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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
Philip Rivers Oct 19 7:10pm ET

Philip Rivers and the Chargers are facing a stingy Titans Defense this week. In the last three weeks, the Titans have only allowed two passing touchdowns. Meanwhile, in Rivers last three games hes passed for four touchdowns and 4 interceptions, which included a juicy matchup against the Dolphins that helped pad his stats. Rivers is a usually a streaming option, but fantasy owners shouldnt count on him this week.

From RotoBaller

Melvin Gordon Oct 19 7:10pm ET

Melvin Gordon has been off to a shaky start this year after missing four weeks of the season due to his holdout. Hes put up a lowly 31 and 18 yards respectively in his first two games. He plays a stiff Titans run defense this week. On the season, the Titans havent allowed much fantasy production to the RB position. The highest scoring RB to date is Nick Chubb who finished with 14.50 points in half-PPR leagues. The best is yet to come for Gordon, but this is not the week that he gets rolling.

From RotoBaller

Hunter Henry Oct 19 7:10pm ET

Hunter Henry is coming off the heels of a monster performance against the Steelers. He made good on eight of his nine targets where he stacked up 100 yards and a touchdown. The Titans are a middle of the pack defense against the TE position, and they've only faced one legitimate threat in Austin Hooper back in Week 4 where he blew their secondary out of the water. The TE position is paper thin, and Henry should be a shoo-in for a TE1 week.

From RotoBaller

Chris Carson Oct 19 7:00pm ET

Chris Carson is gobbling up the running downs work in Seattle. In the last three weeks, Carson has seen no less than 26 touches in a game. Carson is a true workhorse back. He's going up against a Ravens Defense that ranks 10th against opposing rushers, but don't let that number fool you. Baltimore played the Dolphins in Week 1 and the Cardinals, who had yet to put things together, in Week 2. The Ravens have been exposed on the ground in matchups versus the Chiefs and the Browns. Don't expect Carson to slow down this week. If you own Carson, start him with full confidence.

From RotoBaller

Russell Wilson Oct 19 7:00pm ET

The Baltimore Ravens Defense isn't nearly as dominant as they were a year ago. They've been involved in a couple high-scoring affairs already this season. Russell Wilson is on a roll right now, he's managed to score more than 30 fantasy points in each of his last two appearances. The Ravens are currently allowing an average of 281.5 yards per game to QB's, though things might change with the addition of Marcus Peters. Still, Lamar Jackson and the Ravens offense should be able to put up points against Seattle's defense, forcing Wilson to throw. If Wilson can get 30 passing attempts, or anywhere near that total, he's going to be a force to be reckoned with.

From RotoBaller

Mike Williams Oct 19 7:00pm ET

Mike Williams has been a bit of a disappointment this season to those who drafted him. He's been dealing with an injury, but in the last two weeks he saw 13 and 10 targets respectively. If he sees a similar target share this week, he just needs one broken play to post a great stat-line. He's best as a WR3 or flex, but his upside is sky-high.

From RotoBaller

Keenan Allen Oct 19 7:00pm ET

Keenan Allen has pulled a Houdini in recent weeks. The last time he saw more than six targets was back in Week 3 where he received a whopping 17 targets. He faces a middle of the pack passing defense in the Titans who rank 14th against the WR position in the last four games. Philip Rivers has his full array of targets this week with Hunter Henry and Mike Williams both healthy and ready to go. While Allen is still a must-start, if he doesn't receive an uptick in opportunity, he could disappoint yet again.

From RotoBaller

Austin Ekeler Oct 19 7:00pm ET

Austin Ekeler started the season with a bang, but the Ekeler show ended when Melvin Gordon returned to the fold. Ekeler barely left the sidelines last week against the Steelers. Granted, the game script couldnt have been worse for the Chargers as they found themselves trying to erase a 14 point deficit early in the game. Still, the disparity in touches was alarming if you own Ekeler. The Titans dont have the fire power to put up points quickly against the Chargers, so there should be a more equal timeshare in the backfield. Regardless, weve seen what Ekelers floor is, and it isnt pretty.

From RotoBaller

Tyler Lockett Oct 19 6:50pm ET

Tyler Lockett's out-of-this-world touchdown per catch ratio has finally caught up with him this season. Russell Wilson is distributing the ball more, and it's been at Lockett's detriment. In weeks 2 and 3, Lockett saw double-digit targets in each game and converted those into nice fantasy outings. Now that Will Dissly is out of the picture, Lockett's target share should go up again, and we all know what one well-placed long ball from Wilson can do for Lockett's fantasy day. Lockett goes up against a Ravens Defense that hasn't been playing at a high-level this season. However, the newly acquired Marcus Peters may change things. In what looks to be a high-scoring matchup, pencil Lockett in as a WR2 with upside.

From RotoBaller

D.K. Metcalf Oct 19 6:50pm ET

D.K. Metcalf has pieced together a couple of nice fantasy outings this season, but his outlook for the future is contingent on touchdowns. In games without a touchdown, Metcalf has yet to score more than 10 fantasy points in standard scoring leagues. Baltimore's secondary is exploitable, and there will be more targets to go around with Will Dissly's absence, but it's best to avoid Metcalf unless absolutely necessary.

