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Fantasy Focus: Raiders vs. Broncos

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Another strong week of fantasy predictions — and non-predictions — despite the disappointing on-field performance from the Oakland Raiders. This week, the Raiders return home for their first AFC West matchup of the season against the Broncos.

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Just think — the Oakland Raiders were just seconds away from a 3-1 record, a mark which would have put them just one game out of first place heading into a home matchup against the first-place Broncos. Even as I type that, however, something about the "first-place" Broncos sounds odd considering they're easily the most underwhelming 4-0 team in football.

Consider that in four wins, the Broncos have a point-differential of +18 — a full 24 points less than the next closest undefeated team. Now, to be fair, had the Raiders won on Sunday, they would have been 3-1 with a NEGATIVE point-differential thanks to their blowout loss in Week 1.

But enough about the real matchup, we're here to talk fantasy, so first, a recap of last week's picks...


Matt Forte — I predicted he wouldn't get 100 rushing yards (he didn't), but that he'd total 150 yards on the ground and through the air (he did). Even without a touchdown, Forte was great. 91 yards rushing, 4 catches, 64 yards receiving.

Martellus Bennett — This is becoming the easiest part of my column each week. 11 catches, 81 yards, 1 touchdown.

Latavius Murray — Thankfully the interception doesn't hurt Murray's fantasy value, but the fumble and the drops definitely did. 49 yards rushing, 3 catches, 12 yards.


Seth Roberts — 0 catches, 0 yards, 1 "almost touchdown". (To be fair, I clarified Roberts was a massive sleeper)

Eddie Royal — 7 catches, 54 yards, 1 touchdown.


Raiders D — 22 points allowed, 371 yards allowed, 2 fumbles recovered, 1 interception, 3 sacks

Jimmy Clausen — Cutler ended up starting and playing the whole time — so hopefully you took my advice and ignored Clausen!

As usual, it was another mixed Sunday. I'm still batting .667 when it comes to my stud picks and I went one-for-two on sleepers (although 18 points from Eddie Royal if you're in a PPR league is a pretty massive victory if you ask me). As for snoozers, I guess your opinion of the Oakland Defense depends on how your league scores things — three turnovers is good, as are three sacks, but if your league emphasizes yardage/points allowed, it might have been a rough week.

Lastly, I usually take some heat for guys I didn't include — guys such as Derek Carr and Amari Cooper. Obviously you're starting Cooper every week at this point, but it was a down week as I predicted (4 catches, 49 yards, 1 touchdown) — and even Carr was underwhelming statistically (196 yards, 2 TD and 1 INT).

But enough about the Bears, let's look forward to this week's matchup against Denver...


Amari Cooper — It's about time I give the people what they want, right? Well, this is the week to do it. Last week Minnesota's Mike Wallace secured 8 catches for 81 yards and a touchdown, one week after Calvin Johnson went for 8 catches and 77 yards. The Raiders are going to need to pass a TON in order to beat the Broncos, and they'll only be as successful as their best receiver: Cooper. One word of caution, however, is that the Bears definitely figured something out as to how to slow down Cooper in the second half last week — holding him to zero catches. Now, I'm sure Bill Musgrave with a week to plan can figure out how to get Cooper involved, but just something to keep in mind.

Peyton Manning — Peyton Manning against this defensive backfield? I think prayer is Oakland's best chance of stopping ole' noodle arm.

Michael Crabtree — If teams are figuring out how to stop Cooper (and keying in on him), that can only mean good things for Michael Crabtree owners. If Oakland throws the ball 40 times, Crabtree can expect to see 8-10 targets, which is good news for fantasy owners.

Demayrius Thomas, Emmanuel Sanders — These guys versus Hayden and Amerson is....uh....GULP.


Roy Helu — I don't think Latavius Murray has lost his job by any stretch of the imagination, but Helu looked good in limited action last week and he has always been a productive pass-catching back. If Oakland gets into a throw-heavy attack (they will), Helu could easily see a decent number of targets out of the backfield.

Owen Daniels — It's rare you'll see an opposing tight end slip out of the "studs" category, but Daniels has just 12 catches for 61 yards on the season. That said, does anything matter other than "Curtis Lofton is covering him"? No way.


Latavius Murray — I could be very wrong here, but it's a mystery as to how a youngster like Murray will respond to such a dreadful performance. Sure, he handled himself admirably post-game, taking ownership of his mistakes, but that doesn't mean he's going to wake up Sunday and catch every ball thrown his way. Maybe more importantly, the Bronco run defense has been stout. In four weeks they've faced Justin Forsett, Jamaal Charles, Ameer Abdullah and Adrian Peterson and they've allowed just one back to eclipse 85 yards rushing (Charles) — and if not for a 48-yard touchdown run from Peterson towards the end of last week, it would have been one back over 50 yards.

Broncos D — Currently the highest (fantasy) scoring defense in the league, I think this is a tough matchup for the Broncos. Yes they've forced two turnovers a game through four weeks, and yes they're holding opponents to just 17 points per game, but I think Oakland is a bad matchup fantasy-wise. For starters, Derek Carr isn't a turnover machine, so I wouldn't expect to see many interceptions. Secondly, Oakland has scored 80 points in the last three weeks — an average I wouldn't expect to drop much this week. Would I bench the Denver defense? Maybe not — but I definitely don't think they'll finish the week as one of the top 5 defenses.