Sun Dec 5 9:06pm ET
By W.G. RAMIREZ
Las Vegas Raiders quarterback Derek Carr (4) runs against Washington Football Team outside linebacker Cole Holcomb (55) during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 5, 2021, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/David Becker)
Las Vegas Raiders kicker Daniel Carlson (2) kicks a field goal during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 5, 2021, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)
Washington Football Team defensive tackle Matthew Ioannidis (98) sacks Las Vegas Raiders quarterback Derek Carr (4) during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 5, 2021, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/David Becker)
LAS VEGAS (AP) A stagnant offense that continues to struggle on third downs and failed to score its first touchdown until four minutes into the fourth quarter led to the Las Vegas Raiders losing for the fourth time in five games on Sunday.
Las Vegas was 2 for 8 on third-down conversions and scored just one touchdown in its 17-15 loss to Washington.
''Just a difficult story for us in the red zone, obviously coming out of there with field goals,'' interim coach Rich Bisaccia said. ''We missed some throws down there today. We had a chance for some. We've got to find a way to score more than 15 points, obviously.''
The Raiders, however, were 1 for 2 in the red zone. And the three field goals from Daniel Carlson, last week's AFC Special Teams Player of the Week, kept Las Vegas within striking distance with boots from 52, 38, and 37 yards.
Washington's Taylor Heinicke threw touchdown passes to Logan Thomas, on the opening drive, and Antonio Gibson early in the fourth quarter. Washington (6-6) allowed the Raiders (6-6) to score on successive drives to take a 15-14 lead on Carlson's 37-yard field goal that was set up by Nate Hobbs' interception of Heinicke.
But Heinicke responded and drove Washington downfield to set up the kick by Brian Johnson, the team's fourth placekicker who was signed earlier this week after Joey Slye went down with an injury. Las Vegas safety Tre'von Moehrig dropped a potential sealing interception on Washington's final drive.
Once again, it was Las Vegas struggling to convert on third downs. Making matters worse was it came against a Washington defense that entered the game ranked last in the league in allowing opponents to convert 51.4% of the time.
During the Raiders' 1-4 slide, they rank dead last in converting 11 of 49 (22.4%) on third downs.
Suddenly, the Raiders' familiar trend of late-season collapses is haunting the team that opened the schedule 3-0 and 5-2.
In 2019, the Raiders were 6-4 before closing the season on a 1-5 slide while scoring an average of 14.6 points after averaging 22.5 in their first 10.
Last season, the team's first after relocating to Las Vegas, the Raiders were 6-3 and looking like they could snap a three-year playoff drought, then lost five of their last seven.
Derek Carr came into Week 13 leading the league with 3,414 yards passing, and the team is 6-0 when he eclipses 300 yards through the air. Carr, who clearly missed injured tight end Darren Waller, finished 28 of 38 for 249 yards, was sacked twice and spent plenty of time under pressure from an improved defense that held a team to less than 20 points for the fourth time in five games.
''I thought we really mixed our coverages up, we tried to disguise them an awful lot,'' Washington coach Ron Rivera said. ''Credit to them, too, because they were taking advantage of some of the things that we were doing and they were moving the ball systematically down the field. Fortunate for us we were able to make a stop and force a punt around midfield or have them kick field goals, And that's one of the things that help you.''
And while Bisaccia suggested it's time ''to come up with some plays somehow, find a way to make a play with people on us, and find a way to make a throw even when we're under duress,'' Carr abruptly shut down the notion. When asked if he was content with offensive coordinator Greg Olson's play calling or if he thought changes in the scheme should be made, a visibly frustrated Carr responded: ''To answer your real question, I love Oly and he's doing a great job.''
Nevertheless, Las Vegas was averaging 25.7 points per game through Week 8, and in its four losses since is scoring an average of 14.5 points per contest.
''We have to convert third down and we have to get better at scoring touchdowns and not field goals,'' said receiver Hunter Renfrow, who caught a career-high nine receptions for 102 yards. ''Until we get that fixed, we're gonna keep losing games.''
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Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Cyril Grayson Jr. (hamstring) remained sidelined during Thursday's practice. He was joined on the sideline by fellow wideout Breshad Perriman (abdominal, hip) on Thursday. That being said, Mike Evans, Tyler Johnson, and Scotty Miller could be the starters for the playoff matchup against the Los Angeles Rams this weekend. The hope is that Grayson will be able to play since he was able to practice on Wednesday. He has a small sample size this season, but played well whenever given the chance. Grayson hauled in six receptions for 81 yards and one touchdown against the New York Jets in Week 17. Possibly, Grayson could be a sneaky DFS option, assuming he's able to suit up against the Rams.
Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Tee Higgins has gotten somewhat lost in the storm of Joe Burrow and Ja'Marr Chase putting up record-setting numbers. However, Higgins is a solid option, and it was fairly recently that the fantasy community was in a frenzy regarding taking Higgins over Chase in 2022. Things have changed, obviously, but Higgins is still a fantastic option for DFS and will be a draft target in 2022. A tall, possession wide receiver, paired with one of the best in the game in Chase and a gunslinger in Burrow, Higgins has the potential to go off in any given week while also holding a decent floor due to the offense's electricity and the lanky receiver's talent. With the LSU reunion in Cincinnati, the former Clemson Tiger is being overlooked to a fault.
Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Byron Pringle is nothing special, but if DFS players are scouring for a cheap wide receiver or Flex, Pringle is a good fit. In his last four games, Pringle has played 64 percent of snaps and been on pace for 81 receptions, 863 yards, and 17 touchdowns. Obviously, this is not sustainable, but behind Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce, Pringle has emerged as the Chiefs' next best option through the air. Although he has little value in Dynasty and probably won't even be drafted in 2022, fantasy managers can ride the 28-year-old's hot streak in what projects to be a shootout against the Buffalo Bills in the Divisional Round of the playoffs.
Kansas City Chiefs running back Jerick McKinnon had a surprising performance last week against the Pittsburgh Steelers with 12 carries for 61 yards and six receptions for 81 yards and a touchdown. However, this apparent breakout should be analyzed skeptically. The 29-year-old accompanied a variation of lead backs in his days with the Minnesota Vikings but managed to sign a substantial deal with the San Francisco 49ers, where he would fade to irrelevance. But the Chiefs took a flier on this speedster, and after a full season with the team, he finally played a role in this offense for one game. Throughout the season, the Chiefs have been searching for an answer at running back and cycling from one guy to another. Perhaps McKinnon is what they've been looking for all along, but based on his career's history and the abruptness of his surge, it's most likely that they'll continue rotating to the next guy and McKinnon will fade once again.
Buffalo Bills running back Devin Singletary had a stellar end to the season and has continued his dominance into the playoffs. Last week, against the New England Patriots, Singletary had 16 carries for 81 yards and two touchdowns as well three catches for 13 yards. Through the fantasy playoffs (Weeks 15 to 17), the 24-year-old was the RB2, averaging 18.5 fantasy points per game. Singletary's divisional round performance against the Kansas City Chiefs may be extremely indicative of his future outlook. Against a good defense and in what's projected to be a contested game, the Bills may choose to lean on their lead-runner: a great sign for Singletary's future value. However, the Bills may also find themselves falling behind and revert to their pass-heavy ways, neglecting Singletary, which presents some downside for Dynasty managers and potential 2022 drafters. The Bills have recently reinvented themselves around this talented rusher, but only time will tell if they choose to sustain this strategy.
Los Angeles Rams running back Cam Akers has officially returned after recovering from his torn Achilles in record time, and he has returned with a bang. The sophomore amassed 18 touches for 95 total yards against the Arizona Cardinals on Wild Card Weekend. After such a great performance, it seems as though Akers has returned as the Rams' feature-back; however, this notion is not reflected in his DFS cost. A mere price of $5,700 places him in the neighborhood of questionable backups Giovanni Bernard and Jerick McKinnon. Even if Akers isn't ready to assume the full workload, this price is overcompensating for an injury that has been a minimal factor since his return. Akers should be a cornerstone of all DFS lineups this week and will be a staple of the early rounds in 2022 drafts.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Breshad Perriman (abdomen, hip) looked to be limited in practice on Thursday and is still a question mark to play on Sunday against the Los Angeles Rams in the Divisional Round. Perriman sat out of Wednesday's walkthrough practice, but the good news is that he was able to get back on the field on Thursday. The 28-year-old caught only one of three targets for five yards in the wild-card win over the Philadelphia Eagles last week with Cyril Grayson (hamstring) inactive. If he's able to play against the Rams, he'll be a boom/bust DFS option for fantasy gamers. If both Perriman and Grayson are unable to play, Tyler Johnson and Scotty Miller would have expanded roles alongside Mike Evans in three-wide sets.
Tennessee Titans running back Derrick Henry (foot) is progressing well, but the team won't make a decision on his status for the Divisional Round against the Cincinnati Bengals until Friday, according to head coach Mike Vrabel. Henry has been taking contact in practice this week, but the Titans must first activate him from Injured Reserve if Henry is healthy enough to play on Saturday for the first time since Week 8. All signs are pointing to the 28-year-old being active against Cincinnati, and if he is, he should be the team's workhorse running back. Henry could be a bit risky in his first game back, especially as the most expensive RB at DraftKings, but he's also been the most dominant RB in the league when he's been healthy the last couple of seasons.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back Leonard Fournette (hamstring) is practicing again on Thursday. Fournette remains on Injured Reserve and hasn't played since Week 15, but he could be trending towards a return for the Divisional Round game against the Los Angeles Rams on Sunday. If Fournette is healthy enough to play, the Bucs will have to activate him no later than Saturday. With Fournette and Ronald Jones II (ankle) out in the wild-card round, Ke'Shawn Vaughn and Giovani Bernard were in a timeshare in Tampa's backfield. Fournette should operate as the team's lead back if he's activated, although he might not be used as the workhorse in the running and passing game like he was before his injury, especially if Jones is able to return as well.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back Ronald Jones II (ankle) was back at practice on Thursday and wasn't in his walking boot as he worked with a trainer. Jones appears to be making progress after sitting out of the wild-card win over the Philadelphia Eagles, but he's fighting an uphill battle to be ready on Sunday to face the Los Angeles Rams in the Divisional Round. Leonard Fournette (hamstring) is making progress and could come off Injured Reserve to play this weekend, while Ke'Shawn Vaughn and Giovani Bernard wait for their opportunity after splitting the backfield touches last weekend. Even if Jones somehow was able to play on Sunday and Fournette missed another game, Vaughn and Bernard would likely still be involved, which would make Jones tough to recommend in DFS contests.