From RotoBaller

Los Angeles Chargers Oct 19 6:50pm ET

The Chargers play a Tennessee Titans team with newly appointed Ryan Tannehill at the helm. The Chargers have to find a way to contain Derrick Henry if they expect to win, as they currently rank 24th against fantasy RB's. If they can win the battle up front, they might be able to take advantage of Ryan Tannehill who threw an interception in limited action last week. Though not ideal, there are worse defenses to stream this week.

From RotoBaller

Brian Parker Oct 19 6:33pm ET

Free-agent TE Dan Arnold (Saints) was signed to the New Orleans Saints' active roster roster Saturday, Oct. 19. TE Brian Parker was waived in a corresponding move.

From TheHuddle

Mark Andrews Oct 19 6:30pm ET

Baltimore Ravens tight end Mark Andrews caught six passes on eight targets for 99 yards in Week 6 against the Bengals. On the season he has 34 receptions for 410 yards and three touchdowns. Andrews has been targeted at least seven times in every game this year, but hasn't gotten in the end zone since Week 4 against Cleveland. The Ravens play a Seahawks Defense that has allowed three touchdowns to opposing tight ends in 2019, two to Vance McDonald and one in Week 6 to Ricky Seals-Jones. Seattle has been somewhat stingy against tight ends, but also gave up 187 yards to the Rams tight ends in Week 5. If receiver Marquise Brown is unable to go in Week 7, Andrews has a high possibility of leading Baltimore in receiving again in Hollywood's absence. Andrews is a TE1 for Week 7.

From RotoBaller

Mark Ingram Oct 19 6:10pm ET

Baltimore Ravens running back Mark Ingram rushed 13 times for 52 yards and a touchdown in Week 6 against the Bengals. The Ravens play a Seahawks Defense that has allowed 557 rushing yards and given up six touchdowns to opposing backs in 2019. In Week 6 Seattle allowed the Browns to rush for 157 yards and three touchdowns. Ingram has rushed for at least 44 yards in every game this season, but is becoming a touchdown-dependent option. He hasn't even come close to his outlier performance against Kansas City when he rushed for 103 yards and three touchdowns. Baltimore still hosts a run-first offense so expect Ingram to get his touches, but he's in RB2 territory for Week 7.

From RotoBaller

Lamar Jackson Oct 19 6:00pm ET

Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson posted 236 passing yards, 152 rushing yards and a rushing touchdown against the Bengals in Week 6. Baltimore plays a Seahawks Defense in Week 7 that's allowed the eighth-most passing yards in the league through six games (1,602). Seattle has allowed at least 15 fantasy points every week to opposing quarterbacks in 2019 and let Baker Mayfield run for a touchdown in Week 6. Receiver Marquise Brown is still questionable to play with an ankle injury. If Hollywood is unable to go on Sunday, expect tight end Mark Andrews to get the bulk of targets and for Jackson to use his legs to get the ball moving. Jackson has firmly placed himself as a top-three QB start for the rest of the way.

From RotoBaller

Demaryius Thomas Oct 19 5:23pm ET

New York Jets WR Demaryius Thomas (hamstring) was a limited participant in practice Saturday, Oct. 19, and is questionable for Monday Night Football.

Fantasy Spin: Thomas may not get to face his former team in the New England Patriots. He's coming off his best game of the season in Week 6, catching all four of his targets for 62 yards. He's a flex option at best as a bye-week replacement if active.

From TheHuddle

Christopher Herndon IV Oct 19 5:23pm ET

New York Jets TE Chris Herndon (hamstring) didn't practice Saturday, Oct. 19, and is considered doubtful for Monday, Oct. 21's game against the New England Patriots.

Fantasy Spin: Herndon is yet to play this season following suspension and now injury. WRs Jamison Crowder and Robby Anderson will remain the target hogs in New York's passing game.

From TheHuddle

Albert McClellan Oct 19 5:23pm ET

New York Jets LB Albert McClellan (concussion) didn't practice Saturday, Oct. 19, and is out for Monday, Oct. 21's game against the New England Patriots. DE Henry Anderson (shoulder), OL Kelvin Beachum (ankle), RB Trenton Cannon (foot/ankle), LB Neville Hewitt (neck/knee) and G Kelechi Osemele (shoulder) also didn't practice and are considered doubtful. OL Alex Lewis (neck), CB Nate Hairston (knee), LB C.J. Mosley (groin), DT Steve McLendon (hamstring), CB Darryl Roberts (ankle) and Brian Winters (shoulder/knee) were limited participants and are questionable. C Ryan Kalil (shoulder) didn't practice and is also questionable.

From TheHuddle

Phillip Dorsett Oct 19 5:13pm ET

New England Patriots WR Phillip Dorsett (hamstring) was limited in practice Saturday, Oct. 19, and is considered questionable for Monday, Oct. 21's games against the New York Jets.

Fantasy Spin: Dorsett is at risk of missing a second straight game after he left the Week 5 contest against the Washington Redskins with just four snaps played. WR Josh Gordon (ankle) has already been ruled out and WR Julian Edelman (chest) is also questionable. Expect plenty of work for RBs James White and Sony Michel in the passing game.

From TheHuddle

Rex Burkhead Oct 19 5:13pm ET

New England Patriots RB Rex Burkhead (foot) was a limited participant in practice Saturday, Oct. 19, and is considered questionable for Monday Night Football against the New York Jets.

Fantasy Spin: Burkhead hasn't been noteworthy this season outside of a surprise Week 3 start with RBs James White and Sony Michel inactive. Expect his two teammates to see plenty of work this week.

From TheHuddle