sunday. The odds don't look promising for Miami, but the bigger the opponent is, the harder they fall. Miami received a tough blow two weeks ago as they fell 12-31 to Green Bay.
News and discussions relating to George R. R. Martin's "WILD CARDS" novels, his Wild Cards-based short stories, "Wild Cards the Upcoming TV Show" and all things WILD CARDS - but with particular emphasis on the written series.
Got fed in lane, roamed bot to help them get kills and get them ahead. At one point I was 17-0 before the last fight, still couldn’t carry the game. Beginning to think my execution of macro is terrible? Besides from executing squishies, is your best bet to split push and flank?
Do you clear vision in their jg and catch someone out and then go for objectives? I think ultimately my last game was kills not really translating into objectives, but I’m unsure of best way to go about getting objectives. Do you take sweeper and clear out vision in enemy jg? Do you stay with yellow trinket and just maintain vision while split pushing? I know there are a lot of generic things to focus on, but are there 1 or 2 big things as fizz you can effect macro wise during mid/late game?
@CBSNews: Ahead of Game 6 of #NBAFinals, Nancy Pelosi, who roots for the Golden State Warriors, says she's "eager" to see what Canadian PM & Toronto Raptors fan Justin Trudeau sends for their bet. https://t.co/A26quYJrQn https://t.co/NlMasWfanR
Just Offside - GW16 & 17 - The lads talk over replacing Austin and the 352 option, JP's betting woes and the Man Utd Xmas party! Don't forget there are games midweek, so get ahead of the curve and get your tips here!
[WP] You accidentally learned that you could change the outcome of a baseball game by filling in the scorecard ahead of time. You’ve manipulated hundreds of baseball games over the years and have made millions of dollars betting on the games. Today you were hired to work your first World Series.
Once again Bill was right and ahead of the game: Nevada regulators, only state with legal sports betting, shuts down intrastate operations of fantasy sites like Draftkings until they agree to buy 'gambling' licenses.
With the recent article on the benefits of a security token, this podcast speaks on how Polymath is already ahead of the game and how $poly might be your best bet in crypto after Bitcoin. What do you think?!
Click here for my: Full Accuracy round-up. OK, this is kind of hilarious (if you're not too disgruntled): EVERY kicker source had negative accuracy-- Meaning all rankings would have been better if turned upside-down. Zuerlein, Gonzalez, Gould, Prater, even Lutz... instead the booms came from Ficken, McManus, Parkey, Sanders, Rosas. My own rankings happened to be the "least awful".
Zuerlein is a great example of how kickers depend critically on game script. He had no chance after the Cowboys got stuck playing catch-up and going for 2pt conversions. The game didn't go quite how anyone imagined it.
Succop did okay for fantasy but could have been a few pts higher if the 2nd FG was not blocked.
Thanks for the kind words about Bullock. Keep in mind I have only ranked him high in the last weeks due matchup; I would keep streaming.
As always, these rankings will be updated through Sunday, so check back occasionally. Yes, I know, Tucker and Butker are low this week. Again there is a risk of getting XPs only. Wednesday Update: Significant changes due to changes in betting lines, weather forecast, and changing Quarterbacks (NE, NYJ, SF). Gonzalez and McManus have jumped significantly. Boswell had fallen a bit due to rain forecast but now seems less likely. Yes, I hear Koo is back I want to encourage you all to pay more attention to the numbers in the chart, rather than the "position" of who's highelower. There's a whole top cluster of kickers within 1 point projection, expected to rank around 13. And you should be trying to think smartly to choose among them-- e.g., looking to weeks ahead, or pairing with your QB or other players. There's too much discussion of "who is above whom", but I have made a lot of efforts to help everyone get away from that mentality! Updated Sunday 55 minutes to kickoff Hoping to hold? Not generally recommended and the prime hold candidates fluctuate week-to-week (hence streaming) but for today the top would be Lutz. Other above-average candidates will be: Sanders, Crosby, Carlson, Zuerlein, Bullock, and Butker. But I still recommend streaming. - My Patreon; Donations are voluntary and subsidize the computer and software I needed in the offseason to make this happen.
TIFU by owning a Golden Retriever while being Black.
Sigh. Work was rough today and all I wanted to do afterward was to sit on the couch and let the TV watch me while eating food not cooked by my own hands. The answer to that? Delivery. Food ordered, I let the dog into the yard to burn some energy and sat camped outside with him while waiting for the delivery. Doordash, Grubhub, Uber and everyone other than Jehovah's Witnesses has trouble locating my address strictly relying on GPS so it's nothing for me to post up and wait outside for when they are close, flag them down and go back inside for a contactless drop-off. Pertinent details before shit hits the fan; my neighbor and I share a fence with a doggy door as our pups are super close and you can bet each time that if my dog is outside, hers will follow for cross-yard playtime. This was the case today and probably bad judgement on my part to think that I would be able to break up the fun quickly. Both dogs were in the neighbor’s yard at the time the notification came through that the driver was pulling up and I had to call out a few times to get my dog’s attention. Neighbor thankfully whistled for her dog and I had to put on the ”voice” for mine to acknowledge I existed and then took off running for my door while waving to the driver who by this point was getting out of the car. Pup and I have a game called Runaway where I will take off yelling ”RUNAWAY” and literally he will chase after me like some human sized fetch-stick. I use this to my advantage until he realized I was putting him inside but managed to get him through the storm door and close the screen before he could run out. Then realized that I'd left the gate locked like an idiot with the driver standing right outside by this point. I didn't have a mask on at this point and neither did she so I yelled from the porch that she could leave the food by the mailbox and that is where the fun started. ”Is that your dog?” My bullshit meter didn't go off. I thought she was asking a question with an obvious answer because duh, she was a dog person so I engaged with dog-owner gushiness. Yes; blah, blah, blah... His name is XYZ... Wanna say hi? I’ll be nice because you brought my food. But she just stood there awkwardly for a moment, put the food down and quickly jumped back into her car. In my mind I was like, ”okay weird” but whatever. Snatched the food and went back inside. Went to wash my hands and from the kitchen window, I can see the full street where she is still parked outside. Thinking “okay weird...” again but didn’t dwell on it too much figuring that she was looking at the route to her next location. I went about my business of preparing to destroy my meal. Few minutes later, the dog begins barking manically at the door. I take a glance at the cameras and realize she is still out front parked directly in front of my mailbox. Uh...ok? What’s going on here? I go outside and try to get her attention but she is on the phone and doesn’t notice me. I walk up like I’m going to check the mail and she does pull off, but towards the back of the neighborhood that only has one way in and one way out. Lots of people make that mistake and so you’ll quickly see cars turning back around but she never came back. By this time, I think I’m losing my mind so I go back in but still watching the street for the car to pass. It never does. I don’t know, people are weird so I just left it at that and went back to eat. About ten minutes later, dog starts going ham at the door so I check the cameras to see two police cars sitting outside my house. I continue to watch the cameras realizing that yup, the cops are getting out of the car and walking back and forth in front of mine and neighbor’s yards. I go out to see if anything is wrong and they introduce themselves before saying they were called because a stolen Golden Retriever was reported at my address and if there was a dog in the home. It clicked that Driver had called the police and then explained my version of what happened. They were really respectful and apologetic but asked if I could get Sir Pup. I went ahead and opened the door for the dog who took off, ready to greet the new faces outside. His collar has tags matching the address with my name and phone number on it in case he was ever lost or stolen which was proof enough for them as it was obvious that they wanted to get this over as fast as possible. No hard feelings on either side, we were all walking away when Driver’s car slowly comes creeping from the back of the neighborhood. I yelled out to them that the lady was right there and they positioned themselves in front of her car in a way she would have to stop and speak with them. I don’t know if this lady was drunk or off her meds but she rolled down the window and was literally sobbing hysterically that she saw me take the dog from the neighbor’s yard, that animals get no justice and the icing on the cake? MY KIND only owns Pittbulls and Rottweilers. There was no way he was mine and needed to be protected. I honestly did not want to deal with that mess so sorry guys, this isn’t a tale of revenge; I went back inside and stayed the fuck on my couch. My day was already shitty. Everyone left a few minutes after that so I assume she got a warning. However, I did report the incident to the delivery service and was offered credits towards my next meal. I splurged that on a bakery and now am currently fucking up a slice of carrot cake, grateful it didn’t end worse. TL; DR Ordered food, racist delivery person thought I stole my own Golden Retriever and had a breakdown when I didn’t get carted off in handcuffs. Didn’t get shot but got cake in the end. Edit: Wow, Reddit! Waking up to the massive amounts of love and well wishes was amazing! Thank you so much for your kind words! I am going to do my best and go through every comment and private message. I wish I could share this cake with all of you! Carrot cake lovers unite! Happy to share this pile of awards with other great posts and comments! Taking the sound advice to keep a close eye on the dog when he goes out. Will also share with neighbor just in case! My husband did agree with many of you to seek further action against the delivery driver but I’m pretty torn on whether to do so. Things are hard out here for all of us including the less savory members of our community but I will take the day to think on the next steps. I appreciate the sub this was posting to for restoring it after being removed. I apologize that this topic bent the rules and didn’t think 100% before submitting. This was a way to vent. Thank you for allowing this to be a place of dialogue! Stay classy, everyone!
Welcome, dear readers, to my semi-regular coronavirus roundup. Housekeeping:
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EDIT: TRUMP ADMITTED TO KNOWING DANGER OF COVID WEEKS BEFORE ACTING
Bob Woodward's new book reveals that Trump was aware that the coronavirus was dangerous and "more deadly than even your strenuous flus" even as he publicly downplayed the threat and failed to act to save lives. (article now updated with audio of Trump's interview)
"This is deadly stuff," Trump told Woodward on February 7. In a series of interviews with Woodward, Trump revealed that he had a surprising level of detail about the threat of the virus earlier than previously known. "Pretty amazing," Trump told Woodward, adding that the coronavirus was maybe five times "more deadly" than the flu.
Trump also admitted to intentionally downplaying the threat:
"I wanted to always play it down," Trump told Woodward on March 19, even as he had declared a national emergency over the virus days earlier. "I still like playing it down, because I don't want to create a panic."
Election day vaccine
A group of nine leading pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies pledged on Tuesday to only seek approval for Covid-19 vaccines demonstrated to be safe and effective. The pledge comes as Trump hypes the possibility of a vaccine before Election Day. His timeline has been pushed forward from “by the end of the year” to “before November 1st” and, most recently, “during the month of October.” During his Labor Day press-briefing-turned-campaign-event, Trump said: "[It's] going to be done in a very short period of time -- could even have it during the month of October” (clip). Trump went on to explicitly ties the vaccine to his re-election schedule: “We'll have the vaccine soon, maybe before a special date. You know what date I'm talking about” (clip). Despite saying the quiet part out loud himself, the president tried to cast Joe Biden and Kamala Harris as the ones politicizing the vaccine process: “They’re going to make the vaccine into a negative… They’re saying ‘wow, Trump’s pulled this off, let’s disparage the vaccine.’ That’s so bad for this country, that’s so bad for the world to even say that and that’s what they’re saying” (clip). Unfortunately, many media outlets have portrayed the issue as a “both sides” argument. Federal officials and health experts say Trump’s Election-oriented timeline is unlikely. NPR spoke with Moncef Slaoui, chief adviser for the administration's vaccine development program, who said he expects to have "enough vaccine to immunize the U.S. population by the middle of 2021.” Case in point, development on the vaccine Trump was rumored to be betting on, the AstraZeneca-Oxford project, was put on hold due to a suspected serious adverse reaction in a participant. But the point may not be to have a vaccine fully available to the public; Trump can simply claim the “deep state” is holding things up, blaming Biden/Harris for the pandemic under his watch. Furthermore, experts say there is no way our government and existing infrastructure will be ready to distribute, administer, and track doses by November. Health departments will also need an infusion of federal aid, a proposal that seems out of reach with a Republican-controlled Senate afraid to spend any more money during the pandemic.
