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FFL: Week 11 | NFL: Week 11

Vrabel gets 1st crack coaching against Belichick, Patriots

Thu Nov 8 2:33pm ET
By TERESA M. WALKER
AP Pro Football Writer

Players: Tom Brady, Stephen Gostkowski, Julian Edelman, Kenjon Barner, Dion Lewis, James White, Cordarrelle Patterson, Sony Michel

In this Oct. 14, 2018, file photo, Tennessee Titans head coach Mike Vrabel talks to his players in an NFL football game against the Baltimore Ravens in Nashville, Tenn. Mike Vrabel won three Super Bowl rings playing linebacker and goal-line pass threat for Bill Belichick in New England. Now the rookie head coach gets his first crack at his former coach when Vrabel's Titans host former teammate Tom Brady and the Patriots in a game Tennessee desperately needs. (AP Photo/James Kenney, File)


In this Sunday, Oct. 14, 2018 file photo, New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick watches from the sideline during the second half of an NFL football game against the Kansas City Chiefs in Foxborough, Mass. Mike Vrabel won three Super Bowl rings playing linebacker and goal-line pass threat for Bill Belichick in New England. Now the rookie head coach gets his first crack at his former coach when Vrabel's Titans host former teammate Tom Brady and the Patriots in a game Tennessee desperately needs. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer, File)


NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) Mike Vrabel won three Super Bowl rings over eight seasons with the New England Patriots. He even caught eight passes - all for touchdowns and all thrown by Tom Brady.

Then Bill Belichick traded the linebacker away to Kansas City in 2009.

''We didn't talk for a couple months, maybe a year,'' Vrabel said. ''Then we became friends, and I used him as a resource when I started my coaching career, and still talk to him a lot now. This week we're competitors.''

In his first season as an NFL head coach with Tennessee, Vrabel gets his first crack at both his old coach and former team Sunday when the Titans (4-4) host the Patriots (7-2).

The men share some of the same philosophies about football, though not personalities.

Titans cornerback Logan Ryan, who spent his first four seasons in New England, says Vrabel's also younger and taller than Belichick. Vrabel may dress a bit better too during games, and Ryan sees some other similarities.

''They're hard-nosed. They care about the fundamentals,'' Ryan said.

For his part, Belichick says Vrabel will be a great coach with his passion and football knowledge as a player easily carrying over. Belichick also believes Vrabel deserves to be recognized in the Patriots Hall of Fame and yes, the Nashville native cheers for Vrabel and the Titans every game except this one.

''It will be the Patriots against the Titans,'' Belichick said. ''That's what it will be.''

The Patriots have won six straight after beating Green Bay 31-17 last week. They also have won the past seven against the Titans, including playoffs, with the most recent a 35-14 romp in the divisional round last January. The Titans snapped a three-game skid Monday night with a 28-14 win in Dallas.

Some things to know about the Patriots and Titans:

LAST THREE

Only a trio remains of those who played alongside Vrabel during his tenure in New England: Brady, kicker Stephen Gostkowski and special teams captain Matt Slater. Brady spent eight seasons with Vrabel from 2001 to 2008. Gostkowski arrived in 2006, and Slater was a rookie during Vrabel's final season in 2008 before being traded.

''His body can do it longer than mine could at the position that he plays,'' Vrabel said of Brady.

NEW ENGLAND TIES

Patriots cornerback Jason McCourty spent his first eight seasons with the Titans and now plays alongside twin brother, Devin, in New England. Trying to rebuild, Tennessee has stocked up on former Patriots including general manager Jon Robinson, Vrabel, Ryan, right guard Josh Kline. Robinson signed cornerback Malcolm Butler and running back Dion Lewis this offseason. Also, Titans defensive coordinator Dean Pees was an assistant and coordinator with the Patriots. He was the linebackers coach in 2004-05 and defensive coordinator in New England from 2006-2009.

Patriots wide receiver Julian Edelman called Lewis a fiery jitterbug.

''He meant a lot to me when he was here. Now I hate him,'' Edelman said with a smile.

DEFENDING BRADY: Brady enters this game having won five straight against the Titans. His lone loss came in 2002 in a 24-7 setback during Brady's third year in the league. That also was his only meeting with the Titans in which he didn't have a touchdown pass and the only time he threw an interception.

In six regular-season meetings with Tennessee, Brady has thrown for 1,561 yards, 12 touchdowns and the one interception, while completing 66 percent of his passes.

''He's seen every look in the book, and even ones that haven't been in the book,'' Vrabel said of Brady. ''Anytime that somebody's open, they get the football. Anytime you make a mistake, he's always going to find the guy that you make a mistake on and get them ball really quickly.''

MORE BRADY

The three-time MVP will play his 300th game, including the postseason, Sunday. Brady will join Brett Favre as the only quarterbacks to reach that mark, and the Patriots quarterback needs four TD passes to pass Peyton Manning (579) for most TD passes in NFL history for regular season and postseason combined. The Titans, the NFL's top scoring defense and also best in the red zone, are allowing only 17.6 points per game and have allowed three TDs in a game only twice this season.

