The Raiders’ 2020 matchups are a tale of extremes. Las Vegas just isn’t expected to play very many middle of the road teams. When trying to run the football, they’ll either face a team like the Panthers (Week 1) where Josh Jacobs has a shot at 150+ rushing yards and more than one touchdown, or they’ll play the Saints (Week 2) whose dominant front-seven has a shot to extended Josh Jacobs’ scoreless-in-losses streak alive from last season (hat tip to Mr. Evan Silva).
For all fantasy relevant position groups 2020 will be a season of spikes. Unfortunately for fantasy drafters, those matchups that they’re looking for are mostly concentrated in the back end of the season.
Sharp Football’s Strength of Schedule:
- 4th toughest overall schedule
- 7th toughest in terms of the opponent’s overall defensive efficiency
- 6th toughest blend of pass defenses
- 2nd toughest in terms of the opponent’s pass defense efficiency
- 13th toughest blend of pass defenses
- 7th softest in terms of the opponent’s run defense efficiency
- 8th softest in terms of the opponent’s overall offensive efficiency
- 9th softest in terms of the opponent’s offensive passing efficiency
- 7th softest in terms of the opponent’s offensive rushing efficiency
With the aforementioned boom/bust style of schedule that the Raiders are facing in 2020, QB Derek Carr has access to some fairly nice spiked weeks. The Panthers should yield decent results in Week 1, as will the Chiefs (via game script in Weeks 6 and 11), and a number of solid spots to close the season out with the Falcons (Week 12), Jets (Week 13), and Dolphins (Week 16). Outside of that though, Carr can be safely dropped. His late round ADP makes him a fine add/drop for Week 1 usage against the rookie-based Panthers defense.
The talk of the coach-speak-and-beat-reporter town has been the confidence that HC Jon Gruden has in RB Josh Jacobs’ pass catching ability. Lofty expectations have been set for Jacobs’ supposedly impending Goliath role in the Raiders passing game. But over the offseason, Las Vegas effectively held a sweepstakes for pass catching backs. Jalen Richard was given a sizable deal and Gruden even compared Richard to Charlie Garner. Devontae Booker was signed away from the division rival Denver Broncos. The team used a third round pick on Lynn Bowden, a college receiver who took a ton of snaps as a rusher and had Roger Goodell announce Bowden as a running back. They even brought in 29-year old Theo Riddick — the pass catching back whose only ability is catching passes. He’s not even a great pass blocker. It’s fair to mention that of the group, Richard and Booker are the “only” two who made the final roster — and we can expect Gruden-believers to cling to that. But the fact of the matter is that there was a carousel of pass catching running backs that were given tryouts with the team this offseason and they kept the two best of the bunch.
Teams can say all sorts of things but what they do with their money speaks far louder than words. This writer is the only member of the RB1 podcast who doubts Gruden’s promises of a significant increase in Jacobs’ workload so there will be hell to pay if this call is missed. Jacobs should not be drafted ahead of running backs like Clyde Edwards-Helaire, Kenyan Drake, and Miles Sanders. Do not draft him at his .5PPR 2.02, RB9 ADP. If you’ve already drafted Josh Jacobs, the best advice that you’ll find on these pages is to trade him immediately after his likely dominant performance against the hapless Carolina Panthers’ defense in Week 1. Sell-high, good readers. Sell high.
Meanwhile, Jalen Richard is a great final selection in a PPR draft, given all of the passing game work he’s set to see in 2020.
With Tyrell Williams out for the season (surgery for a torn shoulder labrum), rookie speedster Henry Ruggs is suddenly in position to lead the team in targets. Ruggs is set to occupy the team’s Z-receiver role, seeing targets both in the deep portion of the field and manufactured touches near the line of scrimmage. Reports also indicate that Ruggs will get a decent share of slot snaps too, which will potentially give him exploitable matchups against safeties and linebackers. Finding a 120+ target receiver at the 10.11, WR47 spot in .5PPR is a great value.
Also in contention to the lead the Raiders in targets is fellow rookie WR Bryan Edwards. Edwards has drawn rave reviews throughout camp and was praised for establishing a quick connection with QB Derek Carr. Like the rest, Edwards faces volatile weekly prospects with Las Vegas’ rollercoaster schedule.
Veterans Zay Jones and Nelson Agholor are likely just role players.
The real sleeper of the group may be primary slot receiver Hunter Renfrow. Although somewhat athletically deficient, the precise route runner produced one of the most impressive yards per route run, as a rookie, that we saw last year (hat tip Evan Silva). YPRR is a trademark statistic of PFF that is highly indicative of future production. Although he may not be a flashy, high-volume receiver, Renfrow is likely to be efficient and could have some spiked weeks this season. He’s going for free at the end of drafts.
2019 breakout tight end Darren Waller was already having to fend off Foster Moreau in 2020. Then the Raiders brought in Jason Witten. Although Waller should have no issue retaining rights to the No. 1 receiving tight end job, the other two will assuredly eat into his 2020 workload. Selecting Waller at his current .5PPR ADP of 5.08, TE5, is drafting him at his theoretical ceiling — an imprudent move when the tight end position is so incredibly deep this year.
Daniel Carlson is a matchup-based kicker only. He’s a fine streamer in Week 1 but should be dropped after that.
The Raiders’ D/ST is not a recommended fantasy unit outside of specific matchups.