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Coaching Matters: 2021 Las Vegas Raiders Coaching Staff Preview

After every NFL season, NFL teams take the time to evaluate not only the players but also the coaching staff and front office as well. While many teams choose to retain the same head coach, offensive coordinator, and defensive coordinator, a few other teams opt to go in a new direction with their coaching staff.

The Las Vegas Raiders decided to fire former defensive coordinator Paul Guenther, but otherwise, they will be bringing back many of the key coaching staff members from 2020. Jon Gruden will return as the Raiders head coach and Greg Olson will be back as the team's offensive coordinator. Gus Bradley is the only new coordinator, joining the team after serving as the Los Angeles Chargers defensive coordinator for the last four seasons.

This article will look at the potential impact this coaching staff will have on the players and try to pinpoint the Raiders players' fantasy values in it.

Editor's Note: Our incredible team of writers won two writing awards and received 12 award nominations by the Fantasy Sports Writers Association. A big congrats to our very own Byron Lindeque (Golf) and Jordan McAbee (NASCAR) for both winning Writer Of The Year awards! Be sure to follow RotoBaller's analysis and advice all year long, and win more. Win More With RotoBaller!

 

The Baseline

To get a better understanding of the value the Raiders coaches help bring to this team, we can look at the NFL league averages in each of the past two years in a variety of statistical categories and then compare them to the averages achieved by the Raiders' coaches. Here are 'The Baseline' NFL league averages over the past couple of years:

QB Impact

Year Team Pass Att. Team Pass Yds. Team Pass TDs QB Carries QB Rush Yds. QB Rush TDs
2019 League Average
34.87 251.78 1.56 3.56 15.04 0.16
2020 League Average 35.19 254.88 1.70 4.19 18.43 0.25

RB Impact

Year RB Carries RB Rush Yds. RB Rush TDs RB Rec. RB Targets RB Rec. Yds. RB Rec. TDs
2019 League Average
21.77 92.96 0.68 5.10 6.64 40 0.19
2020 League Average
21.68 95.13 0.75 4.71 6.14 34.94 0.18

WR Impact

Year WR Rec. WR Targets WR Rec. Yds. WR Rec. TDs
2019 League Average
12.05 19.59 158.39 0.95
2020 League Average
13.24 20.21 166.67 1.04

TE Impact

Year TE Rec. TE Targets TE Rec. Yds. TE Rec. TDs
2019 League Average
4.70 6.88 50.99 0.38
2020 League Average
4.76 7.03 51.29 0.45

Defense Impact

Year Points Allowed Pass Yds Given Up Run Yds Given Up Plays Against Yds/Play
Turnovers Forced
22.8 235 112.9 63.5 5.5 1.4
24.8 240.2 118.9 64.3 5.6 1.3

Previous Coaching Staff

In order to get an understanding of how the Las Vegas Raiders' fantasy players may be impacted this year, we also need to look at what kind of production former defensive coordinator Paul Guenther got out of the Raiders defense in his time as the defensive coordinator. By doing this, we will have a better understanding of where the new defensive coordinator is starting from and where the primary changes will occur.

Former Defensive Coordinator: Paul Guenther

Year Games Points Allowed Pass Yds Given Up Run Yds Given Up Plays Against Yds/Play Turnovers Forced
2019 Raiders 16 26.19 256.69 98.13 60.19 5.90 0.94
2020 Raiders 13 30.08 256.08 128.08 64.54 5.95 1.15
Guenther's Career Averages (DC/HC) 109 23.52 241.58 116.33 64.25 5.57 1.24

 

2021 Offense

2021 Head Coach: Jon Gruden

Jon Gruden has held either an offensive coordinator or head coaching role for 17 NFL seasons, spending time as the Philadelphia Eagles offensive coordinator (1995-1997), the Oakland Raiders head coach (1998-2001), and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach (2002-2008) before making his way back to the Raiders in 2018. Let's take a look at some of his team's offensive statistics over the course of his career.

