Veteran quarterback Derek Carr has to be one of the NFL offseasonís
biggest winners as the team completely revamped their wide receiver
group for the better. The biggest addition is obviously one of the
leagueís top overall players, Antonio Brown, who comes to
the team after a Hall of Fame-level career in Pittsburgh. At 31
years old once the season starts, Brown is certainly past his physical
prime, but heís still performing at an elite level and will
easily step in and be the best pass catcher Carr has ever had the
pleasure of throwing the ball to. In addition, the Raiders added
Tyrell Williams from division rival Los Angeles, along with veterans
Ryan Grant and J.J. Nelson and Clemson rookie Hunter Renfrow.
It wasnít all good news this offseason, however, as Carr
did lose tight end Jared Cook, who led the team with 896 yards
and six touchdowns, as well as Jordy Nelson who finished the 2018
season strong after a very slow start.
It seems like a long time ago, but itís worth considering
that Carr was coming off of offseason surgery for a broken leg heading
into the 2018 season, so he wasnít exactly at full strength
to start the year. He finished 18th in total scoring at the position,
but just 25th out of the 37 QBís who started at least eight
games in points per game.
Carr avoided the Raiders drafting a QB, but this is likely still
a ďmake or breakĒ year for him. He wonít be
drafted in most fantasy drafts, but heís the kind of player
who does have the upside to be a valuable fantasy asset in two-quarterback
formats or as a streaming option in single-quarterback formats.
The first back selected in the 2019 NFL Draft was Alabama running
back Josh Jacobs. Jacobs landed in one of the best possible situations
in terms of likely playing time as he joins a backfield that lost
Marshawn Lynch and only has competition from subpar veteran Doug
Martin and pass catching specialist Jalen Richard.
The question about Jacobs is whether or not heís built to
be an every-down back at the NFL level. Jacobs split touches all
three years in college and never eclipsed even 650 rushing yards
in a season for the Crimson Tide. His yards per carry were impressive
and he was a reasonably useful pass catcher, but he only touched
the ball a total of 299 times on offense in his three college
years combined. Sure, Alabama had other talented backs for him
to compete with so some of his lack of usage can be written off
due to the team likely just wanting to keep their players healthy,
but itís also a bit concerning that he wasnít able
to completely run away with the lionís share of the teamís
running back touches.
If heís able to stay healthy, thereís almost no way
that Jacobs doesnít finish as at least an RB2. If heís
as good as the Raiders seem to believe he is, and they feature him
in a way that would justify them selecting him in the first round
of the NFL Draft, then thereís even a chance that he sneaks
in as a fantasy RB1 this season.
It feels like heís been around forever, but would it surprise
you to hear that Doug Martin is only 30 years old? Yeah, heís
only one year older than Mark Ingram and heís a whopping six
years younger than Frank Gore. Thatís not to say that his
best years are yet to come, but perhaps Martin isnít quite
as close to retirement as we mightíve believed.
Even if he is in the league for a few more years, though, Martinís
effectiveness makes him a tough player to trust for fantasy purposes.
He barely finished as a top-50 back in fantasy points per game
in 2018 as he was stuck on the depth chart behind Marshawn Lynch
for most of the season. He did, however, eclipse 100 rushing yards
in each of Oaklandís final two games, with 21 carries in
each of those contests.
Martin was practically a non-factor prior to the Raidersí
Week 7 bye, then saw nine or more carries in each game to finish
the season, averaging 14.5 carries per game over that span, but
saw more than two targets just twice.
Martin seems to be a ďGruden-likeĒ player, but the team
did invest a first round pick in rookie Josh Jacobs, so donít
expect Martin to be a significant fantasy contributor unless Jacobs
goes down. Sure, Martin will probably see between five to ten touches
per game, depending on Jacobsí health, but his main value
is in the fact that the team does not have another proven runner
on the roster. If Jacobs were to go down with injury, look for Martin
to step up and contribute a few fantasy relevant games just due
to high usage in this stone age-like Raiders offense.
Running back Jalen Richard caught a career-high 68 passes for
608 yards in 2018 - good enough for seventh-most receptions among
running backs. In fact, Richard was one of only a few running
backs who caught more passes (68) than he had carries (55).
