WNBA Finals Game 1 + U.S. Open Recap + 2022 NFL Fantasy Football Advice | Crooked Media
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September 13, 2022
WNBA Finals Game 1 + U.S. Open Recap + 2022 NFL Fantasy Football Advice

In This Episode

Welcome to another episode of Takeline! On this week’s podcast, Jordan Ligons and Jamel Johnson hold the fort down for Jason Concepcion as he continues to enjoy some well-deserved R&R. The duo discuss the WNBA Finals match up between the Las Vegas Aces and the Connecticut Sun. Then, Ben Rothenberg of Racquet Magazine helps recount events of the U.S. Open, which came to a close on Sunday and finally, and the show wraps up with a Fantasy Football discussion featuring with Chris Towers of CBS Sports.





Jon Favreau [AD]


Jamel Johnson Is anyone going to say anything to Jimmy Butler?


Jordan Liggons No, we’re not. I totally love this. I love the Jimmy Butler exchange. I love it.


Jamel Johnson No one is going to say aything?


Jordan Liggons Love. We’re not going to say anything. We’re going to embrace it. Just like I have extensions of my hair. Right now. We are embracing Jimmy Butler. Welcome to the beauty supply store. Jimmy Butler. We’re saying nothing.


Sports Announcer High demand finds Bonner. Bonner looking for space. Leads in candy to three. Dad will do it. The Las Vegas Aces take game one.


Jordan Liggons Hello, hello and welcome to another episode of Takeline. I’m your host, Jordan Liggons, and I’m joined by my guy, Jamel Johnson. We’re standing in for Jason Concepcion as he continues to enjoy a well-deserved R&R. We’ve got a great show for you today. The WNBA finals are underway. The Las Vegas Aces beat the Connecticut Suns 67 to 64 in game one. Jamel and I have some thoughts on the game, the series, the playoffs. All of it then will recount the U.S. Open, which came to a close on Sunday with Ben Rothenberg, Raquet magazine and talk fantasy football with Chris Towers of CBS Sports. Jamel, we talked a little bit yesterday.


Jamel Johnson Yeah, my you know, I’m sorry about my I paid my bill on time. I swear.


Jordan Liggons We did Twitter spAces and Jamel was in a monologue. Like, I feel like you were pouring your heart out. And all we heard was like, you are a robot, so here’s your chance. Tell me.


Jamel Johnson I was truly going off a shout out to Erica McCall. Go Mystics.


Jordan Liggons Yes.


Jamel Johnson I feel like Connecticut lost their lost their shot. It let me start this by saying I like to issue an apology to the Connecticut Sun.


Jordan Liggons Oh, wow.


Jamel Johnson I think the last time I came on this show, I came on here and I talked down I talked down bad. And the truth of the matter is, I was dead wrong. Courtney Williams. I’m sorry. Kurt Miller I’m sorry. Lisa Thomas I’m sorry. Dawana Bonner? I’m sorry.  Natisha Hiedeman, lo sientos.


Jordan Liggons They were waiting on this apology. But it’s not only you, though, right? Like everybody comes with the energy with Connecticut Sun, we write them off. They have I always say they’re the bridesmaid, never the bride. They’ve made it to the finals. They keep winning, but can they pull it out? This year we have the Aces who swept the awards. Aja Wilson, MVP Defensive Player of the Year, Jackie Young. Most improved. Becky Hammon, coach of the Year, Kelsey Plum even won All-Star MVP for the year.


Jamel Johnson  The fruit salad cup.The fruit salad bowl.


Very small. Then they won the commissioner’s cup and Chelsea Gray won the MVP for that. So like the Aces are clearly the number one team here. But like we were talking about yesterday after game one, Connecticut is feeling confident after that win. Like they were smiling in the press conference. They were like, yeah, we’re here. We’re not. You guys thought you were going to blows away. We’re still here.


Jamel Johnson I can’t think of a person who would be more energized by playing in Vegas than Courtney Williams.


Jordan Liggons What do you mean by that?


Jamel Johnson I mean, she loves the lights, baby.


Jordan Liggons She does. Yeah.


Jamel Johnson The glitz, the glam. And she’s playing some good ass defense. Like, I feel like the last time they made the final, she was, like, known as a scorer.


Jordan Liggons Mm hmm.


Jamel Johnson And she’s just like, look, I’m going to shoot these fucking two dribble pull ups, and I’m just going to strap up.


Jordan Liggons Yeah.


Jamel Johnson She’s been playing some really good defense since the semi’s turning it up as a team. I mean, I don’t know. It is this Kurt Miller’s, like, personality. I feel like it’s really Alyssa Thomas at the head of all of it.


Jordan Liggons Totally.


Jamel Johnson And, like, the coach might not even matter, but like these guys, they’re just dog like super dogs. Like. Like what if P.J. Tucker was sober talking about dogs?


Jordan Liggons What if P.J. Tucker was, like, times seven? Like, that is it’s like it’s P.J. Tucker. Who else is on the team? Pat Bev is on this team. Like, just those personalities. That is Connecticut. We read you the score. It was 67 to 64. The Aces normally score in the nineties, 100. That’s what type of defensive team Connecticut is. And they are disruptors. They just mess up everything that you have going on.


Jamel Johnson And they don’t seem concerned with scoring.


Jordan Liggons They don’t.


Jamel Johnson They’re like, We don’t care. We might never shoot a three.


Jordan Liggons Yep.


Jamel Johnson It doesn’t matter. Alyssa Towers doesn’t have any shoulder blades.


Jordan Liggons No, no laybrums. If you turn on a WNBA broadcast for 30 seconds, they will mention that she has zero laybrons. But. But I think that’s the funny part is Connecticut will win a game 3 to 2 like they are okay not scoring. And we’ve seen that in the semis of them going through really deep dry spells of not scoring, not making layups. I don’t know their three point shooting percentage, but it’s like one for five, like they don’t even shoot them. It’s everything is in the paint.


Jamel Johnson Kurt Miller, literally k-warned of broadcast. He was miked up and said, y’all are going to get me fired.


Jordan Liggons Yes, but I love you back.


Jamel Johnson Don’t make a lay up.


Jordan Liggons If you don’t make a layup. Because that was like that was shocking. But yesterday, they made layups. They made tough shots. They made push shots, floaters, still nothing really outside the key. But they still, you know, down to the wire to an Aces team that does shoot threes. We have to talk about Chelsea Gray and everything that she’s doing. I don’t believe she’s human right now. I think the jury’s out on that. But she. Well, at the end of the game, yeah, a couple of key turnovers.


Jamel Johnson I’ve never seen a game end on back to back rips.


Jordan Liggons Back to back when you were up by, they were about seven, seven.


Jamel Johnson Seven, seven split a pair of free throws.


Jon Favreau Yes.


Jamel Johnson You know, I’m tracking this hard. I have Vegas minus six. They’re up seven, two rips. You haven’t gotten the ball taken from you in months.


Jordan Liggons Months.


Jamel Johnson Back to back rips.


Jordan Liggons Oh. By none other than Alyssa Thomas.


Jamel Johnson Grinning.


Jordan Liggons Oh man.


Jamel Johnson Like the fucking joker.


Jordan Liggons Like the joker. She you guys, she was smiling as Chelsea Gray, who already has 20 points, just hitting unbelievable shots.


Jamel Johnson Hit her, hit her with one on the left. She did the left side hit her with a floater in her mouth.


Jordan Liggons A fade fadeaway hand up in her face. Chelsea Gray just scored on her next possession. Chelsea Great comes down. Alyssa Thomas smiling in her face as Chelsea Gray tries to go for the dagger three pointer to seal the deal. Alyssa Thomas smiles, blocks it.


