Contributions from Joshua Hudson, Joe Zollo, Chris Molina, & Chris Tyler
In, former NFL Network analyst, Mike Mayock’s first draft as GM of the Raiders, the plan was fairly clear — high character guys who won’t do dumb shit when the team moves to Las Vegas in 2020. They also wanted players with championship pedigree, hence the number of players selected from either Alabama or Clemson- four out of nine draft picks. They needed to beef up their defense, and the selections of Clelin Ferrell and Johnathan Abram will certainly help in due time. Two of the biggest offensive selections were first round RB Josh Jacobs and fifth-round WR Hunter Renfrow. Look for those two to make immediate impacts in Year One. – The Hudsonian, Joshua Hudson
There is a lot of offensive turnover in Oakland. A lot. The only real holdover is the man with the keys to the carr. See what I did there? Derek Carr was underwhelming a year ago, but he’s not far removed from an MVP-caliber season in 2016. He has a new bell-cow running back (rookie Josh Jacobs), three new receivers to throw to (Antonio Brown, Tyrell Williams, and rookie Hunter Renfrow), and a new left tackle to protect his blindside (Trent Brown). I fully expect Antonio Brown’s numbers to taper off a tad, but the target volume should remain high, and Williams will see his fair share of deep passes. The lineup is intriguing for fantasy purposes, but your perception lies largely on your thoughts about Gruden as a play caller. (Here’s lookin’ at you, Molina.) – The Hudsonian, Joshua Hudson
After a dismal offensive showing in his first season back on the sidelines in almost a decade, Jon Gruden and the Raiders really have nowhere to go but up. While sporting one of the league’s worst defenses, it’s only logical that the team threw a ton more than anticipated, but 39% of the team’s offensive plays were rush plays. The lead back in the offense — first Marshawn Lynch, then Doug Martin — accounted for 67.7% of the team’s rushes. Numbers like that mean the sky’s the limit for their first-round pick Josh Jacobs.
Jacobs was essentially the Crimson Tide’s third-string back, but one could argue he was the most talented. Gruden and, new Raiders GM, Mike Mayock clearly thought so by making Jacobs not only a first-round pick but the first running back off the board. The biggest question mark that surrounds Jacobs is his usage in college- only 299 touches in three seasons in Tuscaloosa. One could interpret that as a positive or a negative, so I digress. Jacobs doesn’t have breakaway speed, but he’s big and strong- sporting 4.1 yards after first contact per attempt, and 0.27 forced missed tackles per attempt- ninth in the country last year.
Jacobs has three-down ability — about one-sixth of his career touches coming on receptions — and has averaged almost 12 yards per reception throughout his college career. You don’t spend a first round pick on a running back unless you think he can touch the ball close to 350 times in a season. If Jacobs can generate around 250 carries and 45 receptions, he should easily exceed 1,500 total yards and approach 10 TDs. That’s RB1 upside in what will undoubtedly be an uninspiring NFL offense. – The Hudsonian, Joshua Hudson
The Raiders scored an atrocious 28 touchdowns last year, making it tough to predict who has an upside. And if you can’t predict who an upside, you can’t really predict a downside either. The obvious choice though, is new WR1 for the Oakland Raiders, Antonio Brown. Jon Gruden wants to run the football, as evidenced by having more rushing attempts than completions last season (now they get their shiny new running back Josh Jacobs to bolster the load). Brown is currently being taken as the WR7 with an ADP of 18.5 on Sleeper. The Raiders offense (or lack thereof) and Brown having played his entire career lead to uncertainty. With uncertainty comes downside.
