Shark Bites

The Cowboys on Sunday traded WR Ryan Switzer to the Raiders for DT Jihad Ward. It's an interesting swap: Dallas sending a 4th-round pick from last year for a guy who landed in Round 2 in 2016. Dallas clearly decided to go in other directions at WR, while the new Oakland staff apparently didn't feel the same way about Ward. Switzer drew just 7 targets as a Cowboys rookie but closed out 4 years at UNC with a 96-1,112-6. We wouldn't bet on any fantasy relevance in 2018, but there's potential opportunity in 2019 and beyond with Martavis Bryant in the final year of his contract and Jordy Nelson turning 33 at the end of May. Switzer's return skills -- 1 kick-return TD last year, 7 on punts in college -- might be the primary reason for the trade, after Oakland traded away Cordarrelle Patterson. That'll help Switzer stick on the Raiders roster.

The Raiders spent the 10th pick of the 7th round on Oklahoma State WR Marcell Ateman to close out their 1st draft under HC Jon Gruden (this time). Ateman finished an up-and-down career with a strong 2017: 59 receptions, 1,156 yards and 8 TDs, averaging 19.6 yards per catch. Ateman fared well in the deep game, playing with arguably the nation's best deep-passing QB, Mason Rudolph. Ateman also plied his 6'4 frame well in contested situations, most notably in the end zone. Amari Cooper, Jordy Nelson and Martavis Bryant clearly stand to lead the Oakland WR corps this season, but Bryant heads into a contract year and Nelson will turn 33 at the end of May. There could be opportunity soon if Ateman develops.

The Raiders traded up 2 spots in Round 3 to draft LSU EDGE player Arden Key. The versatile pass rusher racked up 11 sacks as a 2016 sophomore but then took a leave of absence from school and dealt with a shoulder injury. Key also weight just 238 pounds in the pre-draft season. He'll need work before seeing regular playing time in the NFL and will make for a high-risk rookie pick in dynasty fantasy football drafts.

The Steelers have traded WR Martavis Bryant to the Raiders in exchange for a 3rd-round pick, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter. Bryant struggled in his return last season from nearly 2-year absence, hauling in 50 of 84 targets for 603 yards and 3 scores. He's still just 26, though, and racked up 14 TDs with a 17.3 yards-per-catch average over his first 2 NFL campaigns. Bryant joins a remade Oakland WR corps with Jordy Nelson alongside Amari Cooper. Bryant figures to open the season as the #3 WR but could push for #2 if Nelson's decline continues.

Pro Football Talk reports that Raiders RB Marshawn Lynch agreed Saturday to a restructured contract, basically surrendering $500,000 to guarantee his base salary for the coming season. You can read further details in the PFT post, but the fantasy impact here is that the move all but guarantees Lynch will play this fall. The veteran doesn't seem to pair naturally with newly signed RB Doug Martin. Neither presents special ability as a receiver, each profiling more as an "early-down" type. Frankly, neither excites us for 2018 fantasy football drafts, but both tend to linger into "why not" value range in current best-ball drafts.

The Raiders have signed LB Tahir Whitehead. The former Lion could play the middle or weak side in an Oakland defense that should sport a 4-3 base. Whitehead delivered solid tackle numbers over the past 2 years in Detroit. He figures to make sense as an LB3 in IDP drafts, but we'll see how the rest of the Raiders LB corps shapes up.

The Raiders have signed WR Jordy Nelson to a 2-year, $15 million deal, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter. It's certainly arguable whether Oakland upgraded or downgraded by going from Michael Crabtree to Nelson. The longtime Packer turns 33 in May and is coming off a career-low 9.1 yards per catch. The absence of QB Aaron Rodgers for 9+ games didn't help. But Nelson's 1.22 yards per route run in 5 full games with Rodgers ranked 62nd among 88 qualifying WRs, per Pro Football Focus. He should at lease soak up most the of 8.5 targets per game Crabtree averaged over the past 3 years, but Nelson should be considered no better than a low-end WR2 at this point.

The Raiders have signed RB Doug Martin to a 1-year deal. We'll see what this means for RB Marshawn Lynch's tenure in Oakland, but the Raiders certainly shouldn't be banking on Martin as their answer in the backfield. He's 29 now and coming off 2 straight seasons of 2.9 yards per carry. In fact, Martin has failed to reach 3.8 yards per carry in 4 of 6 NFL seasons. Don't consider him more than a RB5 in early best-ball drafts.