Jamel Johnson It’s like, Dawg, I’m not Paul George. You think I’m Paul George, what do you think this is?


Jordan Liggons She is not.


Jamel Johnson I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to besmirch the man, but you remember what happened.


Jordan Liggons That’s fine.


Jamel Johnson I assume every NBA player listens to Takeline.


Jordan Liggons Yes. And I’ve been on this exact broadcasts throwing all the shade to Paul George and how I think he wears extensions in his braids. And I stick by that, I stand by that.


Jamel Johnson I know this isn’t in the docket, but is anyone going to say anything to Jimmy Butler?


Jordan Liggons No, we’re not. I totally love this. I love the Jimmy Butler extension. I love it.


Jamel Johnson What is there to say?


Jordan Liggons Love but love. We’re not going to say anything. We’re going to embrace it. Just like I have extensions of my hair right now. We are embracing Jimmy Butler. Welcome to the beauty supply store. Jimmy Butler. We’re saying nothing.


Jamel Johnson In my mind. Duncan Robinson walked in the locker room and seen him in the room was like.


Jordan Liggons Did your hair grow?


Jamel Johnson Yeah. Hey, dude. Whoa.


Jordan Liggons That’s always the question. I would come back. My hair is down to my butt. Yesterday it was not like that. Why are you going to ask me if my hair grew overnight? No.


Jamel Johnson Do you? Do you think Tyler Herro asked to touch it?


Jordan Liggons Totally. He’s like, What does it feel like? Is it heavy? He totally asked if it was heavy.


Jamel Johnson I, I just want to say something.


Jordan Liggons We don’t. We.


Jamel Johnson But I don’t know whether or not it would be.


Jordan Liggons Now it looks great.


Jamel Johnson Okay. Anyway.


Jordan Liggons Anyway, WNBA.


Jamel Johnson Yeah, the WNBA is back. And better than ever. And I.


Jordan Liggons Better than ever.


Jamel Johnson Aces in four.


Jordan Liggons Aces in four. I like that. I want it to go to five games just because more games the better. I’m having a hard time just realizing that this WNBA season is going to be over soon. And it was so much fun. Such a great season. I do think Connecticut. I do think Aces hold down home court. First game back to Connecticut. They steal it. And then the Aces sealed the deal. So I guess I agree with you. Aces in four.


Jamel Johnson Yeah. Aces win? A little more comfortable. No mistakes down the stretch. It’s gonna look like the same game, but without the back to back turnovers, the closer. Right. And in game three, Connecticut wins 17 to 14.


Jordan Liggons Shows a defensive brawl.


Jamel Johnson A football game. They put on pads.


Jordan Liggons A football game.


Jamel Johnson And go play a damn football game yeah. Tuned to the for the C block. And then yeah game four you got to win it got to win it on the road a lot of championship teams you got to win it on the road. Let it go to five. Hey, man.


Jordan Liggons It’s a toss up.


Jamel Johnson It’s anyone’s game.


Jordan Liggons Yeah.


Jamel Johnson Home Court doesn’t matter.


Jordan Liggons It doesn’t matter. It’s too much of a toss up. Like, you have to take care of business. And I feel like the Aces have been doing that this whole season, so I’m not worried. I feel good. I feel like they they took it in the mouth, you know, like the Connecticut Sun punch back in that second quarter, third quarter. They didn’t they realized they weren’t just going to roll over. So I I’m still going Aces, though. Who do you have winning finals MVP?


Jamel Johnson I mean, it’s got to be Chelsea Gray. It’s got to be Chelsea Gray at this point.


Jordan Liggons At this point, it might have to be.


Jamel Johnson Well, I don’t know. Because then if they change tactics and maybe based on how the last game went.


Jordan Liggons Mm hmm.


Jamel Johnson They could decide to change tactics and be like, Look, we’re given the Aja the ball. I don’t give a shit. I don’t care how hot you are, we’re giving Aja the ball. If they end the game like that, it could be hers. But right now, I’m saying. Chelsea.


Jordan Liggons Okay. Okay.


Jamel Johnson Chelsea. Plum. You know, if she could get the jumper together.


Jordan Liggons She got to find it. I don’t know where it is.


Jamel Johnson She hit one three in the fourth in a three point game. So that’s like we can’t actually ask for anything more than that, but.


Jordan Liggons Great time to turn it on.


Jamel Johnson Yeah, it’d be great if you could just do that.


Jordan Liggons And they still won with her scoring. What was it? Six points.


Jamel Johnson Something, yeah..


Jordan Liggons I hope that she’s not trying to shoot herself like back in the game because it felt like that at the beginning. She was taking quick threes and I’m like, What are you doing? Pass it to your MVP. Chill. But she has to be like, okay, I scored six points. I was like, Oh, for seven until the fourth quarter and my team still won. I can gradually get back in this. I can get in the gym right now, but my team needs more of me. But we also still won with me doing the bare minimum, so I hope she doesn’t try to force the issue because that could be a problem.


Jamel Johnson Yeah. And what else? I mean, we haven’t talked about Bria Jones.


Jordan Liggons Brionna Jones.


Jamel Johnson Brionna Jones.


Jon Favreau So good.


Jamel Johnson That that center back up center, Jonquel. Hey, Joquel.


Jordan Liggons Jonquel


Jordan Liggons She’s great.


Jamel Johnson Jonquel showed up, man. I mean, it’s weird that, like, Connecticut has scores that they’re just like, fuck it. Like, Hiedeman, is a great three point shooter. Jonquel Jones


Jordan Liggons Their only.


Jamel Johnson Is amazing. And Dawana Bonner, also. Come on. These that’s three buckets.


Jordan Liggons Mm hmm.


Jamel Johnson And they’re just like we don’t care.


Jordan Liggons Yeah.


Jamel Johnson It’s like.


Jordan Liggons No.


Jamel Johnson Missing shots gets them hype. It reminds me of when watching Russ with the Wizards.


Jordan Liggons Mhm.


Jamel Johnson Every game with the Wizards, he would throw one of the craziest turnovers I ever saw in my life, and then it would make him so mad that he would play great.


Jordan Liggons So that’s why you gave us like your fans.


Jamel Johnson Russ Oh, sure. Yeah. No, have that. Enjoy. Hey, you. Hey. You’re welcome.


Jordan Liggons We’re not going to go down that road. We are talking about something positive. We’re talking about something positive in Jonquel Jones. This I think the big secret storyline is that Jonquell Jones was the MVP and last season. Aja was the MVP, 2020. And this season. So we have both, the past MVPs going against each other. And I was wanting JJ to step up and I feel like she did. She had 15.7 for 15 from the field, nine rebounds. She sat for an extended time going into the fourth quarter. But looking forward for Connecticut to keep having a fighting chance, I think you’re right on the nose. Like they have to use their scores. They are going to have to score a little bit a little bit more. Dawanna Bonner had three points. She went one for nine. We know that’s not going to happen again. She’s such an energy player, but I think they’re just going to have to put the ball in the basket just a little more.


Jamel Johnson Simple and plain.


Jordan Liggons I think that’s fair.


Jamel Johnson I think that is pretty fair. I think, you know, I think we got it.


Jordan Liggons Great.


Jamel Johnson Keys  to the game.


Jordan Liggons So that’s that. Now, let’s recap the U.S. Open with Ben Rothenberg.


Jamel Johnson <A.D.>


Unidentified Carlos Alcaraz arrives at his destiny, a major champion, and ascends to world number one.


