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Offseason Primers: Oakland Raiders

Senior Fantasy Writer
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The Raiders were filled with disappointments in 2012. Darren McFadden? Injured and failed to produce in a new offensive scheme. Denarius Moore? Didn't take the leap many hoped in his sophomore campaign. Carson Palmer? Too many interceptions.

It feels like the same old story in Oakland.

There were some bright spots with the emergence of Brandon Myers, who finished the year as a Top 10 Fantasy tight end, and Marcel Reece as a capable backup for McFadden. Rod Streater also showed flashes as a third receiving option, and Terrelle Pryor might be the future at quarterback.

2012 Touches Leaders
1,005 total touches (rush attempts + receptions)
Darren McFadden 258 (216 car., 42 rec.) 25.6%
Marcel Reece 111 (59 car., 52 rec.) 11.0%
Brandon Myers 79 rec. 7.8%
Denarius Moore 52 (1 car., 51 rec.) 5.1%
Mike Goodson 51 (35 car., 16 rec.) 6.0%
All Others 454 45.1%

But for Fantasy owners, the key players struggled, especially McFadden. The good thing is the Raiders are clearly behind him as the focal point of their offense. Greg Knapp, who ran the zone-blocking scheme that caused McFadden to struggle, was replaced by Greg Olson, and the change should help McFadden improve.

We're also expecting Moore to have a breakout year in his third season, and hopefully Streater can step up as a quality Fantasy option. He has the chance to start with Darrius Heyward-Bey now gone.

But beyond McFadden, Moore and potentially Streater, the Raiders are looking for new faces to help Fantasy owners. Matt Flynn was added at quarterback with Palmer gone, and he's excpected to compete with Pryor for the starting job. And they need to find a new tight end with Myers now with the Giants.

Pryor has the most upside if he can beat out Flynn for the job. He is the kind of quarterback captivating the NFL right now with a similar skill set to guys like Robert Griffin III, Colin Kaepernick and Russell Wilson. If he gets a chance to start then we could have another potential Fantasy starter, and we like Pryor much better than Flynn.

Darren McFadden -- Bounce-back candidate

2012 Target Leaders
629 pass attempts
Denarius Moore 114 18.1%
Brandon Myers 105 16.6%
Darrius Heyward-Bey 80 12.7%
Rod Streater 74 11.7%
Marcel Reece 73 11.6%
All Others 183 29.0%

From a talent perspective, McFadden might be the best running back in the NFL. From a health perspective, he might be the worst. McFadden comes into this season once again trying to prove he can be an elite running back. He missed time again in 2012 -- this time it was four games with an ankle injury -- and struggled with Oakland's zone-blocking scheme. He had a career-low 3.3 yards per carry and finished with 216 carries for 707 yards and two touchdowns and 42 catches for 258 yards and one touchdown. It was a miserable year, but the Raiders remain committed to McFadden. The zone-blocking system is gone with Olson replacing Knapp as the offensive coordinator, and McFadden will now try to stay healthy for the first time in his career (he's never played more than 13 games). We still have optimism for McFadden, but there are obvious red flags. Because of that he should only be drafted with a late-second round pick at the earliest. Your best bet is to get McFadden in the third round and hope he surprises you like he did in 2010 (1,600 total yards and 10 touchdowns). We'd all take that McFadden, and we hope he shows up this year.

Denarius Moore -- Third-year breakout

Moore had a career season in 2012, but it feels like he underperformed. He finished the year with 51 catches for 741 yards and seven touchdowns, but he never materialized as a must-start Fantasy option. Part of the problem was he scored six of his seven touchdowns in his first 11 games, and he had only one 100-yard outing. But Moore now has the chance to shine this year, which will be his third season in the NFL and typically when receivers have a breakout campaign. He should be considered the best receiver for the Raiders, and he does have 12 receiving touchdowns to start his career. Moore will likely be a late-round selection in the majority of leagues, and he has the potential to have a breakout season. Put him on your draft list, and if he's still there after Round 10 then consider him a steal.

