Thu Sep 17 1:54pm ET
By JOSH DUBOW
AP Pro Football Writer
Las Vegas Raiders head coach Jon Gruden talks with quarterback Derek Carr during the second half of an NFL football game against the Carolina Panthers Sunday, Sept. 13, 2020, in Charlotte, N.C. (AP Photo/Brian Blanco)
Las Vegas Raiders running back Josh Jacobs (28) celebrates after scoring during the second half of an NFL football game against the Carolina Panthers Sunday, Sept. 13, 2020, in Charlotte, N.C. (AP Photo/Brian Blanco)
The only thing missing when the Las Vegas Raiders get the chance to show off their shiny new stadium will be the fans.
What was supposed to be a big celebration of the NFL's arrival in Las Vegas has been dampened a bit by the decision not to allow fans at Raiders games this season in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
While the national TV audience will be there for a high-profile matchup against Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints (1-0) on Monday night, the Raiders (1-0) won't have anyone cheering for them in the empty $2 billion stadium near the Las Vegas Strip.
''It still is as a football fan a cool feeling to be able to play on Monday night,'' quarterback Derek Carr said. ''We wish our city here, Las Vegas, we wish they could experience it with us. I'm sure they will be around somewhere. I'm sure there is a certain street or strip that they'll be on that our fans will be at. But I wish they could be there, but hopefully it still feels the same energy and all those kinds of things.''
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The Raiders have been waiting for this moment for years. They spent the past 25 seasons playing in the rundown Oakland Coliseum.
They were unable to get an agreement on a new stadium in the Bay Area and were blocked from moving to Los Angeles so ended up in the desert instead.
Owner Mark Davis pulled off what his father, Al, couldn't by getting the Raiders their own stadium, but he has said he won't attend games until the fans are allowed in next season.
''Mark Davis is the owner of this team and he's very passionate about our fan base,'' coach Jon Gruden said. ''We were so excited to have our debut in front of Raider fans here in Vegas. It's disappointing.''
The game marks the first time Saints coach Sean Payton and Gruden, who are old friends and colleagues, have been on opposite sidelines since Gruden left Tampa Bay after the 2008 season. Gruden was the Eagles offensive coordinator under coach Ray Rhodes when Payton was hired to his first NFL job as Philadelphia's quarterbacks coach in 1997.
''My office was basically a little corner couch in his office and I had just a cell phone,'' Payton recalled. ''But it was a chance to learn, really.''
The two coached rival NFC South teams when Payton got his first and only head job with New Orleans in 2006. They met six times, splitting 3-3.
The Raiders' offensive line did a stellar job protecting Carr in the opener despite losing starting right tackle Trent Brown after one series and backup Sam Young later in the first half. Backup guard Denzelle Good stepped in as the emergency tackle and fared well. Carr was under pressure on only 10% of his dropbacks for the game, the best rate in the league in Week 1, according to Pro Football Focus.
The Saints enter the game with a defensive front that has been among the NFL's best against the run the past couple of seasons. New Orleans has not allowed a 100-yard rusher in 44 consecutive games, going back to when Samaje Perine eclipsed that mark in November 2017.
Payton expects his run defense to be tested against Las Vegas, calling Gruden ''one of those coaches who does a great job staying committed to the running game ... It's something that's kind of followed Jon wherever he's been.
''I've worked with Jon and watched his preparation, the attention to detail in everything he does and there's always going to be a presence physicality-wise, running the football,'' Payton added.
Raiders back Josh Jacobs ran for 93 yards and three TDs and caught four passes for 46 yards in the opener.
While the Saints will be the first NFL team to have a road game in Las Vegas, Payton said that because of the coronavirus pandemic, he doesn't have to even concern himself with discussing guidelines for players in casinos that virtually never close.
''I don't have to make any rules. The league has done it, fortunately, for us,'' Payton said, noting that teams are supposed to be in a ''hard bubble'' while on road trips. ''We'll be in a secure area, period. So, it's not like you can just stroll down the lobby and roll some dice for an hour.''
The Raiders struggled to generate any sort of pass rush in the opener, getting just one sack and four quarterback pressures against Carolina. Free agent defensive tackle Maliek Collins was supposed to bolster the interior rush, but had little impact in his Raiders debut. Carolina also did a good job neutralizing Maxx Crosby off the edge. Vegas will need to be better this week up front to contain Drew Brees.
Five Waiver Wire Adds: Week 7
Baltimore Ravens running back Mark Ingram II's (ankle) MRI exam showed a mid- to high-ankle sprain that isn't considered serious, according to a source. With the Ravens on bye this week, head coach John Harbaugh said on Monday that Ingram will likely be back on Nov. 1 for the Week 8 game against the Steelers. Those types of ankle sprains can often sideline players for multiple weeks, so we wouldn't consider it a lock that the 30-year-old veteran will be ready for the Week 8 showdown with Pittsburgh. Rookie J.K. Dobbins and Gus Edwards would see more work in the backfield if Ingram is limited or out in Week 8, making them worth waiver wire pickups if you're looking two weeks into the future. Ingram has rushed the ball 50 times for 225 yards (4.5 yards per carry) and two touchdowns in six games in 2020.
Buffalo Bills WR John Brown (knee) wasn't 100 percent recovered from injury against the Kansas City Chiefs Monday, Oct. 19, according to head coach Sean McDermott.
