Despite a 3-13 season in 2014, the Oakland Raiders have young talent and seem to be on the rise. While no one should expect the “Silver and Black” to smell the playoffs, don’t be surprised if one or more offensive players breakout this season. Players like QB Derek Carr and RB Latavius Murray will look to build off successful 2014 campaigns and cement themselves as future stars of the NFL. Guys like WR Michael Crabtree, RB Roy Helu, and RB Trent Richardson will look to benefit from a change of scenery while fourth overall pick Amari Cooper will begin what he hopes to be a long successful career.
Raiders’ quarterback Derek Carr (156) is coming off an impressive season in 2014 where he threw 21 touchdowns and just 12 interceptions, accumulating more than 3,000 passing yards. His numbers should only go up from here as the pieces on offense have improved. “The Machine” projects Carr as a 13th round pick right after quarterbacks Nick Foles and Alex Smith. If the Raiders can establish a consistent run game, I see a higher ceiling for Carr than both Smith and Foles. While I’m not going to call him a solid starter yet, don’t sleep on Carr as he should make a great fantasy backup quarterback. If you’re able to draft Carr in round 13, I would consider that a win.
Expect third-year running back Latavius Murray (51) to start the season for the Raiders. With just 82 attempts in 2014, Murray rushed for 424 yards giving him an average of 5.2. He scored just twice in 15 games. Murray made a splash in fantasy news in a game against the Chiefs last year where he ran for 112 yards on just four carries. This was highlighted by a 90-yard touchdown run. If Murray is able to stay healthy throughout the season, he could be a legitimate threat as a No. 1 fantasy running back and a great No. 2. Look for Murray in round five after the likes of Frank Gore and Justin Forsett.
In March, the Raiders signed running back Roy Helu (137) to a two-year deal. Helu was a change-of-pace back in Washington where he played second fiddle to Alfred Morris. Unless Murray gets injured, I wouldn’t expect much from Helu. He’s carried the ball a combined 102 times the past two seasons and has only scored five times. Unless he gets 10+ carries a game, there’s really no reason to look for him in the draft. If you’re interested keep an out for him in round 12.
Rookie wide receiver Amari Cooper (35) should be Carr’s first option this coming season. His six-foot-one-inch body along with his 4.4 forty speed will make him a go to target in the red zone and on third down. Cooper has the highest ceiling of all the Raiders’ receivers and don’t be surprised if he wins Offensive Rookie of the Year. Cooper is projected as a third-round selection.
Even during a dismal season for the 49ers, Michael Crabtree (135) was still able to find the end zone four times and catch over 100 passes. With Carr behind center and Cooper beside him, Crabtree could be able to become a top receiver like we’ve seen in the past. Don’t expect him to set career highs, but eclipsing 1,000 yards receiving wouldn’t be a surprise. “The Machine” projects Crabtree to fall in the 12th
The tight ends are definitely the shakiest part of this Raiders’ offense but all hope shouldn’t be lost. Last season’s starter Mychal Rivera was able to gain 534 yards and score four times. He did, however, fumble three times. Rivera could develop into a decent player but I wouldn’t rely on him. There’s definitely better options elsewhere. Keep an eye out for rookie Clive Walford. The Raiders drafted Walford in the third-round out of Miami. Walford scored seven touchdowns in his last year in school and carries a six-foot-four-inch frame. He could be a sleeper in deeper leagues.
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