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The Loop Fantasy Football Update Week 11: Big play runners coming back

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The Loop Fantasy Football Update Week 11:  Big play runners coming back

UPDATE: 11:38 a.m. Saturday
There’s good news on the injury front Saturday morning, as two of the preseason top 10 draft picks are set to return to the field.

Cleveland’s Nick Chubb has cleared his COVID-19 protocols and is going to return to the Browns’ starting lineup on Sunday. Then Monday night, the Giants’ Saquon Barkley is expected to return from his ankle injury.

Speaking of COVID, Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is expected to return from that to start Sunday night against the Los Angeles Chargers.

It wouldn’t be a Saturday update without the usual Arizona uncertainty. Quarterback Kyler Murray is again said to be a game-time decision, while star receiver DeAndre Hopkins is out again.

A number of top performers have been ruled out: New Orleans RB Alvin Kamara, Seattle RB Chris Carson, Tennessee running back Jeremy McNichols and Dallas wideout Amari Cooper.

The outlook isn’t much better for these guys listed as doubtful: San Francisco running back Elijah Mitchell, Chicago WR Allen Robinson and Packers WR Allen Lazard.

Players listed as questionable include Philly RB Miles Sanders, Jacksonville RB James Robinson, Baltimore WR Marquise Brown, Washington receiver Curtis Samuel and Tampa Bay tight end Rob Gronkowski.

ORIGINAL POST: 10:01 a.m. Wednesday

There’s no greater fantasy football rush than when the calendar turns toward Thanksgiving and a player you’ve stashed as a long-shot prospect suddenly turns into late-season GOLD!. So, as Week 11 begins, there is a rush for talent that was not considered particularly important talent just days ago.

Exhibit A: Green Bay running back A.J. Dillon.

The former Boston College standout has jumped into the headlines since Aaron Jones was sidelined last week during the Packers’ victory over Seattle. He’s a No. 1 target as the Packers head to Minneapolis to face the Vikings on Sunday. Jones will likely miss two weeks, so Dillon will be available only to teams with No. 1 priority on the free-agent wires this week.

As for less obvious prospects, we have some favorites …

Rhamondre Stevenson (Patriots RB) —The former Oklahoma Sooner rushed for 100 yards and two touchdowns last week when Damien Harris was sidelined. Although Harris is likely to return this week, Stevenson should be a solid No. 2 running back who might get the majority of work near the goal line.

New England Patriots running back Rhamondre Stevenson (38) is tackled by Cleveland Browns linebacker Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah (28) during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Nov. 14, 2021, in Foxborough, Mass. (AP Photo/Stew Milne)

Jordan Howard (Eagles RB) — Howard has three touchdowns in three games since being grabbed off the scrap heap by his former team. He also has averaged more than 70 yards a game in that span. He could be the Eagles’ running back of choice in their final seven games.

1637431029 968 The Loop Fantasy Football Update Week 11 Big play runners
Philadelphia Eagles running back Jordan Howard (24) in action during an NFL football game against the Los Angeles Chargers Sunday, Nov. 7, 2021, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

Matt Breida (Bills RB) — Long forgotten thanks to a long history of injuries, Brieda re-emerged last week to score two touchdowns in Buffalo’s rout of the New York Jets. He’s touchdown dependent, to be sure, but he could be a regular goal-line option for the AFC’s best team.

1637431030 487 The Loop Fantasy Football Update Week 11 Big play runners
Buffalo Bills’ Matt Breida celebrates after his second touchdown during the second half of an NFL football game against the New York Jets, Sunday, Nov. 14, 2021, in East Rutherford, N.J. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

Marcus Johnson (Titans WR) — With Julio Jones constantly injured and A.J. Brown having an inconsistent season, Johnson has emerged as a favorite of Tennessee QB Ryan Tannehill. He hit the 100-yard mark last week against New Orleans, and that won’t be the last time he does it.

1637431030 487 The Loop Fantasy Football Update Week 11 Big play runners
Tennessee Titans wide receiver Marcus Johnson (88) falls in front of Los Angeles Rams safety Nick Scott (33) on a kickoff during an NFL Professional Football Game Sunday, Nov. 7, 2021, in Inglewood, Calif. (AP Photo/John McCoy)

Rashod Bateman (Ravens WR) -— We’ve been waiting for the former Gophers star to emerge and he finally has in Baltimore, getting eight targets each of the past two weeks. He’ll be no worse than the No. 2 receiver for Lamar Jackson’s offense going forward.

