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2022 Fantasy Forecast: Las Vegas Raiders

Are you willing to put all of your chips on the Las Vegas Raiders’ offensive weapons in 2022? @JoeBeldner guides you towards hitting the jackpot!

The Las Vegas Raiders overcame a circus of obstacles to clinch a playoff berth last season. After suffering defeat in the first round to the Cincinnati Bengals, the silver and black had an incredibly successful offseason, revamping their roster and coaching staff. This was a beyond-necessary task as the Raiders looked to battle in the mighty AFC West. The team boasts above-average players at every position for Fantasy Football and can be a gold mine this upcoming season. They also have the ninth most vacated targets in the league heading into the year (38.8%). As the 2022 season looms, the team’s expectations grow even greater.

Key Acquisitions and Departures

After the Jon Gruden experiment spiraled out of control last season, it was a bit of a miracle that interim head coach Rich Bisaccia and his staff were able to lead their squad to the playoffs. Although this is an accomplishment that should not go unnoticed, there was writing on the walls that the team had to head in a different direction. Ownership decided to relieve the services of Bisaccia and his staff and hired Josh McDaniels, Mick Lombardi, and Patrick Graham for their respective roles.

McDaniels and Lombardi have worked together with the New England Patriots since 2019 and produced extremely efficient offenses. This was crucial as the team looked for a new identity post-Tom Brady era. It is respectable to believe that the two will bring many of those principles to their new team. Although this could signify a run-heavy offense, the Raiders have the luxury of a veteran quarterback with a lethal arsenal of pass-catching weapons.

Derek Carr has plenty to be thrilled about this offseason. The team locked up their prized quarterback to a three-year, $121.5 million extension. Besides receiving a massive payday, the team also acquired his best friend, Davante Adams. The two were a lethal tandem in their collegiate days at Fresno State. The Raiders were able to acquire the best wide receiver in the league without sacrificing much of their current core. This creates substantial expectations for the team to reach new limits in the upcoming season.

Quarterback

Derek Carr (31.4 y.o)

Although Carr is not always a fantasy darling, he is one of the most efficient quarterbacks in the NFL. It will be crucial for him to continue to produce at a very high level as he competes with Patrick Mahomes, Justin Herbert, and Russell Wilson in the AFC West. Although many would peg him as the least talented of the four, it is respectable to state that Carr has the best offensive talent surrounding him for the upcoming season. This could serve to be crucial for his projected fantasy finish in 2022.

In 2021, Carr faced many adversities but became the focal point in leading his team to a 10-6 record. He finished the season with the most passing yards in his career, with 4,804 yards. Even with all of these passing yards, he only accounted for 23 touchdowns. This was nine less than his record back in 2015. With a loaded offense and improved offensive system, there is hope that Carr can set new records in both of these areas. If he achieves this, it is not far-fetched to assume that he would finish as a top-12 fantasy quarterback for the first time in his career.

The talented quarterback will have Adams, a healthy Darren Waller, and Hunter Renfrow to soak up most of his targets. He additionally has the luxury of one of the more talented running backs in the league in Josh Jacobs. Due to this, I consider Carr to be the perfect QB2 target for your dynasty rosters. At 31 years old, he still has plenty of productive seasons up his sleeve.

Running Backs

Josh Jacobs (24.5 y.o)

There have been several negative narratives surrounding Jacobs this offseason, but I think almost all of them are being overblown. He is still the RB1 of the best offense of his career and has had impressive fantasy production in every season that he has been in the league. He is also potentially set up to have the most touchdowns of his career in this juggernaut offense. Jacobs is a solid RB2/3 option who should be one of the more reliable players at the position every week.

Due to this, I consider him an excellent buy-low option. The team drafted Zamir White this year as a potential replacement, but I think Jacobs is a significantly better player than him. If I have an area of concern for his 2022 outlook, it is a decline in his potential target total. Last season, we saw a drastic uptick in targets for Jacobs, equating to the most of his career (64 TAR). The addition of Adams, a healthy Waller, and new coaching could amount to fewer targets for the young running back.

Bringing over some of the New England coaching staff, Jacobs’ 2022 season could mirror that of Damien Harris’ 2021 season. Harris finished the season with fifteen touchdowns and ended up being the RB13 last season. He was able to accomplish this finish in a dreaded backfield committee. I think Jacobs is a much more complete player than Harris and will provide a significantly higher production level in the passing game. The touchdown upside is where the major similarities are evident.

Even with a few areas of concern, Jacobs is still very young, so I have a minuscule amount of anxiety about his next contract. I think he proves his worth to the Raiders and re-signs, but if this does not happen, I am fine buying into his talent and potential to thrive in a new system. One of the angriest runners in the league is about to play a whole lot angrier in 2022.

