Former Patriots, 49ers TE Russ Francis dies in plane crash

Mon Oct 2 11:56am ET
Field Level Media

Russ Francis, a three-time Pro Bowl tight end who won a Super Bowl with the San Francisco 49ers, died Sunday in a plane crash in upstate New York. He was 70 years old.

Francis was one of two people killed in the crash at the Lake Placid Airport on Sunday afternoon. Francis had recently purchased the Lake Placid Airways scenic tour business and was a passenger in the Cessna 177 Cardinal piloted by Richard McSpadden, who also perished. The plane experienced an emergency after takeoff and was not able to make it back to the airport.

Francis was selected No. 16 overall by the New England Patriots in the 1975 NFL Draft and finished his career with 40 touchdowns in 167 career games (148 starts) with the Patriots (1975-80, 1987-88) and 49ers (1982-87).

"On behalf of the entire New England Patriots organization, we extend our sincerest sympathies to the family of Russ Francis, who tragically passed away yesterday," Patriots chairman and CEO Robert Kraft said in a statement. "Russ was a fan favorite throughout his playing career. He was a dynamic player on the field who had an even bigger personality off it. He knew no boundaries, pushed the limits and lived his life to the fullest. Our thoughts are with Russ's family, friends, teammates and the many Patriots fans who mourn his loss."

Francis was a two-time All-Pro, a three-time Pro Bowl selection, a member of the Patriots all-decade team (1970s) and a member of the Patriots 35th Anniversary Team.

He caught five passes for 60 yards in the 49ers' 38-16 victory against the Miami Dolphins in Super Bowl XIX and finished his career with 393 receptions for 5,262 yards.

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Under the Radar Plays: Week 4

Player Notes
Jalen Tolbert Oct 2 11:40am ET
Jalen Tolbert

Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Jalen Tolbert had his best game of the young season in the 38-3 shellacking of the New England Patriots on Sunday in Week 4. Tolbert hauled in all four of his targets for 53 yards, which was third on the team in this one behind tight end Jake Ferguson and receiver Michael Gallup. Both the catches and receiving yards were career-highs for the 24-year-old Tolbert, and he also made a big special-teams tackle early in the game. Fantasy managers can continue to ignore Tolbert, even in deeper formats, as he's currently behind CeeDee Lamb, Brandin Cooks and Gallup on the receiver depth chart in Dallas.

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Chase Claypool Oct 2 11:30am ET
Chase Claypool

Chicago Bears head coach Matt Eberflus told ESPN1000 in Chicago that wide receiver Chase Claypool will remain away from the team this week as they prepare for their Week 5 matchup against the Washington Commanders on Thursday Night Football. The Bears made some changes to their offense heading into the Week 4 loss to the Denver Broncos on Sunday, the biggest of which was making the struggling Claypool a healthy scratch. A report on Sunday also surfaced that the Bears are seeking to trade the 25-year-old wideout to a team that is in need of receiver depth. In the first three weeks this year, Claypool has just four catches for 51 yards and a touchdown on 14 targets. His fantasy value has hit rock bottom at this point, but a change of scenery could do him some good.

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Brandin Cooks Oct 2 11:30am ET
Brandin Cooks

It wasn't much, but Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Brandin Cooks caught a season-high four passes on four targets for 27 receiving yards in the team's 38-3 blowout win over the New England Patriots in Week 4 on Sunday in Dallas. Cooks returned in Week 3 from a knee injury after missing one game and he has six receptions for 44 yards on 11 targets the last two weeks. The Cowboys really haven't had to throw the ball all that much early on this year, which has hurt Cooks in his first year with the team. That won't remain the a case all year, but the 30-year-old veteran wideout probably isn't going to have a very dynamic role in this offense unless CeeDee Lamb or Michael Gallup miss time with an injury.

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Pat Freiermuth Oct 2 11:20am ET
Pat Freiermuth

Pittsburgh Steelers tight end Pat Freiermuth (hamstring) is getting his injured hamstring scanned on Monday. It's not just a tweak, reports the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette's Gerry Dulac. We'll have to wait to see what the tests show on his hamstring, but at this point, he seems pretty questionable to play in Week 5 against the division-rival Baltimore Ravens. Before leaving Sunday's loss to the Houston Texans, the 24-year-old had three catches on four targets for just seven yards. If you've been rolling with Freiermuth as your TE1, you'd be wise to start making backup plans for Week 5 now. If he's unable to play against Baltimore, Darnell Washington and Connor Heyward would both be in line for bigger pass-catching roles for the Steelers.