Jamel Johnson The dust has settled in Queens, New York. Shout out to all my folks in Lefrak City, Corona, Astoria, Long Island City, all my guys working at the ferries. The 2022 U.S. Open is now a beautiful memory from Serena’s last dance, allegedly to Tiafoe magical run to the semis. The competition gave us no shortage of moments and storylines to dig into. Here to recap the final Grand Slam event of the year and help me get one of those ball boy polos. It’s Ben Rothenberg the No Challenges Remaining podcast and Racket Magazine. Ben, welcome to Takeline.


Ben Rothenberg Thanks for having me. I’m not sure on the Polos, but I can call some people.


Jamel Johnson But if you look and I’m not I’m not looking for a deal, I will pay full price you tax. Okay.


Ben Rothenberg Okay.


Jamel Johnson Okay. I just need one. And I. They don’t even make them in 3X, but if they. If they think about going big and tall for the ball, boys, I’m into it. All right, well, you know, the ball boys are one thing. How about the winner of the event. The men’s final. Carlos Alcaraz. A baby.


Jordan Liggons Yeah.


Jamel Johnson A little 19 year old baby, a fawn crawling from the woods and hitting unbelievable shots. Replace me. And power to you, please. Like, kind of put into perspective how unreal it is to be 19 and win the U.S. Open.


Ben Rothenberg I mean, it’s such a dramatic jump over so many generations in tennis. And we still mostly had this old guard of players who’ve still been the relevant, dominant players in tennis. I mean, Wimbledon was won by Novak Djokovic, who’s 35, Rafael Nadal, 36, and won the French Open this year. I mean, so there’s a huge lead to skip over basically 16, 17 years due to this 19 year old being the next champion. There’s lots of guys who’ve been sort of waiting for their turn of woe when Djokovic, Nadal would finally age out and they’d have a chance to to win. And then also this younger fallen, as you call them, comes out of the woods and tramples everybody. And it’s really remarkable to see him become the youngest number one in ATP history coming in at 19 years old. He comes at a time when it’s a bit of a interregnum. There’s definitely kind of a shift happening where those old guys are aging out, but it does seem like a real potential, more sort of potential permanent new guard guys here. There’s not really this sort of a transition period because there were some people in this draw who made it deep who wouldn’t have been expected to make it deep and maybe have had a chance and sort of a bit of a transitional moment. Like I said, Tiafoe might fit into that category, honestly, in terms of people who just sort of seized the moment and saw an opening and went for it but weren’t quite expected to get there this quickly. But now Alcarez has been on the on the short list of people who are future potential number ones. For him to get it this quickly is remarkable. Just what you’re talking. Just three years ago, he’s ranked like 460 and now he’s number one.


Jordan Liggons Wow.


Ben Rothenberg Pretty, pretty, pretty quick, great nuclear glow up there.


Jamel Johnson His career is like a video game career. That that’s how it is when I play career mode on virtual tennis three and I put it on easy mode.


Ben Rothenberg Exactly.


Jamel Johnson I go from 400 to number one pretty fast.


Ben Rothenberg No, it is exactly that. It’s like a video game you put on like too low difficulty mode or a video game you played a lot of times before and you start a new character, but you already kind of know how everything works. Like he just showed up being able to do things, you would expect someone. We just haven’t seen people who are 19 do this. The sport is really been dominated by older players like that. Djokovic, Nadal, Federer was in there not that long ago. That guard of people had really had a iron grip on the tour. And there’s only been two Grand Slams ever won by guys who were born in the nineties.


Jordan Liggons Whoa.


Ben Rothenberg So there’s this whole cohort of people who are, what now like between 32 and 23, I guess roughly who between them they’ve only won two Grand Slam titles ever. And here comes this kid born in 2003, already winning his first. So that shows you how ahead of schedule he is.


Jamel Johnson Everybody’s in the dressing room talking about Nickelodeon. And here comes this little baby.


Jordan Liggons My only question before we move on is.


Ben Rothenberg Yeah.


Jordan Liggons You know, you were you were there at the beginning. And my main question is tennis. His tennis is wonderful. Did you see him sweat? Because I’m kind of concerned that he was not sweating at all, like just to the fact that he felt like he was you know, I’ve been here before. He was kind of cool, calm and collected. But physically he didn’t sweat. And I was weirded out by that.


Ben Rothenberg Roger Federer, had the no sweat thing, too, at his peak. He was very known as being always looking pristine and always having a hair fallen just right it even, you know, into a fourth or fifth set of the match when everyone else is looking haggard. But but Alcaraz had a bit of that, too, for sure. I don’t know. He’s clearly a physical beast. He’s incredibly fast. He’s powerful. He can do a lot of different things and yeah, whatever he’s doing in terms of that, it’s working well.


Jamel Johnson I mean, he played 1 million sets in this tournament.


Jordan Liggons For 23 hours. Like, oh, my gosh, I’m I’m impressed. The no sweat and everything else is it’s very impressive. But on to the women’s side, Iga Swiatek, she’s only 21 as well, so she’s won her second major this year. Talk us through her run and the U.S. Open and how the dominance of her has kind of vaulted her into number one status as well.


Ben Rothenberg Yeah, she’s definitely become a dominant number one this year. I mean, she’s in terms of the ranking points, like they’re roughly the same votes as I understand points, you can understand these numbers like Carlos Alcaraz hit number one hears about 6800 points, Iga has about 10,600. So she’s way out in front in terms of how much better she is in the package. She’s about roughly about 4000 ahead of the next closest person in women’s tennis, right now. She’s been the best. I mean, she won 37 straight matches earlier this year. She reeled off a whole bunch of tournaments on hardcourt and clay court, had a bit of a dip when the tour shifted to grass and came out of that didn’t like the conditions and around the U.S. Open but really steel herself and yet won this tournament and she has this thing especially in finals where she just absolutely puts on beat downs for people. And you saw that early in this match and was like, you’re worried if Jabeur would get gains and sort of, you know, just like it was six two in the first. Then Jabeur felt lucky to get those two on somewhat with how well Swiatek was playing. So she she’s a she’s the most dominant player we’ve had in tennis since since Serena Williams left for her maternity leave. Honestly, she’s the one who stepped up and really in women’s tennis for sure, since we’ve had, you know, but that had been sort of what I was talking about fort with the men might have sort of a bit of a chaos period where a lot of different people could have a good two weeks and grab a grand slam title. Swiatek, I guess, making said that might not be the case anymore if she keeps playing like this and she’s incredibly well-rounded player, she’s very fast. She’s got a lot of topspin. She plays a bit more like Rafael Nadal, whose top speaking game. We haven’t seen too much out the women’s side and it’s been very effective at disrupting her power play. And yeah, she’s only 21 and she’s definitely seeming like she’s in sort of okay, just how far she can go kind of kind of range of can she make it to, you know, don’t put pressure or this, but like double digit kind of grand slam total someday. Like she’s the first player in a while. I think you can sort of say has that kind of momentum. There’s so much that can go wrong or other players you can show up and disrupt and derail that. That’s always a factor in tennis. You don’t know what the future holds and you can’t take anything for granted. But right now, like what she’s doing, it looks pretty sustainable and it seems like it’s just a question of how far she’s going to go in terms of racking them up.


Jamel Johnson Okay. We’ve talked about the winners, but yeah, I got to talk about my guy, Francis Tiafoe. I like the next 45 minutes of the show to be about Francis Tiafoe It was great to see him. I mean, I’ve been following him since he was like 20, like 19,20, and he would make kind of like a run to like, like a sweet 16 to like a big tournament. And it seemed like he’d be pretty stoked about it. But this tournament, he definitely seemed like he had a different focus. He’s serving like I hadn’t seen him served before. What do you see for the future of the best American man in the tennis world right now?


