Oakland Raiders quarterback Carson Palmer (3) throws a pass against the Dallas Cowboys in the first quarter at O.Co Coliseum.
Fantasy football rankings are out in force. The Raiders had a top ten offense last season and with Darren McFadden and Carson Palmer teaming up for the first time, those numbers only stand to go up. So who on this Raiders team is sleeping in the fantasy rankings?
Darren McFadden we know about. He is ranked 11th overall in NFL.com fantasy rankings. That's at any position, not just running back. The word seems to be out on Darrius Heyward-Bey and Denarius Moore. DHB had nearly 1000 yards last season and Moore is seen as a rising star. But outside of those three, there is a steep drop off in perceived fantasty value. That's where the sleepers lie.
I went looked around and plucked those players who have low rankings and therefore will still be available as a value pick in the late rounds of your respective draft. Here is what I found.
Jacoby Ford- Ford was ranked well below Darrius Heyward-Bey and Denarius Moore even before he had his abysmal performance in the Raiders first preseason game. That game was nationally televised which means like everyone saw it and/or the highlights of Ford dropping several passes. That means as low ranked as he was, he is now plummeting down draft boards... and right into your opportunistic hands. Ford will figure out his issues. He will be highly featured in this offense as the slot receiver. If you get Ford in the latter half of the draft, that will prove to be a flat out robbery.
Carson Palmer- NFL.com is ranking him 18th among fantasy quarterbacks. That's below rookies Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III. Go ahead and let the other teams roll the dice with a rookie QB while you take a guy who has ranked in the top ten and averaged 26 touchdowns in each of his five complete seasons. If you miss out on a top QB, Palmer could save your butt. And if you go with a top QB pick early, Palmer would make for the best backup in the league and a late round steal.
Defense/Special Teams- This isn't your father's Raider defense. Heck, it isn't your great grandfather's Raider defense. For the first time in 50 years, teams will not be able to predict what they are doing and if what we have seen in camp and the first preseason game is any indication, they are looking pretty stout. Sure, there are still some question marks but that is better than proven failure. The defensive line looks especially good. The multiple schemes that defensive coordinator Jason Tarver is cooking up have the defensive backs licking their chops at interception opportunities. As for special teams, last time Jacoby Ford was healthy for a complete season, he had three return touchdowns. He was healthy for only a few games last season and had one return touchdown. They are trying him at punt return although it looks like ultimately keeping him solely as a kick returner may be wiser.
Sebastian Janikowski- Sure, a kicker isn't exactly a steal in the later rounds. That is where they are expected to go. But he will be there when you pick late and you can bet a lot of fantasy guys will think last season's numbers were an aberration. Why wouldn't they think that? He has been the strongest legged kicker in the NFL in his career and consistently hits long field goals with ease and yet each year he still gets drafted low or undrafted altogether. A lot of that has had to do with the Raiders offense. But with the new West Coast offense, the Raiders will be making more redzone trips which means more opportunities for him.
Brandon Myers- In Greg Knapp's offense, they feature the tight end a lot. Myers will be the starter and stands to catch a lot of passes. He is not ranked at all in the NFL.com fantasy rankings. He is not quite starter worthy for a fantasy team but he would be a solid backup and injury or bye week replacement. He will probably still be around in the final round of the draft and if you are desperate for a tight end, he is your guy.
Mike Goodson- He is ranked as the 63 overall running back in NFL.com rankings. He will be the primary backup for Darren McFadden. The Raiders will be running the zone blocking scheme so there will be a good amount of running plays. Goodson stands to receive around 10 carries a game when McFadden is healthy. And when the eventual McFadden injury occurs, Goodson will be the primary back. In a zone blocking scheme. Cha-ching. You will want to have him in reserve for that eventuality unless you can somehow fill your roster with number one backs.