2021 Dynasty Capsule: Las Vegas Raiders

Shane Manila

Every year, we give our premium content members a team-by-team, player-by-player look at the prior NFL season. The coverage will be in-depth, but because the Dynasty Capsule series begins immediately after the season, we won’t use it to discuss free agency or the draft. Come see us in early May once Mr. Irrelevant is off the board for another 32-article series giving you the same detailed discussion you’ll see below.

Buckle up dynasty fans, because you’re about to be reminded why our motto is, “There is no off-season.”

The Raiders’ first season in the desert was mediocre, which is an apt description for many of their fantasy assets. “Wanting” is the word that the Raiders season brings to mind, both in the NFL and in fantasy. They were okay, and their fantasy assets were okay (on a whole), but there’s a sense that they could have done so much more.

One note: If a player doesn’t have any ADP, I won’t be covering them below (looking at you Jalen Richard).

QUARTERBACK

Derek Carr (ADP: QB24, 210.50)

Age: 29

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Technically Carr has been a value for the last two seasons. He’s out-produced his ADP the last two years. He finished as QB1 in seven of 15 full games. But he also finished as the QB20 or worse in seven of 15 full games, including for three straight weeks from weeks eight through ten. I only mention this because there’s a great chance that three-week run stopped you from starting him in week 11 when he finished as the QB5.

Entering his eighth season, this is what Carr is. He’s good half the time and bad the other time. He’s thrown for more than 30 touchdowns just once in his career and is unlikely to suddenly turn into an elite asset. His contract dictates that he’ll be a Raider in 2020, but after the season his dead cap hit falls to $2.5 million and the Raiders would save a shade over $19 million by releasing him. As your QB3 in a superflex league, Carr is properly valued, but if he’s one of your two primary starters you’re not in great shape.

Marcus Mariota (ADP: N/A)

Age: 27

Mariota is going undrafted in start 1QB leagues. He checks in as the QB41 in superflex leagues, per DLF’s most recent ADP. There was some hope for Mariota truthers entering the 2020 season that he could compete with Carr for the Raiders starting QB role, but COVID canceling the pre-season ruined those hopes. He largely rode the bench except for one glorious evening against the Chargers.

With Carr forced from the game in the first quarter, Mariota was forced into action, and oh how he produced. He threw for 226 yards and a touchdown and added 88 rushing yards and another touchdown. This was the Mariota we all dreamed of when he entered the league as the second overall pick in 2015. It was beautiful, but nothing else came of it. He went back to the bench the following week and sat there the rest of the season. That one game offered a tantalizing glimpse into what Mariota could have been, but unless you’re in a superflex league, he shouldn’t be rostered.

RUNNING BACK

Josh Jacobs (ADP: RB10, 19.17)

Age: 22

Jacobs is an interesting player. Extremely talented but for reasons clear to no one but Jon Gruden, the Raiders refuse to let him loose in the receiving game. Despite Jacobs setting a 60 reception season as his goal for 2020, he didn’t even see 60 targets. Considering part of Jacobs’ appeal coming out of college was his receiving ability, the Raiders’ reluctance to use him as a receiver is odd. On a positive note, he did see his targets per game increase from 2.2 in his rookie season to 3.0 targets per game last year, so there was a slight increase. His snap share also increased from around 54% in his rookie season to over 61% last year.

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Hopefully, the Raiders are just slowly, very slowly, integrating Jacobs into the entire offensive scheme. Jacobs finished as the RB14 and the RB12 (excluding players who played fewer than eight games) the past two seasons. He could out-produce his ADP if ever given a larger role in the receiving game. I’m willing to pay that bet and would still look to acquire Jacobs knowing there is untapped upside.

Devontae Booker (ADP: RB86, 235.17)

Age: 28

Booker had a couple of games last year where he was able to provide fantasy production (weeks nine and ten). But when given the chance to run as the starter, he only produced 51 yards on 18 opportunities on his way to 6.1 fantasy points in week 13. Booker is a decent pass-catcher but unless some team looks at his profile and decides the soon to be 29-year-old is a hidden gem, that’s all he’ll ever be – a pass-catching back and backup. He’s fine as a bottom-of-your-roster guy, but not much more than that.