Speaker 4 Yeah, I’ll actually start. It wasn’t even clear coming in to before the story that he was maybe the best even of the Americans. There’s kind of an interesting little group of them. And the he really broke out the sort of run and honestly with the kind of charisma that the others don’t have, like in terms of being engaging, like he just makes people care. He takes over the whole stadium on his back and carries them with him where he’s going. And he’s had that quality for a long time, actually. He’s always been a really, really magnetic performer out on court like he really is. And he has that that makes you care about him. And you just saw it with the way people were riding the wave. And he had a kind of the MVP. The time I saw that, he was actually the one who’s like doing morning TV interviews and stuff on Monday morning in terms of riding the New York media wave after the tournament. It hasn’t been I don’t know, maybe Alcaraz did too, but I don’t know Swiatek a bit too. But yeah, the Tiafoe was definitely kind of the breakout star in a lot of ways, certainly in this market. In the American market. Yeah, his win over Nadal was a big breakthrough win. It all had not lost a match at a Grand Slam all year. He won the first two Grand Slam titles, then pulled out of the Wimbledon semi. So Tiafoe is the first guy to step up and beat him and it really is just a great sort of coming to fruition or manifestation of what people have been saying about him for a long time. I mean, that’s the thing with tennis is that really serious players get serious about such young ages and Tiafoe is out there winning. I think he won this tournament in  France called the Le Petit Asque, when he was like, I think 12 or 13 like, which is sort of at best like under 13 tournament. So that put him on a national spotlight earlier than people found out about his backstory with his parents coming from Sierra Leone and living at the club and doing different things like that. So there’s not a lot of eyes on him and a lot of attention to him from a very young age, really, since before almost before he was a teenager. And so for him to step up and have this moment and seize it and continue to sort of put his head down and do the work, a lot of times in terms of getting to do improve a serve to improve the physicality. I mean, he went five sets with with Alcaraz in the state finals and was there all the way in that match. I mean, he was ready and just happy to run into this guy. That’s why I sort of said, like France, it’s like almost a desert having a bit of a I won’t say fluke. It wasn’t a fluke that he beat Nadal, but having the seeds part a little bit for him instead of having Alcaraz come and crash and knock everybody out right away. Yeah, but Francis is there and has this incredible. Yeah. Star power. We have not seen American men’s tennis in a long time, probably since Andy Roddick. I think it’s the last player on the men’s side who had that kind of that kind of charisma. And, yeah, it’s been almost 20 years since Roddick won the last American Men’s Grand Slam, no one’s even made a grand final for American men’s in 2009, and Roddick made his last one. So, yeah, Tiafoe I mean, I’ve known Tiafoe since he was like 15. Okay. So I live in D.C. so he grew up in College Park, which is like five, ten miles from where I live. Yeah.


Jamel Johnson C’mon man. I know exactly what the hell is going on


Ben Rothenberg I see. I see that. Is that commander? Is that right?


Jamel Johnson It’s it’s it’s a Washington Commandments head I like to.


Ben Rothenberg Commandents. And that’s better. There’s a lot of better names are out there for that team. That’s a different story. But yeah, but know Tiafoe grew up there and it’s kind of going to school in their system there. And he’s just been a huge pride of this of this community. And yeah, it’s showing that you can grow tennis talent without having to sort of be taken out of where you grew up and repotted in some Florida academy, like so many of the kids kids do. For him to stay a D.C. product and stay sort of connected to the kids there and he knows, like, you know, teenagers are there training. He knows them all by name. And he’s sort of this sort of mentor role model figure there. Anyway, there’s a lot of great things to say about Tiafoe. I saw someone say if I’m Blair Henley to sort of just some the awkward interviews that that match the tournaments that she was saying when he’s playing Alcatraz I think in the semi she said there probably there’s never been a match where some people have felt like they have like a close friend getting this close to the final like so many people would consider Francis a friend. And he’s just that kind of engaging, you know, getting hugs to everybody and just being friendly and normal and no, you know, he believes in himself and he can be cocky and is our way, but there’s no ego to speak of in terms of acting like he’s better than people. So he he has a lot of a lot of things going for him. And this was a great, great moment for him. And yeah, I just hope that, you know, he can keep this this momentum up, which is not easy. I mean, there’s four months basically till the next grand slam in Australia and that’s it. That’s a long time to keep sort of your altitude intensity. You got to keep, you know, flapping in your wings all the time. He stay up there in a challenging world but yeah he definitely showed the he the game in the game up better than ever. You know we’ve known had the charisma and had the personality, but the actual tennis was the best it’s ever been. So hopefully that can that can stay there.


Jamel Johnson May be honest when you saw him warming up in there. Bradley Beal Jersey, you kind of knew he was doomed, right?


Jordan Liggons Is that what did it?


Ben Rothenberg I don’t normally think of associating with the Wizards as being the mark of a champion, to be honest. But but, you know, it shows that he’s true to his roots. He’s not going to and he wasn’t gonna change. He has his LeBron jersey and stuff so he can he can you know. Seeing Brad in the sand and the stuff was chool. They showed him on camera a lot at the International with a lot of identity. People know who Bradley Beal is by watching in Europe. Probably not, but it’s nice.


Jordan Liggons I know Kentavious was there. I was like, Hey, do people know who that is?


Jamel Johnson They kind of give Kentavious a few more crowd shots, I feel like. Yeah, a lot of Brad and come on Kentavious had just did his braids he just redid his braids for this.


Jordan Liggons For this moment but also I love what you said it feels like it was a friend because I felt that way when he did get eliminated. And, you know, in his interview, he said, I’m sorry. I let everybody down. Like, I just I got so emotional. I was like, no, you did it. You did great. This is your time to shine. So I love that you said that because I, I also hope he can ride that wave. And the all the eyes being on him, being in the semis can only propel him forward.


Speaker 4 Absolutely. And look, I mean, there has not been really there’s so much support for him in the world. I don’t know if you saw like Michelle Obama actually saw it on TV. Michelle Obama was there, but she went and met with him afterwards. Was saying a lot of the same things you just said, like, you know, keep your head up and you didn’t disappoint anybody. It was a really cool video. Watch you look up and check it out on social media. People have ripped it. But yeah, I mean, there’s just so much goodwill around him. And honestly, American tennis has been looking for a breakout black star on the men’s side. Really since since Arthur Ashe. I mean, James Blake did a bit for sure. And he got to be a top ten player in his time. But it’s been a big, big gap where there’s been all these women who’ve been following in the Williams sisters footsteps, you know, lots of successful black women. Some statements, Madison Keys, Coco Gauff, Naomi Osaka, you could throw in there. You know, she represents Japan. She’s definitely one of the sort of Williams families, you know, legacy. But but there hasn’t been anybody in American men’s tennis sort of on the black side of things. And it just it’s a sign that the sport is known, has been missing, is known, has been a hole. And so for Francis to to come up and hopefully hopefully take that and hopefully sustain it and continue being a face the sport. I mean, this is also even just on the American tennis set. This is the first time, I think since 2011 there was ever a grand slam where the best men’s result with better than the best women’s result from the Americans. So it shows like how how good women have been take it for granted for sure and Serena spent a lot of that obviously for a lot of that run. But yeah, but Francis is hopefully bringing some new ground for the American men.


Jordan Liggons Yes. Well, since you brought her up.


Ben Rothenberg Yes.