1637431030 763 The Loop Fantasy Football Update Week 11 Big play runners
Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Rashod Bateman runs with the ball against the Minnesota Vikings during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Nov. 7, 2021, in Baltimore. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

Cam Newton (Panthers QB) — Newton announced his presence with authority — and a loud “I’m back!” — last week against Arizona. And he reclaimed the Carolina starting job this week. He has never been shy about calling his own number near the goal line, and he won’t be in the season’s final seven weeks.

1637431031 974 The Loop Fantasy Football Update Week 11 Big play runners
Quarterback (1) Cam Newton of the Carolina Panthers celebrates on the sideline while playing against the Arizona Cardinals in an NFL football game, Sunday, Nov. 14, 2021, in Glendale, Ariz. Panthers defeated the Cardinals 34-10. (AP Photo/Jeff Lewis)

SITTING STARS
Even if Giants RB Saquon Barkley plays, you won’t be excited about starting him against the Buccaneers. … Indy RB Jonathan Taylor is the only Colts player worth starting against Buffalo. … Jacksonville also has only one player worth starting against the revived 49ers: running back James Robinson. … New England will keep under wraps the Falcons’ most effective player: Cordarrelle Patterson. … Detroit tight end T.J. Hockenson has been a non-entity lately and will continue to be against Cleveland. … And the Packers’ defense has been so stout lately that you might think twice before starting the Vikings’ Kirk Cousins or Justin Jefferson.

1637431032 338 The Loop Fantasy Football Update Week 11 Big play runners
FILE – In this Sunday, Oct. 3, 2021, file photo, New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley (26) walks off the field after an NFL football game against the New Orleans Saints in New Orleans. The talented fourth-year running back is probably going to miss at least a game or two after spraining his left ankle on a fluke play early in the Giants 44-20 loss to the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday. (AP Photo/Tyler Kaufman, File)

MATCHUP GAME
Pittsburgh will greatly rely on running back Najee Harris against the Chargers …. Same goes for the Dolphins’ Myles Gaskin vs. the Jets …. And Cleveland’s D’Ernest Johnson against the Lions. … Passing combinations we particularly like this week are Cincinnati’s Joe Burrow-Ja’Marr Chase vs. the Raiders, and the Chargers’ Justin Herbert-Keenan Allen vs. the Steelers … Also in line for big weeks: Carolina WR D.J. Moore against Washington (thanks to Cam Newton), New England QB Mac Jones against Atlanta, and the Miami Dolphins’ defense against the once-again-lowly Jets.

1637431032 779 The Loop Fantasy Football Update Week 11 Big play runners
Pittsburgh Steelers running back Najee Harris (22) plays in an NFL football game against the Detroit Lions, Sunday, Nov. 14, 2021, in Pittsburgh. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)

INJURY WATCH
It will be a classic matchup of debilitated quarterbacks in the Cardinals-Seahawks game. You should probably still start Kyler Murray and Russell Wilson, even though they are likely to disappoint. … Cleveland QB Baker Mayfield is in a similar position after his latest injury. … Three pass catchers hurt last week to keep an eye on: Dallas’ CeeDee Lamb, Washington’s Terry McLaurin and Philly tight end Dallas Goedert. … The list of questionables is long and includes running backs (Giants’ Saquon Barkley, Saints’ Alvin Kamara, Browns’ Nick Chubb, Chiefs’ Clyde Edwards-Helaire and Seahawks’ Chris Carson), pass catchers (Cardinals’ DeAndre Hopkins, Steelers’ Chase Claypool, Giants’ Sterling Shepard, Buccaneers’ Rob Gronkowski and Antonio Brown) and a quarterback (Pittsburgh’s Ben Roethlisberger).

