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Dynasty Capsule: Oakland Raiders

As part of the premium content package, we’re unveiling dynasty capsules for every team in the NFL all Spring and Summer. This year, we also have a precursor to every team capsule, with more detail on one of our favorite pieces – the dynasty sleeper. We continue our alphabetical journey through the NFL with the Oakland Raiders.

Quarterbacks

Carson Palmer

The 32 year old (12/27/79) Palmer played only ten games as a Raider, averaging just over 275 yards a game on his way to 13 touchdowns and 16 interceptions – not exactly the season fantasy coaches have come to expect from the Palmer of old.  Given that Palmer was traded to the Raiders early into the 2011 season with no level of experience or chemistry with any of the receivers, nor significant understanding of the system, Palmer’s final statistics should have come as no surprise.

Turning our attention to the 2012 season, change is in the air and another year of development is at hand for the offense.  Gone are Michael Bush and Louis Murphy, replaced by Mike Goodson and fifth round rookie selection Juron Criner.  The offense gets an additional shot in the arm with the return of Darren McFadden who is 100% healthy and running hard in camp.  Replacing the traded Murphy, Criner seemingly gives Palmer the big red zone target that  Darrius Heyward-Bey has yet to become.   With the intriguing Denarius Moore sure to start on the outside opposite Heyward-Bey, Palmer has a trio of unheralded receivers who could surprise.

While his QB1 days may be well behind him, we have every belief that he could surprise fantasy coaches with solid QB2 performance, but at a current QB3 selection value.  If not for other intriguing sleeper options, Palmer could well qualify for the title himself.  For a quarterback who could post 4,000 yards and 20+ touchdowns, he should be on your radar as a sneaky selection in the teen rounds. If the dynamic Darren McFadden can remain healthy for a full sixteen games, there is the possibility that Palmer could return to a low QB1 option, but can’t be drafted with that hope in mind.

Matt Leinart

It’s hard to believe the 29 year old Leinart is already with his third team and well on his way to being one of the bigger quarterback busts of the last decade.

Unable to stay healthy and otherwise unimpressive, Leinart will battle the raw, but dynamic second year pro Terrelle Pryor for the honor of backing up Palmer.  While Leinart does possess prototypical size at the position, his underwhelming arm strength and even less desirable decision making history likely cap his potential to no more than it is currently.  In dynasty leagues, he’s waiver wire material with little hope of being more.

Terrelle Pryor

When the Raiders selected Pryor in 2011’s supplemental draft, it was well known he was extremely raw and would need multiple years of coaching and development before ever seeing the field.  While not in the same mold as Carson Palmer as a passer, Pryor will certainly have the opportunity for many takeaways from Palmer’s workmanlike approach toward game preparation and positional development.  While raw in every category, Pryor does have an intriguing blend of tangible qualities that shouldn’t be immediately dismissed.

In deeper dynasty leagues, Pryor can be rostered with the expectation that he could, in time, see the field.   Should Palmer be sidelined by an injury, look for the Raiders to press Pryor into action to see what type of game ability he has.

Running Backs

Darren McFadden

There’s no discounting McFadden’s potential in fantasy.  At only 24 years old (8/24/87), DMc has demonstrated elite skills as a runner and pass catcher.  He has true game breaking ability that, when healthy, is good enough to make him a lock as a RB1 in fantasy.  While there is no discounting his ability, there’s plenty of discount to be had in his proven durability, or lack of it.  Drafted in 2008, McFadden has yet to play more than 13 games, suffering a variety of injuries that have left fantasy coaches frustrated and unsure just how to value the fragile back.

In his four years as a pro, McFadden has amassed 2,627 yards rushing on 553 attempts –  good for a 4.8 yards per carry average.   Toss in another 116 receptions over that same time and you have a back who can, when healthy, carry RB1 value in any fantasy format.  That “if healthy” statement carries a lot of weight, though.

McFadden’s 2011 campaign ended in week seven due to a Lisfranc sprain – a painful and slow healing injury that often can have long lasting effects.  DMc, already known as being anything other than a fast healer, teased owners with a possible earlier return that would ultimately never transpire.  In the end, Michael Bush would carry the load for the remainder of the season and proved himself capable as an every-down back.  Fast forward to 2012 and McFadden is fully healed, running hard in camp and is said to not be feeling any pain in the joint.

