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The Raiders Have Stockpiled Offensive Talent
I'm all-in on the Las Vegas Raiders' offense for the 2022 fantasy season.
Almost every Vegas starter has an appealing draft-day value. Many of the team's off-the-bench contributors offer bye-week value and have the talent to deliver as fantasy starters if called upon. There are even compelling reserves at running back, receiver, and tight end who could emerge as viable fantasy producers if called upon.
The Raiders' personnel department and its new head coach, Josh McDaniels, have done a commendable job of amassing quality skill talent at receiver, tight end, and running back. The organization has also paired star defensive end, Chandler Jones, with ascending talent, Maxx Crosby. Cornerback Rock Ya-Sin is also a nice addition from the Colts and former Raven, Anthony Averett also provides quality depth to the secondary.
The Wild West Is Flying HIgh
The additions are helpful, but they aren't the final pieces to the defensive puzzle. Last year, the Raiders' defense was a mediocre unit, at best:
- 19th in rushing yards allowed.
- 25th in rushing touchdowns allowed.
- 22nd in receptions allowed.
- 23rd in passing touchdowns allowed.
- 19th in completions of 40 yards or more allowed.
- 15th in receiving first downs allowed.
- 16th in passes defended.
Even if the Raiders' additions result in a performance upgrade, don't count on it having a massive impact against the rest of the AFC West. Last year, the mighty west piled on the Raiders' defense:
The division also had decent success against the Raiders on the ground, averaging 90 yards rushing and a touchdown per game.
The Raiders were 3-3 against the division but two of its wins came against the Broncos and its third victory was a high-scoring, 35-32 squeaker against the Chargers. Kansas City mauled Las Vegas last year averaging 44.5 points per contest.
Encouraging news for fantasy GMs heading into 2022, because the Raiders have enhanced odds of playing in six divisional games that are high-scoring affairs. Davante Adams, Darren Waller, and Hunter Renfrow comprise one of the best trios of pass-catchers in the NFL. Two of the three running backs at the top of the depth chart are proven receivers. And, Foster Moreau, who will eventually become an excellent fantasy starter at tight end for another team, can deliver fantasy TE1 value if he earns a prominent role.
The Raiders' Offense Hinges on Derek Carr
There's reason to be excited about stockpiling Raiders talent on your re-draft rosters this summer, but the one factor that will determine success or failure with this approach is Derek Carr and fantasy GMs consider this a gamble based on his current ADP of QB15.
Right now, fantasy GMs have little trust in Carr as anything more than a mid-point stab at starter production as a committee option between rounds 9-11 in many 12-team formats.
After six of his first eight years as no better than QB14 and usually, somewhere between QB15-QB20, our hobby is slow to recognize that Carr has been on the cusp of fantasy QB1 value for the past two years. They remember the lowlights and the let-downs.
Before the 2019 season, my friends, Mark Schofield and Dwain McFarland partnered on a project on Carr for my site. Their conclusion: Carr succeeds when he has as much pre-snap information as possible.
Watch Tom Brady sometime, and pay particular attention to how Josh McDaniels gives Brady information before the play. Whether by alignment, motion or both, the Patriots will do things to give Brady as much information as possible before the snap.
They might flex out a fullback to the boundary, and if Brady sees a linebacker out there, he knows the defense is in man coverage. If he sees a cornerback out there, he can anticipate zone. All the moving and shifting the Patriots do is to give Brady more information.
Helping your QB is a good thing. Helping Carr, particularly on play-action designs, would go a long way towards improving those play-action passing numbers.
Despite lacking a true primary receiver and being forced to lean on a collection of boom-bust speedsters, a slot receiver, and a move tight end, Carr has been a big-play passer, averaging 7.83 yards per attempt since 2019. Gruden gave Carr the information he needed and he has performed well with limited talent.
This is no sleight to Darren Waller or Hunter Renfrow, but they aren't beating top cornerbacks on intermediate and vertical timing routes at the boundary. The fact Carr is delivering at this rate of yardage efficiency without a stud primary option while maintaining annual completion percentages close to 70 underscores that Carr has been a significant driver of the Raiders' emerging passing game.
The 2021 season was Carr's career-best despite Waller missing six games and Henry Ruggs only playing in seven before the unfortunate death of a young woman due to his negligence behind the wheel, and a cast of journeymen. Other than Moreau and Renfrow, the rest of the receivers who were asked to win on the perimeter were either old men by NFL standards, journeymen, or unproven talents like Bryan Edwards, Zay Jones, and DeSean Jackson.
Having a strong perimeter receiver matters. Look at the top 11 quarterbacks from 2021:
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