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The Loop Fantasy Football Update Week 7: 49ers have a quarterback, maybe

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The Loop Fantasy Football Update Week 7: 49ers have a quarterback, maybe

UPDATE: 10:54 a.m. Saturday
The Week 7 showdown between Jimmy Garoppolo’s injured calf and Trey Lance’s ailing knee has been settled, and the San Francisco 49ers head into Sunday’s game with Indianapolis with a questionable quarterback atop the lineup.

That QB is Garoppolo, who practiced in limited fashion on Friday. Lance is a no-go, so Jimmy G becomes a marginal starting option in this bye-depleted week.

The lineup news is a bit grimmer for two teams. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers will be without TE Rob Gronkowski and WR Antonio Brown in their game against Chicago, and the New York Giants will be even sadder this week without RB Saquon Barkley, and receivers Kadarius Toney and Kenny Golladay.

Seattle is facing a must-win against New Orleans, but the Russell Wilson-less team has more uncertainty at running back. Alex Collins, who played well last week, is said to be a game-time decision. So the starter could be Rashard Penny, who has been activated off the injured list.

The news is better in Tennessee, where WR Julio Jones is expected to play six days after exiting early during Monday night’s win over Buffalo. Good news for the Titans, and The Loop’s own Fantasy Juggernaut.

Notables ruled out over the past couple of days include two Ravens, RB Latavius Murray and WR Sammy Watkins, Carolina wideout Terrace Marshall and Washington WR Curtis Samuel.

Players listed as questionable as of this morning include Bears WR Allen Robinson, Jets RB Tevin Coleman, Indy wideout T.Y. Hilton, Miami receiver Devante Parker, and two Giants, tight end Evan Engram and WR Sterling Shepherd.

ORIGINAL POST: 12:00 p.m. Wednesday

With a newly expanded 17-game schedule, you would think the NFL has no reason to jam a ridiculous amount of byes into a single week. And you would be mistaken.

Some brilliant minds at 345 Park Avenue determined that the league should put six teams on hiatus this week, including some of the league’s top powers

Vikings fans are already well aware their cardiac-causing team is off for this week. They are joined on the sidelines by the Buffalo Bills, Dallas Cowboys, Los Angeles Chargers, Pittsburgh Steelers and Jacksonville Jaguars.

When you break it down by position, the Week 7 absences range from serious to alarming:

Running back — Four of the top eight scoring leaders of 2021 are missing, and that doesn’t include the Vikings’ Dalvin Cook. How can you replace the likes of Austin Ekeler, Ezekiel Elliott, Najee Harris and James Robinson? You might still be able to pick up on waivers the Bucs’ Gio Bernard. Or the Colts’ Nyheim Hines. Maybe even Houston relic Mark Ingram.

Houston Texans running back Mark Ingram II (2) rushes for a gain against the Jacksonville Jaguars during the second half of an NFL football game Sunday, Sept. 12, 2021, in Houston. (AP Photo/Eric Christian Smith)

Wide receiver — Four of the top 11 are out: Mike Williams, CeeDee Lamb and the Vikings’ duo of Justin Jefferson and Adam Thielen. But the waiver wires in more than half of all leagues still have guys like Chicago’s Darnell Mooney, the Saints’ Marquez Callaway, Indy’s Zach Pascal and former Gophers star Rashod Bateman of the Ravens.

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Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Rashod Bateman runs with the ball after making a catch against the Los Angeles Chargers during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Oct. 17, 2021, in Baltimore. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)

Quarterback — Need a sub for top-10 stars like Justin Herbert, Dak Prescott, Josh Allen or Kirk Cousins? You can pick up New Orleans’ Jameis Winston or New England’s Mac Jones. Feeling more adventurous? Then how about two currently struggling guys due for a rebound: the Panthers’ Sam Darnold or the Giants’ Daniel Jones.

