Connect with us

News

The Loop Fantasy Football Update Week 10: Packers’ Aaron Rodgers is back

Published

on

The Loop Fantasy Football Update Week 10: Packers’ Aaron Rodgers is back

UPDATE: 10:08 a.m. Saturday
All of Green Bay can rest easy. Aaron Rodgers, that paragon of quarterbacking and personal accountability, is back in the building and has remained asymptomatic after testing positive for COVID-19.

He reportedly will be activated from the Packers’ COVID list later today and will start Sunday against Seattle and its returning quarterback, Russell Wilson.

The news is not as good for a few top running backs. New Orleans’ Alvin Kamara, Cleveland’s Nick Chubb and Seattle’s Chris Carson will all sit out Week 10.

Arizona is setting the season record for game-time decisioning. Three top Cardinals, QB Kyler Murray, WR DeAndre Hopkins and WR Rondale Moore, will all have their status determined just before tomorrow’s game against Carolina. So we’re guessing that will mean even more touchdowns for James Conner.

New England will be especially short on running backs with Damien Harris and Rhamondre Stevenson both expected to be out. Look for Brandon Bolden to see significant action against Cleveland.

Other significant absences among pass catchers this week include Tampa Bay’s Rob Gronkowski and Antonio Brown, and Pittsburgh’s Chase Claypool.

The Saturday morning list of questionables includes Tampa Bay WR Chris Godwin, Tennessee wideout Julio Jones, San Francisco tight end George Kittle and Jacksonville RB James Robinson.

As for the week’s two big late signings, neither should be a factor this week. Carolina QB Cam Newton will almost certainly not play, while Rams WR Odell Beckham Jr. will see very limited action, if any.

ORIGINAL POST: 10:32 a.m. Wednesday
The NFL season is now at the halfway mark, and the fantasy campaign is past that. And while there are plenty of sudden stars lighting up the stage, there is one player who has stood out as the most surprising, most impressive fantasy factor of the 2021 campaign.

And he used to be a Viking.

Cordarrelle Patterson wasn’t even considered a running back at the start of the season. He was classified as one of many second-tier wide receivers with the Atlanta Falcons. Mike Davis was the team’s No. 1 back, and Calvin Ridley, Russell Gage and Kyle Pitts were way above No. 84 on the
receiving pecking order in the ATL.

What a difference two months makes. Patterson is now a dual-threat, top-five running back. He has almost singlehandedly kept the 4-4 Falcons in playoff contention.

Patterson has scored seven touchdowns in the Falcons’ first eight games, and he’s averaging roughly 100 total yards per game. Going forward, he’s Atlanta’s top offensive threat, as Ridley has stepped away due to personal issues.

Not bad for a guy who was unremarkable in his four years in Minnesota, or the next three years bouncing between Oakland, New England and Chicago.

Here are some others who have greatly exceeded expectations:

James Connor (Cardinals RB) –The former Steeler is a borderline top-10 running back after being cast off from Pittsburgh. An NFL-leading 11 touchdowns will do that, even though he’s averaging only about 60 total yards per game.

Arizona Cardinals running back James Connor (6) after his touchdown against Green Bay Packers during an NFL football game Thursday, Oct. 28, 2021, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Darryl Webb)

Leonard Fournette (Buccaneers RB) –Turns out Ronald Jones is NOT the man in Tampa, as Fournette has scored four touchdowns in the past four games and is on pace to challenge the 1,000-yard mark. His late 2020 revival was no mirage.

1636558422 515 The Loop Fantasy Football Report Week 10 Star of season
Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back Leonard Fournette (7) is stopped by Chicago Bears linebacker Trevis Gipson (99) and defensive back DeAndre Houston-Carson (36) during the second half of an NFL football game Sunday, Oct. 24, 2021, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Jason Behnken)

Cooper Kupp (Rams WR) — He came into the season barely in the top 20 among receivers. And he has been the unquestioned No. 1 since Day 1. He has 10 touchdowns already, and his 1,019 receiving yards is 137 more than anyone else in the league.

1636558423 531 The Loop Fantasy Football Report Week 10 Star of season
Tennessee Titans outside linebacker Harold Landry (58) tackles Los Angeles Rams wide receiver Cooper Kupp (10) during an NFL Professional Football Game Sunday, Nov. 7, 2021, in Inglewood, Calif. (AP Photo/John McCoy)

Ja’marr Chase (Bengals WR) — Remember when the former LSU star was having a case of the drops this summer? Neither does anyone else, as the future Rookie of the Year is fourth in the league with seven TDs and is averaging nearly 100 yards a game.

