It was a game of good news and bad news for Raiders fans wanting to see if their beloved team can top last year’s breakout performance. The good news: Derek Carr and the offense look ready and capable of putting loads of points on the board. They better be, because the bad news is the Raiders’ defense and their inability to stop opposing quarterbacks was evident.
Carr finished off a strong preseason with touchdown passes of 17 and 48 yards. He finished the night 13-17 for 144 yards and no interceptions. Amari Cooper hauled in the 48-yard touchdown pass. He led all receivers last season with five touchdowns of over 30 yards. Cooper had four catches in all for 78 yards. Fellow starter Michael Crabtree caught two passes for nine more.
Wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson showed up all over the place. He returned kicks, was credited with a special teams tackle, took a handoff for a four-yard run, and caught four passes for 30 yards, including Carr’s opening-drive 17 yard touchdown.
DeAndre Washington led all rushers with five carries for 27 yards, including a 19-yard jaunt. Marshawn Lynch handled the ball twice for six yards and Jalen Richard gained a yard on his sole carry to go with a 13-yard reception. Tight end Jared Cook caught both of his targets.
Meanwhile, the defense allowed the Cowboys’ Dak Prescott to complete 11 of 13 passes for 113 yards and a touchdown. Raider Nation might console themselves with the realization that Dak is a pretty good quarterback, but Oakland followed that up by allowing undrafted free agent rookie Cooper Rush out of Central Michigan to follow that up with a 12/13, 115-yard effort with two touchdowns. This has been the pattern throughout the Raiders’ preseason.
It wasn’t all bad. The Raiders picked up several sacks, including a strip sack and fumble recovery for a 65-yard touchdown. They also held the Cowboys to three third-down conversions on ten attempts.
What did we learn?
Carr and company are set to pick up right where they left off. The quarterback looks sharp and in sync with his receivers. Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree are also in midseason form and ready to compete for twin 1,000-yard seasons. Cordarrelle Patterson looks like he will contribute more this year.
There is still no clear indication of how the running back work will be distributed. Jalen Richard and DeAndre Washington are willing and able to play more of a role than they did behind Latavius Murray last season if Marshawn Lynch needs to be kept fresh. Lynch has looked like good ole’ beast mode in very limited appearances. No one really knows how he will hold up over the regular season.
The defense will need help. It is possible that one or two regular season starters are not even on the roster yet. It’s that bad.
Derek Carr looks like he is in for a big season, whether he wants to be or not. He is currently trending as the QB5 in fantasy drafts. You can argue that Carr, Wilson, Ryan, and Winston could finish in any order from four to seven, but you can’t argue that Carr has to be drafted soon after Rodgers, Brady, and Brees.
Amari Cooper has more big play potential, but Michael Crabtree actually led the Raiders in targets and catches again last year. Their final point totals are always close and last season was no exception. Crabtree edged Cooper by 1.4 points on the year as they finished as WR11 and WR12. Crabtree is probably undervalued as a fourth round WR21, even though he is 24 on my board. He is not as flashy, but he is effective and garners a load of targets. Cooper’s second round WR9 ADP is defensible, although I have him on my board as WR12. Both could easily finish in the low teens again.
The Raiders want to get a third wide receiver more involved this season and it looks like Cordarrelle Patterson is the prime candidate. He got some late season buzz after showing flashes last season. He could start the year as a worthy late round sleeper.
We still have the dilemma of what to do with the Oakland runners. I think a 31 year-old running back coming out of a retirement who broke down in his last active year is a bit risky as a second round RB12. Yet that is where Marshawn Lynch is being selected on average.
I am more willing to take DeAndre Washington or Jalen Richard with a late round pick in a projected timeshare that could turn into a valuable handcuff for Lynch. Be careful using a first or second round pick on the old man of the group.
Those other fantasy guys
Tight end Jared Cook is getting picked up in late rounds as a backup tight end. He might see more targets in Oakland than Green Bay, but not enough to move him up the board.
Kicker Sebastian Janikowski has top ten fantasy value. Last season, his 9.3 points per game was 0.1 point from being third best.
In case you skipped to the bottom of this article, do not under any circumstances use the Oakland defense, even if they are challenging Cal Poly in a flag football game.
So… that’s that.
The Raiders defensive woes might make fans upset, but fantasy owners will embrace their issues and the resulting need to run up lots of offensive points. There should be lots of silver and black in fantasy lineups this season.
But remember, life is constantly changing. To find out if those changes will affect your game, keep checking back with RealSport for fantasy updates and advice.
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