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Minnesota Vikings defensive tackle Dalvin Tomlinson (94) chases Carolina Panthers quarterback Sam Darnold (14) during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Oct. 17, 2021, in Charlotte, N.C. (AP Photo/Jacob Kupferman)

Tight end — Dallas surprise Dalton Schultz is the only top six TE off this week. There are plenty of options for those wishing to take a flyer, such as the Giants’ Evan Engram, New England’s Jonnu Smith or Hunter Henry, or the newest Arizona Cardinal, Zach Ertz.

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New York Giants tight end Evan Engram (88) sprints to the end zone for a touchdown after catching a pass in the first half of an NFL football game against the Dallas Cowboys in Arlington, Texas, Sunday, Oct. 11, 2020. (AP Photo/Michael Ainsworth)

Defense — Among those missing are top-ranked Buffalo, third-ranked Dallas and ninth-rated Minnesota. So look for someone playing a really lousy offense, such as Arizona (vs. Houston), Carolina (vs. Giants) or Denver (vs. injured-plagued Cleveland).

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Minnesota Vikings running back Dalvin Cook (33) runs against the Carolina Panthers during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Oct. 17, 2021, in Charlotte, N.C. (AP Photo/Jacob Kupferman)

Kicker — Four of the top 10 are out, including Greg Zuerlein, Greg Joseph and Tyler Bass. Kickers with good matchups this week include Miami’s Jason Sanders and New England’s Nick Folk.

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Miami Dolphins kicker Jason Sanders (7) kicks a field goal during the first half an NFL football game against the New England Patriots, Sunday, Sept. 12, 2021, in Foxborough, Mass. (AP Photo/Stew Milne)

SITTING STARS
Probably not too many guys you can afford to sit during Byemegeddon but … Chicago fill-in running back Khalil Herbert looked very good last Sunday against Green Bay, but don’t even think he’ll repeat that performance against Tampa Bay. … Cincinnati’s Joe Mixon won’t post his usual strong numbers against the Ravens. … The Rams defense has been shutting down running backs all season. This week they’ll smother Detroit’s D’Andre Swift. … Seattle’s running game surprised with Alex Collins looking good in Pittsburgh, but he’ll have a tougher time Monday night against New Orleans. … And if we were playing by the rules of chess, you’d be better off resigning than starting any Texans against unbeaten Arizona.

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Detroit Lions running back D’Andre Swift (32) slips past Minnesota Vikings safety Harrison Smith (22) to score with less than a minute left in the fourth quarter of an NFL game at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis on Sunday, Oct. 10, 2021. The Vikings beat the Lions, 19-17. (John Autey / Pioneer Press)

MATCHUP GAME
Boy, is Matthew Stafford going to have fun going against his old Lions team on Sunday … Arizona will have no trouble with Houston, so we’re thinking Cards will be running more than passing, which means Chase Edmonds and James Connor are both worth starting . … Tampa Bay RB Leonard Fournette is now back in peak form and will score at least once vs. Chicago. … Miami QB Tua Tagovailoa looked good in his return last week and will look better against Atlanta for the now-desperate Dolphins. Same goes for WR Jaylen Waddle. … We said Green Bay TE Robert Tonyan would regress this year, and boy has he. But we smell a TD for him this week against Washington.

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Green Bay Packers tight end Robert Tonyan (85) catches a pass in front of Tampa Bay Buccaneers cornerback Carlton Davis (24) during an NFL football game Sunday, Oct. 18, 2020, in Tampa, Fla. (Jeff Haynes/AP Images for Panini)

INJURY WATCH
Cleveland’s injured list is bursting, but more on that later. … Baltimore lost RB Latavius Murray to an injured ankle, so both Le’Veon Bell and Devonta Freeman snagged touchdowns last week. And they could again this week … It’s a tossup at the moment who will be quarterbacking the 49ers against Indy: ailing Jimmy Groppolo or ailing Trey Lance. … Washington RB Antonio Gibson was slowed again last week, so be wary. On the positive side, Seattle RB Rashaad Penny is expected to return, as is Cleveland WR Jarvis Landry. Players listed as questionable for this week include Giants WR Kadarius Toney, Bears RB Damien Williams, Cleveland WR Odell Beckham Jr., and two Indy wideouts, T.Y Hilton and Parris Campbell.

