Las Vegas Raiders 2021 Fantasy Previewby Mike Fanelli August 18, 2021 0 comments
Last season, the Las Vegas Raiders had two consistent fantasy players in Darren Waller and Josh Jacobs. In the offseason, the Raiders made moves that made fantasy players unhappy. Instead of investing in a top wide receiver like Kenny Golladay, the Raiders used their cap space to sign running back Kenyan Drake and wide receiver John Brown. As the Raiders enter year four under head coach Jon Gruden, the offense hasn’t gotten much better since he was hired. While the team is hopeful their two young wide receivers from the 2020 NFL Draft can take steps forward, let’s look at what fantasy players can expect from the Raiders this season.
Make sure to check out all of our other 2021 Fantasy Football Previews.
Quarterbacks – Derek Carr
While Carr is far from the ideal starting fantasy quarterback, he has improved each year with Gruden on the sidelines. Carr has increased his fantasy points per game by at least 1.7 each of the past three years. Furthermore, Carr threw 27 touchdowns and only nine interceptions last season. The 3-1 touchdown to interception ratio was Carr’s best since 2016. Carr threw a career-high 4,103 passing yards last season despite having only one wide receiver finish with over 700 receiving yards. Even with the underwhelming weapons around him, Carr finished last season as the QB13, averaging 17 fantasy points per game. However, unless one of his wide receivers turns into a 1,000-yard receiver, Carr will have an uphill fight finishing as a top-12 quarterback this season.
Running Backs – Josh Jacobs, Kenyan Drake
In the first two years of his career, Jacobs has rushed for over 1,000 yards both seasons. Last season, Jacobs finished tied for fourth in the NFL with 12 rushing touchdowns. He also had a career-high 33 catches and 16 goal line rushing attempts. However, Jacobs averaged only 3.9 yards per rushing attempt. While Jacobs finished as the RB8 last season, on a point per game basis, he finished as the RB14, averaging 15.4 fantasy points per game. Furthermore, Jacobs was very inconsistent on a weekly basis. He had six games last year with under 10.5 fantasy points. By comparison, Jacobs scored over 14 fantasy points in only five games. With the addition of Drake and the questions about the offensive line, Jacobs is nothing more than a low-end RB2.
From 2017 to 2019, Drake caught 135 of 189 targets with six touchdowns in 46 games. Furthermore, Drake had 50 or more catches in two of those three seasons. Meanwhile, when the Raiders signed Drake, Gruden talked about playing Drake as a wide receiver. While Drake will get some snaps at wide receiver, he will mainly play in the backfield. Last season, Jacobs had 45 targets in 15 games while the Raiders threw to their running backs 95 times. With Devontae Booker in New York and Theo Riddick retiring, expect Drake to get most of the targets out of the backfield. In PPR leagues, Drake’s ceiling is limited because of Jacobs. However, if Jacobs misses time, Drake becomes a plug and play RB2 or better.
Wide Receivers – Henry Ruggs, Bryan Edwards, John Brown, Hunter Renfrow
As rookies, Ruggs and Edwards were massive disappointments, averaging a combined 9.5 fantasy points per game. However, the young duo showed flashes last season. Ruggs scored 15 or more fantasy points twice last season and averaged over 40 yards per catch in those games, showing off his big play ability. While he only played more than 42 percent of the snaps in two games last season, Edwards scored a career-high 13.1 fantasy points in Week 17 against the Denver Broncos. So far in camp, reports are that both second-year receivers have impressed. According to Fantasy Pros ADP, both receivers are getting drafted in the 10th round or later. At their current ADP, both wide receivers are worth targeting based on their potential upside.
During his only season as a Raider, Nelson Agholor led all the wide receivers on the team in targets, receiving yards, touchdowns, and fantasy points. In the offseason, the New England Patriots signed him to a contract the Raiders were wise not to match, replacing him with Brown instead. Last season, Brown missed seven games because of injury. However, in 2019 as the Bills’ No. 1 wide receiver, Brown had a career year, averaging 14.7 fantasy points per game, finishing as the WR20. If the young duo of wide receivers once again disappoints, Brown could find himself in Agholor’s shoes from last year. Despite the reports Brown is working with the second-team unit, he is worth using one of your final picks on based on his potential role.
After leading all wide receivers on the team in catches as a rookie, Renfrow regressed last season. He went from averaging 10.3 fantasy points per game as a rookie to 8.2 last year. Furthermore, his targets per game dropped by 13 percent, and his touchdowns got cut in half. However, Renfrow can be a flex option in deeper PPR leagues during the bye weeks, thanks to his role in the offense. So far in camp, Renfrow has worked with Ruggs and Edwards in the first-team offense as the slot receiver. While Renfrow lacks upside, especially in standard size leagues, he should remain a weekly safe floor flex option for deeper leagues.
Tight Ends – Darren Waller
Aside from Travis Kelce, Waller is arguably the best tight end in the NFL. Over the past two seasons, Waller had 197 catches on 262 targets for 2,341 yards and 12 touchdowns while averaging 15.6 fantasy points per game. Last season, Waller finished tied with Kelce with 145 targets, tied for sixth-most in the league. Furthermore, Waller’s targets jumped 24 percent from 2019 to 2020. If the young receivers turn into fantasy assets, it will hurt Waller’s value. However, it will have very minimal impact. While his target share will take a slight hit, defenses won’t be able to double team him consistently. While taking Kelce in the first round of PPR drafts is appealing, getting Waller a round to a round and a half later is the better option.
Last season the Raiders D/ST was one of the worst in the league, averaging only 4.4 fantasy points per game. Furthermore, they averaged only two sacks and fewer than one turnover per game. On a week-to-week basis, they were a disappointment, scoring under two fantasy points in half of their games. Furthermore, the Raiders D/ST scored negative fantasy points in 25 percent of their games last season. By comparison, they scored more than four fantasy points only three times. In the offseason, the Raiders signed pass-rusher Yannick Ngakoue and used a second-round pick on safety Trevon Moehrig. While those additions will help, the Raiders D/ST remains a bottom-five unit and shouldn’t be draft under any circumstance.
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