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Raiders-Vikings Preview

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Players: Kirk Cousins, Derek Carr, Adam Thielen, Dalvin Cook, Josh Jacobs

Oakland Raiders head coach Jon Gruden listens to questions during a news conference at the end of an NFL football game against the Kansas City Chiefs Sunday, Sept. 15, 2019, in Oakland, Calif. Kansas City won the game 28-10. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)


Oakland Raiders head coach Jon Gruden stands on the sidelines during the second half of an NFL football game Sunday, Sept. 15, 2019, in Oakland, Calif. Kansas City won the game 28-10. (AP Photo/D. Ross Cameron)


Minnesota Vikings' Kirk Cousins throws during the second half of an NFL football game against the Green Bay Packers Sunday, Sept. 15, 2019, in Green Bay, Wis. (AP Photo/Mike Roemer)


Minnesota Vikings' Kirk Cousins throws as he falls during the second half of an NFL football game against the Green Bay Packers Sunday, Sept. 15, 2019, in Green Bay, Wis. (AP Photo/Matt Ludtke)


Minnesota Vikings' Kirk Cousins fumbles as he is hit during the first half of an NFL football game against the Green Bay Packers Sunday, Sept. 15, 2019, in Green Bay, Wis. The Packers recovered the fumble. (AP Photo/Matt Ludtke)


MINNEAPOLIS (AP) During his nine-year hiatus from the NFL sideline, Jon Gruden evaluated players like he was still a coach, drawing particular attention as an analyst for ESPN for his one-on-one film breakdowns with quarterback prospects entering the draft.

Kirk Cousins was one of those pupils. Though only a fourth-round pick by Washington in 2012, the eighth player selected at his position that spring, Cousins made a clear impression on Gruden with his attention to detail and ability to communicate. Gruden even remarked at the end of that episode that perhaps he'd get back in the game to coach him.

Well, this week, Gruden and the Oakland Raiders have been scheming against Cousins, who will try to bounce back for the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday from one of the worst performances as a pro.

''He works hard at football. He's had a lot of production,'' said Gruden, who took over as coach of the Raiders last season. ''Hopefully we can find a way to slow him down and win a football game.''

That's what Green Bay did last weekend, when Cousins posted the second-worst completion percentage of his career and committed three turnovers in a 21-16 defeat. The comeback bid was waylaid by a first-and-goal interception in the end zone, an off-balance throw he said afterward he should've sent to the seats. Vikings coach Mike Zimmer expressed anew the team's confidence in Cousins, who's in the second season of a three-year, $84 million, fully guaranteed contract.

''You've got to play well to earn peoples' confidence, so if he's saying that, it's because he's seen practice reps, he's seen game reps, he's seen what we're capable of as an offense throwing the football,'' Cousins said. ''So you've got to go out and earn it. Believe me, I'm not going to be playing quarterback here if I go out and play the way I did this past Sunday for much longer. So I understand that, and I look forward to getting out there and playing at a much higher level.''

Here are some other angles to follow on Sunday:

ROAD TRIPPING

The Raiders (1-1) have begun this week a whopping 48-day stretch without a game at the Oakland Coliseum. After visiting the Vikings, the Raiders will travel to Indianapolis, then London for a ''home'' game against Chicago. After their bye week, they go back on the road to play Green Bay and Houston. The Raiders won't play in Oakland again until Nov. 3 against Detroit.

''We're still trying to understand how that happened, but we're going to have to deal with it,'' said Gruden, whose team went 1-7 on the road last year. ''We've just got to showcase our mental toughness and deal with it. It's uncommon, maybe unprecedented, maybe unrealistic that this should ever happen in pro football. I'm not excited about it, but we'll adapt and do it the best we can.''

INCOGNITO RETURNS

The Raiders will get a boost on the offensive line this week when left guard Richie Incognito makes his debut for the team. The four-time Pro Bowl pick missed the first two games, while suspended for violating the NFL personal conduct policy. He's eager as ever to see the field for the first time since a Jan. 7, 2018, playoff game with Buffalo. Incognito did not play at all last season.

''All the negative stuff is behind me. Just eyes forward, staying positive,'' he said. ''Relishing the opportunity, enjoying every day in here because you don't know how many more you're going to have.''

BURFICT, BEWARE

Another talented veteran with a troubled past who joined the Raiders this year, linebacker Vontaze Burfict, is well-known to Zimmer, who was the defensive coordinator for Cincinnati during his first three NFL seasons. Burfict has been repeatedly fined and suspended by the league throughout his career for late, violent hits.