QB Impact

Year Games Team Pass Att. Team Pass Yds. Team Pass TDs QB Carries QB Rush Yds. QB Rush TDs
2019 Raiders 16 32.69 256.88 1.38 1.81 5.13 0.13
2020 Raiders 16 34.44 273.94 1.75 3.06 14.81 0.25
Gruden's Career Averages (OC/HC) 272 33.36 231.82 1.33 2.85 10.71 0.08

RB Impact

Year Games RB Carries RB Rush Yds. RB Rush TDs RB Rec. RB Targets RB Rec. Yds.
RB Rec. TDs
2019 Raiders 16 24.31 105.13 0.63 5.75 6.94 48.81 0
2020 Raiders 16 24.63 101.56 1 4.63 5.94 31.44 0
Gruden's Career Averages (OC/HC) 272 22.85 95.42 0.57 4.73 6.67 36.94 0.07

WR Impact

Year Games WR Rec. WR Targets WR Rec. Yds. WR Rec. TDs
2019 Raiders 16 9.06 13.31 116.13 0.75
2020 Raiders 16 9.69 14.81 146.94 0.88
Gruden's Career Averages (OC/HC) 272 10.49 17.52 140.81 0.81

TE Impact

Year Games TE Rec. TE Targets TE Rec. Yds. TE Rec. TDs
2019 Raiders 16 7.75 10.06 89.19 0.56
2020 Raiders 16 8 10.75 88.69 0.81
Gruden's Career Averages (OC/HC) 272 3.71 5.60 40.72 0.38

 

Jon Gruden Takeaways & Expectations

Over the course of Gruden's 272 game career as a play-caller, his offenses have averaged just 33.36 passing attempts per game. In the past two years with the Raiders it hasn't been much different, with the team attempting 32.69 passes per game in 2019 and 34.44 passes per game in 2020. This low passing volume makes it tougher for his quarterbacks to put up big fantasy passing numbers.

In addition, Gruden's quarterbacks haven't brought a lot of value on the ground, averaging just 2.85 carries per game over the course of his career.

Based on all this information on Jon Gruden's play-calling tendencies, starting quarterback Derek Carr is likely to be a better real-life quarterback than a great fantasy football quarterback. If you are playing in a fantasy football league, Carr should be looked at as a great matchup-based streamer and borderline QB2 for the 2021 NFL season.

Looking at the running back position, Jon Gruden does a pretty good job of giving his running backs work. His offense provides a mediocre number of opportunities for his running backs to score with his running backs averaging 0.57 rushing touchdowns per game over the 272 games he's coached. He's also provided his tailbacks with 22.85 carries per game over the course of his career which is above-average.

This level of usage is extremely encouraging for the Raiders running backs fantasy prospects - especially considering that the usage has sat around 24-25 carries per game in every season Gruden hasn't had a quality fullback. But overall, what percentage of the carries go to one running back versus Gruden conducting a running back by committee approach?

Jon Gruden has preferred a bell cow approach to the running back position nearly every year of his 17-year career as a play-caller. This usage is extremely encouraging to see if you are rostering Josh Jacobs in your fantasy league and should alleviate any fears of the backfield becoming a full-blown committee in 2021 after the team signed Kenyan Drake.

The final aspect we should look at concerning Jon Gruden's running backs is how much he has traditionally utilized them as pass-catchers. Over the course of his career, Gruden's running back room has averaged a mediocre 6.67 targets per game.

This receiving usage isn't anything to write home about, but it is reassuring to know that Gruden will provide some passing work to his backs. Overall, Jon Gruden will provide his running backs with plenty of carries, has typically rolled with a bell-cow approach, and will give his running backs a fair amount of targets. Based on this information, there is upside for an RB1 finish from a Raiders running back in Gruden's offense but it's probably more realistic to expect Josh Jacobs to finish as an RB2 with Kenyan Drake in the mix.

Looking at the wide receiver position, Gruden has provided his wide receivers with just 17.52 targets per game over the course of his 272 game career as an offensive coordinator or head coach.

This career average is below what we'd expect from the typical play-caller, but it's gotten even worse in recent years with the Raiders' wide receivers getting just 13.31 targets in 2019 and 14.81 targets in 2020. The Raiders' offense likely won't have enough targets to go around to produce more than one fantasy-relevant wide receiver in the 2021 season.

