Tue Mar 31 1:09pm ET
By DAVID GINSBURG
AP Sports Writer
In this Jan. 19, 2020, file photo, fans at Levi's Stadium watch as the Green Bay Packers kickoff to the San Francisco 49ers during the first half of the NFL NFC Championship football game in Santa Clara, Calif. At a time when America is trying to cope with the financial fallout created by the deadly coronavirus, the renewal of NFL season tickets is not exactly a high priority in the midst of soaring unemployment, business closures and a volatile stock market. Most teams understand this, and have acted accordingly. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu, File)
In this Sept. 11, 2014, file photo, football fans cheer during the first half of an NFL football game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Baltimore Ravens in Baltimore. At a time when America is trying to cope with the financial fallout created by the deadly coronavirus, the renewal of NFL season tickets is not exactly a high priority in the midst of soaring unemployment, business closures and a volatile stock market. Most teams understand this, and have acted accordingly. (AP Photo/Nick Wass, File)
In this Aug. 1, 2015, file photo, Baltimore Ravens president Dick Cass walks off the field after NFL football training camp practice in Owings Mills, Md. At a time when America is trying to cope with the financial fallout created by the deadly coronavirus, the renewal of NFL season tickets is not exactly a high priority in the midst of soaring unemployment, business closures and a volatile stock market. Theres a lot of people who are being incredibly affected by this crisis and may not have the funds available to complete the purchase of their season tickets," Ravens president Dick Cass said. Were dealing with a lot of season ticket holders who have been with us for 20 years and we dont want to lose them. So were going to work with them, and hopefully we can find a solution that works for everybody."(AP Photo/Patrick Semansky, File)
At a time when America is trying to cope with the financial fallout created by the deadly coronavirus, the renewal of NFL season tickets is not exactly a high priority. Not in the midst of soaring unemployment, business closures and a volatile stock market.
Most teams understand this, and have acted accordingly.
Twenty-eight of the 32 NFL clubs have reached out to season ticket holders with the offer of extending the next deadline for payment or negotiations on a case-by-case basis. Broncos fans faced a deadline for final payment on Feb. 1.
"There's a lot of people who are being incredibly affected by this crisis and may not have the funds available to complete the purchase of their season tickets," Ravens president Dick Cass said. "We're dealing with a lot of season ticket holders who have been with us for 20 years and we don't want to lose them. So we're going to work with them, and hopefully we can find a solution that works for everybody."
The Ravens announced Tuesday on Twitter that the final payment for 2020 tickets has been extended from May 15 to June 15.
David and Joanne Michaelson, who have owned their tickets since the team moved from Cleveland to Baltimore in 1996, appreciated the gesture.
"Even people like us who can afford season tickets will face a tremendous amount of financial challenges in the coming months, and any little bit of financial assistance - even extending our payment deadline - will be helpful," Joanne said.
Only three NFL teams - the Cowboys, 49ers and Bengals - apparently are maintaining the status quo regarding payments due.
The Cowboys have not yet reached out to their fans, although a longtime season ticket holder says that while the deadline for payment on personal seats licenses has already passed, it's usually sometime in April before there's an update on season tickets.
The San Francisco 49ers remain in a business-as-usual mode, and the Bengals say they are "still in the process of discussing the best way to proceed."
The Eagles were in that category until Tuesday, when they informed season ticket holders that the team is extending the April 16 deadline. The team said, "As an organization, we want you to know we are here for you and we want to be supportive of you during this difficult time. ... We are closely monitoring developments and will evaluate every option to ensure that you have flexibility to make your scheduled payments within a reasonable time."
It's a stance that has been adopted by most NFL teams, who are allowing fans to hold onto their money a bit longer before fulfilling their commitment for the 2020 season.
In a letter to season ticket holders, the Patriots wrote: "We hope that you and your family are safe and healthy during this difficult situation. To help ease some of your concerns during these uncertain times, we are immediately suspending the deadline for our annual Season Ticket Member invoices. The deadline is being extended to June 30, 2020."
The Vikings told their fans: "We understand the uncertainty caused by COVID-19 has created a number of challenges and stresses for each of us as we adapt to the rapidly evolving news along with changing family, work and community responsibilities. In an effort to be respectful of the current circumstances, we have made the decision to defer your final season ticket payment scheduled for Thursday, April 16, to Monday, June 1."
The Dolphins went one step further. A team spokesperson noted that ticket holders will have a variety of different options in the current environment, including deferred payments or rolling over deposits for memberships to 2021 if they need relief.
For the most part, NFL franchises are seeking to make paying for season tickets an easier task.
In extending the next schedule payment from April 1 to July 1, the Falcons wrote: "All fans have to do is fill out the form in their email and we'll take care of it for them. ... We want to do what's best for ALL of our season ticket holders by offering options during this trying time."
Gary Knight of Greenwood, Indiana, now owns the Colts season tickets that his father bought in 1984 after the franchise relocated from Baltimore to Indy. He took up the team's offer to work with him to complete the transaction
"I went over there and they talked through some different payment plans, with three payments, so yeah, I took advantage of that," said Knight, who wonders if COVID-19 might impact the NFL experience in 2020.