''He knows the defense as well as anybody, probably as well as I do. He's very instinctive. He's very athletic. He reads things extremely quick, and he's a thumper,'' Zimmer said. ''We better make sure the officials know he has to play clean.''

Gruden wasn't having that.

''Burfict's played for us for two games. He hasn't had any penalties. So I don't know about all that,'' Gruden said. ''He's had a bulls-eye on him in his career in Cincinnati, and I'm sure the referees are looking out for him. I don't think the refs need any more help than they already have.''

The Vikings, though, were prepared to keep their head on a swivel when catching a pass in traffic.

''We've all lost our emotions at times, or what have you, so I think he's learned from that stuff, and I think he's been a pretty clean football player recently,'' wide receiver Adam Thielen said.

FAST START, SLOW FINISH

The Raiders have made a bad habit in one-plus season under Gruden of stalling by the offense after fast starts. They're tied for fifth in the NFL with an average of 2.83 points per drive on their first possession since the start of 2018, but that production has dropped to barely half of that over the rest of the game, with an average of 1.46 points per drive following their opening possession. Last week against Kansas City, Oakland had 10 points after two drives but didn't score the rest of the game.

''We've always been able to start fast, which is good, and hopefully we can do that again this week but then maintain it and then cut out the penalties,'' quarterback Derek Carr said.

RUNNING MEN

The Vikings, with Dalvin Cook leading the NFL in rushing, aren't the only team in this pass-favored league that's content to keep the ball on the ground. Rookie Josh Jacobs, one of three first-round draft picks by the Raiders, has 184 rushing yards, fourth in the NFL.

''He runs hard, for sure,'' Vikings defensive end Everson Griffen said. ''He has the quickness to get the ball outside and cut it outside quick. He's a downhill runner, and he can make the big play.''

Player Notes
Chase McLaughlin Oct 14 2:40am ET

Los Angeles Chargers backup kicker Chase McLaughlin did about as well as could be expected on Sunday as he was able to knock through one of the two field goal tries he was given. His other attempt glanced off the left upright, skittering across the end zone. McLaughlin shouldn't be expected to have much of a future with LA, but with primary kicker Michael Badgley still considered week-to-week with a groin injury, he may have a little play. Unfortunately, LA's offense has struggled mightily as of late, so even if McLaughlin does get the job for a while, he's probably not interesting to the vast majority of the fantasy community.

From RotoBaller

Josh Rosen Oct 14 2:40am ET

Coming off of a bye and facing one of the league's most generous defenses, the stars seemed to be aligned for Miami Dolphins quarterback Josh Rosen to show his true talent in Week 6. Rosen was instead benched to start the fourth quarter after throwing for just 85 yards on 15-of-25 passing, leading Miami to only three points before departing with zero touchdowns and two interceptions. While head coach Brian Flores did confirm after the game that Rosen is still the starter, the second-year quarterback on his second team just simply isn't viable in any format. Rosen should be left on the waiver wire again next week, as he and the Dolphins have a tough matchup against a stingy Buffalo defense.

From RotoBaller

Keenan Allen Oct 14 2:30am ET

For the third straight week, Los Angeles Chargers wide receiver Keenan Allen was effectively neutralized. Allen caught just three passes for 33 yards as Pittsburgh basically removed him from the action. This now makes three straight games in which Allen has been held under 50 yards receiving, and LA has gone on to lose two of those matchups. It appears opposing defenses are starting to key in on Allen as a catalyst for the offense, and the Chargers haven't been able to make them pay in the process. Allen got off to a quick start this season and looked like he'd be in the running for the top wideout in the league, but now it's just up in the air whether he's worthy of starting week in and week out.

From RotoBaller

Rayshawn Jenkins Oct 14 2:30am ET

Los Angeles Chargers safety Rayshawn Jenkins was able to provide a moment of happiness for Chargers fans on Sunday when he made a beautiful diving stab to snatch an interception away on a deep pass. Jenkins' play helped act as a catalyst to allow LA to get back into the game when they were down by three touchdowns, and the offense was able to turn the change in possession into a touchdown a few minutes later. Jenkins and the rest of the Chargers Defense played a decent game against Pittsburgh and their third-string quarterback getting his first ever start, but they still struggled to generate any pressure on the quarterback. After a second straight loss, they'll need to step it up over the next few weeks if they want to stop the slide.