Jordan Liggons Let’s talk about Serena because the. Wow. That her whole run. It’s been amazing. It’s set records. Everybody was everybody was watching her final match. But what was it like to witness and watch the G.O.A.T.? Like, there’s no argument. She is the G.O.A.T., the greatest of all time. What was it like witnessing that potentially, maybe, hopefully not her final match?


Ben Rothenberg So I’ll be honest, going into the U.S. Open, I was nervous for her because I was at her her previous term, her penultimate tournament essentially in Cincinnati. And she looked rough. She got beaten. Six, four, six, Love got burgled by Emir of Kano, who is last years of a champion, a good player. But just like Serena looked out of slow and she looked just like, not like, really a shadow of herself. And I was sort of just like, oh, this could be she’s 40 and she hasn’t played in a year, barely. And she doesn’t look, she’s in her best shape and she’s really slow and she could get honestly embarrassed, potentially, with all this sort of pageantry that’s coming in New York. But once she got there and she actually did put in a lot of hard work in those ten days, she got it. She got a new coach. She started playing a lot of practice sets against the top two players, which she doesn’t usually do. Usually she keeps her training very private, but then she was like, I want to have, you know, get some, you know, real sort of skin in the game in these practices and bring in some of the other top five players in the world and head with them and play live sets against them in practice to train. And she did a remarkable job of leveling up in those ten days, especially by the time she got the second round, which was the biggest match she was. She played the number two seed in the world, Annet Kontaveit and won that in three sets. And by then she was just playing great tennis. That was a very high level match. That was not Serena sort of, you know, BS-ing her way through with some sort of, you know, guile or just great. Like the tennis level was very high there. And then you’re sort of thinking like, man, if she had had whatever. I mean, this is unfair to her. But she had the prep and dedication to get over these last incredible ten days for, you know, three months. And she could have won this tournament potentially because the skill and the ability is still there. And it’s so, so pure. And just the technique and everything and the serve are all still great. She still obviously, you know, doesn’t have the foot speed she did when she was 20 or 30 or 35 even. But, you know, she still could go out there and she acquitted herself really, really well. In the end, I think she really did her legacy and her test proud. She lost in the third round to Ajla Tomljanovic, hung out of it. She played really well. That was another real  quality match and I was really impressed by time out of that. She was able to hang in there mentally in front of this crowd in the stadium. It was, you know, deafening for Serena and anytime she did anything well, if were cheering, people were cheering for double faults, for Tomljanovic on events and stuff as a lot of times tennis people try to be, you know, sitting on their hands and all proper polite. But people want to see Serena win every point. So anytime  Serena won a point, they didn’t really care how it came, which is totally fair. So. So, yeah, but Serena, I think, has to feel good about how she went out and if this was her last, you know, it was, I think, a really fitting and true to go out. And she seemed content with it. She seemed happy as much as she said that she was dreading it. I think, you know, she was smiling a lot and seemed in a good mood just on the media side, like she came and did all her press conferences, which is not something she reliably does in this stage of her career, especially after a loss. Like we were like, Oh, well, there goes Serena. Like, Well, should you press it all? But she was there and willing to talk and just sort of engaged and seemed to be, you know, embracing the moment and riding the wave. And there was a lot of years in her career, for sure, where she wasn’t getting the adulation and, you know, love from the crowd in New York or anywhere really reliably. But then in this last sort of, you know, six, seven years sort of have been sort of her coronation era when she’s been sort of affirmed as being as being the best. And that sort of outpouring of love has been really for her. So I think she’s been relishing that sort of, you know, overdue and sometimes making up for what the loss time was.


Jamel Johnson Well, aside from the obvious, you know, do you have any favorite moments from your time at the tournament this year? Like it’s in Queens. Like when you walk in the building, like, is there like a dude with, like, a Nike like, headband on and like an oversize loony tune T-shirt? Like, what is it like? Does that feel like you’re in Queens? Like, is it like another planet? Like.


Speaker 4 Once you get inside the gates. No. But even just on a way from the subway to the tournament, which is like a half mile walk from because they share a subway station with the Mets stadium. Sure. On the other side of the tracks in Flushing Meadows. So. But like they’re like especially like during on Serena days, anything on Nostrand is like the number of sort of like bootleg Serena t-shirts are being sold out on they out on the on the boardwalk was and I was just thinking like man Serena Williams.


Jordan Liggons Wish I got one.


Speaker 4 Serena didn’t have her own merch. She came ready to because she would’ve made a, you know, probably literal $1,000,000 selling Serena merch at this U.S. Open. But these people showed up with their, you know, trash bags full of Serena T-shirts and were selling them and, you know, making good money off of that. Some sort of I guess maybe the Queens Energy you’re talking about there. Yeah, but but it’s also, you know, it’s just like it’s very much a part of the city and part of, you know, Queens, too. Like most people commute out there because the traffic is terrible on the seven train. And it’s you see all the normal people who are just, you know, going about their lives, commuting to and from plAces in, you know, the eastern region where the seven goes all the way to Flushing. And yeah, it’s just it’s part of the community, part of this very, very diverse, you know, atmosphere, tough place, so much more than what you get at Wimbledon, which is the previous one, where you’re in this sort of very leafy, rich, suburban south southwest London, you know, Flushing Meadows. It’s not like that. And yeah, if you go, you know, into where I was for I drove this year for whatever reasons, and it’s parking somewhere that was sort of near all these volleyball courts in the Flushing Meadows Park in Corona Park. And and yet just seeing all these, you know, volleyball games with lots of like Ecuadorians playing these like intense volleyball matches and picnicking, barbecuing, you know, about a half mile from where the U.S. Open is happening, people are having their $25 cocktails or whatever else. Like, it definitely is part of the part of the city and part of this of this diverse world, which is definitely a cool vibe to be able to to embrace.


Jamel Johnson One time for all my guys in Corona, man. The Lemon Ice King. Kool G Rap, you know hwat I mean? Get at me.


Jordan Liggons So we have to talk about kind of the last person, Nick Kyrgios. It’s kind of like a train wreck that you can’t look away from his personality and pending legal issues. But he’s also such an immense talent. Sometimes it’s kind of frustrating. He made it to the quarterfinals at the U.S. Open. But in your opinion, will he ever kind of get it together and win a Grand Slam event?


Ben Rothenberg He’s been closer than I think a lot people thought he might get in his last two is he made the final Wimbledon and lost Djokovic could’ve won that match with a four setter. I mean, it was it was really pretty neck and neck in a lot of ways and not a lot of margin there for Djokovic. And then he made yeah, he beat the number one seed, Daniil Medvedev in this tournament. But in the fourth round after losing the quarters, I mean, he’s been close but he is just such a chaos agent in the sport and you never know sort of how much his temper is. Everyone get in trouble and how much his his demeanor will just sort of have a meltdown. And we see lots of meltdowns from over the years. But he’s improved his mindset. He’s improved his fitness a lot in the last year or so. And he was very much a legitimate contender to win this tournament. News in the draw, he actually could have done it and yeah, and he just sort of had lost a tight match. He probably should have won in the quarters. Got to play Casper Ruud in the semis to go to Beaten Ruud and gotten to the final against Alcaraz. He could have done it for sure. He could have done it. And so and he was hurt. He definitely was hurt. This loss, I think, hurt for him more than any other losses he’s probably had because he’s for so long, he wasn’t putting himself out there really trying. He wasn’t really committing and always had sort of an excuse of like, well, you know, if I actually get my all, I probably wanted these things and now he’s starting to actually give it his all. And so when he falls short there, it’s more painful for him. So we’ll see how long that that kind of commitment for him can last. He’s Australian. He’s the Australian Open coming up next Tuesday tournament for him. In terms of the Grand Slams, he can he’s definitely in the mix there to win that one as well. So we’ll we’ll see how it goes for him. But you just you don’t know. And there’s always just so much and so chaos and noise around him and all sorts of things that are pretty unsavory at times. Honestly, just in terms of sitting on court level, just like hearing the amount of like insulting he’s doing to like his friends and family in the in the box constantly throughout the match. Just really unpleasant. Have to sit there and listen to it honestly at times he has a he has a court case coming up in Australia from an ex-girlfriend or some sort of what seems like a minor but still assault charge of some kind. That’s coming up for him. And yeah, like it’s it’s just there’s a lot of things that are can be off putting about Nick to say the least for sure. But at the same time, the electric moments are still people. You see how crazy it will get for him and how much he still can light up the the stage. I think, you know Tiafoe is some people say like here’s Tiafoe, who is sort of the non problematic version of Kyrgios and his all the a lot of the curious quality to that any honestly of the downsides but but Nick is still a very intoxicating mix for a lot of people a lot of people still you know he still packs stadiums and still is someone people care about a whole lot, even if he is a complicated character for sure.


