Fantasy Soccer NFL Staff Energy Leaderboard: Las Vegas Raiders
We preview every NFL team to prepare you for the 2021 season. Our analysts will address pressing fantasy issues and team win totals to move from the cadre with the least fantasy relevance to the most talented team. Next up are the 28th Las Vegas Raiders.
Josh Jacobs was RB8 last season. Where does it end in 2021 considering the Kenyan Drake addition?
Andy: What an absolutely miserable situation for anyone who thought Jacobs was a cornerstone of the dynasty. The addition of Drake means there really isn’t a patch that Jacobs’ reception usage could increase with, and he’s a clear threat to take over some of the goal-line touches – and touchdowns were all that Jacobs made relevant in the fantasy last year . Jacobs averaged 4.8 YPC and led the world in missed tackles as a rookie. It slipped to 3.9 YPC and a terrible 4.3 yards per touch last season.
It seems unlikely to me that any of these backs will hit the top 300 in the coming season like Jacobs did last year. Without that volume, and with just a minimal receiving role, we can’t expect Jacobs to become anything more than a mid-pack or low-end RB2. I will not fight anyone for their fantasy services in 2021.
Frosted: Unless the Raiders become one of the most prolific crimes in the NFL, Josh Jacobs’ cap is somewhere around RB14-15. That’s the ceiling again.
Jacobs has never been seen as a receiver for the Raiders for two years. All the hot air around his bump while he was catching the passport turned into a measly 45 goals in 15 games. That’s just not good enough to make a fantasy floor. Now the Raiders have the Kenyan Drake in their hands and firmly believe that he is a receiving weapon. Jacobs has to score 11-13 touchdowns to hit his cap and I’m just not ready to make that bet. I will have it classified as a low end RB2.
Liz: Last off-season, Mike Mayock spoke about Jacobs’ ability as a receiver, explaining that the next stage in the RB’s “development” would be through an increased role in passing. At the start of the season, the GM seemed to be keeping its promise. Before Jacobs injured his hip in week 9, he averaged 3 catches per competition, which was twice the average per game as of 2019. As the season progressed (along with Jacobs’ number of gnawing injuries) his goals dwindled (1, 8 U / g from week 9 to 17).
The story goes on
And apparently also the belief of the coaching staff in Jacob’s workhorse potential.
The biggest criticism of Jacobs throughout the evaluation process was his inability to run a backfield. While his toughness is undeniable – he’s played through numerous injuries – the data also shows recurring durability issues and (likely related) issues with inefficiency. So the squad added the Kenyan Drake to ease the charge, which inevitably affects Jacobs’ volume, especially as a pass catcher.
Jacobs expects double-digit touches for Drake and ends up in the RB20 area. Think somewhere between Chris Carson and Kareem Hunt.
Darren Waller has had one of the best fantasy tight-end campaigns of all time. Are we signing off last year’s production or is he making the TE group a Big 3 and joining Kelce and Kittle?
Frosted: Waller should not only be comfortably among the “Big Three” at the narrow end, but it is also easy to say that he is TE2 in the overall standings this year, ahead of George Kittle. Neither offense will result in the NFL being cited on pass attempts. Just look at the skill position groups, however. The 49ers have a rising star in Brandon Aiyuk and a strong weapon in Deebo Samuel. These guys will command goals. The Raiders Wideout crop is filled with wild cards.
Waller could even overshadow his volume totals from last year. Click on his name without hesitation this year.
Liz: None of the existing or recently added pass-catching options endanger Waller’s dominance. Not only was he TE1 in numerous volume-based metrics (overall goals, depth goals, and red zone goals), but more importantly, he took advantage of these opportunities. Waller was the team’s most reliable and electric receiving weapon for the second year in a row. More than 100 catches appear very likely.
Andy: Given Kelce’s dominance over the entire tight end field over the past year (including Waller) and its consistent level of production throughout the Patrick Mahomes era, I’d actually argue that the tight end has a top tier of one. After Kelce, Kittle and Waller are obviously in the next group (and I can argue TJ Hockenson to join them, but that’s not our mission here). Waller was targeted a whopping 145 times last season, and the team’s former No. 2 recipient (Nelson Agholor) has been relocated to New England. So there is no reason to believe that the volume will stop flowing in 2021. Plus yards provided you are in good health.
The Raiders lack an obvious WR to aim in drafts, but which player from this group could late-round offer value?
Liz: Nelson Agholor was second behind Darren Waller on team goals last year, averaging over 5 looks per competition and 15.5 YPT (WR5). Oddly enough, the Raiders issued a draft pick for Henry Ruggs in the first round, apparently with the intention of making him the team’s WR1 … and certainly the Corps’ greatest threat.
For his part, Ruggs drew 43 looks in 13 games (3.3 / g, WR97) and averaged 17.4 YPT (but only 14 deep goals – WR43 – in the season). Agholor’s exit would indicate that the franchise’s confidence in the Speedster is deepening in year two. With John Brown, however, everything seems muddy.
In fact, the skills of this cadre of pass catchers include a lot of head scratching overlap. So that’s why I’m most interested in Bryan Edwards – from a POV “Which of these things is not like the other and / or is Darren Waller’s name?” Edwards is a physical external recipient and has the hassle of standing out from the crowd. I wouldn’t be surprised to see the former Gamecock shoot more outdoors than Ruggs or Brown.
Andy: In early Best Ball drafts, I’ve seen late-fliers with new signing John Brown, a veteran with great potential who is apparently the most likely candidate to claim Agholor’s workload. Nor would it surprise me if Henry Ruggs III produced a small number of binge weeks that cannot be predicted in advance. However, none of these guys should be drafted as weekly fantasy starters. Ideally, you’ll only have them in the best ball.
Frosted: I will support John Brown until the day he retires from the NFL. The long-time underrated veteran is on his fourth NFL team but has exceeded expectations and played every step of the way. I see no reason why he can’t shine in Las Vegas when he’s healthy. Derek Carr finally looked good when he threw the deep ball last year, and Brown obviously fits in with it. In addition, Brown has the role of a pseudo-full-field no. 1 wideouts for the Ravens and Bills (Pre-Diggs) and is a natural addition to replaying that role while Ruggs is in as a player.
Las Vegas Raiders predicted fantasy contributors by 2021
QB: Derek Carr
RB: Josh Jacobs / Kenyan Drake
WR: Henry Ruggs / John Brown / Bryan Edwards
TE: Darren Waller
Dalton: UNDER. The Raiders are going to be a fun scene in Las Vegas this season, with their tickets being the hottest in the league, but getting plus (+105) juice here is a gift too. They struggled with free agent moves in both Jon Gruden’s draft and second era, and their defense numbers remained a big problem. Las Vegas is also planning to have the toughest schedule in the NFL this season – and that’s before Aaron Rodgers potentially joins his division.
Follow Andy: @andybehrens
Follow Liz: @ LizLoza_FF
Follow Matt: @ MattHarmon_BYB
Follow Dalton: @daltondeldon