Team Profile Oakland Raiders by Utter-Fantasy Writer & Illustrator Doug Bowles
Jack Del Rio was hired as head coach of the Raiders in January 2015. He had previously been the head coach of the Jacksonville Jaguars from 2003 until 2011, the second head coach in the Jags history. Del Rio is a defense-minded coach having played linebacker in the NFL for 11 years. In his first season with Jacksonville, the Jags finished the season with the second-ranked rush defense and sixth best overall defense. Since Oakland finished dead last in most defensive categories, the Raiders will be hoping that Del Rio can bring that kind of success to the West coast.
2015 Team Outlook – The Raiders only won 3 games last year. They share the AFC West with the division bulldozing Broncos and two other very good teams in the Chiefs and the Chargers. Oakland has a new head coach, a quarterback that’s only going into his 2nd season, a running back that’s only had 5 starts, and a receiving corps that has no real #1, so what should 2015 expectations be? They want to be competitive in every game, and find things to build on for the future. (Peyton can’t play forever.)
2015 Fantasy Outlook –
QB– In an article that I wrote about this time last year entitled “Who’s #1“, you can read where I conceded that Blake Bortles was going to be the #1 QB taken in the draft, but I thought it would be Houston doing it. Nonetheless, Bortles went first and in my opinion, QB Derek Carr should have gone 2nd. It didn’t turn out that way, as Cleveland wasted their 1st rounder on Johnny Rehab, and look where they are now. Meanwhile, the Raiders, with their 2nd round selection, have a QB for the the future. Carr ended the 2014 season with a respectable 3270 passing yards, 21 TD passes with only 12 INTS. (Bortles had 11 TDs & 17 INTs.) Carr’s stats from 2014 landed him #20 among NFL quarterbacks. He didn’t get pounded like his brother years ago, and he proved he could be a starter in the NFL. UPDATE: Raiders released QB Matt Schaub and signed former Viking QB Ponder to a 1 year deal.
RBs– There are certain things in the NFL that are simply “head-scratchers” for the average Joe to try and understand. Like, why are there retractable roofs in Houston and Arizona, and open roofs in Foxborough or Cleveland? How can the multi-billion dollar NFL industry still be considered a tax-exempt, non-profit organization by the IRS while taxpayers are still paying millions a year to subsidize it?…And why did the Oakland Raiders start RB Darren McFadden and MJD for 3/4 of the 2014 season while RB Latavius Murray sat the bench? In Murray’s first start vs the KC Chiefs in week 12, he only had 4 carries due to a concussion he suffered early in the game. Those 4 carries resulted in 112 yards and 2 TDs. Those 4 carries resulted in more yards than Maurice Jones-Drew had for the entire season with 43 carries. Those 4 carries resulted in same number of TDs that RB Darren McFadden had for the entire season. RB MJD has since retired, and the Raiders won’t resign McFadden. RB Murray is locked in as the Raider #1 and new OC, Bill Musgrave has stated that he is planning to “tailor” his run game to fit Latavius. UPDATE: Raiders signed former Brown/Colt RB Trent Richardson and former Washington RB Roy Helu to 2 year deals. Neither are good fantasy options.
WRs– If you’re a corner back or safety in the NFL, names like James Jones, Brice Butler, Andre Holmes or Rod Streater don’t exactly have you up with worry the night before the game vs Oakland. These are all gifted athletes because they are in the NFL, but they are not Antonio Brown, Dez Bryant, Jordy Nelson or Demaryius Thomas. WR James Jones was the #1 WR for the Raiders in 2014, but compared to the other wide receivers in the league, he barely ranked in the top 50. Therefore, the Raiders need a bona fide #1 wide receiver and there just so happens to be a couple (or a few) in the upcoming NFL Draft. The Raiders have the #4 overall this April, which is an ideal spot to grab either Amari Cooper or Kevin White, the two top WR prospects coming out of college. UPDATE: Raiders re-signed restricted free agent WR Rod Streater to a one-year deal. The Raiders selected 6’1″ WR Amari Cooper in the 1st Round, pick #4. Cooper immediately becomes the team’s #1 WR and a huge sleeper for 2015.
TEs– Sophomore Mychal Rivera showed some flashes of being a big-time play maker at the tight end position last season for Oakland. He had a respectable #18 ranking in the league, made possible because of 3 stellar games in 2014. His best production of the 3 came in Week 14 vs Washington – 109 yards and 1 TD. Unfortunately the rest were duds. He did play in 15 games, so if he stays relatively healthy, perhaps QB Carr will find him more in 2015.
K- Sebastian “Seabass” Janikowski started kicking in the NFL back when players wore leather helmets (or at least it seems that long ago). Over the span of his career, all with the Raiders, he has made over $45 million dollars, kicking field goals. Nice! His job was especially light in 2014, as he was only asked to attempt 22 field goals the entire season, little more than one per game.
DEF– The Raiders have signed to their coaching staff Ken Norton Jr. to be the team’s defensive coordinator. Norton reunites with head coach Jack Del Rio, as the two men played together in three seasons while in Dallas. Norton has served as the linebacker coach for USC under Pete Carroll. On January 11, 2010 he became the Seahawks linebacker coach again under Pete Carroll. Raider fans are hoping that the combo of Jack Del Rio and Ken Norton Jr can get the Oakland defense out of the NFL basement. UPDATE: Oakland resigned Charles Woodson. Signed former Cardinal NT Dan Williams and former eagles Nate Allen. Re-signed DT C J Wilson.
2014 Oakland Fantasy Surprises – There’s little doubt that QB Derek Carr had a better year than expected (just ask Cleveland who drafted rehab manziel in the 1st round) carr wasn’t expected to start 16 games because Matt Schaub was brought from Houston to do that. The Dennis Allen firing was in part for having two sloths handling running back duties for better part of the season.
2015 Free Agents that Oakland Needs to Address – RB Sloth McFadden (signed w/ Dallas)- WR Vincent Brown (signed w/ Indy)- WR Denarius Moore- TE David Ausberry- C Stefen Wisniewski- DE C J Wilson (re-signed)- DE Lamarr Woodley (released)- DT Pat Sims- CB Tarell Brown- CB Carlos Rogers- S Tyvon Branch-(signed w/ KC)
2015 NFL Draft– The immediate needs of Oakland are at wide receiver, all over on defense, and a deeper offensive line. The team needs young play makers for QB Carr (WRs), the Raiders have OLB Khalil Mack who was sensational as a rookie, but they were second-to-last in the league in sacks so they need reinforcements on defense (DE/DT) and have 2 corner backs heading for free agency (CB). They probably also need to replace Stefen Wisniewski (C). UPDATE: Oakland’s entire 2015 NFL Draft can be seen at this link- OAKLAND’S DRAFT
Did You Know – Del Rio became only the second NFL head coach since 1993 to wear a suit on the sidelines during a November 20, 2006 regular season contest against the Giants, following then 49ers head coach Mike Nolan who had sported the look the previous day vs Seattle. A sponsorship deal between the NFL and Reebok at the time prohibited coaches from wearing anything but Reebok clothing. HC Nolan petitioned the league for permission to wear a suit and since Reebok was planning to unveil a formal line of clothing in 2007, this led to the NFL adopting a rule that permits coaches to wear a suit twice a year. During the 2007 NFL season, both Del Rio and Nolan were given permission to wear a suit at all eight regular season home games. Since his firing as Jaguars coach, however, he no longer wears a suit.
All team reports can be seen at this link- TEAM REPORTS
Team Home Page: www.raiders.com