Good morning to everyone but especially to...
WNBA star Brittney Griner is coming home.in a one-for-one prisoner swap for convicted Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout.
Griner had been in Russian custodyat Sheremetyevo International Airport, when the Russian Federal Customs Service found vape cartridges containing the marijuana concentrate hashish oil in her luggage.
- The exchange took place in the United Arab Emirates after President Biden gave final approval of the swap following weeks of negotiations.
- According to CBS News, the United States and Russia agreed on the swap last Thursday.
- Griner was sentenced to nine and a half years in prison in August after being found guilty on drug charges in Russian court. You can read about the complicated matter of the entire ordeal .
After CBS News reported the swap, the official Twitter account for President Biden confirmed the news in a few brief sentences: "She is safe. She is on a plane. She is on her way home."
AND ALSO A GOOD MORNING TO XANDER BOGAERTS AND THE SAN DIEGO PADRES
The Padres' offseason had mostly been defined by big swings and misses. They hadfor Aaron Judge, who with the Yankees. They also for Trea Turner, who the Phillies.
Early this morning, they finally got good news when they agreed towith star shortstop Xander Bogaerts.
- Bogaerts, 30, is a pretty awesome consolation prize, though. He was according to our R.J. Anderson. He's a four-time All-Star who slashed .307/.377/.456 in 2022, and he's finished in the top dozen in AL MVP voting three of the past four years. He's also an outstanding defender.
- Of course, the Padres still have Fernando Tatis Jr. on their roster, and this acquisition may push him to the outfield.
The Padres' already-terrific collection of top-end talent just got better: Bogaerts. Tatis Jr. Juan Soto. Manny Machado. Josh Hader. Yu Darvish.
Now the question is: Can that core lead them to their first World Series title? We'll have to see.
- The Cardinals are filling the massive shoes of Yadier Molina with another star: Willson Contreras .
- The Red Sox finally made some moves, Kenley Jansen and Masataka Yoshida.
- Here's our and our for tonight's Raiders-Rams contest.
- Brock Purdy is already to a Hall-of-Famer.
- Tage Thompson tied an NHL record with .
- Top 2023 running back Rueben Owens is Texas A&M.
- Virginia to the three football players killed in a shooting, and the NCAA for several Cavaliers players.
And not such a good morning for...
VON MILLER AND THE BUFFALO BILLS
The news surrounding Von Miller's knee injury went from sigh of relief to "at least he'll be back" to worst-case scenario in a hurry. The Bills' star pass rusher.
Last week, Von Millerand hoped to be back for the Bills' Week 14 contest against the Jets. But days later, , meaning he couldn't return until Week 17.
- This week, during surgery to reposition the lateral meniscus and clean up cartilage damage, doctors discovered the torn ACL, which hadn't shown up on the initial scans. This is the same ACL that Miller tore in 2013.
- Miller signed
- According to SportsLine projections, Buffalo's chance of winning the AFC decreases from 39.1% to 32.7% without Miller, and its chance of winning the Super Bowl decreases from 24.8% to 19%.
That last bullet point is no surprise: Miller had four sacks in four postseason games last year for the Super Bowl-champion Rams, and his 10.5 career postseason sacks are tied for 11th since individual sacks became official in 1982.
Miller had eight sacks -- including two in a win at the Chiefs -- this season, and the Bills posted a 7.3% sack rate with him on the field, compared to 6.0% without. Furthermore, no other Bills player has more than five sacks this season. Youngsters Gregory Rousseau, A.J. Epenesa and Boogie Basham will be called upon to step up, and while they're capable, they simply don't have the proven, game-wrecking track record Miller does.
Not so honorable mentions
- Jimmy Garoppolo returning for the postseason now .
- Mark Ingram is .
The Yankees signed Aaron Judge. Now what? ⚾
The Yankees took care of far and away their biggest offseason need by keeping Aaron Judge in pinstripes thanks to. They still have work to do, though.
Their biggest moves this offseason have been retaining Judge, MLB expert Mike Axisa has , including...Anthony Rizzo and Tommy Kahnle. Those first two names were all part of the 2022 team -- the 2022 team that got swept by the Astros in the ALCS. So, naturally, our
- Axisa: "Find a new left fielder -- The Yankees are set in right (Judge) and center (Harrison Bader), but left field is wide open. They started nine different players in left in 2022... Pittsburgh Pirates All-Star Bryan Reynolds requested a trade earlier this week... The Yankees have had interest in Reynolds in the past and do again now. It'll cost a lot to get him, but quality switch-hitters with strong defensive chops and three years of control are worth acquiring."
Mike notes the Yankees also need to add a starter after Jameson Taillonthe Cubs. You can see the entire to-do list for the Yankees .
Fantasy Football advice for your final regular-season week 🏈
If your fantasy football league is like most, this is the final week of your regular season. Whether you're already in the playoffs, already out of contention or watching your season come down to this week, everyone wants to finish strong.
In my family league (which, I'll admit, my mom and dad have dominated), I need a win to make the playoffs. Lucky for me (and you), our fantasy experts are here to help. I always check out Dave Richard'son Thursdays, and this week, .
- Richard: "Start Him: Derek Carr -- Carr's been playing great ... okay, fine, Davante Adams has been playing great. That's helped. But it's about the Rams defense going from fabulous to faulty that makes Carr a reasonable starting option. I'd start him over Kirk Cousins, Tom Brady and Mike White. ... PAST FIVE: Carr has scored 20-plus Fantasy points in each, attempted at least 30 passes in each and thrown multiple touchdowns in each."
We also haveif you're scrambling... and to make room for them on your roster. As for everything else:
- Start 'Em & Sit 'Em: | |
- Rankings: | | |
Handing out college football awards, plus Dennis Dodd's Heisman pick 🏈
On Tuesday, we revealed the. On Wednesday, our experts handed out individual awards for .
Only one of the three winners is headed to the College Football Playoff, though, and it's TCU's Sonny Dykes, who, writes college football expert Chip Patterson.
- Patterson: "TCU overcame second-half deficits in five of its 12 wins this season -- and nearly did it again in the Big 12 Championship Game before coming up just short in overtime against Kansas State. This is a resilient team that does not waver, and by many accounts, this comes from the top with Dykes' influence on the locker room."
Speaking of individual awards, the Heisman Trophy will be announced this weekend, and college football insider Dennis Dodd wrote about. Dennis relinquished his vote a few years ago, so he was free to share his thoughts before this weekend's ceremony. :
- Dodd: "1. Caleb Williams, QB, USC -- Knee-jerk reaction from Friday night: USC lost the Pac-12, CFP spot and the Heisman with Williams limping off the field. One night later, I changed my mind. Even with a bum hamstring, Williams was able to bravely stand in the pocket -- basically immobile -- and throw for 363 yards and three touchdowns. ... Williams grew as a person, a passer and a leader. He led a locker room as an outsider from Oklahoma. He integrated a talented receiving room throwing for more than 4,000 yards."
What we're watching Thursday 📺
🏀 Clippers at Heat, 7:30 p.m. on NBA TV
🏈 Raiders at Rams, 8:15 p.m. on Prime Video
🏀 Nuggets at Trail Blazers, 10 p.m. on NBA TV