The Las Vegas Raiders quietly went 8-8 in 2020 and the .500 finish is indicative of how most feel about their team and fantasy options. A middle-of-the-road finish, not too exciting, and really not much to be hopeful for.
The offense wasn’t the issue – finishing tenth in points per game, averaging 27.1 per contest. The passing offense was seventh in yards and eleventh in TDs, the rushing offense was 14th in yards, and sixth in TDs scored.
The defense held the team back, we will cover that in another article, but the offense had little trouble scoring. Yet, the options are not going to excite anyone, with the exception of their All-Pro tight end.
In fantasy football, the definition of middle-of-the-road, boring fantasy quarterback could surely be found with Carr. Andy Dalton was the standard for a long time, Carr has taken the reins. Every year, he gives us a fantasy finish almost right in the middle of all the quarterbacks.
2020 was a good season for Carr and if he was your QB2, you were likely pleased. Not happy, not mad, but just okay. He doesn’t win or lose many weeks – he’s just a solid QB2. If he’s your third option, even better. Carr had only two weeks he didn’t throw a TD, one he was injured, and one two weeks with more than one INT. He eclipsed 300 yards passing six times, and four times he had less than 200.
He’s only missed two games his career and has averaged 3,842 yards and 24 TDs a season over his seven-year career. Depending on scoring formats, I looked up one league I know which has fair and even scoring, Carr was QB14 in 2020, QB13 in 2019, and QB17 in 2018. He’s typically right near the middle!
Carr is one of my targets later in drafts, I tend to wait on QBs, and if he’s not my QB1 I am generally happy. He’s a consistent QB who won’t cost me games. That’s better than the unproven QBs taken ahead of him like rookies Zach Wilson and Trey Lance, or players like Daniel Jones with a lot to prove yet. If I’m winning now especially, I want the stability of a player like Carr.
Projection: 4,010 yards, 26 TDs, 8 INTs
THE REST OF THE QUARTERBACKS
Marcus Mariota is one of the best backups in the league and had a strong game when called into duty Week 15 last season. He threw for 226 yards, rushed for another 88 yards, in a close loss to the Chargers. If Carr goes down, Mariota gives you a decent option who can run and is a solid passer. Definitely worth a roster spot in Superflex leagues.
On the surface, Jacobs’ numbers are solid and he’s a low-end RB1. If you look closer, you see the 3.9 yards per carry behind a poor offensive line which got worse over the offseason. The Raiders will be patching together a line again and what can we expect that to do to Jacobs’ rushing totals?
On the plus side, Jacobs has hit the 1,000 rushing yard mark each of his first two seasons. He had 12 rushing TDs in 2020 and caught 33 passes, the RB8 for the season. Jacobs is a true bellcow, three-down back in a league which doesn’t have many anymore.
Losing the offensive linemen isn’t the only worry for Jacobs. The Raiders added veteran Kenyan Drake and he could cut into Jacobs’ work if the yards per carry don’t improve. The team will focus on running, there is uncertainty with the wide receiver corps, and having several strong rushing options could be beneficial.
Still, Jacobs is only 23 years old with two full seasons under his belt and is a versatile three-down RB. I don’t expect Drake to cut into his role much but enough to make an RB1 less likely. We have him ranked as our RB17 and it’s a tad low, in my opinion. Pencil the Alabama third-year back in for over 1,200 total yards with another 10 TDs and get him at a value.
Projection: 990 yards, 8 TDs rushing, 35 catches for 270 yards, and 3 TDs receiving
THE REST OF THE RUNNING BACKS
Kenyan Drake was brought in by the Raiders in the offseason and has a similar skillset and production profile as Jacobs. Drake rushed for nearly 1,000 yards last season with ten rushing scores and also caught 25 passes. Drake is essential to be rostered, is 27 years old, and could pick up the slack in a heartbeat if anything happens with Jacobs.
Jalen Richard is an explosive change of pace back but likely a player you will never start. I like Trey Ragas quite a bit as a runner who could emerge over the next few years but has a lot in front of him currently. He’s got great vision and size, not a ton of speed, but could find a spot and start one day – worth a deep stash.
Do I have to pick any of these receivers from the Raiders???
