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2014 Fantasy Outlooks: Oakland Raiders

Senior Fantasy Writer
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The Raiders were at times a good Fantasy team in 2013 and at times maddening. Will things change in 2014? The team definitely upgraded at some key spots.

Go back to last year when Terrelle Pryor and Darren McFadden looked like starting Fantasy options to open the season. It didn't end that way, as Pryor lost his job and McFadden -- surprise -- got hurt.

Rashad Jennings ended the year as a quality Fantasy option, but he's now gone as a free agent to the Giants. And we had a few moments from Rod Streater, but there are several new faces headed to the Black Hole in 2014.

Matt Schaub and rookie Derek Carr will upgrade the quarterback spot, with Schaub the starter barring another string of pick-six interceptions like we saw in Houston last year. Maurice Jones-Drew will replace the departed Jennings, and James Jones was signed as a free agent to be the No. 1 receiver.

I'm not sold on any of the Raiders as a starting Fantasy option this year -- Jones-Drew is a flex at best and Streater is actually my favorite receiver on the team -- but at least there's hope. Maybe we'll finally see more consistent production from the Raiders this fall.

Won't be the same ... James Jones

Jones has shown flashes of being a solid Fantasy receiver the past two years, including a breakout performance in 2012 with 64 catches for 784 yards and 14 touchdowns. But that was with Aaron Rodgers in Green Bay.

Newsflash, but Schaub and Carr don't live in the same neighborhood as Rodgers. And because of that, Jones is no longer a Fantasy option to covet. He's an easy bust candidate.

Rodgers missed seven games last season with a shoulder injury, and Jones finished with 59 catches for 817 yards and three touchdowns. He had three games with double digits in Fantasy points, but only one without Rodgers.

He struggled when he didn't have an elite quarterback. Now, you can argue that he goes from the third option with the Packers behind Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb to arguably the No. 1 option with the Raiders. But, based on talent, is he superior to Streater or even Denarius Moore? I'm not so sure.

Jones was a product of the Green Bay offense and Rodgers. He has never had more than 820 receiving yards over seven seasons or caught 65 passes in a year. He needs touchdowns to be productive, but Oakland's receivers combined for 10 touchdowns last season (Moore had five, Streater had four and Andre Holmes had one). The upgrade with Schaub should change that, but Jones isn't going to blow you away with his production.

I would only draft him with a late-round pick in deep leagues. Otherwise, leave him on waivers until he proves himself in his new environment.

Near the end ... Maurice Jones-Drew

Jones-Drew has been about as dependable as they come for Fantasy owners. In his eight-year career, he was a Top 20 Fantasy running back seven times, including last season when he looked sluggish and slow.

He averaged a career-low 3.4 yards per carry and finished with 234 carries for 803 yards and five touchdowns and 43 catches for 314 yards. He had seven games with double digits in Fantasy points despite one game -- Week 14 against Houston -- with 100 rushing yards.

We hope he's not done at 29, but he might not be the featured running back in a shared role with McFadden. He's not going to run away from defenders any more, and if McFadden stays healthy his receiving stats should dwindle.

He's worth the risk as a flex option in the Round 5 or 6 range, but he's someone to settle for on Draft Day, not target. His best days are behind him, and we could be witnessing the end of his career in 2014.

Sneaky sleeper ... Rod Streater

2013 Touches Leaders
735 total touches
Rashad Jennings 199 (163 car., 36 rec.) 27.1%
Darren McFadden 131 (114 car., 17 rec.) 17.8%
Marcel Reece 78 (46 car., 32 rec.) 10.6%
Rod Streater 62 (2 car., 60 rec. 8.4%
Denarius Moore 46 rec. 6.3%
All Others 219 29.8%

Streater isn't someone you're going to be excited about on Draft Day, and he might go undrafted in most standard leagues. But keep him on your radar because this could be a breakout year.

He's entering his third season in the NFL, which is typically when receivers take the next step in their production. And Streater is headed in the right direction with increases in catches and yards in his first two years, including 60 receptions for 888 yards and four touchdowns in 2013.

The quarterback change to Schaub should help, and Streater has more upside than Jones or Moore. He might open the season No. 3 on the depth chart behind Jones and Moore, but Streater is the only Raiders receiver I'd even consider drafting in any format.

