Tue Dec 7 8:50am ET
By BARRY WILNER
AP Pro Football Writer
Derrick Henry and Tyrann Mathieu, 2020 All-Pro players, are among the 32 men chosen as finalists for the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year award.
Each of the teams nominated one player for the prestigious honor named for the late Payton, a Hall of Fame running back for the Bears. The award recognizes a player for community service and excellence on the field. It has been given annually since 1970 and will be presented at NFL Honors, the TV show during which The Associated Press reveals its individual seasonal award winners.
Titans running back Henry, last season's Offensive Player of the Year, currently is sidelined by a broken right foot. He was chosen by Tennessee for such work as making a $10,000 donation from his Two All Foundation to Jeremy Taylor, a Nashville firefighter who lost his family home and all their belongings in a fire. For the fourth consecutive year, Henry hosted a back-to-school event in his hometown of Yulee, Florida. Through his Two All Foundation, Derrick donated school supplies, backpacks, and bicycles to 200 kids. In September, he worked with the Boys & Girls Club of Middle Tennessee to host a back-to-school event that through foundation sponsors and personal donations from Henry met B&GC's goal of providing 5,000 backpacks full of school supplies to children in need, including $50 gift cards for 25 children the club identified as the most in need. He hosted those 25 youngsters for an in-person, back-to-school shopping day with additional $100 gift cards, reflecting on his youth involvement in a Boys & Girls Club.
Mathieu, the Chiefs' standout safety, was nominated for restarting initiatives during the pandemic. This spring, he activated a ''Tyrann's Teachers'' surprise and delight along with board members of his Tyrann Mathieu Foundation. Gift baskets were delivered to 32 teachers in the Kansas City metropolitan area. The teachers were selected through a nomination process on the foundation's website as students, colleagues, friends, and family submitted their favorite teacher by writing an essay detailing the positive impact teachers have left on the Kansas City community.
As the NFL season began, Mathieu and his foundation held their annual ''Back 2 School'' shopping spree. For the second year, Mathieu and some teammates surprised 32 underprivileged youngsters ages 6-17 from the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Kansas City for a night of shopping and dinner. In addition, each child received a special Nike backpack filled with essentials. He also held his annual ''Tyrann's Turkeys'' food distribution around Thanksgiving.
Previous winners among active players are Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson in 2020; Baltimore defensive linemen Calais Campbell (2019 with Jacksonville) and Arizona's J.J. Watt (2017 with Houston).
Kelvin Beachum, Arizona
Mike Davis, Atlanta
Bradley Bozeman, Baltimore
Harrison Phillips, Buffalo
DJ Moore, Carolina
Jimmy Graham, Chicago
Sam Hubbard, Cincinnati
Denzel Ward, Cleveland
Dak Prescott, Dallas
Justin Simmons, Denver
Jason Cabinda, Detroit
Aaron Jones, Green Bay
Justin Reid, Houston
Kenny Moore II, Indianapolis
Myles Jack, Jacksonville
Tyrann Mathieu, Kansas City
Darren Waller, Las Vegas
Corey Linsley, Los Angeles Chargers
Andrew Whitworth, Los Angeles Rams
Jerome Baker, Miami
Anthony Barr, Minnesota
Lawrence Guy, New England
Cameron Jordan, New Orleans
Logan Ryan, New York Giants
Quinnen Williams, New York Jets
Jason Kelce, Philadelphia
Cameron Heyward, Pittsburgh
Arik Armstead, San Francisco
Tyler Lockett, Seattle
Mike Evans, Tampa Bay
Derrick Henry, Tennessee
Jonathan Allen, Washington
Cleveland Browns TE David Njoku was placed on the Reserve/COVID-19 list Tuesday, Dec. 7.
Cleveland Browns tight end David Njoku will be placed on the Reserve/COVID-19 list on Tuesday, according to a source. It's unclear if Njoku tested positive for the virus or if he's vaccinated, but his status for the Week 14 game against the Baltimore Ravens is now up in the air. If Njoku tested positive for COVID-19 and is vaccinated, he'll need to be asymptomatic and return two negative tests 24 hours apart in order to be cleared to play on Sunday. Njoku was seeing a slightly bigger workload before the team's Week 13 bye and scored a touchdown in Week 12, but he still had only six receptions for 66 yards on 13 targets in the previous three games while sharing snaps with Austin Hooper and Harrison Bryant. If Njoku isn't cleared in time for this weekend's game, Hooper would be a more attractive TE2, touchdown-dependent streamer.
