The Oakland Raiders were bound to have a different look under new Head Coach Jon Gruden and they’ve started down that very path by signing veterans Jordy Nelson and Doug Martin early on in the free agency period. In addition, they’ve released wide receiver Michael Crabtree in a subsequent move, clearing the way for Nelson and possibly other receivers to come. All of this action is important to note for dynasty owners as many players have seen their values change as a result of these moves. Let’s review all the players involved:
Jordy Nelson, WR OAK
Nelson has been a great player in both fantasy and reality over the past nine seasons, posting a total of 550 catches for 7,848 yards and scoring 69 touchdowns, all as a Green Bay Packer. After missing all of 2015 with an injury, Nelson bounced back nicely in 2016 with 97 catches for 1,257 yards and 14 touchdowns. Last year was more of a disappointment as he was only able to post 53 catches for 482 yards and six touchdowns. However, one must remember he played much of the season an ineffective Brett Hundley at the helm and not Aaron Rodgers. Still, his yards per catch average dipped all the way down to 9.1 (his career average is over 14) and he looked as if he had lost a step.
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The Raiders are clearly banking on Nelson’s 2017 production being the result of poor quarterback play and must believe Nelson will be a perfect complement to Amari Cooper, who they really want to be the focal point of the offense. It’s fair to wonder if a fully healthy Nelson will end up being that number one target eventually but it’s a gamble for an owner to believe the 32-year old Nelson is just going to show up in Oakland and be an All-Pro again. Nelson’s ADP dipped all the way down to 110 last month and will likely rise a bit with this signing. However, he has a long way to go in order to get back to where he was just one year ago. In short, there’s much to prove here, especially when it’s been made clear he won’t be the number option in the passing game.
Amari Cooper, WR OAK
The signing of Nelson doesn’t really affect Cooper all that much. The new Raiders regime has already said Cooper is going to be the primary focus for Derek Carr moving forward (you can make a case this move helps Carr’s value as well but he also has much to prove, regardless). However, it’s fair to wonder just how this is going to turn out. Outside of a few games last season, Cooper was a disappointment in dynasty leagues as he posted just 48 catches for 680 yards and seven touchdowns. If you take out his 210-yard, two touchdown performance against Kansas City, the season was more of a disaster than anything else. Hopefully a new coaching staff can get more out of Cooper and we can see him return to his 2016 form next season. His ADP has dipped and should remain fairly stable this off-season but another clunker and the chart below is going to look like the stock market crash your Great Grandfather used to talk about.
Michael Crabtree, WR FA
The 10-year veteran will now look for his third team and has already been linked to the Baltimore Ravens. We’ll certainly have coverage when he signs with a new team. However, it’s a safe bet Crabtree will basically be what he is – a player who can get you around 800 yards and a good number of red zone catches for touchdowns. Asking for anything more from Crabtree or expecting his ADP to rise dramatically may be asking a little much.
Other Raiders Receivers
If you were really banking on the likes of Cordarelle Patterson, Isaac Whitney, Griff Whalen, Seth Roberts, Johnny Holton or Keon Hatcher, you’re either in the deepest league imaginable or take a “glass is half full” approach to every part of your life. Part of me is jealous.
Doug Martin, RB OAK
The curious case of Doug Martin hits another chapter. Over his up-and-down six year career, Martin has four seasons where he has failed to hit 500 yards rushing and two where he’s posted more than 1,400, with nothing in between. To me, that’s one of the most fascinating statistics in all of fantasy football over the past decade. After scoring 11 touchdowns in his rookie season, Martin has also scored just 15 in the five years since. Martin is a talented player who has faced his share of challenges in his career (some of his own doing) but likely needed a fresh start somewhere else. He’ll give Oakland another good option at running back and fills out a pretty solid depth chart.
The challenge with this signing and owning Martin in general is obvious – nobody really knows how he fits with Oakland. The Raiders are reportedly wanting to retain Marshawn Lynch moving forward. That’s certainly no sure thing and could change before the season starts. In addition, the Raiders also have Jalen Richard and DeAndre Washington, who are both serviceable players at worst. Martin is likely a hold here until we see just how the Oakland backfield shakes out. However, the days of building a roster and counting on Martin as a key figure on it look to be either on hold or simply over. His owners have to hold out hope the Raiders are unable to bring back Lynch and decide to give Martin the first shot at being their primary running back.
Marshawn Lynch, RB OAK
The enigmatic Marshawn Lynch is still reportedly in Oakland’s plans for next year but he’s also due $6 million this upcoming season and that seems like a lot of money to pay a soon-to-be 32-year old running back coming off a fairly average season. Owners are simply in a holding pattern here.
Jalen Richard and DeAndre Washington, RBs OAK
Each of these players have shown flashes of greatness in recent seasons but neither has shown enough consistency to trust from a fantasy perspective. The addition of Martin puts one more running back in the room and furthers the notion the Raiders simply don’t see either of these two as a future starter. It’s getting harder and harder to hold out hope for these two and both could actually use a change of scenery at this point unless Lynch re-retires and Martin flops.