It would be easy to look at some of the moves the Raiders made since hiring Jon Gruden and think Gruden is still stuck in 2008. Greg Olson, his offensive coordinator, was Gruden's quarterbacks coach the last time he coached the NFL; Jordy Nelson, his new receiver, was a rookie in '08; Doug Martin isn't old enough to have a personal connection to Gruden, but he has played his entire career in Tampa Bay.
But the most recent move the team made, acquiring Martavis Bryant, made me feel a lot better about the Raiders' offseason and Derek Carr's prospects. Then the rumors about a possible suspension started. As of now the numbers below are just dealing with the facts we have. But if Bryant is indeed suspended it would likely be a lengthy one and Nelson would be the main beneficiary.
While I'd argue that Michael Crabtree is currently a better receiver than Nelson, there's no denying the Raiders' collection of talent at receiver. They reportedly plan to feed Amari Cooper, and Bryant's speed would only help that. It would be difficult for teams to double team Cooper, and that should translate to big numbers.
As encouraged as I was about the passing game, the plan for running the ball befuddles me. Marshawn Lynch was kept on the roster, so Martin looks like a handcuff at best. You could make the case that the other two running backs on the roster, Jalen Richard and DeAndre Washington, are the two most talented backs they have anyway. I would be surprised if all four are on the roster when the season starts, but if they are it's going to be hard to trust any of them.
*Rankings expressed below are in terms of expected Fantasy points. This is a part of our actual Fantasy Football rankings but not a direct correlation to my rankings. Things like injury risk, upside, etc. factor into rankings but they're not being talked about here. This is simply an expectation as the team is currently constructed.
EXPECTED PPR FP
Breaking down the touches
Olson has a long, mostly middling, career as an offensive coordinator. But his last three years specifically have been extremely pass-happy. Looking at the weapons the Raiders have added in the passing game, I'm going to assume that continues. That's obviously great news for Derek Carr, as I expect him to throw the most passes he's thrown since his rookie year... when Olson was his offensive coordinator.
The other person who could benefit greatly from the change in coordinator is Jared Cook. Tight ends in Olson's offense have accounted for 22 percent of the team's targets over the past three seasons and Cook is more talented than all of them. The last time Olson was in Oakland he had Carr target Mychal Rivera 99 times. If Cook gets 99 targets this year, he'll be a top-12 tight end.
- Absolutely nothing would surprise me with the Oakland running backs, including Lynch or Martin not being with the team when the season starts. But the most likely scenario is that Lynch handles most of the early down work and the rest is chopped up by Martin and their younger backs.
- I would love to see a strong camp from Bryant. It would be in the Raiders best interest to get Bryant heavily involved in the passing game.
- There's been a lot of talk about feeding Cooper. I haven't reacted to it in these numbers because of the addition of Nelson and Bryant. But he has upside beyond these projected targets.
Jalen Richard has averaged 5.5 yards per carry over 139 career carries and I'm not even sure his job is safe. Between Richard and Washington, the hope is that at least one of them beats out Martin and then overtakes Lynch. But with this coaching staff that seems highly unlikely. If one of these young backs gets cut. I'll be very interested in where they land. For now I'm still stashing both in Dynasty.
Seth Roberts has been a red zone pest and a thorn in the side of Cooper owners for some time. I'm hopeful that the additions of Nelson and Bryant will exterminate the problem.