Mon Sep 17 6:45pm ET
By JOSH DUBOW
AP Pro Football Writer
Oakland Raiders head coach Jon Gruden leaves the field after an NFL football game against the Denver Broncos, Sunday, Sept. 16, 2018, in Denver. The Broncos won 20-19. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
ALAMEDA, Calif. (AP) Coach Jon Gruden was in no mood to rehash Denver's final drive that handed the Oakland Raiders a second straight defeat to open his tenure as coach.
Case Keenum and the Broncos were able to move the ball down the field with little pressure in the heat and altitude of Denver and get a 36-yard field goal from Brandon McManus in the closing seconds of a 20-19 victory Sunday.
A second straight game with no consistent pass rush raised an obvious question for Gruden about whether the decision to trade edge rusher Khalil Mack, who was holding out, to Chicago for a package of draft picks was a wise move.
''It doesn't make me regret,'' Gruden said Monday ''We made the trade. We made the trade. There has got to be hindsight, 50-50, all that stuff. We would have loved to have him here and I'm not going to keep rehashing this. I would have loved to (have) coached him, loved to have him here, but he's not here. Somebody's got to step up.''
That hasn't happened through two games so far this season as Oakland has just two sacks combined in losses to the Los Angeles Rams and Broncos in the opening two weeks.
Bruce Irvin, who used to be nicknamed Robin to Mack's Batman, has been unable to deliver with the bigger responsibility of being the top pass rusher. He had one sack in the opener against the Rams but didn't provide much this past week.
He committed a personal foul that extended a touchdown drive for the Broncos after Oakland had appeared to make a third-down stop and looked gassed on the final drive when Keenum moved the ball from his 10 to the Oakland 18 with under two minutes remaining.
''Well obviously we need to get more out of our captain,'' Gruden said. ''He's put in some tough spots, certainly. He's a good player. He's had some really good snaps. We need more and more from him. I know he's giving us everything he has and it's tough on him, certainly, because we do have a lot of new guys around him upfront. We're happy he's here.''
The Raiders also hoped to get a boost from three rookie draft picks in end Arden Key and tackles P.J. Hall and Maurice Hurst. Key excelled in the preseason but has looked overmatched at times now that the regular season has started.
Hurst had the team's only sack Sunday and Hall played on an injured ankle for much of the opener before missing the game against the Broncos and likely a little more time.
The lack of a pass rush has played a role in Oakland struggling in the second half the first two weeks. The Raiders led both games at halftime but have been outscored 43-7 in the final two quarters for the worst second-half scoring margin in the league.
They had chances to close out the Broncos even before the defense allowed the game-winning drive. Early in the fourth quarter, fullback Keith Smith dropped a pass from Derek Carr on fourth-and-1 from the Denver 33.
Instead of the Raiders going in for another score to extend a 19-10 lead, the Broncos took over and drove for a touchdown.
Oakland got the ball back with less than six minutes to go and a chance to ice the game. The Raiders got two first downs but a double pass interference call against Denver's Bradley Roby and Oakland's Amari Cooper wiped out a 29-yard gain to Cooper.
Then a false start on second-and-4 by tight end Jared Cook helped stall the drive and led to a punt that set up Denver's winning drive.
''This is the National Football League. You have to be able to finish the game,'' Raiders cornerback Rashaan Melvin said. ''That's something we haven't done as a team and we really need to focus on doing.''
Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield is coming off a fantastic real-life game which saw him complete 18 of his 22 pass attempts against the Carolina Panthers. That being said, his production in the fantasy realm was lacking as he threw just one touchdown in the game. Since the team fired Hue Jackson and Todd Haley, the Browns have been playing slow on offense, which has limited Mayfield's ceiling somewhat. This week, the Browns travel to Denver to take on the Broncos on Saturday night. The Broncos have been great against the pass this season, ranking No. 2 in pass defense DVOA. That being said, the Broncos have suffered several injuries in their secondary over the past few weeks which keeps Mayfield in the conversation as a deep-league streamer. Treat Mayfield as a mid-QB2 for Week 15.
Miami Dolphins QB Ryan Tannehill (ankle) could be limited in practice Wednesday, Dec. 12, as the team will closely monitor his ankle injury heading into Week 15.
Fantasy Spin: Tannehill has binged with a couple of three-score games, but history has shown you can't count on that this week against the Minnesota Vikings. He's a QB2 in two-QB leagues.
Seattle Seahawks LB Mychal Kendricks (knee) injured his knee during the team's Week 14 win over the Minnesota Vikings, and his availability for the team's game against the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday, Dec. 16, is in question, according to head coach Pete Carroll.
The Tennessee Titans signed TE Cole Wick off the San Francisco 49ers practice squad on Tuesday, Dec. 11. Tennessee also signed free-agent OL Austin Pasztor (Falcons).
San Francisco 49ers WR Pierre Garcon (knee) was officially placed on the Reserve/Injured list on Tuesday, Dec. 11.
New Orleans Saints wide receiver Michael Thomas will head into Week 15 with 102 receptions for 1,218 yards and eight touchdowns on the season. Thomas will face a Panthers secondary that is allowing the eighth most fantasy points to receivers, including four 100-yard receiving games since Week 11. Carolina has surrendered 10 touchdowns to receivers over their last six games and now must try and shut down one of the game's elite receivers. Thomas should be able to exploit this matchup in Week 15 and will be a WR1 option across all fantasy formats.
New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley will go up against a Titans defense in Week 15 that is allowing the fifth fewest fantasy points to opposing running backs. But at this point in the season, tough matchups no longer scare fantasy owners of the fantastic rookie. Barkley has least 100-plus yards from scrimmage in 12 of the 13 games played this season to go along with 13 total touchdowns. Barkley is about as bankable a fantasy option as any player in the league right now and heads into Week 15 with 1,753 all-purpose yards. Start Barkley with confidence.
