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FFL: Week 15 | NFL: Week 15

Losing to Eagles still bugs Patriots’ Brady, motivated him

Thu Nov 14 11:35am ET
By ROB MAADDI
AP Pro Football Writer

Players: Tom Brady, Nick Foles, Carson Wentz, Jordan Howard, N'Keal Harry, Miles Sanders

In this Feb. 4, 2018, file photo, New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady sits on the field after fumbling against the Philadelphia Eagles during the second half of the NFL Super Bowl 52 football game, in Minneapolis. The Eagles upset the Patriots 41-33. (AP Photo/Eric Gay, File)


PHILADELPHIA (AP) Losing to the Philadelphia Eagles in the Super Bowl two years ago still bugs Tom Brady, even though the New England Patriots rebounded to win their sixth title last season.

''That's a lot of mental scar tissue from that year,'' Brady said in his weekly radio appearance on WEEI in Boston. ''That was a tough game. In a lot of ways, we learned from that year and we came back stronger the next year. We won the Super Bowl in '18. I think everything is a matter of perspective and when you play in that game and you play great teams, you're not going to win them all.

''This is not the Harlem Globetrotters vs. the Washington Generals. This is all about tough competition against the best teams. They deserved it that year, and now a couple years later we get a chance to play the organization again. We've had a lot changes, they've had a lot of changes. It's totally different circumstances. Huge game for us. Big game for them. The better team is going to win.''

The Eagles (5-4) meet the Patriots (8-1) on Sunday for the first time since backup quarterback Nick Foles led Philadelphia to a 41-33 victory on Feb. 4, 2018, to capture the franchise's first championship since 1960.

Foles is in Jacksonville now, so the Patriots will get their first chance to see Carson Wentz. He was recovering from knee surgery and watched Foles' MVP performance against New England from the sideline.

''He can do it all - good arm, athletic, can extend plays, tough kid, can run if he needs to, can make all the throws, get the ball down the field, gets the ball to all his receivers, uses the backs, tight ends and receivers based on who is open, his route progression,'' Patriots coach Bill Belichick said. ''He's good at reading defenses. They give him a lot of responsibility at the line of scrimmage to change plays or adjust plays. There's some checking going on there and so forth. So, looks like he's pretty good at everything, a pretty accomplished guy.''

The Eagles have won two in a row after consecutive lopsided losses and are tied with Dallas for first place in the NFC East. The Patriots are coming off their first loss, 37-20 in Baltimore.

Both teams had a bye so they're well-rested and some of the players who've been out are getting healthier.

HISTORIC COMPARISON

With rankings at or near the top of the NFL in several defensive categories, the Patriots have drawn comparisons to the 2000 Ravens' defense.

That Baltimore unit, led by future Hall of Fame linebacker Ray Lewis, held opponents to a single-season record-low 10.3 points per game. The Ravens went on to win the Super Bowl over the Giants that season.

The Patriots have allowed only 10.9 points per game through nine games, while allowing the fewest yards per game (249.3). They're first in interceptions (19), second in passing yards allowed (150.2) and fourth in sacks (32).

Eagles coach Doug Pederson started at quarterback for the Browns the second time they faced the Ravens that season and suffered cracked ribs in a 44-7 loss. He said he sees parallels between the two defenses.

''I think the biggest thing that jumps out to you right now, the glaring thing, is the turnover ratio,'' Pederson said. ''The fact that they've got six defensive scores this season, the interceptions, the fumbles they're causing - it's a brand of defense where they just smother you. They just corral you. They're OK with giving you 2, 3, 4 yards, but they're right on top of you.''

ROOKIE WATCH

Patriots rookie receiver N'Keal Harry is again available to make his NFL debut after being activated off injured reserve before the loss to Baltimore.

Harry, who was sidelined with a preseason ankle injury, has been practicing without restriction since being activated.

The 32nd overall pick in the draft became the first receiver selected by the Patriots in the first round since they chose Terry Glenn seventh overall in 1996. Harry is the first receiver taken in the first round under Belichick.

''We'll activate the players that we feel give us the best chance to compete against the Eagles,'' Belichick said about whether Harry will play.

THE WEAKNESS

The Patriots have allowed at least 135 yards rushing in four of their last six games, including 210 to the Ravens. Their vaunted defense has one flaw, susceptibility against the run. The Eagles' biggest strength is running the ball. Jordan Howard and Miles Sanders have combined for 861 yards rushing and seven touchdowns.

THE STRENGTH

Throwing the ball against New England is a tough task. The defense has allowed just three touchdown passes while making 19 interceptions. Wentz has only thrown four picks this season, but the Patriots have had four in a game three times already.

REINFORCEMENTS

Nine-time Pro Bowl left tackle Jason Peters could return for the Eagles after missing time with a knee injury. Rookie first-round pick Andre Dillard played well in Peters' absence.

