Oakland Raiders Team Preview by Matt Higgins

After waiting years on the sidelines and working one day a week, John Gruden left MNF and handpicked the  Vegas Raiders’ Head Coach job to mark his return to the national football league.  Why would he choose a 6 win team, heading the wrong direction, who has only had one winning season in the last 15 years?  Well, this is also a team with pro-bowlers throughout out the offensive line, a QB that is one year removed from becoming the highest paid QB in the league, and the Raiders are also only a season removed from a 12-4 record.  Cleary management has allowed Gruden to put his touch on the roster, and it’s the Raiders’ hope that bringing in veteran winning players and coaches will turn the momentum in a positive direction this season as they prepare to head into the Las Vegas Raiders era.



Last year Derek Carr missed a game do to a back injury, and now fans are hoping that the injury is convenient excuse for a horrendous season.  In 2016 Carr got paid and was being drafted as QB#4 in fantasy drafts.  In 2017 he got Michael Crabtree kicked out of town, a coaching staff fired, and nearly derailed the career of Amari Cooper.  He didn’t get a lot of help from a highly touted offensive line that disappointed.  Also, Beast Mode waited until the season was lost to become productive.  It’s hard to say what version of Derek Carr we will get, but John Gruden can only help the quarterbacks progress.  Who didn’t love to watch John Gruden sit down with all the QB’s in the draft and look at film?  Derick Carr has been quoted as saying that John Gruden is turning him into a QB robot.  Anyone who can win a Super Bowl with Brad Johnson has to know how to coach up quarterbacks, and I am a believer that Gruden will get the very best out of Derek Carr.  Carr is currently going as a quarterback you could stream and claim off waivers, but keep in mind that his schedule is good, this is a new offensive system, and he is playing with new WRs.  Don’t draft him but feel free to stream him if needed. 



Amari Cooper went from positing back to back 1000 yard seasons to putting up 680 yards last year.  It gets worse, he put up 210 of the yards in one game, and letting down fantasy teams in the other 15.  Fantasy owners should know that he is one of the most inconsistent players in football catching less than 50% of the passes thrown his way last season.  Also, in far too many games he went missing seeing 5 targets or less instead of the consistent 10 targets that you would want out of your number one WR.  Also, he’s put on 15 pounds or so in “alleged muscle” this off season.  You never want to see a speed WR with suspect hands put on a bunch of weight in the off season.  He doesn’t have the hands to go up and make contested plays.  Also, Cooper is not the WR garnishing all the praise in Raiders training camp and it’s hard to justify his #36 ADP given his fall off in production last year. 


Jordy Nelson is the WR you want to own in Oakland.  You might be thinking “why would I draft a 33 year old WR who only put up 500 yards for the Packers last year?”  Well, this 33 year old WR was coming off injury and not playing with Aaron Rodgers.  Also, in the previous two seasons he put up at least 1250 yards.  Most importantly, it’s the comments that are coming out of Raiders camp.  “I can’t believe the Packers let him go” -John Gruden.  The word is that he is one of the fastest players on the field, he’s catching everything, he’s the best route runner, blah blah blah.  The love for Jordy Nelson in Oakland is running out of control, and this love is not being reflected in his fantasy ADP of #95.  Please reach a round or maybe even 2, and draft this man.


Martavis Bryant comes over as a malcontent from Pittsburgh.  No one is denying his talent, but the same complaints he received from Steelers coaches and Rothesberger are popping up in Oakland.  Bryant lacks the effort to be a trusted member of an NFL franchise or fantasy roster.  Gruden has made it clear that his roster spot is not guaranteed,  adding that they need more effort and focus from Bryant.  It seems unlikely that Bryant wouldn’t at least get a chance to start for the Raiders considering that the team gave Pittsburgh a 3rd round pick to acquire him.  His current ADP is in the 12th round where it’s hard to find people of his ability, but the cards seem to be stacked against Bryant in Oakland.  Also, there are rumors that the Raiders are trying to shop him.



Marshawn Lynch is being reunited with his old coach Tom Cable who comes over from Seattle to coach the offensive line in Oakland.  He brings with him the zone blocking scheme that has allowed Marshawn to excel in the past.  Also, the strength of the Raiders offensive line is the interior that favors Marshawn’s “pick a hole and go” style.  Last year Marshawn fought ol’ Father Time and quietly piled up almost 900 yards on the ground.  It used to be that age of 30 was the magic number where RB’s went to pasture, but Marshawn is a different kinda guy in every aspect.  He is a spectacle on and off the field, but still, he seems like a safe bet to see the volume and out preform his current ADP of #72.  Last year he only got better as the season went on.


Doug Martin comes into Oakland with hopes of reviving his career.  Last year he put up 2.9 per carry in a Tampa Bay offense where no member excelled.  He is one of only a hand full of people in the league who have racked up multiple 1400 yard seasons, but those seasons seem like a long time ago.  Marshawn is listed as the clear cut starter on the depth chart.  However, Doug Martin is a player that Lynch owners should target.  Lynch has a history of missing games with back issues and Martin has proven he can do great things in the past.



Last year Jared Cook caught 54 passes for 688 yards.  Now he gets players like Amari Cooper, Jordy Nelson, and Martavis Bryant to take the top off the defense.  Still, there are younger TE’s with more upside, but you could do worse than Jared Cook if you wait on TE.  

Take Aways

John Gruden hand picked the Raiders.  They have a great offensive line, a talented QB, a WR with a chip on his shoulder, and some aging veterans that still have some football left in the tank. 

The AFC West is a tough division, but there are plenty of reasons to believe that Oakland will bounce back.  John Gruden is reason number one, two, and three.  He  knows how to get the most out of veteran players and turning locker rooms around.  

 Lynch and Jordy Nelson feel like good bets to out perform their current ADP.