"I wouldn't be surprised if we were getting our temperatures taken as we go into the stadium, and I wouldn't be surprised to see quite a few masks at the stadium, either," he said.
There is also the possibility that there won't be a season at all, a scenario the Packers have taken under consideration.
"While the Packers expect to play a full schedule in 2020, ticket holders are reminded of the policy on canceled games," the team said. "If a game is canceled and cannot be rescheduled, or is played under conditions that prohibit fans from attending (for example, if a public authority restricts gatherings to no more than a small number of people), season ticket holders will receive a refund for the impacted game(s)."
May 29th: Quarterback Preview
Indianapolis Colts head coach Frank Reich said that tight end Mo Alie-Cox will play even more in 2020 as a key run blocker and an emerging pass-catcher, despite the offseason addition of Trey Burton. "Sometimes you might think the basketball guy is a finesse guy. Mo is not a finesse guy he is a powerful man," Reich said. The 26-year-old has just 15 receptions (24 targets) for 226 yards and two touchdowns in 25 games for the Colts in his two seasons in the NFL, but his role as a pass-catcher is expected to increase. However, even with Eric Ebron gone, the Colts still have Jack Doyle and Burton as capable pass-catchers at the position, so Alie-Cox isn't yet one to target in traditional fantasy leagues.
Las Vegas Raiders defensive end Clelin Ferrell bulked up this offseason amid an 18-week workout regimen in Miami to put on 13 pounds after a disappointing rookie season that saw the fourth overall pick finish with 4.5 sacks, five deflected passes and 24 solo tackles. Ferrell was considered a reach in the top five of last year's draft coming out of Clemson, and his less-than-stellar first season in the league puts him on the spot to improve in his sophomore campaign. With added weight going into his second year, Ferrell hopefully will be able to use his frame to bully offensive tackles more frequently to help the Raiders improve their stagnant pass rush. You can ignore Ferrell in most IDP formats until he proves that he can get to the opposing QB more often.
New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley had planned on returning to Penn State, his alma mater, to serve as a coach for the team during spring ball before its cancellation due to COVID-19. While the 23-year-old had no intention of retiring early, he wanted to use it as a way to self-improve leading up to the 2020 campaign. Barkley posted his second consecutive 1,000-yard rushing season in 2019 despite appearing in only 13 games after battling a high-ankle sprain. With an enhanced offensive line and a new head coach for the Giants, the former Nittany Lion could be on track to finish the year as one of the league's top fantasy producers.
Carolina Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey was recently labeled by general manager Marty Hurney as "a unique back," which ultimately served as the reasoning behind locking up the MVP candidate to a new deal. McCaffrey, who signed a four-year, $64 million contract in April, finished 2019 as the most impactful fantasy option, finishing the year with over 1,000 yards on both the rushing and receiving end. He led the league again last year by playing in 93 percent of the team's snaps on the offensive end and posting 1,019 YAC. The 23-year-old is projected to go first overall in most fantasy drafts this upcoming season, regardless of format.
Arizona Cardinals head coach Kliff Kingsbury has had plenty of time to get more creative while designing new offensive plays during the COVID-19 pandemic this offseason. Kliff is one of the more mad-genius, offensive-minded guys in this league because of how he can put players in different positions to go out there and be successful and use your raw, natural ability to mirror up with the things the offense works best at, running back Kenyan Drake said. In Kingsbury's first year as head coach, the Cardinals had a 60.4 percent jump in points scored and a 91.7 percent increase in their number of scoring drives. They scored 25 or more points nine times in 2019 after doing so just once in 2018. With second-year dual-threat QB Kyler Murray at the helm and with a new No. 1 wideout in DeAndre Hopkins, the Cardinals could have one of the most explosive offenses in the league with Kingsbury calling the plays.
Chicago Bears head coach Matt Nagy said that quarterback Mitchell Trubisky, who is in a QB competition with Nick Foles, has handled the situation with aplomb and expects the two QBs to compete for the job whenever offseason workouts begin. "(Trubisky) has been really, really good in the fact that he's taken this head-on," Nagy said. "He's accepted it. He understands it." But even though there will be a competition, Foles is expected to have the leg up on the job after Chicago acquired him in a trade. The Bears also declined Trubisky's fifth-year option for 2021. But the 25-year-old will get a legitimate shot to prove he's the guy despite disappointing in 2019. The reality is that Foles has the bigger arm and more real-life and fantasy upside as a low-end QB2 if he wins the job this summer.
Miami Dolphins TE Mike Gesicki was one of four tight ends to see double-digit end zone targets during the 2019 season.
New York Giants RB Saquon Barkley averaged 131 rushing yards on 6.24 yards per carry in the final three games of the 2019 season, and he scored five of his eight total touchdowns in that span.
Fantasy Spin: Barkley battled an ankle injury in what was a disappointing sophomore campaign, but he flashed his upside in the final weeks. Not only is he a first-round pick in all fantasy formats, but he could be off the board as soon as No. 2 overall.
Buffalo Bills QB Josh Allen has 17 rushing touchdowns in 27 career starts. Only free-agent QB Cam Newton (Panthers) has had more rushing touchdowns in his first 27 starts.