Zamir White (22.9 y.o)

Although I am a bit of a Jacobs truther, I would be lying if I did not state that I at least see the pathway to success for the rookie, Zamir White. He possesses the elite size and athleticism we seek in prospects at the position. On paper, he is intriguing, but White has suffered horrific injuries over the last few years. This includes tearing both of his ACLs in back-to-back years.

He is additionally almost 23 years old, which is on the older side for rookies. Combine these red flags with the fact that he brings little to the table as a pass-catcher and struggles in pass protection, and it can leave much to be desired for his 2022 outlook. It is a positive sign that the team decided to part ways with Kenyan Drake. This opens the door for White to share primary backup duties with Ameer Abdullah. Given his potential opportunity for future seasons, he is an intriguing dynasty acquisition, but you should temper your expectations for 2022.

Wide Receivers

Davante Adams (29.6 y.o)

Adams is coming off an unbelievable season, in which he produced 1,553 receiving yards and eleven touchdowns. For the first time in his career, Adams will not be catching passes from Aaron Rodgers. Luckily, he already has tremendous chemistry with his new quarterback from their collegiate years at Fresno State. Barring injury, Adams should still command a 25+% target share and have around ten touchdowns in 2022.

Through his eight seasons in the NFL, Adams has proved to be one of the league’s most reliable and prolific wide receivers. This is the first time since early on in his career that there are a few red flags surrounding the future Hall of Famer. Besides a new system and quarterback, the Raiders also have plenty of mouths to feed on offense. Although this should be seen as a major positive for the fantasy outlook of Carr, this could cause a bit of inconsistency for Adams. Even with some added competition for targets, Adams is still the best player on the team and will continue to dominate.

It would be surprising to see him surpass his production in 2021, but his outlook for this year is still exciting. I currently have him ranked as my WR4 in 2022, trailing only Justin Jefferson, Cooper Kupp, and Ja’Marr Chase. He most likely has two-to-three more seasons in his prime, so he is a solid hold for a competitive team. On the contrary, I would be seeking a first-round pick and some younger assets for his services if you are eyeing a rebuild.

Hunter Renfrow (26.6 y.o)

Man, do I love watching Renfrow play football. The dude does not get enough credit for how amazing of a route technician he is. He and Adams have to be one of the best route-running tandems in the league (if not the best). After a WR11 fantasy finish last season, Renfrow is an obvious candidate for regression in 2022. He will almost definitely be the third-receiving option between himself, Adams, and Waller. Renfrow demanded 7.5 targets per game last season, which will almost definitely decrease. Playing out of the slot in a Josh McDaniels’-led offense is intriguing, but his upside is now limited.

He should still serve as a semi-reliable PPR option, but he is no longer exciting to start. Due to this, I value him as a WR3/4 who could serve as a steady option in your FLEX spots in 2022. If there is anyone in your league(s) who thinks he can replicate his production from last season, I would stop reading this article and pounce on an offer. If not, he should be a fine (but boring) hold.

Tight End

Darren Waller (29.9 y.o)

Whether you refer to him as “Waller the Baller” or “The Walrus,” we can all agree that Waller is a truly excellent football player. His humbling journey and ascension to stardom are beyond inspiring, and he is a player I root for every season. With that said, I am not extremely excited about his 2022 outlook. With a late breakout age, Waller is already almost 30 years old and is set to compete for targets in a crowded offense. He additionally had an unfortunate case of the injury bug last season, causing him to miss six games.

I expect Adams to get the lion’s share of targets in this offense consistently. Add in a heavy running attack, and this leaves Waller and Renfrow to fight for the leftover scraps. It is important to identify that he will still be due for some spike weeks due to his talent alone. At an inconsistent and top-heavy position, I still expect Waller to finish at the back-end of the top five for tight ends. He is more than capable of amassing 1,000 yards this season, but his touchdown upside is limited. His fantasy production has come more on volume than touchdowns in his career, which could equate to a negative outlook for his 2022 season.

Due to his age and recent injury concerns, I would try to sell Waller if given the opportunity. He has two more years left on his current deal with the Raiders. After this expires, his next contract has a ton of uncertainty. I would be seeking a younger asset at the position and some decent draft capital in return for his services. His best days are probably behind him at this stage of his career.

Final Thoughts:

An abundance of bettors will hope Sin City turns into Win City in 2022. The team has completely transformed from the Gruden era in a year’s time. The franchise now boasts an impressive coaching staff, equipped with arguably the best wide receiver in football. The Raiders still have a few red flags and obstacles to overcome before they reach the promised land. Even with these areas of concern, it is a solid bet to put your chips down on some of these fantasy assets for 2022. Stacking up on some of these gems could lead you to hit the jackpot!

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