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Fantasy Focus: Raiders vs Broncos

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Losers of four of their last five, the Raiders' season (and their playoff hopes) are quickly fading — but is their a fantasy miracle to be had when they visit Denver on Sunday?

Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

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Through seven weeks, the Denver Broncos were undefeated and seemed destined for another deep playoff run — this time in thanks for an elite defense. In fact, as odd as it sounds, they were doing it despite Peyton Manning.

After back-to-back losses in Week 9 and 10, however, many wondered if the facade was finally crumbling — highlighted by Manning's four-interception, five completion disaster against the Chiefs. But then, Brock Osweiler happened.

No one is going to argue Osweiler is an elite NFL quarterback, but with one of the best defenses in the league, Denver doesn't need an elite QB — they just need an average one, and that Osweiler is.

So what does all this mean for fantasy this week? Before we get there, as usual, a quick recap:

Mixed bag when it came to studs. Jeremy Maclin was the best pick (9 catches, 95 yards, 2 TD) and Amari Cooper wasn't terrible (4 catches, 69 yards), but the rest of the group was dreadful. Derek Carr started out promising before playing the worst 20 minutes of his career, finishing with 283 yards, 2 touchdowns and 3 picks. Travis Kelce was non-existent (2 catches, 42 yards) and the Chiefs running backs combined for just 66 yards and a touchdown.

Sleepers were the best group of the bunch — with Michael Crabtree having 5 catches for 45 yards and a touchdown, and Alex Smith throwing for 2 touchdowns and running for another.

Finally, the snoozers. Seth Roberts was a good stay-away after his big week, finishing with just 4 catches for 41 yards, but the curse of Latavius Murray continues to haunt me. I pick him as a stud, he sucks; I pick him as a snoozer, he balls out. Murray finished with 86 yards and a touchdown as well as 4 catches for 11 yards.

Studs

Demayrius Thomas — In Osweiler's three starts, Thomas has just 10 catches, although he has been targeted 26 times over that stretch. He's also coming off his best game with Osweiler (6 catches, 66 yards) — and with Oakland's propensity to be beat by the opposing team's best WR, I like Thomas' odds this Sunday.

Emmanuel Sanders — Sanders torched Oakland in their first matchup of the year, finishing with 9 catches for 111 yards. Like Thomas, Sanders has struggled to be consistent under Osweiler, but he did have a massive game two weeks ago against the Patriots (6 catches, 113 yards).

Derek Carr — Carr is a competitor, and coming off the worst stretch of decision making of his life, I think Carr will rebound nicely this week in a game where he'll probably get close to the 39 attempts he got last time these two teams played.

Sleepers

Seth Roberts — Yes, it was the end of the game, but it seems like every time Carr throws in the direction of Roberts, good things happen. In his last three games, Roberts has hauled in 12 of the 14 passes thrown his way — which is more than you can say for Amari Cooper or Michael Crabtree, both of whom have struggled with drops.

Vernon Davis — Oakland remains the second worst team against tight ends in fantasy, and like Roberts, Davis is catching most passes thrown his way (10/12). He hasn't had a true breakout week in Denver yet, but it could be Sunday.

Clive Walford — One week after setting a career high in receptions (5), it appears Walford is becoming more and more comfortable within the offense. He saw the second-most snaps amongst tight ends for Oakland last week (behind Lee Smith) and as the season sputters towards the end, I'd expect him to get more of an opportunity to shine.

Brock Osweiler — Not a sexy pick, but Oakland is allowing the sixth-most points to QBs and they just gave up three touchdowns to Alex Smith a week ago.

Snoozers

All running backs — Last time these two teams met, they combined to run the ball 43 times for 108 yards. No thanks.