UPDATE: 10:43 am Sunday
The early inactive lists are out, and the only major news is that Buffalo RB Zack Moss is a sane scrap. So today it will only be Devin Singletary and Matt Breida for the Bills against Carolina.
Houston RB Rex Burkhead is active today so he will be a factor in this classic Texan-Jaguar match.
UPDATE: Sunday 10:25 am
We’re still a few hours from the Baltimore kick-off, but it looks very unlikely that Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson will play against the NFC North leading Packers today.
Jackson hasn’t worked out all week because of his injured ankle, so it’s likely that Tyler Huntley will start today. So it’s likely that fantasy connoisseurs relying on Jackson should get the best available quarterback on their waiver list in the next 90 minutes.
A number of celebrities got better news and were cleared to attend in week 16. Among them are the Cardinals RBs James Conner and Chase Edmonds, Denver RB Melvin Gordon, Rams RB Darrell Henderson, Dallas RB Tony Pollard, Carolina WR D.J. Moore, Rams WR Odell Beckham Jr., Baltimore WR Marquise Brown and Arizona tight end Zach Eritz
UPDATE: 12:02 pm Saturday
The opening week of the Fantasy Playoffs has begun, and the only certainty is that the people who play against the stars of the Kansas City Chiefs are in a world of pain.
Patrick Mahomes, Travis Kelce and Tyreek Hill have already posted big numbers on their comeback against the Chargers on Thursday evening. But the fantasy win is still a few days away due to the COVID postponement of three games.
The good news is that with Raiders-Browns moving to Monday and Washington-Eagles and Seahawks-Rams moving to Tuesday, there will be more time for the dozen of players currently standing by to go through the COVID logs. The bad news: there are literally dozens of influential players in the limelight.
For now, we’re focusing on players who have been banned. That list includes Detroit RB D’Andre Swift, San Fran RB Elijah Mitchell, Browns RB Kareem Hunt, Patriots RB Damien Harris, Seattle RB Alex Collins, Jaguars RB Carlos Hyde, Cardinals WR DeAndre Hopkins, Dolphins WR Jaylen Waddle, Browns WR Odell Beckham Jr., Lions TE TJ Hockenson, Cleveland QB Baker Mayfield, Giants QB Daniel Jones, and WFT QB Taylor Heinicke.
The most important « questionable » player at the moment is Baltimore QB Lamar Jackson, who is nursing an injured ankle. It should be a game-time decision for the game against Green Bay in the late afternoon. The same goes for Viking wideout Adam Thielen, who is hoping to play in Chicago on Monday night.
In Miami, the two best running backs of the Dolphins, Myles Gaskin and Salvon Ahmed, were removed from the COVID list and released for play.
ORIGINAL POST: Wednesday 10:58 am
Playoff time is here. And whether you’re playing for your league championship in the next two or three weeks or looking to avoid the basement, you’re about to make the most critical line-up calls of the season.
Just because you took star players in the first rounds of the draft at the end of August doesn’t mean you should start them this third week of December.
Case in point: It would have seemed blasphemous in the summer, but it’s possible that the two best quarterbacks in the imagination could stay on your bench at the playoff opener. That’s right, Patrick Mahomes of the Chiefs and Josh Allen of Buffalos.
Buffalo Bill’s quarterback Josh Allen runs against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (AP Photo / Jason Behnken) in the first half of an NFL football game on Sunday, December 12, 2021, in Tampa, Fla.
Bank Mahomes? Seems premature but he takes on the Chargers pass defense number 5 Thursday night and he has only thrown multiple TD passes twice in the past two months. He has played three games with a goose egg in this department. Not quite MVP numbers.
Allen looked great on the Bills comeback in Tampa Bay last week, at least until he injured his foot. He is listed as questionable against a not terrible Carolina defense. But what is really questionable is how much an Allen who doesn’t run at full speed can help fantasy owners when he’s not running a lot.
