File-New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady (12) loses the ball after being brought down by Oakland Raiders' Charles Woodson, right, while Greg Biekert (54) moves to recover the ball in the fourth quarter of their AFC Division Playoff game in Foxboro, Mass. Saturday night, Jan. 19, 2002. The play was appealed, and the Patriots retained possession. Raiders coach Jon Gruden says opening this season at Carolina and then playing New Orleans on made him feel like he was in a time warp. His nostalgia is even more amplified this week against New England. Its been nearly two decades since he walked out of a snow-covered Foxboro Stadium on the wrong end of a 16-13 overtime loss to the Patriots in the infamous tuck rule game during the 2001 playoffs. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola, File)
File-Oakland Raiders head coach Jon Gruden shouts instructions during their overtime loss to the New England Patriots in an AFC Divisional playoff game in Foxboro, Mass. Saturday, Jan. 19, 2002. Gruden says opening this season at Carolina and then playing New Orleans on made him feel like he was time warp. His nostalgia is even more amplified this week against New England. Its been nearly two decades since he walked out of a snow-covered Foxboro Stadium on the wrong end of a 16-13 overtime loss to the Patriots in the infamous tuck rule game during the 2001 playoffs. (AP Photo/Winslow Townson, File)
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) Jon Gruden still thinks it was a fumble.
It's been nearly two decades since the Raiders coach walked out of a snow-covered Foxboro Stadium on the wrong end of a 16-13 overtime loss to New England during the 2001 playoffs.
The game turned late in the fourth quarter when Tom Brady was hit from behind and lost the ball. Initially ruled a fumble, it was reversed upon review and determined to be an incomplete pass under the obscure ''tuck rule.''
The Patriots tied the game, won it on an Adam Vinatieri field goal and rode the momentum to the franchise's first Super Bowl win.
''Yeah, thanks for bringing that up,'' Gruden said this week. ''He did fumble that damn ball.''
Now back with the Raiders after stints in Tampa Bay and as a broadcaster, Gruden returns to New England on Sunday in search of his first coaching win against Bill Belichick's Patriots. In his only other trip to New England in 2005, Gruden's Buccaneers lost 28-0.
He said opening this season at Carolina and playing New Orleans on Monday night made him feel as if he was in a ''time warp'' and back in the NFC South as Tampa Bay's coach.
That nostalgia is even more amplified this week against the Patriots.
''Anytime you step in a stadium like that, it does bring back memories,'' Gruden said. ''Some of the memories aren't great, but we're excited to play.''
So, too, is New England, which is trying to rebound from a 35-30 loss to Seattle.
As two coaches who basically ascended the coaching ranks around the same time, Belichick said his respect for Gruden has remained strong, even during his decade-long coaching hiatus after leaving Tampa Bay in 2008.
''It's a lot easier to have a relationship with somebody who's not in direct competition with you,'' Belichick said.
He believes Gruden's time in the broadcast booth has given him a perspective he didn't have in their previous two meetings.
But Belichick expects they will tuck away most of the pleasantries Sunday.
''When you're in competition with somebody else, it just changes a little bit during that time period,'' Belichick said. ''But I'm sure at some point that it will be a different type of relationship.''
WATCH OUT FOR WALLER
Derek Carr's favorite target this season has been his athletic tight end Darren Waller. The two connected on 12 passes for 103 yards and a touchdown last week and Waller's 18 catches are the second most through two weeks in Raiders history.
''He'll definitely be a problem for us,'' Belichick said. ''There's not one thing you can take away from him. He does a lot things, does a lot of things well.''
Patriots cornerback Stephon Gilmore will likely draw the primary assignment on Waller. It comes a week after the reigning Defensive Player of the Year had a rough outing at Seattle, giving up a 54-yard TD to DK Metcalf. It was the first TD Gilmore has allowed as the primary defender on a play since 2018.
The Patriots secondary didn't fare better as a unit, allowing five passing touchdowns after giving up just four in all of 2019.
Carr isn't worried about what New England might employ to neutralize Waller.
''We're not a selfish team,'' he said. ''If they want to take something away, then other guys will step up.''
MOVING ON UP
New England quarterback Cam Newton enters Sunday needing just 1 rushing yard to pass Randall Cunningham for the second-most career rushing yards by a quarterback in NFL history. Michael Vick is first with 6,109 yards.
Newton has rushed for multiple touchdowns in each of the first two games this season. The Patriots' single-season record for consecutive games with two or more rushing TDs is three by Horace Ivory (1978) and Curtis Martin (1995).