1637431032 491 The Loop Fantasy Football Update Week 11 Big play runners
Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield (6) is assisted on the field during the second half of an NFL football game against the New England Patriots, Sunday, Nov. 14, 2021, in Foxborough, Mass. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)

THE DEEPEST SLEEPER
The Jacksonville Jaguars have finally figured out, maybe, how to get the best out of Jamal Agnew. The wide receiver and special teamer, who made headlines in September when he returned a missed field-goal 109 yards for a score, was put in the backfield last Sunday and immediately paid dividends with a 66-yard touchdown run. Will he get more work? What position does he qualify for? Who cares? He’s the closest thing you can find to future hall of famer Devin Hester. A good stashing option for keeper leagues.

1637431033 363 The Loop Fantasy Football Update Week 11 Big play runners
Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver Jamal Agnew (39) runs on his way to a touchdown against the Indianapolis Colts in the first half of an NFL football game in Indianapolis, Sunday, Nov. 14, 2021. (AP Photo/AJ Mast)

THE THURSDAY PICK
Patriots at Falcons (+6½):
Pick: Patriots by 3

1637431033 442 The Loop Fantasy Football Update Week 11 Big play runners
New England Patriots quarterback Mac Jones (10), left, tosses the ball during the first half of an NFL football game against the Cleveland Browns, Sunday, Nov. 14, 2021, in Foxborough, Mass. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)

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 kcusick@pioneerpress.com.

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Vail Resorts is threatening immigration status of foreign investors in Mount Snow project, Vermont regulators allege

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Vail Resorts is threatening immigration status of foreign investors in Mount Snow project, Vermont regulators allege

Vermont regulators this month issued a cease-and-desist order to Vail Resorts, alleging that the Colorado-based ski giant is reneging on an agreement with roughly 30 immigrant investors that could lead to their deportation.

These foreign investors came to the United States under the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program — created by Congress in 1990 to facilitate economic development in exchange for the chance to receive a green card, or permanent U.S. residency status.

In 2014, more than 100 people invested $500,000 with Peak Resorts — which Vail Resorts bought in 2019 — for the purposes of building an improved ski lodge and upgraded snowmaking facility at Mount Snow in southern Vermont. In return for their capital and job creation, the investors received temporary residency, with the ability to become permanent U.S. residents in the future.

But Vermont regulators, in their Jan. 7 order, said Vail Resorts is trying to return money to dozens of investors involved in the Mount Snow project before their immigration petitions have been processed by the federal government — which, the state argued, would violate Vermont security laws and could result in investors losing their legal status to remain in the country.

“If your application hasn’t been decided yet and you get refunded, you’re out of possibilities to get your permanent green card,” said Michael S. Pieciak, a commissioner with Vermont’s Department of Financial Regulation, which filed the cease-and-desist order. “That’s a very serious outcome for these investors.”

Quinn Kelsey, a Vail Resorts spokesperson, said in a statement that the company is “evaluating our legal recourse” but that it is “confident our practices are fully compliant.”

“Since the Mount Snow EB-5 Project’s formation in 2014, our communications with investors have been transparent, clear and compliant with securities laws,” Kelsey said.

Vail Resorts did not respond when asked why it was refunding the Mount Snow investors.

These investments are primarily an avenue for people to get a coveted green card, rather than make a significant return on investment, Pieciak said.

The state became aware of the refunds in late November and early December when investors told them they had been contacted by Vail Resorts, asking them to complete a form with bank wire transfer instructions.

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These Colorado towns are great in winter – even if you don’t ski

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These Colorado towns are great in winter – even if you don’t ski

Not being a skier in Colorado is the equivalent of blurting “Voldemort” at Hogwarts. People look at you in shock. How dare you not ski?! The thing is, skiing and snowboarding can be pricey — season pass or lift tickets, skis or snowboard, boots, helmet, and layers of cold-weather gear. Plus, trying to get anywhere in the mountains along  I-70 is so … trying.

So what else is there to do, then?

Turns out, there’s a lot more to Colorado in the winter than shredding pow. You can snowshoe to a glorious, four-course dinner, spectate at an elite ice climbing competition, soak your muscles in a hot springs, or ride through a snowy wonderland by train. Read on for tips for finding winter fun off the slopes.

Daniel Brenner, Special to the Denver Post

A competitor loses an edge during the 72nd Running of Leadville Skijoring on March 8, 2020, in Leadville.