If you’re feeling particularly playful, there are three QBs you can find on Waivers that have a very good chance of topping the Big Two this week. Miami’s Tua Tagovailoa (vs. Jets), the 49ers Jimmy Garoppolo (vs. Falcons) and … yes … even the Justin Fields of the Bears against this not-lauded Viking defense.
Here are some other headliners that could be right on your bench this week:
Ezekiel Elliott (Cowboys RB) – Zeke has not been himself for a while due to various injuries and even experienced reduced duty in last week’s key game in Washington. He has reached the end zone in only two of his last eight games. His teammate Tony Pollard might be a better pick if he returns from a foot injury as expected against the Giants.
Washington Football Team’s defensive end, Daniel Wise (92), attacks Dallas Cowboys Ezekiel Elliott (21) during an NFL football game between the Dallas Cowboys and Washington Football Team on Sunday, December 12, 2021, in Landover, Maryland, Run Back (AP Photo / Brand Tenally)
Saquon Barkley (Giants RB) – The often-injured New York star had the season’s best 64 yards last week and his first touchdown since October 3rd. But the Giants offensive is still a mess and the Dallas defenses they face this week is becoming more dominant from week to week.
Saquon Barkley of the New York Giants during the second half of an NFL football game against the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday November 28, 2021 in East Rutherford, N.J. (AP Photo / John Munson)
Austin Ekeler (Chargers RB) – He is one of the top three RBs this season, averaging more than one touchdown per game. But his ankle injury, combined with his early Thursday game, means Ekeler may not go 100 percent against the Chiefs’ improved defense. Trainer Brandon Staley says he expected Disgust to play but be ready to act quickly if he can’t.
Cincinnati Bengals linebacker Germaine Pratt (57) hits the soccer ball away from Los Angeles Chargers running back Austin Ekeler (30) during an NFL soccer game in Cincinnati on Sunday, December 5, 2021. (AP Photo / Zach Bolinger)
Terry McLaurin (Washington WR) – The WFT’s top receiver went unsuccessful against Dallas after an injury last week but has been a non-entity lately. Just 73 yards in the past three games combined, and it’s not for sure who will quarterback the Eagles this week.
Dallas Cowboys cornerback Trevon Diggs (7) breaks a pass for Washington Football Team wide receiver Terry McLaurin (17) during the second half of an NFL football game on Sunday, December 12, 2021, in Landover, Maryland, (AP Photo.) / Julio Cortez)
DJ Moore (Panthers WR) – Here’s another top pass catcher injured by his team’s insecure quarterbacking. He has only one TD catch in the last nine games, which is unlikely to change as Carolina takes on a now desperate Bills defense.
Carolina Panthers Wide Receiver D.J. Moore (2) cannot hold on to a pass as he is attacked by Miami Dolphins cornerback Javaris Davis (38) in the second half of an NFL football game on Sunday, Nov. 28, 2021 in Miami Gardens, Fla. (AP photo / Lynne Sladky)
Russell Wilson (Seahawks QB) – Speaking of insecure quarterbacking, the Seattle star has been feeling a little better lately after an ugly return from his finger injury. While he has a pair of TD passes in each of his last three games, he is being followed by Aaron Donald and the Rams this week. Things could get ugly again for Mr. Ciara.
Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson holds a sponge near his injured finger during the fourth quarter of an NFL football game against the Los Angeles Rams on Thursday, October 7, 2021 in Seattle. Wilson left the game after injury and the Rams won 26-17. (AP Photo / Elaine Thompson)
Seattle RB Rashaad Penny had a career day against Houston last week, but he won’t repeat that against the Rams. … Don’t expect the Seahawks’ reception duo of Tyler Lockett or D.K. Metcalf is doing fine too, especially the latter. … Tampa Bay’s run defense will highlight the numbers for Saints RB Alvin Kamara, as will hoarding TD opportunities from running QB Taysom Hill. … Pittsburgh’s Najee Harris won’t run wild against Tennessee as the desperate Steelers focus on passing. … And while Jacksonville RB James Robinson is still a longtime goalkeeper, the Jaguars are such an urban disaster that you can’t start any of their players even against the almost equally skinny Texans.