...many health departments are so overwhelmed with the current costs of the pandemic — such as for testing and contact tracing — that they can’t reserve money for the vaccine work to come. Health departments will need to hire people to administer the vaccines and systems to track them, and pay for supplies such as protective medical masks, gowns and gloves, as well as warehouses and refrigerator space.
Meanwhile, the U.S. is backing down from the global fight against the pandemic, further enshrining Trump’s “America First” perspective into official policy. The Trump administration declined to join a global effort to develop, manufacture, and equitably distribute a coronavirus vaccine, in part because the World Health Organization is involved. U.S. allies including Japan, Germany, and the European Commission back the effort.
“The United States will continue to engage our international partners to ensure we defeat this virus, but we will not be constrained by multilateral organizations influenced by the corrupt World Health Organization and China,” said Judd Deere, a spokesman for the White House.
Further reading: The Trump administration said it won't pay more than $60 million in dues it owes to the World Health Organization.
The U.S. Agency for International Development, in charge of distributing global assistance related to the pandemic, is shutting down its only pandemic-focused task force. Other agency bureaus and divisions will take on its functions.
Sturgis comes home
South Dakota (+120%), Iowa (+81%), and North Dakota (+66%) have seen the largest 2-week increase in COVID-19 cases in the last two weeks, compared to the two weeks before. These three states were also the “epicenter” of the Sturgis motorcycle rally last month. The event packed nearly 500,000 people into a small town in South Dakota, with rallygoers attending from - and returning to - all around the country. Photos and reports from Sturgis documented a startling lack of face masks and social distancing precautions. According to a new study, over 250,000 coronavirus cases can be contributed to the rally. Assuming a cost of $46,000/case, the authors estimated the rally cost $12.2 billion. “This is enough to have paid each of the estimated 462,182 rally attendees $26,553.64 not to attend,” they write. SD, IA, and ND do not have statewide face mask mandates. In fact, the Dakotas are two of just five states that do not allow local officials to require masks (the others are ID, MO, and OK). Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds has been told by the White House that the state’s outbreak is the steepest in the nation and urged officials to require mask-wearing statewide. Reynolds has yet to do so.
Alabama has the fourth-most daily new cases per 100k people (after ND, SD, and IA) despite a statewide face mask order. The state has largely lifted all social distancing measures and has encouraged schools to reopen with in-person classes and sports. According to a NYT database, four-year universities in Alabama have over 4,000 coronavirus cases just weeks after opening. The University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa accounts for over 1,300 of the cases. Professors at the school were reportedly told by the administration not to talk about the outbreak - not even to inform students if someone in their class tests positive. The mayor of Tuscaloosa let bars near the university reopen on Tuesday.
Further reading: Alabama is starting to see a payoff from its mask mandate, in place since mid-July. New covid cases have been cut in half over the past month and coronavirus patients admitted to hospitals fell to the lowest level since June.
Remember the news articles praising Trump’s new “tone” on masks? During Monday’s press conference, Trump tried to bully a reporter into taking off his face mask when asking a question (clip). The reporter, Jeff Mason of Reuters, refused. Apparently, this annoyed Trump so much that he was still griping about it on Twitter Tuesday (clip).
Trump pushes for sports
After weeks of haranguing schools to bring back sports, Trump has reportedly offered Big Ten football teams access to the national government’s reserve of rapid COVID-19 tests.
The new, cheaper […] tests could be the key that unlocks the door back to the Horseshoe and stadiums around the conference. And the White House might be willing to assist in that effort by potentially designating part of its supply to the Big Ten after buying 150 million rapid tests last week from Abbott Laboratories.
The president is so attached to the idea of college football resuming that he is pushing the Big Ten conference to go ahead without the participation of three schools, blaming the governors of Michigan, Illinois, and Maryland for the conference’s vote to cancel.
Mitch plays games
The Republican-controlled Senate is planning on voting on a scaled-down coronavirus relief package as early as this week. The “skinny” bill is unlikely to become law as Democrats feel it does not adequately address the magnitude of the crisis the nation is facing. McConnell is hoping a Senate vote on coronavirus aid - any aid - will help vulnerable Republicans up for re-election.
The Republican bill is expected to include a federal unemployment benefit, another round of Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) funding, and more money for coronavirus testing and schools, as well as liability protections from lawsuits related to the virus. McConnell didn't release a price tag for the forthcoming bill, but it is expected to be at least $500 billion — half of the $1 trillion package Republicans previously unveiled in late July.
One of the reasons - perhaps the main reason - for the breakdown of relief bill negotiations may be new White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows. Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-Va.), who served with Meadows on the Oversight Committee, told The Hill:
“Closing deals is not Mark Meadows’s strong suit. His whole track record is: blow it up… If you ask yourself what’s the difference between April and May, when we did reach big, broad bipartisan consensus, and today, the variable is Mark Meadows.”
Lost in the Sauce was so long this week that I had to omit a couple of sections. I’ll include them here instead. Immigration: Federal Judge Dolly Gee ordered DHS to cease using hotels as detention facilities for migrant children it seeks to expel from the border.
Gee said the use of hotels for detention purposes violates the Flores agreement because the locations lack sufficient oversight, state licenses to hold minors and standards for the care of young children. Minors have also faced a "woefully inadequate" process to seek the help of lawyers, who have been barred from entering the hotels, Gee added, citing declarations from attorneys who said they struggled to reach detained children.
Further reading: “Watchdog confirms botched family reunifications kept migrant children waiting in vans overnight,” NBC; “Trump nominee had role in removing prosecutor opposed to family separations,” Guardian
Immigration: The Trump administration has drafted a proposal that would dramatically expand the number of people required to provide biometrics for their immigration applications, while also increasing the personal information the government can demand, such as eye scans, voice prints, DNA, and photographs for facial recognition. Immigration: The Border Patrol made a dramatized YouTube video depicting a Spanish-speaking attacker stabbing and killing a man in a dark alley after escaping from U.S. agents - “a clip apparently created to dramatize President Trump’s depiction of migrants as fearsome criminals.” The agency removed the video following backlash. Environment: The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration opened an inquiry earlier this year into whether Trump political appointees illegally weakened rules meant to protect whales from oil industry seismic airgun blasting. Then, just as quietly, it halted the probe. Environment: The Trump administration proposed a rule change that would make it easier to permit oil and gas drilling operations in national forests. The move comes as a watchdog report reveals the oil and gas industry has been allowed to pay far less than usual to the government for the right to drill on public lands under a controversial Trump administration coronavirus relief policy. Furthermore, the administration is seeking to fast track environmental reviews of dozens of major energy and infrastructure projects during the COVID-19 pandemic, including oil and gas drilling, hazardous fuel pipelines, wind farms, and highway projects in multiple states. Environment: The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service issued a proposal that would allow the government to deny habitat protections for endangered animals and plants in areas that would see greater economic benefits from being developed — a change critics said could open lands to more energy development and other activities. World: Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced sanctions against two International Criminal Court officials -- the Trump administration's most aggressive move yet to try to deter an ICC investigation into possible war crimes by US military and intelligence officials. World: How Donald Trump took down the Robert Mueller of Latin America: At the center of the story is an alleged quid pro quo between Donald Trump and Jimmy Morales, a former television comedian who was elected president of Guatemala.
Drop your kicker week 4: Hold Andy Isabella, add Justin Jackson
First, I want to thank everyone for reading last week, and also for shouting me out in this sub when my Isabella take hit. I had a ton of fun screaming in my living room when Isabella scored twice as a 1% rostered player. Before I get to this week’s pickup, I wanted to spend a moment to review where we’re at with players I recommended in previous weeks. So far, every player I’ve recommended has gone on to score a touchdown the week that I recommended them. That kind of success rate is unsustainable. I’m bound to hit regression at some point. What I hope I’ve demonstrated so far, is that if we find data to support our claims, we can find guys on the waiver wire that the hive mind has dismissed unfairly. That’s how we win. On most of my rosters, I try and keep one slot open to cycle through players who might break out soon. To me this is a better use of your bench spots than holding a player who will likely be just barely better than what is on the waiver wire anyway. We want to shoot for upside whenever we can. Even if we’re more skilled than our opponents, we can expect to lose most leagues we’re in. This is a game with a lot of variance, so we want to make moves that might give us enough upside to win the whole damn thing. Marquez Valdes-Scantling is in line for a huge workload with the news that Allen Lazard went to IR. This one is interesting, because I was ultimately wrong about MVS overtaking Lazard for the WR2 role on the Packers, but now that doesn’t matter. Aaron Rodgers is throwing the ball well and we should have MVS in our lineups this week, since the Falcons pass defense is terrible. Someone might have dropped MVS after his dud last week. I would double check and see if he’s available. Corey Davis has been meh, and now he’s unexpectedly on bye this week. In smaller leagues, I might consider dropping him, but if you have the room, I would hold for now. Adam Humphries is on the Covid list, so Davis is in line for more targets if the Titans are able to play week 5. Also, AJ Brown is set to return, which might leave Corey Davis a bit more open as he battles with lesser cornerbacks going forward. Andy Isabella is still poised to break out. I think it’s clear at this point that he’s a better player than Christian Kirk. Last week, Isabella was used more in the slot and got 2 red zone targets, which he converted into two touchdowns on limited snaps. Christian Kirk and Deandre Hopkins are both questionable for week 4 right now, and I would certainly be willing to start Isabella if both Kirk and Hopkins were to sit this week. I added Isabella in every single league where I didn’t have him already, and I think you should too. If both Kirk and Hopkins play, I’m going to keep him on my bench. On to this week’s “drop your kicker” player of the week… Justin Jackson. Now to get this out of the way, I’m not saying Justin Jackson is necessarily going to see playing time right away. I’m not saying to add him over guys like Brian Hill or Rex Burkhead who you’ve heard about all week. As a reminder, this column is intended for people who play in deeper leagues, with at least 12 teams, where you can start 3WR and a flex, and 6-8 bench spots. This advice is also primarily for people who play in FAAB leagues, where pickups become expensive after they break out. We want to add these players before they breakout so we don’t have to use our precious FAAB dollars on them later. Justin Jackson is third on the depth chart right now, so why are we adding a guy who Numberfire predicts a workload of less than one touch for? Going into the season, it was unclear who the number 2 RB on the depth chart would be for Chargers. A lot of people started to hear buzz about Joshua Kelley this off season, and for managers who scooped him up, he’s been a good fantasy asset so far. He’s been getting a lot more work than your typical back up RB, and this whole offense is doing a lot better with Justin Herbert under center. Kelley is still a better add than Justin Jackson if for some reason he’s still available. I would also add guys like Brian Hill over Jackson. But that’s not why you’re here. This column is for people in deep leagues who have nothing left on the waiver wire. Joshua Kelley lost a fumble last week. Rookie QB Justin Herbert also threw an interception and lost a fumble as well. The Chargers lost their second game in a row at least in part due to those turnovers. Coach Lynn has already publicly shared that he has plays ready for Justin Jackson if he is going to be active. I imagine Jackson will get at least a few touches, based on what Lynn is saying. But what happens if Kelley fumbles again? Lynn sounded pretty angry about the turnovers at the end of the game last week, and he did start using Ekeler way more after Kelley fumbled last week. Even if Jackson is not active for this game, he still has an out if there is an injury ahead of him, or Kelley fumbles the back up role away. I’m not saying to start Justin Jackson this week. I’m not even saying to add him over Kelley. In the two leagues where I have Kelley, I added Justin Jackson also. We’ve seen that this backfield can accommodate two productive RBs at once. Both this year with Ekeler and Kelley, and in previous years with Ekeler and Melvin Gordon. Imagine if Ekeler has a season ending injury tomorrow. You might actually have not one but two starters on a weekly basis. At one point this season Kelley and Ekeler were both in the top ten RBs in terms of touches. That’s the kind of opportunity share we should be chasing. A lot of people were drafting Jackson early this off season, since it wasn’t clear that Kelley had secured the number 2 job until he broke out in week 1. Jackson was still getting work that game before he left with an injury. Justin Jackson comes from Northwestern, which doesn’t necessarily have a history of producing great NFL running backs, but we already saw Jackson be productive at the NFL level, so I think we can throw our college evaluations out the window, now that he’s shown he can produce in the NFL. In 2018, he had two games with over 15 PPR points helping a lot of people dealing with RB injuries late in the season who grabbed him off the waiver wire. He didn’t do nearly as much last year, but he also just didn’t have nearly as much opportunity. On player profiler, we can see that Jackson has an 84th percentile burst score, which can be predictive of RB success in the NFL. He also had a high college target share of 12.8% which is in the 87th percentile. Running backs who have a good target share in college tend to do better than those RBs whose college team did not trust them in the passing game. Joshua Kelley has a low 23rd percentile burst score, and 9.2% percent target share at UCLA, which is in the 69th percentile. All we can really do when looking at real deep league plays is find a player who has the talent to produce, who also has a route to more opportunity. The Chargers have the third lowest implied team total according to Vegas betting lines, and we saw last week that Kelley’s usage can be game flow dependent. I think they’re more comfortable using Jackson as a pass catcher than they are Kelley. So if the Chargers fall behind, and they don’t want to give Ekeler too much of a workload, we could definitely see them turn to Justin Jackson. And then we just wait and see if he produces. If he doesn’t we simply swap him out for next week’s top waiver claims. Please don’t start Jackson over better options this week. And speaking of better options, you can find a player I would pick up instead if I needed a RB starter this week over on my Twitter. If you like my column, consider giving me a follow. Thanks for reading, and remember, churn that roster!
