Umm … pass?
When choosing fantasy juggernauts, the Oakland Raiders find themselves far from the top of the list. I would rather get a root canal. I would rather go through a week’s worth of sunburn. I would rather sit through hours and hours of reality television. I would rather– you get the point, I presume? The Raiders aren’t exactly an exciting team, in terms of both real and fantasy football. However, this series is called “Fantasy 32” and without Oakland, it wouldn’t be 32.
It would be like … 31.
If your league rewards points for throwing pick sixes, Matt Schaub is a first round pick, for sure.
Schaub accomplished the unfortunate feat in four consecutive games last year, setting an NFL record in the process. According to ESPN, by the end of the season, Schaub had sported a 3.9 percent interception rate, the fourth-worst among starting quarterbacks. He was one of the contributing factors to the Texans collapse last season, but perhaps a new home is what Schaub needs for a rejuvenation.
Perhaps not in Oakland, however.
It will be interesting, though, to see Schaub likely post the most attempts of his career. In Houston, the Raiders were extremely run-heavy, and as a result, Schaub only has three seasons in his career with over 500 passing attempts. The Raiders running game (which we will get into later) has been ineffective lately, and with their horrid defense, Schaub could be dropping back to pass quite a bit this year. But to who? The Raiders pass-catchers are one of the most mediocre bunches in all of football, but remember, in 2012, Carson Palmer threw for over 4,000 yards and 22 touchdowns with the Raiders, serving as a decent streaming options at times.
This time two or three years ago, we were talking about Maurice Jones-Drew as a top-10 fantasy running back, and potentially, a future member of the Hall of Fame. Entering the 2012 campaign, MJD was coming off a rushing title, while hauling in 43 passes, too. He was an absolute stud, but during the two years since, he hasn’t been nearly the same.
In 2012, Jones-Drew played just six games, dealing with injury for the first significant amount of time in his career. Then, last year, he played all but one game, but wasn’t very strong, rushing for just 803 yards (3.4 YPC), but he still finished 20th in fantasy points among running backs because of his 43 catches and five rushing scores. Of course, the Jaguars offensive line was absolutely putrid, too. Last year, the Jags were the 31st-ranked run-blocking unit in football, while rushers were stuffed at the line of scrimmage about 25 percent of the time. However, despite all of the negative, I do believe Jones-Drew still has some left in the tank.
Jones-Drew was still 11th among running backs in yards after contact last year, and still has some wiggle to his game. A short frame and a strong, compact runner, MJD can be difficult to tackle at times. But he’s not as quick as he once was. And, for the first time in his career, he’ll also be in a committee approach.
The Raiders decided to bring back Darren McFadden, so I guess they like watching their running backs play less than 13 games per year. The guy has missed 19 games during his six-year tenure, missing almost 70 percent of his career contests, a rather ugly number. McFadden may be the third-down back in this offense, while Jones-Drew serves as more of the rushing downs back. If I am taking a shot on any of these guys, it would be Jones-Drew. I feel like he isn’t quite done yet, but again, temper expectations in a big, big way.
Strangely enough, the Raiders receivers are sort of interesting for fantasy purposes.
Let’s start with the new guy, James Jones, who has grown accustom to catching passes from the likes of Aaron Rodgers. A guy who led the NFL in receiving touchdowns in 2012 (14), Jones obviously regressed big time last year, catching just 59 balls for 817 yards and three scores. Of course, Rodgers missed seven contests, but Jones mightily struggled without him, posting just one double-digit fantasy week. Now, in Oakland, he’ll be catching passes from quarterbacks nowhere near Rodgers’ caliber. The only real argument I can make for Jones is that he could very well see triple-digit targets for the first time in his career, but the wide receiver position is so deep, and, of course, touchdowns are so difficult to predict.
This is where it gets interesting. I have a good feeling about Temple product, Rod Streater, who led Oakland in targets last season with 99. He finished the season well, posting double-digit fantasy points in three of his final seven contests. He’s clearly the most talented wideout of this bunch, and if I were taking a flier (and that’s what these wideouts are), it would definitely be Streater, a guy who has improved on his reception totals in each of his first two seasons. The quarterback situation will be better than last year, and Streater could have a sneaky good year in 2014.
As for the tight end position? I respectfully decline.