Player Notes
Aaron Rodgers Dec 14 2:30am ET

Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers has a difficult matchup on Sunday against a Bears Defense that limited him to just 203 yards and a touchdown during the Thursday night season opener. The veteran hasn't been consistent, especially as of late, and has logged a touchdown or less in four of his last five games. The 36-year-old has played relatively well against Chicago throughout his tenure in the league, however, maintaining a 66.9 completion percentage to go along with 46 scores and only 10 picks in 22 career meetings. The upside is there for the fantasy managers who won't be scared off by his recent string of shoddy performances and is worth a start in Week 15 in all formats.

From RotoBaller

Stefon Diggs Dec 14 1:10am ET

Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Stefon Diggs had a great game in a tough matchup last week, beating Darius Slay for six catches and 92 yards in the win. He'll have another tough draw against Casey Hayward and the Los Angeles Chargers Defense in Week 15. They have a great secondary and play a lot of zone coverage, which is not Diggs' strong suit. However, Diggs has shown huge upside this season and he put up strong fantasy numbers despite tough matchups in two of the last three weeks. Having Adam Thielen back to draw attention away only helps his cause, and this game projecting to be close means that the Vikings will likely be forced to the air more. Start Diggs as a WR2 who has some sneaky upside in Week 15.

From RotoBaller

Dalvin Cook Dec 14 12:40am ET

Minnesota Vikings running back Dalvin Cook is as volume-based RB1 in Week 15, as he has been for most of the season. He wasn't listed on the injury report at all on Friday and backup Alexander Mattison (ankle) being out definitely increases his projected workload. Mike Boone and Ameer Abdullah will split the backup role, but it's unlikely that they'll see the type of volume that Mattison was getting. The Chargers Defense ranks 23rd in rush DVOA but has been stingy as of late as they've had key players return from injury. In fact, they haven't allowed a back to eclipse 63 total yards in their last three games. Start Cook as an RB1 this week as he's a lock for at least 20 touches and a good bet for a few red zone opportunities.

From RotoBaller

Leonard Fournette Dec 13 11:20pm ET

Despite struggling in Week 14 against the Chargers, Jacksonville Jaguars running back Leonard Fournette should still be considered a solid RB2 in Week 15 against the Oakland Raiders. Fournette dominates the backfield touches on this Jaguars team and has seen his role as a pass-catcher increase over the past three games. The Raiders Defense hasn't offered too much resistance to opposing backs this year and are also allowing the fourth-most receiving yards to running backs. With D.J. Chark out, expect quarterback Gardner Minshew to rely more on Fournette as a receiving option as well, setting him up for what should be a solid outing.

From RotoBaller

Dede Westbrook Dec 13 11:20pm ET

Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver Dede Westbrook should be the team's top weapon on Sunday against the Oakland Raiders with fellow receiver D.J. Chark already ruled out. Westbrook entered the year as the team's number one target, but Chark emerged as a key deep threat and Westbrook dealt with injuries. Now, though, the third-year receiver has a great shot to put up strong fantasy numbers against a Raiders team that's allowing the 13th-most PPR points per game to opposing wide receivers. He's still got risk, especially as he deals with a shoulder issue, but he's the best fantasy option among Jags pass-catchers this week.

From RotoBaller

Gardner Minshew II Dec 13 11:10pm ET

Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Gardner Minshew threw for just 162 yards in his return to the starting role last week, but he should be in line to surpass that when Jacksonville faces the Oakland Raiders in Week 15. Oakland allows the second-most fantasy points per game to opposing passers, and the last time Minshew started against a comparable defense in fantasy points allowed was when he threw for 300 yards against Houston in Week 9. D.J. Chark won't play, which puts a little damper on Minshew's upside, but this is still a plus matchup for the rookie, who should be considered as a solid QB2.

From RotoBaller

DeVante Parker Dec 13 8:50pm ET

Miami Dolphins wide receiver Devante Parker has signed a four-year extension with the team that includes the next two years guaranteed, locking the breakout receiver into a deal with a rebuilding Miami team. This is a good spot for Parker, who's been become a reliable fantasy option for the Dolphins this season, and while there's risk involved based on his track record, he should still be considered a strong fantasy option moving forward in dynasty leagues.

From RotoBaller

Aaron Donald Dec 13 8:40pm ET

Los Angeles Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald is eighth in fantasy points at the position over the last five weeks. He isn't posting out-of-this-world numbers, but he gets to the quarterback almost every game. The Dallas Cowboys have one of the best offensive lines in the game, and Donald doesn't do much outside of the sacks category. Sit him this week.

From RotoBaller

Jared Goff Dec 13 8:30pm ET

Los Angeles Rams quarterback Jared Goff has started to right the ship a bit after a three-game touchdown drought. He has thrown for 717 yards, four touchdowns and two picks the last two games. He'll have a solid matchup against a struggling Dallas Cowboys Defense. They've allowed 218.8 passing yards a game the last five games, but they've allowed nine touchdowns to one interception total during the span. Roll with Goff as a low-end QB1 with some upside.

