The Loop Fantasy Football Update Week 16: George Kittle returning for 49ers

UPDATE: 10:28 a.m. Saturday
There are a slew of big names already ruled out for Week 16 where … spoiler alert … if you’re playing against Alvin Kamara, you’ve already lost.
The San Francisco 49ers got their biggest star back for Christmas. Star tight end George Kittle is expected to return later today for their game against Arizona, though you won’t be able to watch it unless you choose to pony up for Amazon Prime. But coach Kyle Shanahan says the fantasy favorite will be on a bit of a pitch count, so beware.
Big names ruled out this week include Atlanta WR Julio Jones, Tampa RB Ronald Jones, Detroit wideout Kenny Golladay, San Fran WR Deebo Samuel, Denver RB Phillip Lindsay, Chargers TE Hunter Henry, Packers RB Jamaal Williams and Giants WR Golden Tate.
The list of questionables is also long, led by Washington’s key pair of WR Terry McLaurin and RB Antonio Gibson. So, too, are the Robinsons: Jaguars RB James and Bears WR Allen. Chargers WR Keenan Allen is considered a game-time decision.
Two middling quarterbacks will be back: Las Vegas’ David Carr and the Giants’ Daniel Jones. Also returning to action is Pittsburgh RB James Conner and Miami RB Myles Gaskin.
ORIGINAL POST: 9:56 a.m. Wednesday
So we’ve come to the season finale. Championship week, where The Loop’s team will be battling for the consolation championship. That’s because our crew waited until AFTER being eliminated from title contention to post one of its best scores of the season.
If only we had Josh Allen.
The Buffalo Bills’ third-year quarterback is our choice for Fantasy Most Valuable Player. He was available in most drafts in the 10th round, and he was on the fringe of most top 10 QB lists. But he proved to be the season’s greatest bargain.
As we speak, Allen stands at exactly 4,000 passing yards, 30 touchdown passes, eight TD runs and even one TD catch. He joins New Orleans’ Taysom Hill as the only player to tally a TD pass, run and catch.
The third-year pro out of Wyoming looks especially good when you compare him to some other members of the QB Class of 2018. Like Sam Darnold. Or Josh Rosen. He’s the only passer in that famed class to lead his team to a 2020 division title.
Allen was not alone in greatly outperforming his draft position and preseason estimate. Here are eight more stalwarts:
Aaron Rodgers (Packers QB) — Green Bay’s top insurance pitchman was drafted in the same range as Allen. He’s the only QB so far to reach the 40-touchdown mark, and he’ll finish the season well over 4,000 yards again. Mr. State Farm not only avoided a post-Danica Patrick slump, he has regained some of his future hall of fame luster.
Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (12) runs for a touchdown during an NFL football game, Saturday, Dec 19. 2020, between the Carolina Panthers and Green Bay Packers in Green Bay, Wis. (AP Photo/Jeffrey Phelps)
Derrick Henry (Titans RB) — There were as many as eight or nine runners drafted before him back in the summer, but none of them are threatening to break the 2,000-yard threshold. While his 15 TDs and 1,675 yards have been impressive, it’s his notorious stiff-arm knockouts that have made the former Heisman Trophy winner the Mike Tyson of the NFL.
Tennessee Titans running back Derrick Henry (22) hurdles over Detroit Lions cornerback Alexander Myres (43) during the second quarter of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 20, 2020, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Brett Carlsen)
Dalvin Cook (Vikings RB) — He was one of those taken before Henry, but his numbers are almost as gaudy thanks to his pass-catching skills. Cook has 16 touchdowns so far, along with 339 touches for 1,833 yards. That’s all the more impressive when you consider he missed his usual game and a half due to injury.
Minnesota Vikings running back Dalvin Cook (33) runs from Chicago Bears safety Eddie Jackson (39) during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 20, 2020, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Bruce Kluckhohn)
James Robinson (Jaguars RB) — The rookie Redbird from Illinois State was undrafted both by the NFL and nearly all fantasy leagues. His 1,361 yardage total is the greatest ever for an undrafted rookie. And he has scored 10 touchdowns for a team so lousy it has managed to leap ahead of the New York Jets in the 2021 draft order.
Jacksonville Jaguars running back James Robinson, left, pulls in a touchdown catch on a pass from quarterback Gardner Minshew II, not visible, as Baltimore Ravens cornerback Marlon Humphrey (44) and linebacker Patrick Queen (48) defend during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 20, 2020, in Baltimore. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)
Tyreek Hill (Chiefs WR) — He’s not the greatest citizen in the world, but he might still be the swiftest. Hill lasted until the late second round in most drafts, yet he leads the league with 17 touchdowns, a couple punctuated with end zone somersaults. All told, his 96 touches for 1,334 yards will make him a first-round pick for the foreseeable future.
Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Tyreek Hill (10) flips into the end zone for a touchdown that was called back due to a holding penalty during the second half of an NFL football game against the Denver Broncos, Sunday, Dec. 6, 2020, in Kansas City, Mo. (AP Photo/Reed Hoffmann)
D.K. Metcalf (Seahawks WR) — Seattle’s king of abs blossomed in his second season, which he started as a fifth-round fantasy pick. He stands at 1,223 receiving yards and 10 TDs. He’s also responsible for the season’s best defensive play, when he topped 22 mph chasing down Arizona safety Budda Baker after an interception.
