2016 Fantasy Football: Fantasy Youth Movement in Oakland
The Raiders have been the laughing stock of the league since losing the Super Bowl to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers over a decade and a half ago. Nonetheless, it’s hard not to love what they’ve been doing of late. They have an influx of young talent and have become one of the most Fantasy relevant offenses for the foreseeable future. Redraft owners like them, dynasty owners love them. Let’s check out their best player at each key Fantasy position.
QB Derek Carr
The Raiders are hoping they have found their franchise quarterback in Carr, and to this point it looks like there’s a great possibility they have. He appears to be well on his way to stardom after taking substantial steps in the right direction during his second NFL season. He improved both his production and efficiency significantly during his sophomore campaign. As a rookie he completed 58.1 percent of his passes for 3,270 yards, 21 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. Last season those numbers jumped to 61.1 percent for 3,987 yards, 32 TDs and 13 INTs.
Carr is not a lock for greatness yet, but he’s heading in that direction. He definitely has the physical tools, and if he continues to grow, he’ll be a star in this league. It’s very difficult to win in this league without a legitimate franchise QB. Carr and his weapons may be able to help lead the Raiders back to prominence. 2016 will be a huge year for this quarterback and this organization. If he doesn’t regress, he’ll be on the road to stardom.
RB Latavius Murray
Murray has a rare combination of size and speed. I’ve been extremely high on him since he was drafted by the Raiders. Injuries have certainly slowed his development down, but he’s now starting to show his potential. Last year he was less than a first down away from leading the AFC in rushing. He also has a ton of PPR value catching 41 passes.
He’s far from a finished product, however the talent is there. Murray needs to stay healthy and gain some experience. His vision could be better and his style could use some tweaking. I think he gets there. At just 26 years old he has the potential to become one of the best young backs in the NFL. An improved passing attack and offensive line will only help him out. He is and looks like he will be a legitimate Fantasy starter for a long time if he maintains his health.
WR Amari Cooper
Cooper’s talent is irrefutable. He’s talented enough to be a top NFL wide receiver within the next few seasons. There is absolutely zero reason he can’t be superior to or equal the production of wideouts like Julio Jones, Odell Beckham and DeAndre Hopkins. There is little doubt he’s the weapon the Raiders offense is going to build around for the long-term future. He and Carr could materialize into an enormously dangerous duo for the foreseeable future.
As a rookie in 2015, he was a bit inconsistent, but was also categorically dominant at times. He finished the season with 72 receptions for 1,070 yards and six touchdowns. Look for all those numbers to increase significantly this season and likely over the next few seasons. The scariest thing about the Alabama product is that he just turned 22 years old last month. This kid has a legitimate chance of being an elite wideout for the next decade.
TE Clive Walford
Prior to being drafted in 2015 I ranked Walford as far and away the top tight end in his class. Unfortunately he started off his rookie season with an injury, being a virtual non-factor for the first four weeks of the season. He ended with 28 receptions, 329 yards and three TDs. Nothing exceptional, but he exhibited glimpses of his budding talent.
While at the University of Miami he shattered major receiving records for TEs. He’s their all-time leading receiver at the position. This is a university that has manufactured guys like Jimmy Graham, Greg Olsen, Jeremy Shockey, Kellen Winslow and Bubba Franks, and that’s just since the year 2000.
He’s the final key piece on the Raiders young maturing offense. With Carr, Cooper and Murray already establishing themselves, Walford will take that offense to the next level into the future. Not only do I foresee him breaking out in 2016, I anticipate him to be considered an elite TE by 2018.