Finally, we need to dive into Gruden's usage of tight ends. Over the course of his career as an offensive playcaller, Gruden's tight end room has averaged just 5.60 targets per game. But looking at the past couple of years Gruden's historical usage of tight ends has taken an interesting turn.

Gruden's tight end usage has been trending upwards over his last few years as play-caller, with the group receiving 10.06 targets per game in 2019 and 10.75 targets in 2020. Darren Waller should once again see plenty of targets in 2021 and remain as one of the premier tight ends in fantasy football.

 

2021 Offensive Coordinator: Greg Olson

Greg Olson has bounced around the league as an offensive coordinator. He has held an offensive coordinator role for the Detroit Lions (2005), St. Louis Rams (2006-2007), Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2009-2011), Oakland Raiders (2013-2014), and Jacksonville Jaguars (2015-2016) but appears to have found a home with the Las Vegas Raiders (2018-Present). While Greg Olson is not the primary play-caller in Las Vegas, we should look at his profile just in case he ends up calling plays at some point.

QB Impact

Year Games Team Pass Att. Team Pass Yds. Team Pass TDs QB Carries QB Rush Yds. QB Rush TDs
2019 Raiders 16 32.69 256.88 1.38 1.81 5.13 0.13
2020 Raiders 16 34.44 273.94 1.75 3.06 14.81 0.25
Olson's Career Averages (OC/HC) 188 35.09 240.78 1.41 2.96 14.03 0.09

RB Impact

Year Games RB Carries RB Rush Yds. RB Rush TDs RB Rec. RB Targets RB Rec. Yds.
RB Rec. TDs
2019 Raiders 16 24.31 105.13 0.63 5.75 6.94 48.81 0
2020 Raiders 16 24.63 101.56 1 4.63 5.94 31.44 0
Olson's Career Averages (OC/HC) 188 20.96 85.73 0.49 4.96 6.56 38.07 0.07

WR Impact

Year Games WR Rec. WR Targets WR Rec. Yds. WR Rec. TDs
2019 Raiders 16 9.06 13.31 116.13 0.75
2020 Raiders 16 9.69 14.81 146.94 0.88
Olson's Career Averages (OC/HC) 188 10.86 18.95 142.95 0.89

TE Impact

Year Games TE Rec. TE Targets TE Rec. Yds. TE Rec. TDs
2019 Raiders 16 7.75 10.06 89.19 0.56
2020 Raiders 16 8 10.75 88.69 0.81
Olson's Career Averages (OC/HC) 188 4.96 7.63 54.24 0.39

 

Greg Olson Takeaways & Expectations

In Olson's 188 game career as an offensive coordinator, his team's offenses have averaged 35.09 passing attempts per game. This is right around where the league averages have been the past couple of years. What this means is that if Gruden passes on play-calling duties to Olson, it may result in an increase in about one or two passing attempts per game, but the team still would be fairly mediocre in this area. In addition, Olson's quarterbacks have averaged just 2.96 carries per game over the course of his career.

Overall if the Raiders made a play-calling change, it wouldn't make much of a difference in how much they let Derek Carr throw the ball. But how about the skill positions - running back, wide receiver, and tight end? How would any potential play-calling change impact those guys?

Looking at the running back position, Greg Olson has been disappointing in giving the position work. His running backs have averaged 0.49 rushing touchdowns per game and seen an average of 20.96 carries per game over his 188 game career as an offensive coordinator.

This usage is a little concerning to see because it means that if the offensive play-calling duties get passed off to Olson, the team may not feed their running backs nearly as much. The other concern is how much of that work would be split between multiple backs?

The data suggests that Greg Olson prefers to give his lead back around 60% of the tailback carries. This may be a slight downgrade from Jon Gruden but overall it is pretty good among other offensive play-callers. This bodes well for lead-back Josh Jacobs and means that he should receive a good workload on the ground even if the play-caller changes.

Finally, Olson gives his running backs a mediocre amount of work in the passing game with his tailbacks seeing 6.56 targets per game.

This is roughly the same amount of targets per game as Jon Gruden has provided his backs over the course of his career. Overall, Greg Olson is solid in his offensive coordinator role but would be a slight downgrade for the Raiders' running backs if he takes over play-calling duties at any point in the future.

