Gamble at The Ramble: Week 8: Oakland Raiders Fantasy Football

“Fantasy Football Gamble at The Ramble” – Sean Hildebrandt

This a weekly piece aimed at covering The Raiders weekly FF topics.  Topics will vary.

The Oakland Raiders’ fantasy football prospects were taking a severe plunge until their Thursday Night Football matchup with the Kansas City Chiefs. Then quarterback Derek Carr and wide receiver Amari Cooper both led the NFL statistically at their respective positions in Week 7.  The Raiders passing attack assaulted the Chiefs secondary from start to finish, leading the way to an upset victory over the rival AFC West divisional leader.  The Week 7 win meant so much to the Raider Nation fan base as well as rekindling some favoritism for their fantasy football stars, seemingly reawakening the 2016 Raiders offense.  Believe it or not, it’s Week 8, the halfway point of the regular season and the “meat” of the fantasy football season starts now.  Let’s take a look at fantasy football matchups this Sunday’s road matchup in Buffalo vs the Bills.

Week 8: 2 Must Start Raiders

Raiders TE, Jared Cook – I predicted in the summer Jared Cook would see his career-best numbers benefitting from his insertion into this talented Raiders offense. Cook is on track to do just that averaging 45 receiving yards per game and posting his career-best catch percentage of 65.9% thus far into the 2017 season. In fact, if Cook has 2-3 more games like this past Thursday he could be the first Raiders tight end to break 1,000 receiving yards since Todd Christensen. Christensen posted 1,247 receiving yards back in 1983, incredible free agent value showing for Cook in his first season thus far.

The uptick of play action concepts in the offense looks like it’s here to stay. That bodes well for Cook this Sunday against an aggressive Bills defense that tries to disrupt route timing and rush the passer.  Cook is a great play this week as he can be Derek Carr’s primary safety outlet for receptions evading the pass rush Sunday.

Raiders QB, Derek Carr – Yes, he’s back to being himself after some poor showings coupled with an injury that slowed down the entire offense. Carr looked his usual 2016 self Thursday and the play calling favored his arm talent throwing the ball down the field. The rushing attack obviously has to take a back seat and the team needs to get back to showcasing their best chance to win; Derek Carr throwing deep strikes from the pocket.

The emergence of Cooper would be a great continuing trend for the Raiders season as well as Carr’s fantasy value going forward. I personally love the restored confidence in this offense and seeing Carr’s production and clutch playmaking come back is exciting. I’m expecting the “come back player of the year” conversation to grow with his renewed play within an offense changing back to his strengths.

Buffalo isn’t a defense as intimidating as some speak of, quite frankly their secondary isn’t playing well the last few weeks with injuries and Carr will attack that weakness early and often.  The biggest worry Sunday for me is the cold-rainy weather in the forecast that could change ball delivery and route running. I see another huge day for Carr, he’s a must-start in all fantasy league formats this week.

Buffalo RB, LeSean McCoy -  If the Bills win this Sunday, it’ll undoubtedly be because McCoy got back on track running and catching the football. McCoy has been struggling averaging only 3.4 yards per carry, but with his ability to catch the football, he’s still averaging just under 100 all-purpose yards per game at 98.4 through 6 contests. The Raiders defense will be tested with one of their best tacklers in Karl Joseph potentially being ruled out due to an injury.

Last week the Raiders defense faced arguably the best dual-threat running back in the NFL this season in Kareem Hunt. The Raiders defense surrendered 117 total yards to Hunt, that seemed like a success considering the historical numbers the rookie has put up.  The Chiefs also have capable offensive players in Travis Kelce and Tyreek Hill that can take away attention and touches from Hunt. Outside of McCoy, the Bills have no solid proven options, therefore McCoy is going to get a huge workload this week. I like the Raiders chances to win Sunday but I can’t ignore the big game McCoy could put up during the contest.

Week 8 Matchup Sleeper: Amari Cooper … a sleeper?

In Amari Cooper’s 3rd season we’ve seen both his floor and his ceiling. I believe ultimately Cooper is out of his struggling ways after Thursday nights explosion. Cooper might still have the frustrating drops but he’s too talented to allow another lull in his production like what we saw.  Fellow wide receiver Michael Crabtree is truly dominant, but Cooper is correcting himself through some adversity to go on a tear the second half of the season. That starts Sunday versus a Buffalo secondary that is very vulnerable of late.

Cooper is a player that some frustrated fantasy football owners might be willing to trade for his inconsistencies this season, go get him!

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