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Baltimore Ravens running back Latavius Murray (28) scores a touchdown against the Las Vegas Raiders during the second half of an NFL football game, Monday, Sept. 13, 2021, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)

THE DEEPEST SLEEPER
You know we’re scrounging if we’re picking a running back who has yet to rush the ball during his short NFL career. But Cleveland running back Demetric Felton stands a good chance of seeing big duty Thursday night because of the injuries to starters Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt, and the substitution of Case Keenum for injured Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield. This rookie from UCLA, who has caught six passes, one for a touchdown, this season, Someone has to constitute the Cleveland offense. Keep an eye on Chubb’s status on Thursday, as he could return. A lot of folks will flock to D’Ernest Johnson, but if you’re especially bye-week desperate, give this Bruin a try.

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Cleveland Browns running back Demetric Felton (25) is tackled by Minnesota Vikings cornerback Patrick Peterson, right, during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Oct. 3, 2021, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Bruce Kluckhohn)

THE THURSDAY PICK
Broncos at Browns (-3½):
Pick: Browns by 1

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Denver Broncos quarterback Teddy Bridgewater (5) throws a pass during an NFL football game against the Jacksonville Jaguars, Sunday, Sept. 19, 2021, in Jacksonville, Fla. (AP Photo/Gary McCullough)

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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Charlie Baker insists vaccine verification system is not a pathway to mandates

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Charlie Baker insists vaccine verification system is not a pathway to mandates

Gov. Charlie Baker wants everyone to know he does not support a vaccine mandate statewide — “period.”

His unequivocal stance comes after he went on radio and said a digital vaccine verification system may soon be coming to Massachusetts. The floodgates opened and he was hit with a barrage of questions about how and why it will be implemented.

Baker emphasized that he has “never supported or agreed to any sort of statewide vaccine mandate program” several times, and added that he doesn’t plan to in the future. He explained that the mandate is only in place for people who “want to go to a wedding or to a church, or to a restaurant where proof of vaccination is required,” he said.

“This isn’t about creating a mandate or a statewide initiative of any kind, we just want to make sure that people have the ability, if they’ve been vaccinated and want to have proof that they’ve been vaccinated, that they can easily download it onto their phone and use it whenever they need to,” Baker said.

Baker also didn’t weigh in on the broader use of the technology, which he said will be rolled out “soon,” throughout an unnamed city, for example. Boston Mayor Michelle Wu has recently hinted that she’s considering a “vaccine passport” system similar to the one in New York City, which requires patrons to show their vaccination status before entering venues like gyms, theaters and restaurants.

“We said from the very beginning of the pandemic that we’re going to pursue one set of rules that we consider to be important at the state level, but we’re going to give locals a lot of latitude with respect to how they want to play it at the local level,” Baker said, making no mention of Boston or Wu.

Though the governor touted the ease of verification availability on people’s smartphones, even as the ACLU of Massachusetts has raised concerns.

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Charlie Baker attends groundbreaking at Norwood Hospital, damaged by 2020 flood

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Charlie Baker attends groundbreaking at Norwood Hospital, damaged by 2020 flood

Gov. Charlie Baker attended a groundbreaking ceremony in Norwood to mark the start of construction on a new hospital in the town after the old one was damaged in a June 2020 flood.

“There will be a beautiful new hospital here and this hospital will continue to provide care and service to this community for at least another 100 years,” Baker said. “But that wipeout that took place that day, that was another profound example of how you can’t always predict what every day is going to be like.”

Norwood Town Manager Tony Mazzucco said emergency rescuers evacuated over 100 people from the hospital that night during the pandemic and the storm without any injuries to patients or first responders.

The hospital is set to reopen in 2024.

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Celtics center Enes Kanter Freedom relishes his citizenship

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Celtics center Enes Kanter Freedom relishes his citizenship

A day after officially becoming a United States citizen, and the morning after his on-air chat with Fox’s Tucker Carlson, the self-renamed Enes Kanter Freedom felt like the embodiment of the first amendment.