From RotoBaller

Cooper Kupp Dec 13 8:30pm ET

Los Angeles Rams wide receiver Cooper Kupp has been really sketchy of late, but he has scored a couple of touchdowns to salvage his last two weeks. He has 19 grabs for 198 yards and two touchdowns in the last five games. Quarterback Jared Goff has really grown a rapport with receiver Robert Woods, and Kupp has suffered. The Dallas Cowboys are a midrange matchup, and Kupp is a low-end WR2 this week.

From RotoBaller

Todd Gurley Dec 13 8:30pm ET

Los Angeles Rams running back Todd Gurley has performed like an RB1 in his best stretch of the season the last five weeks. He has rushed 85 times for 366 yards (4.3 yards per carry) and three touchdowns. Gurley caught a modest 11 balls for 87 yards during the stretch. The Cowboys present a midrange matchup that has allowed 3.9 yards per carry during the same span. Gurley will be a high-end RB2 this week.

From RotoBaller

Robert Woods Dec 13 8:30pm ET

Los Angeles Rams wide receiver Robert Woods is having the best run of his career the last five weeks. In point-per-reception formats, he ranks seventh in fantasy points. He also missed a game due to personal reasons in the span. He's averaging 8.3 receptions for 115.5 yards during the last four games, but the one downside is he has one touchdown on the season. The Dallas Cowboys are a midrange matchup, and Woods is a high-end WR2 play.

From RotoBaller

Brandin Cooks Dec 13 8:30pm ET

Los Angeles Rams wide receiver Brandin Cooks has caught four passes for 56 yards in the last three games since returning from a concussion. His freefall disqualifies him from consideration for fantasy against the Dallas Cowboys.

From RotoBaller

Greg Zuerlein Dec 13 8:30pm ET

Los Angeles Rams kicker Greg Zuerlein is 6-for-9 in field goals the last five games, and he has nailed all 11 extra points in what has been a bit of an outage in fantasy. The offense isn't presenting him enough opportunities, and the Dallas Cowboys limit what kickers do against them as well. Steer clear of "Greg The Leg" again this week.

From RotoBaller

Los Angeles Rams Dec 13 8:30pm ET

The Los Angeles Rams Defense has been good over the last five weeks as they're seventh in fantasy points. The Dallas Cowboys are one of the better teams against opposing defenses because they don't turn the ball over or allow many sacks. Look elsewhere for a defense this week.

From RotoBaller

David Johnson Dec 13 8:20pm ET

Arizona Cardinals running back David Johnson came through with a receiving touchdown last week in his first visit to the end zone in nearly two months. Running back Kenyan Drake has really diminished Johnson's role. Johnson has rushed for just 36 yards on 12 carries (3.0 yards per rush) with five catches for 51 yards in his last four games. Maybe the last week's touchdown gave him a bigger piece of the pie, but he can't be played until that's evident. Sit him against the Cleveland Browns.

From RotoBaller

Christian Kirk Dec 13 8:20pm ET

Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Christian Kirk balled out with a three-touchdown game a month ago, but he has slowed since. He has averaged 5.7 catches for 49.7 receiving yards and no touchdowns per game the last three games. He catches enough to be used in point-per-reception formats, but his yardage and touchdown output is suspect without that point. The Cleveland Browns are a bend-but-don't-break matchup. They've allowed 162.8 receiving yards and 11.8 catches over the last five games and two touchdowns total to the position. Kirk is worth using as a flex option in PPR leagues, but he's a risky choice in non-PPR formats.

From RotoBaller

Zane Gonzalez Dec 13 8:20pm ET

Arizona Cardinals kicker Zane Gonzalez has lost most of his fantasy appeal in recent weeks. He isn't likely to get it back against the Cleveland Browns. They have allowed opposing kickers to go 7-for-10 in field goals and 9-for-9 in extra points. Gonzalez is lacking the upside to use him in the tough matchup.

From RotoBaller

Kirk Cousins Dec 13 8:20pm ET

Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins is coming off a game in which he completed 80% of his passes for 242 yards and a touchdown against the Lions, continuing a streak of stellar play for the much-maligned passer. Facing a tough Los Angeles Chargers Defense on the road, it's likely that Cousins will need to throw a bit more with the Vikings currently favored by just one point. The Chargers rank in the top-five in fewest fantasy points allowed to the position and haven't given up more than 182 yards passing in three consecutive weeks. Interestingly, they rank 20th in pass DVOA. Star wideout Adam Thielen is finally set to return, giving Cousins a full complement of weapons and (finally) taking some pressure off of Stefon Diggs. This offense is clicking, and Cousins should have the volume to put up some usable fantasy numbers in this matchup. Start him as a high-end QB2 and keep him in your daily fantasy player pool.

From RotoBaller

Chandler Jones Dec 13 8:20pm ET

Arizona Cardinals linebacker Chandler Jones has been hit or miss lately because his fantasy value is predicated on sacks. He has 18 tackles (13 solo), 4.5 sacks, a pass defense and two forced fumbles the last four games, which sneaks him into the top 20 linebackers. He's too risky to use against the Cleveland Browns this week.

From RotoBaller