Fantasy Power Rankings No. 29 – Oakland
The Raiders have several young players on their roster – giving rise to more optimism than usual from Oakland fans – but it’s not enough to help the Raiders climb the rankings. The team checks in at No. 29 on the 2015 fantasy football power rankings.
The Raiders were dead last (No. 32) when we ran this power ranking series during the preseason last year, and finished the 2014 campaign as the No. 24 team from a fantasy football perspective. The current ranking at No. 29 places them somewhere in the middle.
The Raiders offer fantasy owners 67.9 percent as much value as the average NFL team and 47.1 percent as much value as the NFL’s best team.
Derek Carr flashed promise last year, but he was worse than his advocates would have you believe. Among qualifying NFL quarterbacks last year, only Jacksonville’s Blake Bortles finished with a lower PFF rating than Carr’s -32.6.
Carr ended up as a QB2 option for fantasy teams last year – ending the season as the 20th highest-scoring player at the position – but he only scored 0.33 fantasy points per dropback, dead last among starting quarterbacks.
In short, Carr was only as good as his volume. And even with good volume – he had more pass attempts than Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, and Aaron Rodgers last year – Carr was only a middling backup for fantasy teams. Even with rookie Amari Cooper now on the team, we don’t expect much more from Carr, and he shouldn’t be on your radar.
Since these projections deal with points-per-reception (PPR) leagues, two Oakland running backs made the cut: Latavius Murray and Roy Helu.
Murray should see the bulk of carries, and while he was at times brilliant last season, you shouldn’t put all of your eggs into his basket. His Week 12 effort (4 carries, 112 yards, two touchdowns) is enough to woo anyone, but when he was given a chance to carry the ball more following that breakout game, he was mediocre.
He carried the ball 23 times in both Weeks 14 and 16, but didn’t score in either game and failed to top 100 yards. Based on projected volume alone, Murray has a chance to crack 1,000 yards, and his “home run” potential should be good for at least five touchdowns, if not eight, but it’s safer to approach Murray as more of a flex option with RB2 upside.
Helu should serve as the change-of-pace back to Murray, but he’ll be more valuable in PPR leagues. In fact, if these rankings were not based on PPR leagues, Helu wouldn’t be on the list. We currently have him slotted for about six to eight touches per game, making him a weaker flex option but decent fill-in when your roster thins out during bye weeks.
It should be noted that Helu’s projections are based on the assumption that Murray will be the starter throughout the season. Since Murray is relatively unproven, he comes with a little more risk. But that’s a good thing for Helu, as it means he has the potential to take on a larger role in the offense should things go awry with Murray.
All of this brings us to Amari Cooper, Oakland’s most exciting fantasy commodity heading into 2015. We currently have the rookie slotted for 81 receptions, 1,082 yards and five touchdowns. These would be relatively gaudy numbers for a rookie wideout, even one drafted in the top five. Only one such player since 1970 (A.J. Green) has topped 1,000 receiving yards in his first year.
So yes, we’re as bullish on Cooper as anyone. He could be even more valuable if he’s able to haul in more than five touchdowns, but his upside is somewhat limited in that department because of Carr’s current deficiencies. He threw just 21 total touchdowns last year, and we’re expecting about the same this season.
Outside of Cooper – who would finish as a solid WR2 if he’s able to put up those stats – the Raiders also have Michael Crabtree at wide receiver. He’s worth a late-round pick in case he clicks with Carr, or if Cooper doesn’t hit the ground running, but it’s more likely than not he’ll be a season-long benchwarmer or the first guy you exchange for a waiver wire pickup early in the season.