Leadville

Billed as the highest city in the country, Leadville is surrounded by fourteeners and is home to snow almost year-round. You could try summiting a peak, but this is recommended only if you have experience climbing in winter. Fortunately, you don’t have to climb one to enjoy great mountain views. There are world-renowned trails for snowshoeing and cross-country skiing. Or take the 1-mile trail to the Tennessee Pass Cookhouse for a four-course dinner with a backdrop like no other.

Plan your visit around Crystal Carnival Weekend (March 5-6) and enjoy the skijoring — kind of like waterskiing, but instead of water there’s snow and instead of a boat there’s a horse. That’s right! A horse and rider gallop down the street towing a rope — and on the other end of that rope there’s a person on skis. They race through downtown in a series of jumps. It’s a hootin’-hollerin’ good time! And if someone in your group does want to ski, Ski Cooper is a short drive away.

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Provided by Ouray Ice Park

The town of Ouray offers a few glimpses of natural waterfall wonders, but this man-made (and free!) ice park is truly spectacular. It’s a mecca for climbers and non-climbers to behold, too.

Ouray

This southwestern mountain town isn’t always easy to get to (keep your eye on storms), but once you’re there, you’ll quickly understand why it’s called the “Little Switzerland of Colorado.”

Ouray is a winter dreamscape nestled in a valley between high mountain cliffs. Every year, staff at Ouray Ice Park turn Uncompahgre Gorge into frigid walls of ice fit for the most talented climbers. You can try the sport yourself or simply watch others. Visit in January to watch the best ice climbers in the world compete.

There are plenty of other activities, if ice climbing isn’t your thing. You can soak in the hot springs, walk around Box Canyon Falls Park, drive along the Million Dollar Highway, or hike the Ouray Perimeter Trail. If someone in your group does want to ski, it’s not far to Telluride.

Cortez

If you’re looking for a perfect après ski atmosphere without ever skiing, head to Cortez, between Canyons of the Ancients National Monument and Mesa Verde National Park. It’s a great area in winter since crowds are minimal and the views are endless.

Finding sustenance (in both liquid and solid form) is easy on Cortez’s main drag and in surrounding towns. Grab a pint at WildEdge Brewing Collective, Main Street Brewery, or J Fargo’s Micro Brewery and pair it with pub favorites (the beer nachos are incredible at WildEdge). Dolores River Brewery and Mancos Brewing Co. are good options if you venture further from town. The Farm Bistro just off Main Street has a new lounge that serves only Colorado beer, wine and spirits. Plus, it offers a true farm-to-table experience described as delivering “comfort food with style.” Yum.

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Liz Copan, Summit Daily News via AP

Dog-sledding guide Tim Thiessen of Leadville brings his huskies down a trail off Tiger Road on Thursday, Jan. 16, 2020, at Good Times Adventures in Breckenridge.

Buena Vista

Opt to warm yourself instead of freeze on the slopes with a trip to Buena Vista. There’s a large concentration of hot springs in the area to soak the weariest muscles.

Mount Princeton Hot Springs Resort offers pools of varying temperatures and even a 400-foot water slide. Or rent a private cabin at Antero Hot Springs or the Merrifield Homestead Cabins for more of a secluded retreat. Head south to find Joyful Journey Hot Springs or Salida Hot Springs and Aquatic Center to swim in one of the largest indoor hot springs pools in the country.

If something more exciting beckons, try Monarch Dog Sled rides. Have you ever wondered what it’s like to be in the Iditarod? It’s not as easy as you might think to stay standing on a dog sled. Not to worry, though, if you don’t want to drive the dogs; you can stay seated up front. Make sure to bundle up and wear goggles since snow is bound to get kicked up into your face.

Cripple Creek

Cripple Creek is known for the casinos lining its main street, but there’s more to this town than you might realize. Visit in February, and you’ll find the downtown corridor transform into a sea of ice as the town hosts the state’s largest ice carving competition. Artists from all over try their hand at creating masterpieces from hundreds of pounds of ice. There’s an ice maze for kids to outwit, an ice slide for those who are a kid at heart, and even an ice martini bar! It’s a lot of fun for the whole family.

Draft horses with Horses Are Us, ...

Helen H. Richardson, The Denver Post

Draft horses pull sleigh rides during the Georgetown Christmas Market on Dec. 8, 2019.