Terrelle Pryor -- Dynasty-league selection

Expected 2013 Draft Averages
Matt Flynn Undrafted
Terrelle Pryor Undrafted
Darren McFadden 19-25 overall
Marcel Reece 166-172 overall
Denarius Moore 119-125 overall
Rod Streater Undrafted

Pryor got the chance to start one game for the Raiders in 2012, and he turned some heads in a Week 17 loss at San Diego. He should now get the chance to compete for the starting job with Flynn, who was acquired via trade in March, and we wouldn't be surprised if Pryor wins the battle. In that game against the Chargers, Pryor displayed nice athleticism, which is all the rage for quarterbacks today. Pryor was 13 of 28 passing for 150 yards, two touchdowns and one interception, and he added 49 rushing yards and a touchdown. He is a sneaky pick with a late-round selection in deep leagues even if he loses the job to Flynn in training camp, and if Pryor does take over this season he could make an impact. In dynasty leagues, put Pryor on your wish list because he could end up as the starter in Oakland, potentially for many years if that one game sample size is a glimpse of what he can do.

Stay in touch with the most passionate Fantasy staff in the business by following us via Twitter @CBSFantasyFB . You can also follow Jamey at @JameyEisenberg and on Facebook .

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Player News
Report: RB Jacquizz Rodgers signs with Bears
by Dave Peters | CBSSports.com
(5:03 pm ET) After visiting wth the Bears on Tuesday, running back Jacquizz Rodgers has signed a one-year contract with the team, according to NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport.

Rodgers, formerly with the Falcons for four seasons, has totaled 1,116 yards rushing, 1,104 yards receiving and 10 total totuchdowns in his career. 


Texans WR Cecil Shorts excited about role in offense
by Dave Peters | CBSSports.com
(4:44 pm ET) Wide receiver Cecil Shorts is looking forward to a new start with the Texans, reports the team's official website.

“I’m just excited to get there and try and catch a lot of balls and help this team win,” Shorts III said in an interview with Texans Radio on Tuesday. “To pair up with (WR) D-Hop (DeAndre Hopkins) who had a great season last year and some other guys that played well as well. I’m just happy to get there and get things going.” 

After spending his first four seasons with the Jaguars, Shorts is excited about the Texans' offense and the direction the team is headed in going into 2015.

“It feels good,” Shorts III said of joining the Texans. “This organization is definitely a franchise that’s very consistent with winning the last some-odd years. I think it was a great year last year being Bill O’Brien’s first year coming in going 9-7 and right in the playoff hunt and they’re just a franchise going in the right direction.”

The 27-year-old has racked up 176 receptions for 2,343 yards and 12 touchdowns in his career.


Broncos WR Cody Latimer ready to step up in year two
by Dave Peters | CBSSports.com
(4:35 pm ET) Broncos wide receiver Cody Latimer is ready to take on a bigger role in year two with the team, reports the team's offical website.

"I feel like I’m ready, especially coming in a new offense, everybody gets a clean slate so we’re all starting from Day 1, and it’ll be exciting," he said. "I get to work with Peyton coming up soon, so he’ll be able to get me more into the offense and getting my learning curve, taking it to the next level."

Latimer is preparing to work with Peyton and Eli Manning at their yearly workout session next week.

"It’s my first time there, so it should be fun. I know we’re going to be working, studying, probably watching film and running routes," Latimer said. "It’s a good connection. It’s an early head start, in other words, to something that should be great. So that’s what I’m looking forward to, getting our timing connection and probably learning off of him and maybe learning something of the offense and things like that."

Latimer is cognizant of the fact that the team expects big things from him this upcoming season.

"I know it’s a big opportunity and I’ve got to make that leap for myself and our organization. They expect big things out of me; they drafted me in the second round, they expect me to produce so I feel like I’ve got to own up to that and make it happen.”


