August is officially fantasy football month as NFL training camps are underway and the regular season is just around the corner. Football fans worldwide start scouring the internet and fantasy magazines fly off the shelves as millions of people prepare for their drafts, which are likely held at the end of the month.
Regarding the Las Vegas Raiders, the most important player from a fantasy football perspective is wide receiver Davante Adams. In the past, Adams has routinely been a first- or second-round pick and rarely disappoints as he’s put up some big-time numbers.
But with all the changes the Raiders have made in the offseason, including bringing in a new starting quarterback in Jimmy Garoppolo, will that still be the case in 2023? Let’s take a look at the situation and find out!
2022 fantasy performance
Statistically, Adams had one of the best years of his career last season. He hauled in 100 catches for 1,516 yards and 14 touchdowns. That was the fourth time in his career he logged triple-digit receptions and the yardage and touchdown totals were the second-most he’s had. Among the league’s wideouts, those figures ranked seventh, third and first, respectively.
Below are Adams’ 2022 points per week and final rankings in standard scoring, PPR and half PPR leagues via Fantasy Pros.
- Standard: 13.9 PPW, WR2
- PPR: 19.7 PPW, WR3
- Half: 16.8 PPW, WR2
Over the last five seasons, Adams has logged over 100 receptions, 1,300 yards and 10 touchdowns four times. The only year he didn’t cross those thresholds was 2019 when he had 83 catches for 997 yards and five touchdowns in 12 games as he missed four contests with a turf toe injury.
Granted, the majority of those impressive numbers came while future Hall of Famer Aaron Rodgers was throwing him the ball. However, the three-time All-Pro proved last season that he can still produce as an elite, top-tier receiver regardless of the quarterback throwing him the ball.
Derek Carr had one of the worst years of his career last year and ended up getting benched, and Adams still topped the charts at the end of the campaign. He even put up an impressive stat line with Jarrett Stidham under center: 12 receptions, 226 yards and two touchdowns in two games.
So, for a “best-case scenario,” there’s no reason to believe he can’t keep the streak alive of triple-digit catches, at least 1,300 yards and double-digit scores.
In 2017, Rodgers broke a clavicle after just four pass attempts in Week 6 of the season and was out for the next seven games while Brett Hundley took over. With Hundley at quarterback, Adams had 46 catches, 543 yards and five touchdowns in eight games. Had he maintained that rate through a 17-game season, that would amount to a stat line of about 98/1,154/10.
Even if the Raiders' quarterback situation becomes extremely unstable with injury-prone Garoppolo under center, it’s hard to imagine Adams dipping below a 90-catch, 1,000-yard and seven-touchdown season.
Las Vegas made two big changes/additions in the offseason that I think could impact Adams’ fantasy football production in 2023. The first is obvious, going from Carr to Garoppolo at quarterback.
Per Pro Football Focus, Adams led the Raiders in targets by a wide margin. He was thrown at 168 times while Mack Hollins was second on the team with 89 and running back Josh Jacobs was third with 61.
That was mainly because the former Fresno State Bulldogs already had some chemistry together and Carr would often force the ball to his college teammate even when Adams wasn’t necessarily open. Heaving passes up to one of the best wide receivers in the game is never a bad idea, but Garoppolo might not do that as often seeing as he and Adams don’t have a pre-existing relationship. It doesn’t help that Garoppolo was injured and sidelined during OTAs and minicamp, either.
Also, Carr was a bit of a gambler last year, throwing 71 deep passes which tied for the seventh most in the league and accounted for 14.1 percent of his attempts. Meanwhile, Jimmy G threw just 28 bombs at a 9.1 percent rate as his game is much more predicted on short to intermediate passes over the middle, which brings me to the second offseason addition.
Josh McDaniels brought in former New England Patriots wide receiver Jakobi Meyers during free agency, whose two most-productive areas of the field last season were on short to intermediate caches over the middle. That’s where 27 of his 67 receptions and 287 of his 803 yards came from.
So, given that Garoppolo’s and Meyers’ strengths line up, the latter might take some targets and production away from Adams in 2023.
Handcuff player recommendation
This is a tough one because finding a handcuff player for a wide receiver in general is difficult and if Adams goes down, it’s going to be nearly impossible for anyone to fill the shoes of arguably the best and most complete wide receiver in the NFL.
That being said, if you can draft Meyers too, as mentioned above, he pairs well with Garoppolo and would likely step up as the Raiders' top target if Adams is out. Fantasy Pros’ consensus ADP rankings currently have the former Patriot as the 132nd player overall and WR53 in standard-scoring leagues, 120 and WR56 in PPR, and 126 and WR53 in half PPR.
Other Raiders to consider
Hunter Renfrow would be the next player who comes to mind. He struggled and battled injuries last year, leading to the most unproductive season of his career with 36 grabs for 330 yards and two touchdowns in 10 games. However, Renfrow is just a year removed from a 100-catch, 1,000-yard and nine-score (all career-highs) campaign and thrives on short routes, which could be a good complement to Garoppolo’s skillset.
Rookie tight end Michael Mayer is another guy to keep an eye on, especially later in drafts. McDaniels loves using tight ends—look no further than 2011 when Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez combined for 203 catches, 2,237 yards and 24 touchdowns—and Mayer left Notre Dame as the leader in every major statistical category at the position.
The player I’d stay away from is Jacobs. While he is the reigning rushing champ, he was franchise tagged and rumors are swirling about him holding out for at least part of the season.
Even if Jacobs does show up by Week 1, I’d expect McDaniels to use a running back by committee approach this season. That was his philosophy in New England and he brought in four rushers to Las Vegas last season—Brandon Bolden and Ameer Abdullah in free agency, and Zamir White and Brittain Brown via the draft. All four are still on the roster so, I think the 2022 rushing group is due for a regression in 2023.