The Raiders are coming off of their second consecutive 4-12 finish in 2013, their 11th straight losing season since their Super Bowl appearance in 2002. Nine of those seasons have seen Oakland win five games or fewer, becoming the Black Hole for NFL relevance.
2014 Raiders Schedule
|1||@||New York Jets|
|3||@||New England Patriots|
|6||San Diego Chargers|
|11||@||San Diego Chargers|
|12||Kansas City Chiefs|
|13||@||St. Louis Rams|
|14||San Francisco 49ers|
|15||@||Kansas City Chiefs|
Use the proper precaution when looking at anything schedule related in advance. Oakland draws a pretty brutal slate coming out of their bye in terms of facing teams that project to be stout against the run. As a team that isn’t expected to operate with much offensive leverage week to week, it’s hard to really love what they may be able to do when it comes to generating fantasy production.
Greg Olson returns for a second season as offensive coordinator, and he’s been attached to some really poor offenses that collectively were nearly barren with talent. His offenses have typically been low volume, here’s his play calling history over his seven seasons as a coordinator.
[table id=190 /]
Generally a run heavy play caller, the overall quality of the teams that he has been attached to has forced his hand in creating pass splits that make his offenses more pass reliant. Here are his play calling splits by scoreboard.
|Situation||Pass %||Run %|
Black Hole For Backs?
We know that Olson and the Raiders want to run the football if and when they can. The team re-signed Darren McFadden to a one year deal and former top fantasy back, Maurice Jones-Drew to a three-year deal this offseason to share backfield responsibilities. Both do very similar things for an offense and have been similar commodities over the past two seasons, including both players dealing with health concerns. Using the Career Graphs available at RotoViz, here’s how each measure up to one another over the past two seasons.
The 29-year-old Jones-Drew struggled in 2013, posting the second lowest fantasy points per rushing attempt ahead of only Ray Rice while McFadden was still strong despite a low yards per carry, ahead of backs like Ryan Mathews, Alfred Morris and Frank Gore. A good amount of that stemmed from touchdown production as McFadden had the 10th highest touchdown per touch percentage while Jones-Drew was the 11th worst back. Without those scores, DMC was the 11th worst back in points per non touchdown touch.
Jones-Drew has had only two weeks with 100 or more rushing yards in his past 21 games, but does still have 40 or more receptions in six of his eight seasons, including 43 last season. McFadden has had his share of durability concerns, as he’s reached the 200 carry threshold only two times in his career. Both have been good in converting short yardage carries for scores in their careers, with McFadden being really good on the minimal scoring opportunities that the Raiders have provided him in his career.
Career Carries Inside the Five Yard Line
Everything here points to a complete frustrating timeshare that should be pretty near to an even split since both players really are close to interchangeable. Neither appear to return much equity if healthy together in C.D. Carter’s running back scores for the draft capital you may invest, but Kevin Cole brings up an in-depth argument as to why the 26-year-old McFadden should still be on your radar for his dirt cheap cost. With all things entering the season looking very equal, I would rather take a shot on the younger McFadden at his price than Jones-Drew if I’m looking to throw a dart at a PPR back.
Latavius Murray is also still floating around as the third back. After missing his entire rookie season with an ankle injury, the mega sleeper from a year ago is back and healthy. He has one of kind measurables for a player his size and the skill erosion from Jones-Drew and McFadden could potentially create an opportunity for Murray to be a dark horse in season savior. If you’re asking yourself “What if?” with Murray as a late add with deep rosters, go ahead and pull the trigger if able to stash him.
I would be remiss if I didn’t at least throw a bone to Marcel Reece since he’s been one of the most underutilized players in recent memory. The FPPRR superstar has done nothing but produce on with every opportunity ever given, catching 25 or more passes every season for four consecutive seasons while averaging 4.8 yards per rushing attempt on his 152 carries. He doesn’t have a home for you fantasy roster, but he deserves a little love.
If you think that the running back situation in Oakland sounds ambiguous coming into the season, their receiver situation is that times ten. They added James Jones to the roster to go along with Rod Streater, Andre Holmes and Denarius Moore. Pulling up the Career Graph App again, here’s how they stacked up against each other in a 2013 vacuum.