Cowboys LB coach: Sean Lee 'super excited' to play weakside LB
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(3:34 pm ET) If the Cowboys bring back linebacker Rolando McClain, then it is assumed linebacker Sean Lee will be moved to the weakside, per The Dallas Morning News. Lee missed the 2014 season due to a torn ACL.

“If it says ‘linebacker’ behind the position, I think he’s going to be okay,” Cowboys linebackers coach Matt Eberflus said of Lee. “I think that, like I said, we’ll tie all these guys together and see how they fit. And we’ll find the best position for them…. Sean’s uniqueness in his ability, like a few other guys that we’ve had, he’s able to play all positions. He can really play all positions. That’s what makes him a valuable asset to our defense. He will certainly be good once we get him there and get him going. He’s really super excited and so am I.”


Colts sign WR Vincent Brown
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(3:33 pm ET) The Colts have signed wide receiver Vincent Brown, the team announced Tuesday.

Brown appeared in seven games with the Raiders last season, catching 12 passes for 118 yards. His best season came in 2013, when he made 12 starts and played all 16 games with the Chargers and racked up 472 yards and one touchdown on 41 receptions.


Panthers sign LB Jason Trusnik to one-year deal
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(3:31 pm ET) The Panthers have signed linebacker Jason Trusnik to a one-year deal, the team announced.

"Jason is an experienced player who adds more competition to the linebacker position and has also been a special teams ace," coach Ron Rivera said. "I expect him to come in and be a leader. Even though he is new to us, he's got veteran savvy to him."

Trusnik made six starts while playing all 16 games with the Dolphins in 2014, racking up 48 tackles and intercepting one pass.

"First, I want to earn respect from my new teammates and coaches," Trusnik said. "It's a new team and I have to earn that. I want to continue to be the leader that I've been in the past and make plays, whether that be on special teams or on defense."


Cardinals sign QB Chandler Harnish to one-year deal
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(3:26 pm ET) The Cardinals have signed quarterback Chandler Harnish to a one-year deal, AZCardinals.com reports. He has yet to play in a game during his three-year career.

Report: Raiders release DL Antonio Smith
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(3:12 pm ET) The Raiders have released defensive lineman Antonio Smith, ESPN reports.

Smith started all 16 games for the Raiders in 2014 but recorded just 20 tackles and three sacks. He was slated to count $4 million against the cap, and the team will carry no dead cap space after terminating his contract.


Chiefs have no plans to cut ties with ILB Derrick Johnson
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(2:18 pm ET) The Chiefs have just $2.8 million of cap space with the NFL draft less than one month away, and while the team needs to find a way to make more room beneath the camp, the Chiefs will not part ways with inside linebacker Derrick Johnson, the Kansas City Star reports.

"Derrick is obviously one of the greatest inside linebackers to ever play for the club and there are some pretty good ones, if you go back in time," team chairman Clark Hunt said. "In terms of the modern era of the Chiefs, it’s hard to think about the club without thinking about Derrick at inside linebacker. He’s a great leader, he’s a tremendous person, represents the club well on and off the field. We’re looking forward to having him back this year, hopefully good as new. You mentioned that his contract is up this year. There will be a point in time where we address that. But it just hasn’t been germane to this point."

Johnson missed last season due to a torn Achilles tendon and has a cap number of $5.2 million this season.


Report: 49ers to sign LB Desmond Bishop
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(2:12 pm ET) The 49ers will sign inside linebacker Desmond Bishop, the Sacramento Bee reports.

Bishop joined the 49ers last December and recorded two tackles in two games. He emerged as a starter with the Packers in 2010 and racked up more than 100 tackles for two straight seasons before missing the 2012 season and becoming a free agent. He could win significant playing time in the 49ers' base set after the retirements of Patrick Willis and Chris Borland.


 
 
 
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