2021 Fantasy Football Las Vegas Raiders Preview

by Davis Peng

Welcome to our AFC West 2021 Fantasy Football Preview; we'll be taking a look at the 2021 Fantasy Football Las Vegas Raiders preview today. With mandatory minicamps officially underway, it will be Fantasy Football season before you know it. We at Fantasy Six Pack provide our team previews to make you as prepared as possible for your draft and the upcoming season.

The Las Vegas Raiders weren't fondly remembered in 2020, and it all started with their first-round draft pick Henry Ruggs. In no way am I saying he is a draft bust. Instead, this pick reminded us that the Raiders would make Raider moves. Whether it's in Oakland or Las Vegas, the Raiders will always be the Raiders.

Under their third year with Head Coach John Gruden, the Raiders have finally made it to 8-8. This is their first non-losing record under Gruden, and they did it respectably. As much as I like to poke fun at the Raiders, I believe things are looking better in the 2021 Fantasy Football Las Vegas Raiders preview.

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2021 Fantasy Football Las Vegas Raiders Preview

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Derek Carr is an unsung hero for the Raiders performing at a respectable level. He finished his 2020 season with a career-high in passing yards, 4,103 yards, to go with 27 touchdowns to only 9 interceptions. These aren't game-breaking numbers, but they tell a story of efficiency and growth in the system.

Coming into the 2021 season at the age of thirty, Carr will need to turn the corner if he wants to be viewed as a franchise quarterback. With two seasons left on his contract, he will only have two chances left to prove that he's the guy.

Both of his primary wide receiver weapons, Bryan Edwards and Henry Ruggs, are expected to take a step forward due to off-season training and maturity. I expect that Carr is in a prime situation to put up a career year.

Carr will be a viable streaming option in 2021 because he plays in a division against the Chargers and Chiefs. This puts him in at least four shootout games a season. He also has another four to five games where he faces high-powered offenses with the Raiders defense still being young and finding its identity. I expect them to be exposed early and often, allowing Derek Carr to play catch up.

As of now, I consider Carr a bottom-end QB2 with relevant streaming weeks. Carr is being considered a QB3, and at those prices, he is a complete steal. Carr had 9 QB1 level games in 2020. Pick him up in any Superflex league and reap the rewards.

Running backs

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Josh Jacobs is entering his third season as the lead back for the Raiders, putting up 306 touches in the 2020 NFL season. Jacobs finished the 2020 season as RB8 in half-PPR. Due to the addition of Kenyan Drake, Jacobs is currently being ranked as a borderline RB2/Flex play.

If the rankings and ADP stay where they are, I have Jacobs as one of the best value pick-ups for the 2021 NFL season. Expect Jacobs to keep the majority of touches with a pace of 280+ over the 17 week season.

During the off-season, Kenyan Drake was added to the Raiders after the Arizona Cardinals experiment didn't pan out. He is set to assume the change of pace third-down role. Drake is a clear-cut successor to the Devontae Booker role alone, with Jalen Richard chipping in receiving duties. This is where he succeeded in the past while playing for the Miami Dolphins.

Drake is a good dual-threat player who can catch defenses off guard. With Jacobs wearing down defenses, I expect Drake to capitalize on some touchdowns and backfield receptions. This should give him a healthy body of work with approximately 170+ touches. If he can stay uninjured through the season, consider Drake to be an eleventh-round value.

Jalen Richard and Theo Riddick are no threat to Jacobs or Drake. They are backups if either Jacobs or Drake sustain an injury. At that point, I'd only want the uninjured of the two and none of these guys. Keep Richard and Riddick off your radars unless you're in a very deep league.

I have written a Best Ball article that features both Jacobs and Drake. You can view it here.

Wide Receivers

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The 2020 Raiders wide receivers are not fondly remembered as they were one of the few teams that had an entire wide receiver core finish under 900 yards each. With leading man Nelson Agholor leaving to join the New England Patriots, we hope to see one of the other wide receivers step up.

I see value in this receiving group as none of the players are ranked in the Top 100 in Fantasy Football this season. They have the athletic talent, an entire training camp, and an efficient quarterback.

Last year's twelfth overall pick of the 2020 NFL Draft, Henry Ruggs, was quite the letdown when looking at his season-ending numbers. Finishing with 452 receiving yards and two touchdowns is an acceptable reason to fade Ruggs. I am not a promoter of speedster wide receivers, but I will say that the Round Eleven price for Ruggs is worth taking a shot on.

Ruggs only started 12 games last season and only had 26 receptions but still had more than 450 yards for 17.4 yards per reception. These are respectable numbers when you know the injury situation with Henry and Carr's conservative playstyle as a passer. I expect Carr's and Ruggs' chemistry to be better this season, along with more aggressive pass attempts to Ruggs. Ruggs is a dart throw that I believe everybody should be taking a chance on at his current price.

Other Receivers

Bryan Edwards, like Ruggs, came into the season injured and didn't have a productive season. Only starting three games in the 2020 season, Edwards finished with eleven catches upon fifteen targets. At this point, you can mulligan Edwards's rookie year and focus on things we do know.

Edwards was projected as a third-round draft pick without participating in the NFL Combine and coming off an injury. When you think about that, this means he could have been a second-rounder in the 2020 draft. Edwards has been receiving excellent reviews in OTAs, which means he is currently healthy. This is what held him back last year. Take that pop shot at his fourteenth-round price. 

Free-agent acquisition John Brown is 31 years old this year and on his fourth NFL team. This is a veteran addition that has some promise for the Raiders. Assuming that Brown is on the team to fill in the deep threat role vacated by Agholor, we can assume some targets that will go his way.

Brown, to me, is a one-trick speedster that will get some looks and is only valuable if the rest of the receiving options fall apart. I do not expect Brown to take anybody's job via talent but rather via opportunity. Therefore, Brown is not a player I would consider stashing but rather waiting on for waivers in case of injuries. This changes if your league is of the super-deep variety.

I don't have many expectations for Renfrow. He is the odd man out unless there are repeat injuries like there were in 2020. Subsequently, he would then be a deep stash addition for shootout games only in three-receiver or more leagues. I would much rather have Brown before grabbing Renfrow.

Tight Ends

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Darren Waller is the cream of the crop on the Raiders team. Finishing back-to-back seasons with over 1,100 receiving yards, it is hard to deny that Waller is not the focal point of the passing attack.

People who could get Waller at his sixth/seventh-round ADP last year will not enjoy that luxury this time around. Waller is currently in the old Travis Kelce second-round ADP for this season.

If you value the tight end position that high, I'd say he is definitely in the running to finish as a top-three tight end on the season. Lastly, suppose the Raiders get a more balance pass attack. This could cause Waller's numbers to pull back a bit. 

Final Verdict

The Raiders are going to find their identity this year as a team. A lot of the players offensively and defensively are young and haven't played with each other long. My expectation for the Raiders is to get their first winning season under Gruden and provide a few upsets this season. Put me down for 9-8 record with them trading one win with each division member.

Thanks for reading the 2021 Fantasy Football Las Vegas Raiders Preview! Check out the rest of our 2021 Fantasy Football content from our great team of writers!

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