Jamel Johnson We ran out of time. We couldn’t talk about Kaspar Roos. Shout out to all my people out in Norway and Oslo. Bergen, Trondheim. Stavanger, my man, Carl Brown. We see you, baby.


Ben Rothenberg I’ve been to Bergen. It’s nice.


Jamel Johnson Oh for real? What they got out there?


Ben Rothenberg Yes, I’ve got some fjords. Big fjords.


Jamel Johnson Big fjords.


Ben Rothenberg Big fjords. Elite fjords in Bergen.


Jamel Johnson We got we met my man, Ben Rothenberg. We got a couple of fjords lined up. We about to be out in Norway getting this money once again. Thanks for coming on the show, Ben. He is the host of the No Challenges Remaining podcast. It is in your phone. It is in your Internet radio right now. He is the editor at Racket magazine. You can read it right now. It’s in a magazine right now. Ben Rothenberg, folks. Ben, thanks for joining us at Takeline.


Jon Favreau Thank you, Ben.


Ben Rothenberg Thank you for having me, guys.


Jamel Johnson <A.D.>


Unidentified There was wasn’t. Those ends over the middle Pouncey, that wide open. Jefferson, again inside the ten, heading for the end zone. Touchdown.


Jordan Liggons The NFL kicked off on Sunday. And now that the chase for the Ambati trophy is on, fantasy football leagues around the world are officially underway. If you started Minnesota wide receiver Justin Jefferson, Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Pat Mahomes or the Pittsburgh Steelers defense in week one, odds are your team is off to a flying start. Here to discuss the NFL’s season from a fantasy football perspective is Chris Towers of CBS Sports. Chris, welcome to Takeline.


Chris Towers Hi. Thanks for having me.


Jordan Liggons Football is back.


Jamel Johnson Football is back, Jack, and I cannot wait to have the next 17 Sundays of my life taken from me.


Chris Towers Yeah, I my Sundays are like, wake up at nine in the morning, start writing and just keep writing until two in the morning. So that’s. Yeah. Taken from me is a, is a good way to put it.


Jamel Johnson I love it. That man in the night game. So boring news delight was delicious.


Chris Towers These island games man I do these Monday night football hits after the game every week and last season it felt like nine weeks in a row is just like me and the host were just like, we got to stop meeting like this because these games are terrible.


Jamel Johnson The only thing worse than a bad Sunday night, Monday night game is a bad Thursday night game, some of the worst games. And we started off the year with a big injury already. Dak Prescott.


Chris Towers Yeah.


Jamel Johnson Hurt his hand. Looks like he’s out for 6 to 8 weeks with a thumb injury. How is this going to affect all of the the dum dums who picked Dak in their fantasy league. How do you think Tom Brady like is he going to be someone you should start going forward?


Chris Towers Yeah, I guess the good thing about someone like Dak Prescott and that’s the wrong way to put it, but the good thing about a quarterback suffering an injury relative to other positions is like there are a lot of good ones in the NFL right now. And so, you know, I was the person this year for fantasy who said you should take an early round quarterback, you should take Josh Allen, you should take Patrick Mahomes, because those guys are such difference makers. And we saw that in week one with both of those guys. But, you know, there are still guys out there like, you know, Justin Fields had a pretty good game in week one. Marcus Mariota quarterback for the Atlanta Falcons rushed for 72 yards. And and so you shouldn’t have trouble finding someone who’s good enough that it’s not a disaster for your team. Obviously, you’d rather have Dak Prescott, but it’s a bigger disaster for the Cowboys than it is for your fantasy teams because, you know, you might be able to trade for Kirk Cousins or Derek Carr or even Aaron Rodgers coming off a really bad week one. You know, remember he had an awful week one last year, people started freaking out and he ended up winning the MVP. So I think you can still bet that he’s going to be pretty good moving forward. So for your fantasy team, it’s not really that big of a loss with Dak Prescott. But for the Cowboys, you know, there are a lot of injuries where we have to kind of guess what the impact is going to be. Cowboys went through this in 2020 and they went from averaging 32.6 points per game with Dak Prescott as their quarterback in the first five games to 21.1 with, you know, a combination of Andy Dalton, Ben DaNucci and Garrett Gilbert. Now they’ve got Cooper Rush, who is a 28 year old. I think he was undrafted. He’s a 28 year old who has started one game in his career. He was actually pretty good in that game last year. But there’s a reason he’s a 28 year old who has started one game. It’s it’s weird that the Cowboys didn’t try to upgrade their backup quarterback position. They have the fourth most cap space in the NFL. They saw what happened the last time Dak Prescott got hurt. This is an incredibly top heavy team that for some reason opted to go into the NFL season with one healthy, good wide receiver, no competent backup quarterback, and an offensive line that has struggled with injuries. So I think there’s a real chance this season goes incredibly sideways for the Cowboys, which, you know, depending on your perspective, could be a lot of fun.


Jamel Johnson You know, I might be okay with that.


Jordan Liggons I’m here for that. The pettiness.


Chris Towers They looked pretty good yesterday. The Commanders. The Commies.


Jamel Johnson Well, here’s what I want to say about the Commanders. I know that you are the expert that we brought in on to the show. But if you are if you are new to Commander’s football, what’s going to happen is we’re going to look spectacular for about four and a half weeks and then we’re going to fall off a cliff and not like a metaphorical cliff. Like, I mean, like a Looney Tunes, Wiley Coyote style cliff. We’re going to fall into the Grand Canyon.


Chris Towers I thought that was going to happen yesterday. I was surprised they pulled it out because there was the point where Carson Wentz had that really bad interception where he threw it right at a defensive lineman. And I was like, Oh, well, this is I’ve seen this play before. I know how this works. But they actually ended up pulling it out, so that was surprising. No, I feel similarly, I grew up as a Dolphins fan. I wouldn’t say I’m a Dolphins fan anymore, but like it’s like a phantom limb, you know, where like I can still feel it. And every time the dolphins are on, I’m still like, I hope something good happened. But you’ve been a fan of that team for long enough that you know that, like, you shouldn’t expect good things to happen because that’s how you get hurt. And so I feel similarly about them as as you seem to about your team.


Jamel Johnson So much of watching football is like you could compare it to caring for an ailing relative.


Chris Towers Yeah.


Jordan Liggons Oh, my God.


Chris Towers I mean, just hoping, like, I think something bad is going to happen, but I hope it doesn’t.


Jordan Liggons Yeah, and I hope something good happens.


