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 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.
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.
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 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 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 wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders saw an uptick in targets during the Week 13 matchup against the New England Patriots. Recently, the veteran wideout hasn't been much of an option in the passing attack. However, this week he hauled in three of his six targets for 22 yards in the loss. Obviously, this wasn't a good performance, but the weather was a huge factor. The wind made it difficult for either team to pass the ball at all. Those six targets were the most for Sanders since Week 9. Hopefully, Sanders can remain involved next week for the potential shootout against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He'll be on the WR4 radar for that favorable matchup.
Buffalo Bills tight end Dawson Knox had an awful game versus the New England Patriots in Week 13. He hauled in two of his six targets for 14 yards in the loss. To be fair, the wind made it almost impossible for either team to pass the ball. However, Knox dropped two catchable passes and committed a huge false start on the Bills' final drive. There isn't much positive to take from his performance in this one. Luckily, he has a fantastic rebound opportunity against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers next week. Fantasy managers should consider Knox a TE1 for that matchup.
Buffalo Bills wide receiver Gabriel Davis is normally not someone who is significantly involved in the passing attack. However, he hauled in two of his four targets for 30 yards and one touchdown in the Week 13 loss to the New England Patriots. The young wideout hauled in a 14-yard score, which was the only passing touchdown between the two teams. It was a game where the weather made it nearly impossible to pass the ball. Despite a decent performance, Davis isn't someone who should be trusted in fantasy formats. He'll be a desperation deep league PPR option in what is a potential shootout with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers next week.
Buffalo Bills wide receiver Cole Beasley posted another dud performance during the Week 13 matchup versus the New England Patriots. To be fair, this wasn't really Beasley's fault since the weather was awful. The veteran wideout hauled in one of his three targets for 11 yards in the loss. Fantasy managers have seen Beasley's production declining over the last four weeks. Possibly, the return of Dawson Knox has hurt Beasley's target share. Regardless, he does have plenty of bounce back potential against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers next week. He'll be a boom-or-bust PPR option for that matchup.
Buffalo Bills running back Zack Moss found no room to run during the Week 13 matchup against the New England Patriots. The second-year back was a healthy scratch last week, but found his way back on the field for this one. Sadly, he rushed for 21 yards on eight attempts in the loss. He also added two receptions for 12 additional yards through the air. The 10 carries did tie Devin Singletary for the team lead. The weather conditions made both teams lean on the running game. It's uncertain if Moss will play next week, but he'll hardly be an option against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers defense.
Buffalo Bills running back Matt Breida has seen an increased role in the offense over the last three weeks. However, that came to an end versus the New England Patriots in Week 13. Breida rushed one time for three yards and hauled in one reception for five yards in the loss. The weather played a huge factor in this game. Neither team could pass the ball and Breida normally gets a majority of his production as a receiving back. Possibly, Breida bounces back against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Although, he won't be worth trusting more than a low-end PPF flex option in deep leagues.
Buffalo Bills wide receiver Stefon Diggs was fairly quiet during the Week 13 matchup against the New England Patriots. He hauled in four of his seven targets for 51 yards in the loss. It was a game where the weather played a significant role The wind made it difficult for either team to pass the ball. The fact Diggs was able to accomplish four receptions is impressive. He'll have a fantastic matchup ahead of him against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Week 14. A game where he should be considered an elite WR1.
Buffalo Bills running back Devin Singletary was surprisingly the best back during the Week 13 matchup against the New England Patriots. It was a game where the weather didn't help either team. The Bills had all three of their backs active for this matchup. However, Singletary did the best with 36 yards on 10 attempts in the loss. Obviously, none of the Bills' backs were successful in this game, but the weather did have a factor. Sadly, Singletary will still remain a low-end RB3 for the Week 14 matchup against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
New England Patriots tight end Jonnu Smith is normally a forgotten man in the offense most weeks. That remained the case during the Week 13 matchup against the Buffalo Bills. Smith hauled in his lone target for 12 yards in the win. To be fair, the weather was awful in this game, so the Patriots rushed the ball almost the entire game. Quarterback Mac Jones only had three passing attempts throughout this contest. Despite that, it's hard to imagine Smith actually bringing more to the table than that one reception. He remains someone who can be left on the waiver wire or a desperation deep league option.