The Raiders are going into this season ranked as my 21st best team. I have them winning 7 games this year and finishing 4th in the AFC West and 11th in the AFC. Below is my in-depth breakdown of the team by position, staff, and fantasy worth.
Coaching: B+; Jon Gruden is definitely an above average coach. He makes questionable decisions, so I won’t put him anywhere higher than a B+; but he is overall good. He is a great quarterback developer. He helped grow the passing game last year and made Derek Carr look very good. His balanced, west coast attack works, but it really isn’t effective against the explosive teams of today. Gruden is probably hoping his new weapon, Henry Ruggs III, will help stretch the field.
QB: C; I don’t not like Derek Carr, but I’m also not a fan of him. Last year, He passed 4,000 yards and had 21 touchdowns to 8 interceptions during his 7-9 campaign. He is a very average starter. The addition of Marcus Mariota was a bit odd. Maybe they want to use him as a gadget player? He’ll likely just be the backup, but there are always the rumors that Carr is sitting on the hotseat. Gruden most likely wants quarterback competition.
RB: A-; Josh Jacobs was the best rookie running back last year, and it would make sense for him to make the jump to being a team-leader and workhorse. He had 1,150 rushing yards and 7 touchdowns in 13 games. He should be a top back next year. Behind him, Jalen Richard is a solid back. He is not terrific, but he can be a good pass catching mis-match. I like this Raiders backfield a lot.
WR: C+; The addition of Henry Ruggs III was key in the draft for spreading the field with a deep threat, but he is a rookie and will likely not carry this group. Their likely starter, Tyrell Williams, is a good player, but he would likely not start on 90% of NFL teams. The group has solid depth with players like Hunter Renfrow, Brian Edwards, and Nelson Agholor behind those two. I actually think that Agholor could be a good receiver when there is not a lot of pressure on him. He was a solid slot receiver in 2017, and he could play back to that level this year.
TE: B+; I like Darren Waller, don’t get me wrong, but he is not as good as people say he is. He is a great pass catcher, but he is not one of the best just because of one good statistical season. He had the advantage of being in a scheme that used him a lot. He is also not an elite blocker. He is ok, but he doesn’t dominate in it. Other than him, Jason Witten is an odd choice of a number 2. I don’t think he is bad, but he is certainly worse than he was a few years ago. The group is good, but it is nothing great.
O-line: A; The Raiders’ offensive line is one of the best in the game right now. They have a bit of a weak spot on the blind-side, but beside that, they are terrific. The interior is filled with maulers Richie Incognito, Rodney Hudson, and Gabe Jackson. On the right side, they have fantastic right tackle Trent Brown. The line is a gift to Josh Jacobs and Derek Carr. Hopefully it stays healthy this year.
D-line: A-; Clelin Ferrell was the 4th overall pick in last year’s draft. Though he hasn’t burst into the scene yet, he still has terrific potential. I am still confused by them not picking Josh Allen, but only time will tell if it was the right pick or not. On the other end of the defensive line, Maxx Crosby is one of the best rushers in the league. I don’t know why he never gets recognized, but he is fantastic. Inside, Maliek Collins and Jonathan Hankins are very above average tackles. This line doesn’t get the credit that it deserves. It is really good.
LB: C; This linebacking group is ok. It’s average, but it is nothing more than that. Though I would say that outside linebackers Nick Kwiatkoski and Nicolas Marrow are not good, The middle linebacker, Cory Littleton, carries this group. He is a great player with terrific instincts and a lot of skill. He is no All-pro, but he is a bright spot on his team.
DB: C; The secondary is definitely average. The cornerback group is ok with corners Trayvon Mullen and Prince Amukamara starting. They are good, but neither has the skill to truly lockdown a number one receiving threat. Lamarcus Joyner and rookie Damon Arnette provide decent depth at the position also. I predict Arnette will have a stellar season. The safeties are relatively better with Jonathan Abram and Damarius Randall covering deep. I don’t think that this secondary is lockdown, but the decent skill and depth should at least carry it throughout the year.
Overall: B-; The Raiders are good. They really are. I can’t see them winning many games this year due to their crazy good division and difficult schedule, but overall they make a good roster. I have them finishing 7-9 not because they are bad, but because there are better teams than them. I’m not in love with the quarterbacking or the secondary, but they have decent talent and depth. They will compete for the playoffs, but I don’t think that they will make it.
Fantasy Value: I would stay away from most of the players in fantasy besides Josh Jacobs. He should have good statistical output again this year. The receivers will mostly be underutilized on this team. Darren Waller will most likely be drafted too high. I don’t think he repeats the season he had last year with more talented players around the ball. I wouldn’t take Derek Carr due to the uncertainty around his job. He could play better this year, but even if he does, I don’t see him as a legitimate fantasy starter. The Raiders defense shouldn’t be great with all the amazing wide receivers that will cut through their secondary.