Fantasy Spin: Despite below average accuracy, Newton has been a high-end fantasy quarterback for much of his career because of his rushing stats. Allen may never reach Newton's level, but his running ability can keep him in the QB1 mix.
Los Angeles Rams WR Robert Woods registered 613 yards after the catch in 2019 - the third-highest total in the league.
Cincinnati Bengals WR John Ross averaged 7.3 yards after the catch in 2019 - tied for the fourth-highest average in the league among players who amassed 50 targets last season.
New York Jets RB Le'Veon Bell has enjoyed a target share of between 17 and 18 percent in four of his last five seasons, with the only exception coming in 2015 (15 percent). His 17.3 percent share in 2019 was the second-highest mark of his career.
San Francisco 49ers TE George Kittle has compiled two of the three best seasons for a tight end in terms of producing yards after the catch since at least 2015 over the last two years. His 871 receiving yards after the catch in 2018 are the most by any player over the last five seasons (and 208 more yards than second-place Travis Kelce compiled in 2016), while his 623 receiving yards after the catch in 2019 led all tight ends and trailed only Chris Godwin (629) among all players last season.
Cleveland Browns RB Kareem Hunt ranked sixth among running backs with 44 targets from Week 10 until the end of the 2019 regular season. Additionally, Hunt's 49 slot snaps also ranked sixth among running backs in the league for the year despite playing only eight games.
Atlanta Falcons WR Calvin Ridley was on track for 66 catches for 853 yards and nine touchdowns on 101 targets prior to the Falcons trading Mohamed Sanu to the New England Patriots following a Week 7 loss. Over his final six games and before succumbing to an abdomen injury that ended his season prior to Week 15, Ridley's 16-game pace over the final six contests was 91 receptions for 1,315 yards and eight touchdowns on 131 targets.
Fantasy Spin: Six games is a relatively small sample, but it provides a bit of rationale to those that believe Ridley could be this year's Chris Godwin. The third-year pro finds himself in a wonderful environment to make it happen, as Julio Jones will continue to command the most respect from defensive coordinators and Atlanta's defense may struggle at times yet again. As such, Ridley should be viewed as a high-end WR2 with WR1 upside.
Denver Broncos TEs Albert Okwuegbunam, Austin Fort and Jake Butt are expected to be competing for two roster spots during training camp. Okwuegbunam is considered a favorite for one of the spots.
Denver Broncos running back Melvin Gordon III had 6,000-plus scrimmage yards and two Pro Bowl selections in five seasons with the Chargers, but he thinks the Broncos running scheme is better suited to his strengths as an explosive, downhill runner. Gordon had 2,587 rushing yards and 29 touchdowns in his final year in college in a zone-based offense similar. He had his moments as a perimeter runner with the Bolts, but his straight-line running style is better suited in an offense with more downhill runs. Denver has a zone-based system that's expected to feature more downhill plays under offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur. The Broncos plan on using Gordon as their lead back despite Phillip Lindsay's presence, and in an offense better suited to his strengths as a runner, Gordon could be more efficient and give fantasy owners RB1 upside at an RB2 cost.
Baltimore Ravens QB Lamar Jackson hopefully will try more downfield throws this upcoming season when the team faces one-on-one coverage, according to head coach John Harbaugh. 'Those corners are going to be one-on-one and those safeties are going to be one-on-one against receivers, especially on downfield throws, and we got to make them pay for it,' Harbaugh said. 'I really do believe that's the next step for this offense from an execution standpoint. I really do believe Lamar is going to take the next step and our receivers are going to take the next step.'
Fantasy Spin: Jackson is one of the top quarterbacks in the NFL and would be an even more valuable fantasy option if he is able to connect on more downfield throws. Hs should be one of the first quarterbacks selected in all drafts and is a must-start option in fantasy leagues.
NFL.com's Bucky Brooks thinks that Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield is primed for the best season of his career in new head coach Kevin Stefanski's offense. Cleveland's 12-personnel packages featuring tight ends Austin Hooper and David Njoku, along with receivers Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry, and running back Nick Chubb, will be hard to stop. Mayfield averaged 9.0 yards per attempt (third-most in the NFL) in 12-personnel setups last year, and that formation is Stefanski's preference. Mayfield was also much better on play-action passes last year, so the Browns should look to feature those types of plays to take the pressure off the third-year passer. Cleveland's rebuilt offensive line should also give Mayfield better protection in 2020. All of this should add up to Mayfield being much more productive under Stefanski, making him a fine QB2 target with QB1 upside after his disappointing 2019 campaign.
Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott has not yet signed the franchise tender as he seeks a long-term deal from the team. History suggests the sides will come together before the July 15 deadline or Prescott may not be with Dallas beyond this season. Since the franchise tag was introduced in 1993, only eight quarterbacks have been tagged and all but two, Drew Brees in 2005 and Kirk Cousins in 2018, got extensions prior to the season. Prescott is coming off the best season of his four-year career throwing for 4,902 yards and 30 touchdowns. He enters fantasy draft season as a top-three option at quarterback in fantasy.