OBEY THE RULES
The Raiders have spent most of their existence on the wrong side of the officials, typically being one of the most penalized teams each season. So far this season, that hasn't been the case. Las Vegas has just three penalties in each of the first two games of the season, with only the Patriots having fewer with five total. The Raiders have also benefited from penalties with their opponents being called for 15 for 194 yards, ranking second most in both categories.
FINISH THE DRIVE
The Raiders were successful moving the ball in 2019, but struggled to score in large part to some poor red zone play. That was a focus of training camp and the results are encouraging through two games. Josh Jacobs ran for three TDs in the red zone in Week 1 and Carr threw three red zone TD passes last week. In all, the Raiders have six touchdowns and two field goals on eight trips inside the 20.
Five Sleepers: Week 7
The Las Vegas Raiders defense has been statistically one of the worst defenses in the league this season. They are averaging under two fantasy points per game and face an ascending Buccaneers offense this week. Tom Brady is currently fourth in the league in passing touchdowns, and this Tampa Bay offense is ascending after hanging 31 offensive points on Green Bay in Week 6. The Raiders rank 27th in scoring defense and 24th in yards allowed. There is nothing to suggest they will have a good performance this week and should be kept on the bench or dropped entirely.
Las Vegas Raiders tight end Darren Waller has a tough test against the Buccaneers this week, but he should be able to produce a solid fantasy performance. Waller has been great at home this season, with 21 catches, 193 yards, and a touchdown in two games. The Buccaneers have one of the league's best defenses, but the Patriots are the only team to hold Waller under five catches so far this season. He currently ranks third in fantasy points per game among tight ends, and he leads the Raiders in targets. The Buccaneers rank sixth in the league against tight ends, but fantasy owners should feel comfortable starting him based on his performances so far this season.
Las Vegas Raiders wide receiver Henry Ruggs III will have a tough matchup against a good Buccaneers secondary in Week 7. Ruggs had a breakout performance in his last game against the Chiefs, but his value rests with the deep ball at this time. That is not great news considering the Buccaneers are one of the best defenses against the deep ball, ranking third in the league in allowing receptions of over 20 yards. He was able to get loose in the Chiefs secondary with a 72-yard reception in the first half but caught just one other pass the rest of the game. Ruggs' big-play potential makes him a fringe flex option in deeper leagues, but don't expect a lot of targets for the rookie this week.
Las Vegas Raiders running back Josh Jacobs will face one of the league's best run defenses this week in the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Buccaneers are allowing just three yards per carry and rank second in the league in total rushing yards allowed. Jacobs is having a productive year and is certainly a must-start option, but he is averaging just 3.6 yards per carry on the season. Jacobs has just one game this season where he has rushed for over four yards per carry. With that being said, he is still seventh in points per game among running backs. It will not be an easy day for Jacobs, but fantasy owners should feel encouraged that he can put up a solid fantasy performance despite a difficult matchup.
Las Vegas Raiders quarterback Derek Carr will have one of his most difficult tests of the year against a great Buccaneers Defense. The Buccaneers defense has allowed just seven passing touchdowns and have grabbed eight interceptions in their six games this season. Opposing quarterbacks have a passer rating of 82 against this Todd Bowles defense. They confused Aaron Rodgers and made him uncomfortable, so this will not be an easy day for Carr. With that being said, Carr has thrown for almost 600 passing yards with five touchdowns and no interceptions in two home games this season. The Raiders are coming off a bye, and Carr is having a career year. However, he is likely a bench option this week due to the matchup.
The New Orleans Saints Defense faces a middle-of-the-pack matchup against the Carolina Panthers in Week 7. It's a date with former Saint Teddy Bridgewater, who started five games for the team in 2019. New Orleans' defense is finally starting to get healthy after a rash of injuries, as they will get Janoris Jenkins (shoulder) back and essentially be at full strength. This unit may start to put together some good performances, starting with this week. They can be used as a starting option.
New Orleans Saints kicker Wil Lutz faces a favorable matchup in Week 7 against the Carolina Panthers. Lutz is perfect on the season, having made all nine field-goals and all 18 extra-points. Carolina ranks 22nd in fantasy points allowed to kickers, making this a juicy matchup for Lutz. Expect strong fantasy numbers from the 26-year-old.
New Orleans Saints tight end Jared Cook could see more opportunities in Week 7 against the Panthers. Cook had one of his better games against the Chargers, catching two passes for 52 yards and a score. New Orleans is down two of it's best pass-catchers- Michael Thomas (ankle, hamstring) and Emmanuel Sanders (COVID-19)- heading into the contest against the Panthers. The veteran tight end should see more targets, making him a good start as a TE1 in Week 7.
