With the upcoming season looming on the horizon, and training camps just about a week away, it’s time to start thinking about your Fantasy Football team. The Oakland Raiders are definitely not the first team that comes to mind when you want major fantasy points, but there are some intriguing possibilities this year on both the offensive and defensive sides of the ball. Let’s break down each position and take a look at the prospects.
1. Quarterbacks: Currently, Oakland Raiders Head Coach Dennis Allen has stated that Matt Flynn will be the starter headed into training camp. Unfortunately, we cannot count on Flynn being the starter in week one. This is due to the fact that Flynn only has two true starts to his career. He has not shown enough to the football public to actually warrant the title of starting quarterback. His attempt to be the starter with the Seattle Seahawks failed miserably in 2012. At best, Flynn may warrant a roster spot on your fantasy team’s depth chart as a reserve. This, however, is only if you want to take the chance on him. Since there is no clear starter for the Oakland Raiders, it is only right to make sure you watch to see who will break out in training camp and pre-season. Keep an eye on Terrelle Pryor as he attempts to prove to the coaches that he is ready to take the next step. Pryor is a lot like his counterpart across the bay (Kaepernick), and he can score with his arm and legs. Fourth round draft pick Tyler Wilson is also somebody to cast a glance toward. He had a great college career, and he has already been impressing the Raiders coaches. He has great arm strength with quick and decisive throws. The other quarterback on the roster is Matt McGloin. He may not get as much playing time as the others, and that makes him a huge wild-card to even make the team.
2. Running Back: Clearly this is the easiest position to pick from off the Raiders roster. Darren McFadden will be the starter. However, the biggest question that has been plaguing McFadden over the past few years is his ability to stay healthy. Offensive Coordinator Greg Olson is installing, or re-installing, the power run scheme. This scheme fits McFadden’s attributes, and McFadden will be able to find his running lanes easier. We have all seen his lights-out and explosive abilities, but we haven’t been able to witness them over a full season yet. McFadden is good enough to warrant a #2 running back roster spot or flex option. Depending on how things progress throughout the season, a look could be given to either Rashad Jennings or Latavius Murray. Though, these two would only warrant a waiver wire pick-up if McFadden were to go down. In deeper leagues, Jennings or Murray would be solid reserves, in the event that McFadden were to get injured. Another running back to consider may be Marcel Reece. He’s been one of the Raiders more exciting scoring elements. He gets a lot of looks on third down and goal line situations. He has very good hands and catches his share of passes. If your league gives points for each reception, he is an option to consider.
3. Wide Receiver: As it stands, Denarius Moore is the #1 receiver, Rod Streater is #2, Jacoby Ford is a slot option, with Juron Criner and Conner Vernon as fill in players. This group has question marks written all over it as far as fantasy options go. There is no clear quarterback to throw to these receivers yet. The element of cohesiveness for this group is relatively unknown, and they all have problems with consistency. Denarius Moore is clearly the only wide receiver that will warrant a draft selection, and he will more than likely end up being a #3 receiver, flex option, or reserve/bench player. Basically this all hinges upon who will be throwing the ball at quarterback, and Moore’s ability to gel with that person. Streater, Ford, Criner, and Vernon will all be free agents on the waiver wire. They will only warrant a pick-up if the Raiders passing game improves, and that won’t be known until about week three or four of the regular season.
4. Tight End: This is not an easy position to discuss for the Raiders. Brandon Myers was the leading receiver last year, but he is no longer with the team. Ultimately, I don’t believe any of the players available at the tight end position will be drafted. David Ausberry, Richard Gordon, Nick Kasa, and Mychal Rivera will all be fighting for a starting job. There is a good possibility that one or two of these players won’t have a roster position at the end of the pre-season. From a fantasy stand point, I wouldn’t waste a draft pick on any of them. They’ll be on the waiver wire.
5. Kicker: Arguably, this has been the best fantasy position for the Oakland Raiders for the past 5 years. Sebastian Janikowski has only missed 7 field goals in the last two seasons. Five of those misses were from 59 yards or more. The other two were from 50 yards and 49 yards. That’s a pretty good track record if you ask me. Seabass will be one of the first kickers taken in any fantasy draft this year. No matter what, he will get his chances to get points.
6. Defense: It’s no secret, the defense received an overhaul. In the case of fantasy football, this defensive team is virtually an unknown. On the bright side, the new players brought in will improve the defensive play. The dismal run defense is a thing of the past. There will be more interceptions and defensive scoring opportunities. The Raiders will prove to be a top 15 defense this year. As such, I would draft this defense, but I would protect myself by keeping them on the bench until it proves itself.
7. Individual Defensive Players (IDP): Fantasy leagues are utilizing the IDP features more often. Since this is the case, it is worth discussing the top five defensive players that I think will have an impact in these types of leagues. The biggest asset that IDP players bring is the ability to tackle and cause fumbles. The strongest IDP’s are linebackers and safeties. The Raiders have some hungry and very aggressive players at both of those positions. Nick Roach will be the starting middle linebacker and quarterback of the defense. Roach is a very good tackler who is very good at wrapping-up. He’ll also see his chances to get sacks and interceptions.
Along with Roach, both Kevin Burnett and Sio Moore are going to see a lot of playing time. They both hit very hard and are smart against the run. Burnett had more than 100 tackles in 2012 with the Miami Dolphins, and Moore averaged over 75 tackles in his last three seasons at Connecticut. Moore will also fill in as an edge rusher in this new defensive scheme, and this will give him a chance to get sack points. Safeties Charles Woodson and Tyvon Branch are going to be big IDP point scorers. With the improved linebackers and defensive backs, Woodson and Branch will be able to take bigger chances at interceptions. I predict that both Woodson and Branch will score twice each in 2013.
All in all, there will be big improvements for the Oakland Raiders this year. This will translate into better Fantasy Football play. A lot of the Raiders players will be available on the waiver wire late into the season, so Fantasy Team Owners will have a chance to watch Raiders player’s stock rise in 2013. Just be aware that there is a lot of risk when considering to draft a player off of the Oakland Raiders, but that risk will translate into a sleeper reward or two.
Tags: Charles Woodson Conner Vernon Darren McFadden David Ausberry Denarius Moore Fantasy Football Jacoby Ford Juron Criner Kevin Burnett Latavius Murray Marcel Reece Matt Flynn Matt McGloin Mychal Rivera Nick Kasa Nick Roach Oakland Raiders Rashad Jennings Richard Gordon Rod Streater Sebastian Janikowski Sio Moore Terrelle Pryor Tyler Wilson Tyvon Branch