Raider Nation hasn’t had much to be excited about in the past few years. They began 2014 on an 0-4 run when their coach was fired, then they went on to go 0-10 and finish up at 3-13. New coach Jack Del Rio is expected to bring a calming effect to the team and get the team at least headed in the right direction. Bill Musgrave is the new offensive coordinator and he is expecting to put points on the board. Just at first glance the Raiders are young in particular at the skill positions, but very well could offer some real upside in 2015 fantasy football leagues:
Derek Carr on the Rise?
Derek Carr is the undisputed starter under center in Oakland. He was drafted in the 2nd round of 2014 and started immediately for the Raiders. He experienced some growing pains as a rookie but showed promise in a few games, while on the year his completion percentage was 58.1% in 2014 and will probably be about the same in 2015. He threw for 21 TDs and that should go up slightly with the addition of new weapons. Carr also threw for 12 interceptions but only 3 INT’s in the last 7 games of 2014. For now Carr isn’t a top tier QB for fantasy, but he’s a fine QB2 with considerable upside.
The Latavius Murray Show
There seems to be a small buzz in the fantasy realm for Latavius Murray. It will be Murray’s job to lose and he won’t be sharing carries with Darren McFadden, who is now in Dallas. Murray did rush for 424 yards on 82 carries for a 5.2 YPC average in 2014 with almost all of that coming at the end of the season, and while he didn’t exactly light the world afire, he showed he has the ability to be a featured runner. A closer look shows that 40% of those yards were on 5 carries, which taking those out would leave him with 245 yards on 77 carries. He may break out in 2015 but a shaky injury history and Roy Helu Jr. certainly have him on bust alert. That being said, he’s quite talented and the Raiders coaching staff envisions a “breakout” season from him.
Another Stud Rookie WR?
Amari Cooper is the best fantasy option the Raiders have. The rookie wide receiver will have plenty of targets and plenty of opportunities to excel in PPR leagues. My only hesitation is the Raiders being able to get the ball into the end zone. Michael Crabtree is also an interesting option to see if he can return to his old self. Cooper has serious WR1 upside, however, and is probably too talented and has too big of a role to fail as a WR2. Crabtree really lost a step last year but he was still only a full year removed from a bad Achilles injury. He reportedly looked great all summer and could be a nice surprise. You could take a flier on him late in drafts and be rewarded with solid WR3 value, potentially. Stocking up on Oakland players isn’t suggested, though, so if you’re picking one of their receivers, you might as well reach for Cooper.
Raiders Tight Ends Hit a Wall
Mychal Rivera is the leading TE for the Raiders and might be a decent streaming option for season long leagues. Rivera needs to capitalize more on the targets he receives but he’s not an elite talent and the Raiders did draft Clive Wilford. Rivera is probably more of a TE2 with limited upside, but for now he has the role to be more.
Janikowski Owns All
Sebastian Janikowski is still around and still pretty accurate as the raiders place kicker. He did miss 3 of his 22 attempts in 2014 with 2 those misses coming from 50+. If the theme of preseason holds up then Janikowski will see a lot more than 22 opportunities in 2015. Usually you’ll want a kicker who kicks indoors and/or operates out of a strong offense, but kickers that are paired with a decent offense that just can’t punch it into the end-zone are sometimes better. Drafting Janikowski isn’t exactly encouraged, but worse decisions can be made.
Kahlil Mack Leads Rising Raiders D
Oakland was dead last in scoring defense in 2014. They gave up 28.3 points per game and although they may see improvement in 2015 they are not worth the risk. They also play in a division with prolific offenses everywhere but in Oakland. That being said, they have a good amount of talent now and the defensive-minded Jack Del Rio won’t tolerate another last place finish. They’re still starting the year near the bottom, but don’t be shocked if they’re a streaming option you consider by the middle of the season.
Overall, trusting in Raiders in fantasy football generally isn’t the best idea. However, guys like Carr and Crabtree have some value and Murray and Cooper could be flat out studs. Regardless, draft Oakland players at your own risk.