Seattle Seahawks RB Carlos Hyde (shoulder, toe) fully participated in practice Friday, Oct. 23, and is not on the injury report for Week 7.
Fantasy Spin: Hyde will serve as the backup for Chris Carson but should see a handful of touches during the game. Fantasy players should be able to find better options and can keep Hyde on the bench.
San Francisco 49ers RB Raheem Mostert (ankle) did not participate in practice Friday, Oct. 23, and has been ruled out for Week 7.
Fantasy Spin: Mostert is expected to miss multiple weeks because of the injury, so fantasy players should look for other options to use. Jerick McKinnon and JaMycal Hasty likely will share playing time while Mostert is sidelined. McKinnon probably has more fantasy value and can be a flex option in leagues. Hasty should be rostered in leagues and has a chance to be a flex option depending on the opponent.
Los Angeles Chargers WR Keenan Allen (back) fully participated in practice Friday, Oct. 23, and is not on the injury report for Week 7.
Fantasy Spin: Allen has been targeted at least eight times in four of the five games this season and seems to have a good connection with Justin Herbert. Allen can be considered a No. 1 or No. 2 receiver in fantasy leagues.
Arizona Cardinals WR DeAndre Hopkins (ankle) was limited during practice Friday, Oct. 23, and is listed as questionable for Week 7.
Fantasy Spin: Hopkins likely will be able to play despite the injury, but fantasy players will need to check the inactive list for his status. He is a must-start option in all leagues if he is active for the game.
New Orleans Saints wide receiver Tre'Quan Smith faces a tricky matchup in Week 7 against the Panthers. However, matchup concerns are alleviated by the fact that New Orleans will be without Michael Thomas (ankle, hamstring) and Emmanuel Sanders (COVID-19). Smith will be busy against a Panthers Defense that has surrendered the fourth-fewest fantasy points per game to wideouts. With a good chance of finding the end zone, Smith is looking like a high-end WR3 in Week 7, despite the matchup.
Kansas City Chiefs WR Sammy Watkins (hamstring) did not participate in practice Friday, Oct. 23, and has been ruled out for Week 7.
Fantasy Spin: Demarcus Robinson served as the No. 2 receiver for the Chiefs last week and probably will have a similar role this week. He can be a flex option or bye week replacement in fantasy leagues.
New Orleans Saints running back Alvin Kamara gets an excellent matchup against the Panthers Defense. Kamara has offered fantasy managers the safest floor of any running back, particularly in PPR formats, as he's had at least 19 fantasy points in every game this season. He'll go up against a Panthers defense allowing the fourth-most fantasy points per game to opposing halfbacks. The Saints will probably go with a more run-heavy approach, seeing as their top-two wideouts- Michael Thomas (ankle, hamstring) and Emmanuel Sanders (COVID-19)- are out for the contest. Kamara is a must-start in redraft leagues and is well worth the price in DFS formats.
New Orleans Saints running back Latavius Murray has a favorable matchup in front of him against the Panthers in Week 7. Murray has had at least 13 touches in three of five contests this season, with two of those games coming against teams that struggle to stop the run. New Orleans will be without Michael Thomas (ankle, hamstring) and Emmanuel Sanders (COVID-19) against the Panthers' 24th-ranked run defense. Murray is a good bet for 12-15 touches in Week 7, putting him squarely in the flex discussion.
Los Angeles Rams WR Robert Woods (groin) did not participate in practice Friday, Oct. 23.
Fantasy Spin: Fantasy players will need to keep an eye on the situation to see if Woods will be able to play in Week 7. He can be a No. 2 or No. 3 receiver in fantasy leagues if he is cleared to play.
Los Angeles Rams TE Tyler Higbee (hand) did not participate in practice Friday, Oct. 23.
Fantasy Spin: Higbee probably will need to practice Saturday, Oct. 24, if he wants a chance to play in the Week 7 game. He is coming off his best game of the season and would see a few targets if he plays this week. He could be a low-end No. 1 tight end in some leagues.
Los Angeles Rams OT Andrew Whitworth (non-injury) and DT Aaron Donald (non-injury) fully participated in practice Friday, Oct. 23.
New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees faces the Panthers in Week 7. Brees will face a sneakily-good Carolina defense without his top two receivers, Michael Thomas (ankle, hamstring) and Emmanuel Sanders (COVID-19). Despite not having Thomas, Brees has thrown for at least 250 yards or two touchdowns in each game this season, giving fantasy managers a solid floor. The Panthers allow the fourth-fewest fantasy points per game to quarterbacks, limiting Brees' upside. However, he should be able to finish as a solid QB2 in Week 7.