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2011 Team Report: Oakland Raiders

Quarterbacks

Starter: Jason Campbell
Backup(s): Trent Edwards, Kyle Boller and Jordan LaSecla

Starting QB: Jason Campbell has a firm grip on the starting position in Oakland following the departure of Bruce Gradkowski to Cincinnati. Whether he'll develop into a useful fantasy option is the key debate heading into 2011. He has an inexperienced receiving corp, even more so following the departure of Zach Miller to Seattle in free agency and will more or less be expected to keep defenses from attacking the real strenth of the Raiders offense, the running game. Campbell was replaced twice as starter in 2010, but with his backups less than inspiring he is likely to be given a longer leash in 2011. Campbell is more than capable of producing on a spot basis, especially with his better than average running ability, and could develop into a solid fantasy backup if he can develop a strong rapport with any of his young receivers.

Backup QB: Right now Kyle Boller figures to be the backup for the Raiders. Once familiar with the Oakland playbook, Trent Edwards can either surplant him or get in line behind him. Boller sticks around despite only completing 2 passes for the Raiders in 2010 after an a awful stint in St.Louis. His first 6 years in Baltimore were also far from impressive and Raider fans will be hoping he doesn't see prolonged action. Trent Edwards is also on his probable last chance saloon following his termination from Buffalo last year and his disappointing 2 game stint with Jacksonville. Buffalo and Jacksonville were hardly spoilt for quarterback options and the best Edwards can hope for here is to beat out Boller for the No.2 role and see what happens from there. Jordan LaSecla is an undrafted rookie from San Jose State, but if he can develop quickly he doesn't have much keeping him from a more important role. More than likely however he'll be looking to make the practice squad, if he fails to win a roster berth.

Running Backs

Starter: Darren McFadden
Backup(s): Michael Bush, Taiwan Jones (R), Michael Bennett, Rock Cartwright and Louis Rankin
Fullback(s): Marcel Reece

Starting RB: Darren McFadden had a breakout 3rd season in 2010 after 2 injury plagued and unspectacular seasons to begin his career. With over 1600 rushing and receiving yards, almost 50 catches and 10 touchdowns from only 13 games, Raider fans will be looking for further improvement in 2011. McFadden was one of only 4 backs to exceed 5 yards a carry for over 200 rushing attempts (Jamaal Charles, LeSean McCoy and LeGarrette Blount were the others). Some will point to the presence of Michael Bush as a factor in preventing elite production, but last season with Bush fully fit, McFadden finished as the 6th ranked fantasy back in 2010, despite missing 3 games and having a relatively low touchdown total for a top 6 back. The biggest risk factor for McFadden owners in 2011 is his struggle to remain healthy, with various relatively minor injuries affecting his ability to start every game, including his most recent one, a broken bone in his face that will keep him out of most preseason action. If healthy, McFadden does offer the highest upside possible and at only 24 years of age, is a very tempting option for those with a late 1st round draft pick.

Backup RBs: Michael Bush was an important factor in getting the Raiders to rate as a top 3 running team in 2010. His re-signing was key to the organization and the very high tender price was a reflection of the value Bush has to the Oakland running game. This isn't however reflected in his fantasy stats, where Darren McFadden is the key benefactor. Bush will be one of the highest backs taken that isn't a regular starter due to the Raiders prolific use of the running game, the injury record of McFadden and the fact that when Bush does see extended play he usually produces at a high level. McFadden owners will torture themselves over whether to expend a high pick on his primary backup/assistant. Taiwan Jones was drafted in the 4th round by the Raiders and is unlikely to be an immediate factor. Like most of the Raiders skilled offensive players he has speed to burn however and if he can develop his game sufficiently could be a highly effective player with spot production. Should Jones struggle to make an impact the Raiders could utilize the backup position from one of the more experience backs on the roster. Michael Bennett, Rock Cartwright and Louis Rankin all have been around for awhile and offer different skill sets should they make the final roster.