Chris Towers Yeah, yeah, that’s that’s that’s a fair analogy.


Jon Favreau That’s quite.


Jordan Liggons The comparison. But I get it. I get, I like phantom limb a lot better because it feels like I relate to this. And with my Sparks fandom, with my Lakers fandom, it’s just like it pains me to see you do bad, but I’m hoping good. Always, always.


Chris Towers Yeah. Yeah. The only team I root for that I have any emotion left with is the Marlins. And if you know anything about baseball, you know that that’s just a masochism thing at this point. That’s just because I feel like I don’t deserve better.


Jordan Liggons Just want to feel something, you know?


Chris Towers Yeah. Good or bad. Just want to feel alive.


Jordan Liggons Just want to feel alive. Yeah. You got to picture fandom based on that. You’re. A little bit about quarterbacks, but who is the top fantasy quarterback this year? You didn’t mention Patrick Mahomes. You made a statement with his 360 yard five touchdown performance against Arizona. Is there someone you’d rather have on your roster as a top fantasy quarterback?


Chris Towers Yeah, I think Josh Allen is the top guy. He’s been either the number one or number two quarterback the past couple of seasons. He was incredible in that first game against the Rams, the Rams offense really couldn’t do and our defense couldn’t do anything to stop him. But, you know, I think the edge he gives you is just with his legs. You know, Patrick Mahomes is mobile, but he’s not a runner. And that’s the difference. Josh Allen, you know, if you’re watching that Thursday night game, the announcers were pleading with him to stop running late in the game because they were up by three scores and he was still putting his shoulder down and trying to run people over. So, you know, when you’re talking about fantasy, that’s a big edge that he has. You know, I think there’s a top tier of Josh Allen, Patrick Mahomes, Justin Herbert from the Chargers and Lamar Jackson from the Ravens who had a three touchdown game. He didn’t really run much yesterday, but the Jets were pretty hapless, so he didn’t really need to. But I think those four guys, if you’ve got them on your team, you’ve got a pretty significant edge on the competition and maybe Jalen Hurts is in that group as well. He was pretty spectacular, rushing for over 90 yards in week one.


Jamel Johnson What are your thoughts at running back? I got Cam Akers. I’m looking at Cam Akers on my roster right now and I’m ready to throw my phone in the woods.


Chris Towers Yeah, he’s coming back from that Achilles injury and we saw him in the postseason last year. Didn’t look great. He didn’t look explosive. And that’s just the toughest injury, I think, for any professional athlete to come back from. You look at the track record for the Achilles injury and, you know, Kobe Bryant suffered it late in his career and he came back and it was impressive that he was still able to play, but he clearly wasn’t the guy he used to be. Kevin Durant is kind of an outlier in terms of really returning to his former high level of production. So Achilles injuries tend to be very tough. And I don’t know, there were some quotes from Sean McVay coming out of week one where it was less, you know, it was like Cam Akers needs to show us consistently. You play in and play out that he can play at the level we want him to and give the effort we want him to. So that was pretty concerning. But I think he’ll get a chance at some point because Darrell Henderson, who is, you know, the expected starter at this point for the Rams, he’s had trouble staying healthy. And so I think at some point Cam Akers is going to get a chance and is going to be a decent fantasy option. But I mean, three touches in week one, I think he played seven snaps. He’s clearly not the guy right now. And that’s bad because there were a couple of drafts that I did where he fell far enough that I finally took him and now I’m kind of stuck. You know, one of those I don’t really have a backup. I’ve got him in Devin Singletary. So Thursday night was not great for me. Oh, but he combined for seven points.


Jamel Johnson Yet a nice time.


Chris Towers I had Josh Allen with them, so like the three of them combined for like 50 points. I was like, okay, I guess I’ll take that. Even if, you know, Josh Allen had to do 90% of the heavy lifting. But yeah, I, I don’t think you can look at Cam Akers as someone who has a spot in your lineup right now. You shouldn’t drop him because I do think there’s still a chance he becomes the lead back. But right now, your expectations should be very, very muted for him.


Jamel Johnson Benchville. Who’s like a waiver target a running back after week one? Who do you who do you think nobody’s guy right now who’s hot?


Chris Towers I think the biggest targets are probably going to be Jalen Warren for the Steelers and Jeff Wilson for the 49ers. Because you had Najee Harris suffered a setback with his Lisfranc injury in the training camp, which is that’s a tough injury. So, you know, it sounds like it’s not a season ender, but it could be a multiple week kind of thing. And Jalen Warren played every snap after Harris’s injury. So I think he’s going to get a lot of opportunities. And then Jeff Wilson is the likely lead back for the 49 ers with Elijah Mitchell suffering a knee injury in week one. And Wilson is not as good as Elijah Mitchell. He hasn’t been as efficient in that offense, but he got, I think, 15 plus carries in three, four games last season and had 15 plus PPR points in two of them. So he’ll be a useful fantasy option if not, you know, a superstar. I think those will be the two highest priority pickups, but otherwise, I think KENYON Drake is okay as long as J.K. Dobbins is out, but he’s not going to be a star. I think the biggest guys that we saw in week one for the waiver wire are probably wide receivers like Curtis Samuel, I think is going to be very, very exciting. The usage he got was a big deal yesterday. So yeah, I think Jalen Warren and Jeff Wilson will be the two biggest running backs on waivers today.


Jamel Johnson Already. I already tried to claim Curtis Samuel on waivers.


Jordan Liggons After week one. Don’t you not do that for a while.


Jamel Johnson Not even now. I didn’t even I Sunday morning at 10:30, I was like, let me get him now.


Chris Towers He like was a big part of why I had some really bad teams last year because I think I had him in like half of my leagues and yeah, he never got healthy but he’s got this like, nobody’s Deebo Samuel, you know. Deebo Samuel is this one of one type of player who can be both a good running back and a good wide receiver? But Curtis Samuel, when he was with Ron Rivera in Carolina, he played in the backfield. He had 40 carries, one season in four carries in week 111 targets. He is a really unique player who is currently healthy, and I think they’re going to continue to use him in a really interesting way that’ll make him very valuable for fantasy.


Jordan Liggons OC I have just bold predictions. I feel like you got some predictions going on, people off waivers, but what are your bold predictions for the year, team wise or individually in fantasy?


Chris Towers You know, I mentioned the Dolphins thing earlier and I’ve really been struggling with it because I’m getting really excited about them. Not as a fan, but as an analyst. I think this is a really good team. So my bold prediction is they win 12 plus games. I don’t know if that’ll be enough to win the AFC East because Buffalo just looks completely fricking stacked. But I think the Dolphins are going to be one of the best teams in the league. I think they might be a top five or ten on offense. Their defense is actually pretty solid. So that’s one bold prediction I have for the league. I think another one I have that’s more fantasy focused and it’s a little easier to do after like every good wide receiver had an amazing game in week one. You know, you mentioned Justin Jefferson, 180 yards and two touchdowns. You say five wide receivers have 1500 plus yards this season. That would be a big deal. You know, we’ve we’ve seen fewer really high, you know, historic production like that from wide receivers. Teams tend to spread the ball around more. But if you look around the league and you’ve got Justin Jefferson just looks uncoverable and Cooper Kupp is the most important part of that Rams offense, I think. Stefon Diggs I think Davante Adams led, you know, he led the league in targets in week one, at least entering Monday Night Football and A.J Brown. Tyreek Hill had a big target share in week one, so I think wide receivers are going to dominate this year. I think there’s just a lot of guys really primed for huge seasons.


Jamel Johnson Plus that extra game.


