So, you’re a lifelong fan of the Silver and Black who also enjoys the great American pastime of playing fantasy football. You love your team but just wish JaMarcus Russell would put up numbers that would make Rich Gannon drool.
Well, since Gannon’s career has come to an end, there really hasn’t been any Raider who could be considered a fantasy stud. Fear not! There are still Raiders worth a spot on your roster.
Here’s how I rank ‘em.
The Potential Studs
Darren McFadden – Run-DMC’s rookie season was much ado about nothing due to injuries. None the less, he still led the team in rushing touchdowns, averaged 4.4 yards a carry, 9.8 yards per catch and was second on the team with 29 receptions. McFadden has all the makings of a potential fantasy stud. After six long years, Raider fans could finally have a keeper!
Zach Miller – He was Russell’s go-to-guy in 2008 with a team leading 55 grabs and 778 receiving yards. When a tight end is averaging 13.9 yards per catch, you know he has big play potential. The problem is that it seems to be Miller Time everywhere else on the field except the red zone. Zach turned into Screech once the Raiders were inside the 20-yard line. With only one touchdown in ’08, Miller must increase his scoring to be considered among the fantasy elite at the tight end position.
Michael Bush – It is going to be difficult to find carries in the Raider backfield in 2009, but Bush proved to Tom Cable that he must get his touches. Perhaps the best pure runner on the roster, Bush put up solid numbers in limited field time. His 177-yard, two touchdown effort to close out ’08 is still fresh in the minds of Raider Nation. The Raiders have the chance to produce two thousand yard rushers with Bush and McFadden this year. I wouldn’t call Bush a sleeper just yet but I’m advising not to sleep on him as a steal if he’s still around late in your draft.
Chaz Schilens – Schilens came on late in ’08 and was looking great in training camp until he went down with a broken bone in his foot. Before his injury, Chaz was Russell’s go-to-guy. Right now he is a gamble since his health is a concern, but once he’s back there might not be another wide receiver worth owing on the Raider roster.
JaMarcus Russell – No, Russell is not going to threaten Drew Brees for fantasy supremacy, but he does look to be improved from last season. Russell must continue his solid play that he ended ’08 with to be more than just a serviceable fantasy reserve. Despite putting up the ball 368 times last year, JaMarcus only threw 8 interceptions. However, his mere 13 touchdowns and 12 fumbles make him a big roll of the dice on any given week.
Johnnie Lee Higgins – Higgins led all Raider wide receivers with 22 catches in ’08. Not great numbers but when combined with his production in the return game, Higgins netted a total of 7 touchdowns last season. He led the team with 4 receiving TDs and returned 3 kicks for scores. Hard to call this guy a sleeper after a season like that, but there is no way that he‘ll be an early round selection.
Javon Walker – According to reports, he could be back to his Pro Bowl form this year. After signing a deal worth $55 million he caught just 15 passes and found the end zone just once in 2008. Until he produces, I’d suggest keeping your roster Walker-free for now.
The Defense – Against the pass, the Nnamdi Asomugha led secondary is always up to speed. Against the run, the Kirk Morrison led front seven is always hitting new lows. The 49ers exposed the Raiders run defense once again in just the second preseason game with 275 yards on the ground.
Darrius Heyward-Bey – Oakland Mayor Ron Dellums drafted DHB in the Mayoral Face-Off last week. He might have an explosive game or two as a rookie, but I wouldn’t get your expectations too high for him this season.
Want to really roll the dice? Here are a few guys with the potential to produce when called upon in 2009.
Justin Fargas – He has led the team in rushing the last three years but he’s slowly slipping down the depth chart. You never want to count this guy out and Mayor Dellums has him on his roster too. Hey, if he’s good enough for the Mayor of Oakland, you know he’s going to be good for a couple big games this season. Use Fargas wisely is my only advice.
Louis Murphy – Murphy might be the best receiver on the roster a year from now. No joke. He’s looked great in the preseason and could be starting on opening day. After it is all said and done, Louis might be the best value to be found as he’s sure to be available in the late rounds or even on the waiver wire.
Sebastian Janikowski – The good news is that Seabass can get you points for distance. He attempted 7 field goals from 50-yards or longer last year. The bad news is that he only made 3 of those kicks from that distance; the further the kick, the worse his accuracy becomes. Draft him at your own risk.
We’ll keep tabs on Mayor Dellums in the Mayoral Face-Off this year. He’s got a rivalry game to start the season against San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom.
You can depend on JBB to keep you informed on roster moves, injuries and all your fantasy info for the 2009 season.
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Tags: Chaz Schilens Darren McFadden Darrius Heyward-Bey Gavin Newsom JaMarcus Russell Javon Walker Johnnie Lee Higgins Justin Fargas Louis Murphy Michael Bush Rich Gannon Ron Dellums Sebastian Janikowski Zach Miller