There’s more to consider for McFadden’s value in 2012 and beyond than his already checkered injury past.  Carson Palmer, acquired early in 2011, is now fully comfortable within the offense and is very capable of returning to a high level of performance.  The Raiders young receivers continue to develop and may actually be considered dynamic once again.  Most notably, new coach Dennis Allen is featuring a new zone blocking scheme he believes will benefit McFadden and the entire offense.  McFadden, not who we would consider a prototypical back for a zone scheme, will have to adjust his typical style of running, but shouldn’t skip a beat.  Most valuable to McFadden’s owners is the fact that the carry stealing Michael Bush has departed for Chicago, leaving DMc as the featured workhorse back in the offense.

Regardless of the variables in play with the receivers, Palmer or the offensive line, all eyes are squarely on McFadden’s ability to shake the injury bug and stay healthy for all 16 games.  He’s expressed a strong desire to prove his capability to stay healthy in 2012.  While we’re skeptical of his ability to be successful in this endeavor, we don’t doubt his impact should he make good on his desire.  Currently a second round selection in all formats, should McFadden prove to be healthy for all 16 games, he’s easily a top ten talent.

Mike Goodson

Goodson was acquired early in 2012  from the crowded backfield in Carolina.  As we mentioned, Michael Bush has moved on, opening a RB2 role that has had value behind the injury prone McFadden.  Much like McFadden, however, Goodson himself has never shown the ability to be durable.

Out of Texas A&M, Goodson possesses good size (6’0″/213) and has a speed dynamic that, when healthy, is very evident.  He’s quick to the corner, tougher as a downhill runner than would expect and has great hands out of the backfield.  During camp, Goodson has received a good number of first team reps and has shown the ability the Raiders were hoping for when they acquired him.  Now fully recovered from a significant hamstring injury, and again much like McFadden, Goodson has to prove he can remain healthy through 16 games.

Not possessing the same dynamic as McFadden, Goodson has all the tools to be a fantasy producer should he get meaningful touches.  Now in a clear-cut RB2 role and playing behind one of the most injury-prone RB1s in the game, there is value to be had here and he’s a must-have handcuff.  There simply isn’t enough of a resume’ to determine how successful or productive Goodson could be in the NFL, but he’s a good value in the late-middle area of dynasty drafts.

Taiwan Jones

The speedy Jones hasn’t yet had an opportunity for significant carries.  When McFadden fell to injury in week seven of the 2011 season, Bush proved he could carry the load.

Entering 2012, and with Bush out of the equation, it seemed that Jones would finally get an opportunity to move up the depth chart.  Instead, the Raiders moved quickly to secure Goodson from the Panthers for the role.  Goodson, a tough runner with good speed and adept hands, has immediately been inserted as McFadden’s backup and has been impressing in camp.  For Jones, he assumes a role once again as only a change-of-pace runner with not a lot of blue sky above him.

The dynamic Jones will need help if he’s ever to get an opportunity to show Chris Johnson-like ability.  Until then, he is rosterable in dynasty leagues as a late round selection.

Lonyae Miller

Miller is fourth on the depth chart and fighting for a roster spot.  Due to the injury history of both McFadden and Goodson, he is  a good bet to hold down some role, be it on the active roster or the practice squad.  However, there is no reason to have Miller on any fantasy roster.

Wide Receivers

Darrius Heyward-Bey

Heyward-Bey has finally begun to show the talent the Raiders expected when they drafted him at seventh overall in 2009.  After amassing 64 receptions for 975 yards and four touchdowns in 2011, the hope is that Heyward-Bey would take the next step in 2012 toward becoming the every-situation threat that the Raiders need in the passing game.

This year is off to a dubious start in that Heyward-Bey was arrested for DUI and eventually pled “no contest” to the charge.  This plea could result in a suspension but as this is DHB’s first offense, no action is expected.  The bigger risk here is that DHB has now used his only “free pass” and any further infractions will surely bring greater action from the commissioner. With the charge now behind him, Heyward-Bey appears to be focused in camp and has been drawing rave reviews.  Now 25, and with the best size-speed dynamic on the team, we look for Heyward-Bey to become a favorite target of Carson Palmer, similar to the role Chad Johnson played while in Cincinnati.  Whether DHB can rise to this receiving standard is yet to be seen, but 2012 appears to be the make-or-break year fantasy owners have been waiting for.