Seattle Seahawks wide receiver DK Metcalf tackles Arizona Cardinals strong safety Budda Baker (32) short of the goal line after Baker intercepted a pass during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Oct. 25, 2020, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)
Travis Kelce (Chiefs TE) — He was the first tight end in most drafts, mostly in the second round. But Kelce was dominant at his position, tallying almost 400 yards more than his competition. His 10 touchdown catches have him tied for fifth in the league.
Miami Dolphins free safety Brandon Jones (29) attempts to bring down Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce (87), during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 13, 2020, in Miami Gardens, Fla. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)
Younghoe Koo (Falcons K) — This was not a banner season in Atlanta, except for the South Korean who leads the league with 133 points. He went undrafted in most fantasy leagues, yet went on to make all but one of his 36 field-goal attempts. And he is 6 for 6 from 50 yards and beyond.
Atlanta Falcons kicker Younghoe Koo (7) works during the first half of an NFL football game against the New Orleans Saints, Sunday, Dec. 6, 2020, in Atlanta. The New Orleans Saints won 21-16. (AP Photo/Danny Karnik)
We’re hoping Dallas goes with RB Tony Pollard again this week instead of counting on a strong return from Zeke Elliott. … Seattle QB Russell Wilson should be a must-start, but he will have a hard time with an embarrassed Rams defense. … Same goes for Seahawks RB Chris Carson. … And Seahawks WRs D.K. Metcalf and Tyler Lockett. … Ben Roethlisberger looked bad Monday night in Cincinnati, and the Steelers QB might look worse against the tough Colts D. … The Chiefs will rely on the passing game against the Falcons, not new starting running back Le’Veon Bell. … And Miami’s defense should prove much tougher for replacement Raiders QB Marcus Mariota and TE Darren Waller.
Dallas Cowboys running back Tony Pollard (20) breaks through San Francisco 49ers tackle attempts on his way to the end zone for a touchdown in the second half of an NFL football game in Arlington, Texas, Sunday, Dec. 20, 2020. (AP Photo/Ron Jenkins)
Sure, Jared Goff and the rest of the Rams were horrible against the Jets. They’ll be significantly better in their now-must-win game in Seattle, especially WR Cooper Kupp. … Titans RB Derrick Henry needs 321 yards to reach 2,000, and he’ll get a lot of them against the Packers. … Quarterbacks who will enjoy Christmas Week feasts against lousy defenses include Cleveland’s Baker Mayfield vs. the Jets and Chicago’s Mitchell Trubisky against the Jaguars. … It looks like the Dolphins will be counting again on RB Salvon Ahmed in their must-win game in Las Vegas. … And we were wrong about Eagles QB Jalen Hurts. He turned out to be great in his second game, too, and will be again in his third start against Dallas.
Los Angeles Rams quarterback Jared Goff (16), left, tosses the ball under pressure as New York Jets defensive end Henry Anderson (96) chases during an NFL football game Sunday, Dec. 20, 2020, in Inglewood, Calif. (AP Photo/Kyusung Gong)
Three big running backs have been knocked out of fantasy championship week: Kansas City’s Clyde Edwards-Heliare, the Rams’ Cam Akers and Niners RB Raheem Mostert . … We won’t see Saints WR Michael Thomas, and it’s also very unlikely we’ll see Buccaneers RB Ronald Jones or Detroit WR Kenny Golladay. … Three first-round picks could return this week: Carolina RB Christian McCaffrey, Dallas RB Ezekiel Elliott and Atlanta wideout Julio Jones. … The long list of questionables includes Vegas QB Derek Carr, Jacksonville RB James Robinson, Washington RB Antonio Gibson, Pittsburgh RB James Conner, New England RB Damien Harris, Bills WR Stefon Diggs, Miami WR DeVante Parker, Cincinnati WR Tyler Boyd, Eagles WR Jalen Reagor, Dallas wideout Michael Gallup and two tight ends, Miami’s Mike Gesicki and Pittsburgh’s Eric Ebron.
Kansas City Chiefs running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire (25) is carried off the field after being injured in the second half of an NFL football game against the New Orleans Saints in New Orleans, Sunday, Dec. 20, 2020. (AP Photo/Brett Duke)
We close a season where we introduced you to Salvon Ahmed, Gus Edwards and Travis Fulgham with two unheralded receivers who could bring you playoff glory this weekend. Cleveland’s Rashard Higgins has been hot in December, with 16 catches for 239 yards and two scores over three games. Oh yeah, and he faces the Jets this week. We’ll also throw in Houston’s Chad Hansen, who has 17 catches for 212 yards and a TD in that same span, thriving since the suspension of Will Fuller. And he gets Cincinnati this week. Either could be a fine flex option for fantasy mavens with playoff injury issues.
Cleveland Browns’ Rashard Higgins (82) makes a catch in front of New York Giants’ Isaac Yiadom (27) during the first half of an NFL football game Sunday, Dec. 20, 2020, in East Rutherford, N.J. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)
Vikings at Saints (-7):
Pick: Saints by 10
Buccaneers at Lions (+10):
Pick: Buccaneers by 7
49ers at Cardinals (-4):
Pick: Cardinals by 7
Dolphins at Raiders (+3):
Pick: Dolphins by 4
Chicago Bears nose tackle Bilal Nichols (98), center, celebrates after recording a sack against Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins (8) in the fourth quarter during an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 20, 2020, in Minneapolis. The Bears defeated the Vikings 33-27. (AP Photo/David Berding)
We’ll be updating our column, based on the latest injuries and innuendo, right up until Sunday’s kickoff. Go to
You can hear Kevin Cusick on Wednesdays on Bob Sansevere’s “BS Show” podcast on iTunes. You can follow Kevin on Twitter — @theloopnow. He can be reached at
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