Darren McFadden #20 of the Oakland Raiders runs against Eric Smith #33 of the New York Jets
The Raiders will have an all new offense this season so a lot of people may be wondering what to expect from some of their players with regard to fantasy points. Some people are predicting the Raiders offense to falter this season while others think it will take off. The opinion of the defense seems to range from poor to risky.
From a fantasy perspective, things are a bit different. The offensive scheme and each player's role in it mean as much as the actual talent of the player. And like NFL teams drafting players out of college, each team must think about who they draft based on whether they think they will be available when they draft. After all, you have a whole team to think about.
Here are the players on the Raiders who you might consider drafting this season:
Of course, whenever speaking of McFadden, we must qualify everything with "When he's healthy..." but everyone agrees that McFadden is one of the best running backs in the NFL. Even if he doesn't finish the season, he can still be a stud for your team. His best season in 2010, he had 1157 yards rushing, 507 yards receiving and ten touchdowns in 13 games. That was good for sixth in the NFL. With those averages, an entire season would have been good for second in the NFL just below Arian Foster. Foster had his success in the same zone blocking scheme in which McFadden is about to run. Draft McFadden and have a good backup plan and you should be fine.
The second and third ranked receivers last season were both slot receivers in a West Coast Offense. Jordy Nelson of the Packers and Wes Welker of the Patriots were highly featured in their team's offense in much the same way I expect Jacoby Ford to be featured in the Raiders' offense. For Nelson, he is not considered the best receiver on his team-Greg Jennings is. But in fantasy, that doesn't matter. Jennings was the 18th ranked receiver in the NFL in 2011 despite being the number one receiver on the league's top offensive attack. The Raiders best receiver is Denarius Moore and he will put up some good numbers. But Jacoby will see the ball a lot in this offense.
Matt Schaub averaged 16 points per game in 2011 in the same offense in which Palmer is about to play. If Schaub were able to finish last season, he would have had 256 fantasy points which would have been good for tenth among quarterbacks. He finished with 249 fantasy points in 2010, good for ninth in the league. Carson Palmer finished 14th in the NFL among QB's in 2010. In his five full seasons, Palmer has averaged 26 touchdowns and over 3800 yards passing. Those numbers put him firmly in the top ten QB's in the NFL based upon 2011 numbers.
Though he has been out all of training camp with an injured hamstring, he remains Carson Palmer's favorite target. Darrius Heyward-Bey's saw the bulk of catches last season but Moore was injured for five of the nine games Palmer started. He was also a rookie. DHB will get his fair share of catches in this offense but Moore is this team's primary deep threat so he will get the long catches. He averaged 18.73 yards per catch last season- four yards per catch more than DHB. He also had the two more touchdowns despite 31 fewer catches than DHB. Moore is a bit of a wildcard because you never know when he will get locked down and put up a goose egg.
I know for some it may seem crazy to put DHB as a reserve being that he had nearly 1000 yards receiving and was the Raiders top receiver last season. But I project his receiving numbers to go down as the ball is spread around more. His touchdowns have never been much of a scoring threat. He had just four touchdowns last season and has only six TD's over his three year career in Oakland.
Let's call Goodson a good insurance plan. If you draft McFadden, you should look to pick up Goodson in the later rounds. He has been impressive in training camp and if/when McFadden goes down, Goodson is most likely the guy who will step in as the starter. With the zone scheme, whomever is running the ball should see a lot of carries and a lot of yards.
The Raiders will be utilizing the tight end a lot this season. Myers isn't going to wow anyone with his athleticism but he is the number one tight end for this team. In Houston the past few seasons, the top two tight ends have combined for around 1000 yards so expecting around 500 yards receiving and 4 touchdowns from Myers is not crazy talk. If your top tight end is out, or if you miss out on the top guys in the draft, Myers could be a real asset.