The Raiders start fresh in 2020 as they are now relocated to the Nevada desert. The Raiders and Jon Gruden will look to improve in the win column this year as the team went out and drafted a slew of new weapons for Derek Carr. Gruden is a west coast methodology guy and this offense is powered by those principles. In the west coast scheme the play calling is designed to hit guys on the move and allowing for them to be explosive after the catch. Mike Mayock and Gruden did a very good job in getting two receivers that fit this concept and scheme very well. The Raiders offensive line is one of the biggest in the league, and ranks in the top half of the league in terms of best O-lines. Gruden’s offense likes to utilize the tight end in the passing attack, as well as mix in a nice balance of the ground game.
Derek Carr (QB) – quietly put up one of his best seasons as a pro in 2019. Carr threw for over 4,000 yards and only threw 8 interceptions on 513 attempts. This offense was derailed prior to the season beginning as the Antonio Brown show decimated an off seasons worth of planning and scheming, leaving Carr without a true WR1. The true and consistent knock on Carr has been his reluctance to throw the deep ball. In 2019 of Carr’s 513 attempts he only threw 48 over 20 yards. This stat ranked him towards the bottom of all quarterbacks in the league. The thing that is puzzling is Carr is very accurate when making these deep throws. In fact according to PFF Carr ranked 1st in deep pass accuracy in 2018 and third from 2016-2018 with 30.8%. Carr needs to take more shots down field this season to shut his critics up once and for all. The off season additions will help Carr as he now has a true threat at the position in Ruggs, who meshes well with Carr’s style and tendencies of getting the ball out quickly to the short and intermediate area of the field.
Fantasy Spin: The thing that keeps Carr as a lower quarterback option is his inability to let the play develop. Carr is always looking to get the ball out of his hands quickly, and refuses to take risks down field. These two things cap his upside. Carr is also a good runner, but never utilizes that skill for whatever reason. With all these things considered we have a Carr ranked as our 22nd quarterback entering 2020 making him a backend QB2 in redraft leagues. In Dynasty leagues Carr ranks as our 26th quarterback.
Josh Jacobs/Jalen Richard (RB) – the 2019 first round pick did not disappoint in his rookie year. Jacobs, despite missing time at the end of the season due to a fractured shoulder ran for over a 1,000 yards. Jacobs displayed toughness last year in playing with the injury for much of the year. Jacobs ranked as the most elusive back according to PFF in 2019. This is a very good category to be leading if you are a Jacobs’s owner as it shows he is tough to bring down. The only knock on Jacobs, through no fault of his own, was his lack of usage in the passing attack. In college this is where he excelled for Alabama. The team’s usage of Jalen Richard as the teams hurry up back is frustrating to fantasy owners as it caps Jacobs upside. Mayock stated at the combine that phase two of Jacobs’s development will be opening him up more as a pass catcher. However, the teams resigning of Richard and drafting of Bowden kind of says otherwise.
Fantasy Spin: Jacobs enter 2020 as our 14th ranked running back in redraft formats. His lack of usage in the passing attack makes him a solid RB2. If Mayock holds true to his word and involves him more in the passing attack that would push him into RB1 consideration. In Dynasty formats Jacobs is a locked in RB1 as he comes in as our 11th ranked running back. Richard really has no fantasy appeal other than a late round dart or waiver wire add.
Henry Ruggs III/Bryan Edwards/Tyrell Williams/Hunter Renfrow (WR) – the misconception with Ruggs is he is just a speed guy, which is false. Ruggs is quick, ran the fastest forty at the 2020 combine, but he really excels after the catch. It is this run after the catch ability that drew Gruden and Mayock to Ruggs as they made him the first receiver off the board in the draft. Ruggs figures to be the teams Z receiver as he will be used all over the formation. The Raiders will look to use his speed after he gets the ball in his hands. They will also use him deep when needed to take those shots. Another key addition was Brian Edwards who comes to the Raiders after spending four years in the SCC playing for South Carolina. Edwards is big, physical, and is faster than he appears. When you watch the film you can see Edwards consistently running past good cornerbacks with ease. Edwards is a very complete receiver who much like Ruggs can do damage after the catch. The Raiders grabbed him in the third and revealed after that he was a steal because he graded out to be a high second rounder for them. Edwards projects to be the team’s future X receiver, but will have to play behind Tyrell Williams likely in 2020. Williams was very effective last season prior to being injured. Williams was thrust into the WR1 position for the team with the Brown circus which did him no favors. Williams thrives as a rotational player and compliment, so with Ruggs now in the fold Williams should be able to return to this role. Hunter Renfrow did very well to close out the year in 2019. Renfrow is a good football player who looks more like a librarian then NFL player, but he was effective in the slot. The coaching staff loves this Clemson product, but he may lose some offensive snaps with the new weapons in town.
Fantasy Spin: The rookie Ruggs is the wide receiver to target out of this group as he is our highest projected in all formats. We have Ruggs as our 45th ranked WR in redraft making him a WR4 with upside. In dynasty he is our 30th ranked wide out. Williams will be in play for Vegas in 2020 before losing out to Edwards. We have Williams ranked as our 75th WR in redraft and 88th ranked in dynasty. Renfrow comes in as our 58th wide receiver in redraft and 65th in dynasty. Edwards offers little for 2020 as our 80th ranked wide out, but in dynasty ranks as our 62nd wide receiver.
Darren Waller (TE) – was the 2019 Hard Knocks star turned NFL beast. Derek Carr found him early and often throughout the campaign since they were lacking the fire power at wide receiver. Waller had his best year by far as a pro in 2019. Waller saw 117 targets last season catching 90 for 1,145 yards. He looked crisp through his routes and tough as a runner after the catch. The only area he was poor in, which is no fault of his own, was touchdown production. Waller only recorded three touchdowns last season. With the new weapons coming into the offense Waller could see a drop in targets and yards, but still will be a main cog in this Vegas passing attack.
Fantasy Spin: Waller will still be a key factor in this offense despite the new additions. We view Waller as a top five talent and option at the position. We have him ranked as our 5th TE in both redraft and dynasty making him a high end TE1.
Defense – This defense has been a train wreck for years as the unit consistently ranks towards the bottom of the ranks for fantasy and NFL. Defensive coordinator Paul Guenther uses the bend don’t break philosophy. As a coordinator the Guenther defense ranked as a top ten unit in points allowed just twice when he was with the Bengals. The team has ranked towards the bottom of the league in terms of sacks, but last year saw some signs of life as rookie Maxx Crosby shined as a pass rusher. The team’s secondary lacked as well, but the biggest area of concern was the middle of the field at linebacker. The team had a big need at the position this off season and landed the best free agent out there in former Ram Corey Littleton. They also brought in 2019 Bear stand out Nick Kwiatkoski.
Fantasy Spin: This defense figures to be much improved entering 2020. However for fantasy purposes we would stay clear, as they will offer little value for our teams in 2020. We have them ranked as our 21st unit entering 2020.
Strength of Schedule
The Raiders wide receiver corps will face the 14th toughest schedule this fantasy regular season. Their playoff schedule will be the 15th toughest during weeks 14-16. Jacobs and company will be looking at the 5th toughest schedule during the fantasy regular season. The backs will then have the 8th toughest schedule during the fantasy playoffs. Carr will face the 4th toughest schedule during the fantasy regular season, and the 12th easiest during weeks 14-16. Waller will face the 3rd toughest fantasy regular season schedule, and will face the 9th easiest playoff schedule from weeks 14-16.