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Rams vs Raiders fantasy football advice: Amari Cooper to heat up early

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NFL: Oakland Raiders at Los Angeles Rams Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Everyone calm down and focus on your breathing! The excitement of the NFL season starting along with the pressure of not knowing who to start in fantasy football is a deadly combination. But for now, we will help give some fantasy insight on the Oakland Raiders game on Monday night to help calm those nerves.

Instead of doing start/sit like last year, we are changing it up a little with three different categories: Must start, proceed with caution and bench.

Must Start

WR Amari Cooper

If I am the Raiders’ coaching staff, I would do all I can to make sure Amari Cooper gets the ball early and often. Not only is he the most explosive weapon on the Oakland offense, so getting him the ball wherever on the field will reward the unit, Cooper needs to get the season off to a good start to gain confidence.

Any sort of repeat from last season is unacceptable and will greatly hinder the team’s chances of making a playoff push. So I would be shocked if Cooper doesn’t get a few easy catches early in the game to get his motor running.

Cooper also might welcome the sight of Marcus Peters since the only good game of Cooper’s 2017 campaign was against the Kansas City Chiefs and Peters when Cooper hauled in over 200 yards in the exciting Thursday Night Football win.

QB Jared Goff

The Raiders pass rush has looked real good in the preseason, but that is the preseason. The team is relying on two rookies, Arden Key and Maurice Hurst, to improve the rush. And Bruce Irvin has to become Batman not Robin. Even when they had Khalil Mack last season they struggled to get to the quarterback.

Without Mack it is tough to say the unit can be improved. As such, there is a possibility that Jared Goff might have all day to throw at certain times considering that happened a fair amount last season.

The one worry against Goff is if Todd Gurley gets going too well and a lead grows resulting in Sean McVay limiting Goff’s attempts.

RB Todd Gurley

The Raiders run defense in 2017 was hot and cold. At the beginning of the year, the team was handing out fantasy points to running backs like it was its charity service. But the team did see an improvement after the bye week.

So the question becomes, what will this run defense look like? Jon Gruden brought in two maulers in Maurice Hurst and PJ Hall to help plug the middle with Justin Ellis. So in theory the run defense should be a lot better along with more disciplined coaching. But there is no Mack to shut down one entire side of the running game.

In terms of Gurley, he gets the job done against anyone. So depending on how the defense plays, it will either be a good game or a great game for Gurley. He had 19 touchdowns in 2017, there is no shutting him down.

Proceed with Caution

QB Derek Carr

I am really high on Derek Carr this season and it seems to me that the team is going to have to put up a lot of points to compete this season. And while I am close to moving Carr into the must start category, it is tough to do so when looking at the Rams’ defense that includes an inside presence of Aaron Donald and Ndamukong Suh along with Peters on the outside.

Oakland’s offense line includes a rookie left tackle and an aging right tackle coming back from offseason foot surgery yet the unit will have to find a way to block Suh and Donald. If the run game doesn’t get clicking early, Carr might be rushed on a few throws or be thrown onto the dirt infield a little bit too much.

WR Brandin Cooks

History screams start Brandin Cooks. I still have nightmares thinking about him and what he has done to the Silver and Black recently. But part of me thinks his success has been due to poor discipline in the secondary from lack luster coaching.

It wouldn’t surprise me one bit to see Cooks get loose and sprint down the sideline toward the end zone. But I wouldn’t be shocked either to see an excellent game plan that bottles Cooks up and makes sure he doesn’t get behind any safeties with possibly slower wheels (Reggie Nelson).

Bench

RB Marshawn Lynch

For as highly as Oakland’s offensive line is touted, the unit has struggled to dominate running the football against elite defensive fronts. And there isn’t a more elite unit than one that has Donald and Suh. That duo could possibly stuff all the running gaps themselves without any other help from their teammates.

Lynch might need a timely touchdown to post a solid fantasy week and that’s not a great bet to take. It is also a crowded running back room with the addition of Doug Martin and the speedy Jalen Richard.