Running back (20) Rashaad Penny of the Seattle Seahawks runs with the ball and scores a touchdown against the Houston Texans in an NFL football game on Sunday, December 12, 2021, in Houston, TX. Seahawks defeated the Texans 33-13. (AP Photo / Jeff Lewis)
We didn’t like what we saw of the Vikings defense last Thursday night, so we think Chicago QB Justin Fields, if they’re healthy, and WR Allen Robinson, could be fantasy playoff winners on Monday night. … 49ers TE George Kittle has been the all-rounder in the last few weeks and will play against Atlanta again. Likewise his teammate Brandon Aiyuk. … Houston rookie QB Davis Mills has been looking good lately and could look great against the Jaguars. … The same goes for Tennessee RB D’onta Foreman against the Steelers. … And with Miami being forced to rely on the passing game this week, look for big games by wideouts Jaylen Waddle and DeVante Parker against the Jets.
Chicago Bears’ Justin Fields flips the ball when he is hit by Kingsley Keke and Kenny Clark of Green Bay Packers during the second half of an NFL football game in Green Bay, Wisconsin on Sunday, December 12, 2021 (AP Photo / Aaron Schnitt)
Much uncertainty about the status of Baltimore quarterback Lamar Jackson, who will be constrained by an ankle injury if he plays Green Bay at all. … Meanwhile, Aaron Rodgers of the Packers is complaining about his injured foot, although it’s still a must. … Miami’s top three running backs are all on the COVID list, which means either Duke Johnson or Malcolm Brown could see duty # 1 against the humble jets. … New York, for its part, will get rookie RB Michael Carter back. … Players added to the COVID list include resuscitated Rams Wideout Odell Beckham Jr. and Brown’s WR Jarvis Landry. … Among the long list of questionable ones: Arizona RB James Conner, Rams RB Darrell Henderson, Denver RB Melvin Gordon, San Francisco RB Elijah Mitchell, Cleveland RB Kareem Hunt, New England RB Damien Harris, Philly RB Miles Sanders, Vikings Wideout Adam Thielen, Arizona WR DeAndre Hopkins, Chargers WR Mike Williams, Raiders Tight End Darren Waller, Lions TE TJ Hockenson and two quarterbacks: Phillys Jalen Hurts and Washington’s Taylor Heinicke.
Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson (8) sits on the floor in front of teammate Mark Andrews (89) after injuring himself during an NFL football game in Cleveland on Sunday, December 12, 2021. (AP Photo / Matt Durisko)
. THE DEEPEST SLEEPER
Like most of you, we hadn’t heard from Lions RB Craig Reynolds until last weekend when the rookie recorded 13 touches for 99 yards in his first game outside the training team. He comes from Kutztown University, a school that produced Hall of Fame Andre Reed and little else in terms of NFL talent. But D’Andre Swift could be ready for the rest of the season, and Jamaal Williams is still on the COVID list. So Reynolds could be a last-minute option for those who face Arizona on Sunday. Pick him up from the waiver just in case.
The Detroit Lions’ Craig Reynolds warms up before an NFL football game in Denver on Sunday, December 12, 2021. (AP photo / David Zalubowski)
Patriots at Colts (-2½):
Selection: Colts from 3
Indianapolis Colts running back Jonathan Taylor (28) leaves the field after an NFL football game against the Houston Texans, Sunday, December 5, 2021, in Houston. (AP Photo / Matt Patterson)
We’ll update our column by Sunday kick-off based on the latest injuries and innuendos. Go to TwinCities.com/theloop.
You can hear Kevin Cusick on Bob Sansevere’s « BS Show » podcast on iTunes on Wednesdays. You can follow Kevin on Twitter – @theloopnow. He can be reached at [email protected].
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