His outspoken attacks on China — the nation with a heavy commercial connection to the NBA — and American cronies like Nike and his own league, span the network spectrum. He’s also been interviewed by CNN’s Christiane Amanpour and MSNBC.

But as on opening night, when Freedom says he refused a request by two NBA representatives to not wear his Free Tibet sneakers, he claims to not be breaking any league rules.

“I had a conversation with Adam — Adam Silver — and I told Adam, ‘Listen, am I breaking any rules?’ And he said no,” said Freedom, who has since worn an expanding list of protest sneakers. I told him, I was like, ‘If there’s any rules that I’m breaking or I’m violating, let me know. I’ll be the first one to follow.’ And he said, ‘No, you’re not violating any rules.’ And I was like, ‘Adam — you’re guys are the ones that are telling us and encouraging players to stand up for what’s right, not just the problems in America, but all over the world. So you guys are the ones that encouraged me to talk about all the violations that are happening all over the world, right?’ And he was like, ‘Listen, you have the freedom to say whatever you want.’ And I was like, ‘I appreciate that.’

Freedom admittedly had periods of frustration, including when he started the season out of Ime Udoka’s rotation. His tweet — “Keep limiting me on the court, I will expose you off the court” — was generally interpreted as an insinuation that his playing time was linked to his political stances and activism.

Kanter sat down to discuss the tweet with Udoka, and was told that his lack of minutes had everything to do with playing behind Al Horford and Robert Williams, and nothing to do with Tibet’s freedom.

“And after that talk, I’ve played every game,” said Freedom. “I mean, yeah, that’s how I felt, and I put it out there, and coach Ime came to me and said that’s not the situation. And I said, ‘OK.’ And after that talk, I pretty much played every game.”

With Rob Williams expected to play Wednesday night, there could be another minutes shift, though Freedom’s bulk will be needed against Joel Embiid. But regardless of how much he plays, Freedom will continue pushing the issue.

Freedom said he would like to talk with LeBron James, an outspoken social advocate who has always remained silent about his commercial partner, China. Freedom would at least like to bring clarity to his ongoing beef with the Lakers star.

“Sure, I’d love to sit down and talk to him. I’m sure it’s going to be a very uncomfortable conversation for him,” said Freedom. “I don’t know if he’s gonna want that. I’ll make that really comfortable for him. I don’t know if he’s educated enough but I’m here to educate him and I’m here to help him, because it’s not about money. It’s about morals, principles and values. It’s about what you stand for. There are way bigger things than money. If LeBron stopped making money now, his grandkids and grandkids and grandkids can have the best life ever. I feel like it’s definitely time for athletes to stand up for the things they believe in, and stand up for the things, not just in America issues, but all over the world.”

Freedom, who has also called out Michael Jordan for his political silence, said he feels no hesitation when criticizing the biggest names in the sport.

“I mean, my whole life I was never scared of anything. Not many people know this but whenever I sit down with an NBA player, they are telling me that they want to talk about many of the issues that are happening but they are scared because of the challenges they will face,” said Freedom. “The thing is, whenever I talk about LeBron, whenever I talk about Michael Jordan, the Black athletes in the league are the ones reaching out to me and saying, ‘Listen, talk about this person.’ They are the ones that actually — not many people know this — but they are the ones giving me talking points.

“When Black Lives Matter protests happened, I was the third one in the whole league that went out there and protested. I was actually wearing my jersey, I wanted them to know that I am with them. I am with them, it’s not them, it’s us, it’s all of us. But when these issues are happening, some of the other players out there in the league are scared to say anything against LeBron or Jordan or against some of the issues that are happening, but they are reaching out to me and giving me talking points and say, ‘Listen, talk about LeBron.’

“It’s amazing but he’s at least standing up for things in America. Why don’t you say anything about Michael Jordan? The only thing he is doing is just giving money but he is remaining silent. He’s scared to speak up. Silence is violence so they are the ones sending me all the talking points and if I believe in it, then I’m going out and saying it. Because, like I said, I’m not really scared of anything because this is bigger than basketball. It’s important to not have that fear and I hope more players will join me.”

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