New York Giants tight end Evan Engram's fantasy arrow has been pointing up over the last two games, posting 143 yards over that span. But he could struggle to out-score his fantasy projections against a Titans defense that is allowing the fewest fantasy points to opposing tight ends. The Titans defense has not allowed a tight end to catch a touchdown against them this season and only two tight ends have scored more than six fantasy points in a single game. Engram will be a dicey TE2 play in Week 15.
Arizona Cardinals WR Chad Williams (ankle, hamstring) was listed with the first-team offense on the team's depth chart Tuesday, Dec. 11.
Fantasy Spin: This is somewhat notable since Williams has missed the last five games and doesn't exactly have the kind of resume that one usually has to keep a job when he is sidelined that long. Larry Fitzgerald remains the only playable Cardinal receiver, but DFS players who may have been hoping to strike gold with J.J. Nelson and Trent Sherfield versus the Atlanta Falcons may have to look elsewhere.
Kansas City Chiefs WR Kelvin Benjamin is reportedly picking up the offense quickly, but it remains unlikely he will play an extended amount of time in Week 15 versus the Los Angeles Chargers.
Fantasy Spin: It's understandable considering he hasn't been with the team two weeks yet. Still, Tyreek Hill will almost certainly be limited in some way, shape or form and the Chiefs may be down to Damien Williams as their starting running back. Despite the presence of Patrick Mahomes, owners should be able to do better than Benjamin in their starting lineups during the fantasy playoffs.
Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin, who had his first practice with the team last Friday, is unlikely to play extended snaps if he makes his team debut on Thursday against the Chargers. However, they may need Benjamin active with Sammy Watkins (foot) not expected to be available until the playoffs and Tyreek Hill (heel, wrist) being dinged up in Week 14. Its just concepts and really learning the language of a new playbook, Benjamin told The Star on Tuesday. Its coming real good to me. I feel like Im grasping it real well. Benjamin was terrible in his time with Buffalo and lacked hustle and motivation, so hopefully he'll be more motivated to make an impact with his first team, who currently have the top seed in the AFC. Even if Benjamin plays this Thursday and in the final two games of the season, he's unlikely to make much of a fantasy impact unless either Hill or Chris Conley get hurt.
Houston Texans rookie wide receiver Keke Coutee (hamstring) was limited in practice on Tuesday. Coutee has missed the last two games but is trending toward being active in Week 15 on Saturday against the Jets. Hamstring issues have limited the rookie to just six games in 2018, and he can't be trusted in starting lineups behind DeAndre Hopkins and Demaryius Thomas if he returns. Quarterback Deshaun Watson hasn't been throwing the ball all that much either, making Coutee unlikely to see heavy targets if he's back this Saturday.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers WR DeSean Jackson (thumb) had his injured thumb immobilized Tuesday, Dec. 11. He cannot squeeze a football with his injured hand yet but hopes to play again this season.
Fantasy Spin: In the meantime, Mike Evans, Chris Godwin and Adam Humphries will continue to see increased targets. They have a tough matchup this week, though, against the Baltimore Ravens, so lower your expectations.
New York Jets LB Jerry Attaochu (concussion), RB Trenton Cannon (toe) and LB Jordan Jenkins (shoulder, ankle) did not practice Tuesday, Dec. 11. LB Kevin Pierre-Louis (shoulder) was limited. OT Kelvin Beachum (knee), CB Morris Claiborne (shoulder, neck), TE Jordan Leggett (knee), C Spencer Long (knee, finger), WR Andre Roberts (foot) and CB Buster Skrine (shoulder) participated fully.
New York Jets WR Robby Anderson (ankle) participated fully in practice Tuesday, Dec. 11.
Fantasy Spin: Last week Anderson found the end zone for the first time in six games and saw seven targets for the third time in four games, but he's an inconsistent player who can't be trusted in postseason lineups.
New York Jets WR Quincy Enunwa (ankle) was not at practice Tuesday, Dec. 11.
Fantasy Spin: Enunwa has done next to nothing since the beginning of the season. Now is not the time to take a chance on starting him and hoping he rebounds.
New York Jets QB Sam Darnold (foot) participated fully in practice Tuesday, Dec. 11.
Fantasy Spin: If you made your league's playoffs, you probably didn't get there by starting Darnold. Don't start now.
Houston Texans WR DeAndre Carter (concussion), WR Keke Coutee (hamstring), C Zach Fulton (hand), S Andre Hal (ankle), CB Kareem Jackson (knee), OG Senio Kelemete (elbow) and DE J.J. Watt (knee) were limited in practice Tuesday, Dec. 11. LB Dylan Cole (wrist, knee), CB Aaron Colvin (ankle), C Greg Mancz (knee), LB Brian Peters (ankle), S Justin Reid (shoulder, wrist) and CB Shareece Wright (neck) participated fully.
Houston Texans WR DeAndre Hopkins (foot) practiced on a limited basis Tuesday, Dec. 11.
Fantasy Spin: Hopkins has been limited in practice practically the entire season. He has produced consistently despite the nagging issue, so there's no reason to remove him from starting lineups, especially in the fantasy playoffs.
Houston Texans QB Deshaun Watson (shoulder) was a full practice participant Tuesday, Dec. 11.
Fantasy Spin: Watson has been bruised and battered for the entirety of his sophomore campaign but he'll be good to go in a favorable matchup with the New York Jets. He's a QB1 for those still in the fantasy postseason.