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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
Raiders bring back Kaelin Burnett
by Dave Richard | Senior Fantasy Writer
(4/18/2014) The Raiders have inked exclusive-rights free agent Kaelin Burnett to a one-year deal. He's expected to compete for a roster spot in training camp. 

Dekoda Watson moving to strong-side LB
by Dave Richard | Senior Fantasy Writer
(4/18/2014) In the wake of the release of veteran linebacker Russell Allen, the Jaguars are expected to make Dekoda Watson their new starting strong-side linebacker, ESPN reports. He'll also play as a pass rusher and potentially line up as a defensive end on third downs. 

Watson had 42 total tackles, two sacks, an interception, a pass defensed, a forced fumble and a blocked punt with the Bucs last year. 


Brandon Gibson begins light jogging
by Dave Richard | Senior Fantasy Writer
(4/18/2014) Brandon Gibson has begun light jogging as he works his way back from a torn patellar tendon, the Miami Herald reports. The Dolphins are expected to keep him on the roster, if only because of the cap hit he'll cost, per the report. He said recently he expects to be ready for Week 1. 

'Humbled' Richardson explains 2013, promises a better 2014
by Dave Richard | Senior Fantasy Writer
(4/18/2014) Colts running back Trent Richardson spoke openly about his disappointing 2013 season, saying that it took him too long to learn a new playbook and get over leaving Cleveland after Week 2. Richardson also told the official team website that he's planning to do everything within his power to be as prepared as possible for 2014. 

"Y'all will see a big significant difference in the way I play, the speed. I won't have to think about a lot of stuff," Richardson said earlier this offseason. "It's going to be big -- timing with the offensive line, timing with Andrew (Luck), just knowing a lot more with the program, the whole system.

"They haven't seen everything they're going to get out of me yet. A lot of it is going to come next year. A lot of it is going to come in the offseason. I'm going to put in a lot of work, as I've been doing this whole season. This season humbled me. ... This season was a lesson to me."

Colts coach Chuck Pagano has had Richardson's back, says the running back, and the coach stressed back in March that his running back's involvement in the offseason program will be key. 

"It's going to be very, very important for (Richardson) to be here for the offseason program and to dive into this thing full steam ahead, which he will," Pagano said. "He wants to be great. He's got all the talent. He's got all the ability. We would have never done what we did if we didn't believe that deep down in our core. So we look for him to have a great offseason and to have a great 2014 campaign."


Saints bring back Robert Meachem
by Jamey Eisenberg | Senior Fantasy Writer
(4/18/2014) The Saints announced Friday that the club has re-signed veteran free agent wide receiver Robert Meachem to a one-year contract.

Meachem is a seven-year NFL veteran who was originally the club's first round draft pick (27th overall) in 2007. He re-signed with the Saints prior to the start of the 2013 regular season and appeared in 15 games with five starts. He finished with 16 receptions for 324 yards with two touchdowns.

Meachem said signing with the Saints now should help with his preparations as he will be able to take part in the team's offseason conditioning program, OTAs and mini-camp. Plus, "this is home," he said.


Can Chris Johnson turn into Tomlinson?
by Jamey Eisenberg | Senior Fantasy Writer
(4/18/2014) The Jets are hoping running back Chris Johnson can do for them what LaDainian Tomlinson did in 2010, reports ESPN.

That season, Tomlinson came from San Diego to New York after he was released. He responded with a team-high 914 yards with six touchdowns on 219 carries and caught 52 passes. He was supposed to be Shonn Greene's backup, but Tomlinson was so impressive that he won the starting job and became an integral part of a team that came within one game of the Super Bowl.

Maybe Johnson, who was let go by the Titans, can do the same thing.

"I can turn the bad things people are saying into a good thing for me, to give me motivation, to keep me hungry and to keep a chip on my shoulder and prove the naysayers wrong," he said Thursday.

Johnson had a disappointing year in 2013 when he averaged just 3.9 yards per carry, but he played 13 games on a torn meniscus and was running behind a suspect offensive line for a team that didn't have its starting quarterback for half the season. The situation in New York should be improved, and hopefully being teamed with Chris Ivory will allow him to play like Tomlinson did in 2010.


Aikman worried about Tony Romo
by Jamey Eisenberg | Senior Fantasy Writer
(4/18/2014) Former Cowboys quarterback and Hall of Famer Troy Aikman is worried about current Dallas quarterback Tony Romo coming off back surgery, reports the team's official website.

Romo, 34, is coming off back surgery in December, which was the second procedure on his back in a year.

"I came back in a relatively short period of time because of when I had my surgery, so he's at least afforded more time to get ready," Aikman said. "But having said that, two back surgeries in less than a year at his age, I would be a bit concerned.

"I'm hopeful that he's able to come back -- everybody is. This team won't be the same if he's not able to. I anticipate that he will come back. But to say that, 'Hey, he's ahead of schedule and everything's going fine,' I'm not sure how you can really measure that here in April."


Bengals, A.J. Green not talking extension - yet
by Jamey Eisenberg | Senior Fantasy Writer
(4/18/2014) The Bengals are expected to exercise the fifth-year option on receiver A.J. Green's contract by May 3, reports Pro Football Talk. But the sides have yet to discuss a long-term contract extension, according to the report.

The Bengals hold the rights to Green through the 2015 season. And in 2016, if a long-term deal hasn't been signed yet, the Bengals can use the franchise tag on Green for that season.

The report says Green can force the issue by trying to boycott offseason workouts or hold out from training camp. But Bengals coach Marvin Lewis is confident Green will be there.


Chris Snee will give it a shot this spring
by Dave Richard | Senior Fantasy Writer
(4/18/2014) Giants guard Chris Snee will attempt to go through the Giants offseason program once he's healthy, the New York Daily News reports. Snee had hip surgery last season and an elbow surgery earlier this year. There is no timeline for him to be at 100 percent but he is expected to be on the field for the "bulk" of offseason activities. 

Report: Niners won't release Aldon Smith
by Dave Richard | Senior Fantasy Writer
(4/18/2014) The 49ers might expect a suspension for pass rushing linebacker Aldon Smith, but they are not planning to release him, NFL Network reported on Friday.

Smith was arrested recently for making false bomb reports at a Los Angeles airport, the latest of a string of troubles for the highly talented linebacker. He was also arrested for suspicion of DUI in January, 2012 and again September, 2013. He also had marijuana on him during that September arrest. In October, 2013 he was charged with three felony counts of illegal possession of an assault weapon. 


 
 
 
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