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The Loop Fantasy Football Update Week 11: Last-minute moves

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The Loop Fantasy Football Update Week 11:  Last-minute moves

UPDATE: 10:41 a.m. Sunday
The quarterback fortunes are particularly dicey this morning with news regarding two of the league’s best.

No surprise: Arizona’s Kyler Murray will miss another game because of his injured ankle. A big surprise: Baltimore’s Lamar Jackson has been stricken by a non-COVID virus. He is inactive today in Chicago. If you need a late Hail Mary, how about resurrected Carolina QB Cam Newton?

Also ruled out for Week 11: San Francisco RB Elijah MItchell, Chicago RB Damien Williams, Baltimore WR Marquise Brown, Chicago WR Allen Robinson and Packers WR Allen Lazard.

Three notable injured running backs have been cleared to play: Jacksonville’s James Robinson, the Eagles’ Miles Sanders and Kansas City’s Clyde Edwards-Helaire. The latter is still a bit of a risky play considering he’ll be sharing the backfield with Darrel Williams.

Two lesser running back options that are active are Baltimore’s Latavius Murray and Detroit’s Jamaal Williams.

UPDATE: 12:22 p.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.

In a late development, Baltimore QB Lamar Jackson has been listed as questionable because of an illness.

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, Dallas wideout Amari Cooper, Tampa Bay WR Antonio Brown and Giants WR Sterling Shepard.

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.

The Loop Fantasy Football Update Week 11 Last minute moves
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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Patriots captain Matthew Slater addresses whether he’ll retire this offseason

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Patriots captain Matthew Slater on Colts loss: ‘This is a good wake-up call for us’

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. — For the past three offseasons, Patriots special teams captain Matthew Slater has contemplated retirement.

He’ll soon make it four.

Slater, 36, briefly addressed his uncertain future after the Pats’ stunning 47-17 Wild Card loss at Buffalo on Saturday, saying he’ll take time to make a decision.

“I don’t want to disrespect the team and what we just went through and talk about my personal situation. Obviously, I’m closer to the end. We all know that,” he said. “I’ll pray about it and make a final decision and have some conversations. But tonight, I just want to make sure I express gratitude to people that I owe it to and take time to be reflective, not only for the experience this year, but the entirety of my career.”

Drafted in 2008, Slater is the team’s longest-tenured player and captain. He was voted a captain for an 11th straight season back in September. During the year, Slater was selected to an NFL-record 10th Pro Bowl as a special teams player.

Slater finished the regular season with 11 tackles and added two more in Saturday’s playoff loss.

Having signed a 2-year contract back in March 2020, he is now scheduled to become a free agent. Slater inked his last contract before hitting unrestricted free agency, something he could pursue again if he chooses to play another season.

Fellow captain Devin McCourty is also set to become a free agent, though he was not asked about his future after Saturday’s game.

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Josh Allen, Bills downplay significance of destroying Patriots in historic Wild Card win

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Josh Allen, Bills downplay significance of destroying Patriots in historic Wild Card win

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. — As the final minutes ticked off the clock of his team’s 47-17 trouncing of the Patriots, Buffalo Bills coach Sean McDermott allowed himself to take in the atmosphere.

For the better part of the last two decades, Buffalo had to endure the suffering of the Bill Belichick and Tom Brady-led Patriots’ dynasty. They owned the Bills like no other franchise. But over the last two seasons of the post-Brady era, the changing of the guard has been swift atop the AFC East.

Saturday night’s demolition of the Pats — one of the worst losses of Belichick’s coaching career — was the loudest stamp yet on a new era. The Pats allowed 47 points, the most of the Belichick era, and it was their third worst playoff loss in franchise history.

A rowdy and boisterous crowd at Highmark Stadium — the Bills’ first home playoff game since 1995 in which full capacity was allowed — under frigid conditions was just further proof. The dominant victory didn’t wipe all of Buffalo’s pain of the last 20 years away, but it was clear that it meant something more to their fanbase.

“I’m more happy for our fans,” McDermott said. “It’s not often that a coach can enjoy the last six minutes of the game and look up into the stands and see the fans enjoying it at home. I’m happy for them more than anything.”

But to the Bills players? The Patriots were just another opponent in their path.