On Spells and Society, or how 5e spells completely change everyone's lives.
Today i have a confession to make: i'm a little bit of a minmaxer. And honestly, i think that's a pretty desirable trait in a DM. The minmaxer knows the rules, and exploits them to maximum efficiency. "But wait, what does that have to do with spell use in society?" - someone, probably. Well, the thing is that humans are absolutely all about minmaxing. There's a rule in the universe that reads "gas expands when hot", and suddenly we have steam engines (or something like that, i'm a political scientist not an engineer). A rule says 1+1 = 2, and suddenly we have calculus, computers and all kinds of digital stuff that runs on math. Sound is energy? Let's convert that shit into electricity, run it through a wire and turn it back into sound on the other side. Bruh. Science is just minmaxing the laws of nature. Humanity in real life is just a big bunch of munchkins, and it should be no different in your setting. And that is why minmaxing magic usage is something societies as a whole would do, specially with some notable spells. Today i will go in depth on how and why each of these notable mentions has a huge impact on a fantasy society. We'll go from lowest level to highest, keeping in mind that the lower level a spell the more common it should be to find someone who has it, so often a level 2-3 spell will have more impact than a level 9 spell. Mending (cantrip). Repair anything in one minute. Your axe lost its edge? Tore your shirt? Just have someone Mend it. Someone out there is crying "but wait! Not every village has a wizard!" and while that is true, keep in mind any High Elf knows a cantrip, as can any Variant Human. A single "mender" could replace a lot of the work a smith, woodworker or seamstress does, freeing their time to only work on making new things rather than repair old ones. Prestidigitation (cantrip). Clean anything in six seconds. Committed axe murders until the axe got blunt, and now there's blood everywhere? Dog shit on your pillow out of spite? Someone walked all over the living room with muddy boots? Just Prestidigitate it away. This may look like a small thing, but its actually huge when you apply it to laundry. Before washing machines were a thing housewives had to spend several hours a week washing them manually, and with Prestidigitation you can just hire someone to get it done in a few minutes. A single "magic cleaner" can attend to several dozen homes, if not hundreds, thus freeing several hours of the time of dozens of women. Fun fact: there's an interesting theory that says feminism only existed because of laundry machines and similar devices. Women found themselves having more free time, which they used to read and socialize. Educated women with more contacts made for easy organization of political movements, and the fact men were now able to do "the women's work" by pushing a button meant men were less opposed to losing their housewives' labor. Having specialized menders and magic cleaners could cause a comparable revolution in a fantasy setting, and help explain why women have a similar standing to men even in combat occupations such as adventuring. Healing in general (1st-2nd level). This one is fairly obvious. A commoner has 4 hit points, that means just about any spell is a full heal to the average person. That means most cuts, stab wounds, etc. can be solved by the resident cleric. Even broken bones that would leave you in bed for months can be solved in a matter of seconds as soon as the holy man arrives. But that's nothing compared to the ability to cure diseases. While the only spell that can cure diseases is Lesser Restoration, which is second level, a paladin can do it much more easily with just a Lay on Hands. This means if one or two people catch a disease it can just be eradicated with a touch. However doing that comes with a cost. If everyone is instantly expunged of illness, the populace does not build up their immune systems. Regular disease becomes less common, sure, but whenever it is reintroduced (by, say, immigrants or contact with less civilized humanoids) it can spread like wildfire, afflicting people so fast that no amount of healers will have the magic juice to deal with it. Diseases become rare, plagues become common. Continual Flame (2nd). Ok, this one is a topic i love and could easily be its own post. There's an article called "Why the Falling Cost of Light Matters", which goes in detail about how man went from chopping wood for fire, to using animal fat for candles, then other oils, whale oil, kerosene, then finally incandescent light bulbs, and more recently LED lights. Each of these leaps is orders of grandeur more efficient than the previous one, to the point that the cost of light today is about 500,000 times cheaper than it was for for a caveman. And until the early 1900s the only way mankind knew of making light was to set things on fire. Continual Flame on the other hand allows you to turn 50gp worth of rubies and a 2nd level spell slot into a torch that burns forever. In a society that spends 60 hours of labor to be able to generate 140 minutes of light, this is a huge game changer. This single spell, which i am 99% sure was just created as an excuse for why the dungeon is lit despite going for centuries without maintenance, allows you to have things like public lighting. Even if you only add a new "torchpost" every other week or month sooner or later you'll be left with a neatly lit city, specially if the city has had thousands of years in which to gather the rubies and light them up. And because the demand of rubies becomes so important, consider how governments would react. Lighting the streets is a public service, if its strategically relevant to make the city safer at night, would that not warrant some restrictions on ruby sales? Perhaps even banning the use of rubies in jewelry? Trivia: John D. Rockefeller, the richest man in history, gained his wealth selling kerosene. Kerosene at the time was used to light lamps. Gasoline was invented much later, when Rockefeller tasked a bunch of scientists to come up with a use for some byproducts of the kerosene production. This illustrates how much money is to be had in the lighting industry, and you could even have your own Rockefeller ruby baron in your game. I shall call him... Dohn J. Stonebreaker. Perfect name for a mining entrepreneur. Whether the ruby trade ends up a monopoly under the direct supervision of the king or a free market, do keep in mind that Continual Flame is by far the most efficient way of creating light. Gentle Repose (2nd). Cast it on a corpse, and it stays preserved for 10 days. This has many potential uses, from preserving foodstuffs (hey, some rare meats are expensive enough to warrant it) to keeping the bodies of old rulers preserved. Even if a ruler died of old age and cannot be resurrected, the body could be kept "fresh" out of respect/ceremony. Besides, it keeps the corpse from becoming undead. Skywrite (2nd). Ok, this one is mostly a gag. While the spell can be used by officials to make official announcements to the populace, such as new laws or important news, i like to just use it for spam. I mean, its a ritual spell that writes a message on the sky; what else would people use it for? Imagine you show up in a city, and there's half a dozen clouds reading "buy at X, we have what you need", "get your farming supplies over at Joe's store" or "vote Y for the city council". The possibilities are endless, and there's no way the players can expect it. Just keep in mind that by RAW the spell can only do words, meaning no images. No Patrick, "8===D" is not a word. Zone of Truth (2nd). This one is too obvious. Put all suspects of a crime into a ZoT, wait a couple minutes to make sure they fail the save, then ask each one if he did it. Sure its not a perfect system, things like the Ring of Mind Shielding still exist, but it's got a better chance of getting the right guy than most medieval justice systems. And probably more than a few contemporary ones. All while taking only a fraction of the time. More importantly, with all the average crimes being handled instantly, the guards and investigators have more time to properly investigate the more unusual crimes that might actually involve a Thought Shield, Ring of Mind Shielding or a level 17 Mastermind. There is a human rights argument against messing with people's minds in any way, which is why this may not be practiced in every kingdom. But there are definitely some more lawful societies that would use ZoT on just about every crime. Why swear to speak the truth and nothing but the truth when you can just stand in a zone of truth? Another interesting use for ZoT is oaths. When someone is appointed into an office, gets to a high rank in the military or a guild, just put them in a ZoT while they make their oath to stand for the organization's values and yadda yadda. Of course they can be corrupted later on, but at least you make sure they're honest when they are sworn in. Sending (3rd). Sending is busted in so many ways. The more "vanilla" use of it is to just communicate over long distances. We all know that information is important, and that sometimes getting information a whole day ahead can lead to a 40% return on a massive two-year investment. Being able to know of invasions, monsters, disasters, etc. without waiting days or weeks for a courier can be vital for the survival of a nation. Another notable example is that one dude who ran super fast for a while to be the first to tell his side of a recent event. But the real broken thing here is... Sending can Send to any creature, on any plane; the only restriction being "with which you are familiar". In D&D dead people just get sent to one of the afterlife planes, meaning that talking to your dead grandfather would be as simple as Sending to him. Settling inheritance disputes was never easier! Before moving on to the next point let me ask you something: Is a cleric familiar with his god? Is a warlock familiar with his patron? Speak With Dead (3rd). Much like Sending, this lets you easily settle disputes. Is the senate/council arguing over a controversial topic? Just ask the beloved hero or ruler from 200 years ago what he thinks on the subject. As long his skeleton still has a jaw (or if he has been kept in Gentle Repose), he can answer. This can also be used to ask people who killed them, except murderers also know this. Plan on killing someone? Accidentally killed someone? Make sure to inutilize the jaw. Its either that, being so stealthy the victim can't identify you, or being caught. Note on spell availability. Oh boy. No world-altering 4th level spells for some reason, and suddenly we're playing with the big boys now. Spells up to 3rd level are what I'd consider "somewhat accessible", and can be arranged for a fee even for regular citizens. For instance the vanilla Priest statblock (MM348) is a 5th level cleric, and the standard vanilla Druid (MM346) a 4th level druid. Spells of 5th level onward will be considered something only the top 1% is able to afford, or large organizations such as guilds, temples or government. Dream (5th). I was originally going to put Dream along with Sending and Telepathy as "long range communication", but decided against it due to each of them having unique uses. And when it comes to Dream, it has the unique ability of allowing you to put your 8 hours of sleep to good use. A tutor could hire someone to cast Dream on him, thus allowing him to teach his student for 8 hours at any distance. This is a way you could even access hermits that live in the middle of nowhere or in secluded monasteries. Very wealthy families or rulers would be willing to pay a good amount of money to make sure their heirs get that extra bit of education. Its like online classes, but while you sleep! Another interesting use is for cheating. Know a princess or queen you like? She likes you back? Her dad put 400 trained soldiers between you? No problemo! Just find a 9th level Bard, Warlock or Wizard, but who am i kidding, of course it'll be a bard. And that bard is probably you. Now you have 8 hours to do whatever you want, and no physical evidence will be left. Raise Dead (5th). Few things matter more in life than death. And the ability to resurrect people has a huge impact on society. The impact is so huge that this topic needs topics of its own. First, diamond monopoly. Remember what i said about how Continual Flame would lead to controlled ruby sales due to its strategic value? This is the same principle, but a hundred times stronger. Resurrection is a huge strategic resource. It makes assassinations harder, can be used to bring back your officials or highest level soldiers over and over during a war, etc. This means more authoritarian regimes would do everything within their power to control the supply and stock of diamonds. Which in turn means if anyone wants to have someone resurrected, even in times of peace, they'll need to call in a favor, do a quest, grease some hands... Second, resurrection insurance. People hate risks. That's why insurance is such a huge industry, taking up about 15% of the US GDP. People insure their cars, houses... even their lives. Resurrection just means "life