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The Loop Fantasy Football Update Week 4: Titans running out of receivers

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The Loop Fantasy Football Update Week 4: Titans running out of receivers

UPDATE: 11:31 a.m. Saturday
The Tennessee Titans were our outside the box pick to win Super Bowl LVI in February, but that long-shot is looking especially dicey because of its injury-ravaged receiving corps.

The Titans will be without their top two wideouts, A.J. Brown and Julio Jones, for Sunday’s cakewalk against the lowly New York Jets.

Who is going to pick up the slack? We’re guessing Ryan Tannehill directs the most passes to Nick Westbrook-Ikhine, who had four catches and one touchdown last week in Indianapolis after the stars went down.

The New York Giants are also hurting at the position. Both Darius Slayton and Sterling Shepard have been ruled out of Sunday’s game against New Orleans. That will be a slight boost to Kenny Golladay and rookie Kadarius Toney.

Other receivers ruled out for Week 4 include Houston’s Danny Amendola, Atlanta’s Russell Gage and Green Bay’s Marques Valdez-Scantling, who has landed on the injured reserve list.

As much as Rob Gronkowski would love to take part in the Brady Bowl, the Tampa tight end is now listed as doubtful because of his rib injury. So the Bucs QB will have to rely on his other dozen suitable passing targets in New England.

Players listed as questionable this afternoon include San Francisco running back Elijah Mitchell, Denver RB Melvin Gordon, Pittsburgh wideout Chase Claypool and Chicago WR Darnell Mooney.

ORIGINAL POST: 9:11 a.m. Wednesday

Usually, it’s considered good fortune to nab one of the top two positions in fantasy football snake drafts. But once again this year, that has turned into a curse, at least in the short term.

Carolina Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey (22) is tackled by Houston Texans linebacker Joe Thomas (48) during the first half of an NFL football game Thursday, Sept. 23, 2021, in Houston. (AP Photo/Eric Christian Smith)

Consensus No. 1 pick Christian McCaffrey of the Carolina Panthers went down in last week’s game in Houston and is expected to miss several weeks.

No. 2 pick Dalvin Cook didn’t see any action last week because of a sprained ankle. He could be back this week, which would be great for the Vikings and any fantasy mavens dependant on him.

So a lot of folks need a short-term solution at the running back position. The problem is, the cupboard is BARE. There are likely only a few options available on your waiver wires, and none of them would be described as optimal:

Chuba Hubbard (Panthers) — McCaffrey’s replacement for the next two weeks had 14 touches for 79 yards in relief of CMC. Coach Matt Ruhle says he’ll get most of the carries, even though he has only shown flashes of the Oklahoma State sophomore who rushed for 2,094 yards in 2019. But he’s still the No. 1 waiver choice this week. By a mile.

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Carolina Panthers running back Chuba Hubbard (30) is forced out of bounds by Houston Texans cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III (26) during the second half of an NFL football game Thursday, Sept. 23, 2021, in Houston. (AP Photo/Eric Christian Smith)

Alexander Mattison (Vikings) — We hardly noticed Cook was gone as his understudy tallied 32 touches for 171 yards in the big win over Seattle. He certainly could do great on Sunday again if he starts. But that is a very big if. Mattison should be nothing more than a flex play this week in case Cook reinjures himself, as he is wont to do.

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Minnesota Vikings running back Alexander Mattison (25) is tackled by Seattle Seahawks cornerback Tre Flowers (21) in the first half of an NFL football game in Minneapolis, Sunday, Sept. 26, 2021. (AP Photo/Bruce Kluckhohn)

Peyton Barber (Raiders) — Josh Jacobs was out for Las Vegas, so Barber stepped in and rushed for 111 yards and a TD. That surprised everyone, including Barber, we’re guessing. We’d be even more surprised, though, if Barber’s stint in the starting lineup extends more than one additional game.

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Las Vegas Raiders running back Peyton Barber (31) runs for a gain against the Miami Dolphins during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 26, 2021, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)

Rhamondre Stevenson (Patriots) — Versatile James White went down with a hip injury last week, and New England will need to make up his backfield production somewhere. So how about this rookie from Oklahoma who has ridden the bench since a critical Week 1 fumble. Will Bill Belichick continue holding a grudge? Quite possibly.

