Finally! It is officially Week 1 of the NFL regular season! That means it is also the opening week of the fantasy football season. Most of Raider Nation is likely rostering at least one member of the Silver and Black, if not more — I have two in most leagues, myself. To help get a better idea of the fantasy value for the Raiders’ top players, we are bringing back the Fantasy Football Tracker.
To start things off, we will look at the top fantasy football players from this version of the Raiders. Defense/special teams, including kicker Daniel Carlson, will also get their time in the spotlight. Going forward, we will monitor how each key player performed in the previous week’s game and give a projection for the upcoming week.
Most of the scoring will be via ESPN standard scoring. However, we will use a half-point PPR (point per reception) format to make this more usable for those in both PPR and non-PPR formats. Let’s get into this year’s projections for the 2023 Raiders.
2023 Projections Player-by-Player
Jimmy Garoppolo, Quarterback
Fantasy Projection: 231 points
If you thought the end of the Derek Carr era meant the Raiders might finally have a viable starting fantasy quarterback, prepare to be disappointed. Like Carr, Jimmy Garoppolo is a high-floor, low-ceiling, QB2. However, these similarities only matter when Garoppolo is actually on the field. Unlike Carr, ‘Jimmy G’ tends to miss several games, at least to this point in his career.
Such uncertainty is not something you want out of your backup FF quarterback. It is never an easy feat to roster an injury-riddled player. If injuries are not concerning enough, there is also the possibility that rookie Aidan O’Connell could steal Garoppolo’s job at some point this year.
The Raiders’ starting signal-caller is a low-end QB2 at best. For what it’s worth, O’Connell could be worth stashing in dynasty leagues.
Josh Jacobs, Running Back
Fantasy Projection: 270 points
Congratulations to anyone who selected Josh Jacobs in their fantasy football draft; you wound up with an absolute steal. The league’s reigning rushing champ is officially back and looks poised to have another All-Pro season.
There is very little change in Jacobs’ situation from 2022 to 2023. The offensive scheme is the same, and the personnel is very similar. The only major shakeup is at quarterback. But that could work to his benefit.
Also, like last year, the former first-rounder is playing for a new contract. There is no reason why Jacobs shouldn’t at least be a top-three fantasy football running back in all formats once for the Silver and Black.
Davante Adams, Wide Receiver
Fantasy Projection: 274 points
Davante Adams is coming off a terrific campaign, and there is little reason to believe he cannot repeat it in Year 2 with the Raiders. There is a belief that Adams’ numbers will go down because they were inflated last year by Carr force-feeding him 180 targets. However, a decrease in targets does not always translate to a dip in production.
Garoppolo taking over at quarterback is going to change how Adams plays. Expect fewer deep shots and more high-percentage throws sent his way. That should not hurt the star wideout since he is a terrific route-runner.
Adams could very well end up with fewer targets and more receptions this season. The Raiders’ top receiver is still one of the three best fantasy football wide receivers.
What about his running partners at wide receiver?
Hunter Renfrow, Wide Receiver
Fantasy Projection: 144 points
The last two seasons have been a wild ride for Hunter Renfrow. By the end of the 2021 slate, he had emerged as a reliable WR2 in fantasy football and real life. Unfortunately, he had a rough 2022 season. Plagued by injuries, Renfrow never found a groove in the offense and was unrosterable by the end of the year.
Expect Renfrow to have a bounce-back season in 2023. The Clemson product is fully healthy and should be more comfortable in Josh McDaniels’ system. Also, adding veteran DeAndre Carter should keep him from returning punts, preserving said health. That being said, he is unlikely to return to his 2021 numbers. He projects best as a WR4.
Adams’ presence limits his ceiling, and another Raiders newcomer does not help either.
Jakobi Meyers, Wide Receiver
Fantasy Projection: 139 points
This point total may seem like a low projection, given how Jakobi Meyers has performed in the past. However, his situation in Las Vegas is far different than what he underwent in New England. Meyers was effectively the Patriots’ top receiver during his time with the franchise. The Raiders have that role covered with Adams. As a matter of fact, the new addition will have to fight it out with Renfrow just to be the second option.
Nevertheless, the former Patriot is still a talented player and will be a factor in the offense. An injury to Adams or Renfrow could make him worth flex considerations. For now, he is a low-end WR4 at best. Even that could be a stretch, depending on what production the Raiders get at tight end.
Austin Hooper, Tight End
Fantasy Projection: 67 points
Let’s start with the veteran Austin Hooper. He should be the Raiders top tight end to begin the season. But that is only going to last for so long. Rookie Michael Mayer is breathing down his neck already after a strong offseason. Hooper’s usage will only decrease as the year goes on, especially as a pass catcher.
Hooper’s ability as a blocker will see him get enough snaps to make him a decent TE2 for the first few weeks, but he probably won’t be worth rostering by November. Eventually, he will begin to cede more and more snaps to the rookie.
Michael Mayer, Tight End
Fantasy Projection: 71 points
There is a lot to like about Michael Mayer’s potential. He is big, athletic, and shows good awareness. He will probably be one of the league’s top tight ends someday. The concern as far as fantasy football goes is this: That day is not here yet.
Rookies take time to develop, none more so than tight ends. First-year players typically don’t provide much season-long fantasy value unless they play running back. In Mayer’s case, it doesn’t help that he has Hooper in front of him for the time being.
By the end of the year, Mayer should be a solid TE2, but he is probably not worth a roster spot outside of dynasty leagues right now. Let’s move on to someone who is definitely worth a roster spot right now.
Daniel Carlson, Kicker
Fantasy Projection: 159 points
The reigning, two-time defending fantasy football kicking champ is back! Daniel Carlson is looking to pace NFL kickers in fantasy scoring for a third consecutive year, and there is no reason to believe he won’t. There is a belief that the replacement of Carr will hurt Carlson’s production, but that is unlikely.
Replacing Carr could help the Raiders score more touchdowns in the red zone, thus limiting Carlson’s shorter field goals. However, he still gets a point for those touchdowns. Also, Garoppolo may help the offense in the red zone, but he won’t have as many long touchdown passes as Carr did.
For that reason, Carlson may see an uptick in attempts from beyond 40 and 50 yards. In the end, it should be a wash at worst. The Raiders’ kicker is still the favorite to be the top fantasy football kicker in 2023.
Fantasy Projection: 64 points
Let’s be clear right out of the gate. This unit has zero fantasy relevance right now. Last year, it averaged just over three fantasy points per week. Even worse, they had six weeks in which they accounted for zero points or LESS. This unit went negative twice as many times as they hit double digits. It was a laughingstock last year; that will not change overnight.
Still, the Raiders should be better on the defensive side of the ball in 2023. Marcus Peters and Robert Spillane came over in free agency, while draft picks Tyree Wilson and Jakorian Bennett should help add more juice to the defense. Las Vegas’ sacks and turnovers could increase significantly this season.
Even with a marked improvement, this is still a below-average unit. Maybe later in the year, it will be worth streaming the Raiders’ defense when it squares off vs. a truly terrible offense. But even then, do so with tempered expectations.
*Top Photo: Erik Verduzco/Las Vegas Review-Journal