1636558423 528 The Loop Fantasy Football Report Week 10 Star of season
Cincinnati Bengals’ Ja’Marr Chase (1) is tackled by Cleveland Browns’ Greg Newsome II (20) during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Nov. 7, 2021, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/Aaron Doster)

Deebo Samuel (49ers WR) — Where would the San Francisco offense be without this guy? He’s the fourth-ranked wideout so far this year with five TDs and more than 900 total yards. For a team that has mostly been an offensive catastrophe.

1636558424 796 The Loop Fantasy Football Report Week 10 Star of season
San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Deebo Samuel heads down the sideline past Chicago Bears linebacker Trevis Gipson (99) and defensive back DeAndre Houston-Carson for a big gain during the first half of an NFL football game Sunday, Oct. 31, 2021, in Chicago. (AP Photo/David Banks)

Marquise Brown (Ravens WR) — Everyone remembers his horrible day in Detroit that nearly cost Baltimore a victory. But Hollywood has been a box office smash since, with six touchdown catches. He’s on pace to finish with more than 1,400 yards. Surprise!

1636558424 768 The Loop Fantasy Football Report Week 10 Star of season
Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Marquise Brown (5) runs the ball during the second half of an NFL football game, against the Minnesota Vikings Sunday, Nov. 7, 2021, in Baltimore. (AP Photo/Terrance Williams)

Carson Wentz (Colts QB) — It’s probably news to you that the former NDSU Bison legend has posted top-10 numbers in the first half. Why is it hard to believe he has accounted for 18 touchdowns and almost 250 passing yards per game? Because it has been occasionally ugly.

1636558425 612 The Loop Fantasy Football Report Week 10 Star of season
Indianapolis Colts quarterback Carson Wentz (2) rolls to the outside looking for an open receiver during an NFL football game against the New York Jets, Thursday, Nov. 4, 2021, in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Zach Bolinger)

Dalton Schultz (Cowboys TE) — The tight end landscape is pretty much a crapshoot, and Dallas’ latest standout TE has been the biggest revelation. He has quietly moved into the top 10, averaging 50 yards and scoring three TDs. And he was mostly undrafted in summer.

1636558425 666 The Loop Fantasy Football Report Week 10 Star of season
Dallas Cowboys’ Dalton Schultz runs the ball against the New England Patriots during an NFL football game at Gillette Stadium, Sunday, Oct. 17, 2021 in Foxborough, Mass. (Winslow Townson/AP Images for Panini)

SITTING STARS
Christian McCaffrey didn’t post the usual CMC numbers in his return last week, and he’ll be limited again this week vs. Arizona. … The Rams’ defense will rebound after their Sunday night loss to Tennessee, and the main victim of that will be 49ers RB Elijah Mitchell. … You better make sure Russell Wilson is back before counting on receivers D.K. Metcalf or Tyler Lockett against the Packers. … Denver’s defense made Dallas’ Dak Prescott look bad last week and will do the same with Philly’s Jalen Hurts. … Other QBs who will have a tougher time this week are Cleveland’s Baker Mayfield vs. New England and Indy’s Carson Wentz vs. Jacksonville.

1636558425 81 The Loop Fantasy Football Report Week 10 Star of season
Carolina Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey walks off the field after an NFL football game against the New England Patriots Sunday, Nov. 7, 2021, in Charlotte, N.C. (AP Photo/Jacob Kupferman)

MATCHUP GAME
Taking advantage of less-than stellar defenses in the Vikings-Chargers game, look for L.A. quarterback Justin Herbert and Vikings RB Dalvin Cook to have big games, which is particularly good news for the one facing a lawsuit. … Las Vegas QB Derek Carr stunk up the joint last week, but the Chiefs’ defense will be more to his liking. … Got a hunch that our old pal Adrian Peterson will reach the end zone again this week for the Titans against New Orleans. … Devonta Freeman will cement his role as Baltimore’s top runner vs. Miami. … Buffalo’s Stefon Diggs will pad his stats vs. the Jets … And in our longshot pick of the week, Detroit’s Jared Goff will do well against a Steelers defense that made Justin Fields look like a hall of famer in the second half Monday night.