From RotoBaller

Mike Williams Oct 14 2:20am ET

Los Angeles Chargers wide receiver Mike Williams was Philip Rivers' favorite target on Sunday night, but he was only able to haul in half the throws. Rivers struggled mightily from the pocket, but Williams worked well as an outlet while No. 1 wideout Keenan Allen seemed to be focused on by the defense. Williams finished with 72 yards receiving, and while he didn't find the end zone, he came up just short on multiple occasions. The return of Hunter Henry will only further cut into Williams' targets in most games, but now that teams have seen LA's offense struggle two weeks in a row when Allen was neutralized, Williams may see an uptick as a way to try to counteract how teams scheme for the Chargers.

From RotoBaller

Denver Broncos Oct 14 2:10am ET

The Denver Broncos Defense had their best game of the season so far, as they blanked the Tennessee Titans in a shutout win. The Broncos were all over the field, forcing seven sacks and three interceptions while holding the Titans to just over 200 yards. This is has been the most impressive performance from the Denver Defense this year, but they have no easy task ahead of them as they face the lethal Patrick Mahomes led Kansas City Chiefs in Week 7.

From RotoBaller

Austin Ekeler Oct 14 2:10am ET

Los Angeles Chargers running back Austin Ekeler was already expected to see a drop in usage due to the full return of Melvin Gordon, but he was further buried when the team was suddenly down 14 points before the end of the first quarter. While Ekeler has the ability to be a star, and he showed that ability in the first few games of the season, he's held down by the situation he's in. Gordon will see the majority of carries, and Ekeler will easily become a victim of circumstances. This game isn't enough to predict his entire future since the whole team played terribly, but anyone still holding on to Ekeler should be very concerned about what lies ahead.

From RotoBaller

Hunter Henry Oct 14 2:10am ET

Los Angeles Chargers tight end Hunter Henry was everything people thought he would be and more. Henry was basically the only bright spot for the Chargers on Sunday night as he snagged eight of the nine passes sent in his direction and tallied 100 yards and two touchdowns. Henry showed off some incredible awareness on his first touchdown catch, getting his second foot down just centimeters from the back line of the end zone. His second was a bit easier, mostly because Pittsburgh went into a very soft defense since LA was down by two touchdowns with less than 90 seconds left in the game. It's highly unlikely Henry can put up these kinds of numbers every week, but Philip Rivers has wonderful history with his tight ends. Henry is a good target for fantasy owners.

From RotoBaller

Emmanuel Sanders Oct 14 2:10am ET

Denver Broncos wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders had his game shortened this afternoon as he exited with a knee injury. Before leaving the contest, Sanders only managed to haul in one catch for zero yards. It is not believed that the veteran receiver's injury is serious, and despite having a short week ahead of him there is a chance that Sanders returns to action next week against the Kansas City Chiefs.

From RotoBaller

Philip Rivers Oct 14 2:00am ET

Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers played poorly on Sunday as the Chargers lost to the Steelers. Rivers was responsible for turnovers on back-to-back drives in the first quarter when he overthrew Melvin Gordon on a backwards pass that was recovered and returned for a touchdown and had a tipped pass intercepted four plays later. With the Chargers in a 14-0 hole before the end of the first quarter, Rivers settled down and racked up a ton of yards through the air, finishing with 320. Unfortunately, the team wouldn't actually get on the board until the end of the third quarter, and Rivers would float a desperation pass at the end of the fourth quarter that would be intercepted to end the comeback. Rivers did tally a pair of passing touchdowns on the day, but his poor play was a major reason why LA lost on Sunday.

From RotoBaller

Melvin Gordon Oct 14 2:00am ET

Los Angeles Chargers running back Melvin Gordon was a bit of an afterthought in Sunday's game against the Steelers. He was likely a major part of the original gameplan, but before the offense could run their 11th play from scrimmage, they had already turned the ball over twice and were down 14 points. At that point, the gameplan changed and Philip Rivers was tapped to air it out. Gordon would only touch the ball seven more times for the rest of the game. To compound his uselessness, Gordon wasn't very productive in his limited touches, but it's hard to figure out who to pin the blame on when the offensive line is a mix of bad players and backups who are in because of injuries and the running back is still getting his sea legs under him. Don't be surprised if there are more growing pains ahead.

