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Henry and Mathieu among 32 NFL Man of the Year nominees

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).

The nominees:

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

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Player Notes
David Njoku Dec 7 1:33pm ET
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David Njoku Dec 7 1:20pm ET
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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.

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T.J. Watt Dec 7 12:40pm ET
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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.

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Ben Roethlisberger Dec 7 12:30pm ET
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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.

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Derek Carr Dec 7 12:13pm ET
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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.

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Justin Fields Dec 7 12:10pm ET
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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.

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Fantasy Spin: He opened up for 406 yards and five scores earlier this year. Mahomes will be a high-end option again this week.

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Patrick Peterson Dec 7 11:33am ET
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Diontae Johnson Dec 7 11:20am ET
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Adrian Phillips Dec 7 9:00am ET
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Deebo Samuel Dec 7 8:40am ET
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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.

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Fantasy Spin: Buffalo's Week 14 schedule sends Beasley to Tampa for a matchup that should offer WR3 utility in PPR.

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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.

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