We’ve heard this story before, it seems.
Every Fantasy Football player knows that, historically, the Oakland Raiders and Fantasy Football success have gone together like oil and water.
This year however, the Raiders appear to be turning a corner towards becoming a decent team.
More importantly, in Fantasy circles, the Silver and Black appear to be Fantasy Football relevant again.
Are you ready to get on board, or will you be sitting on the sidelines watching it happen?
4 Reasons You Should Target Oakland Raiders in Fantasy Football
You shouldn’t be afraid to target Raiders, instead of avoiding them like the plague in years past.
1. Latavius Murray, Running Back
If you were eliminated from your Fantasy Football league early last year, you might you missed Murray and the solid production he delivered down the stretch. For some reason, the former Raider’s coaching staff thought it best to start last season with a running tandem made up of ‘always injured’ Darren McFadden and an aging Maurice Jones Drew. Despite the fact that they were a team projected to only win 3 or 4 games.
Once Murray was finally given the opportunity to show his ability, he finished the year with 424 rushing yards on only 82 attempts. That is an average of 5.2 yards per carry.
McFadden is now in Dallas and Jones Drew has retired. This should allow Murray every opportunity to build on 2014 and become the lead back in Oakland this upcoming year. Murray is 6’3’ and weighs 230 lbs and brings that enticing combination of speed and power. Best of all, the Raiders signed Trent Richardson in the off-season to compete with Murray for the starting running back position. While this is not the most comforting news if you are a Raiders fan, it is music to your ears if you are a Latavius Murray fantasy owner.
Last year, Richardson played his way into fantasy irrelevancy again, and is now on his 3rd team in his short and uneventful NFL career. Baring an injury in training camp, Murray will emerge as the first string running back, and should see the bulk of the carries this season. He has the ability to be a top 10 fantasy back in non or half point PPR leagues in 2015.
2. Amari Cooper, Wide Receiver
The Raiders used their first round selection in the 2015 NFL draft, to pick who many consider to be the most NFL ready rookie receiver. So far in minicamp, coach Del Rio has been impressed with what he has seen from the Raiders’ first-round selection. Words like “maturity” and “polished” are being used to praise the young receiver. Furthermore, the Raiders brought in the perfect No. 2 WR in Michael Crabtree this off-season, to complement Cooper.
Crabtree is someone who is talented enough to keep opposing defenses honest, but not someone who talented enough to take away targets for Cooper. I am not saying that Cooper is going to be the next coming of Odell Beckham Jr. this season, but performances from ODB, Kelvin Benjamin and Mike Evans last year have shown us that wide receivers can have a major fantasy impact early on in their careers.
3. Derek Carr, Oakland Raiders
In my opinion, I am not sure Fantasy Experts have quite made up their mind on the ceiling for Carr just yet, but it should be noted that he did finish 2014 in the top 10 in passing attempts among NFL quarterbacks. So with the aforementioned improved receiving core, and an emerging ground game, Carr should have every opportunity to improve on his rookie year in 2015.
If you don’t select one of the top Fantasy Quarterbacks early, Carr could be a solid late round flier, or a very serviceable bye week fill in. Carr is currently dealing with a hand injury, so take that into consideration if you are in a league that drafts early. As it stands now, if Carr has to miss any playing time this season, Christian Ponder would be the most likely candidate to step in as his back up.
4. Head Coach Jack Del Rio
Is Del Rio Bill Belichick? Heavens, no. Is he an improvement over Tony Saparo? Definitely. While Sparano is being given credit for part of the development of Derek Carr’s success last year, I believe Jack Del Rio will provide much more stability at the coaching position overall, which gives all of the young Raider players a better opportunity to reach their fantasy potential.
Former Raiders coach and legendary television analyst John Madden was brought in over the offseason to make the final decision on the next Raider head coach. Madden persuaded ownership not to bring back Sparano and instead go with the more reliable Del Rio. So while NFL coaches don’t often have a direct influence on Fantasy performance and success, stability at the coaching position never hurts either when trying to put together your season long projections.
Have I helped convince you that the Oakland Raiders are worthy of your Fantasy Football attention?
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