1636558429 577 The Loop Fantasy Football Report Week 10 Star of season
Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert in action during an NFL football game against the Philadelphia Eagles Sunday, Nov. 7, 2021, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

INJURY WATCH
The big question this week, obviously, is whether Aaron Rodgers will return from the COVID-19 list. So you’ll have to check in with Joe Rogan on that one. … It looks like both Seattle QB Russell Wilson and Arizona’s Kyler Murray will also be back under center, though it’s less certain for Miami’s Tua Tagovailoa. … Keep an eye on Rams QB Matthew Stafford and his recently rolled ankle … As for running backs, New England’s Damien Harris and Buffalo’s Zack Moss could be out. … Arizona WR DeAndre Hopkins is considered questionable, along with Jaguars RB James Robinson, Seattle RB Chris Carson, Detroit RB Jamaal Williams, Patriots RB Rhamondre Stevenson, Pittsburgh WR Chase Claypool, Tampa Bay wideout Antonio Brown and Patriots TE Jonnu Smith.

1636558429 553 The Loop Fantasy Football Report Week 10 Star of season
Imagine the look on the face of Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers when he learned that his claims of COVID-19 vaccination had been debunked for all the world to see. (Screen grab from YouTube)

THE DEEPEST SLEEPER
We hit a home run here last week with Pittsburgh tight end Pat Freiermuth, who caught two TD passes Monday night. Let’s try to keep the streak going with Arizona running back Eno Benjamin. The former Arizona State Sun Devil got his first decent chunk of playing time last Sunday after Chase Edmonds left with a high ankle sprain. Benjamin ran nine times for 39 yards and a touchdown. He could see a decent amount of work while Edmonds is out the next couple of weeks, as the Cardinals will be hesitant to overtax James Conner. With Carolina and Seattle on the slate the next two weeks, Benjamin could be a very good flex option.

1636558430 444 The Loop Fantasy Football Report Week 10 Star of season
Arizona Cardinals running back Eno Benjamin (26) celebrates after scoring a touchdown in the third quarter against the San Francisco 49ers during an NFL football game, Sunday, Nov. 7, 2021 in Santa Clara, Calif. (AP Photo/Lachlan Cunningham)

THE THURSDAY PICK
Ravens at Dolphins (+7½):
Pick: Ravens by 7

1636558431 406 The Loop Fantasy Football Report Week 10 Star of season
Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson (8) runs on to the field during pre-game player introductions before an NFL football game against the Minnesota Vikings, Sunday, Nov. 7, 2021, in Baltimore. (AP Photo/Terrance Williams)

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]

News

Former South St. Paul basketball coach dies by suicide, two days before sentencing on federal fraud case

Published

on

Undated courtesy photo, circa January 2022, of Matthew McCollister, head boys basketball coach at South St. Paul High School. (Courtesy of South St. Paul Public Schools)

Former South St. Paul boys basketball coach Matthew McCollister died by suicide on Monday, two days before he was to be sentenced for fraud in federal court.

McCollister, 40, leaves behind his wife and three young children.

He pleaded guilty in January for his role in a scheme to defraud car insurance companies with false medical claims while working as a personal injury attorney.

Matthew McCollister (Courtesy of South St. Paul Public Schools)

Mendota Heights Police Chief Kelly McCarthy said officers were called around 3 p.m. Monday for a possible suicide in the 3600 block of Wesley Court and found McCollister dead in his home.

McCollister was charged in December in U.S. District Court with felony conspiracy to commit health care fraud from 2016 to 2017. He was charged by felony information, a process by which a defendant agrees to waive a grand jury indictment and instead plead guilty.

McCollister resigned from the team and his student support assistant job at South St. Paul High School on Jan. 12, the day the Pioneer Press first reported the accusations and just hours before he was scheduled to plead guilty at the federal courthouse in St. Paul. That hearing was postponed after his attorney fell ill.

McCollister entered his plea on Jan. 19. Sentencing guidelines called for 10 to 16 months in prison. McCollister remained free on his own recognizance pending his sentencing, which was scheduled for 10:30 a.m. Wednesday before U.S. District Judge Wilhelmina Wright.

“We ask that you give his family time and space to grieve,” his attorney, Ryan Pacyga, said in a statement Tuesday. “There will not be a sentencing hearing tomorrow. I have no further comments.”

McCollister had been South St. Paul High School’s head basketball coach since November 2019, and was credited with leading a turnaround of a once-struggling program. Prior to joining South St. Paul, McCollister had been a head coach at Breck, St. Croix Preparatory Academy and Brooklyn Center.

