COMMENTARY | It is now mid-July, and all across the Internet fantasy football mock drafts have begun.
As fantasy football players eagerly await the return of their most prized game (and potential income), magazines published exclusively for fantasy football are soon to be flying off the racks.
Players like Adrian Peterson, Arian Foster, Aaron Rodgers and Drew Brees will always get the attention, and as well they should. But lost in the mid-to-late rounds of most (if not all) mock drafts so far are only a few of the Oakland Raiders.
Despite the improvements general manager Reggie McKenzie has brought to Oakland, nobody in the media is giving this team a chance.
With that being said, the Raiders still have some serious fantasy options in 2013.
1. Darren McFadden, RB
I remember drafting Darren McFadden in the eighth round of my fantasy league in 2010. Nobody gave him a look because he hadn't done anything his first two years in the league after being drafted No. 4 overall in 2008.
To be honest, I wasn't impressed either. I just always have at least one Raider on my team every year for tradition and loyalty. But to my surprise, McFadden broke out and rushed for 1,157 yards and seven touchdowns and turned out to be my fantasy stud.
Since that breakout year, McFadden has always been looked at as a guy who has the potential to be one of the greatest running backs in the league. Unfortunately, the injury bug has bitten him more times than a Tyson fight.
After a horrible 2012 year where he only rushed for 707 yards while averaging 3.3 yards per carry, McFadden is sure to bounce back in 2013 with the power-blocking scheme returning to Oakland.
With so much inexperience and uncertainty surrounding Oakland's quarterbacks, look for McFadden to be the offensive leader and take the bulk of the workload. He's also entering a contract year, which means he's going to need a great (and healthy) year if he wants to land a long-term deal with Oakland or anybody else for that matter.
McFadden is "excited" about the new offense in Oakland, and fantasy owners should be excited for him to regain the form that took the NFL's breath away in 2010.
Even if you don't like the Raiders, you have to respect Sebastian Janikowski's leg. As a joke (but not really), I hope the Raiders will just send in SeaBass to put some points on the board as long as they're past the 50.
He was Oakland's go-to points getter last year because the team couldn't score a touchdown. This was especially true in the Raiders' 15-0 win against the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 15 where Janikowski kicked five field goals.
Janikowski only made five field goals between 40-49 yards in 2012, but he also only attempted five. His long was also 57, good enough for 4th-best in the NFL.
But as we all know, Janikowski is more than capable of drilling one from 60-plus and having ten yards to spare. The kicker is the most expendable position in fantasy football, but Janikowski is always one of those guys who gets picked up early in free agency because his reputation as a kicker with a monster leg has never gone away.
After watching last year's defense and special teams unit, this selection would have been a laughing stock. As a matter of fact, your friends would either throw you out of the league for making such a stupid pick, or keep you in the league because your defense was so bad they knew they'd have an easy win for that week.
But this year is different. McKenzie completely revamped the defense that had no identity or leadership last year.
He brought in veterans like Kevin Burnett and Nick Roach to improve the linebackers, and proven defensive backs with Super Bowl rings like Tracy Porter and Charles Woodson to drastically improve the secondary that was absolutely horrendous in 2012.
Though questions still linger on the defensive line, the other two levels will be much improved, and the addition of Josh Cribbs gives the Raiders a much-needed spark on the special teams side.
Cribbs is one of the most electrifying return men in the NFL, and his ability to give Oakland better field position will help the rest of the team greatly improve.
The Raiders D/ST won't be top-10 material, but with the league's fifth-easiest schedule, look for this unit to keep the points down. Also, don't be surprised if Cribbs takes a couple punts to the house.
Steven Slivka is a freelance writer for the Oakland Raiders. You can follow him on Twitter @stevenslivka.
- Sports & Recreation
- American Football
- Oakland Raiders
- Sebastian Janikowski
- Darren McFadden