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Demario Douglas Oct 2 11:20am ET
Demario Douglas

New England Patriots wide receiver Demario Douglas hauled in two of three targets for 45 yards against the Cowboys in Week 4. The Patriots lost by a score of 38-3, falling to 1-3 on the season. Douglas seemed to impress the Patriots' coaching staff throughout training camp and the first four weeks of the regular season, with the exception of his Week 2 fumble. The Patriots have a somewhat deep but not very top-heavy receiving corps, creating the possibility for Douglas to earn more targets if he keeps playing well. Dynasty managers would be wise to stash the Liberty product.

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Kendrick Bourne Oct 2 11:20am ET
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Myles Garrett Oct 2 11:20am ET
Myles Garrett

Cleveland Browns All-Pro pass-rusher Myles Garrett (ankle) rolled his ankle in the Week 4 loss to the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday and was seen in a walking boot after the game, but it doesn't seem to be a major injury. The Browns are heading into their bye in Week 5, and Garrett assured reporters on Sunday that he's not going to miss any time with his ankle injury. It's great timing for the 27-year-old, the Browns defense and fantasy managers that have Garrett rostered in IDP leagues, as he should be back and ready to rock in Week 6 at home against the San Francisco 49ers. Garrett is one of the best pass-rushers in football and has nine tackles (eight solo) and 5.5 sacks through the first four weeks of the 2023 season.

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Trevor Siemian Oct 2 11:13am ET
Trevor Siemian

Dynasty | Embattled Jets quarterback Zach Wilson completed 28-of-39 passes for 245 yards and two interceptions in the Jets close loss on SNF to the Chiefs. Dynasty Analysis: The Jets decided to stop playing it safe with Wilson and just let him loose in prime time. The results were shocking as he made difficult throws throughout the night and genuinely looked like a player who should have been taken in the top five of an NFL Draft. This is a small sample size and Wilson still made a critical mistake on a late fumble but the talk of Trevor Siemian taking over will be extinguished for now. Wilson is still off the dynasty radar but he at least has a pulse.

From Dynasty League Fantasy

Justin Herbert Oct 2 11:10am ET
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Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert (finger) suffered a fractured finger on his left, non-throwing hand in the Week 4 win over the division-rival Las Vegas Raiders on Sunday, according to sources. Herbert's finger also suffered a gruesome nail injury, but he somehow finished the game and with the team's bye coming in Week 5, Herbert shouldn't miss any time. Once he returned to the game after having a split put on his fractured finger, he didn't take any snaps under center, except for a fourth-down sneak late in the game. NFL Network's Ian Rapoport said he doesn't see this being a major issue for Herbert moving forward. The 25-year-old saved his fantasy day on Sunday with two rushing touchdowns, but he should remain a strong QB1 option coming off the bye for a Week 6 matchup against the Dallas Cowboys on Monday, Oct. 16.

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Rhamondre Stevenson Oct 2 11:10am ET
Rhamondre Stevenson

New England Patriots running back Rhamondre Stevenson rushed for just 30 yards on 14 carries against the Cowboys on Sunday evening. He also hauled in two of three targets for an additional 10 yards through the air. The Patriots lost by a score of 38-3, falling to 1-3 on the season. Stevenson's relative struggles were the product of an ugly game that saw Mac Jones get benched in the second half. With that said, the Patriots face the Saints next week, which could be a bit more favorable. Stevenson should be treated as a low-end fantasy RB2.

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George Pickens Oct 2 10:10am ET
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From RotoBaller

Jaylen Warren Oct 2 10:00am ET
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From RotoBaller

Ezekiel Elliott Oct 2 9:50am ET
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New England Patriots running back Ezekiel Elliott rushed just six times for 16 yards against the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday afternoon. He added six receiving yards on two catches. The Patriots lost by a score of 38-3, falling to 1-3 on the season. Elliott was reportedly expected to handle the workload of an RB1 on Sunday, but that certainly did not happen. Not only did he and the offense struggle, but he was out-touched by Rhamondre Stevenson, 16 to eight. Elliott should not be started in fantasy football, and he can be dropped in leagues with 10 or fewer teams.

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Najee Harris Oct 2 9:50am ET
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Hunter Henry Oct 2 9:50am ET
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Kenny Pickett Oct 2 9:20am ET
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Mike Evans Oct 2 9:10am ET
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Adam Thielen Oct 2 5:00am ET
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Terrace Marshall Jr. Oct 2 4:50am ET
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Bryce Young Oct 2 4:40am ET
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Carolina Panthers quarterback Bryce Young completed 25 of his 32 passes for 204 yards and added 10 yards on two carries with a lost fumble in a 21-13 loss to the Minnesota Vikings in Week 4. Young did not throw any touchdowns or interceptions in the contest. The rookie signal-caller missed his team's game in Week 3 with an ankle injury but he appeared to emerge from Week 4 without any issues. Young has now thrown just two touchdowns to go along with two interceptions in three contests. He will face off against the Detroit Lions on the road in Week 5.

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