Former Jacksonville Jaguars offensive coordinator Jay Gruden is interviewing with the Carolina Panthers for their vacant offensive coordinator spot again Thursday, Jan. 20.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers RB Ronald Jones (ankle) was working with a trainer at practice Thursday, Jan. 20, without a boot.
Fantasy Spin: RoJo could be a flex candidate even though Leonard Fournette is trending upwards.
Buffalo Bills wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders (knee) made his return from injury for the Bills' playoff game against New England and caught two passes for 36 yards and a touchdown. He come out of that game healthy and was able to practice in full all week, meaning he will remain active against a Chiefs team who he had great success against in October when he caught three passes for 54 yards and two touchdowns. Now, since that time, Gabriel Davis has emerged as a key members of the wide receiver corps; however, Sanders has not been phased out. In fact, Sanders played the third-most snaps among Bills wide receivers during the Wild Card win over New England, so if the Bills need to push the pace against the Chiefs, Sanders could be an intriguing DFS dart throw in GPP lineups.
Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce draws a difficult matchup on Sunday against the Bills. In particular, Bills linebacker Matt Milano, who the team usually uses to cover opposing tight ends, has given up the fewest yards per target in the NFL (min. 150 targets) since 2017. Milano also leads the NFL in coverage success rate and catch rate allowed over expected. When the Bills played the Chiefs in October, Kelce had 6 catches for 57 yards, but he did find the end zone, and his clear red zone role on a good offense will always make him a fantasy option. However, with the Bills missing star cornerback Tre'Davious White, it's fair to wonder if this is a game where the Kansas City wide receivers may be more consistently impactful.
Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Michael Gallup (knee) has yet to undergo surgery on his torn ACL, per head coach Mike McCarthy. He suffered a clean ACL tear in the Week 17 loss to the Arizona Cardinals. The 25-year-old reportedly will undergo surgery later once the swelling subsides. Gallup will become an unrestricted free agent and may not be ready by Week 1 of the 2022 campaign since he tore his ACL towards the end of the 2021 season. He caught 35 passes for 445 yards and two touchdowns over nine games in 2021. Gallup will look to recover fully, and barring any setbacks, should draw plenty of interest from teams during the offseason. Stay tuned.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians said the team is taking a "wait and see" approach for running back Leonard Fournette's (hamstring) status for the Divisional Round matchup against the Los Angeles Rams. He's been sidelined since Week 16 due to a hamstring injury. The 27-year-old did practice on Wednesday and is trending in the right direction towards suiting up this Sunday. Giovani Bernard and Ke'Shawn Vaughn will lead Tampa Bay's backfield if Fournette is ruled out. The Buccaneers will have until Saturday to activate Fournette from injured reserve, and if active, the Buccaneers running back is a solid value at $7,000 price tag on FanDuel.
Kansas City Chiefs running back Darrel Williams (toe) didn't practice on Wednesday. He played through the toe injury in Sunday's AFC Wild Card win over the Pittsburgh Steelers but only logged one carry. The 26-year-old rushed for four yards on his only attempt and lost a fumble which was returned for a touchdown. Clyde Edwards-Helaire was a full participant in Wednesday's practice and is trending in the right direction towards suiting up for the Divisional Round game against the Buffalo Bills. If active, it's unclear what Williams' role will be with Edwards-Helaire most likely returning and Jerick McKinnon in the mix, who led the Chiefs backfield with 18 touches for 142 yards and a touchdown in last Sunday's win over the Steelers. Williams is a risky play at his $5,500 price tag on FanDuel.
San Francisco 49ers running back Elijah Mitchell (knee) participated fully in Wednesday's practice. He was limited in the team's first practice on Tuesday. The 23-year-old is fully recovered from the knee injury that sidelined him three weeks earlier in the season and has averaged 23 carries over in his previous three games. He's rushed for 300 yards on 69 attempts and one touchdown while catching three passes for no gain and a score. Mitchell should see a heavy workload against a Green Bay Packers defense that allows 109.1 rushing yards per game. The 49ers running back is excellent value at his FanDuel price tag of $7,300.
Kansas City Chiefs TE Nakia Griffin-Stewart, CB Josh Jackson, LB Shilique Calhoun and LB Elijah Sullivan were released on Tuesday, Jan. 18.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers re-signed DB Rashard Robinson to the practice squad on Wednesday, Jan. 19.