The month of June is not kind for American football fans (yes, the World Cup came at the perfect time). June is after free agency, the NFL draft and OTAs but before training camp starts and the season truly kicks into gear.
The current down time can be well spent looking forward to how you are going to win your 2018 fantasy football draft. Right? It is never too early for fantasy football.
As such, here are two Oakland Raiders’ busts and sleepers for the 2018 NFL regular season.
QB Derek Carr
Fantasy wise, Derek Carr might be the hardest person to predict for the upcoming season. Don’t get me wrong, I do think he is going to have an exceptional year under Jon Gruden but I am not sure if he is going to have massive numbers that fantasy owners will drool over.
In 14 seasons as either an offensive coordinator or head coach in the NFL, Gruden’s offenses only ranked top 10 in passing four times. And two of them were while he was the OC of the Philadelphia Eagles and not head coach.
Also, Rich Gannon’s best season as a Raiders came the year after Gruden left.
In respect to Carr, he has never thrown for more than 4,000 yards. And during his best season as a professional, 2016, Carr finished the year as just the 10th ranked fantasy quarterback meaning he was a low-tier starter.
So while Carr can be one of the best quarterbacks in the league, he and Gruden’s history do not bode well for collecting stats.
TE Jared Cook
Similarly to the quarterback position, the tight end position has not performed well statistically under Gruden since no tight end has ever eclipsed the 600-yard mark in a single season.
In addition, Gruden has mentioned how he wants to get back to old-school football and run the football more effectively. If that is the case, then it is conceivable that Jared Cook will lose out on some snaps to Lee Smith and Derek Carrier.
There is also a plethora of targets at the wide receiver position including Amari Cooper, Jordy Nelson, Martavis Bryant, Seth Roberts and Ryan Switzer. So there might not be enough footballs around to have everyone put up great fantasy numbers.
Again, that is not an issue in terms of winning football games, but could become one when trying to win fantasy matchups.
WR Amari Cooper
In the Bay Area, I doubt anyone would consider Cooper a sleeper but his play from last year suggests otherwise.
In 2017, Cooper tallied just 680 yards despite racking up 210 yards against the Kansas City Chiefs in one game.
But Cooper’s poor play should not continue into the Gruden era. There is no doubt that a huge portion of the coaching staff’s focus is devoted to making sure Cooper realizes his potential. Another wasted season would be a massive disappointment for a guy who can easily be a perennial pro bowler.
Gruden has also had a 1,000-yard receiver every year he was a head coach, which included Tim Brown, Jerry Rice, Joey Galloway and Keyshawn Johnson.
So if a 1,000-yard season is guaranteed under Gruden, then it would be idiotic to bet against the most talented of the group in Cooper.
RB Marshawn Lynch
After Marshawn Lynch rounded into form as the 2017 season progressed gaining more than 60 yards in each of his last seven games of the year, there are plenty of reasons to believe Lynch will be an impactful player.
First, Lynch seems to have gotten his legs back underneath him after taking an entire season off before 2017. Also, Gruden made sure to only keep Lynch on the team if he was fully committed meaning Lynch will be in football shape Week 1.
Second, Gruden is dedicated to running the football. He drafted two tackles and wants to make sure to use the fullback and tight end to help the run game. All of which bodes well for Lynch’s production.
If someone does want to question Lynch’s ability to produce, they could point out Lynch’s age or the fact that Doug Martin could takeaway valuable snaps.
But even if that did happen, this offense will be scoring many more points than last season. So say hello Lynch one-yard touchdown runs. A fantasy owner’s greatest dream.