Looking at how Greg Olson has utilized his wide receivers in the past, it's slightly below average but a little more than the Raiders head coach Jon Gruden. Over the course of his career as an offensive coordinator, Olson has seen his wide receiver room average 18.95 targets per game.

Based on this information, the Raiders' wide receivers would likely see a slight boost in targets per game if Greg Olson became the primary play-caller. However, this usage would still be below-average and the offense would likely be able to only have one or two fantasy-relevant wide receivers.

Finally, Greg Olson has provided his tight end room with 7.63 targets per game over the course of his 188 game career as an offensive coordinator.

Greg Olson's tight end usage is extremely encouraging to see and should make you feel good about Darren Waller's usage regardless of who the team's play-caller is.

 

Fantasy Relevant Players: Derek Carr, Marcus Mariota, Josh Jacobs, Kenyan Drake, Jalen Richard, Henry Ruggs III, John Brown, Bryan Edwards, Hunter Renfrow, Darren Waller, and Foster Moreau

 

2021 Defense

2021 Defensive Coordinator: Gus Bradley

Prior to joining the Las Vegas Raiders coaching staff this offseason as the team's defensive coordinator, Bradley had been a defensive coordinator for the Seattle Seahawks (2009-2012) and Los Angeles Chargers (2017-2020). In addition, Bradley served as the Jacksonville Jaguars head coach from 2014 to 2016. Let's take a look at some of the team defensive statistics of these teams during Gus Bradley's time as the defensive coordinator.

Year Games Points Allowed Pass Yds Given Up Run Yds Given Up Plays Against Yds/Play Turnovers Forced
2019 Chargers 16 21.56 200.25 112.81 57.69 5.43 0.88
2020 Chargers 16 26.63 223.63 119.81 62.31 5.51 1.19
Bradley's Career Averages (DC/HC) 190 23.14 228.03 115.99 64.13 5.37 1.35

Looking at Gus Bradley's defensive statistics, we can see that he's been around league-average across the board with the exception of having his defenses perform well against the pass. Looking at the Raiders defense the last couple of years under Paul Guenther's direction, it's clear that this won't be an easy job for Bradley to turn around the defense and it may take a few years for the team to do so. For re-draft fantasy leagues, it's probably best to only utilize the 2021 Raiders D/ST in juicy matchups and not target them in any drafts.

 

Other Notable Assistants

Special Teams Coordinator: Rich Bisaccia - Rich Bisaccia has been the Raiders special teams coordinator since 2018. He's been coaching since 1983 and has also been a special teams coordinator for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2002-2010), San Diego Chargers (2011-2012), and Dallas Cowboys (2013-2017).

RB Coach: Kirby Wilson - Kirby Wilson has been the Las Vegas Raiders running backs coach since 2019. At the NFL level, he's also been a running backs coach for the New England Patriots (1997-1999), Washington Redskins (2000), Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2002-2003), Arizona Cardinals (2004-2006, 2018), Pittsburgh Steelers (2007-2013), Minnesota Vikings (2014-2015), and Cleveland Browns (2016-2017)

WR Coach: Edgar Bennett - Edgar Bennett has been the Raiders wide receivers coach since 2018. He previously coached for the Green Bay Packers as the running backs coach (2005-2010), wide receivers coach (2011-2014), and offensive coordinator (2015-2017). Bennett also played fullback/running back in the NFL for the Green Bay Packers (1992-1997) and Chicago Bears (1998-1999).

TE Coach: Austin King - Austin King has been with the Las Vegas Raiders since 2020, but 2021 will be his first year as the team's tight ends coach. Prior to joining the Raiders he was the offensive coordinator for the Dayton Flyers (2015-2019).

OL Coach: Tom Cable - Tom Cable has been coaching since 1987 and coaching in the NFL since 2006. He re-joined the Raiders in 2018 as the offensive line coach. His previous NFL roles include being the offensive line coach for the Atlanta Falcons (2006), Oakland Raiders (2007-2008), and Seattle Seahawks (2011-2017), as well as being the Raiders head coach from 2008-2010.

