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Oakland Raiders Fantasy Football Preview

By Kevin English 10:52am EDT 7/27/16

The Raiders are back as legit playoff contenders. A young, emerging offense provides one reason for optimism.

Derek Carr finished last season as the QB14. Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree finished as WR2s, while Latavius Murray cracked RB1 range.

Toss in a stalwart offensive line — plus year 2 of OC Bill Musgrave — and it’s easy to see their momentum continuing in 2016. Let’s take a look at the Raiders' key fantasy assets.


What will happen: Derek Carr remains in QB1 range

2015 wasn’t a fluke.

Carr finally had a supporting cast that could support a successful fantasy campaign. His top rookie-year targets were James Jones and Mychal Rivera — quite a downgrade from the Cooper-Crabtree duo from a year ago.

Carr, a 2nd round pick, made individual strides after a tough rookie campaign. His completion rate jumped from 58.1% to 61.1%. His yards per attempt rose from 5.5 to 7.0, and his TDs increased from 21 to 32. Carr also improved in deep ball efficiency: He completed just 21.1% of passes traveling 20+ yards in 2014 compared to 37.3% in 2015 (per Pro Football Focus).

Again … supporting cast.

That group should remain strong, especially if the Raiders can accelerate the development of athletic TE Clive Walford.


What won’t happen: Michael Crabtree out-targets Amari Cooper

Surprisingly, Crabtree out-targeted Cooper 146 to 130 last season. Both guys appeared in 16 games.

Cooper, though, played through a nagging foot injury over the final month. He recorded only 8 targets over the final 2 games. He’s now back to full health, and at 22, it’s scary how much upside he packs.

The ‘Bama product quickly turned heads for his sharp route running and keen run-after-catch ability. Blending great size (6’1, 211) with finesse helped produce the 5th most yards for a rookie WR since 1997 (1,070).

There’s certainly room for improvement. Cooper caught only 55.4% of his targets. A disappointing 10 drops hurt, but a full offseason alongside Derek Carr should help. We’ll also look for more red zone involvement after Cooper mustered only 8 targets in that area.


What could happen: Latavius Murray returns RB1 numbers

Murray hasn’t received much hype this offseason, somewhat surprising for a guy who just posted 266 rushes. Only Adrian Peterson and Doug Martin recorded more.

Sure, Murray wasn’t special on a per-touch basis. He averaged 4.0 yards per carry and 5.7 yards per catch. But 2015 marked this late bloomer’s first as a full-time starter. And it’s not like Oakland rushed out to replace him.

Their only noteworthy addition at RB came in Round 5 of the draft. DeAndre Washington is an explosive athlete, but at 5’8, 204 pounds, he lacks ideal size. That could hurt his chances in pass protection — and near the goal line.

Don't bank on another 41 catches from Murray. But standing 6’3, 230 pounds, he shouldn’t cede goal line work. So he could easily best his 6 total TDs from 2015. Oakland’s O-line looks among the NFL’s best, particularly after adding elite LG Kelechi Osemele in free agency.

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