FRAUD SCHEME

McCollister was admitted to practice law in Minnesota in 2009. Starting around 2015, McCollister began his own law practice that focused primarily on pursuing personal injury claims on behalf of people who had been in car accidents.

About a year later, a chiropractor introduced McCollister to a confidential informant who was working with the Minnesota Commerce Fraud Bureau and posing as a “runner,” according to federal prosecutors. A runner is someone who gets paid to recruit people who supposedly were injured in car crashes and then receive chiropractic treatment paid for by auto insurance companies.

McCollister met with the runner at the Red Cow restaurant in St. Paul on March 1, 2016, and asked the individual to find people who supposedly were injured, prosecutors said. McCollister’s idea was to then have them go to chiropractors for care and that he would represent them in bringing claims against auto insurance companies for the purported injuries, according to the plea agreement. McCollister offered to pay the runner $300 or more for each person recruited.

Prosecutors allege McCollister then directed one of the two undercover patients to be “treated” by chiropractor Huy Nguyen, who is currently serving a prison sentence for his role in the conspiracy.

In December 2015, law enforcement executed a search warrant at Nguyen’s chiropractic clinic, Healthcare Chiropractic, in Brooklyn Park, where McCollister maintained an informal office and spent considerable time, according to U.S. Attorney David MacLaughlin.

“Huy Nguyen’s notoriousness could not have escaped Mr. McCollister’s attention,” MacLaughlin wrote in an April 26 memorandum that argued for a 16-month sentence for McCollister.

McCollister’s “brazen use of a known crooked chiropractor” continued throughout 2016 and into 2017, the memo read. On March 16, 2016, the undercover runner had lunch with McCollister, Nguyen and another now-convicted conspirator/MRI specialist named Quincy Chettupally at Fogo de Chao in downtown Minneapolis. The lunch was video recorded without McCollister’s knowledge and the conspirators openly discussed the scheme, according to prosecutors.

A grand jury in December 2016 indicted Nguyen in the conspiracy to which McCollister would later plead guilty. In August 2017, the grand jury added Chettupally to the conspiracy count.

Despite the indictments, McCollister sent two letters to Liberty Mutual Insurance, demanding a $25,000 bodily injury settlement for two separate bogus claims, prosecutors say.

DISBARRED

McCollister was the second Minnesota attorney charged and convicted through what was dubbed “Operation Back Cracker,” an effort by the state Commerce Fraud Bureau, the FBI and U.S. Attorney’s Office to combat personal injury protection fraud cases.

In November 2020, Minnetonka attorney William Sutor was sentenced to 16 months in prison after being convicted of the same offense as McCollister.

Pacyga, McCollister’s attorney, planned to argue for a five-month prison sentence followed by home confinement or community supervision.

McCollister “promptly accepted responsibility” by forgoing an indictment, Pacyga noted in his April 25 sentencing memorandum. “McCollister has lost not one, but two careers,” he added.

McCollister in February was disbarred by the Minnesota Supreme Court for professional misconduct unrelated to the federal charge. He had admitted to intentionally misappropriating more than $16,300 in client funds from his trust account between July 2020 and December 2020.

“Besides the father and husband that he has been and continues to be, he continues to work on himself with therapy and stays sober, even in the face of a federal criminal sentencing and the loss of both his law and coaching careers,” Pacyga wrote in his memo.

When McCollister left the team, South St. Paul was 14-0 and among the top-ranked teams in Class 3A. Assistant coach Darren Edwards took over as head coach and the team went on to win 14 straight games before falling to DeLaSalle 69-67 in the Section 3 final. It was South St. Paul’s second straight loss in the section final.

Prior to resigning, McCollister was a full-time student support assistant at the high school. In that role, he worked with student-support specialists who focus on student behavior.

To get help for thoughts of suicide, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

Continue Reading

News

Heat may need to keep Victor Oladipo caffeinated with jolt required vs. Celtics in East finals

Published

on

Ravens kicker Justin Tucker’s record-breaking kick honored as NFL’s Best Moment of the Year

Considering Jimmy Butler is a walking coffee shop, one would not think the Miami Heat would have an issue getting caffeinated.

But a bench set on domination in the Eastern Conference finals has come up short, making the strained left groin that took Sixth Man of the Year Tyler Herro out of Monday night’s loss to the Boston Celtics all the more significant.