Fullback: One of, if not the fastest fullbacks in the NFL, Marcel Reece came on very strong in 2010 with 30 carries and more importantly 25 receptions for over 450 combined yards and 4 touchdowns. This put him at just outside the top 50 backs last year and as one of the potential major benefactors following the departure of Zach Miller to Seattle, he could easily be highly undervalued this season. With the Raiders able to utilize 3 fantasy draftable backs, Reece will be a possible occasional play depending on how the Raiders deal with the Tight End position. If your league requires a fullback, Reece will be one of the highest sought after players with a very high VBD rating.

Wide Receivers

Starters: Louis Murphy (inj), Jacoby Ford
Backups: Darrius Heyward-Bey, Denarius Moore [R], Chaz Schilens, Nick Miller, Derek Hagan

Starting WRs: Louis Murphy becomes the leader of the Oakland Raider receivers, almost by default. Only in his 3rd season, he has been consistent without being terribly useful to fantasy rosters finishing as the 60th and 59th ranked receiver in his first 2 seasons. With only 6 TDs in his career to date and other more explosive options as receivers for Jason Campbell, Murphy needs to make massive improvement to impact fantasy rosters this season. Explosive is definitely the correct word to describe Jacoby Ford. In his debut season, Ford displayed game breaking ability with a 71 yard rushing TD, a 44 yard receiving TD and kickoff return touchdowns of 101, 99 and 94 yards. He is unlikely to start on a regular basis though at receiver or see enough touches to warrant high end fantasy production. The Raiders will however find ways of utilizing his skills on a regular basis and he is capable of putting in high scoring performances on any given week. Ford did break a hand in late July, but is expected to recover quickly and be ready well before the start of the regular season.

Backup WRs: The Raiders have an array of explosive young receivers who are all potential game breakers. Denarius Moore has had a wonderful start to his rookie season with eye turning camp performances. It's still early days for the 5th round pick from Tennessee, but the opportunity is there if he is good enough. Pay careful attention to further news out of training camps and his preseason appearances. Darrius Heyward-Bey enters a key season in his relatively disappointing career to date. An injury held back his progress heading into the season and with a 33% career target to reception ratio, he will need to do better to warrant any fantasy attention this year. Chaz Schilens heads into his 4th season after missing considerable time over the last 2 years through injury. If, and thats a big if, he can remain healthy then he enters fantasy radars as a potential No.1 receiver for Oakland. After leaving the the 1st preseason game against the Cardinals with a knee injury, Schilens looks like he'll struggle to make an impact this year.

Tight Ends

Starters: Kevin Boss
Backups: Brandon Myers, Richard Gordon (R), David Ausberry (R)

Kevin Boss is a recent free agent acquisition from the New York Giants, after the departure of leading receiver Zach Miller to the Seattle Seahawks. The Raiders were expecting to retain the services of Miller and acted quickly to get a quality replacement in Boss. Boss is not the same receiving threat that Miller was and is unlikely to be anything other than a fantasy reserve for most owners this year. He does have a red zone presence however and is likely to pop up in the box score every few weeks. Brandon Myers was the only other Raider Tight End to make a catch in 2010 and does not possess the skill set to be a decent receiver in the NFL. Richard Gordon was drafted in the 6th round, but his forte is blocking, while 7th round pick David Ausberry is a converted wide receiver who'll need to learn his position as well, if he makes the roster, but probably offers some upside for those in Deep Dynasty leagues.

Place Kicker

Sebastian Janikowski : All three of the Raiders specialist stalwarts are back for 2011. Kicker Sebastian Janikowski continues to keep a surprisingly low profile. Punter Shane Lechler continues to be mentioned in the media for his prescient comments made back when Tom Cable was fired. Long snapper Jon Condo will continue snapping after being re-signed following the lockout. After being mired near the bottom of the rankings for four straight years, the Raiders shot up to 1st in kicker scoring opportunities last year, resulting in a big year for Seabass.

