Fantasy V. Reality.
Sure the Oakland Raiders will look better on the field in 2014, but will it translate onto paper, or more specifically into fantasy points for your team? Well this is the VooDoo that I do do. Let us begin.
Oakland Raiders – 2014 Fantasy Primer
Let’s look at the QB position first. The Raiders traded a 6th round pick to the Houston Texans for Matt Schaub, who is now the ipso facto starter in Oakland. Previously to last season’s bottoming out in Houston Schaub had 5 straight seasons of elite performance with a 90+ QB rating but he is not, to coin a phrase, “fantasy friendly”. Schaub may indeed resurrect the Raider offence in reality but even in his prime the 33-year-old was a middle of the pack fantasy performer. The Raiders plan to ground and pound opponents on offense so Schaub’s responsibility will be more of a game manager, and therefore low-end QB2 material. He should be around the 20 to 25th QB off the board. PASS
The Raiders are very high on Derek Carr, the team’s 2nd round pick, but barring a “catastrophic event” Schaub will remain the starter until at least the Week 5 bye, and I think thereafter as well. Leave Carr off your radar for the time being.
The best way to sum up the Raider RB position is, “it’s complicated”. They made a bit of a splash by signing Maurice Jones-Drew, but the former Jaguar, who admitted contemplating retirement recently, will have to compete with the oft injured Darren McFadden for carries, at least initially(until McFadden gets hurt??). MJD was fantasy gold and one of the most productive backs in the league culminating with his 1606 yards rushing, and 374 yards receiving with 11 TDs in 2011, but since his Lisfranc injury in the 2012 season he has struggled to regain form. 2013 resulted in a paltry (for him) 1117 total yards, 5 TDs and a career low 3.4 YPC.
The riddle, wrapped in a heating pad, inside the training room that is Darren McFadden has confounded fantasy owners since his inception into the league. He can do it all. He finally broke out with Hue Jackson calling the plays back in 2010-2011. The guy had a combined stat-line of 336/1771/11TDs, 8 100 yard games and led the NFL with an impressive 5.3/YPC! BTW he also had 66/661/4TDs receiving, while only playing 20 games. The only knock on RUN DMC has been his ability, or lack thereof, to stay on the field. “If he can stay healthy” has become McFadden’s middle name in fantasy circles, and he has yet to play a 16 game season. However there is a theory circulating that improved O-line play, a commitment to the power running game, and a sharing of the workload will help both he and MJD stay fresh and regain their form. McFadden actually took less money to return to the Raiders this season because, he said, he felt like he owed the team and Raider fans.
Ok there are two ways to go about this, I love McFadbags so my heart tells me that If he can stay healthy and gets the bulk of the carries he can still be an elite back and a STEAL if he drops to the latter rounds, but my head says “are you crazy?, look who we’re talking about!, if anything McFadden will get hurt and MJD will get the bulk of the carries and he’ll be a STEAL if he falls to the latter rounds”. If you think either of these 2 scenarios will play out then we’re talking RB2 material.
I’m thinking that McFadden wins the starting job, but the situation calls for a RB by committee approach, sooo unless somebody wins the starting job decisively they are both RB3s. Whoa! I just noticed how wordy that was, sorry but like I said, IT’S COMPLICATED!
Moving on. Second-year RB Latavius Murray, who Raiders OC Greg Olsen stated has “the biggest upside” of all the RBs should get the short yardage/TD carries. CFL star RB and Grey Cup MVP Kory Sheets from Saskatchewan Roughriders will probably only see playing time if an injury to MJD or DMaC occurs (so you can count on him getting some playing time!).
FB Marcel Reece, I love this guy, he is a weapon that can go off at anytime. The underutilized 2 time Pro Bowler can do it all if given the opportunity. In fact with McFadden(surprise, surprise) and Jennings both injured last season he was forced to start Vs the Jets and had 19 carries for 123 yards with 1 TD (a 6.5 YPC average!) plus 2 catches for another 38 YDS. He finished the season with a stat line of 46/218/2 TDs rushing, and 32/331/2 TDs receiving. The Raiders say they plan to use him more, and there is even talk of getting him some TE reps in training camp, but I have a feeling that there just isn’t enough footballs to go around for him to have a fantasy impact in 2014 and that’s a SHAME.