insurance" is taken more literally. This makes even more sense when you consider how expensive resurrection is: nobody can afford it in one go, but if you pay a little every month or year you can save up enough to have it done when the need arises. This is generally incompatible with the idea of a State-run monopoly over diamonds, but that just means different countries within a setting can take different approaches. To make things easier, i even used some microeconomics to make a sheet in my personal random generators to calculate the price of such a service. Just head to the "Insurance" tab and fill in the information relative to your setting. With actual life insurance resurrection can cost as little as 5gp a year for humans or 8sp a year for elves, making resurrection way more affordable than it looks. Also, do you know why pirates wore a single gold earring? It was so that if your body washes up on the shore whoever finds it can use the money to arrange a proper burial. Sure there's a risk of the finder taking it and walking away, but the pirates did it anyway. With resurrection in play, might as well just wear a diamond earring instead and hope the finder is nice enough to bring you back. I got so carried away with the whole insurance thing i almost forgot: the possibility of resurrection also changes how murders are committed. If you want someone dead but resurrection exists, you have to remove the vital organs. Decapitation would be far more common. Sure resurrection is still possible, but it requires higher level spells or Reincarnate, which has... quirks. As a result it should be very obvious when someone was killed by accident or an overreaction, and when someone was specifically out to kill the victim. Scrying (5th). This one is somewhat obvious, in that everyone and their mother knows it helps finding people. But who needs finding? Well, that would be those who are hiding. The main use i see for this spell, by far, is locating escaped criminals. Just collect a sample of hair or blood when arresting someone (or shipping them to hard labor which is way smarter), and if they escape you'll be almost guaranteed to successfully scry on them. A similar concept to this is seen in the Dragon Age series. If you're a mage the paladins keep a sample of your blood in something called a phylactery, and that can be used to track you down. There's even a quest or two about mages trying to destroy their phylacteries before escaping. Similarly, if you plan a jailbreak it would be highly beneficial to destroy the blood/hair sample first. As a matter of fact i can even see a thieves guild hiring a low level party to take out the sample while the professional infiltrators get the prisoner out. Keep in mind both events must be done at the same time, otherwise the guards will just collect a new sample or would have already taken it to the wizard. But guards aren't the only ones with resources. A loan shark could keep blood samples of his debtors, a mobster can keep one of those who owe him favors, etc. And the blood is ceremoniously returned only when the debt is fully paid. Teleportation Circle (5th), Transport Via Plants (6th). In other words, long range teleportation. This is such a huge thing that it is hard to properly explain how important it is. Teleportation Circle creates a 10ft. circle, and everyone has one round to get in and appear on the target location. Assuming 30ft. movement that means you can get 192 people through, which is a lot of potential merchants going across any distance. Or 672 people dashing. Math note: A 30ft radius square around a 10ft. diameter square, minus the 4 original squares. Or [(6*2+2)^2]-4 squares of 5ft. each. Hence 192 people. Getting hundreds of merchants, workers, soldiers, etc. across any distance is nothing to scoff at. In fact, it could help explain why PHB item prices are so standardized: Arbitrage is so easy and cheap that price differences across multiple markets become negligible. Unless of course countries start setting up tax collectors outside of the permanent teleportation circles in order to charge tariffs. Transport Via Plants does something very similar but it requires 5ft of movement to go through, which means less people can be teleported. On the other hand it doesn't burn 50gp and can take you to any tree the druid is familiar with, making it nearly impossible for tax collectors to be waiting on the other side. Unfortunately druids tend to be a lot less willing to aid smugglers, so your best bet might be a bard using spells that don't belong to his list. With these methods of long range teleportation not only does trade get easier, but it also becomes possible to colonize or inhabit far away places. For instance if someone finds a gold mine in the antarctic you could set up a mine and bring food and other supplies via teleportation. Major Image (6th level slot). Major Image is a 3rd level spell that creates an illusion over a 20ft cube, complete with image, sound, smell and temperature. When cast with a 6th level slot or higher, it lasts indefinitely. That my friends, is a huge spell. Why get the world's best painter to decorate the ceiling of your cathedral when you can just get an illusion made in six seconds? The uses for decorating large buildings is already good, but remember: we're not restricted to sight. Cast this on a room and it'll always be cool and smell nice. Inns would love that, as would anyone who always sleeps or works in the same room. Desert cities have never been so chill. You can even use an illusion to make the front of your shop seem flashier, while hollering on loop to bring customers in. The only limit to this spell is your imagination, though I'm pretty sure it was originally made just to hide secret passages. Trivia: the ki-rin (VGM163) can cast Major Image as a 6th level spell, at will. It's probably meant to give them fabulous lairs yet all it takes is someone doing the holy horsey a big favor, and it could enchant the whole city in a few hours. Shiniest city on the planet, always at a nice temperature and with a fragrance of lilac, gooseberries or whatever you want. Simulacrum (7th). Spend 12 hours and 1500gp worth of ruby dust, and get a clone of yourself. Notably, each caster can only have one simulacrum, regardless of who the person he cloned is. How this changes the world? By allowing the rich and powerful to be in two places at once. Kings now have a perfect impersonator who thinks just like them. A wealthy banker can run two branches of his company. Etc. This makes life much easier, but also competes with Continual Flame over resources. It also gives "go fuck yourself" a whole new meaning, making the sentence a valid Suggestion. Clone (8th). If there's one spell i despise, its Clone. Wizard-only preemptive resurrection. Touch spell, costs 1.000gp worth of diamonds each time, takes 120 days to come into effect, and creates a copy of the creature that the soul occupies if the original dies. Oh, and the copy can be made younger. Why is it so despicable? Because it makes people effectively immortal. Accidents and assassinations just get you sent to the clone, and old age can be forever delayed because you keep going back to younger versions of yourself. Being a touch spell means the wizard can cast it on anyone he wants. In other words: high level wizards, and only wizards, get to make anyone immortal. That means wizards will inevitably rule any world in which this spell exists. Think about it. Rulers want to live forever. Wizards can make you live forever. Wizards want other stuff, which you must give them if you want to continue being Cloned. Rulers who refuse this deal eventually die, rulers who accept stick around forever. Natural selection makes it so that eventually the only rulers left are those who sold their soul to wizards. Figuratively, i hope. The fact that there are only a handful of wizards out there who are high enough level to cast the spell means its easier for them organize and/or form a cartel or union (cartels/unions are easier to maintain the fewer suppliers are involved). This leads to a dystopian scenario where mages rule, kings are authoritarian pawns and nobody else has a say in anything. Honestly it would make for a fun campaign in and of itself, but unless that's specifically what you're going for it'll just derail everything else. Oh, and Clone also means any and all liches are absolute idiots. Liches are people who turned themselves into undead abominations in order to gain eternal life at the cost of having to feed on souls. They're all able to cast 9th level wizard spells, so why not just cast an 8th level one and keep undeath away? Saves you the trouble of going after souls, and you keep the ability to enjoy food or a day in the sun. Demiplane (8th). Your own 30ft. room of nothingness. Perfect place for storage and a DM's nightmare given how once players have access to it they'll just start looting furniture and such. Oh the horror. But alas, infinite storage is not the reason this is a broken spell. No sir. Remember: you can access someone else's demiplane. That means a caster in city 1 can put things into a demiplane, and a caster in city 2 can pull them out of any surface. But wait, there's more! There's nothing anywhere saying you can't have two doors to the same demiplane open at once. Now you're effectively opening a portal between two places, which stays open for a whole hour. But wait, there's even more! Anyone from any plane can open a door to your neat little demiplane. Now we can get multiple casters from multiple planes connecting all of those places, for one hour. Sure this is a very expensive thing to do since you're having to coordinate multiple high level individuals in different planes, but the payoff is just as high. We're talking about potential integration between the most varied markets imaginable, few things in the multiverse are more valuable or profitable. Its a do-it-yourself Sigil. One little plot hook i like about demiplanes is abandoned/inactive ones. Old wizard/warlock died, and nobody knows how to access his demiplanes. Because he's at least level 15 you just know there's some good stuff in there, but nobody can get to it. Now the players have to find a journal, diary, stored memory or any other way of knowing enough about the demiplane to access it. True Polymorph (9th). True Polymorph. The spell that can turn any race into any other race, or object. And vice-versa. You can go full fairy godmother and turn mice into horses. For a spell that can change anything about one's body it would not be an unusual ruling to say it can change one's sex. At the very least it can turn a man into a chair, and the chair into a woman (or vice-versa of course). But honestly, that's just the tip of the True Polymorph iceberg. Just read this more carefully: > You transform the creature into a different creature, the creature into a nonmagical object, or the object into a creature This means you can turn a rock or twig into a human. A fully functional human with, as far as the rules go, a soul. You can create life. But wait, there's more! Nothing there says you have to turn the target into a known creature on an existing creature. The narcissist bard wants to create a whole race of people who look like him? True Polymorph. A player wants to play a weird ass homebrew race and you have no idea how it would fit into the setting? True Polymorph. Wizard needs a way to quickly populate a kingdom and doesn't want to wait decades for the subjects to grow up? True Polymorph. Warlock must provide his patron 100 souls in order to free his own? True Polymorph. The sorcerer wants to do something cool? Fuck that guy, sorcerers don't get any of the fun high level spells; True Poly is available to literally every arcane caster but the sorcerer. Note: what good is Twinned Spell if all the high level twinnable spells have been specifically made unavailable to sorcerers? Do keep in mind however that this brings a whole new discussion on human rights. Does a table have rights? Does it have rights after being turned into a living thing? If it had an owner, is it now a slave? Your country will need so many new laws, just to deal with this one spell. People often say that high level wizards are deities for all intents and purposes. This is the utmost proof of that. Clerics don't get to create life out of thin air, wizards do. The cleric worships a deity, the wizard is the deity. Conclusion. Intelligent creatures not only can game the system, but it is entirely in character for them to do so. I'll even argue that if humanoids don't use magic to improve their lives when it's available, you're pushing the suspension of disbelief. With this post i hope to have helped you make more complex and realistic societies, as well as provide a few interesting and unusual plot hooks Lastly, as much as i hate comment begging i must admit i am eager to see what spells other players think can completely change the world. Because at the end of the day we all know that extra d6 damage is not what causes empires to rise and fall, its the utility spells that make the best stories. Edit: Added spell level to all spells, and would like to thank u/kaul_field for helping with finishing touches and being overall a great mod.