Kick and Punt Returners

Kick Returners: Jacoby Ford, Nick Miller, Denarius Moore

Punt Returners: Nick Miller, Denarius Moore, Jacoby Ford

WR Jacoby Ford, currently out with a broken hand, is the top kickoff returner. WR Nick Miller is listed as the top punt returner, although he's not a lock to make the final roster. He'll need to show enough on offense to secure the final wide receiver spot and out-distance him self from any competition on punt returns. That competition includes Ford, whom the team will try on punts in addition to kickoffs, and especially from rookie WR Denarius Moore -- who has been impressing on offense so far. In the preseason opener Miller averaged 12.5 yards on two punt returns while Moore averaged 8.0 yards on a pair. Each had a kickoff return, as did WRs Chad Jackson and Shaun Bodiford.

Offensive Line

Projected Starters: LT Jared Veldheer, LG Daniel Loper, C Stefen Wisniewski [R], RG Bruce Campbell, RT Joseph Barksdale [R]
Key Backups: Samson Satele, Mario Henderson, Khalif Barnes, Langston Walker, Cooper Carlisle, Stephon Heyer

Team Defense

The Raiders, much like the Chiefs, saw their defense improve dramatically last season. Matt Shaughnessy is an underrated football player on the defensive front. Lamarr Houston, the second year man out of Texas, had a promising rookie campaign and should start for the team. Richard Seymour needs no introduction. Rolando McClain made a sluggish start to his pro career, but showed signs of life towards the end of 2010. The loss of the marquee name of the Raiders defense, Nnamdi Asomugha, is bound to be damaging to this team. Stanford Routt will be expected to pick up some of the slack.

Defensive Line

Starters: DE Matt Shaughnessy, DT Richard Seymour, DT Tommy Kelly, DE Lamarr Houston
Backups: Trevor Scott, DE Jarvis Moss, DT John Henderson, DT Desmond Bryant

Starting DL: The Raiders are very stout up front. In Matt Shaughnessy and Lamarr Houston they have a pair of up and coming young ends. Shaughnessy was never officially anointed as a starter in 2010 but he did start eight games including the final six after Trevor Scott was injured. Still his 43 solo stops were best among Raiders linemen and his 7 sacks were second only to linebacker Kamerion Wimbley. Shaughnessy clearly outplayed Scott even when both were healthy. He should enter this season at the top of the depth chart and see a lion's share of the snaps... When the Raiders drafted Houston last year, most of us expected him to play inside. He was however, inserted as a starter at left end right away. Houston got off to a slow start but came on as the season progressed. He finished with a mark of 31-9-5 but take note that he was 24-7-4 over the final nine games. These two young guns contributed greatly to the Raiders recording the second most sacks (47) in the league last year and they have only scratched the surface of their potential... Oakland is not exactly young on the inside but they are pretty strong there as well. Richard Seymour spent a lot of time at end early last season but migrated inside as Shaughnessy and Houston came on. Seymour was banged up late in the season and missed what was basically four games, but still managed 36-11-5. He pairs with eight year veteran Tommy Kelly to give the Raiders a pair of athletic 300+ pounders on the inside. Both guys are strong against the run but are also very good inside pass rushers. Kelly finished last season with 40 solo tackles and a career best 6.5 sacks. Look for this group to be the strength of an improving Oakland defense in 2011.

Backup DL: So long as the Raiders do not suffer multiple injuries along the DL, depth should not be a problem for them. Trevor Scott got a long look at outside linebacker before returning to his natural DE position last season. He totaled 39 tackles and 7 sacks in 2009 but was on a much slower pace last year before being injured. Scott has upside and there is a chance he could land the title of starter. It is more likely he will be the third wheel in the DE rotation. Likewise John Henderson figures to see a lot of early down action as the third tackle in the rotation. Early in his career he was a strong inside pass rusher but Henderson has not recorded more than 3.5 sacks in a season since 2004. He is however, very capable of quality tackle numbers. In just nine games last year Henderson totaled 24 solo stops. He gives Oakland a third tackle who can step in without anyone noticing. DE Jarvis Moss is looking to revive his career after being cut by Denver late last season. He has a lot to prove... At about 260 pounds Desmond Bryant is undersized for a tackle and would likely struggle as an every down player. What he does bring is a pretty good pass rush. He finished last season with 16 tackles and 3 sacks in very limited action.