With all eyes on the Heat injury report, it has become apparent that depth might be the only answer for the Heat to regain control of the best-of-seven series that is tied 2-2 going into Wednesday’s 8:30 p.m. Game 5 at FTX Arena.

Hope was added in Game 4, with Victor Oladipo closing with 23 points.

“Just being aggressive,” Oladipo said.

At 11.8 points per game in this series, Oladipo is not far behind Herro’s 12.3. The difference is Oladipo also is 6 of 15 on 3-pointers, compared to Herro’s 1 of 14, as well as 17 of 23 from the line, as opposed to Herro’s 4 of 4.

So an aggressive Oladipo plus a revived Herro could be worth more than any double shot being served up by Butler’s Big Face Coffee grinders, with the Heat’s starting forward with his own series concerns.

“He’s just being successful in his role,” Heat center Bam Adebayo said of Oladipo. “He’s been doing that night in, night out. We can’t take anything from him. He’s definitely a spark that was keeping us in the game.”

Oladipo’s effort in Game 4, in fact, was so unique that, according to ESPN, he became the first reserve to outscore his team’s starting lineup in a playoff game since starters first were tracked by the NBA in 1970-71.

“Just got to continue to keep improving, continue to keep playing hard and figure out ways to win,” said Oladipo, as he continues to work back from May 2021 quadriceps surgery. “It’s a seven-game series, so on to the next one. Got to get ready for Game 5.”

Better looks

Among the Heat’s priorities is creating a better shot menu than Game 4, when they had only three shots at the rim in Monday night’s first half.

“I think that’s on us,” Butler said. “We settled for too many mid-range jump shots, myself included. A lot of shots behind the three that weren’t even good ones, at that.

“Ain’t nothing more than that. We need to move the ball around, get it to the open guy and let that guy make the play and live with what we get out of it. I think we’ve just got to be better.”

It starts, Butler said, with better ball movement.

“Move the ball, get it from one side to the other, keep the game extremely simple,” he said. Whenever we tend to do that, we tend to play well. When anybody tries to hit a home run and do it by themselves, we kind of get in trouble. Ball sticks. We turn the ball over. We take a bad shot.

“We just need to do everything together like we’ve been doing all year long. It will be on myself, on Kyle [Lowry], on Bam to make sure that we make that happen.”

Higher calling

Having missed the Celtics’ Game 2 victory at FTX Arena for the birth of his son, Celtics guard Derrick White said he felt twice blessed after playing a major role in Monday night’s victory, closing with 13 points, eight rebounds and six assists while playing in the injury absence of Marcus Smart.

But, he said, it mostly was about the after party, getting back to see his son.

“He’s been a super blessing to myself and my family,” White said. “I can’t wait to go home and see him and just hold him. It’s cool just to watch him. I’m excited to see how he grows.”

()

Continue Reading

News

Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Dwayne Haskins was drunk, had ketamine in his system when he was fatally hit by dump truck

Published

on

Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Dwayne Haskins was drunk, had ketamine in his system when he was fatally hit by dump truck

Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Dwayne Haskins had a blood alcohol level more than twice the legal limit when he tried to cross a Florida interstate in April and was hit and killed by a dump truck.

Haskins, 24, had blood alcohol levels of 0.20 and 0.24 in two separate samples, according to a toxicology report released Monday by the Broward County Medical Examiner’s Office; the legal limit is 0.08.

A urine sample also tested positive for ketamine and norketamine, drugs that can be used both as anesthetics and recreationally.

Haskins, who had been training in South Florida with his teammates, went out to dinner on April 9, then went to a club with a relative, where they “drank heavily” and separated after a fight, according to the report.

Around 6:15 a.m., the quarterback ran out of gas and pulled over onto the shoulder on the westbound side of I-95, where he tried to flag down passing drivers for help. Witnesses, including the driver of the dump truck, said Haskins wandered out into the middle of the road, where the truck driver had no way to avoid him.

Haskins was then hit by a Subaru that unsuccessfully tried to swerve to avoid him. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

His official cause of death was ruled an accident from multiple blunt force injuries.

The medical examiner’s report also noted that a “female companion” was in Haskins’ car when he pulled over, but did not identify her.

Haskins’ wife, Kalabrya Haskins, asked for privacy in a statement through her lawyer Monday.

Haskins, a New Jersey native, was drafted by the Washington football team in 2019 out of Ohio State University, then picked up by the Steelers in 2021 after being released. He had resigned with Pittsburgh barely three weeks before he was killed.

()

Continue Reading

Trending