Brown played on an offense that saw Big Ben throw the ball 675 times for 5,129 yards. He is moving to an offense where Carr threw the ball 553 times for 4,049 yards. The WR1 for Oakland had 88 targets last season- 739 yards receiving, and three touchdowns. Antonio Brown hasn’t had a season of fewer than 1,297 yards, eight touchdowns, or 154 targets since 2012 (where he still wasn’t a full starter). Carr threw 19 touchdowns last season (only 9 to receivers). Brown had 15. Therefore, there is going to be a regression for Antonio Brown. The regression may be minor, and Brown may finish as the WR 5-10 (where is ADP lies), but he’s being drafted between Juju and Thielen. Tread lightly. – Chris Molina
While I agree with Chris having him as a “Fantasy Downside”, I do believe Antonio Brown is the veteran on this team to lean on as a trust fall. The rest of this offense is mostly unproven. You have a rookie running back in Josh Jacobs, a young deep threat in Tyrell Williams, and a rookie wide receiver in Hunter Renfrow. They lost Jared Cook to free agency, so the only veteran presence on this team is Antonio Brown. I don’t believe he puts up numbers like he has in previous seasons with Pittsburgh, but he will still be at least a WR2. I beg of you, do not make Antonio Brown a first round pick this year. There is a slew of other receivers that deserve to be taken higher than him this season, and there are enough running backs to make the first round all ground and pound in a 10-team league. You can trust him, but do not over-value him. – Joe Zollo
As you know, I did not have first-round pick Josh Jacobs in my top five running backs entering the 2019 NFL Draft. First, I would like to say that he is an outstanding athlete and is talented enough to be a big name in the future. Second, I have a lot of question marks next to his name because he was a backup to Damien and Najee Harris. There were very few games where he carried the ball like a starter. What I do know by watching him, though, is that he’s quick, elusive and extremely tough. Being a first rounder, it is expected that you will start or participate in many snaps 80% of the time. With an offseason injury to Isaiah Crowell, it’s a picture-perfect scenario for Jacobs to be the starter. Jacobs is a versatile threat in the backfield, not only as a running back but as a receiver too. In college, Jacobs had 48 catches for 571 yards which is pretty good for a third-stringer. When defenses also have to watch out for Antonio Brown out wide and Hunter Renfrow in the slot, that is when Jacobs will slip out to the flats and do what he did at Bama and gain yards. Josh Jacobs has the perfect opportunity to shine in this upcoming season. – Chris Tyler
Another guy that I am truly not confident about. His upside is tremendous and the skills are all there, but it all depends on his Quarterback. Newly acquired WR Tyrell Williams is known for his deep ball route running and catching and big play ability. While I almost always go against big-play guys like this, especially in PPR leagues, I can’t help but put him on here (mostly for lack of sleepers elsewhere on the team, but I won’t tell if you won’t tell). Like I said, the hindrance to his success will be Derek Carr. Coming off an incredibly lack-luster season, Carr hopes to rebound with an abundance of new talent surrounding him. Williams will be their number one guy when it comes to deep ball passing unless Mr. Big Chest himself gets all pissy and demands 300 targets this season. – Joe Zollo
Does Oakland even have a defense? They made some signings in the offseason, but there is not much glamour to pick from on this side of the ball. On the Defensive Line, there is nobody. I mean legitimately nobody. All the veterans won’t even crack the top 30 of the DL, so we are left with the fourth overall pick Clelin Ferrell. His sack totals grew each year he played, and he consistently racked up a solid amount of tackles. He is unproven but clearly has the potential to be great in this league.
Looking at the Linebackers, Oakland made some solid moves during the offseason. Brandon Marshall and Vontaze Burfict join the squad, but neither has been able to return to the prowess they once had. Injuries have plagued Marshall, while both injuries and idiocy have overtaken Burfict. He once had 177 combined tackles in a season, but that was back in 2013- his second year (yes, I fell for the bait and took him in 2014 for him to only rack up 29 tackles). The only guy who might be able to make an impact is Tahir Whitehead. According to ourlads.com, Whitehead is slotted behind Burfict as the Weak Side Linebacker, but he could surpass him in camp. Whitehead has managed over 110 tackles each of the last three seasons with multiple turnovers to go along with it.
In the secondary, the only player to possibly consider is former Rams Safety Lamarcus Joyner. When playing at least 14 games, Joyner has had over 65 tackles each season and has also had five forced turnovers in the past two seasons. Don’t bank on turnovers to get you points, but Joyner could see time on your bench and be a viable option if he has a good matchup. Last note, I want to say Karl Joseph as well, but he just cannot stay healthy. Proceed with caution if you feel you want Joseph on your team. – Joe Zollo