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Are all the pieces in place for Derek Carr to finally be a viable QB1?

The Raiders made key acquisitions, including trading for Davante Adams, which could finally make Derek Carr a consistent QB1.

Derek Carr is a complete enigma when it comes to fantasy. During the offseason, it’s hard to gauge whether a QB1 finish is in his range of outcomes or not. Carr has only had a QB1 finish once in his career, in 2016. The pieces are finally coming together for him to be a viable QB1 in all forms of fantasy. In Carrs’ first eight years in the league, his highest finish was as the overall QB12 and lowest QB20. That’s seven years as a QB2 and only once as a QB1.

Carr’s 2021 Performance

The Raiders went through many hurdles in 2021, but Carr still managed to have a career year and finish as the overall QB13. He set career highs in passing attempts (626), completions (428), and passing yards (4804 yards – fifth-highest among all quarterbacks in 2021). 

Those are very impressive numbers considering the series of events that occurred last year for the Raiders offense:

  • October 11 (right after Week 5) – Jon Gruden resigns as Head Coach after an investigation revealed extremely inappropriate and offensive emails sent by Gruden
  • November 2 (right before Week 9) – WR Henry Ruggs was charged with driving under the influence, resulting in death and reckless driving, and was released by the Raiders later that day
  • December 28 (right after Week 16) – John Madden (NFL legend and Hall of Fame coach – who coached the Raiders for ten years and led them to their first Superbowl title) passes away

There were even more wild events that involved the Raiders last year, but I want to keep the focus on the Raiders offense specifically and Carr. Losing Ruggs was a big hit as he was the deep ball threat. They signed DeSean Jackson later in the season to fill that void. It isn’t easy to build chemistry with a new receiver right away. Losing the head coach mid-season is an even bigger loss for the team. The Special Teams Coordinator turned interim coach, Rich Bisaccia, did an admirable job. He led the Raiders to a 5-5 record to finish the season. Carr could adjust to the changes and still lead the Raiders to the playoffs.

Offseason Moves by the Raiders

Josh McDaniels

McDaniels was brought in as the new Head Coach. He operated as the New England Patriots’ Offensive Coordinator for the past ten years. He was also the OC for the Patriots from 2006 to 2008 before leaving to head coach the Broncos for a couple of years. McDaniels eventually came back to be the OC in New England again in 2012.

During the last ten years on the Patriots, McDaniels helped the team win three Super Bowl titles. McDaniels should look to impact the Raiders, improving the offense and Carr immediately. The Raiders’ offense in the red zone especially will get a boost.

In the years that McDaniels was the official OC for Tom Brady (11 years total), New England was top-10 in the league in passing attempts for seven of those eleven years. Now I’m not saying Carr is at the same level as Brady. They both do throw a ton, and McDaniels will help improve the plays/schemes for Carr.

Davante Adams

Now let’s get to the absolute BLOCKBUSTER trade that the Raiders pulled off this offseason. Arguably the best receiver in the game,  Adams was traded to the Raiders for a first-round pick (No. 22 overall) and a second-round pick (No. 53 overall) in the 2022 draft. This shocked the NFL as Aaron Rodgers signed an extension with the Packers days before the trade happened. The Rodgers to Adams connection was one that was special and always incredible to watch. Now Adams will be on the Raiders, with Carr, whom he played with in college for two years at Fresno State.

While together at Fresno, Adams had 233 receptions for 3,031 yards and 38 touchdowns. It’s safe to say that Adams and Carr have built great rapport already and will get right back to work in 2022. Adams has been absolutely stellar in his tenure with Green Bay. In his last six years in Green Bay, he’s had 10+ touchdowns in every season but one. He led the NFL with 18 receiving touchdowns in 2020. Adams is coming off a career year where he had career highs in both receptions (123) and receiving yards (1553), to go along with 11 touchdowns. He will likely be the top target for Carr immediately. His presence on the field will help create more openings for Hunter Renfrow and Darren Waller.

2022 Outlook

Derek Carr just missed the mark to finish as a QB1 in 2021 but is now going to have the best supporting cast he has had in years. He doesn’t have the rushing upside that the top fantasy quarterbacks have. His passing game alone was able to get him to overall QB13. With his new head coach and one of the best receivers in the game added to his arsenal, Carr should be able to be a viable low-end QB1 (QB9-QB12) for 2022 and beyond.

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