Schedule analysis

The Raiders are going to be early risers a lot in 2014 with five 1 p.m. ET kickoffs, including three of their first four outings at the Jets in Week 1, at New England in Week 3 and vs. Miami in Week 4 in London. Oakland faces the NFC West this season, which means four tough matchups against Seattle, San Francisco, Arizona and St. Louis, including the Seahawks on the road. There aren't a lot of easy matchups on the docket, which will make trusting any of the Raiders even harder this year.

Training camp battles

Who's the starting running back? McFadden is the incumbent, but Jones-Drew is the free-agent signee with the better pedigree. No matter who starts, the likely scenario is Jones-Drew playing on rushing downs and McFadden being the change-of-pace option and receiver out of the backfield. We wish Latavius Murray would get a shot for extended playing time, but it will likely take an injury for him to get increased touches.

What's the pecking order at receiver? Jones is the only guaranteed starter, but the Raiders don't have a true No. 1 receiver. Outside of Jones, the other starter should be Streater, but Moore and Holmes will compete for that role. We know all four will play, as well as Greg Little competing to be in the mix. For Fantasy owners, you should go into the year with this order: Streater, Jones, Moore, Holmes and Little. I might even move Moore ahead of Jones, but it's hard to count on either player. Little was a good pickup for the Raiders because he's a low-salary option with talent, but he's struggled with drops and inconsistent play. Maybe the change of scenery will help. And Holmes has upside but still has to prove himself.

Does Derek Carr have a chance to start? The Raiders are hoping Schaub starts all 16 games this season, giving Carr the chance to learn from the bench. But we saw Schaub struggle in Houston in 2013, and if the Raiders are out of contention by November, Carr could get some starts down the stretch. We don't recommend drafting Carr in any standard leagues, but he could be a waiver-wire addition if he gets on the field and possibly plays well. Schaub is just a late-round flier in deep two-quarterback leagues.

Bold prediction

Stop me if you heard this before -- possibly from me the past few years -- but McFadden has the talent to be an elite Fantasy running back. He just can't stay healthy. He opened 2013 with three games with double digits in Fantasy points and finished the year with four. That's only three less than Jones-Drew, and they scored the same amount of touchdowns despite McFadden playing in six fewer games. McFadden is two years younger than Jones-Drew, and all it could take is McFadden staying healthy for him to be the best Raiders running back. You're not going to draft McFadden as anything more than a late-round flier, but don't be surprised when he finishes with more Fantasy points than Jones-Drew in all formats.

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Player News
Saints place Pierre Thomas, Akiem Hicks on injured-reserve
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(3:02 pm ET) The Saints have placed running back Pierre Thomas and defensive end Akiem Hicks on injured-reserve and promoted Jerry Franklin and Brandon Coleman from their practice squad.

Thomas played a limited role in Week 16 against the Falcons, catching just two passes for 24 yards, before injuring his ribs and leaving the game. 

He finishes the year with 45 carries for 222 yards and two touchdowns on the ground. 


Chargers list final injury report for Week 17 clash at Kansas City
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(2:59 pm ET) The Chargers have ruled running back Ryan Mathews (ankle) and punter Mike Scifres (shoulder) out for Sunday's regular season finale at Kansas City.

Wide receiver Keenan Allen (ankle, shoulder) was the only player on San Diego's final injury report listed as doubtful. Guard Chris Watt (ankle) was deemed questionable. Meanwhile, defensive tackle Corey Liuget (ankle), quarterback Philip Rivers (chest, ankle) and cornerback Shareece Wright (concussion) were designated as probable.


Redskins release final injury report for Week 17 against the Cowboys
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(2:52 pm ET) Redskins defensive end Jason Hatcher has missed practice all week and is listed as doubtful for Sunday's game against the Cowboys. Hatcher has missed Washington's last two games with a knee injury.

Trent Williams (shoulder), Chris Baker (toe/elbow), Gabe Miller (ankle), Keenan Robinson (knee) and Stephen Bowen (ankle/illness) are all listed as questionable for the game. 

Robert Griffin III (shoulder), Bashaud Breeland (thigh), Barry Coefield (shoulder), Tom Compton (knee), Will Compton (shoulder), Jackson Jeffcoat (calf), Kory Lichtensteiger (stinger) and Darrel Young (ankle) are all considered probable.

The Redskins are currently 5 1/2-point underdogs at home against the Cowboys. 