DL Coach: Rod Marinelli - Rod Marinelli has been coaching since 1973 and has been the Raiders defensive line coach since 2020. He's previously been a defensive line coach for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1996-2005), a head coach for the Detroit Lions (2006-2008), a defensive line coach for the Chicago Bears (2009), a defensive coordinator for the Chicago Bears (2010-2012), a defensive line coach for the Dallas Cowboys (2013-2019), and a defensive coordinator for the Dallas Cowboys (2014-2019).

LB Coach: Richard Smith - Richard Smith is brand new to the Raiders coaching staff in 2021. He's been coaching since 1979 and has previously been an NFL linebackers coach for the San Francisco 49ers (1997-2002), Detroit Lions (2003-2004), Carolina Panthers (2009-2010), Denver Broncos (2011-2014), and Los Angeles Chargers (2017-2020). He's also served as a defensive coordinator for the Miami Dolphins (2005), Houston Texans (2006-2008), and Atlanta Falcons (2015-2016).

DB Coach: Ron Milus - Ron Milus has been a long-time NFL defensive backs/secondary coach, but will be brand new to the Raiders coaching staff in 2021. He's been an NFL defensive backs coach for the Denver Broncos (2000-2002, 2011-2012), Arizona Cardinals (2003), Carolina Panthers (2009-2010), and Los Angeles Chargers (2013-2020). He has also been a secondary coach for the New York Giants (2004-2005) and the St. Louis Rams (2006-2008).

 

Enjoy this series? Be sure to check out all of the other 'Coaching Matters' team previews: Houston TexansJacksonville JaguarsIndianapolis ColtsTennessee TitansCleveland BrownsBaltimore RavensPittsburgh Steelers, and Cincinnati Bengals

 

Follow Eli Grabanski on Twitter: @3li_handles



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Brian Thomas Jr. - Fantasy Football Rankings, Draft Sleepers, NFL Injury News

2024 NFL Mock Draft: Rounds 1, 2, 3 Predictions (Post Stefon Diggs Trade)

The better part of free agency is done. While we continue to watch the depth pieces trickle through on smaller deals, the lion’s share of noteworthy moves are behind us. That is usually a sign that another mock draft is needed. In this mock, I will dive three rounds deep. I will factor in A... Read More


Marvin Harrison Jr. - Fantasy Football Rankings, College FB, WR, NFL Draft Sleepers

2024 NFL Draft - Pro Player Comparisons for the Top 12 Fantasy Football Rookies

Rookie fever is nearing its peak, and in just a few days, we'll know with full certainty where these prospects will be playing their games on Sundays. In turn, fantasy football gamers will be poring over player tapes, stats, and metrics like "Oops, I forgot to study, and my final is tomorrow" for upcoming rookie... Read More


Brock Bowers - Fantasy Football Rankings, NFL Rookies, Draft Sleepers, NCAA College Football, Prospects

2024 NFL Draft - Overvalued Prospects Who Could Slip on Draft Night

A few weeks ago, I was watching the 2007 NFL Draft. It was on the NFL's Pluto TV channel and I didn't have anything else to do, so I figured I'd turn it on. I was struck by two things. First, it's wild how far technology has come since 2007. They kept advertising that you... Read More


Bo Nix - College Football Rankings, NCAA CFB DFS Lineup Picks

2024 NFL Mock Draft - Round 2 and 3 Final Predictions

Can you feel it? We're just over one day away from the 2024 NFL Draft, folks! Summer's breeze is almost here as well, but not before we dive deep into draft season. With the initial wave of free agency settling down, the roster blueprints for our 32 teams are coming into sharp focus. Hunting for... Read More


Tyler Boyd - Fantasy Football Rankings, NFL Injury News, DFS Lineup Picks

Is Tyler Boyd a Free Agent? Top Landing Spots for Boyd This Offseason

For eight seasons, Cincinnati was Tyler Boyd’s home. He amassed 6,000 receiving yards on 513 receptions and scored 31 touchdowns during his time with the Bengals. Boyd was a trusted option for quarterback Joe Burrow and was great as the team’s primary slot receiver. Unfortunately, the club opted not to re-sign him this offseason. After... Read More