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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
Bears QB Jay Cutler expected back in Chicago with new staff
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(9:42 am ET) Bears quarterback Jay Cutler is expected to be back in Chicago next season, likely with a new offensive staff, reports CBS Sports NFL Insider Jason La Canfora on Sunday.

Cutler has accounted for 30 touchdowns and a league-high 24 turnovers for the 5-9 Bears. He has the seventh-best completion percentage (66.1) among all quarterbacks this season. He signed a seven-year, $126 million contract in January and is guaranteed to make $15.5 million next season.


Report: Falcons remain optimistic Julio Jones will play Sunday
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(9:33 am ET) The Falcons remain optimistic that wide receiver Julio Jones will be in the starting lineup Sunday against New Orleans, despite missing another week of practice because of a hip injury, Albert Breer of the NFL Network reports.

Jones ran on Saturday and will test his injured hip hours before kickoff in order to see how it responds. According to Breer, Jones' hip is in "better shape" than last week, and if he warms up without any setbacks, he'll be cleared to play Sunday.

Jones is third among all receivers in receptions (93) and second in receiving yards (1,428) this season. Harry Douglas would get the start if Jones sits out a second straight game.

Atlanta has moved from 6-point to a 6 1/2-point underdog at New Orleans.


Reports: Colts WR T.Y. Hilton a 'long shot' to play Week 16
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(9:25 am ET) Colts wide receiver T.Y. Hilton, who missed a week of practice due to a nagging hamstring injury, appears to be a "long shot" to play Week 16 against the Cowboys, according to Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network. Hilton will test his injured hamstring during warmups, but will only play if he's at 100 percent and "can be himself," coach Chuck Pagano told Ed Werder of ESPN.

Hilton is tied for ninth in receptions (82) and fourth in receiving yards (1,345) this season. If he's unable to play, rookie Donte Moncrief will see a slight increase in playing time.

The Colts remain a 3 1/2-point underdog at Dallas.


Report: Cowboys' DeMarco Murray to play with protective pad Sunday
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(9:17 am ET) Cowboys running back DeMarco Murray is expected to play Sunday against the Colts, Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network reports.

The plan is for Murray to play with a pad on his surgically-repaired hand, which he debuted during the team's final walkthru on Saturday. The Cowboys remain concerned with how his injury holds up on Sunday, and if they clinch a playoff spot in Week 16, Murray could be a candidate to sit out Week 17 in order to rest his injured hand.

Murray leads the league with 1,687 yards on 351 carries through 14 games, which is the most in franchise history. He also has 54 receptions for 395 yards.

The Cowboys remain a 3 1/2-point home favorite over Indianapolis.


49ers K Phil Dawson scores five points vs. Chargers Week 16
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(1:14 am ET) 49ers kicker Phil Dawson made five extra points but missed his only field-goal attempt in his team's 38-35 overtime loss to the Chargers in Week 16.

Dawson didn't have much of a shot at converting his lone field-goal try, as his team tasked him with attempting to avoid overtime by nailing a 60-yard field goal at the end of regulation. He didn't come close, and the 49ers went on to lose in overtime.

Dawson has made 23 of his 29 attempts this season and is now 5 for 8 from 50 yards or more. He'll square off with the Cardinals in Week 17.


49ers WR Michael Crabtree plays sparingly vs. Chargers
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(1:11 am ET) 49ers wide receiver Michael Crabtree managed just one catch for five yards in his team's 38-35 overtime loss to the Chargers in Week 16.

Crabtree, who was questionable to play Saturday due to a knee injury, remained on the sidelines for large portions of the game, even donning a baseball cap at one point. It appeared he was set to play only in an emergency situation. However, the receiving corps was struck by multiple injuries, leaving the team to turn to Crabtree late, and he recorded his only catch in overtime.

Crabtree will try and heal up in time to serve a larger role in his team's season finale against the Cardinals in Week 17.


49ers WR Anquan Boldin catches seven passes vs. Chargers
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(1:08 am ET) 49ers wide receiver Anquan Boldin recorded a team-high seven receptions on nine targets for 61 yards in his team's 38-35 overtime loss to the Chargers in Week 16.

Boldin managed more than half of the team's receiving production Saturday, as the other San Francisco players combined for only 53 yards on eight receptions, though rookie Bruce Ellington did managed to catch a touchdown.

Boldin had his best performance since a nine-catch, 137-yard breakout in Week 12. He's racked up 81 receptions for 981 yards with four touchdowns going into a Week 17 matchup with the Cardinals, a team for which he played from 2003 to 2009. He'll be looking to secure his seventh career 1,000-yard performance in the season finale.


49ers WR Bruce Ellington scores twice in Week 16 loss
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(1:03 am ET) 49ers wide receiver Bruce Ellington tallied three rushing attempts for 12 yards and a touchdown and added an eight-yard touchdown reception in his team's 38-35 overtime loss to the Chargers in Week 16.

Ellington scored both of his touchdowns in the second quarter, first hauling in the eight-yard touchdown on a play-action pass for which he was wide open. He then added the rushing touchdown on a jet play on third-and-goal where he took the ball on the move immediately after the snap and found a crease on the right side for the score.

It wasn't all positive for the rookie, as he was ruled out in the second half with a hamstring injury. If he can heal sufficiently during the upcoming week, he'll be in line to face the Cardinals in Week 17.


49ers RB Frank Gore rumbles for 158 yards vs. Chargers
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(12:58 am ET) 49ers running back Frank Gore racked up 26 carries for 158 rushing yards with one touchdown in his team's 38-35 overtime loss to the Chargers in Week 16.

Both numbers represent season highs for Gore, who hasn't had a better rushing day since the 2009 season. He set the tone early, shaking off would-be tacklers en route to a 52-yard score less than two minutes into the game. Gore continually proved difficult to tackle, as he would have managed his third 100-yard game of the season even without the long touchdown.

Gore is now up to 962 rushing yards and four rushing scores on 230 carries. He has a reasonable shot at cracking the 1,000-yard mark in his team's Week 17 matchup with the Cardinals.


49ers QB Colin Kaepernick tallies 151 rushing yards vs. Chargers
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(12:54 am ET) 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick completed 15 of his 24 pass attempts for jsut 114 yards with one touchdown and no interceptions but added 151 rushing yards on seven carries in his team's 38-35 overtime loss to the Chargers in Week 16.

Kaepernick had little trouble picking up chunks of yards against a defense that seemed adverse to tackling -- the 49ers set a new team record with 355 rushing yards in the game -- but his highlight came on a 90-yard scamper where he went untouched after crossing the line of scrimmage, with the Chargers committing a penalty on the play for good measure.

The rushing touchdown was the first of the season for Kaepernick, and his 151 rushing yards marked a new regular-season high. However, he's also failed to top 175 passing yards in any of his last four games. The 49ers will look to close out the season in strong fashion when they face the Cardinals in Week 17.


 
 
 
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