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New Englands Patriots running back Rhamondre Stevenson (38) prior to an NFL football game against the Miami Dolphins, Sunday, Sept. 13, 2020, in Foxborough, Mass. (AP Photo/Stew Milne)

J.D. McKissic (Washington) — The WFT’s No. 2 back has been under the radar this season. Just 15 touches for 139 yards over three games. But compared to other dudes on this list, McKissic will have his current role throughout the season, not just for a two-week cameo. If you’re desperate …

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Buffalo Bills quarterback Jake Fromm (4) hands off to running back J.D. McKissic (41) during the first half of an NFL football game against the Buffalo Bills Sunday, Sept. 26, 2021, in Orchard Park, N.Y. (AP Photo/Jeffrey T. Barnes)

SITTING STARS
While unbeaten Denver may not be completely legit, its defense sure is. Forget about starting Baltimore’s Ty’Son Williams. In fact, start no Ravens except for Lamar Jackson and Mark Andrews (and don’t even think about starting the hands of stone: Marquise Brown. … There’s also no Patriots you can feel confident about starting in the Brady Bowl. … Pittsburgh’s offense is struggling, and Najee Harris will again against Green Bay. … Two runners who usually would be no-brainer starters will have another tough week: the Giants’ Saquon Barkley against the Saints and the Jaguars’ James Robinson vs. the Bengals.

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New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley (26) celebrates after scoring a touchdown during the second half of an NFL football game against the Atlanta Falcons, Sunday, Sept. 26, 2021, in East Rutherford, N.J. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

MATCHUP GAME
Cincinnati’s Joe Burrow is starting to heat up, and he’ll be plenty warm again Thursday night against the winless Jaguars. … Other QBs we like this week include the Raiders’ Derek Carr against the Chargers and the Titans’ Ryan Tannehill against the bottom-dwelling Jets. … Both Buffalo running backs, Devin Singletary and Zack Moss, should feast on Houston. … Other backs we like to bounce back include Washington’s Antonio Gibson vs. Atlanta, Miami’s Myles Gaskin vs. Indy and Chicago’s David Montgomery vs. Detroit. … And the uncertainty in the Carolina run game means lots of passes to D.J. Moore and Robby Anderson in the shootout against Dallas.

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Las Vegas Raiders quarterback Derek Carr (4) throws against the Miami Dolphins during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 26, 2021, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)

INJURY WATCH
The most intriguing name on the list this week is Rob Gronkowski, who injured his ribs last Sunday and would be very, very disappointed to miss Sunday night’s big reunion in New England. There’s little chance the future hall of fame tight end sits out the game, and very little chance Tom Brady doesn’t try to force a TD pass or two Gronk’s way. … Denver lost K.J. Hamler to a season-ending knee injury, so Tim Patrick moves up to their No. 3 receiver slot. … Other prominent pass catchers who are listed as questionable are Tennessee’s A.J. Brown and Julio Jones, Pittsburgh’s JuJu Smith-Schuster, Cincinnati’s Tee Higgins, San Francisco tight end George Kittle, the Giants’ Sterling Shepard and the Jets’ Elijah Moore.

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Tampa Bay Buccaneers tight end Rob Gronkowski , right, is tackled by Los Angeles Rams linebacker Terrell Lewis during the second half of an NFL football game Sunday, Sept. 26, 2021, in Inglewood, Calif. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

THE DEEPEST SLEEPERS
The Paleontological Division of the Loop News Team has uncovered two ancient deep sleeping receivers for this week. DeSean Jackson re-emerged on Sunday with the Rams to score on a 75-yard touchdown pass from Matthew Stafford, only his fourth score since the 2018 season. He won’t catch many, but more bombs from Stafford could be in the offing. … and the Chiefs are giving Josh Gordon yet another chance to resurrect his career after multiple drug offenses. While the idea of getting someone in Patrick Mahomes’ pass-catching corps might be appealing, Gordon is at least as likely to blow another test as he is to become a usable fantasy option.