MERRY-GO-ROUND

Tennessee has to be ready for an unconventional look in the Patriots' backfield. With rookie Sony Michel nursing a knee injury the past two weeks, receiver Cordarrelle Patterson has emerged as New England's go-to threat at running back. Patterson led the Patriots in rushing each of the past two games, including 61 yards and a 5-yard touchdown last week.

Both Michel (knee) and Patterson (neck) started this week limited in practice. Belichick currently has just two healthy running backs: James White and Kenjon Barner.

Player Notes
K.J. Wright Nov 14 10:53pm ET

Seattle Seahawks LB K.J. Wright (knee) will be a game-time decision for the Week 11 game, according to head coach Pete Carroll.

Kendell Beckwith Nov 14 10:43pm ET

Tampa Bay Buccaneers LB Kendell Beckwith (ankle) has a chance to play in the Week 11 game, but head coach Dirk Koetter said it is too soon to determine his status for the game.

Jamison Crowder Nov 14 10:13pm ET

Washington Redskins WR Jamison Crowder (ankle) is still not 100 percent at this point, but his MRI did not show any more damage to his ankle. Head coach Jay Gruden said he expects Crowder to return soon.

Fantasy Spin: Crowder may not be able to play this week but could return to the lineup in the next week or two. Owners in all leagues should avoid Crowder until he is able to participate in practice.

Timmy Jernigan Nov 14 10:03pm ET

Philadelphia Eagles DT Timmy Jernigan (back) has a chance to play in the Week 11 game, according to head coach Doug Pederson.

T.J. Jones Nov 14 9:20pm ET

Detroit Lions wide receiver TJ Jones saw his most snaps (50) of the season in Week 10 due to Marvin Jones (knee) being forced to leave the game in the third quarter. However, it didn't lead to increased production as the former caught just one pass for 12 yards. This week against Carolina, if Marvin Jones is unable to suit up then expect TJ Jones to line up opposite of Kenny Golladay, making the available Jones a dart-throw DFS play but nothing more. Although, if Marvin Jones is able to play, it takes away any fantasy value of TJ Jones.

From RotoBaller

Blake Bortles Nov 14 9:20pm ET

The Indianapolis Colts defense has seen a drastic fall in their sack totals, with only four across their last five games compared to 17 in the first four weeks of the 2018 NFL season. They also failed to produce a single turnover against the Jacksonville Jaguars last week while giving up 21 fantasy points toBlake Bortles. That being said, the Tennessee Titans are completely erratic when it comes to turnovers and have given up the fourth-most fantasy points to team defenses on the year. Don't let the Titans stunning victory over the New England Patriots fool you too much, as the Colts defense could surprise many fantasy owners with a big day in Week 11.

From RotoBaller

Eric Ebron Nov 14 9:00pm ET

The Indianapolis Colts have heavily featured their tight end group in the passing game as evidenced by six of their last passing touchdowns coming from the motley crew of Jack Doyle, Eric Ebron, and Mo Alie-Cox. Colts tight ends have been targeted in the red zone the most of any team in the NFL this season and their top-two options should have solid fantasy outings against the Tennessee Titans in Week 11. Doyle continues to operate as the No. 1 option, leading the group in snaps and routes run on offense which should ultimately result to another big game akin to his six reception, 70 yard and a touchdown game in Week 8. Ebron might have run only 12 pass routes last week, but his three touchdowns makes it clear that he remains a great play due to his scoring upside week in and week out. With Indianapolis likely to continue featuring its tight ends, plug Doyle and Ebron into your lineups.

From RotoBaller

Kenny Golladay Nov 14 9:00pm ET

Detroit Lions wide receiver Kenny Golladay caught six passes in Week 10, the same amount he caught over weeks 7-9 combined. He also found the end zone for the first time since Week 5. These are the results fantasy owners were expecting when Golden Tate was traded away. This week at home against Carolina, Golladay has a chance to have another solid showing with the Lions looking to break a three-game losing skid. His teammate Marvin Jones (knee) left Sunday's game in the third quarter, leading to a missed practice on Wednesday; he is considered day-to-day. If for some reason Jones doesn't play against Carolina, Golladay should easily see double-digit targets. Look at the second-year man as a WR2 with upside in Week 11.

From RotoBaller

Theo Riddick Nov 14 8:50pm ET

Detroit Lions running back Theo Riddick recorded his highest receiving yardage total of the season last Sunday against the Bears, catching six passes for 60 yards. Serving as the Lions pass-catching back, the 27-year-old returned two weeks ago from a knee injury and has since caught 13 of 15 targets. This week, the Panthers present a challenge for a player like Riddick, as they have allowed the fourth fewest receptions to running backs this season. Keep in mind that Detroit has trailed in each of the past three games, thus forcing them to throw consistently. Look for Detroit to do whatever they can to break the three-game losing streak this Sunday at home, meaning Riddick has some flex appeal but nothing more.