Linebackers

Starters: MLB Rolando McClain, OLB Kamerion Wimbly, OLB Quentin Groves
Backups: OLB/MLB Travis Goethel, OLB Darryl Blackstock, OLB Sam Williams, OLB Bruce Davis

Starting LBs: Much was expected of last year's 8th overall pick Rolando McClain. Unfortunately he failed to deliver. Despite playing behind a strong front four, McClain struggled. He looked lost and very tentative at times. McClain's play was a direct contributor to the Raiders having the 29th rated run defense in the league, and it showed in his numbers (59-26-.5). There is however, reason for much optimism when it comes to McClain. He seemed to be a different player coming out of the team's bye in week ten. He was more decisive, aggressive and just seemed to be more comfortable. Most importantly, more than half of McClain's box score production came in his final six starts. He seems poised for a big 2011... Kamerion Wimbley settled in at OLB for the Raiders last season and went on to lead the club with 9.5 sacks. That was enough to land him a huge new long term contract. Obviously a strong encore is expected from Wimbley but IDP owners should not overlook the fact that he totaled just 46 tackles and that 3 of his sacks came in week 17... Quentin Groves fills out the starting lineup, at least for now. He held the job most of last season as well but his play was very underwhelming. Oakland has some talent and potential at the LB positions but they are still a work in progress here. If they are going to be a contender, this group must improve.

Backup LBs: After letting guys like Thomas Howard and Ricky Brown leave, linebacker is one place that Oakland had better not have an injury. Second year undrafted free agent Travis Goethel has been working as a backup at all three LB positions and would likely be the team's best option if a starter is lost. He recorded all of 6 tackles and 3 assists as a rookie. This will be Darryl Blackstock's fifth season as a pro. He has never held a starting job and has 47 career tackles. Al Davis favorite Sam Williams remains with the team but is little more than special teams help. Bruce Davis is a former Steelers draft pick who lasted just a year in Pittsburgh. Like Williams, he will help on special teams and little more

Defensive Backs

Starters: Chris Johnson, CB Stanford Routt, FS Michael Huff, SS Tyvon Branch
Backups: SS Michael Mitchell, CB Walter McFadden, CB Demarcus Van Dyke, CB Jeremy Ware, CB Chimdi Chekwa, S Stevie Brown

Starting DBs: In terms of yards allowed, Oakland boasted the league's second best pass defense in 2010. The loss of Nnamdi Asomugha is sure to change that but one thing the team will not miss is Asomugha's glaring lack of big play production. The Raiders produced just 12 interceptions last year. Asomugha contributed exactly zero of those and had not put up more than one in a season since blowing up for 9 in 2006. Chris Johnson and Stanford Routt are in line to be the starters. Neither of them are stellar players by any standard but they are both quality veterans who will make a few plays. A vast majority of the production in the Raiders secondary comes from the safety positions. SS Tyvon Branch has been a fantasy stud for the past couple of seasons. He and FS Michael Huff respectively, were the team's top two tacklers and playmakers in 2010. Between them they accounted for 157 solo tackles, 8 sacks, 5 picks, 2 forced fumbles and a pair of recoveries. The numbers were split virtually even between them with Branch having a slight edge. If the Raiders struggle defensively this season it likely will not be because of the secondary.

Backup DBs: It looked like Michael Mitchell was going to get a shot at the starting SS job until the Raiders re-signed Huff late in the free agent frenzy. As it stands he should return to last year's role, playing SS in the nickel packages so Huff can cover the slot receiver. An injury anywhere in the secondary could create a shuffle that gets Mitchell on the field at SS, where he would be very box score friendly. Rookie third round pick Demarcus Van Dyke will compete with Walter McFadden and Jeremy Ware to fill out the pecking order at corner. Safety Stevie Brown saw a little action in a lot of games last season and finished with 25 tackles as a rookie. He has a good size/speed combination and could make some noise down the road.

Last modified: 2011-08-20 06:33:55

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