Week 1 will be crucial for the La Vegas Raiders offense. Last season, they came in at 21 in offensive red-zone efficiency, scoring on just above 52 percent of their attempts. That is not a trend fans nor the team would like to see to continue. In order for this to happen, three Raiders players need to step up and show out.
Tyrell Williams won’t be part of the Raiders offense in 2020
The Raiders will have some familiar faces on offense this year, as most of the team is back and healthy. Heading into the regular season, wide receiver Tyrell Williams seemed healthy after battling plantar fasciitis in 2019. Nevertheless, the veteran had a torn labrum in training camp and the Raiders subsequently placed him on the Injury Reserve list.
Without Williams, it’s fair to wonder how the Raiders wide receiver rotations on the outside will transpire. With the question marks raised at the receiver position and the importance of getting the offense started on the right foot. These three Raiders players fans should keep an eye in Week 1.
3 players the Raiders must get involved on offense early in Week 1
1. Hunter Renfrow
Quarterback Derek Carr loves his “safety nets”, which is something many fans have witnessed over the years. Carr has shown more trust for some of his wideouts over others and that won’t change this year. While Carr and Zay Jones developed a good rapport in their offseason workouts, he’ll likely target Hunter Renfrow come game day until Jones can prove he can be successful in the heat of battle. It will probably be the same case with rookie Henry Ruggs III.
It’s now worth mentioning that Carr often has taken a few weeks to get completely in sync with new receivers. Renfrow may not be the focal point of the offense nor is he going to carry your fantasy team to a victory. However, Carr will look for him when he gets in a tight spot or absolutely needs a completion. Renfrow will be key in the Raiders game plan and play an important role against the Panthers in Week 1.
2. Darren Waller
Similar to Renfrow, Waller is one of the incumbents Carr could lean on to open up the passing game. However, where he differs from Renfrow is that Carr might look for Waller early and often. The tight end was the team leader in targets, receptions, and yards in 2019 but was only fourth in the touchdown department. That last stat is what desperately needs to change. Waller is probably the most versatile pass-catcher the Raiders will have in 2020.
Waller can help stretch the field, especially against slower linebackers and smaller safeties. He’s going to win a good majority of his jump ball opportunities and has no issues securing a catch in traffic. Those two traits are exactly what Carr would look for in his perfect red-zone target, so it’s safe to assume Carr could look his way more often in the red-zone for the 2020 season. Waller didn’t even pull down his receiving touchdown until week six last season. Let’s hope he starts off with a bang and gets number one out of the way in Week 1.
3. Josh Jacobs
This one might have some saying “Well, duh”! We aren’t necessarily watching for the potential sophomore slump or picking up where he left off in 2019. Rather, we want to know how the Raiders will use Jacobs in Week 1. We know the Alabama standout is an absolute beast when taking the ball in the backfield. This is more about Jon Gruden getting Jacobs more involved in the passing game that doesn’t involve blocking. While Gruden isn’t going to pull out all the tricks in the season opener, he should be looking to keep defensive coordinators on their toes right out of the gate. Besides, Jacobs did say he wanted to pull down 60 receptions.
While 60 catches might be an astronomical number for the entire season, it would be nice to see him somewhere near the 45-50 target range as opposed to the 27 he had last year. Jacobs is probably the best playmaker the Raiders will have early on in 2020. It’s absolutely imperative they place the ball in his hands as often as possible.
Carr and co. have a big task ahead of them on Sunday. One of the major keys to beating the Panthers will be keeping running back Christian McCaffrey off the field. The only way to achieve this is for the offense to retain possession as long as possible and continue to pad a lead for the defense to hold on to. Renfrow, Waller, and Jacobs will have to play major roles if the offense wishes to achieve this task and secure the win week one.
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Top Photo: Heidi Fang/Las Vegas Review-Journal