Mon Nov 11 6:36pm ET
By JOSH DUBOW
AP Pro Football Writer
Players: Philip Rivers
Detroit Lions wide receiver Marvin Jones Jr. (11) catches a touchdown pass against Oakland Raiders' Daryl Worley (20) and Karl Joseph (42) during the first half of an NFL football game in Oakland, Calif., Sunday, Nov. 3, 2019. (AP Photo/John Hefti)
ALAMEDA, Calif. (AP) Karl Joseph was finally living up to his first-round draft billing when a season-ending foot injury derailed all that and left a major hole in the Oakland Raiders secondary.
Joseph hurt his foot as he jumped to intercept a pass from Philip Rivers, marking the second straight game that he provided the game-sealing defensive play.
Joseph, a first-round pick by Oakland in 2016, had dealt with injuries and some inconsistent play his first three seasons but has played a key role this year in helping the Raiders (5-4) move into playoff contention in the AFC.
''As a team, we started to click as a unit, especially in the secondary,'' he said Monday. ''I don't think it's just me necessarily. It's all of us playing good ball. As a team we're starting to click. That's what is most frustrating for me. We started to play some real good football and I wanted to be part of this team going forward. I believe we have a strong chance to go to the playoffs. That's what's frustrating for me.''
Joseph's status with the Raiders was in doubt heading into the season as the team failed to exercise his fifth-year option after drafting Johnathan Abram in the first round.
But Abram went down with a season-ending shoulder injury in the season opener and Joseph was given a bigger role than expected. That peaked when he broke up a pass in the end zone on fourth down from the 1 in the closing seconds of a 31-24 win over Detroit on Nov. 3 and then had the interception at the end of a 26-24 win over the Chargers last Thursday.
Joseph said he'd like to remain with the Raiders after his contract is up but things will remain up in the air until he gets healthy. He will visit foot specialist Dr. Robert Anderson in Green Bay to determine whether he needs surgery and how long it will take to get healthy.
Joseph isn't the only member of the Raiders secondary who went down with an injury on the final drive against the Chargers, with slot cornerback Lamarcus Joyner injuring his hamstring earlier in the drive.
Oakland had previously lost starting middle linebacker Vontaze Burfict to a season-ending suspension for a helmet-to-helmet hit.
''It's hard,'' coach Jon Gruden said. ''You've already lost your middle linebacker, now you lose your second safety and you lose your nickel corner potentially. This is the National Football League, this is going to be a tough assignment and we're going to have to have a great week of preparation.''
The Raiders brought in some reinforcements by signing former Arizona safety D.J. Swearinger over the weekend to be in the mix to replace Joseph.
Swearinger spent two seasons playing for Gruden's brother, Jay, in Washington before getting cut by Arizona after four games this season. The Raiders had tried to get Swearinger last year after he was cut late in the year by Washington only to have the Cardinals win out because of a higher waiver priority.
Swearinger said he hopes to get up to speed quickly, especially because this defense is similar to the one run in Arizona.
''It's not that big a deal,'' he said. ''This is probably my eighth defensive coordinator. There are only about four or five defenses and I've played every one of them.''
The Raiders also added pass rusher Dion Jordan over the weekend but he can't join the team until his 10-game suspension for testing positive for Adderall ends Tuesday.
Jordan was drafted third overall in 2013 with a pick originally held by the Raiders. Oakland moved down nine spots to take cornerback D.J. Hayden and then tackle Menelik Watson in the second round, while Jordan went to Miami.
He had just three sacks his first two seasons and then missed all of 2015 for violating the league's substance-abuse policy. He had 5 1/2 sacks in 17 games the past two seasons in Seattle.
''He's a talented guy,'' Gruden said. ''We liked him at Oregon, we liked his body of work in Seattle last year when we played against him. We're happy to have him and we need him, so we'll have a better piece of information after we actually get to see him.''
The Raiders also designated linebacker Marquel Lee as the team's second player eligible to return from injured reserve. Lee hurt his ankle in Week 3 and is allowed to practice for the next 21 days before being activated. The first game he is eligible to play is Dec. 1 at Kansas City.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Arizona Cardinals safety Budda Baker (hamstring) practiced in full Friday, which means he's good to go for Week 15 against the Cleveland Browns. Baker has been a solid DB1 in individual defensive player leagues all season, but he has come back to the pack a bit. He has 42 tackles (36 solo), two passes defended and fumble recovery over the last month. You can count on him for tackles, but if your scoring format focuses heavily on others, he might fall out of the DB1 range.