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Los Angeles Rams wide receiver DeSean Jackson left, scores a touchdown past Tampa Bay Buccaneers safety Mike Edwards during the second half of an NFL football game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Sunday, Sept. 26, 2021, in Inglewood, Calif. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

THE THURSDAY PICK
Jaguars at Bengals (-7½):
Pick: Bengals by 10

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Cincinnati Bengals cornerback Darius Phillips (23) plays in an NFL football game against the Pittsburgh Steelers Sunday, Sept. 26, 2021, in Pittsburgh. (AP Photo/Don Wright)

BREAKING NEWS
We’ll be updating our column, based on the latest injuries and innuendo, right up until Sunday’s kickoff. Go to TwinCities.com/theloop.

You can hear Kevin Cusick on Wednesdays on Bob Sansevere’s “BS Show” podcast on iTunes. You can follow Kevin on Twitter — @theloopnow. He can be reached at [email protected]

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First snowfall of the season for many in Massachusetts could impact evening commute

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First snowfall of the season for many in Massachusetts could impact evening commute

It’s time to dig out your winter boots and snow brush for your car.

Wednesday will bring the first snowfall of the season for many across the Bay State, as meteorologists predict a widespread 1 to 2 inches of snow, with lower amounts along the coast.

While the light snowfall totals look to be minor, much of the snow will fall during the evening commute, so officials are urging people to plan for extra travel time and slow down on the roads.

“Not only will you be safer on snow if you curb your speed, you’ll have greater ability to stop if you need to,” said Mary Maguire of AAA Northeast. “Allow for more distance between your vehicle and the car in front of you. This will provide you with more stopping distance if you need to brake.”

The best chance for accumulation looks to be between 4 p.m. and midnight, and the best shot for higher snow amounts would be toward the Worcester Hills.

The Massachusetts Department of Transportation advised people to clean snow off their vehicle, and to make sure their windshield wipers work and they have windshield washer fluid.

“So ask any Cop who has been on the job for few years which day normally has the most motor vehicle crashes? Answer: First snowfall of the year,” the Hanson Police Department tweeted. “Slow down, be safe, and keep your insurance rates down.”

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Biden re-election poll shows dismal 22% support; Harris even worse at 12%

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Biden re-election poll shows dismal 22% support; Harris even worse at 12%

The numbers are cringeworthy — 22% and 12%.

That’s the support for President Biden and his VP Kamala Harris in an I&I/TIPP poll that asked who would you vote for in the 2024 election. Even if you doubt the veracity of all this polling, these are poor numbers.

The only good news for Biden, the survey adds, is “no favorite has emerged among the large field of potential challengers to run against Biden in the 2024 primaries.”

But the sinking survey results are not out of the norm. A Wall Street Journal poll out Tuesday pegged Biden’s approval rating at a dismal 41%. Rasmussen had it at 42%.

Congress, however, was at 22% in the Journal poll, but that’s another story.

“It’s undeniable. Joe Biden is hurting in the polls right now and it’s due to a number of factors,” said Erin O’Brien, associate professor of political science at UMass Boston.

Those factors, she said, include the nagging pandemic, soaring inflation, lingering doubts about Biden’s foreign policy chops after the botched pullout from Kabul and lingering legislation.

The Journal adds that with Biden flatlining in the polls, he won’t be in a position to help Democrats fighting to keep their jobs in the midterms.

This comes as Democrats hold a slim majority in the House, where the split is 221-213, and in the Senate, at 50-50, but with Harris as the tiebreaker.

Support for former President Donald Trump remains strong among those loyal to him, so that also could be reflected in the polling that shows Biden needs to rebound or it will be too late to get much done in the second half of his tenure.

Now Biden faces a new challenge.

He held a video conference Tuesday with Russia’s Vladimir Putin over Russian troops heading toward the Ukrainian border.

Just hours before the call got underway, the Associated Press reported that Ukrainian officials charged Russia was continuing to escalate the crisis by sending tanks and snipers to war-torn eastern Ukraine to “provoke return fire.”

Republicans are watching to see how Biden fares, considering how poorly his administration handled withdrawal from Afghanistan.