A lot of people are asking for gambling advice. Mine would be don’t talk about mythical french dragons. After playing fast and loose with the dark arts, a pipe burst in my basement yesterday and I then found out that the shutoff valves had rusted out. Fun fact : flex tape makes you feel very optimistic when you’re stretching it over a leak but it doesn’t work, and just leaves you with new and creative angles for the leaks. I spent a lot of tiempo mopping my basement and setting things up for the plumbers, so I did miss a bit more of some matches than I’d really want to, which may help since I absolutely ate it on some of the round 3 matches. Djokovic Khachanov : In an interview this week, Djokovic said, “My head is a perfect oval.” He was right, and it was on display against Galan. The first set was not only perfect tennis but entertaining. Novak (we’re on a first name basis) plays the kind of skillful game when he’s in control that is really enjoyable to watch. Time and time again he’s playing pingpong while other people are stuck covering a tennis court. The match tightened up in the second and third sets with Galan getting deep in a few games, but this was mostly a precursor to Djokovic’s first real test. I had overlooked Khachanov in this draw because I felt he’d lose to Garin, but he played some great tennis today and his power and serving mean that while he may not have the best chance to win, he’ll certainly have an exciting affair with Djokovic. Garin withdrew from his doubles match a day or so ago and complained of dizziness. The physician was asking him how many fingers he was holding up and while he played pretty solid today, he had a sort of glazed look in his eyes throughout. After splitting sets I rather thought Garin would pull away. While Khachanov boasts a big offense, Garin’s speed makes it look like Khach has few options to score. Garin is just “there” for every shot, but he put a number of balls into the net with his forehand that he usually doesn’t. Khachanov’s best chance in this match is to reign in the offense a bit. Djokovic thrives when his opponents make errors but sometimes gets frustrated when they make him work. The benevolent racquet applauding dropshot hitting Djokovic wins in style. The grumpy laugh at the sky shake his head smash a racquet Djokovic occasionally drops a set. It’s a testament to how good he is that he’s playing Khachanov and the discussion is “what can Karen do to steal a set”. Djokovic in 3, but this is the first chance for him to really show his level. Carreño Busta Altmaier : Pablo, or Wobblo (as he’s known by rival trapeze crews) gave RBA a very long day. There were times when RBA took the lead but never for long. Carreno’s power was the big factor here and he hit a number of forehand winners. The inside in forehand he’s hitting is really deceptive and since inside-out is his usual pattern it works doubly well. I’m not sure patterns will be so ingrained in his next opponent as they are in RBA though. Altmaier is the story of the men’s side thus far having not dropped a single set through three rounds that continue to get more and more impressive. He plays very solid, hits hard, and his serving is surprisingly consistent even though it doesn’t seem like the biggest weapon. Berretini, though, refused to play more than a few shots per rally in this one. The first ball he could swing at he hit for winners. The ones he couldn’t drive he went for bailout dropshots. It was difficult watching him be so impatient to win rallies when they’re really nothing wrong with his defense or baseline game. Even in a straight set loss he had multiple looks at getting the lead in this match but there were just too many errors, and Altmaier playing at such a fast pace led to Berretini never really getting out of his rush. After beating Struff and Berretini, it’s pretty clear that Altmaier will be a threat in this match. The last player to take a set off the hardworking German was Ruben Bemelmans in qualifying, and that result is half a puzzle now considering his consistency. I’m struggle to decide what to expect here. It’s another in a stream of these brand new matchups, which is great for the tour but difficult for anyone “trying” to make predictions. A good point to make here is that this is a reason “touts” and “prediction services” fail. By virtue of always trying to write a story or offer a possible outcome, you overextend beyond what your knowledge is. You come up with defendable positions rather than honest advice. It’s easy to write something convincing about a sporting event. All day long we’re thinking about potential futures in our head that will never come to be. Am I having a moment? Maybe. Perhaps it’s because I’m watching Collins bottle every volley or overhand she earns at the end of any point she’s winning. I learned about the term bottling this week. I’m gonna use it. PCB should win this. Altmaier has benefitted greatly thus far from the errors of his opponents. PCB made very few of these in his match with RBA, just had a great run at the USO, and is the steadier player. It may take a while, since Altmaier is in such excellent form, but I still lean Wobblo, and maintain that that wire in the 2005 Southern Spain Trapeze Championships wasn’t regulation. PCB in 4. Fucsovics Rublev : Are there no more lefty clay-courters left for Fucsovics to play? After disposing of ARV and Monteiro without much trouble, Fucovics magical victory against Medvedev is a distant memory. Time for another? Rublev beat Anderson pretty easily, and the bigman’s power during rallies was not much use against Rublev’s ballstriking. The matchup here is Rublev’s offense vs Fucsovics shot tolerance. The big Hungarian, who as we all know is from Nyíregyháza, is probably in the best shape of anyone on tour not named Nadal. He utilizes his speed and strength to really make the baseline small for opponents, and his precision game is something he keeps going with a reserved manner. He’ll never give away a match, and this is a good thing to have in his pocket since Rublev has a history of frustrations and errors. That history though, has not been present since the restart of the tour. Rublev has been smoking the ball starting in Hamburg and his returning has been half clean winners and half solid returns. There is a good chance he will get into a number of Fucs’ service games and if you’ve ever had a wild squirrel with orange hair inside a duffel bag this is what it’s like to have Rublev in your service games. Squirrel smuggling in 4. I mean Rublev. Dimitrov Tsitsipas : Oh heckkkkkk yeah. This is really and truly a brilliant round of 16 on both sides. Dimitrov was fortunate to receive an injury withdrawal from Carballes Baena, but he didn’t really need it. The big Bulgarian (who only appears past the second round once a year when the moon is full) has been in rare form this week, winning the matches he’s supposed to win and overall playing very overwhelming and consistent ball. This is what the fans want. I fade these guys at times and discuss their issues with consistency, but I absolutely concede that I would forfeit money to see the talent on display that Grigor possesses. Omg Collins won. How do ya like that. Anyway Dimitrov and Tsitsipas probably have two of the most “similar” games on tour, but one of them does way more with it. Tsitsipas played an injured Bedene who had issues with his ankle, and eventually retired, but similar to Grigor he really didn’t need it. Tsitsipas shrugged off the USO defeat, was good in Hamburg, and has been great so far in this event. Dimitrov’s athleticism and form can keep this one close for a while, but it really seems like Tsitsipas has elevated to another level here, and a rematch with Rublev is incoming. Tsitsipas in 4. Sonego Schwartzman : Lorenzo Sonego can get things off the top shelf in the supermarket for you. Sometimes you’ll just be eating lunch somewhere in the world and Lorenzo Sonego will just snatch one of ur fries. This dude is lanky goodness, and something about him makes me want to buy a car. Fritz and Sonego played a really good match, and it was a good example of how a player can play 1 bad game and lose in straight sets. Fritz didn’t do much wrong here, but Sonego was excellent on the forehand wing. In the pressure moments he found big shots, and since Fritz wins behind his forehand, this gave him a slight disadvantage throughout. Diego was down early to Gombos, but the guy manufactures breaks of serve better than anybody on tour. Consistently him, Nadal, and Djokovic are the top 3 in service breaks on tour, plus, he never steals french fries. This matchup is closer than people will expect. Sonego is very comfortable on clay and is solid enough to hang with Diego for stretches. If he serves well, he’ll be able to threaten to win sets. Fritz and Sonego was a long match, but two straight sets victories against servers won’t have Sonego in any fatigue issues. Diego is probably the best player left in the draw who you know won’t win the tournament, but he has a tendency to fall behind early in sets and this could become an issue since Sonego hasn’t really been making errors so far. I don’t like the -700 pricetag, but Diego should be able to break down Sonego’s backhand over the course of the match. Schwartzman in 4-5. Gaston Thiem : Several times I looked at Gaston and Wawrinka’s match and felt like Wawrinka was playing great but the match was being played at Gaston’s tempo. Wawrinka needs time to set up, and with pauses in the rallies he becomes very difficult to beat. Gaston kept the ball moving though and that lateral war is not something that favors Wawrinka. It shoudn’t hurt him though. What ended up happening to Wawrinka was he played Gaston into the perfect training partner for him, and once Gaston had a read on where Wawrinka was going it became half a waste of time for Wawrinka to be hitting so hard. Fatigue set in in the 5th set, and Gaston honestly was the smarter competitor in this one. Thiem and Ruud seemed like a high quality affair, but that only lasted for a brief period. Thiem is starting to really pull away late in matches and the reserved composure he plays with early in them has thus far not been solved by any of his opponents. A healthy dose of slices from Steve Johnson sees him losing, but the same strategy from Thiem (largely since he has the other one-handed stroke) sees opponents trapped trying to manufacture angles that feed into Thiem’s best shot. His accuracy when he plays down the line is starting to get real scary, since it was largely a redline shot in 2018 and a 60-40 prospect in 2019. I would say the AO where he beat Nadal was the first time where his backhand down the line was just an automatic point, and really how will people defend that as these long stretches of wins make him more comfortable and more confident? The kid is a monster, and yes tennis he also has a big butt. Gaston will present the same steady defending and pace to Thiem, but Thiem is a much fitter player than Wawrinka and has a lot more variety/consistency in his game. Thiem in 3. Zverev Sinner : Here I go hating again. Zverev has become like Fritz for me. I recognize that I tend to devalue their ability and focus on their bad performances/errors, and this skews my judgement. Writing these articles is beneficial for noting leaks like that. In their 3rd round contest though, Zverev and Cecchinato switched roles. Zverev made his first fast start in quite some time (I’d somewhat discount the USO against Thiem because that was more about Thiem being awful to begin) and returned extremely well. He was ripping his forehand crosscourt which is something we haven’t seen from him except in some rare instances late in matches. What went on on the other side of the net though was pretty difficult to watch. Cecchinato was cheated in this match. Nobody informed him of the new ATP rule about the ball having to both clear the net AND land inside the court. He will be filing an appeal, as he avoided both of these things like the plague. Not only did he make a ton of errors, but he took a return position not deep enough to return, and not shallow enough to catch the ball at a decent height. This was the Cecchinato that didn’t win a match for an entire year on tour, and after his first two matches where he was brilliant it is relatively unexplainable why he played this way. Even in this terrible form he was serving for the second set, and the momentum looked to shift but again, he was unaware of the new rules. Sinner needed two come from behind sets against Coria to win, but he has shown that he is able to consistently produce his offense give the chance, and really what he struggles with is his lateral movement. More so on the forehand wing, but when he’s drawn wide he makes a lot of errors. It’s a similar issue to Kyle Edmund, and it’s partially the extreme grip. If Zverev shows up the same as he did against Cecchinato, he should win this, but even in a terrible lopsided loss, Cecchinato still won 9 games. Sinner will be significantly better, and where Cecchinato couldn’t get an unreturned serve, Sinner has a very competent service motion and can earn easier returns. In the interest of not just picking against Zverev every time, I will point out that Sinner has had fatigue issues late in matches, and Zverev served very well in his previous match. I think there is a big Ferrer factor with Zverev as he has seemed to have a specific gameplan in a few of his matches the past few events. This should be a high octane affair and the victory likely goes to who minimizes their errors. Passive Zverev loses this. Good first serve percentage Zverev wins it. Personally, as a person, I am the sort of person who thinks Sinner is going to win, but not if it goes to 5 sets. Sinner in 4. Korda Nadal : Korda was probably the surprise of the round for most bettors. Pedro Martinez had been rolling through this draw and has become a very productive player against the 5-150 range of the tour. Korda is very smooth and displays the type of comfort on a tennis court that lets you know he’ll be on tour for a long time. He serve-volleys extremely well, and his forehand is smooth. The trouble with predicting he’d beat Martinez, is Martinez is different from anyone he’d played. Beating Seppi is good, but Seppi is a guy who never really wins a round during the clay season. Beating Isner is great, but Isner’s movement on clay is abysmal and he’s been less than stellar the past season or so. Playing a claycourter who’s been at the top of his game, it’s tough to look and say “Korda’s got this.” Yet, he had it, breaking over and over, and earning a primetime slot against Nadal. Since he’s so early in his career, no result here will be demoralizing for Korda. There’s still that “getting on court with an idol” benefit for him, and though he likely can’t win a set, any service hold or rally won will be a confidence boost for him. All positives here, but Nadal at RG is just a constant drag on his opponents physical reserves. I expect Korda’s serving to falter as this progresses. Nadal in 3. Halep Swiatek : Anisimova looked good on a few shots early against Halep, showing her easy power. Unfortunately, as soon as Halep moved her she earned an error. This was the same pattern of Halep moving Anisimova over and over, and so the scoreline looks devastating, but it’s really just one issue that Anisimova will have to work on. Her movement on clay needs to improve to challenge the top players. Swiatek and Bouchard was a highly anticipated contest since