Fantasizing About: The Oakland Raiders
Fantasizing About is a look at fantasy components of all 32 teams, all to get you prepped for your draft – and the season. By examining the following positions: QB, RB, WR, TE, Special Teams, Defense, and Kicker, this series will tell help you decide who is a sleeper and who should be sliding down your draft board . Note: We will be providing frequent revisions as injuries, free agency signing, and camp performances shake out.
The Raiders are an interesting team because from afar they perennially appear to be a fantasy wasteland. But with a new man at the helm in the huddle, are they a little more fantasy viable?
It’s hard to believe Jason Campbell has worse receiving options than Devin Thomas and Santana Moss but that appears to be the case. Campbell does have several things in his favor: a) a break from talent sapping Jim Zorn b) a new offensive coordinator in Hue Jackson c) a pretty weak schedule (the NFC West falls into their laps and they get the chiefs twice, among others) and most importantly, d) an improved offensive line. Plus, he has one of the most talented tight ends in the league. Oh, and one more: the Raiders may not be done with setting their WR corps. (There’s still a 36 year old dude named T.O. that would be a perfect fit.) Maybe Campbell is a decent fantasy pick. Still, I’d put him in QB 2, late round range until he proves he can turn his WRs into weapons. Just keep a close eye out because it could very well happen.
Campbell’s backup, Bruce Gradkowski is a more than serviceable QB with a strong intangible: leadership. Not that Campbell lacks it, but he’s just more of a quiet unassuming guy. So injury or real difficulty adjusting to the Jackson offense and Gradkowski is waiting in the wings. But he’s not a guy that should be drafted, even in the deepest of leagues.
How he wears the silver and black remains to be seen.
If there’s one team that’s the poster child for RBBC (running back by committee) over the past few years it’s the Raiders. Now with Justin Fargas off to greener pastures, it’s all about Darren McFadden and Michael Bush. Conventional wisdom would say McFadden is due for a breakout year with the aforementioned improved offensive line and all, but Bush is a stronger runner right up Tom Cable’s alley. Still, if McFadden can finally live up to the hype and consistently pop long ones he could be a big steal as a RB2..or even RB3. Michael Bush is probably risky at RB3, particularly in PPR leagues, but he’ll probably get a lot of goal line touches for those in touchdown leagues.
Here’s where things get dicey, Raiders fans. Well, here’s the good news. Darrius Heyward Bey will improve on last year’s numbers. The bad news is they were: 9 catches, 124 yards, 1 TD. That’s for the entire 16-game whole season. Louis Murphy was a minor breakout guy last year, posting up 524 yards and 4 TDs all with the worst quarterback in the league (no, not arguably). Unlike Bey, Murphy exhibited good breakaway speed and a decent attitude. But Murphy is still young, and much like Johnny Knox in Chicago, doesn’t not have limitless talent. Chaz Schilens is the other WR in the mix. While many say Schilens has the most ability, he’s had two surgeries on the same foot (one that kept him out until Week 10 last season, and the other during this offseason). Even with the much improved Campbell, don’t expect any of these guys to do much. Now if the Raiders add Terrell Owens, which is quite possible, then we’ll talk about him and these young guys are potential fantasy options. Otherwise, stay away from Oakland wide receivers in the draft, but keep Murphy top of mind for waiver wire potential. .
Zach Miller is the Raiders fantasy golden ticket, the only player we have the upmost fantasy confidence in. Miraculously Miller had 805 yards last year. Expect a huge improve with Campbell at the helm as Miller should truly be his number one option. If you can snag Miller as the 9th or 10th TE, you’ll be getting a real steal.
Miller’s ready for his close-up
Sebastian Janikowski signed the richest kicker contract in history during the off-season, and it was much deserved. The now consistent veteran only missed from 47, 57, and 66 yards last year. The fact that he’s even being trotted out for a 66-yarder tells you everything. Even so Janikowski should only be considered if the kickers on offensive juggernauts are already taken by your last round selection (which is definitely when you should be picking your kicker). Still, settling for Sebastian would still be a victory.
Led by Nnamdi Asomugha, the Raiders passing defense was Top 10 in the league last season. Add to that a new-look front seven, led by veteran Richard Seymour and first round draft pick Rolando McClain at middle linebacker, and the Raiders could cause real problems for opposing offenses. Considering their weak schedule, we expect the Raiders to increase their forced turnovers from last season.