There isn’t much to get excited about, but the Oakland Raiders are up next, apart of our Fantasy 32 series. This unit watched two of their more relevant fantasy options leave during Free Agency, so there is opportunity for younger guys to step up and make a name for themselves. Still, there isn’t much to be excited about from a fantasy perspective this year, considering this team could potentially represent one of the worst offenses in football in 2013.
Last season, Carson Palmer was a fairly productive fantasy option for those who were in trouble at quarterback. He threw for over 4,000 yards and 22 scores, finishing as fantasy’s number 16 quarterback, despite a pedestrian receiving corp to work with. Now, Palmer is gone and enter former Packers’ backup Matt Flynn. I’m not sure there is much reason to be excited about Flynn in any way shape or form. Remember, this is a guy the Seahawks brought in last year to potentially be their starter, but lost the competition to then rookie, Russell Wilson. However, Flynn has the chance to start again here in Oakland. Still, he will likely receive strong competition from Tyrelle Pryor and rookie Tyler Wilson. It doesn’t matter who is under center during Week 1 because none of these guys should be on fantasy radars, especially when you consider how deep the quarterback position is. The combination of an atrocious offensive line and the absence of a true number one wideout will keep these guys on league waiver wires in all leagues in 2013.
High risk, high reward. There really is no better way to describe drafting Darren McFadden in your fantasy leagues this year. Injuries have been decimating to Run-DMC, having missed a whopping 13 games over the past two seasons. And when he has been on the field, he certainly hasn’t looked like the 4th overall draft pick from back in 2008. McFadden is averaging a measly 4.3 yards per carry in his career and has only eclipsed 1,000 yards once. It’s frustrating because at 25-years old, you know he has the talent to be a top talent in this league. Despite all of the negative that has been said about him, for some reason, I continue to give McFadden another chance. This season is no exception. New offensive coordinator Greg Olson will bring back a power running scheme after McFadden struggled heavily with the zone-blocking scheme a season ago. At times last season, he looked lost, missing holes, struggling to follow blockers. McFadden should be much better in this format. In 2010 and 2011 combined (the last time he operated out of this scheme), McFadden averaged 5.3 yards per carry and scored 11 touchdowns. This offense is ugly outside of McFadden, so I fully expect him to get the ball a ton. We know the talent is there, but there is also every possible reason to believe he won’t be able to play a full season. He’s never suited up for more than 13 games in a campaign. Draft him as a low-end RB2 with caution, but don’t be surprised if he goes down to injury. Oh yeah, it’s a contract year for McFadden, which could mean a bit of an extra incentive to perform well.
The wide receiver position for Oakland is pretty ugly, but there is a bit of sneaky upside here. Firstly, with Darrius Heyward-Bey out of the picture, third-year player Denarius Moore will have the opportunity to be the number one wideout. Moore has shown flashes over the past two years, scoring a solid 12 touchdowns. He has great speed and can beat defenders with the long ball, but outside of that, can he be a consistent fantasy producer? In 2011, Moore posted an aDOT (average depth of target) of 18.9, which was good for the fourth-highest in football (stat via ProFootballFocus).Last year, he took a step back, averaging 13.8 per target and 9.3 yards after the catch. He likes to go deep and so did Carson Palmer. Now, Flynn will likely be under center, a much worse option than Palmer. Being “the guy” in Oakland’s aerial attack, Moore will get the targets, but only has 84 catches in two seasons. Will he be able to do anything with these targets? Also, Rod Streater is another sneaky name that is worth mentioning real quick. He’ll likely step in as the number two option, and has a an appealing combination of 6’3″ size and 4.37 speed. It’s difficult to draft him in anything but the deepest of leagues, but he came on a bit towards the end of last season and is worth keeping an eye on as the season progresses.
How much of a pleasant surprise was Brandon Myers last season? The tight end emerged into a top-10 fantasy option last year, catching 79 balls for 806 yards and four scores. Sadly, Myers is gone as well, creating a massive and rather ugly hole in the Raiders’ tight end position. David Ausberry appears to be promising, having the athleticism after playing wide receiver at USC. However, he is an atrocious blocker, and considering that tight end is relatively deep, you’d have to be crazy to consider drafting him this year.
Adam Pfeifer is a featured fantasy sports columnist for Rant Sports.
You can follow him on Twitter @aPfeiferRS.