With fantasy football draft season getting underway, most of Raider Nation is going to be fighting the urge to douse their rosters in Silver and Black. Our goal is to show how you can draft your favorite players without tanking your fantasy team. We’ll go position by position and show where you can get the most value when drafting Raiders.
How do the 2021 Raiders stack up in fantasy football?
Depending on which faction of Raider Nation you belong to, you may be trying to draft Derek Carr first overall. Or, maybe your head exploded as soon as you read his name in a fantasy football article. Objectively speaking, Carr is not a QB1 in fantasy. He simply does not score enough touchdowns, especially rushing touchdowns since most leagues only award four points for passing touchdowns. Nevertheless, he does have value. He is a safe backup with a double-digit points floor. As a bonus, you can get him super late in most leagues. I’m talking last three rounds.
Also, I would be remiss if I did not at least mention Marcus Mariota. Now that rumors are flying around a special “Mariota package,” some might be wondering if he is worth any fantasy consideration. Flatly, the answer is “no.” As long as Carr is healthy, Mariota has no fantasy value, unless maybe in some deep two-quarterback leagues.
With the changes made to the offensive line this offseason, it is clear that Jon Gruden wants to run the ball a lot this year. That should be good for Josh Jacobs, right? The problem is Gruden is so focused on the run that the Raiders brought in Kenyan Drake. More on Drake in a second, let’s focus on Josh for now. The new-look offensive line should help him get to the next level more, which will help his production, but the addition of Drake is going to cost him touches. Jacobs is a low-end RB1 at best. If you can get him in the fourth round as your second running back, you will get great value. However, if you have a late third-round pick, and there is a run of rushers happening, Jacobs is a safe pick in a thin running back class.
Drake is a tricky one. He was solid the last two seasons in Arizona, but the size of his role with Raiders remains unclear. At worst, he is arguably the best handcuff in the league. If you get Jacobs, he’s worth stashing on your bench. I would still wait until at least rounds eight or nine. As long as Jacobs is healthy, Drake is little more than an emergency flex option.
What about the Raiders’ wide receivers?
The thought of drafting a Raiders wide receiver makes me visibly uncomfortable. As far as fantasy production goes, it is a very volatile situation. We still have no clue who the top guy in this group is going to end up being. It could be Henry Ruggs III, Bryan Edwards, Hunter Renfrow, or even John Brown.
Personally speaking, it is going to vary from week to week. Picking Raiders wideouts is going to be like picking Patriots running backs used to be a few years ago. A high risk, high reward crapshoot. The safe pick is probably Renfrow if you are in a full-point PPR league. The guy with the most upside is likely Edwards due to his potential as a red zone threat. Ultimately, you should wait until rounds nine or ten before even beginning to think about any of these guys. Chances are you can pick up most of these guys after the draft. None of them are in ESPN’s top 50 fantasy wide receivers.
Let’s be real, this is the important section. Everyone wants to know, when should you draft Darren Waller? First, let’s understand what conventional wisdom says about Waller’s value. He is seen as someone close enough to Travis Kelce that he transcends the typical trend of waiting to take a tight end, BUT, Kelce is still the consensus number one tight end. Raider Nation, use this to your advantage. Kelce will likely come off the board in the second round, Waller should not. Even though Waller might be as good as or better than Kelce this year, they are not valued the same. That is a good thing. You can sit back, get yourself a solid RB1 and a WR1, and then get a potentially elite tight end.
I should warn you, there is a caveat to this strategy. If you have a late pick and you are in a snake draft, Waller might be gone by pick 30 or so. Personally, I would take my chances on him being there because I do not believe any tight end is worth a top 20 pick. Remember, you only have one true tight end slot in your lineup. Reaching for one is likely not worth hurting your depth at wide receiver or running back.
Real quick, let’s shout out Foster Moreau. He looked promising in Year 1 but had his growth stunted last season in favor of Jason Witten for some reason. Now that Witten is gone, does he have any fantasy value this year? Probably not much. But, he could be a fun round 15 pick if you feel like you want a third tight end.
And the Raiders defense?
Defense/Special Teams & Kicker
Do not draft the Raiders defense. Plain and simple. Just don’t do it. If you want, you can pick them up later as a streamer when they play Denver. Other than that, absolutely not. That’s not to say that I don’t think the defense will be better, because I do think it will be. It has to be. Even if it is significantly better, it is unlikely that they would even be top 15 fantasy defense this year.
As far as kickers go, Carlson is solid. This is especially the case until the Raiders offense proves it can be more efficient in the red zone. That being said, if you take a kicker before the final two rounds you’re a dunce.
Good Luck, Raider Nation!
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*Top Photo: L.E. Baskow/Las Vegas Review-Journal