Thu Aug 6 6:26pm ET
By JOSH DUBOW
AP Pro Football Writer
In this July 22, 2020, file photo, the sun sets behind Allegiant Stadium, new home of the Las Vegas Raiders football team, as it nears completion in Las Vegas. Officials in Nevada have declared "substantial completion" after nearly 1,000 days of construction of the $2 billion Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas designed to be the home of the NFL's relocated Raiders. (AP Photo/John Locher, File)
In this Dec. 8, 2019, file photo, Oakland Raiders head coach Jon Gruden walks on the sideline during the second half of an NFL football game against the Tennessee Titans in Oakland, Calif. Dealing with an offseason move to Las Vegas, an overhaul of his defense and contending in a division with Patrick Mahomes and the defending Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs is a tough enough task for Gruden. It all pales in comparison to trying to keep his players safe from COVID-19 in a city where the coronavirus is spreading. (AP Photo/D. Ross Cameron, File)
After years of playing in a dilapidated stadium in Oakland with a rundown team facility, the Raiders were looking forward to showing off their fancy new digs in Las Vegas this season.
Those plans have been altered by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Raiders will play their first season at $2 billion Allegiant Stadium near the Las Vegas Strip without any fans and have been unable to fully utilize the new practice facility they built in nearby Henderson.
''I mean disappointing for all of sports honestly,'' coach Jon Gruden said Thursday. ''Certainly, you see that stadium and you want to go in there and you want to cut it loose with your new fan base and it is disappointing. But we aren't the only team that feels that. We are doing what we feel is right for the safety and health of everybody and hopefully we beat this virus soon and we can get back to normal.''
Owner Mark Davis told season-ticket holders earlier this week about the decision not to allow fans this season after consulting with local health officials.
Davis had previously said he either wanted to allow all fans to attend or none and that he wouldn't go to games if the fans weren't allowed.
''Everyone is trying to do their best and obviously we're human and we're going to see mistakes along the way,'' quarterback Derek Carr said. ''But I think Mr. Davis is trying to do his very best to protect our fans, protect the workers at the stadium, protect the players. He's trying to do the best for everybody, so I commend him.''
The pandemic has also limited what the Raiders can do at their new facility to replace the outdated one the team had been using in the Bay Area.
With players required to socially distance, the team has been unable to gather as a group yet.
''We haven't had a team meeting, we haven't had a group quarterback meeting or an offensive meeting or defensive meeting. Everything is on quarantine,'' Gruden said. ''A lot of this facility is off limits. We have done an unbelievable job, from a safety standpoint, to protect our players and coaches and employees here. But, players that have been with the Raiders for many years are just star-struck with this facility. I think the new players all respect it and really appreciate it.''
The coronavirus has impacted the Raiders roster as well. They had three players opt out this season with linebacker Ukeme Eligwe, cornerback D.J. Killings and defensive end Jeremiah Valoaga all deciding not to play in 2020.
The team then placed edge rusher Maxx Crosby and running back Rod Smith on the reserve/COVID-19 list Thursday. The list was created for players who either test positive for COVID-19 or have been in close contact with an infected person.
Running back Devontae Booker previously spent time on that list. He and Smith are among the players competing for a spot as a backup running back on the roster.
Crosby is being counted on to contribute much more after recording 10 sacks as a rookie. He is slated to be a starting defensive end and is the top pass rusher on a team that has struggled to generate consistent pressure in recent years.
August 5th: ADP Value
Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Tee Higgins was selected in the second round of the 2020 NFL draft and has a high ceiling without a doubt, especially since he will be catching passes from No. 1 overall selection Joe Burrow. Both rookies have built a rapport already as the duo conducted workouts together during the offseason. Higgins finished his final season at Clemson with 59 catches and 13 touchdowns off of 1,167 yards. While he is a risky selection in redraft leagues this season due to his potential limited playing time, he is surely worth a first-round pick in dynasty formats as he will likely rack up plenty of receptions from Burrow for years to come.
Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Tyler Boyd has begun catching passes from rookie signal-caller Joe Burrow as the team kicks off training camp. The 25-year-old has plenty of hype heading into the 2020 season after racking up over 1,000 yards in his previous two seasons. With A.J. Green seemingly healthy along with the addition of Clemson wideout Tee Higgins, Boyd could see things open up more on the offensive end, while also remaining the team's top pass-catcher.
Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver A.J. Green went through his first walkthrough under second-year head coach Zac Taylor on Tuesday. The veteran, who recently signed a one-year tender a few weeks ago, missed all of 2019 after injuring his ankle during training camp. While consistent ailments have been the theme for the 32-year-old over the past seasons, there is no denying his ability when healthy. He is no longer considered an elite wideout, however, he is worth a mid-round pick for those looking for an option with an enormous upside.