Certainly, they understood the significance. They know the history. Prior to the 2020 season, the Bills were 5-35 against the Pats in the Belichick era. Consistent misery.

GIven all that, though, they didn’t take any extra pride in embarrassing the Pats on a big stage in the playoffs.

“It didn’t matter who we played, we were going to try to come out and dominate,” said Bills safety Micah Hyde. “I think it’s big for people in this community, people who are out there to be part of that game against that opponent just because we know the history and we know what’s happened for the last 20-plus years. We just wanted to come out here and play our game. It wasn’t about an exact opponent.”

The Bills did acknowledge that last month’s 14-10 Patriots victory at Highmark Stadium — a game the Pats dominated at the line of scrimmage — didn’t sit right with them. Defensive end Jerry Hughes said “it was a little bit on my mind.”

Jordan Poyer, though, insisted there wasn’t much of a carryover effect.

“I don’t think either of those games meant anything coming into this game,” the safety said of the two regular-season meetings. “We just wanted to go out there and be us. Execute at a high level. We felt like we were the better team and that’s what we showed tonight.”

The Bills stayed grounded in the moment. Even McDermott, who was criticized for some of the comments he made after last month’s loss, stayed humble.

“For us as a team this year, it’s one game,” McDermott said. “That’s a good football team, and they’ve been at the top for so long. I have a lot of respect for them. We just have to keep moving on.”

Josh Allen carried that respect forward, too. The Bills quarterback, who threw for 308 yards and five touchdowns in a surgical performance, was spotted after the game offering seemingly encouraging words for Patriots rookie quarterback Mac Jones, who played well in a losing effort.

“I’ll keep that private between me and him, but he’s a heck of a player,” Allen said.

Allen echoed the words of his teammates who were happy for the fans on Saturday night. Of course, he wasn’t around when the Pats were handing the Bills perennial beatings like the one seen here on Saturday. He’s now won four of his last five matchups against the Patriots.

“It feels good for the fans,” Allen said. “I know that. I’m glad we could give that to them, but at the end of the day, it’s a playoff game that we advanced on. It doesn’t matter what we did this week, or last week, or the week before. It matters what we do going forward.”

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Patriots react to season-ending Wild Card blowout at Buffalo: ‘Embarrassing’

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Patriots react to season-ending Wild Card blowout at Buffalo: ‘Embarrassing’

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. — In a small, windowless room neighboring the visitors locker room at Highmark Stadium, with temperatures outside drawing close to zero degrees, the Patriots were forced to confront the cold reality of their season-ending loss.

It had been record-setting in all the wrong ways.

Downed 47-17 by the Bills in the Wild Card round, the Patriots suffered their worst playoff loss of the Bill Belichick era, the third-worst in franchise history. They allowed the most points of any game in the Belichick era, and fourth-most in team history. And the Bills became the first NFL team ever to not record a punt, turnover or field goal attempt in a game.

So what did the Patriots make of their stunning defeat, their fourth loss in five weeks?

Bill Belichick

“Congratulate Buffalo on the win tonight. Obviously, they did a great job and we just couldn’t keep up with them tonight. Certainly deserve the win. Well-coached, executed well, and we just couldn’t do much of anything.”

S Devin McCourty 

“It is what it is. Obviously not our best game. Sucks to end the season that way. Credit to them, obviously. I don’t think we got a stop on defense tonight. So just not how you want to end the season, how you want to play the game.”

McCourty on the defensive performance:

“We practiced all week, we shouldn’t really perform like that. So, (it’s) embarrassing.”

QB Mac Jones

“I think obviously we didn’t play how we wanted to play, and every game’s different. We didn’t have a chance to win the game, and it starts with me. Just getting momentum early, and not putting ourselves in that position. OF course it’s not how we wanted it to be. Like I said, I could’ve played better, and a lot of guys would agree with me that we can push each other harder to get that product on the field. And I think there will be a lot of strides tis offseason to get there, working together however we can, and that’s gonna show up next year.”

LB Matt Judon

“It was just kind of their night. They were hitting on all cylinders and sometimes you’ve just gotta give credit to the other team. It just sucks when you can’t play no more. It really sucks.”

C David Andrews

“It wasn’t good enough. And hats off to them. They played a really good game, and got behind early and just too much. I don’t know.”

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