Summer Sleeper: Oakland Raiders

Mo Brewington

We begin our annual 32-part Summer Sleeper series where DLF scribes identify a lightly-touted player on each NFL roster who may be worthy of your consideration. Our subjects all have varying levels of “sleeperness,” but each merits a bit of in-depth discussion here in the Premium Content section.

To help everybody along, we are going to be categorizing our sleepers under one of three headings:

  • Super Deep Sleepers – Players who aren’t roster-worthy in 12-team leagues, but are still worth keeping an eye on.
  • Deep Sleepers – An end of the roster player who is more often than not on the waiver wire in 12-team leagues.
  • Sleeper – A likely rostered player who makes for a good trade target. Their startup ADP puts them out of the top-175 or so.

Because we aren’t going give you the likes of mainstream sleepers like Tyler Lockett or Carlos Hyde, most of these players will undoubtedly fizzle. All we are asking is for you to keep an open mind and perhaps be willing to make room for one of these players on your bench. You never know when the next Willie Snead is going to spring up.  Feel free to add your own thoughts about our choice for the designated sleeper, or nominate one of your own in the comments below.

Seth Roberts, WR OAK

Category: Deep Sleeper

In 2014, Seth Roberts was among the final roster cuts the Raiders made at the end of August. Beaten out by the likes of Denarius Moore, Andre Holmes, Rod Streater, Brice Butler and Vincent Brown, in the season before “Cooper/Crabtree Era” would begin. With Streater joining the rival Chiefs and Butler now playing for Dallas, the only name from that ‘14 group currently employed by the team is Holmes, who finds himself squarely entrenched behind Roberts- the teams definitive slot receiver.

The definition of a sleeper, even YOU may have a higher ADP than Seth Roberts does. Listed as the 230th overall selection, (WR102), lands him in the early 19th round of 12 team start up drafts. Aside from being the first man up in the event Amari Cooper or Michael Crabtree miss playing time this season, why else should this Raider be on your radar?

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Recapping Roberts’ 2015 campaign, he saw action in 13 of the team’s 16 games, hauling in 32 of his 55 targets for 480 yards and five trips to the paint, (Just one less than Cooper’s six touchdowns on the year). Those numbers placed him third on the team in targets, receiving yardage and touchdowns. He also finished fourth in receptions. His 15 yard per catch average was the highest on the team among players with at least 10 catches.

As a route runner, Roberts is technically sound, and smooth. In his best performance from last season, a two-touchdown effort against the Tennessee Titans, he demonstrated his ability to separate from defenders, and adjust his body while the ball was in flight, on passes in the end zone. He finished that week 12 contest with 113 yards, catching six of his seven targets.

Weighing in at 6-foot-2, 195 pounds, Roberts put up a 4.44 second 40 time, and 6.77 second 3-Cone at his Pro-Day, back in 2014. While some may quibble that these numbers are not elite, I would argue that they are superior to the results posted by Antonio Brown at his Pro-Day, and sufficient enough to illustrate the athleticism of a player who can make plays, in traffic in the seams, after the catch, on the outside and down in the scoring zone. As he enters this, his third professional season, it’s fair to expect him to demonstrate a greater understanding of defenses, and continue to find ways to make plays, earning a larger role in the Oakland passing attack.

Last summer there was a constant drumbeat in the fantasy community, with so many pundits eager to discredit then second-year quarterback, Derek Carr, and his ability as a signal caller/ NFL caliber passer. This season the tide has begun to turn. Oakland is viewed as a team on the rise, with Carr gaining acceptance as one of the best young quarterbacks in the league. He came just 13 yards short of reaching 4,000 passing yards, tossing 32 touchdowns, with 23 turnovers in total. A marked improvement from the 3,270 yards and 21 scores he posted as a rookie.

Aside from the aforementioned trio of Cooper, Crabtree and Roberts, the team boast a pair of tight ends, in Mychal Rivera and Clive Walford, capable of moving the chains with regularity. Their versatile fullback, Marcel Reece, is an under-utilized weapon, who can hurt defenses on the ground and as a receiver. And finally, after achieving his first 1,000 yard rushing season, Latavius Murray will look to disprove skeptics, and cement himself among the league’s top backs. In total, this offensive unit comprises one of the more talented skill groups in the NFL. The plethora of options should aid Carr’s ability to keep defenses guessing, and afford Roberts opportunities to make plays, while teams strategize ways to slow down Cooper, and the others.

There is little threat of Roberts position on the depth chart being usurped by any of the players behind him on the depth chart. Entering training camp, the remaining receiver spots are occupied by Andre Holmes and 5 guys named Joe…( actually there’s only one Joe. Joe Hansley. The others are Johnny Holton, Marvin Hall, K.J. Brent, and Max McCaffery.) Being the first of former Bronco great, Ed McCaffery’s four sons to make it to the NFL, makes Max the only one among the groups whose name may ring bells to even the die-hard football/ fantasy fanatic. It would take a superhuman preseason for any of them to surpass even Holmes on the depth chart, much less Roberts. Through four seasons as a pro, the last three of which have been in Oakland, Holmes has failed to show any level of consistency and saw his targets drop from 99 in 2014, down to 33 last year.

For Roberts, garnering the third most targets, while playing the third most snaps of any pass catcher on the team in 2015, was an encouraging sign of both Carr, and Offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave’s trust in his skills. In a recent article by CSN Bay Area’s Scott Bair, Carr voiced his belief in Roberts talents, saying:

“I always go back and study last year’s film, one thing I continue to see over and over again is when he was man-to-man, he won his route…That is huge. And he’s not just winning, he’s creating separation”

A natural uptick in production should be expected based on both Roberts’ own personal growth, and the maturation of the Raiders offense as a whole. This alone may be enough to vault Seth Roberts into the flex/ daily fantasy discussion. In the event Cooper or Crabtree miss a start, or string of games, Roberts instantly becomes a must add, as he already should be for those planning to invest highly in Cooper. I would not be shocked to see this third year receiver have a bust-out season, hauling in 60-70 balls, with 800+yards and a handful of trips to the house. Neither should you. The best part about it… he’ll be there waiting for you in the last round of your draft, possibly even on the wire come week one. A strong candidate to be this year’s Allen Hurns, Willie Snead or Kamar Aikens. Rising from anonymity to fantasy relevance.


mo brewington
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