No team had a more disappointing year last year than the Oakland Raiders. In 2016, the Oakland Raiders, led by MVP candidate Derek Carr, shocked the world and went 12-4.
Unfortunately, Carr went down with a broken leg Week 16; ruining the Raiders' Super Bowl chances. They ended up losing an ugly game to the Houston Texans in the first round. In 2017, the Raiders were a popular pick for the Super Bowl. They had drafted well, made smart decisions in the off-season and looked ready to go.
Unfortunately, nothing went right for Oakland. Derek Carr tried to come back too soon from a transverse fracture. Amari Cooper never got it going and Marshawn Lynch wasn't their saving grace. They finished the season 6-10 and fired HC Jack Del Rio and OC Todd Downing.
Now, in one of the most polarizing moves of the off-season, Jon Gruden is back as coach for Oakland. Many people have different opinions on how Gruden is going to coach, but I don't think he's going to do well. He had a very old-fashioned approach to the off-season, saying he wants to play like it's the 2000s. He is certainly living up to his words, signing many guys well past their prime. Regardless, Oakland is one of the most interesting teams to follow leading up to 2018.
2018 Fantasy Football Oakland Raiders Preview
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Derek Carr has brought much needed stability to the #Raiders quarterback position over the past few seasons ☠️
— PFF OAK Raiders (@PFF_Raiders) July 3, 2018
- Derek Carr
- Connor Cook
I might count as one of the few people left fighting this battle, but I still believe Derek Carr is a good quarterback; especially with good pass protection.
Last year, according to Pro Football Focus, Carr's passer rating when under pressure was 60 points lower than otherwise hurried circumstances. This was the greatest difference of 37 qualifying quarterbacks. In 2016, Carr enjoyed a clean pocket much more than last year. To improve, both the offensive line and Carr need effective changes.
It's unreasonable to think the offensive line can protect Carr on all plays, but he was under constant pressure in 2017. That said, Carr falls short of the demands of his position in extending plays. Teams exploit this flaw and continuously blitz - no matter the down. Another factor which led to Carr's down year was that he returned too quickly from a back injury and it clearly affected him for the duration.
He was much more nervous when pressured and moved around less, signaling that he couldn't take damage to his back. Finally, Todd Downing was a very bad offensive coordinator. He frequently called screens and very short passes, even when they weren't working. He never could adapt to a situation and Carr had visible frustration with Downing on several occasions. I'm expecting a bounce-back year from Derek Carr.
When it comes to forcing missed tackles, it's Marshawn Lynch, and it's everybody else. pic.twitter.com/UrSRGGnM07
— PFF Fantasy Football (@PFF_Fantasy) May 1, 2018
- Marshawn Lynch
- Doug Martin
- Jalen Richard
Past evidence shows that Jon Gruden loves to feed his No. 1 running back. Over his coaching years, Gruden's lead backs averaged over 1,200 yards per season. Plus, none of those guys are household names. Michael Pittman is the only one who started more than two consecutive years for Gruden.
This is good news for Marshawn Lynch. He was better than I expected last year. He carried the ball 200+ times with a 4.3 yards average. However, he's 32 years old. At this stage in a running back's career, they can break down at any time. Many people, including myself, didn't expect Beast Mode to receive 200 carries last year. For redraft fantasy, Lynch is a top-25 option due to the number of carries we can expect.
In the past 2 years, Jalen Richard has been Oakland's main pass-catching back. However, that type of role was only developing in the early 2000s, so I guess there's a chance Jon Gruden never uses Richard. I expect that he will nonetheless. Richard can have value as a dynasty stash.
A look back at our #2 fantasy game for a wide receiver in 2017 - Amari Cooper's dominant performance against KC in Week 7 🔥
— PFF OAK Raiders (@PFF_Raiders) July 23, 2018
- LWR: Jordy Nelson
- RWR: Amari Cooper
- SWR: Martavis Bryant
Jordy Nelson signed a 2 year, 15 million dollar deal with the Oakland Raiders this season. Nelson is a possession receiver that can still produce. He was one of the best receivers in the league for fantasy with Aaron Rodgers. When Rodgers broke his collarbone, Nelson was awful with Brett Hundley. Nelson is around the 40th receiver off the board in both standard and PPR. Considering he should see 80 targets, I love that value.
Amari Cooper had a very bad year last year. After going over 1,000 yards twice in two years, Cooper failed to reach 700 in 2017. Outside of a 200-yard receiving game against Kansas City, Cooper never got anything going. After three years in the league, he continues to struggle with inconsistency and drops. Last year took the cake. Looking ahead to 2018, I expect Cooper to be better. He can be a top-25 option this year.
Martavis Bryant faces a possible suspension to start the year. Various reports say that he expects to not make it through training camp before a suspension hits. If he stays on the squad, he could have big-play value.
What is Jared Cook's ceiling in the Oakland offense? pic.twitter.com/TJKZVuin1Y
— PFF Fantasy Football (@PFF_Fantasy) July 23, 2018
- Jared Cook
- Derek Carrier
Jared Cook had a reasonably good season in 2017. He went 54-688-2 last year. We expect him to have a similar role this year. Cook showed very good flashes, like his incredible catch against the Kansas City Chiefs in their victory last year. In redraft, Cook can be a streamer option.
The Oakland Raiders have all the tools to be a top-half offense in the NFL. But, their offense will only go as far as Jon Gruden takes them.
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