UPDATE: 10:45 Sunday
The big news this morning involves the running game as a number of prominent backs will be back on gridiron.
The ranks of the returnees include the Giants’ Saquon Barkley, Jacksonville’s James Robinson, 49ers’ Elijah Mitchell, Atlantas Cordarrelle Patterson, Seattles Alex Collins and two patriots: Damien Harris and Rhamondre Stevenson.
Still questionable is the Green Bay RB Aaron Jones, which is troublesome as it’s a late afternoon match.
Players excluded in Week 12 include the Giants WR Kadarius Toney, Jets spread out Corey Davis. and Giants TE Kyle Rudolph.
Those approved to play include Rams QB Matthew Stafford, Ravens WR Marquise Brown, Cleveland WR Donovan Peoples-Jones and New England tight-end Hunter Henrik.
UPDATE: 10:51 Saturday
They share a surname and a talent for capturing passes. And this week, both Tennessee AJ Brown and Tampa Bay’s Antonio Brown will be on the sidelines.
That absence is not equal. The Titans’ Brown will be greatly missed as he is a vital part of the team’s attack, especially since the departure of Derrick Henry. Tennessee QB Ryan Tannehill should be downgraded this week due to Brown’s absence and many other reasons.
Tampa Bay’s Brown is a shadow of his former self and just one of many opportunities to receive Tom Brady. He was not a must-start like AJ
The Titans are running back Jeremy McNichols has also been ruled out of tomorrow’s match in New England. For the fighting New York Giants, WR Sterling Shepard has been excluded, and sideman Kadarius Toney considered very questionable to play against Philadelphia.
A big name should be back this week. Cleveland RB Kareem Hunt was to return to his No. 2 role behind Nick Chubb.
Notables listed as questionable this morning (besides Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh awaiting his annual Ohio State beatdown) includes the Giants RB Saquon Barkley, Green Bay RB Aaron Jones, 49ers running back Elijah Mitchell, Seattle RB Alex Collins, Jets wideout Corey Davis, Giants tight end Kyle Rudolph and the Patriots TE Jonnu Smith.
ORIGINAL POST: 11:12 Wednesday
We all have a lot to thank for this year. This week’s availability of top fantasy football stars is not one of them.
Two of the top candidates for the Super Bowl LVI, the Kansas City Chiefs and Arizona Cardinals, are saying goodbye this week. So stars range from Patrick mahomes to Kyler Murray to Travis Kelce and DeAndre Hopkins will spend time with their families while spending time ignoring your families while searching for compensation on the exemption.
The three-game board of Thanksgiving games is also a problem because it makes the return of damaged standouts more unbearable. It’s unlikely that teams risk their fragile stars returning after a short week, whether we’re talking about Dallas running back Ezekiel Elliott or New Orleans star Alvin Karama.
Is there anything you can find on the fantasy buffet to replace your missing gridiron calories? Here are half a dozen prospects likely to still be available in your league, and they could be hot dishes in week 12:
Devonta Freeman (Ravens RB) The veteran has come out of the mish-mash that is Baltimore’s backfield to become the undisputed No. 1. His yardage is not much, but he has a TD in four of his last five games. He will likely make it 5 out of 6 against Cleveland.
Rex Burkhead (Texans RB) – Houston suddenly decided to give the former Patriot a first-class workload last week. He rushed 18 times in the Texans ’rebellion from Tennessee and was able to line up for the season’s first touchdown Sunday against the Low Jets.
Elijah Moore (Jets WR) – Speaking of the Jets, this rookie has emerged as New York’s most trusted fantasy opportunity. He has four TDs in his last three games and comes after a 141-yard effort vs. Miami. He could do just as well against Houston.
Marvin Jones (Jaguars WR) – He is one of the season’s biggest disappointments with only 42 catches and three touchdowns. But Jacksonville has been playing better lately, and the Atlanta defense has not. A good candidate for a revival in the late season.
Jimmy Garoppolo (49ers QB) The Vikings’ defense was mostly shredded in the second half by Aaron Rodgers last Sunday, and the San Fran attack has been underway. Garappolo has accounted for two TDs in four games in a row and is likely to make it to a fifth Sunday.
Trevor Siemian (Saints QB) – Hard to believe, but the former Northwestern division QB has been one of the best fantasy QBs for the past three weeks after replacing Jameis Winston. Many of his stats have been padded in garbage time, and there will be more of that against Bills.
The Indianapolis defense has been pretty solid lately, which means Tom Brady and Chris Godwin may be the only Buccaneers you should start this week. … OK, and Rob Gronkowski. … Carolina QB Cam Newton will see his two-game series of both throws and runs for a touchdown finish against Miami. … Clevelands Baker Mayfield does not care what others think, but we think you should avoid starting him against the ravens. … The Chargers’ Austin Ekeler will find it harder in Denver, so do not expect four more TDs from him. … And we do not expect much from any of the ongoing attacks in Lambeau Field on Sunday so you can take a short break before starting Green Bays AJ Dillon or Rams’ Darrell Henderson.
If Detroit is finally going to win a game, and it can, then RB Andre Swift will have to have a great Turkey Day. … Seattle QB Russell Wilson has been terrible since returning from injury but will regain some of his form vs. Washington. … Dallas QB Dak Prescott spat mad after being touchdown-free in Kansas City so he will bounce back against the sinking Raiders… Washington RB Antonio Gibson and wideout Terry McLaurin will have big games against Seattle … The same goes for Baltimore tight end Mark Andrews against Cleveland. … And speaking of tight ends, look for 49ers’ George Kittle to resemble his old self against what is left of the Vikings’ defense.
Chicago does not want Justin Fields at quarterback at Thanksgiving in Detroit, then Andy Dalton will be back over the middle. As for the undefeated Lions, QB Jared Goff is said to be “tendency” to start. … Also on Thursday, Dallas hopes to get the WR CeeDee Lam out of the concussion protocols in time to face the Raiders. … Green Bay QB Aaron Rodgers will be hampered by a toe injury and an exhausted offensive line against the Rams, though you probably should start him anyway. … Players excluded include Dallas WR Amari Cooper, Jacksonville wideout Jamal Agnew, Seattle RB Chris Carson and Philly RB Jordan Howard. … The doubtful ranks include San Fran RB Elijah Mitchell, Atlanta RB Cordarrelle Patterson, Titans WR AJ Brown, Baltimore WR Marquise Brown, Cleveland WR Jarvis Landry, Chicago WR Darnell Mooney and Washington tight-end Logan Thomas.
THE DEEPEST SLEEPING
The New York Jets will replace the rookie running back Michael Carter for at least a few weeks due to a high ankle sprain. Who will it be? Either Tevin Coleman or Ty Johnson. One or both can be a fantasy factor, especially with the low Houston Texans on the board this week. Coleman, with just 118 yards on the season, is likely to get the most rushing attempts, while Johnson, with three touchdowns on the season, will be the primary pass catcher. With Zack Wilson When we return to quarterback, JETS, we like Johnson best in this showdown with 2-8 juggernauts.
Bears by Lions (+ 3½):
Pick: Lions with 3
Raiders at Cowboys (-7½):
Pick: Cowboys from 8
Bills at Saints (+ 4½):
Pick: Bills before 7
We will update our column, based on the latest injuries and insinuations, right up until Sunday’s kickoff. Go to TwinCities.com/theloop.