Pittsburgh Steelers All-Pro pass-rusher T.J. Watt had 3.5 sacks in the Week 13 win over the Baltimore Ravens and leads the NFL with 16. For as much attention as Watt gets as a pure pass-rusher, it goes largely unnoticed that he also plays a big part in stopping the run with his ability to set an edge or crash the line of scrimmage. Watt added six tackles along with his 3.5 sacks against Baltimore and didn't even know until Saturday if he was going to play while in the league's COVID-19 protocols. With 35 solo tackles, four passes defensed, four forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries to go with his league-leading 16 sacks, Watt checks in as the No. 1 fantasy linebacker in IDP leagues and is a must-start each and every week. Pittsburgh's defense should be a top-10 fantasy unit in Week 14 against a Minnesota Vikings team that just gave the Detroit Lions their first win of the season.
Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger has had his share of struggles in what is likely to be his last season in the NFL, but the perception that Big Ben no longer belongs on the field on Sundays is grossly inaccurate, in the opinion of The Athletic's Mark Kaboly. Roethlisberger went 21-for-31 for 236 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions, and his accuracy, deep ball and decision-making were on point against one of the best teams in the AFC in the Baltimore Ravens. Kaboly thought it was the best that Roethlisberger's arm has looked all year. He was especially successful late in the game when the Steelers did a lot of no-huddle. However, it also came against an extremely banged-up Ravens D that has allowed the second-most passing yards per game in 2021. Big Ben has shown some flashes this year, but he hasn't consistently been good enough to be much more than a midrange QB2 for fantasy managers.
Las Vegas Raiders QB Derek Carr is 69-for-105 for 823 yards, eight touchdowns and three interceptions in the last three games against the Kansas City Chiefs.
Fantasy Spin: Carr is 12th on the year in fantasy points among QBs and slots in as a solid option in the low-end QB1 range this week.
Chicago Bears rookie quarterback Justin Fields' (ribs) availability for Week 14 against the division-rival Green Bay Packers has been an "ongoing discussion all week long," according to head coach Matt Nagy. The Bears won't put Fields at risk medically if they don't feel he's ready to return after he fractured some ribs in Week 11. The first-rounder hasn't played since, with veteran Andy Dalton starting the last two games. Fields was limited in practices last week, and Nagy said that pain tolerance will be a big factor. The 22-year-old has mostly struggled in his rookie season, so fantasy managers shouldn't feel very comfortable with him as a low-end QB2 if he makes his return against Green Bay. Dalton, who threw four picks in the Week 13 loss to the Arizona Cardinals, is an even less inspiring low-end QB2 option.
Kansas City Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes is 91-for-138 for 1,094 yards, nine touchdowns and two interceptions against the Las Vegas Raiders in three games the last two seasons.
Fantasy Spin: He opened up for 406 yards and five scores earlier this year. Mahomes will be a high-end option again this week.
Green Bay Packers head coach Matt LaFleur referred to Aaron Jones and AJ Dillon as a "1A,1B" tandem when asked about his two studs in the backfield. With Jones still getting back to 100% in his first game back since spraining his MCL, Dillon handled 25 touches against the Los Angeles Rams. In Week 14 against the Chicago Bears, Dillon could once again have a significant role in a game where the Packers are heavy favorites. With the extremely cold weather at Lambeau Field starting to become a factor, Dillon's bruising running style could wear down the defense late in games, as we saw him accomplish against the Rams in Week 12. Even with Jones getting back to full health, the sophomore will still have upside as a FLEX play in the high-powered Aaron Rodgers-led offense.
Minnesota Vikings CB Patrick Peterson was activated from the Reserve/COVID-19 list Tuesday, Dec. 7.
Minnesota Vikings cornerback Patrick Peterson has been activated from the COVID-19 list after missing Sunday's game against the Detroit Lions. The veteran is on track to return to action on Thursday night against the Pittsburgh Steelers, who are coming off a 20-19 win over the Baltimore Ravens. Peterson will likely be seeing a lot of Diontae Johnson in Week 14, so he will have his work cut out for him in his return to action. The Vikings need all the help they can get on defense after surrendering 29 points to the Lions in Week 13, as they were without some of their top defensive players which includes Eric Kendricks, Anthony Barr, Everson Griffen, and Danielle Hunter.