Chargers WR Keenan Allen doubtful to play season finale
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(2:50 pm ET) The Chargers have labeled wide receiver Keenan Allen as doubtful for Sunday's regular season finale against the Chiefs, per the team's official website.

Allen sat out Sunday's overtime win over San Francisco because of injuries to his shoulder and ankle. Allen has 77 catches for 783 yards and four touchdowns in 14 games this season. If he is unable to play, Eddie Royal, Malcom Floyd and Dontrelle Inman will shoulder the load in the passing game.

The Chargers are currently a 1-point underdog at Kansas City, per Vegas Insiders.


Cowboys mostly healthy heading into Week 17 against Washington
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(2:46 pm ET) Cowboys running back DeMarco Murray, who was sent home with the flu Thursday, was able to participate fully Friday and is listed as probable for Sunday's game against the Redskins.

Tackle Doug Free missed practice all week with an ankle injury and is doubtful. Linebacker Dekoda Watson has a hamstring injury and is out.

Tony Romo (back), Josh Brent (calf), Jeff Heath (thumb), Zack Martin (ankle), Rolando McClain (knee) and Bruce Carter (knee) are all listed as probable for Dallas.

The Cowboys are currently 5 1/2-point favorites on the road against Washington.


Chargers RB Ryan Mathews gets the red-light for Week 17
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(2:45 pm ET) Chargers running back Ryan Mathews was officially ruled out for Sunday's regular season finale at Kansas City, per the team's official website.

Mathews' 2014 regular season campaign comes to an end after appearing in only six games, registering 330 yards and three touchdowns on 74 attempts on the ground. Branden Oliver, Donald Brown and Ronnie Brown will all shoulder the load in the running game.

According to Vegas Insiders, the Chargers are a 1-point underdog at Kansas City. San Diego can clinch a playoff spot with a win on Sunday.


Colts unveil Week 17 injury report
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(2:39 pm ET) The Colts listed tight end Dwayne Allen (knee), tackle Gosder Cherilus (groin) and outside linebacker Bjoern Werner (shoulder) as out for Sunday's contest against Tennessee.

Inside linebacker Jerrell Freeman (hamstring), wide receiver T.Y. Hilton (hamstring) and guard Joe Reitz (ankle) were ruled as questionable.

Meanwhile, defensive end Cory Redding (knee), guard Hugh Thornton (knee) and outside linebacker Erik Walden (knee) were labeled probable


Zaviar Gooden only probable on Titans' Week 17 injury report
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(2:31 pm ET) Titans linebacker Zaviar Gooden (hamstring) was the only player on Tennessee's final injury report listed as probable for Sunday's season finale against the Colts.

Defensive tackle Sammie Lee Hill (foot), tackle Terren Jones (concussion) tackle Byron Stingily (ankle), linebacker Kamerion Wimbley (hamstring), tackle Taylor Lewan (ankle) and quarterback Zach Mettenberger (shoulder) were labeled as questionable.

According to the Tennessean, Lewan and Mettenberger aren't expected to play. Coach Ken Whisenhunt did not rule out the possibility of dressing Mettenberger as an emergency option.


Bears' Chris Conte to miss regular season finale against Vikings
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(2:27 pm ET) Bears safety Chris Conte will miss Sunday's game against the Vikings with a back injury. Conte was unable to practice all week. He played 12 games this season, recording 43 tackles and three interceptions. Also out are quarterback Jimmy Clausen (concussion) and kicker Robbie Gould (quad).

Defensive end Jared Allen (ribs), defensive tackle Jeremiah Ratliff, and cornerback Al Lewis-Jean (hamstring) are all listed a questionable for Sunday.

David Bass (knee), Ego Ferguson (ankle), Kyle Long (hip) and Marquess Wilson (knee) are all listed as probable.

The Bears are 6-point underdogs for Sunday's game.


Bengals WR A.J. Green ruled probable for SNF
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(2:22 pm ET) Bengals receiver A.J. Green was officially ruled as probable for Sunday night's contest against the Steelers despite dealing with a biceps injury.

Green was ineffective after suffering the injury Monday night against Denver with the injury. He leads the team with 61 catches for 959 yards and six touchdowns.

Cincinnati is a 3 1/2-point underdog at Pittsburgh. The Bengals can clinch the AFC North division title with a win.


 
 
 
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