Fantasy Spin: It may help to explain Brown's disappointing catch-less performance. He scored a touchdown in each of the first two games of the season but has clearly taken a backseat to Stefon Diggs and Cole Beasley. He'll be a risky FLEX play in Week 7, even against the New York Jets.
Los Angeles Rams PK Kai Forbath was placed on the Exempt/Commissioner Permission list Tuesday, Oct. 20.
Dallas Cowboys DE Randy Gregory was activated from the Exempt/Commissioner Permission list Tuesday, Oct. 20.
New Orleans Saints tight end Jared Cook was Drew Brees primary red zone threat while Michael Thomas remained sidelined, but with the All-Pro wideout expected back Sunday versus Carolina, Cooks time as a TE1 in season-long formats may have passed. While Cook managed to receive seven targets Week 1 when Thomas was alongside him, the veteran has been a touchdown-dependent option since then. In addition, the Panthers Defense has been stout against opposing tight ends this season, allowing just 221 yards and two touchdowns across six games. With a plethora of options at Brees disposal, Cook remains an appealing play, albeit a tenuous one that carries sizable risk.
New York Jets QB Mike White was designated as a protected practice squad player for Week 7 Tuesday, Oct. 20.
Pittsburgh Steelers WR Deon Cain, RB Trey Edmunds, DE Henry Mondeaux and RB Wendell Smallwood were chosen as protected practice squad players for Week 7 Tuesday, Oct. 20.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers PK Greg Joseph and DT Jeremiah Ledbetter were protected from selection off the practice squad for Week 7 Tuesday, Oct. 20.
Tennessee Titans LB Daren Bates, PK Tucker McCann, G David Quessenberry and QB Trevor Siemian were designated as protected practice squad players for Week 7 Tuesday, Oct. 20.
Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott was given a vote of confidence from head coach Mike McCarthy on Tuesday, confirming that the star running back would be the starter for Sundays contest against Washington. Elliott lost two fumbles Monday versus the Cardinals, ceding way to Tony Pollard at times, but with Andy Dalton once again to likely receive the start, Elliott will need to be relied upon for Dallas to have success offensively. Unfortunately for Elliott, the teams offensive line is heavily banged up due to injuries. Factoring that in on top of his fumble woes (five in 2020, four of which have been lost), DFS fantasy managers may want to look elsewhere Sunday, especially considering his price tag. Season-long managers can continue to role Elliott out and bank on his perpetual upside paying off.
Jacksonville Jaguars TE Ben Ellefson, LB Joe Giles-Harris, DB Doug Middleton and TE Eric Saubert were protected from selection off the practice squad for Week 7 Tuesday, Oct. 20.
Las Vegas Raiders PK Dominik Eberle, DE David Irving, DB Dylan Mabin and DE Chris Smith were chosen as the team's protected practice squad players for Week 7 Tuesday, Oct. 20.
Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson has made each of the five defenses that he has faced 2020 look rather pedestrian on his way to becoming the favorite to claim the NFLs MVP trophy this season. On paper, his matchup Sunday versus Arizona should be another such instance, which is backed up by his gaudy DFS price tag. But gleaning his numbers against the Cardinals over the past two seasons tells a different story; over their last four matchups, he has exceeded the 200-yard passing threshold just once and has not rushed for a touchdown in any of those outings. The Cardinals Defense ranks in the top half of the league in passing yards allowed per game this season (226.5), another notch in the belt of why DFS fantasy managers may want to consider other QB options during Week 7.
Cleveland Browns RB John Kelly, QB Kyle Lauletta, DE Cameron Malveaux and PK Matthew McCrane were chosen as protected practice squad players for Week 7 Tuesday, Oct. 20.
Denver Broncos LB Nigel Bradham, WR Fred Brown, RB Jeremy Cox and C Patrick Morris were designated as protected practice squad players for Week 7 Tuesday, Oct. 20.
Houston Texans DT Corey Liuget and C Greg Mancz were chosen as protected practice squad players for Week 7 Tuesday, Oct. 20.
Los Angeles Chargers wide receiver Keenan Allen (back) was last seen dealing with back spasms when he took the field versus the Saints last Monday. Despite that, head coach Anthony Lynn has reiterated that Allen will not be hampered come Sunday versus Jacksonville, a matchup that is set to work in Allens favor due to the 270.7 passing yards per game that the Jaguars Defense is allowing. With the emergence of Justin Herbert as both a downfield threat and consistent pocket passer, Allens season-long fantasy outlook is only on the rise after having averaged 12 targets through his first four games. His recent injury should give DFS fantasy managers pause, but so long as he is given the green light to suit up, season-long managers should consider starting him in most formats where he is rostered.
Atlanta Falcons QB Kurt Benkert, DE Austin Edwards, LB Edmond Robinson and WR Chris Rowland were designated as the team's four protected practice squad players for Week 7 Tuesday, Oct. 20.
Chicago Bears QB Tyler Bray was protected from selection off the practice squad for Week 7 Tuesday, Oct. 20.
Seattle Seahawks running back Chris Carson should continue to see an unimpeded path to RB1 duties this Sunday against the Cardinals with both Carlos Hyde (shoulder) and Rashaad Penny (knee) unlikely to suit up. Carson was limited to just eight carries in his most recent outing, but that was primarily due to the nature of the game flow; fantasy managers can expect to see him rack up his usual workload and then some against Arizona. Having amassed three rushing and three receiving scores so far this season, Carson has retained a considerable role in the Seattle offense, with Travis Homer a distant second to cutting into his workload. Carson is a must-start in season-long formats and should have some considerable DFS appeal.