Georgetown

You may have to fight ski traffic for a bit to get to Georgetown, but it’s worth it. It’s the perfect family-friendly day trip from Denver. Every December, Georgetown’s Sixth Street transforms into a quintessential Christmas postcard. Stringed lights illuminated downtown and the smell of roasting chestnuts fills the air; you may think you’ve stepping onto the set of a holiday movie. Take a sleigh ride around town, listen to carolers, and stroll through vendors to pick out gifts for the whole family. After you’ve filled up on eggnog, head to the Georgetown Loop Railroad. Every year it features holiday excursions that traverse Santa’s Lighted Forest and might even include a visit from the jolly man himself! Every kid goes home from the train ride with a special treat and smiles for days.

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Helen H. Richardson, The Denver Post

The skies are full of stars above the unique formations of the Wheeler Geologic Area in the Rio Grande National Forest on Aug. 7, 2020, near Creede.

Creede

You might not think of Creede as a winter destination, but there are few prettier scenes than this little town, nearly surrounded by mountain cliffs blanketed in snow.

Plan your visit to take in the annual Chocolate Festival, where local business owners showcase delectable chocolate specialties. January brings the annual TommyKnocker Pond Hockey Tournament. Whether you’re on the ice yourself or just spectating, there’s plenty of live entertainment and good food. If you’re “officially over winter” by February, head to Creede for its aptly-named Cabin Fever Daze. There’s live music, night skating, curling, bonfires, improv theater, and all-around good fun.

1642600101 468 These Colorado towns are great in winter – even if
The Springs Resort and Spa in downtown Pagosa Springs is like a water park for hot springs lovers — and its just a 30-minute drive from Wolf Creek Ski Area. There are 25 pools in a lovingly manicured resort along the San Juan River. The mineral-rich water will soothe body and mind. (T. Carter, The Springs Resort and Spa)
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“This is a crisis”: 672 people died in Colorado traffic crashes last year — the highest number in nearly two decades

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“This is a crisis”: 672 people died in Colorado traffic crashes last year — the highest number in nearly two decades

More people died in crashes on Colorado’s roads last year than any other year in nearly two decades, prompting highway officials to call for drivers to change the way they act to reverse the tragic trend.

At least 672 people died in traffic crashes last year, though Col. Matthew Packard, chief of the Colorado State Patrol, said he expects the number to exceed 700 once the year’s data is finalized. Driving is the most dangerous activity many Coloradans do on an average day despite the fact that nearly all crash deaths are preventable, he said in a Tuesday news conference.

The number of deaths last year is 50% higher than the number recorded in 2011 and the highest on record since 2002, data compiled by the Colorado Department of Transportation shows.

“This is a crisis in our state,” Packard said. “This is a crisis we’re dealing with across the country. And I don’t use that word lightly.”

Packard and other officials attributed the rise in deaths to drivers’ lack of personal responsibility. Too many people are driving while impaired, using excessive speeds and allowing themselves to be distracted behind the wheel, he said.

Colorado’s population and the number of people using its roads have increased in the last two decades but they have not risen at the same rate as the number of crash deaths, said John Lorme, director of maintenance and operations for the Colorado Department of Transportation. Traffic deaths increased in 2020 from 2019 even as the use of Colorado’s roads plummeted during the beginning of the pandemic, he said.

“Drivers must do their part,” Lorme said.

At least 246 of 2021’s traffic deaths, or 37%, involved an impaired driver, up from 212 such deaths in 2020. Data about which substances drivers were using last year was not yet available because toxicology reports can take months, Colorado Department of Transportation spokesman Sam Cole said. The department will publish a report when the data is final.

The final number of deaths caused by distracted drivers also was not yet available, Cole said.

Officials urged Coloradans to use seatbelts while traveling. At least 226 of the people who died in traffic crashes last year were not wearing seatbelts — or a third of the total deaths.

The five counties with the highest number of crashes are some of the state’s most populous: El Paso, Adams, Denver, Jefferson and Arapahoe. Of those counties, El Paso is the only one to see a decrease from 2020 and no growth from the average number of deaths from the prior three years. Adams, Denver and Jefferson counties each saw a 14% increase from their three-year averages and Arapahoe saw a 10% increase.

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