both had kinda found their games in the restart, but Swiatek was all over her from the start. I am a big fan of underdogs, and on a tour where matches are often decided by a few key points, taking things for granted when backing a favorite is usually costly, but Halep’s defeat of Swiatek here last year was comprehensive. Swiatek is a great player, and her commitment to offense can really get her through tight matches, but Halep’s defending is the sort that there aren’t just endless chances to pick the next shot. She counterpunches with depth and is adept at passing players at net even on the run. Like a tiny Andy Murray, she makes the court seem small, and is perfectly comfortable playing her own offense when the open court presents itself. Halep in 2. Trevisan Bertens : When you see a baby smile, you smile. It is the same phenomenon with Martina Trevisan. I called her Marta in the last post, and I apologize. Martina smiles from the first to the last point, and it is absurdly refreshing to see someone visibly enjoying their time competing. Sakkari was in full control of their match early, as Trevisan is a generally defensive player, winning by outlasting her opponents and by baiting them into lateral coverage contests. Trevisan was broken serving for the 2nd set but never stopped fighting. She was down multiple times in the tiebreaker but never stopped fighting. Her use of the moonball was exceptional, and Sakkari really missed an opportunity by not moving in on these shots. You’ll make some errors, but giving up court position is almost always wrong. Moonballs are offensive opportunities, and your opponent isn’t hitting them because everything is A ok on the other side of the net. They’re in trouble, and are hoping to buy time. Sakkari seemed throughout this like she’d win. She was really the better player, but her backhand made errors, and as the match descended into constant patterns of attack she found less open court and more smiley lady returns. Trevisan gave me actual joy watching her win her last two matches, and watching her hit her forehand cross court the entire match, then down the line whenever Sakkari bailed out too find a forehand was really remarkable. Bertens has become a confusing prospect to me, but after a quick dismissal of Siniakova it’s clear she’s not dealing with residual cramping issues from her match with Errani. Trevisan was able to outlast Sakkari, but Bertens presents a more well-rounded attack. I don’t write Trevisan off, but she’s the sort of player who can’t put distance between herself and her opponents. She doesn’t really serve aces, she doesn’t really possess big power, and while she has a great deal of body control in her defending, she does give her opponent the ball to hit. I lean towards Bertens in 2. Svitolina Garcia : Simple victory for Svitolina against Alexandrova. She hasn’t lost in the last two weeks and Alexandrova’s movement/offense weren’t enough. Garcia was beaten handily in the first set, and I was getting drenched by water coming from the ceiling in the second and third. I can say honestly that beating Kontaveit makes no sense, beating Mertens makes no sense, and now the very low +145 line for Garcia against Svitolina who is great on clay and won the last tournament makes me think she’s in line for another victory, and again it won’t make sense. Garcia makes the kind of errors that professional tennis player don’t make. She seems very awkward at times on her backhand, winding up with her racquet in too close and pulling the ball wide. She struggled early to find the pace of the ball against Mertens and dragged a number of shots long. When she does have her timing though, she crushes the ball. It’s the kind of offense you need to be standing still to execute, but the ball gets through the court quickly, and she tends to go big on returns which can mean a lot late in matches in the WTA. The puzzle for me in seeing Svitolina listed lower is compounded by seeing that Garcia beat her in their most recent meeting on clay in 2018. Svitolina’s speed and consistency in moving her opponent is the sort of equation that Garcia has consistently lost again. Sometimes though, you have to admit you might be wrong. I lean towards Svitolina ending Garcia’s run here, but I get a similar sense that I did when watching footage of Anderson/Lajovic after being unsure why Anderson would have an edge. I would avoid this one, and I’m still picking Svitolina, but there’s reason to believe Garcia’s run will continue. Svitolina in 2. Podoroska Krejcikova : Podoroska would be the first qualifier to win a major. That’s how good she has looked throughout her first three rounds, and now she gets a very interesting test. Krejcikova has a slow looking big swing, but the power she lazily seems to generate has shut down her last opponents in the deciding set. It seems like she’s out of it, and in her match against Pironkova she was down a set and looked like she’d be broken and lose in two, but her backhand kept firing, and her forehand was heavy enough to break down Pironkova. Podoroska and Schmiedlova was highly anticipated but didn’t deliver. Schmiedlova’s win against Azarenka seems to have been more about Azarenka, and Podoroska’s offense was in control from start to finish. I haven’t really seen a more noticeable impact player come onto the tour in a while, and though Krejcikova can wear down her opponents, I expect Podoroska to expose her lapses in play where Strycova and Pironkova wore down. Podoroska in 2. Jabeur Collins : Sabalenka has to be crushed after losing that match. She played exceptional and was only a few inches off on the shots she was missing. After rolling through the second set Jabeur seemed out of this contest, and Sabalenka threatened to break in the third a few times, but Jabeur served well in those pressure moments, serving that we haven’t really seen from her yet this event. The out-wide serve from the duece court was a big factor, and her forehand was crispy. I finished up the day by watching Collins and Muguruza, and it did not disappoint. Collins was the better player in the first set despite being way ahead of Mugu in the errors column. Late in the first set Muguruza had only made 1 forehand error and I had thought Collins solid play and aggressive drives would force Muguruza into errors and that’d be her path to victory. Not so. This was a contest of solid ballstriking throughout, and in the second set Collins missed her targets. She won rallies but lost points, spraying balls wide or long anytime she got a look at a break point. It was hard to watch, and it continued early in the third. She was broken immediately, had a few breakback points and squandered them, and endured one of the longest stretches of missing overheads and swinging volleys that I’ve ever seen. It was 2018 Djokovic level overhead troubles, and the worst part was she was playing excellent and could have been right in the match. At 3-0 in the third it looked over, but Muguruza serving at 40-15 found a double fault. Then she found an error. Then she found some more double faults. It took a while because Collins was still really choking, but she broke for 3-1. Muguruza really lost her game from 3-1 on, and only notched one more game. Her serve had been excellent throughout, and just disappeared. Her defending had been excellent, but she misjudged balls and found the net. It was a really confusing loss for Muguruza, but the secondary story was how well Collins was hitting the ball. She really crushed her backhand today, and stepped in on every moonball offering Muguruza served up. I would say she hit her forehand inside out less than 10 times in the match, but it was a decent strategy as it kept her in a rhythm. So can she beat Jabeur? Collins looked a ball off on all her serves today, and actually all her aces in the match were called as lets. If she finds the rhythm, she can run away with this match, as her backhand is so solid and her proclivity for hugging the baseline will challenge Jabeur’s movement. Her issues will be the same here as against Muguruza; when she loses range she tends to play a few games where she hits the ball a few inches too deep, it’s almost as if she needs to remember to control her swing, as I saw her make a visible adjustment in the third where she wasn’t taking such a huge followthrough. This will be a good opportunity for both of them, and both have just beaten an opponent that says that they are genuine title contenders. The names are disappearing from this draw and the players left might not always get these opportunities, but their level of play says they deserve them. Collins in 3 Ferro Kenin : Fiona Ferro was so stressful to watch today. I felt she’d have control against Tig, and I was right but it didn’t translate to a simple victory. Tig is simply a divine defender, and her slices were touted by the announcers as ineffective but they kept Ferro from ever developing any rhythm. Tig wears her heart on her sleeve, and she looks like you stole her baby bunny after she loses points, and screams deafeningly loud after she wins points. It all was a bit distracting from the match, and as the crowd got into it she got a bit more frustrated. After taking a few years off the tour to have one of those babies, Tig really has to be pleased with her restart, and while she lost a lopsided 3rd set, she should have won the tiebreaker, and definitely was the better player in the 2nd set. Tig’s problem in this one was that Ferro seemed to play her best tennis once she was down. Whether it was a break or a break point, Ferro locked down her game when she needed to and although Tig comes up with a lot of great offense when it seemed like she’d never attempt any, she lacks power and is largely just a defensive grinder. The backhand broke down for Tig in the 3rd set, and it was a shame but a great win for Ferro. Kenin and Bara was a fun match for Bara while she was up 2-0, but from there it was literally all Kenin. Do you think Kenin walks to the store or to walk her dog the same as she does around the court? She’s a legit marcher. She doesn’t seem like the best claycourter, but the round prior she found her range in one set, and in this one she really was excellent. Her backhand is just no place to direct the ball, and she’s begun playing a dropshot down the line off it that pairs so well with her crosscourt offering. Add in a forehand that isn’t huge but has a lot of whip on it, and you have a very difficult ask for Bara. In previous matches Bara’s speed and defending had exposed her opponents, but here since Kenin wasn’t making errors, Bara had difficult scoring points. Her serve left her after she got down in the scoreline, and it was one way traffic. Ferro and Kenin is a match I expected Kenin to be priced higher in. Oddsmakers have set it as a pickem and while Ferro was great in the third set she really struggled to beat Tig and Kenin’s defense is a similar level but with more power. Stylistically, Kenin’s offense will be easier for Ferro to deal with than it was for Bara, as Ferro is adept at net and has a solid backhand and forehand. The power is there, and she’s very comfortable on clay, but she made a bit too many errors today against Tig for me to see her hitting through Kenin for an entire match. Playing at home though, and given how open her offense will be playing someone who isn’t using so many slices, she’ll be a tough test. Against Rybakina Ferro was excellent, and didn’t make the errors that she did when Tig slowed the game down. I am starting to think Kenin could have a good chance to make the finals though, as her next two matches are ones she should win. Kenin in 3. Kvitova Zhang : Kvitova really played a great match today. Her stretch forehand created angles over and over, and once she did her backhand power through the court was just unreal reliable. Fernandez was everywhere, and led 5-2 in the first, but Kvitova wore her down, and it wasn’t just power but movement as well. Kvitova has shown up for this event, and pulling victory from a match where she was not on her favorite surface and down early is a very good sign. Zhang was solid today, but I really felt Burel would be a better test for Kvitova. Burel is just plain great. She plays like she’s never had a coach and just understands tennis. She serves well, executes any shot from anywhere when it’s right, and though she seems like a small Lauren Davis type she crushes the ball. It was a tough loss as she seemed throughout the match like she’s cross the finish line, but Zhang basically locked down on defense, and hitting through someone on clay for an entire match is just a tough tough thing to do. Sometimes you play better but lose the match, and that was Burel today. Kvitova played a better defender in Fernandez, and one with more offense also. Zhang has been playing great, but plays in predictable crosscourt patterns and Kvitova’s power does tend to earn her balls to hit. Barring a similar slow start as she had against Fernandez, Kvitova in 2. Siegemund Badosa : Siegemund turned around her match against Martic in excellent fashion. She always notches some wins on clay but knee injuries really have kept her from deep runs in the past two seasons. This though is a career changing moment for her. She can beat Badosa Gibert. I don’t say that just because she’s playing so well, but also because even on paper this isn’t an upset for Siegemund. Both are playing very consistent ball and thriving against offensive talents because of it. Ostapenko hit a lot of very angry shots, but every time she loses it’s because of her movement and because of her errors. It’s one plan and that’s ok but the tour is full of defensive tests and that plan isn’t likely to net her any further titles. Badosa is just 20 years old through to her first round of 16 which is brilliant. Someone is going to get their first huge paycheck this event and there isn’t a lot to separate these two. Siegemund has played a lot of offensive talents thus far, and seems to have thrived on moving them as the matches progress. She’s very coherent and measured, but Badosa’s speed may be a major factor in negating that. Badosa also won their most recent meeting on clay last year in a third set. A year’s progress for a junior player can mean a world of difference, and I think the edge sits with her here. Badosa in 3. PS The requests for possibly more betting advice haven’t fallen on deaf ears. The problem with listing out picks is what I referenced earlier : pick services have an end goal in mind of telling you a defendable story. There is a great deal more than selecting a few matches a day that goes into the process, and unfortunately unless you’re placing the same wagers while livebetting that I am, you’re getting different lines and different results over time. A lot of my decisions tend to reflect my individual status/risk preferences as I go as well, so it’s difficult to just present a comprehensive mirror for people to look at. I’m not saying no though, and I’ve been thinking more about how best to present content that will help ppl avoid losses and traps on the tour, as well as proffer some of the lessons that I learned along the way so that at a minimum, people can save time and skip those hurdles. For the French I’m just going to stick with the writeups, but I’m working on it and will definitely do something next season, and will likely post some generic content/analysis of how the tour’s format/rankings/surface changes lend themselves to some decent spots. Cheers. People say that in Europe.