James Jones was added from Green Bay and looks to be the starting WR1 for the team. The 30-year-old Jones had a league leading 14 TDs in 2012, but came back down to earth with 59/817/3 TDs LY. He provides a veteran presence for the younger group of receivers and may be Schaub’s go to guy. Expect an uptick in production this season from him but if you draft him higher than a WR3 you could get BUSTED.
Rod Streater, a 2012 undrafted FA has been a nice find for the Raiders, he had a 39/584/3 rookie campaign and followed that up with a respectable 60/888/4 TDs LY, and considering the messed up QB situation the team had last year that’s not too shabby! He is the WR2 and has moulded his game after his idol Andre Johnson even wearing the same number. Right now I think Streater will be the Raiders most productive receiver, and best fantasy producer. You may be able to snag him in the latter rounds, as he will probably be overlooked by other, none too savvy, fantasy owners who haven’t read this article or done their homework. Lay in the weeds for this guy he’ll make a great WR3 for your fantasy team and could end up being a STEAL.
Denarius Moore had 6 TDs in 13 games as a rookie and looked like he was a rising star but struggles the past two seasons have him on the hot seat. He had a 46/695/5TDs LY but that is a bit misleading. Raider coaches are down on him because of his regular drops and mental lapses. It was rumoured that the Raiders were prepared to trade him back in April and if that isn’t enough the addition of the also disappointing Greg Little should tell you a lot about how the Raiders view Moore heading into training camp. So unless he has a super preseason the super talented Moore may not even find himself on the roster come Week 1.
Greg Little is in the same leaky boat as Moore, the former 2nd rounder’s production has slipped every season in the league. He was released by Cleveland earlier this year, and considering their WR situation that says a LOT! Little averaged just 29 YPG with the Browns last season and is usually near the top of league in drops. Reggie’s thinking may be that getting cut by the Browns, and heading into a contract year is the just the elixer Little needed, making him worth the gamble.
Andre Holmes was a pleasant surprise LY with a 35/431/1 TD stat line and has impressed in OTAs this season. The 6′ 4″, 215 pound Holmes has 4.5 speed and could usurp Moore’s playing time and targets. While James Jones was nursing injuries it was Holmes not Moore that took the 1st team reps with Streater in OTAs, Schaub commented later that Holmes is a guy who can “stretch the field” and has playmaker ability. SLEEPER ALERT!
Second year TE Mychal Rivera had a respectable 38/407/4 TDs LY, but my sense is the Raiders may be leaning towards the bigger, more physical David Ausberry over Rivera, especially as they will be pounding the rock more from power sets. The hulking Ausberry goes 6′ 4″, 265 pounds and perhaps even has better speed then the more pedestrian Rivera, but Rivera has better hands, and route running ability. To me this is as simple as Ausberry playing in running situations, and Rivera seeing more time on 3rd down. Either way neither is worth a roster spot on your squad.
The Raider defense finished the season ranked 25th in fantasy points. The numbers were exacerbated somewhat by the time the unit spent on the field due to the problems the offense was having with…well everything! In an effort to upgrade the defense the team signed Justin Tuck, LaMarr Woodley, and Antonio Smith, they drafted Khalil Mack with their 1st pick of the draft and stole mammoth run stuffer Justin Ellis in the 4th round. It may take time for this unit to gel so the safe play is to leave them OFF your draft board for now, but look for streaming opportunities. However if you are in a pinch and stuck without a defense or in a bad match-up come week 1 you can conceivably pick them up off waivers and start them against the Jets in Week 1, if all goes well start them against the Texans in Week 2, and possibly even against the Dolphins in week 4 in London if you have to. By then you will have an idea of what kind of unit they will be and if they are worth keeping on your roster.
Stay tuned Nation!
Fantasy Fact: Pro Football Focus reported that the Raiders ran 54% of their offensive plays while being behind on the scoreboard, considering that their record was 4-12 that’s actually not bad at all and bodes well for the 2014 season. For instance Washington was last at 71%; the Colts 53%, and the 49ers were 1st at 19%. This is an important fantasy statistic to consider when choosing streaming options because teams trailing on the scoreboard call pass 68% of the time, and a whopping 75% in the 4th quarter!
If you liked that read 2014 Oakland Raiders Preview,”This is the year”: http://justblogbaby.com/2014/07/25/2014-oakland-raiders-preview-this-is-the-year/