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The Yahoo Fantasy analysts will preview all 32 NFL teams between now and the eventual start of the 2020 draft season. Here, we’ll tackle pressing fantasy questions, #FantasyHotTaeks, and team win totals. Next up, the Las Vegas Raiders.
Josh Jacobs had a great rookie season, and his current ADP (16.8) is setting some high expectations for Year 2. Do you believe he’ll deliver, or are you expecting a sophomore slump?
Matt: As a rookie, Jacobs was already one of the best pure runners in the league. He ranked fourth among backs with 150-plus carries by averaging 2.82 yards after contact per rush and was top-eight in total broken tackles. I don’t expect much of a drop-off or slump in his play. However, there is some worry about his passing game role. He averaged just 2.2 targets per game in 2019. Even more troubling, he ran 147 routes on the season, trailing Jalen Richard for the team lead (204). DeAndre Washington’s departure (127 routes) will send a few more reps his way but if Richard, who was retained this March via a two-year, $7 million deal, continues to get sizable burn as a receiver, that will hinder Jacobs’ ceiling. His draft slot as a Round 2 back takes some of that risk into account.
Dalton: Jacobs is a fine-looking young back who just led the NFL in broken tackles and elusive rating as a rookie, but he won’t be on any of my fantasy teams at his ADP. He recorded a modest 20 catches on 27 targets, and while there’s no reason to think he couldn’t perform well as a receiver with more work, all signs point to Las Vegas keeping him in a two-down role, as the team re-signed Jalen Richard and drafted Lynn Bowden in the third round. Jacobs also has durability concerns after dealing with injuries in college (when he totaled just 251 carries) and played hurt from Week 7 on as a rookie (while missing three games). Moreover, Jacobs’ touch share saw a significant decrease when the Raiders trailed last season, and they have one of the toughest schedules in 2020. To be clear, I have Jacobs ranked as a second-round pick, but as a two-down back with health concerns on a questionable team, his top-10 RB status among the expert consensus is a stretch.
Andy: If you’re looking for a candidate to make the jump into the overall top-5 in 2021 fantasy drafts, here’s your guy. He was stellar as a rookie, a missed-tackle machine who averaged 4.8 YPC and 88.5 rushing yards per game. The team has made it clear that Jacobs’ receiving responsibilities will increase in his second season, and I don’t think that talk is simply offseason sunshine. He was a gifted pass-catcher at Alabama. Jacobs actually ranked third in the league last year in rushing YPG — ahead of McCaffrey, Zeke, Cook and most others — so he’s a clear threat to challenge for a rushing title in a healthy season. If he can run as effectively as he did in his rookie year while averaging a modest 3-4 targets per game, he’s going to be a monster in any scoring format.
Tyrell Williams, Hunter Renfrow, Henry Ruggs III, Bryan Edwards — who is the receiver you expect will outplay expectations the most?
Andy: Well, upon reading those names, I vomited. It made me want to scroll back up and just write more nice things about Josh Jacobs. This group of receivers is simply not a great bet in the season ahead. Ruggs and Edwards are interesting enough, but it won’t be easy for rookie wideouts to make a splash in 2020 coming off an unprecedented offseason. Renfrow is a pretty clear favorite to lead the Raiders in receptions this year, so let’s go with him. But I’m not specifically targeting anyone from this group.
Dalton: I worry about the decision-making with the Raiders, so this is a team I’ll be mostly avoiding in fantasy (despite now playing home games indoors). Renfrow, however, is the exception, as he finished 11th in yards per route run as a rookie and is the heavy favorite to lead Las Vegas in receiving this year. Renfrow is underrated in PPR formats right now.
Matt: If you squint at it, the Raiders have the makings of a solid receiver room with a diverse range of skillset. That doesn’t mean roles or usage will be easy to sort out. Hunter Renfrow is the only Raiders wide receiver with a Yahoo ADP (134.7) inside the top-100 players at the position. So, it wouldn’t exactly be that hard for any of these receivers to outperform expectations, as they are so low. My general policy for 2020 has been to fade rookies given the abnormal nature of this offseason. Ruggs and Edwards may be behind the curve when they do get to the facility. Williams could easily outkick projections if he’s past the foot issues that consistently nagged him in 2019 and the rookies don’t make a big impact. Neither is a lock. I’ll take late fliers on Renfrow and Williams but that’s about it for me.
Darren Waller was the third-highest scoring tight end last season despite only having three TDs. Is this a red flag of a minimal return on ADP (he’s currently being drafted in the early sixth round), or do you expect positive touchdown regression?
Dalton: Waller is a great story, but I’m not banking on him repeating as finishing among the league-leaders in target share at his position (which still resulted in just three scores). The Raiders added Jason Witten in the offseason and were the first team to draft a wide receiver when they selected Henry Ruggs at No. 12, while Tyrell Williams has taken steps to stay healthier, so there’s increased competition for targets. Based on my ranks versus the market, Waller will be on zero of my fantasy teams this year.
Matt: If this offense is overall more efficient in 2020, Waller should find his way into the end zone more often. That said, the competition for targets will be a lot tougher this year than last. If Ruggs, Edwards or even Lynn Bowden make an immediate impact, Waller might come in a bit south of the 117 targets he saw in his breakout season. His ADP isn’t too aggressive but there are enough positive and negative notes in his outlook that I haven’t found myself clicking to draft him that often to this point.
Andy: Everything about the Raiders’ offseason tells us this team isn’t looking to pepper Waller with another 117 targets. Vegas added a group of rookie receivers, plus they signed the withered husk of Jason Witten. And, again, I’m expecting Jacobs to have a somewhat expanded receiving role. That said, Waller could easily finish with 5-6 touchdowns, delivering a top-10-ish positional finish. But he shouldn’t be drafted as if last year’s receiving volume is guaranteed.
Matt: Derek Carr is one of the most underrated quarterbacks in fantasy football this year. The Raiders beefed up the skill position group the last two years. Even if the receiver corps is hard to sort out, the rookies bring a ton of playmaking potential to a unit that desperately needed it. Jacobs and Waller are young stars at their positions. The offensive line still has high-quality pieces and Carr has another year down in Gruden’s offense. Marcus Mariota is not a threatening challenger to his starting job, either. After the passers with a bit more rushing upside in their projections, he’s one of my favorite targets.
OVER/UNDER on 7.5 Win Total from BetMGM
Dalton: The Raiders made Marcus Mariota the highest paid backup during the offseason, when they also drafted Henry Ruggs over CeeDee Lamb and Jerry Jeudy (and then selecting Damon Arnette in the top-20), as the organization continues to make perplexing decisions (and might want to work on those halftime adjustments). With one of the tougher schedules by multiple measures and coming off a season in which its defense ranked No. 31 in DVOA, I have Las Vegas’ new franchise finishing last in the AFC West, and the Raiders’ UNDER as one of my favorite bets of 2020.
Follow Matt: @MattHarmon_BYB
Follow Dalton: @daltondeldon
Follow Andy: @AndyBehrens