Cincinnati Bengals running back Joe Mixon is still without a new deal as the team heads toward the 2020 season. However, according to director of player personnel, Duke Tobin, the organization views the 24-year-old as a "cornerstone piece of the franchise." Mixon is looking for a contract that would pay him north of $8 million per year, a significant increase from the $1.2 million that he is expected to earn in the final year of his rookie deal. The former Sooner is coming off back-to-back 1,000-yard rushing seasons and is projected by many to be a fantasy breakout by year's end.
Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott was quick to respond to Ed Werder's Twitter post regarding a potentially reduced role for the former rushing champ, quipping "we all gonna eat." Though Elliott is a shoo-in, first-round pick in fantasy drafts for the 2020 campaign, many still wonder how he will co-exist on an offense that has plenty of mouths to feed, notably Amari Cooper, Michael Gallup, and 17th overall pick, CeeDee Lamb. Elliott finished 2019 as a top-five back in the majority of formats. Under new head coach Mike McCarthy, who has overseen some productive runners throughout his career, the 25-year-old could be in store for another productive year.
New Orleans Saints wide receiver Michael Thomas broke the single-season receptions record last year by racking up 149 catches, surpassing Marvin Harrison's 2002 mark of 143. While that accomplishment would be good enough for most throughout the league, the 27-year-old is aiming to exceed his 2019 total heading into the 2020 campaign. Thomas convincingly dominated the fantasy picture last season, and in addition to his catch total, he also accumulated over 1,700 yards while finishing fifth in yards after the catch. He is expected to finish as the top fantasy wideout this season, and will likely get snagged off the draft board within the top three picks, especially in PPR formats.
Updating a previous story, San Francisco 49ers WR Travis Benjamin was officially placed on the Reserve/COVID-19 list Wednesday, Aug. 5.
Updating a previous story, Miami Dolphins WR Albert Wilson was officially placed on the Reserve/COVID-19 list Wednesday, Aug. 5.
Miami Dolphins DT Davon Godchaux was placed on the Reserve/COVID-19 list Wednesday, Aug. 5.
Atlanta Falcons DT Tyeler Davison was activated from the Reserve/COVID-19 list Wednesday, Aug. 5. LB Ahmad Thomas was released.
Cleveland Browns TE Austin Hooper lived part of the summer with QB Baker Mayfield while the two worked out together.
Fantasy Spin: It certainly could help Hooper to at least be somewhat familiar with his new QB despite all the lost reps from canceled offseason programs following his signing as a free agent. Hooper is expected to be the No. 1 tight end over David Njoku and should be drafted as a top-tier option at his thin position.
Tennessee Titans LB Jayon Brown (undisclosed) passed his physical Wednesday, Aug. 5, and was activated from the Physically Unable to Perform list.
Buffalo Bills WR Stefon Diggs restructured his contract Tuesday, Aug. 4, according to a source. He'll receive an extra $3.3 million in 2020, an extra $7.7 million in guaranteed money but a decrease of $300,000 cash in 2021 and a drop from $25.55 million to $22.67 million in 2022-23 cash.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers RB LeSean McCoy probably will have a role in the passing game this season, according to head coach Bruce Arians.
Fantasy Spin: It appears like McCoy may be in line for the third down back job, but fantasy players should keep an eye on the situation. McCoy probably would see a handful of touches each games if he makes the roster but may only be a depth option in fantasy leagues.
Free-agent S Kentrell Brice (Bears) signed with the Arizona Cardinals Wednesday, Aug. 5. Terms of the contract were not disclosed.
New York Jets LB Avery Williamson (knee) said he expects to be ready for the start of the regular season.
Las Vegas Raiders RB Jeremy Hill was released Wednesday, Aug. 5.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back Ronald Jones II was called "the main guy" in the running back room by his coach Bruce Arians. Arians said he is confident in Jones II and that the other guys are fighting for roles. The other guys include third-round draft pick Ke'Shawn Vaughn, who will lose valuable practice time after he hit the COVID-19 list, and veteran running back LeSean McCoy, who won't challenge for a lead back role at this point in his career. Jones II looks the part after an offseason spent bulking up and catching hundreds of passes to address a weakness in his game. The 23-year-old has RB2 upside in the 7th round but it's likely that Vaughn and McCoy cut into his ceiling in 2020, despite what Arians said.
Free-agent S Kentrell Brice (Bears) is expected to sign with the Arizona Cardinals as long as he passes a physical and tests negative for COVID-19, according to a source.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers RB Ronald Jones will be the main ball carrier for the Buccaneers this season, according to head coach Bruce Arians.
Fantasy Spin: Jones rushed for 724 yards and six touchdowns last season and should improve those stats with more playing time and touches. He will be a part of one of the better offenses in the NFL and can be considered a No. 2 running back in fantasy leagues.