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Raiders’ fantasy forecast for season second half

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Projecting what each Raiders player will do over the stretch run from a fantasy perspective.

NFL: Oakland Raiders at Miami Dolphins Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

With the bye week just passing and before the New England Patriots and Oakland Raiders discussion kicks into hyperdrive, it is a good time to step-back and predict what will happen to the Raiders in the fantasy realm.

QB Derek Carr

Oakland quarterback Derek Carr is only going to upgrade his numbers as the season progresses. And here’s why.

A positive trend has already begun for the fourth-year quarterback. Carr has thrown for over 300 yards in each of the last three games. In addition, the Raiders deep throws and play action game have been resurrected.

Carr went 5/6 for 85 yards and one touchdown after a play action and went 3/5 for 108 yards, one touchdown and one interception on passes 20+ yards down the field against the Miami Dolphins, per Pro Football Focus’ Austin Gayle.

Moreover, offensive coordinator Todd Downing should only get better. In fairness to him, it is first time, at any level, being an offensive coordinator. So it’d be idiotic to think there wouldn’t be any learning curve.

Obviously, no one thought Downing and the offense would have looked this bad, but he is learning on the fly and should improve in his play calling. He still is the smart young coach they promoted in January, he just needs to gain experience.

Watch for Carr’s 300-yard performances to become the norm throughout the second half of 2017.

NFL: Oakland Raiders at Miami Dolphins Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

RB Marshawn Lynch

As mentioned in the Raiders’ midseason fantasy grades, Marshawn Lynch is a touchdown reliant running back that isn’t scoring touchdowns rendering him a poor play in any fantasy format.

Lynch is only averaging 3.8 yards per carry. He also doesn’t catch the ball out of the backfield, only six receptions in 2017, so he doesn’t provide much variability in the way he can score.

Some running backs can get away with a lower average with a plethora of carries, yet Lynch is only averaging 8.6 per game.

The most worrisome part comes from Lynch’s best game of the season against the Dolphins. It was easily his best showing and he still averaged a bleak 4.1 yards per carry despite a 22-yard touchdown run.

Lynch hasn’t performed well and shows no reasons to believe that something will change.

WR Amari Cooper

Amari Cooper might be the toughest Oakland player to figure out. He has the skill to make anyone believe that he could easily turn it around in the second half of the year and go on an absolute tear. But he has just 106 yards receiving since the monster game against Kansas City in which he had 210.

106 yards over two games is not bad at all, it’s alright. But everyone expects greatness from Cooper because he has the quarterback and talent to do so. His game has improved from the beginning of the year and his drops have been minimized aside from the one against Miami in the fourth quarter.

Expect Cooper to become a solid fantasy starting wide receiver, however, the trust in Cooper to ascend to a top-tier target in the second half of the season is just not there.

NFL: Kansas City Chiefs at Oakland Raiders Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

WR Michael Crabtree

With the Raiders offense expected to get better as the season progresses, Michael Crabtree should have his fantasy numbers become slightly more consistent.

Crabtree’s yardage per game will probably not end up deviating much for the rest of the season considering it is right at his career average (around 56 per game). Nevertheless, the improvement of Oakland’s offense will lead to more red zone trips for the Raiders which should lead to more Crabtree redzone targets.

The No. 11 fantasy receiver in 2017 might struggle to match the six touchdowns in the second half of the season, since he scored three in one game against the New York Jets, but there is a good chance he will consistently see the endzone instead of acquiring half of those receptions in one afternoon.

TE Jared Cook

With Cooper’s drops and the lack of a dominant running game, Jared Cook has become one of Carr’s most trusted targets.

Early against Miami, Carr found Cook early and often. Against the Chiefs, Cook had a big fourth down reception and then followed it up with what was thought to be the game winning touchdown a few plays later.

Cook’s targets will continue to be high, for Carr and Cook’s connection is trending upwards. Cook has more receiving yards in his last three games than he did in Oakland’s first six.

Expect for Cook to keep ascending the ranks and finish the season as a top 5 fantasy tight end.

NFL: Oakland Raiders at Miami Dolphins Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Raiders D/ST

The defense doesn’t sack the quarterback or turn the football over. In addition, they have the New England Patriots, Kansas City Chiefs, Philadelphia Eagles and Dallas Cowboys left on the schedule. Any of those teams could easily pick apart the Raiders secondary and gash them on the ground as well.

As such, there will be a lot of points given up and few turnovers. Probably more than zero interceptions, but not many more.

Also, the offense will be better in the second half. When the offense scores more points, the defense could play a little more aggressive resulting in more touchdowns and yards given up. Increased aggression might come with more forced turnovers but Oakland has been allergic to the football thus far.