WIDE RECEIVER

Henry Ruggs (ADP: WR48, 93.67)

Age: 22

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If you are a Ruggs believer, now is a good time to acquire him. Taken as the first receiver in the draft by the Raiders last year, he had an ADP of WR32 (62.83 overall) in May of 2020. After missing a few games with injuries and not exploding out of the gate like some of the 2020 WR class, he has seen his ADP dip to WR48.

Ruggs had just two games last year when he finished as a WR27 or better, on his way to finishing as the WR105 in points per game. That’s not great, especially when compared to the rest of his class. There was a concern when Ruggs joined the Raiders that his skill-set didn’t match up well with Carr’s. Nothing that happened last year did anything to disprove those concerns.

However, as I noted when discussing Carr, it’s not of the question the Raiders move on from their quarterback after the 2021 season. Or maybe Mariota beats Carr out for the gig. Mariota can’t be worse for Ruggs’s fantasy production/value, can he? Unfortunately, Ruggs was inactive the week Mariota had his run, so I can’t even cite that week as a reason for optimism.

This comes down to if you believe in Ruggs. Even if you don’t, acquiring him as a secondary piece or in the back half of your start-up drafts isn’t cost-prohibitive and his upside makes him worth the minimal risk.

Bryan Edwards (ADP: WR57, 115)

Age: 22

Coming out of college last year, I loved this landing spot for Edwards. With no true WR1 on the roster, I thought he could make an impact immediately. I was incorrect. He never made an impact, except for week 17 when he scored a touchdown on his way to a season-high 51 receiving yards and 13.1 fantasy points. Edwards totaled just 193 receiving yards on the season, despite the Raiders losing Tyrell Williams in the preseason, and with no other receivers of note on the roster.

Go peruse the list of players to account for less than 200 receiving yards during their rookie seasons – not just wide receivers, literally any player. Here are the first 20 players on the list, courtesy of Stathead.

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I loved Edwards coming out, but the precedent isn’t great. Unless he’s a throw-in, I’m not going out my way to acquire him.

Nelson Agholor (ADP: WR69, 154.17)

Age: 27

Aghlor enters free agency coming off the most productive season (yardage) in his career. He averaged 11.6 points per game, and was a top-36 receiver seven times. He was actually a top-13 receiver four different weeks in 2020, on his way to the WR48 finish. That’s not too shabby for a receiver who was coming off the board as the WR96 coming into the season.

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Agholor was on a one-year, prove-it deal with the Raiders, and he proved he’s worth well more than the veteran minimum. What that exactly means for his future is beyond me. He showed with the Raiders that he can be used as a deeper threat, after years of being shackled to the slot in Philadelphia. At his current cost, I’ll add Agholor wherever I can and hope for a repeat performance in 2021.

Hunter Renfrow (ADP: WR88, 203.67)

Age: 25

Renfrow ranked third on the Raiders last year in both targets (77) and receiving yards (656), while his 56 receptions ranked second-highest on the team. He also ranked third in snap share among Raider wide receivers.

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Every inch of me wants to tell you to disregard Renfrow. The Raiders drafted Ruggs, and Edwards a season after him and both players should be ahead of him in the pecking order. But because I am a cautious man, I’ll tell you to at least keep an eye on Renfrow. Physically, he compares to a couple of interesting wide receivers, and I wouldn’t mind holding onto him.

TIGHT END

Darren Waller (ADP: TE3, 42.67)

Age: 27

When Waller finished as the TE5 in 2019, I figured most of his production was due to being hyper-targeted and feared the regression monster was coming to get him. I mean there was no possible way, with all the additions the Raiders made to their offense, that Waller would see 117 targets again, right? Technically I was correct, but it went the other way.

Waller saw the 11th-most targets in the league with 145 last year. He also increased his touchdown scoring from three to nine receiving touchdowns. I thought he was a product of his situation in 2019, his 2020 season has shown me otherwise. Put simply, he is an absolute weapon. The Raiders target him heavily because he’s really good, not the other way around.

If you have Waller as your TE2 over George Kittle, I wouldn’t fight you over it. He’s that good. If anyone still doubts his abilities then make sure to take advantage of them.

Foster Moreau (ADP: TE40, 239.17)

Age: 23

Moreau is still really young (23) and still an absolute physical specimen. If I’m stashing a player, both of those are attributes I’m looking for.

shane manila
2021 Dynasty Capsule: Las Vegas Raiders