Streater is by the far the safest option out of this quartet because he’s the only one of the group with significant slot experience, running 47.3 percent of his routes a season ago from the inside per Pro Football Focus. That’s important because while the other members may have a bit of a revolving door all season long outside, Streater’s usage will be consistent. He also performed well, finishing as the seventh highest receiver in terms of being an effective target for his system. His ceiling isn’t tremendously high, so he’s best used a deep roster smoother or an option in 14 and 16 team PPR leagues.
Jones is coming over to Oakland after spending seven seasons attached to Aaron Rodgers. Even with Rodgers, Jones’ career high for receptions was only 64 and he topped 800 receiving yards only once. Where he did benefit from playing with Rodgers was that he has scored on 15 percent of his receptions over the past three seasons. Check out his average PPR point distribution compared to every receiver in the league and every receiver under Rodgers since 2008.
Jones was on par with the average producer at his position but you can see just how reliant he was on that touchdown boost provided by Rodgers. Being a touchdown dependent receiver in Green Bay is much different than being one in Oakland, so even though he may accumulate fringe WR3 totals over the course of the season, Jones is going to tough to put in your lineup week to week as his one asset is going to be neutered.
Two intriguing players are going to fight for usage outside in three receiver sets. Denarius Moore is entering his fourth and final season of his contract and has shown us sporadic splash play ability so far. He has scored five or more touchdowns in each of his first three seasons while averaging a robust 15.8 yards per reception. Despite missing seven games to start his career, his 17 receptions of 30 or more yards are more than Golden Tate and Antonio Brown over the past three years.
Andre Holmes seems to be the most popular sleeper of choice for most of the community this summer. Davis Mattek makes the best case for the physically gifted former small school standout, but Holmes has given us very little tangible production through three years. He topped 50 receiving yards in four of his final seven games of 2013 but was very inefficient with his targets, catching only 48 percent and has been very inconsistent throughout training camp by all reports.
Through two preseason games, both Moore and Holmes have seen their usage flip-flop and Holmes has been outplayed by Greg Little and Brice Butler, so there’s not much clarity so far. It’s possible the Raiders could be showcasing Moore for a potential trade, so it’s a preseason battle to monitor closely. Both receivers are nearly free in drafts with Holmes having the most potential if he can garner consistent usage instead of being a situational deep threat, making him a fine late round dart that you can drop if necessary.
Mychal Rivera had a strong rookie season considering the circumstances and was a consistently good target in the Oakland offense a year ago. He may be useful in a pinch for those mining for really late tight end production. David Ausberry can’t seem to stay healthy, but if he returns from this latest injury, he’s a name not to forget. Matt Schaub has been fond of throwing touchdowns to tight ends coming from the system he ran under Gary Kubiak, so there’s something to keep an eye on with the Raiders’ tight ends in deep leagues.
Matt Schaub Target Distribution As Starter
Oakland traded for Matt Schaub and will at minimum enter 2014 as their starting quarterback. Schaub had his worst season as a pro last year and appeared to never recover mentally after early in season struggles. He finished with the fourth worst adjusted yards per aimed attempt (AY/AA), behind Terelle Pryor and Chad Henne and had the third lowest mark in fantasy points per aimed throw (FPAT). Even though Houston was often affected by negative game script, he was even worse when last when he was playing in comfortable game situations, posting a lowly 3.5 adjusted yards per attempt when in neutral game situations. Schaub has always been a quarterback dependent on the play of his surrounding skill players and more importantly, a strong offensive line. When Houston’s line began to deteriorate, so did Schaub’s play. Even as a late round quarterback advocate, Schaub is nothing more than a desperation streamer and third quarterback in two quarterback leagues.
He also could potentially just be a place holder with an unknown leash in season for second round draft selection, Derek Carr. Carr doesn’t have favorable comparables as a prospect, although quarterbacks are generally tough to project entering the league, especially ones selected outside of the first round. Placing a rookie quarterback in a situation with so much anticipated negative game script is frightening for fantasy purposes, so if Carr takes over it’s hard to place him in any higher regard than Schaub for fantasy.
2014 Fantasy Relevant Projections
Best Option to Crash through their projection without injury: McFadden – Still only 26 years old with elite pedigree playing alongside a 29 year old back with lots of wear on his tires.
Biggest Risk to fall through their projection: Jones-Drew – declining physically and performance wise over the past two seasons, Jones-Drew may be the lesser of this backfield duo.
Best Waiver Wire Option: Holmes – he fits the mold of a late round target, but needs to improve underneath to have consistent fantasy relevance.
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