It’s all showing in the polls, with the Journal adding 63% of voters said the country had gone off-track, with just 27% saying the nation was on the right course. Some 61% said the economy was headed in the wrong direction.

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Cam Talbot shines as Wild top Oilers 4-1 for seventh straight win

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Cam Talbot shines as Wild top Oilers 4-1 for seventh straight win

EDMONTON — The last time Cam Talbot faced the Edmonton Oilers, he was throwing punches at center ice with Oilers goaltender Mike Smith in an infamous brawl in a Battle of Alberta between the Calgary Flames and Oilers, two seasons ago that made highlight reels all across North America.

On Tuesday night, Talbot made the highlight reel for all the reasons he’s paid for. Stopping pucks.

The former Oilers goaltender was spectacular, making 38 saves as the Wild beat Edmonton 4-1 at Rogers Place.

Joel Eriksson Ek, Marcus Foligno, Victor Rask and Dmitry Kulikov tallied for the Wild, while Jesse Puljujarvi scored the lone marker for the Oilers as Minnesota extended its win-streak to seven games, while the Oilers have dropped three straight contests.

The Wild improve to 18-6-1 and remain in top spot in the Central division.

“I’ve been back in this building a couple of times, but never got the start,” Talbot said. “It’s nice, this place will always have a place in our heart, we started our family here and it was a great building to play in and I still have a lot of great friends here. It’s one of those things where you look to come back here every time and it’s even more fun when you get a big win.

“I can’t say enough about the way we closed out the game. You don’t want to have lulls in the game, but give the guys credit, they just found a way to battle and win the hockey game.”

The Wild’s special teams haven’t been great this season, but they clearly won the special teams battle against Edmonton, which boasts the league’s best power play and its penalty kill is in the top-5.

Minnesota scored once on the power play and denied the Oilers potent power play on all five of their opportunities.

“Our penalty kill was outstanding tonight, I can’t say enough about them,” said Talbot, who is 2-0 in three appearances since being dealt away from the Oilers two seasons ago. “We weren’t giving them those Grade A chances that they’re accustomed to, and with the statistics coming in you wouldn’t think the power-play match-up would favor us, but we got a big one (power play goal) early, and our penalty kill did a great job, so give our special teams a ton of credit tonight.”

The Oilers have been notoriously slow starters out of the gate, giving up the first goal in 14 of the team’s first 23 games, and the Wild made it 15 as Eriksson Ek scored a power-play marker just 1:11 into the contest.

They went up 2-0 just 6:03 later as Foligno buried a cross-ice feed from Matt Dumba.

Edmonton’s high-octane offence, led by superstars Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl got rolling in the second period as they put all kinds of pressure on the Wild, who continue to play without top defenseman and captain Jared Spurgeon, but the Oilers were only able to cut their deficit in half, despite outshooting Minnesota 20-6 in the middle frame.

“They played really well in the second period, but we really liked our regroup and how we played in the third period. We did a lot of real, real good things,” said Wild coach Dean Evason. “They’re going to get shots and to not give that second and third gritty ones to them. Obviously Draisaitl and McDavid are special players. They’re going to get their opportunities to shoot pucks, but it’s that second and third one, that not only did Cam do a good job of smothering, but our second forward, we got pucks the heck out of that area, so they didn’t have more opportunities like that.”

Talbot made several big saves in the second period. He robbed Draisaitl with a left pad save as the former Hart Trophy winner tried to beat him with a one-timer, backdoor. In the final minute of the period, he stretched out to make a right pad save off of Tyson Barrie, who was wide open in the slot.

But his best save came early in the third when he dove across to deny Darnell Nurse of the tying goal.

“I knew that he was there, but obviously you have to stay patient with the guy in the slot first,” recalled Talbot. “But our guy did a good job of going down and taking away the lower part of the net, and I was able to see the pass right away and I knew Nurse was down there and I just tried to get everything in front of it.”

Moments after the big save off Nurse, the Wild scored on a delayed penalty as Victor Rask scored his fourth goal of the season to give Minnesota some breathing room and then Kulikov showed off some slick hands on a breakaway goal to give the Wild a 4-1 lead with 5:03 remaining to put the game away.

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