The Packers released WR Jordy Nelson on Tuesday, clearing $10.2 million in cap space, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter. Nelson's production dropped precipitously in 2017, albeit without QB Aaron Rodgers for much of that stretch. The veteran will head into his age-33 season this fall, however, with an ACL tear and various other lower-body injuries behind him. We'll see where he lands, but it's tough to expect more than a low-WR3 fantasy outlook even in the best situation.

Raiders HC Jon Gruden said from the Combine on Wednesday that WR Amari Cooper will be the "focal point" of his offense. "He has tremendous quickness. He’s smart, versatile and he’s a gamer," Gruden said. "He likes the bright lights, and he’ll be the headliner in our offense.” Cooper is coming off a disappointing 2017 campaign. But he topped 1,000 yards in both of his first 2 NFL seasons and turns just 24 in June. Gruden, meanwhile, brings a long history of churning out productive #1 WRs. In 14 seasons as a HC or OC, his top receiver has averaged 137 targets, 79 catches, 1,142 yards and 7.4 TDs. Cooper is a prime 2018 bounce-back candidate.

The Bucs have released RB Doug Martin. The move was fully expected after Martin bombed in 2017, averaging 2.9 yards per carry across 11 appearances. He was set to count $6.75 against the 2018 salary cap. Martin turned 29 in January and has had 2 straight seasons marred by injuries, suspension and poor production. He figures to settle for a 1-year, prove-it deal on the open market and certainly isn't a lock to be a 2018 fantasy factor. The Bucs will be in the mix for a RB or 2 in free agency and/or the draft.

Raiders QB Derek Carr suggested in a radio interview on Friday that WR Amari Cooper played hurt for much of the 2017 season. "That man was out there playing on 1 foot," Carr said. "He was out there just trying to give it his all even though he could barely get out there and do it ... Honestly, a lot of guys probably wouldn't have even played with what he had going on." Most guys deal with some level of injury throughout the course of an NFL season, so this doesn't completely excuse Cooper's disappointing 2017. But better health certainly won't hurt his chances of a bounce back this coming season. Cooper turns just 24 in June and topped 1,000 yards in both of his first 2 campaigns.

The Raiders will name Jon Gruden their new HC at a press conference on Tuesday, according to multiple reports. Gruden has been out of the NFL since 2008 but has 11 years of head-coaching experience, including 4 with the Raiders. Throwing in another 3 years as Eagles OC, Gruden's offensive track record has been volatile. He's landed 5 of those 14 teams inside the top 7 in total yards but had another 5 finish 22nd or worse. Gruden's teams have varied between pass- and run-leaning, with 8 of his 14 squads ranking higher in pass attempts than rush attempts.

The Raiders have fired HC Jack Del Rio. He took his team to the playoffs a year ago but regressed to a 6-10 record this season. Del Rio is a defensive mind whose Raiders defenses underachieved. Oakland is believed to be targeting Jon Gruden as its next HC.

Packers WRs Jordy Nelson (shoulder) and Davante Adams (concussion) are out for Sunday's finale against the Lions. That leaves Randall Cobb, Geronimo Allison and Michael Clark as Green Bay's top 3 WRs. Only Cobb can be trusted in fantasy lineups -- and only as a WR3 with Brett Hundley at the helm.

Packers WRs Jordy Nelson (shoulder) and WR Davante Adams (concussion) did not practice Wednesday. Neither seems likely to play in this weekend's meaningless finale. That'd leave Randall Cobb, Geronimo Allison, Michael Clark, Trevor Davis and Jeff Janis to catch passes from Brett Hundley.

Raiders OLB Bruce Irvin (concussion) and DL Denico Autry (hand) are active for tonight's game against the Eagles. Neither is much of an IDP option. As expected, Oakland will miss CB David Amerson (foot) once again. He entered the day doubtful.

11:12am EST 12/24/17

Bucs RB Doug Martin is active for today's game against the Panthers after being a healthy scratch last week. It's unclear how Tampa will divvy carries, but our guess is that RB Peyton Barber will lead the way. It's a backfield to avoid in fantasy lineups vs. Carolina's 3rd-ranked RB defense.

Raiders OLB Bruce Irvin (concussion) is questionable for Monday night's game against the Eagles. He returned to practice Friday but has yet to complete the league protocol. DL Denico Autry (hand) is also questionable. The Raiders have ruled DE Mario Edwards (ankle) out for the game and will likely continue to miss CB David Amerson (foot), who is doubtful.

Packers WR Jordy Nelson injured his shoulder in the 2nd quarter of Saturday night's game against the Vikings and won't return. He finishes with 3 catches on 5 targets for 11 yards. It's been a lost season for Nelson, who has struggled with the absence of Aaron Rodgers and perhaps a declining skill set. He turns 33 in May.

 
 
 

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