The Oakland Raiders are a wasteland. Not just a fantasy football wasteland, but a wasteland, in general. They play on a baseball field, for fuck’s sake. A baseball field that spews sewage sometimes. They haven’t had a winning season since 2003 when they went to the Super Bowl and were taken to the woodshed by Tampa Bay. Al Davis, AKA a real-life Mr. Burns, has since passed on to the next plane and left the team to his son, Mark, who sports the worst haircut known to man. Do a Google image search for him right now. How can a (presumably) functioning adult have this haircut? It’s baffling. And horrifying. And amazing.
Over the offseason, the Raiders spent a shitload of cash because they had to, per league rules. They signed a ton of decent free agents, yet are still probably destined to find themselves in the cellar of the AFC West once the season is done. So it goes for the Raiders. Oh, and they may be moving to Texas soon, which definitely won’t be weird at all.
They drafted Derek Carr out of Fresno State in the second round this year, and there’s definitely no way a QB whose last name is “Carr” and came out of Fresno State could be an NFL bust, right? Carr has actually looked pretty decent in preseason, but Colt McCoy looked decent in preseason once upon a time, as well. I’m not even sure Colt McCoy is amongst the living anymore. Carr will start the season on the bench, because Oakland (for some reason) made a trade with Houston during the offseason to bring in veteran Matt “Pick Six” Schaub, who may have been the worst starting quarterback in football last season.
Schaub wasn’t always completely horrible. In fact, he used to be pretty good. Then, for whatever reason, he imploded last season in an epic fashion. Fresh off a 2012 season during which he threw for over 4,000 yards with 22 TDs and 12 interceptions, Schaub threw just 10 touchdowns with 14 picks a year ago in just 10 games. He got benched in favor of Case Keenum, who could not have a more Texas-sounding name if he tried. With the Raiders, Schaub will have worse weaponry with which to work than he did in Houston, which definitely bodes well for his chances at a bounce-back year. If you’re even considering rostering Schaub in fantasy to start this season, you should be caned.
In the backfield, Darren McFadden is back! His contract expired after last season and most expected the Raiders wouldn’t bother bringing him back, considering his body is made of wrapping paper. But they did! The shame is that McFadden used to be actually decently productive when healthy. He’s just never, ever, healthy. And during the times he has been healthy over the last two years, he’s been super ineffective, averaging 3.3 yards-per-carry. He’s never played more than 13 games in any season, which is about as red a flag as you’ll find with any player. You can put him on your roster and hold out hope that he’ll suddenly turn into Ryan Mathews and have a magically healthy season, but he won’t. You know he won’t.
One of the free agents they signed was Maurice Jones-Drew, who used to be pretty damn good. He led the NFL in rushing back in 2011 playing with a minor league team known as the Jacksonville Jaguars. Unfortunately, MJD is about to turn 30, which means instant death for running backs. Particularly running backs that have been run into the ground playing for shitty teams. I was surprised to see that he actually played in 15 games for the Jags last year. I just figured he’d ruptured his spleen in week six or something. He averaged 3.4 yards-a-tote, which is nearly a full yard shy of his previous career-low. Good times! He’s listed at 5’7″ and 210 pounds, but based on his new Raiders picture, he actually weighs about 210 pounds more than 210 pounds. Can’t wait to see him plod around in silver & black!
Another free agent pickup was wide receiver James Jones, whom you may remember from his time sparing everyone to death with the Packers. Jones somehow scored 14 touchdowns two years ago, which I’m pretty sure is the definition of “anomaly”. Sure, he’s played on a roster chock-full of solid pass-catchers, but his career-high for receiving yards in any season is 817, set last year. Now, presumably, he’s coming to Oakland as the No. 1 WR, which bodes terribly for this team’s chances. He’s a talented player that has really only tapped-into that potential in one of his eight seasons in the league. He’s worth a look in fantasy, especially if Matt Schaub can avoid throwing touchdowns to the other team.
Denarius Moore is still here, as is Rod Streater. Moore has been a useful fantasy commodity in the past, save for the fact that he’s “questionable” every single week. He’s a big-play threat that has served decently despite never playing with a passer worth a damn. Streater is the one with real breakout potential, as he led the Raiders with 888 receiving yards a year ago. He’s a big body with higher upside than anyone else on the offense, for sure. But again, if their quarterbacks blow, then it’s probably all moot.
All three of these receivers are worth taking a look at, but I’m not comfortable proclaiming any of them as “surefire weekly starters” or anything quite yet.
The tight end is Mychal Rivera, a big plodder that scored four times in 2013. His season-high for receiving yards last year was 54, which inspires nothing. Tight end is a crappy fantasy position, but you can surely find a better one than this fella out there.
Aaaaaaand writing this made me sad. Thanks, Raiders.