Chris Towers Plus an extra game that’s, you know, a little a little cheating 1500 yards wide, as impressive as it was in a 16 game season. But still, that’s a lot of yards.


Jordan Liggons That’s a lot.


Jamel Johnson That’s a ton, bro. Are you kidding me?


Chris Towers Yeah. So I think we’re going to see historic high level production from wide receivers this season.


Jamel Johnson You kind of touched on Aaron Rodgers a little bit having a bad week one and he always he just hates week one because he starts the year not ready for work every year.


Chris Towers I think he’s just messy. I think he just wants the drama.


Jordan Liggons Yeah.


Jordan Liggons Yeah.


Chris Towers He thrives on like he needs to, like, create a narrative where everybody thinks he’s terrible so he can, you know, thrive against that. So this is like three years in a row now or he’s been awful in week one.


Jordan Liggons But do you think it’s the tattoo? Like is this the tattoo that gives him some powers or like are going against.


Chris Towers There’s a lot of things going on with Aaron, right? I mean his like undercut haircut now it is he’s got to look man I don’t know it it’s weird to like break up with Shailene Woodley and then get the weird tattoo. You know, you think those things, you know, you’d think you would get the weird tattoo when you’re with her. But I don’t know. He’s going through it. I think as the as the kids say in a lot of ways. And him and Tom Brady are both in this weird space now where it’s like the last two off seasons, both of them have been like, I might retire, I might not. And it’s I always feel weird about those situations because it’s like being an NFL quarterback is really, really hard. And can you do it when you’re 97% in?


Jordan Liggons Yeah.


Chris Towers I mean they’re arguably the two best to ever do it. So you don’t want to bet against them. And Tom Brady looked pretty good last night. But Rodgers, he also just he’s got very high standards for his teammates and the wide receivers were pretty bad yesterday. He didn’t have anybody who can make a play. The one guy who did, Christian Watson, got wide open. Aaron Rodgers threw a perfect pass. That would have been a 75 yard touchdown. Christian Watson dropped it. I was surprised Aaron Rodgers didn’t, you know, murder him on the field with I mean because you know he he had a quota in the off season where he was like these rookie wide receivers that we’ve got these young guys, they’re playing really well, but they’ve got to catch the ball or they’re not going to play. So that’s the one thing you’re supposed to do. And I’m worried it could be an ugly season for Aaron Rodgers. I was a little worried about that coming in. But, you know, the thing about week one is always like react, don’t overreact. And so you note it, you say, well, the wide receivers didn’t look good and Aaron Rodgers looked uncomfortable and it looked like, you know, he didn’t quite trust the receivers to be where they needed to be. But it’s one week we’ve seen bad games from him before and we’ve seen him bounce back. So I don’t want to, you know, make it out to be this career ending thing for Aaron Rodgers. He’s probably still going to be pretty good.


Jamel Johnson Yeah, you hit the relaxed button. But I so my ultimate question is this the last thing I would ask you? When is it time to make a trade? I feel like a lot of years in fantasy, I fall victim to not wanting to pull the trigger. And one year I was in a league. And this guy, the one guy I didn’t know, would send me bullshit trades at like 3 a.m. every week. He would do it all season. And I was like, Leave me alone. And then I didn’t make the playoffs anyway. So at some point I was like, I probably should have took that deal that look bad and it would have been good for me. How do you know when to pull the trigger?


Chris Towers It’s always tough, especially like I’m in one thing that I’ve been in for 22 years. I’m in another league that I’ve been in for them. I think this is our 12th season and so it’s a bunch of my college friends and got this one league where, you know, my all my college friends, our college newspaper, we’ve got like our Discord Channel and we, you know, talk all day and we’ve got, you know, this whole thing. But it used to be like three trades a week. And then you reach a point where you’ve been playing with people long enough that you’ve, like, screwed over and been screwed over by every single person in your league or, you know, everyone’s tendencies. And, you know, there’s the one guy who’s going to offer you a crap offer and try to like, talk down to you and tell you why you should take his offer. Like.


Jamel Johnson Yeah.


Chris Towers All the players you’re getting are great and all the players I’m getting are terrible, and it’s like you’re just never going to trade with that guy because you don’t want to go through the process of like being condescended to. And so there’s like the fantasy part of it where you’re trying to make your team better. And that’s hard enough because 17 game season is a small sample size and things change a lot from week to week. But then there’s also the sociological aspect of trying to trade with these people in your leagues who you just don’t trust. And so that’s always really tough. It’s like an art. But yeah, generally speaking, to oversimplify, you want to identify the players who had a good game, but you don’t really buy it and try to like. DeAndre Swift had a really good game and I think he’s an incredibly good player, but he also, you know, average like nine yards per carry yesterday and you know split work with Jamal Williams and Detroit offense on the whole still looked pretty bad, although they did end up scoring 35 points. So, you know, they couldn’t have looked that bad. But, you know, that’s one where like he’s a really good player, but is he going to get the usage he needs to be a top five running back? He looked like it in week one, but there were enough warning signs that it might be a situation where you can look and say, I could trade DeAndre Swift for Alvin Kamara and something else. And you know, Alvin Kamara had a pretty disappointing week one. So it could be a situation where you give up DeAndre Swift, he has a top five season and Alvin Kamara craters, you know, you’re 27 or 28. So he’s at the point in his NFL life where that happens to running backs. And that makes me feel really old as a 34 year old, too. You know. That’s a weird thing about talking about sports is someone my age are like, wow, he’s the ageless wonder. And it’s like, I still feel pretty young. But yeah, you know, that’s that’s always you’re trying to find the the two ships passing in the night and, you know, you’re trying to get the guy who’s on the upswing and trade the guy on the downswing. So it’s tough. And then you add in the trying to deal with your league mates part it’s it’s tough.


Jamel Johnson I was ready to find out where this guy lived and fight him.


Jordan Liggons  For the trades?


Jordan Liggons Yeah. Yeah. That’s tough.


Chris Towers It makes you like spiteful. Like when you get, like, the incessant trade offers that are just, like, disrespectful. And it’s like, like for me, it’s like it’s like my job, and I’ve got people trying to take advantage of me. It’s like, man, you must think I’m really dumb.


Jordan Liggons You’re insulting.


Chris Towers I didn’t think I was that dumb. It’s tough.


Jordan Liggons Well, I feel like that would be me because I don’t know what’s going on. So I’d be like, I can. I’m persuasive. I’m a writer. I can. I can make you you know, I can really talk up my my trade talks. Oh, it might be me.


Chris Towers That’s that’s just don’t try to talk people into the trades that makes everybody hate you. That’s that’s really the one takeaway is that when you’re the guy who’s like, here’s why you have to make this trade, everyone’s just going to turn on you. You’re just going to become the villain of the league.


Jordan Liggons Oh, well, thank you for all the tips, that one being the biggest one. And don’t be the villain of the league. But thank you for I feel smarter going into fantasy football after week one. He is Chris Towers of CBS Sports. Chris, thank you so much for joining us.


Chris Towers Thanks for having me. It was great.


Jordan Liggons Well, that’s it for us. Follow and subscribe to us on Apple Podcasts or wherever you get your podcasts and check out Jason’s pop culture and entertainment podcast X-ray, which comes out every Friday. Check it out. Bye.


Jason Concepcion Takeline is a Crooked Media production. The show is produced by Ryan Wallerson and Zuri Irvin. Our executive producers are myself and Sandy Girard. Engineering, editing and sound design by the great Sarah Dubalaska and the folks at Chapter Four. And our theme music is produced by Brian Vasquez. Mia Kelman is on the Zoom for vibes and the vibes are fantastic all the time.