The Oakland Raiders walked away from the 2018 NFL Draft as winners. Derek Carr was expected to do big things last season. I ranked him as a Top 10 Fantasy Football Quarterback last August. Actually ranked him #4. Yea, that didn’t pan out. Well, I’m doubling down in 2018 anyways! He won’t be as high as #4 but he will definitely be a top 10 QB come my rankings. I am also doubling down on wide receiver Martavis Bryant.
Head coach John Gruden will call the plays which means a west coast offense. Derek Carr has offensive coordinator Greg Olson back which is great news. Olson has a reputation of getting the most out of young quarterbacks in recent years. Derek Carr played well his rookie season with Olson and even Blake Bortles had his best season with Olson in Jacksonville. In 2017, Olson worked with then second year quarterback Jared Goff. We all saw the leap Goff made in year two. So Olson is due some credit for the production from Carr, Bortles and Goff.
Now that there is coaching and an offensive system in place for Derek Carr. What is next? Itd have to be his offensive line. The Raiders have one of the best offensive lines in the NFL and added to it through the draft. Drafting UCLA offensive tackle Kolton Miller at #15 overall. The Raiders now have 3 starting caliber tackles in Donald Penn, Kolton Miller and Breno Giacomini. Their guards are strong with Kelechi Osemele and Gabe Jackson. Oh and center Rodney Hudson was named by Pro Football Focus as the best pass blocking lineman for the 2017 season (https://www.silverandblackpride.com/2018/1/26/16936716/raiders-center-rodney-hudson-named-nfls-best-pass-blocker-by-pro-football-focus). That is quite a feat and clearly one of the best offensive lines in the game. We could see 4 pro bowlers in 2018 from this line.
Carr will have Amari Cooper, Jordy Nelson and Martavis Bryant as his three headed monster. He will also have depth in newly acquired slot receiver Ryan Switzer and rookie Marcell Ateman. Look for Seth Roberts to be traded or cut. Wide receivers Dwayne Harris, Johnny Holton, Griff Whalen, Isaac Whitney and Keon Hatcher will compete for a roster spot. With no sure bet on any making the final 53.
Fantasy Football Outlook: Promising
Gruden will get Amari Cooper the ball. Its just a matter of him not dropping it, staying healthy and scoring touchdowns. Cooper has a high ceiling with a solid floor. I haven’t done my pre season receiver rankings yet. Cooper will likely crack the top 15 for his floor with that upside. Jordy Nelson was the big free agent acquisition. However I think he will be more of a role player in this offense. Moving the sticks, providing leadership with an occasional big game. Martavis Bryant is where its at! The explosive, young wide receiver with something to prove wants a pay day in 2019. The Steelers clearly did him dirty by keeping his value down last season and with Ju Ju Schuster being a mini Antonio Brown. The Raiders swooped in on his potential $1.9 million contract. Bryant will cost them nothing considering his value. If he doesn’t pan out? Well, they gave up a third round pick which is nothing to scoff at. Yet nothing proven. In the end, Bryant is proven to be a vertical threat, has superb athleticism, great YAC potential and is a downright mutant receiver!
Jared Cook is the only viable Fantasy Football option at tight end for the Raiders. Obviously we need to see how transformed Gruden’s west coast offense is now in comparison to his Tampa Bay Buccaneer days. Will Gruden use the fullback? Will he spread the sets more? He certainly has a large offensive line which leads me to think he will still use the power running game.
Fantasy Football Outlook: Worth Drafting
Jared Cook still has enough left in the tank at age 31. A potential statline of 50 receptions for 560 yards with 6 touchdowns is draft worthy. If during your Fantasy Draft, you missed out on the tier 1 and 2 tight ends. Scooping up Cook and another lower end tight end should get you through the season.
Utilizing Marshawn Lynch in the power running game slightly boost his fantasy appeal. Mainly in the touchdown department. Lynch is 32 so I’m pessimistic on his potential in 2018 as as a week in and week out #2 running back. I expect the Raiders to use a running back by committee approach. Which means Lynch may have a few big games. We all know winning and/or being in the playoff hunt will motivate beast mode further. Beastmode will certainly have a ypc of 4.3+ if you ask me.
Speaking of yards per carry. The 29 year old Doug Martin averaged 2.9 ypc the past two seasons. Martin is notorious for having a poor season and then breaking 1,000 yards the following. Im not saying this will occur in 2018 but he could easily break 800 total yards. Martin’s versatility will be utilized in this offense. Jalen Richard, DeAndre Washington and Elijah Hood round out the running back committee. Richard is likely to be the #3 rb come August.
Fantasy Football Outlook: Stay Away.
While Lynch will produce a few big games. His age and the Raiders committee approach drastically reduces his fantasy value. He is worth a late round flyer for a bye week substitution/flex option. Doug Martin may produce a solid game or two in 2018. His value comes if Lynch sustains an injury. Keep an eye out on the waiver wire. Jalen Richard is the wildcard in this offense but again too much clutter.
What I like about the Raiders is their ability to put up points fast. They have every aspect of a west coast offense to do this. They will go through a streak during the 2018 season in which their receiving core will look like three 1,000 yard receiver potential. They will have games in which their running back committee puts up 150+ yards as Derek Carr tossing 3 touchdowns. Their greatest value will be in guessing right for this streak during Daily Fantasy Sports play. While Derek Carr provides the best value for season long Fantasy Football leagues.
(Teams Going Off + Thoughts Flexed In) = Combination Lineups
May the Fantasy Force Be With You.
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