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Las Vegas Raiders 2020 Fantasy Outlook

darren waller fantasy football rankings news NFL DFS lineup picks

Ah, Jon Gruden’s team will no longer be known as the Oakland Raiders, but the Las Vegas Raiders. That may take a while to get used to or even say, as I have still heard Oakland being mentioned. No better way to debut in a new NFL city than a Monday nighter against Drew Brees, Sean Payton, and the Saints, right?

These Raiders are out to prove they can reach the playoffs this season after reaching it literally once since after the 2002 season. Will they have the arsenal to do so this year? Well, they did add some receivers after the Antonio Brown debacle left them without a legit WR1 last season.

From a fantasy perspective, this team offers several players who could be of benefit to your team. Let’s dive right into it:

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The Raiders have two QBs heading into the season, longtime starter Derek Carr and former Titan and Heisman winner Marcus Mariota. Carr is the starter, though there have been many rumors swirling around the NFL world about potential trades for the QB.

There has been no clear indication of that happening, so we will assume he’s the starter for the 2020 season. Carr has not been the most impressive fantasy player since his arrival to the league in 2014. His finishes among active fantasy QBs are as follows: 17th in 2019, 18th in 2018, 19th in 2017, 10th in 2016, 14th in 2015, and 20th in 2014.

The only time he finished top-10 was in 2016, the only year the Raiders made the playoffs between 2002 and now in which Carr’s terrific season was overcast by a broken fibula sustained against the Colts late in the season. Other than that, he has ranked as an average fantasy QB.

In 2019, he finished with 4,054 yards, 21 touchdowns, eight picks, 253.4 yards per game, and a career-high quarterback rating of 100.8. He had an 11 percent poor throws per pass attempt rate. In regards to rushing, the 29-year-old finished with 82 yards on the season and two touchdowns, in which his rush yards ranked 24th among NFL QBs.

The Fresno State product has never been a successful rusher and his career-high came in 2015 with 138. At this point, the consistently average fantasy rankings, the non-explosive numbers, and lack of rushing upside make Carr a backup QB for redraft leagues.

The addition of Marcus Mariota naturally threatens Carr’s starting role. Recently, it was brought to light that the Oregon product was thrashing the Titans Defense during practices last season when he was downgraded to the backup. At this rate, coach Gruden could seriously consider inserting the 26-year-old into a game if Carr struggles enough.

Last year was a bit skewed in terms of his stats as Mariota was benched during a Week 6 shutout loss to the Denver Broncos. Despite a lackluster career, the QB has shown flashes of potential. His career-highs in five seasons played include 3,426 passing yards (2016), 26 pass touchdowns (2016), 234.8 pass yards per game (2015), and 357 rush yards in a season (2018).

There is a reason why the Raiders signed this signal-caller, but in terms of fantasy, don’t draft him in redraft leagues until there becomes a reason to do so during the season (if there ends up being one at all).


Running Back

The Raiders return now second-year running back Josh Jacobs, who was sensational last season as a rookie. The Alabama product finished with 1,150 rush yards, 4.8 rush yards per attempt, eight rush touchdowns, 88.5 rush yards per game, 20 receptions, and 166 receiving yards. He also managed to get 2.8 rush yards after contact per rush and 683 rush yards after contact. He finished 14th among fantasy RBs in 2019, and seventh in rush yards among NFL RBs.

Firmly entrenched as the RB1 on the team and a focal point of this offense, Jacobs is a solid fantasy option. He can be considered a top 10-15 fantasy RB and is a good RB1 or RB2 on redraft teams. There is essentially no competition for the 22-year-old’s role. The next RB on the depth chart is Jalen Richard, and he finished with only 145 rush yards on 39 attempts through playing in all 16 games last season.


Wide Receiver

With no Antonio Brown last season, the Raiders struggled to find a WR1 to replace him. This season, they have a bevy of receivers fighting for targets and the depth chart is a mess to figure out. The most notable addition and a strong candidate for WR1 is former Alabama player Henry Ruggs III, who was picked at 12 in the draft.

Ruggs is a true speedster and burner, notching a 4.27 at the 40-yard dash. That is not only one of the lowest for a receiver in combine history, but it was THE lowest at the 2020 combine. He was the first WR to be taken in the draft, and the 21-year-old finished three seasons of college with 98 receptions, 1,716 yards, a robust 17.5 yards per catch, and 24 touchdowns.

Ruggs is the best option if you want to draft a Raiders receiver. However, it must be considered that the rookie may not be able to develop terrific chemistry with Derek Carr considering the social distancing rules and the uncertainty surrounding training camps now. For now, consider him a low WR2 or WR3 in redraft.

Other receivers on the team include Hunter Renfrow, Tyrell Williams, Nelson Agholor, Zay Jones, and Bryan Edwards. It’s quite unrealistic all these guys can provide the weekly sufficient production to be fantasy-relevant when already considering the presence of Ruggs and TE Darren Waller for catches and targets, along with RB Josh Jacobs when it comes to team touchdowns. At this point, Tyrell Williams and Hunter Renfrow can be considered lower-end flex pieces/roster depth at an equal value. They should be considered equal value because they finished with nearly identical stats last season.

Williams finished with 42 receptions, 64/523 targets (12.2%), 651 yards, 15.5 yards per catch, six touchdowns, and 46.5 yards per game. Renfrow compiled 49 receptions, 71/523 targets (13.6%), 605 yards, 12.3 yards per catch, four touchdowns, and 46.5 yards per game.

You can stash either receiver if there is room on your team when drafting, as neither has proved they are better than the other on the field (at least as of this moment). Williams finished 44th last season among fantasy WRs, and Renfrow finished 55th.

As for the rest of the receivers like Jones, Agholor, and Edwards, they may show some flashes, but it will be hard for them to merit consistent and robust fantasy value throughout the entire campaign considering they are far down the depth chart and must fight for targets with better players like Henry Ruggs, Darren Waller, Tyrell Williams, and Hunter Renfrow.


Tight End

Tight end Darren Waller had a huge breakout last season. The 2015 sixth-round pick recorded career-highs across the board and was the leading receiver last season on a Raiders team sans a WR1. The 27-year-old is the bona fide TE1 on this team and an elite fantasy option this season. He finished last year as the fourth-ranked fantasy TE, behind only Travis Kelce, Mark Andrews, and George Kittle.

In addition, he has a rich rapport with QB Derek Carr. Standing at 6’6”, Waller is a huge presence on the field. Last year, he played all 16 games and finished with 90 receptions, 117/523 targets (22.3%), 1,145 yards, 12.7 yards per catch, and three touchdowns. He finished second among NFL tight ends in receiving yards.

Just to showcase his incredible improvement last season, the Georgia Tech product did not eclipse more than 12 games played, 10 receptions, 17 targets, 85 yards, and two touchdowns in three previous seasons (2015, 2016, 2018) with the Ravens and Raiders. Waller is no doubt a top-five fantasy tight end this season. Do not hesitate to draft him as the TE1 on your redraft team if guys like Kelce and Kittle are taken already.

Former Cowboy Jason Witten is now on the team as a backup tight end but is not a threat to Waller’s production. Witten is 38-years old and on the far back-end of his career. He did finish last season with 63 receptions, 529 yards, and four touchdowns, so it’s not illogical to have him as tight end depth in 16+ team redraft leagues.

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