I’ll start with Ruggs because he is the most ‘valuable’ and one on the most rosters. His rookie season wasn’t terrible but nothing to be overly excited about. The depth chart was wide open and Ruggs was expected to emerge early on.
Ruggs did start 12 games – which is why the 43 targets are a little concerning. Ruggs is the most talented Raider wide receiver and games I watched close by far – he was open often. It’s well documented that Carr doesn’t like to air it out but that isn’t all of Ruggs’ game. He is a burner who can get open quick deep but a better route runner than given credit for.
Ruggs is a buy for me and can often be acquired inexpensively. He is ranked as our WR37 and could return that investment with ease. I think 2021 is a big year for him and he will be the top pass-catcher outside of Waller, but still not what you want from a WR1.
Projection: 58 receptions for 890 yards and 7 touchdowns
The most likely wide receiver to take over the WR1 role if Ruggs doesn’t is the former Gamecock Edwards. Kristopher Knox of Bleacher Report is one of the latest to be on the hype train for Edwards to emerge this season.
Edwards impressed the last offseason but a leg injury derailed his rookie season. In only three starts, he caught 11 passes for 193 yards and one score. Edwards has a robust skill set and should complement Ruggs perfectly. He is tall and catches everything thrown in his general area. Edwards works all three levels of the field well, is physical as all heck, and loves to block. He does need work with route running and creating separation, but they aren’t so bad that it will hinder his work.
With a full offseason and a year to learn the Raiders’ playbook, Edwards has the potential to break out in 2021. We have him ranked as our WR52 and the ranking has been creeping up due to his opportunity.
Projection: 55 catches for 805 yards and 6 TDs
THE REST OF THE WIDE RECEIVERS
Hunter Renfrow mans the slot and can be a solid fill-in for injuries and bye weeks. He was the leading wide receiver in 2020 with 56 catches and 656 yards but only hit paydirt twice. Renfrow is a solid source of targets, especially in Carr’s normal route range.
Veteran John Brown is a wild-card in all this and will have to find playing time and targets. The 31-year old speedster fourth team in five years but has two 1,000-yard seasons to his credit – as recent as 2019 even. I just don’t know where he can fit in on this Las Vegas team, especially when Ruggs is the deep route threat who already can’t get the targets he needs. Yet, Brown is still worth a roster spot because you never know with injuries.
Waller finished as the TE2 last season, behind only Travis Kelce, with his second consecutive 1,100 yard season and nine TDs. Waller is by far the top target for Carr, with 145 targets last season and 117 in 2019.
|3 yr||3 yr||LVR-OAK||36||31||268||203||2416||11.9||12||126||75||5.6||67.1||75.7%||9.0||3||26||0||1||21||8.7||0.7||0.1||206||11.9||2442||12||3||20|
|2 yr||2 yr||BAL||18||4||23||12||103||8.6||2||8||17||0.7||5.7||52.2%||4.5||12||8.6||103||2||0||1|
The Nerds ranking team has him as TE3 behind Kelce and George Kittle, but I routinely see Waller drafted after Kyle Pitts and sometimes even T.J. Hockenson. Waller is only 28 and the unquestioned top target on a decent pass offense. It feels like he is one of the least respected players in fantasy football.
Another season right along the same lines as the previous two seasons is likely and I would put money on it being close if he stays healthy, of course. Waller is the man in Las Vegas – expect another top-three finish in 2021 and likely the new few seasons as well.
Projection: 99 catches for 1,111 yards and 8 TDs
THE REST OF THE TIGHT ENDS
Foster Moreau is a player I like a lot but he’s mired behind Waller without much hope to start, unless something catastrophic happens. He’s still a player I am stashing on deeper rosters with hopes he will see the field over the next few seasons with some team, if not the Raiders.
They may not be the sexiest team in football but the Raiders have a few options at good price points for your fantasy teams. Waller is the crown jewel and will likely cost the most to acquire. I like Jacobs at his point and Carr is just a solid and steady QB2/3. All the receivers have depressed value and should be able to be acquired inexpensively.
The Raiders should score in the top twelve teams as they did in 2020, if not better, and the defense hasn’t gotten better. The offensive line will likely be the biggest hindrance but if they can give Carr enough time to complete his eight-yard routes, expect more of the same, It will be a good offense for fantasy but not great. Are we sure Jeff Fisher isn’t in charge?
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