While we’re not overly high on Heyward-Bey’s prospects, there’s no doubt the risk-reward opportunity a receiver of his potential brings.  We’re currently comfortable with DHB serving as a WR3 and flex play option on a weekly basis, but acknowledge that should he become more consistent, he has tremendous upside.

Denarius Moore

DLF’s 2011 sleeper favorite Denarius Moore continues his rise on fantasy boards.

The 6’0″, 195 pound speedster is a lock to start on the outside for the Raiders in 2012, across from Heyward-Bey.  Moore’s 33 receptions in 2011 don’t fully demonstrate his ability or his dynamic on the field.  His 18.7 yards per reception average and five touchdowns on just those 33 receptions help to show his upside. He really just needs to be able to remain healthy and continue to get behind opposing defenses. Louis Murphy has been shipped away and only rookie selection Juron Criner poses any threat to Moore’s potential.  Moore’s role as an highly targeted receiver looks secure.

With Carson Palmer comfortable in the offense, we look for Moore to have a breakout 2012 campaign and be a notable fantasy performer.  His youth, combined with a passing offense that has yet to fully find its rhythm do present risks, presents an opportunity.  Moore still continues to fly under the radar in many leagues, but he provides a fantastic mid-round risk-reward receiver selection.

Jacoby Ford

The undersized, yet dynamic Ford has held perpetual promise, but has never delivered in fantasy.  Unless you play in a return yardage league, 2012 marks the year that Ford has dropped off the radar completely and has returned to the free agent pool.  Oakland’s receiver situation is fluid and Ford is certain to stick on the roster, providing some level of upside should injury strike above him on the depth chart.  Now healthy following a significant foot sprain in 2011 that cost Ford half of the season, hefalls to no better than the fourth option for the Raiders.

Juron Criner

Juron Criner was highlighted as our Oakland Raider sleeper selection.

Rod Streater

Projecting the fifth Raider receiver is pure guesswork early into camp.  What is known is that the undrafted Rod Streater (Temple) continues to receive a lot of buzz.  Streater was quick to make an impression in OTAs and has followed through again early in camp.  At 6’3″ and just over 200 pounds, don’t lose sight of him during camps.  You don’t need to roster him at this point during the year, but be prepared to pounce should you hear his name often in the preseason.

Derek Carrier

Undrafted and hailing from the small school of Beloit, Carrier has natural athleticism and speed to go with his outstanding size and impressive speed.  Carrier is fighting for the last receiver slot and is behind the aforementioned Streater thus far into camp, but should Oakland decide to keep six receivers, our guess is that Carrier will get the call.  As it stands, we expect him to slip through to the practice squad for further development.

Tight Ends

Brandon Myers

After losing both Zach Miller and Kevin Boss, the Raiders find themselves with youth at the position.  Brandon Myers out of Iowa is an uninspiring option in the offense and doesn’t project well into fantasy.  While he does possess good size (6’4″/250), we encourage our readers to look elsewhere for tight end production, at least until one of the young players steps forward to any level of consistency.  We expect Myers to make the final cut, but he should remain on the waiver wire in dynasty leagues until further notice.

David Ausberry

Ausberry is a passable receiving threat at the position, but like Myers above, is extremely young, raw and largely underwhelming.  Not a good in-line blocker, we expect Ausberry to be the better receiving option, but that doesn’t translate into a draftable situation.  Again like Myers, he can remain in the free agent pool for the time being.

We’ll continue our team-by-team capsules with the Philadelphia Eagles up next.

Jeff Haverlack
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Eric MacKenzie
10 years ago

I’m kinda surprised Marcel Reese wasn’t included in this. I know he’s a fullback, but there seems to be some potential fantasy value there, no?

sean l
10 years ago

agreed on reese

bbwayne
10 years ago

I wonder if it was the same reason Casey was left off on the Texans Capsule? Limited touches, too much blocking? Not sure but Reese could be a nice FB to HB backup like Tolbert was in San Diego last year.

holdentyler
10 years ago

I wondered about Reece too. I wouldn’t be shocked if he took Goaline carries like Bush did last year.

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