2012 Fantasy Football: Oakland Raiders’ Outlook
The Oakland Raiders aren’t exactly primed to take over the AFC West and get back to the playoffs, but they could at least hand in some excellent fantasy performances in 2012.
From Carson Palmer to Darrius Heyward-Bey, the Raiders could offer up some rather unlikely fantasy studs in 2012. We break down their entire roster and suggest the players you should and shouldn’t draft or watch for the new year:
QB Carson Palmer
Palmer is going to turn the ball over, but he’s also going to score touchdowns and get a ton of yardage through the air. Oakland has some really nice deep threat options, and Palmer can still sling it. I don’t love him as a weekly QB1 due to his erratic play at times, but he actually can fit that label if you want to throw caution to the wind. You’re better served using him as a bye week hero though, and viewing him as a strong QB2.
RB Darren McFadden
McFadden will be a beast in this league if he can play an entire season. He’s versatile and explosive, and really hard to stop once he gets his legs churning. The problem is, he’s never played more than 13 games in a season. I doubt he stays healthy, but his potential is way too good to pass. He’s a RB1 heading into 2012 and should be a first round pick in all leagues.
RB Taiwan Jones
Michael Bush is gone, so someone has to step up as McFad’s new backup in Oakland. I nominate Jones, but only to an extent. He’s without a doubt the most talented and explosive back behind McFadden, but he’s still fairly unproven and his durability could be questionable. If McFadden goes down, he’ll have to be owned.
RB Mike Goodson
Jones is the guy I’d rather own in the event McFadden gets hurt, but Goodson might be the actual listed “starter”. He’s not talented enough to handcuff to McFadden, though, because the Raiders would likely deploy a full-blown RBBC if that were to happen.
FB Marcel Reese
Reese is the team’s fullback, but he has the versatility and receiving ability to be a weapon if they work him into their game-plan. He doesn’t really have much value to start, but could be worth a look if McFadden gets hurt.
WR Denarius Moore
Moore had a solid rookie season last year, ending with 618 yards and six total touchdowns on just 38 total offensive touchdowns. That was good for an 18.7 yards per clip as a receiver. Moore is so versatile and explosive, the Raiders will do all they can to get him on the field and put the ball in his hands. He’s a serious breakout candidate, and starts the year with no worse than WR3 value.
WR Darrius Heyward-Bey
DHB is a pure burner that is really starting to develop into a big-play threat. His hands and route-running are still issues, but he’s getting better as he enters his fourth season. He made major strides after Carson Palmer came on board last season, and could be ready to blow up in 2012. He’ll start the season with shaky WR3 value, but he doesn’t really have a ceiling.
WR Jacoby Ford
Ford has been compared to Carolina’s Steve Smith in the past, but there isn’t really a big enough role in Oakland yet for us to see if that rings true. He’s very explosive, but I don’t see the targets to turn him into anything more than a WR4 this year.
WR Juron Criner
Oakland traded away Louis Murphy, which means the rookie Criner will almost certainly earn a roster spot. I don’t expect much out of him in his first season, but he’s an interesting talent with a nice combination of size, speed and ball skills. There’s loads of potential here if a guy in front of him goes down.
TE Brandon Meyers
Meyers figures to be Oakland’s starting tight end for week one, but that’s not necessarily a good thing. He’s a solid blocking tight end, but he won’t strike fear into defenses as a pass-catcher. He’s never caught more than 16 balls through three seasons in the league.
TE David Ausberry
A former wide receiver, Ausberry has yet to complete his transition to his new postion. He’s the best receiving tight end on the team in terms of talent, but he has a ways to go. He, like his fellow Raiders tight ends, can’t be drafted.
TE Richard Gordon
Gordon has the size and speed to make an impact at tight end, but he has no role yet and isn’t even a lock to make the final roster. He needs to prove his worth with better work ethic and preseason results.
K Sebastian Janikowski
It’s no secret that Janikowski is routinely one of the top fantasy kickers around. He’s got one of the strongest legs in the game and his team often sputters when they pass the 40-yard line, so his field goal attempts are always fairly high. In fact, he hasn’t attempted less than 29 kicks in six years. Janikowski was a remarable 17 of 21 from beyond 40 yards in 2011 (7 of 10 from 50+) and is easily a top-three kicker going into 2012.
The Raiders were a terrible fantasy defense a year ago (29th), but they actually did okay in interceptions (18) and sacks (38). Their biggest issue was letting teams move the ball with ease and put up far too many points (433). They could see improvement in 2012, but a new head coach likely means a new transition period. They’re not the unit you’ll want on a weekly basis.