From RotoBaller

Paxton Lynch Nov 14 8:43pm ET

Free-agent QB Paxton Lynch (Broncos), WR Tre McBride (Jets) and WR Tavarres King (Vikings) worked out for the Miami Dolphins Wednesday, Nov. 14.

Deion Jones Nov 14 8:43pm ET

Atlanta Falcons LB Deion Jones (foot) is making progress, according to head coach Dan Quinn, but the team is going to make sure he's 100 percent ready first before putting him back on the field.

Kerryon Johnson Nov 14 8:40pm ET

Detroit Lions running back Kerryon Johnson scored a rushing and a receiving touchdown last week against the Bears, but outside of that was very average against a good defense. This week, Johnson has another questionable matchup against the Carolina Panthers. The rookie's yardage totals have suffered recently because the Lions have trailed in each of the past three games. Detroit will need to get ahead early or keep it close throughout to get Johnson opportunities on the ground. However, if they do get behind again, Johnson can still get it done in the passing game, having seen 20 targets since Week 8. Clearly the return of Theo Riddick hasn't affected how the Lions will use the Auburn product. Look at Johnson as a flex play with RB2 potential.

From RotoBaller

LeGarrette Blount Nov 14 8:40pm ET

Detroit Lions running back LeGarrette Blount hasn't crossed the goal line in three weeks and has totaled only 15 yards rushing in the same period. That is all you need to hear when breaking down Blount's fantasy value. Making his case even worse is the fact that Kerryon Johnson received a goal-line carry last week that ended up as a touchdown for the rookie. It's obvious the team is losing their interest in Blount as a factor in the offense. Keep him on waivers in Week 11.

From RotoBaller

A.J. Green Nov 14 8:33pm ET

Cincinnati Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis is 'still hopeful' he'll have WR A.J. Green (foot) back on the field for the team's Week 11 game Sunday, Nov. 18, versus the Baltimore Ravens.

Fantasy Spin: It seems a lot more likely than not that Green will remain out through Week 11, as his injury has kept him sidelined for only one game thus far when his original timetable called for him to miss more time than that. Either way, he's a WR1 whenever he gets back, but his owners should begin preparing for another week without Green's services.

Nick Vigil Nov 14 8:33pm ET

Cincinnati Bengals LB Nick Vigil (knee) is making progress in his recovery but is not expected to play in the Week 11 game.

Andrew Luck Nov 14 8:30pm ET

Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck has thrown three or more touchdown passes in six consecutive games, the longest streak since Tom Brady's 10 back in 2007. Despite heading into a Week 11 tilt with a Tennessee Titans defense that has allowed the fewest offensive touchdowns, points per play, and touchdown conversions in the red zone on the season, Luck's hot hand is too hard not to ride. For fantasy owners in need of reassurance, Carson Wentz, Philip Rivers, and Deshaun Watson all managed to put up 20-plus fantasy points against the Titans in previous weeks. Plug and play Luck as a QB1 with confidence for fantasy purposes.

From RotoBaller

Matthew Stafford Nov 14 8:10pm ET

Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford has a decent matchup at home with the Carolina Panthers this Sunday. Stafford saved his Week 10 stat line with two garbage-time touchdowns against the Bears; however, he did toss two interceptions. The Panthers are in damage control after getting torched by Ben Roethlisberger for 5 touchdowns last Thursday. With the Lions back home after two straight road games, Stafford will be looking to get back to winning ways. Since Golden Tate was traded, Kenny Golladay has been up-and-down, while Marvin Jones injured his knee last Sunday and did not practice Wednesday. Pay attention to his designation for the game, but if he plays look at Stafford as a QB2 against the Panthers.

From RotoBaller

Dwayne Harris Nov 14 8:03pm ET

Oakland Raiders WR Martavis Bryant (knee) did not participate in practice Wednesday, Nov. 14. CB Gareon Conley (groin), C Rodney Hudson (ankle), OG Kelechi Osemele (knee), LB Kyle Wilber (knee) and CB Daryl Worley (shoulder) were limited during practice. OG Jon Feliciano (ribs), WR Dwayne Harris (foot), OG Gabe Jackson (pectoral) and OT Kolton Miller (elbow, knee) fully participated in practice.

Doug Martin Nov 14 7:53pm ET

Oakland Raiders RB Doug Martin (hip) fully participated in practice Wednesday, Nov. 14.

Fantasy Spin: Martin has received at least 10 carries in each of the last three games and has rushed for at least 60 yards in two of the games. He should have some success against the Arizona Cardinals and can be at least a flex option in standard leagues.

Larry Fitzgerald Nov 14 7:53pm ET

Arizona Cardinals WR Larry Fitzgerald (non-injury) didn't participate in practice Wednesday, Nov. 14.

Fantasy Spin: The veteran was simply just getting a day off in order to manage his reps. He'll be out there come Sunday, but at this point in time, it's under the status of a WR3 with inconsistent freshman Josh Rosen throwing him the football.