I think Mark Rosewater accidentally hit the nail on the head on the problem with other IPs in Magic on even the best of days
So this morning I woke up to this response to an ask on the Blogatog blog. And just like that Maro manages to put into words a problem that I didn't even notice I had. There is a laundry list of problems with the current Secret Lair going on. I don't need to add to them and I'm sure very few of you want to hear them repeated. That being said though a lot of these are compounded because of how all of this stuff was handled so I want to focus on one thing that honestly might be the most relevant because it's something that we know will come up when the Dungeons & Dragons crossover comes out but might fly under the radar as it’s less of a dumpster fire than everything else getting attention. That thing being how IPs are handled even when Hasbro isn't looking to take every last cent you worked hard to earn (as rare as that seems). Every character in Magic, regardless of card type, has both a mechanical and a story identity. Both of them are extremely important because without the former there's no reason to have cards for them and without the latter there's no reason to care about them. One of my favorite Drive to Work podcasts in recent memory is when Rosewater just goes over each and every planeswalker and describes a little bit of their story and a lot about how R&D represents the magic they use in that story in the cards depicting them (Link). Sometimes these identities are in step with each other and sometimes they are at odds but together they make up the Magic characters we know and love (or sometimes tolerate). While some characters start as a story idea and become cards and some characters start as card ideas and become stories, eventually the two have to meet. I honestly think the best representation of this is in the Shadows over Innistrad block with its depictions of Nahiri and Tamiyo (This has nothing to do with my opinions about the block because I wasn't even playing Magic during that specific time period, I just think these specific cards help prove my point). Both of these cards introduce a brand new color into the color identity of the planeswalker they represent but they do it for precisely the opposite reasons. Nahiri is red-white here as opposed to mono-white like before because it represents how the actions she's taking during this block are volatile, short-sighted, and driven almost entirely by passion and rage. It is a mechanical reflection of an in-story reality. Tamiyo is the exact opposite though. She was put in the story already because she filled a specific role but she wasn't going to get a card because the set was already at its limit for planeswalkers and there were bigger players to represent. The reason she got through is because design realized there was mechanical space for another planeswalker as long as it had a tri-color identity, and then worked with the story department to see what added colors best fit Tamiyo (Source). The card was the primary concern and the reason why Tamiyo as we know her today has the potential to be Bant instead of just Simic or plain mono-blue is because it fit the needs of the set. These two examples demonstrate a simple truth about characters in Magic: no one card or even collection of cards will represent the entirety of a character and nor does it even attempt to. A card only represents a character in that specific instance and that is all it is ever trying to do, anymore and it would be hypothesizing about a truth that is uncertain. This I believe is actually a wonderful boon of Magic. It creates a kind of feedback loop. The mechanical flexibility of a character allows them to appear in more sets, which allows more cards that can depict more aspects of them, which means we are more endeared to them because they are more familiar and more explored, which leads to them being put in more stories, which requires more cards and more mechanically diverse cards to explore each facet of that character. It's a blessing in disguise that allows us to get a more full picture of what a character is like. That planeswalker podcast I mentioned has multiple moments where Rosewater discusses characters that have never explored a color that he believes they definitely are and it just hasn’t been shown because of the limitations of the cards printed for them up until that point. Two examples being the fact that he believes both Tibalt and Ob Nixilis are black-red even though ironically one has only ever had red cards and one has only ever had black cards. For two planeswalkers that are decently popular (whether it be for good or bad reasons), they have literally never explored more than half of the potential color identity. So how does this relate to the ask above or external IPs in general? Well, it's simple: crossovers are by their nature temporary. They have to be because if they weren't it wouldn't be a crossover, it would be the status quo. That means they do not have the flexibility every other legendary creature or planeswalker is provided. They can't do the Omnath thing of slowly acquiring colors as the plot and the sets demand it. They can't be like Teferi where in the story he is consistently white-blue but has just as many mono-blue cards that explore his long history as a mage. Every card has to be treated as a one-off because there's no expectation of a follow-up. The cards have to be static. Is Glenn a white-blue character? Sure, I don't know, I didn't watch the show because statistically it seems highly improbable that the kind of person who likes a fantasy trading card game where you duel as a wizard would also like a gritty gory live-action zombie show well past its prime. But his card definitely isn't. And in a Magic set it probably wouldn't be. Because he's a legendary creature they would know they can afford making a card that doesn't fully explore him because later down the line they can make another card that truly does his Azorius parts justice. And if they couldn't they'd make a card that is truly Azorius or scrap the idea the character is a white-blue character. They could always just make a new card or even character for that design if they really like it after all. You can't do that in a crossover. You have to provide a color identity that not only correctly explores the character but also appeases the IP holders. And you can’t make a new character to fit new design space since every character belongs to an IP you don’t own. Color identity is no longer one part mechanical truth, one part snapshot of the character's current existence, but instead just a fun little pop philosophy question. No different than a Hogwarts house, character alignment, or any of the million other "pick a side" ticket drivers pop culture has. To a certain extent, it's always been that way. But at the very least there was a mechanical backbone to it and it was fluid enough that if you disagreed with that specific reading of a character it wasn't permanent. Heck, at this point Sarkhan Vol has been in literally every color but white and four different color combinations to boot. Even Garruk eventually moved back to mono-green. And because it was fluid the card would have to have a mechanical throughline to justify the change or it wouldn't have been made. I personally do not understand right now why Nissa is Golgari. I won't pretend that I understand it or that I agree with it but I also won't pretend that I think it's a bad decision from a game design standpoint, a color break, a character betrayal or an immutable constant. It honestly makes more sense to me than when she was Simic, both looking at her character as a whole and the current state she was in then and now. But even if I never come to understand it, the card feels Golgari and if it turns up in Modern a couple years down the line after it's rotated out I won't think it's forced because even if I don't understand or remember the context for why Nissa became black-green, the card only represents a facet of her at a specific point in time so I'm not going to think it says anything about any of the dozen or so other Nissa cards that exist and represent other facets of her at other points in time. The card wasn't forced to be mono-green because "it's Nissa, Nissa is mono-green" and it definitely wasn't given purely mono-green mechanics and made Golgari because "this character is black-green right now, this is a card that has to be black-green regardless of what it does." This is all without even considering the other hand Wizard has to balance. The key reason why new properties are even coming into Magic is to attract people who otherwise do not care about the game enough to buy into it with a product that they will do so for. That's why Adventures in the Forgotten Realms is replacing a Core Set. It will obviously be around the same level of mechanical simplicity and newcomer friendliness. It's to get people who wouldn't jump into Magic at that point to do so. And since gold cards are innately more complex to design than single color cards, and since that complexity directly correlates to more nuance which is important to mapping what complex characters, both in real life and fiction, feel and do, it is likely we are going to get more Glenns. More multicolored cards because of character backgrounds and philosophies, but with mono-color mechanics to create simplicity that allows new players to pick up and play. For the good cards they will mash together one mechanic of each color but for many cards they won't have the space because it will take a bunch of reminder text and we'll be stuck with a blue card that is clearly blue that has white not even because it has a life gain rider but because of a book, movie, or comic you didn't read since it isn't relevant to Magic. In summary, the concerning thing here is that even when Wizards isn't trying to put less-than-scrupulous principles ahead of its players they're still somewhat failing the game. For crossover IPs color is no longer a reflection of what the character is doing, believing, and experiencing at the moment that they are being represented in by the card, but a summation of all of their experiences, actions, and philosophies. Color is doing a lot more than it was ever expected to do and it's doing it for cards that are going to be simplified to entice newcomers so at a time when color is leaning to be as multicolored as possible to reflect as much as possible, it is going to have mechanics that are likely to be very mono-colored in nature. At the best of times we're going to get keywords shared by the colors represented but often we're probably just going to get cards that don't deserve the colors they have, and don't even use hybrid because that can be confusing and we sure don’t want that. Also, I splurged about how I realized how much I really like that the mechanical space and the thematic space of legendary cards, especially planeswalkers, actually empower and embolden one another and how that's kinda ruined by the broad strokes crossover cards have to paint those they represent with (Probably should have used less planeswalkers now that I think about it but they're the easiest characters to search and categorize on scryfall; if I ever make a follow-up you bet your ass that Niz-Mizzet Reborn is getting used as an example). Basically, remember how Urza, Headmaster just kind of slapped WUBRG on it because he's a very old character that could fit in many different color combinations and the mechanics of the card were so complex that they literally couldn't fit on a single card (or really collection of cards)? Well picture that but it's black-border, the card isn't as fun but just generically good, and the complexity isn't even that worth it. Thank you for reading.