This obviously makes Richard one of the most affected players
by PPR scoring formats. PPR makes Richard a viable depth option
on fantasy rosters, but heís almost completely useless in
The Raiders drafted rookie Josh Jacobs, which certainly hurts
Doug Martin, but it likely doesnít affect Richard all that
much. Jacobs is an above average pass catcher coming out of college
but heís by no means elite in that area, which should mean
that Richard keeps most of his role as the teamís primary
pass catcher out of the backfield.
Rumors of Antonio Brownís demise have been greatly exaggerated.
Despite teammate JuJu Smith-Schusterís breakout season, Brown
quietly led the NFL in touchdown receptions with 15 in 2018, including
a near-1,300-yard season on 104 receptions. Brown caught over 100
passes for the sixth straight season, extending his own NFL record
in that category. Simply put, Brown continues to be a monster producer
and itís going to be jarring to see him suiting up for a new
team this season as he heads across the country to Oakland.
Brownís huge season has been downplayed by some analysts
and itís true that he was not nearly as efficient with his
targets as he had been in the past, but he still managed to produce
an elite fantasy season. Itís also worth considering that
Roethlisberger, despite leading the league in passing yards, wasnít
particularly accurate with his passes.
The Raiders will almost certainly continue the trend that Brown
saw in Pittsburgh where he was peppered with targets nearly every
single week. Tyrell Williams is the only other receiver on the team
who has any history of substantial production, and even he has failed
to reach 70 targets in each of his past two seasons despite playing
in all 16 games for the Chargers. Given the Raidersí lack
of pass catching options, thereís a realistic chance that
Brown leads the league in targets. Heís never quite achieved
200 targets, but thatís not out of the realm of possibility
here in 2019.
That massive target floor and ceiling makes Brown an extremely
safe option despite the assumed quarterback downgrade from Roethlisberger
to Carr. Sure, we know that itís often difficult for a player
to produce his typical numbers on a new team, but Brownís
not just any player. This is an all-time great player who will
continue to be the focal point of his teamís passing game
and thus is likely being underrated for fantasy purposes even
if the rest of his teammates are not particularly good.
A big play specialist who is a nearly ideal complement for Antonio
Brown, Tyrell Williams heads from Los Angeles to a division rival
in Oakland. Williams has quietly been producing elite per-catch
numbers throughout his career and now heíll get the opportunity
to potentially see even more playing time as the teamís presumed
No.2 option out wide, while playing alongside one of the best wide
receivers of all-time.
Williams himself isnít likely to produce great fantasy numbers,
at least with any sort of consistency, here in 2019. The Raiders
arenít likely to be a pass-happy offense and when they do
pass itíll likely be heavily focused on getting the ball
to Brown. Still, Williams should see an uptick in targets this
season as alongside Brown, heís the only other proven pass
catching weapon in this entire offense -- well, aside from running
back Jalen Richard.
If Williams can push for nearly 100 targets on the season, he does
have the upside to be a low-end WR2 at the end of the season. The
frustrating thing is that he might accumulate half of those stats
in two or three games, and that production has been very difficult
to predict throughout his career.
The Raiders lost tight end Jared Cook in the offseason, who is
coming off of career highs in targets (101), receptions (68),
yards (896) and touchdowns (6). Cook’s departure leaves
a huge hole in the Oakland offense which will be extremely hard
to fill by the team’s current crop of tight ends.
The best option to step up, however, seems to be fifth-year tight
end Darren Waller, who is heading into his second season with the
Raiders. Waller didn’t get on the field much this past season
and he didn’t produce much with the Ravens early in his career,
but his athletic measurables are certainly something that should
not be overlooked. At 6’6”, 255 lbs, Waller ran a ridiculous
4.46 forty-yard dash at the 2015 NFL Scouting Combine. That type
of speed and size combination is almost completely unheard of.
Of course, his athleticism hasn’t translated to much at
all on the field, but both head coach Jon Gruden and Mike Mayock
have been raving about Waller this offseason, with Mayock even
comparing him to one of this season’s top rookie tight end
prospects, Noah Fant.
The Raiders did draft another tight end, Foster Moreau, who will
likely see some work at some point this season, but all signs point
to Waller being the tight end to own if there is one in Oakland.
Still, don’t expect Waller and Moreau to even combine for
the type of production that Cook put up in 2018. Neither player
is worth drafting in anything other than deep tight end premium