From RotoBaller

Ryan Fitzpatrick Oct 14 2:00am ET

Called upon in the fourth quarter to take over an offense that had thus far been stagnant, Miami Dolphins quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick almost pulled out Miami's first win of the season in Week 6 before ultimately losing to the Washington Redskins 17-16. Fitzpatrick entered the game and led the Dolphins on two touchdown drives, including an 11-yard touchdown pass to Devante Parker with six seconds left in the game that put the Dolphins down just 17-16. Electing to go for two, Fitzpatrick found an open Kenyan Drake in the flat but Drake was unable to haul the pass in, ensuring that Miami keeps on rolling towards 0-16 and the number-one pick in the draft. Even with the near-heroics, head coach Randy Flores says Josh Rosen will remain the starter going forward, making Fitzpatrick unplayable in fantasy until further notice.

From RotoBaller

Noah Fant Oct 14 1:50am ET

Denver Broncos tight end Noah Fant disappointed against the Tennessee Titans on Sunday afternoon, posting an abysmal stat line. The rookie tight end managed only two catches for 16 yards on the game, a part of what has been a lackluster rookie season thus far for the first-round draft pick. Fant has struggled to find a consistent role in Denver's lacking passing attack, but the volume and playing time continues to be present. Fant lines up against the Kansas City Chiefs next week on Thursday night.

From RotoBaller

Brandon McManus Oct 14 1:00am ET

Denver Broncos kicker Brandon McManus had his best game to date this afternoon against the Tennessee Titans. The seasoned Bronco connected on all three of his field-goal attempts, hitting from 31, 48, and 53 yards out. He also hit on his lone extra-point try. McManus continues to be a solid option on a weekly basis to leave in your kicker spot and you can trust him to get you points.

From RotoBaller

Courtland Sutton Oct 14 12:50am ET

Denver Broncos wide receiver Courtland Sutton continues to see high volume in the Broncos offensive scheme and is becoming the clear number one receiver in the team's system. Life, Death, and Courtland Sutton receiving over seven targets, this narrative stayed true in Week 6 as Sutton had eight balls thrown his way and hauled four in for 76 yards receiving. The young buck hopes to continue his successes next week against the Kansas City Chiefs in a divisional matchup on Thursday night.

From RotoBaller

Tyler Higbee Oct 14 12:40am ET

Los Angeles Rams tight end Tyler Higbee caught three balls for 25 yards in the Week 6 loss to the San Francisco 49ers. The Rams only threw for 78 yards in a miserable game. Higbee actually led the team with those 25 yards receiving. He just doesn't produce enough to crack the lineup. Keep him on the bench against the Atlanta Falcons next week.

From RotoBaller

Gerald Everett Oct 14 12:40am ET

Los Angeles Rams tight end Gerald Everett caught just two passes for nine yards in the Week 6 loss to the San Francisco 49ers. The Rams only threw for 78 yards as a team. Everett was targeted five times. He'll have a better matchup against the Atlanta Falcons next week, but he falls back to a high-end TE2 that may not make the fantasy lineup.

From RotoBaller

Los Angeles Rams Oct 14 12:40am ET

The Los Angeles Rams Defense allowed 20 points, recorded two sacks and picked off one pass against the San Francisco 49ers in Week 6. The Rams will have a so-so matchup against the Atlanta Falcons in Week 7. However, the Rams' unit hasn't been productive enough to hold onto at this point.

From RotoBaller

Joe Flacco Oct 14 12:40am ET

Denver Broncos quarterback Joe Flacco posted one of his worst fantasy performances of the season thus far in Week 6, continuing his struggles this season. Denver has seemed to figure out how to win games in the last two weeks, and unfortunately for Joe Flacco owners, the passing game doesn't seem to be that solution. The veteran signal-caller threw for only 177 yards and zero touchdowns alongside one interception. The Broncos continue to lean on the run game, leaving a daunting matchup for Flacco's stock as they face off against the Kansas City Chiefs on Thursday evening.

From RotoBaller

Chase Edmonds Oct 14 12:30am ET

Arizona Cardinals running back Chase Edmonds had five carries for 34 yards and caught two balls for 33 yards and a touchdown in the Week 6 win over the Atlanta Falcons. Edmonds pitched in even with running back David Johnson (back) handling a full workload. Edmonds needs to be owned, but he's not likely to see enough work to continue to be in the flex discussion. The Cards have a solid matchup against the New York Giants next week, which could give Edmonds another chance to contribute.

From RotoBaller