Offseason Blueprint: the Los Angeles Lakers may win the title tonight, but their ambition won't end there
The NBA season is nearly over: be it 1, 2, or 3 more games left. With the offseason looming around the corner, we've been looking ahead with our OFFSEASON BLUEPRINT series. In each entry, we preview some big decisions and make some recommendations for plans of attack along the way. Like the NBA, we've officially come to the end of the road and to our final team, the Los Angeles Lakers. step one: know it will never be All Quiet on the Western Front The Los Angeles Lakers have plenty of fans, but also plenty of people who enjoy watching them struggle (some even run their own sports websites.) It feels like they've been a punching bag for almost a decade now. Even when the team landed a coup and signed LeBron James, there were plenty of skeptics and haters picking at the roster and fanning the flames of front office tension. Even when the team followed that up with a trade for Anthony Davis, there were STILL doubters and haters camped at the gates. At the end of the day, LeBron James and company only had one way to shut them up: win. Now, no one can criticize them anymore. Whatever they did to get here -- it worked. LeBron James deserves a huge amount of credit for this presumptive title (no offense, Miami) but there's plenty to go around. Anthony Davis reminded the world that he's a friggin' beast. Frank Vogel did a great job getting the defense to play on a string, especially on the perimeter. The maligned bench with Rajon Rondo, Markieff Morris, and Kyle Kuzma even stepped up in a major way on the road to the Finals. While the team may be drenched with champagne by the time you read this, they still won't be satisfied. LeBron James went back to Cleveland to win a title. He didn't go to L.A. and recruit Anthony Davis to win a title. He wants to win multiple titles. He may get his 4th ring after this year, which means he'll only be 2 away from catching Michael Jordan. If he can do that, then there won't be any doubt about his GOAT status. And honestly, it's possible. James still looks like a top 5 player (if not 1 overall), and Anthony Davis is in the heart of his prime. With a decent supporting cast around them, they're going to be in title contention for the next two or three years. However, the Lakers can't get complacent. They deserved this title, but they didn't exactly beat Murderers' Row to get here. In fact, their playoff opponents had the weakest seed value and weakest W-L percentage of any title team since 2000. Next season may be tougher sledding. The L.A. Clippers could be a real threat with better coaching and better rotations. The Milwaukee Bucks could be a real threat with better health. Health permitting, the Brooklyn Nets have the star power and the depth to be a force themselves. It's going to be a dogfight next season. The Lakers still may be the top dogs in that fight, but they're going to have to scrape and claw to get that bone again. step two: convince your free agents that It's a Wonderful Life LeBron James is a champion for player empowerment, but that concept is going to put his L.A. Lakers in a precarious position this offseason. Some decisions with be out of their hands. The team has an inordinate amount of player options for next season, with 5 separate players having the right to opt "in" or "out" of their contracts. Let's take a look at each of those one individually. The most important, of course, will be Anthony Davis. He has the choice whether to opt in to his $28.7M salary. It's weird to say, but $28.7M is a bargain. Davis is a 27-year-old superstar. He deserves the new max and then some. From the Lakers' perspective, the only question will be timing the extension in the best interest of Davis and the team as a whole. If they wait until next offseason to give him a full max, they may have some more wiggle room in salary to bring in extra free agents (in Offseason 2021, not Offseason 2020.) Perhaps they can convince AD to wait until then to accrue more years. At the same time, uncertainty isn't their friend. If the Lakers disappoint next season and LeBron James hits a wall (unlikely, but theoretically possible) then perhaps Davis doesn't want to stay tethered to this older roster for the long haul. Perhaps his relationship with James -- great now -- bleeds into resentment over time. Who the heck knows. Superstar pairings don't always end with "happily ever after." Even that remote concern would make me push for a max extension for AD ASAP. The second most important player option will be Kentavious Caldwell-Pope. When the Lakers first signed them, it raised some eyebrows and potential tampering conspiracy theories. These days, his $8.5M player option looks like a good value. KCP shot well this year and played hard on defense. Effectively, he looked like the player that Danny Green was supposed to be. Your hope here is that the Lakers have built enough goodwill with KCP and his representatives to make this a friendly negotiation. Whether that means he opts in, or whether that means he signs a long-term deal, it's a relationship that needs to continue. step three: but convince others to ride off like Shane Conversely, there are a few player options that the team may try to talk players out of taking. Avery Bradley missed the bubble for personal reasons, but the Lakers' backcourt did just fine without him. At this stage in their careers, Alex Caruso is probably better at the 3+D guard role. Still, it's going to be up to Bradley whether to return or not. He can opt in to his $5.0M player option. The value is OK in the broadest sense, but perhaps the Lakers are rooting for him to test the market elsewhere. The Lakers should take a hard line here and not offer him extra years; if Bradley leaves to chase a long-term deal, so be it. If he opts in, he may be used as a potential trade chip. Meanwhile, JaVale McGee has a $4.2M player option himself. McGee started 68/68 games in the regular season, but he didn't always look like their best option in the playoffs. As he ages (now 32), he'll continue to struggle with certain matchups. I don't think McGee can match that $4M anywhere else, so trying to convince him to opt out may be a losing proposition. Again, if McGee opts in, then the Lakers need to consider utilizing his salary as a potential trade piece. Some of those decisions -- whether they want to keep Avery Bradley and JaVale McGee -- may hinge on some other free agents on the team. Backup PG Rajon Rondo has his own player option of $2.7M. All season long, I'd been talking about Rondo as a potential liability for the team. Instead, he justified some of that "Playoff Rondo" talk. Between Rondo and Caruso, you'd prefer Caruso getting extended minutes. Between Rondo and Bradley, it's more of a debate. Rondo deserves more than $2.7M, so I expect him to opt out. Presumably, he appreciates the role and limelight here in L.A. and wouldn't play hardball. If he's amenable to a short-term, reasonable deal, then you'd want to keep him in house. If his playoff hype spirals into outsized offers (anything over $6M or so) then you should thank him for his service and wish him well. The Lakers should treat backup C Dwight Howard (an unrestricted free agent) in a similar way. Now 34, he's become a role player. Moreover, his role -- as the more traditional center -- is no longer a valuable one either. Still, he's pretty good at that role -- arguably better than JaVale McGee. The team shouldn't over-invest in this one-two punch though. If Howard wants to re-sign for a bargain basement deal, great. If he expects a mid-sized contract or an extra year, then he may be on the move again. For both Rondo and Howard, I'd stand firm on 1 year deals. However, the team can potentially add in "team option" years on top of that. The purpose would be less to entice them into staying and more to make them potential trade chips (in terms of salary matching) later on down the road. The Lakers will have more free agents to discuss. Markieff Morris is an interesting one; he looked like a shell of himself after some injuries, but he showed signs of life in the postseason. If that's legit, then he could potentially be a good rotational player for the team (when they go "small" with AD at the 5.) The verdict from team doctors will be crucial to determining his value. Alternatively, vets like J.R. Smith and Dion Waiters don't appear to have any value at all. Fortunately, they don't have player options either. step four: solve the mystery of The Third Man All season long, we heard that the Lakers would need a third star to emerge if they were going to win the title. Kyle Kuzma never got there, but it didn't matter. Perhaps we've just defaulted into a more familiar era of the NBA. Shaq and Kobe won without another "star." Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen won without another "star" (Dennis Rodman was more of an ultra role player.) With Kevin Durant removed from Golden State, perhaps the bar has been lowered back to reasonable heights for NBA title teams. Still, the Lakers need to figure out who Kyle Kuzma is, and what his role should be. He averaged 16-6 as a rookie, but showed some signs of a "good stats / bad team" kind of player. That fear hasn't gone away. Since then, Kuzma's shot 30% and 32% from three over the following two years, and played poor defense overall. ESPN real plus/minus metric graded him as a -0.4 and -0.7 defensive impact, while box plus/minus had him at -1.2 and -1.0. That same BPM metric graded him below replacement level overall (-0.2 VORP). Kuzma has played OK in these playoffs, but he hasn't had a major role. In fact, his minutes per game is down to 23.2 in the postseason so far, with 0 starts drawn. It's clear that Frank Vogel and the team don't believe he's the 3rd best player on the team. He may not even be the 4th or 5th best player. You may ask: who cares? Kuzma isn't a world beater, but the Lakers beat the world anyway. Still, it's an important question hanging over their heads. Kuzma is under contract for one more year, and then will enter restricted free agency (at a time when they will be a lot of cap space out there.) Based on name value, he's going to get a decent contract. If the Lakers don't believe he's worth decent money, it may be time to trade him now. (Realistically, the time to trade him was last offseason, but what can ya do.) Kuzma's $3.5M salary is easy to move, and the team can attach other contracts like McGee, Bradley, and Quinn Cook ($3M) to match a deal anywhere from the $3M-$15M range if need be. What can the Lakers get for Kuzma on the open market? It's hard to tell. He's a polarizing name, so it may depend on whether their trade partner reads reddit or not. I'd call up Detroit and ask about Luke Kennard. If Houston's blowing it up, I'd ask about Robert Covington. If Minnesota's locked into Anthony Edwards at # 1, maybe they'd be open to trading Malik Beasley in a sign and trade. If you want to play dirty, you can tell Portland that Gary Trent Jr. (newest client of Klutch) is going to sign with the Lakers next season no matter what, so they may as well recoup something for him now. Fair? Ethical? Ehh. But hey, it's proven to be effective before. step five: encourage others to hunt for the Treasure of the Sierra Madre The Lakers don't have much cap space this offseason, but that's not a major problem. They're not going to have to list job openings on monster.com -- available players are going to flock to them. The most obvious reason to join the Lakers would be to chase rings. However, it goes deeper than that. There's not a lot of teams with cap space this offseason, but there are plenty with space next season. If you're a free agent who's not getting a lot of attention, there's one great way to get attention: play with LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers. You can inflate your stock for next offseason, when hopefully you cash in. If I ran the Lakers, my first call would be to a veteran like Darren Collison. Collison took the season off to pursue his faith, but reportedly he may return next year. If so, he'd be a dream fit for this Lakers' rotation. Collison can run the point when LeBron James rests, but he can also serve as a complementary spacer. The former UCLA standout has become a very reliable shooter -- hitting over 40% from deep in his last four seasons. He's undersized and sometimes outmatched on D, but the team has Alex Caruso ready to match up with bigger guards. Collison's skill set would merit $10+ million in a good market, but perhaps NBA teams are going to want to see him "prove it" after his extended absence. If that's the case, the Lakers can thank their lucky stars and Jehovah for delivering him into their laps. Other veterans who may be drawn to the Lakers like a moth to the flame would include: the underrated E'Twaun Moore (NO) and likable vet Courtney Lee (DAL). Moe Harkless (NYK) could probably get more elsewhere, but he may decide to bet on himself and inflate his price for next season. Since Anthony Davis still prefers playing PF, depth at center will be more important for the Lakers than other teams. As mentioned, JaVale McGee will probably be back (barring a trade) and Dwight Howard may be as well. If not, the team could try to recruit a player who wants to boost their stock. Nerlens Noel (OKC) could benefit from the spotlight like that; better yet, his agent happens to be some dude named Rich Paul. Overall, the Lakers need to keep pushing and trying to improve, be it through free agency, through trades, or through the draft (where they have the # 28 pick.) This team may have been good enough to win the title, but as mentioned, one title isn't going to satisfy this star, this team, and this fan base. Hollywood's all about excess, and the goal will be to overindulge over the next few years. other offseason blueprints ATL, BKN, BOS, CHA, CHI, CLE, DAL, DEN, DET, HOU, IND, GS, LAC, MEM, MIA, MIL, MIN, NO, NYK, OKC, ORL, PHI, PHX, POR, SA, SAC, TOR, UTA, WAS
Lookahead Week 5 NFL Vegas spreads, betting odds: First primetime game for Tom Brady with Bucs Tom Brady gets the primetime treatment in Week 5 for the first time as a member of the Bucs. Ahead of the game: Ten ante-post bets for the 2021 Cheltenham Festival. By Andy Stephens @StevoGG. Tue 17 Mar 2020. ... Ante-post betting is not for everyone - and probably even less after the late sick notes produced by Altor and Chacun Pour Soi last week - but a dozen of the victors had run at the Festival before and it will no doubt be a big ... The Game 2 spread opened at 7.5, moved to 9.5 Friday morning, and was at 10 an hour-and-a-half before tip. “The manner of the victory [in Game 1] for the Lakers and the injuries the Heat have sustained means it is one-way traffic for the Lakers,” said John Sheeran , FanDuel’s director of risk and trading. The Los Angeles Lakers and Miami Heat get back to it with Game 4 of the NBA Finals on Tuesday night at 9:00 p.m. ET on ABC. The Lakers carry a 2-1 series lead into Game 4, which will be pivotal with the Heat coming off a win on Sunday night. We’ll still need to wait on some injury news on Goran Dragic and Bam Adebayo, but for now, let’s take a look at some betting splits and how the public ... Here are the final betting lines from BetMGM ahead of the monster battle in Dallas. Line: Oklahoma (-2.5) Over/Umder: 74.5. Looking for some action on this game or others? Place your legal sports wagers online at ...
Macclesfield Town make the long journey down to Plymouth on Saturday in what represents our next Sky Bet League Two contest. Ahead of the game, we spoke to Head Coach Mark Kennedy for his pre ... Something short and sweet hope you enjoy, next video will be 1v1 wagers... Will start streaming at 100k Socials: https://twitter.com/ParallelEJ https://www.i... AHEAD OF THE GAME: Man United anger training ground staff by putting up 'non-relevant' signs to separate parking spaces between them and players and coaches ... Track 2 CNBC's Contessa Brewer sits down with Borgata Sportsbook President and COO Marcus Glover to discuss how legal sports betting will impact casinos this Super Bowl Sunday. Receive exclusive ...