Washington Football Team QB Ryan Fitzpatrick (hip) will have arthroscopic surgery on his hip Tuesday, Dec. 7, that will end his season.
Washington Football Team quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick (hip) will undergo arthroscopic surgery on his hip, officially ending his 2021 season. According to Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network, the surgery is a measure that will help him heal. The 38-year-old suffered a hip subluxation in the Week 1 loss to the Los Angeles Chargers and appeared in only one game in 2021. He finishes the season with 13 yards passing on six attempts. Fitzpatrick is on an expiring deal with Washington, and it's unclear where the veteran will land in 2022. Taylor Heinicke will continue to be Washington's starting quarterback and has been a solid fantasy asset this season. The 28-year-old has thrown for 2,809 yards and an 18:11 TD: INT ratio while rushing for 289 yards and a score over 12 games. Heinicke can be used as a streamer against the Dallas Cowboys in Week 14.
New England Patriots defensive back Adrian Phillips (knee) exited Monday's game against the Buffalo Bills early with a knee injury and did not return. The 29-year-old suffered a knee injury late in the game. He racked up five solo tackles before leaving. The severity of his knee injury is unknown at this time, and he's considered day-to-day. Phillips has been solid this season, recording 64 tackles, four interceptions, a forced fumble, and a touchdown across 13 games in 2021. The Patriots have a bye in Week 14, Phillips will have an extra week to rest. If Phillips were to miss any games, Sean Davis would see an uptick in sna
The San Francisco 49ers released wide receiver Devin Funchess (undisclosed) from the practice squad injured list Monday. He was placed on the 49ers practice squad injured list last Tuesday and ultimately released from the team on Monday. Funchess hasn't played a game since 2019 and has now been released by two teams in 2021. The Packers released the 27-year-old from Injured Reserve with an injury settlement during the offseason. Funchess will look to latch onto another team, searching for receiver depth purposes.
San Francisco 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan said wide receiver Deebo Samuel (groin) remains "day-to-day," and the team is hopeful he can play in Sunday's game against the Cincinnati Bengals. The 25-year-old was ruled out in Week 13 against the Seattle Seahawks with a groin injury. Fantasy managers should continue to monitor the situation throughout the week. Samuel has been terrific this season, hauling in 56 catches for 1,006 yards and five touchdowns on five targets while also seeing 25 carries for 203 yards and five more touchdowns. 49ers tight end George Kittle and wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk would see an uptick in targets if Samuel cannot suit up for Week 14 against the Cincinnati Bengals. Stay tuned.
Denver Broncos head coach Vic Fangio said that "he expects Melvin Gordon III (hip, shoulder) to practice at some point during the week." He missed practice last week and was ultimately ruled out ahead of Sunday night's contest against the Kansas City Chiefs. Broncos explosive rookie running back Javonte Williams rushed 23 times for 102 yards while adding a team-high six receptions on a team-high nine targets for 76 yards and a receiving score in Gordon's absence in the Week 13 loss. Fantasy managers should continue to monitor the situation, but if Gordon cannot suit up in Week 14, Williams becomes a surefire RB1 in a plus matchup against the Detroit Lions.
Buffalo Bills S Jordan Poyer made five solo tackles and three assists in Week 13 vs. the New England Patriots on Monday, Dec. 6.
Buffalo Bills LB Matt Milano finished with four solo tackles, two assists, and two tackles for loss in Week 13 vs. the New England Patriots on Monday, Dec. 6.
Buffalo Bills WR Cole Beasley landed one of three targets for 11 yards in Week 13 vs. the New England Patriots on Monday, Dec. 6. The game was a snowy with winds up to 55 mph, and passing was at a minimum.
Fantasy Spin: Buffalo's Week 14 schedule sends Beasley to Tampa for a matchup that should offer WR3 utility in PPR.
Buffalo Bills WR Emmanuel Sanders was targeted six times, resulting in three receptions for 22 yards in Week 13 vs. the New England Patriots on Monday, Dec. 6.
Fantasy Spin: The Bills head to Tampa Bay in Week 14, and Sanders should be in the territory of WR3 or flex in a game that will require more passing vs. a defense that has been friendly to the position most of the year.