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Raiders 2011 Offensive Fantasy Prospects

It is that time of year again.. Other than the Christmas season, late August is my favorite time of year because that means not only are we ready for some football, but we are getting ready for our Fantasy Football draft!! A few years ago, picking a Raider for your fantasy team usually brought out chuckles and cat-calls, but things are looking much better for the Raiders, so once again, lets take a look at some key Oakland players that you may want to consider adding to your fantasy roster for the 2011 season.

Lets start with QB Jason Campbell – with no doubt, Campbell will be looked upon as the offensive leader this year and many people are expecting big things from the 7 year vet from Auburn.  Last year, he shows flashes of what he can do as he put up some decent numbers.  Campbell went 194 for 329 attempts for 2,387 years with a 59% completion rate.  He threw for 13 TD’s and 8 INT with a QB rating of 84.5.. This year, I am looking for Jason to improve those numbers and every indication points to better stats..  If he can continue to have a strong preseason and develop a chemistry with Murphy and Heyward-Bey, he could develop into a decent #2QB for your fantasy team.  He will also be looking a lot to new Raider TE Kevin Boss, which may help his numbers.   I predict Campbell to throw for around 2600 yards with 18 – 20 TDs.  The back up QB’s this year will be Trent Edwards (from Buffalo) and former Raven and Ram Kyle Boller and neither should be looked at for the time being for your fantasy team.

Oakland RB’s – Early last year, it looked like RB Michael Bush was set to take over the starting RB spot for the Raiders until an injury in the pre-season opened the door for Darren McFadden.  Run DMC finally proved last year why Al Davis picked him at #4 overall in the 2008 NFL Draft.  McFadden had his first 1,000-yard rushing season in 2010, despite playing in only 13 games.  He ran for seven touchdowns and 1,157 yards total and also had more than 500 receiving yards and another three touchdowns.  These numbers warrant a definite top spot on anyones fantasy team this year, and I look for him to be one of the top 5 RB’s picked.  I see McFadden easily putting up big numbers – 1500 rushing yards, 600 receiving yards and a combined 15 TDs. 

 Taking a look at Michael Bush, last year Bush managed to put up respectable numbers with 655 rushing yards with 8 TD and 194 receiving yards.  The only thing holding Bush from putting up even better numbers this year could be the drafting of East Washington’s speedster Taiwan “Juice” Jones.  Bush is going to have to make the most of his touches this year andwill probably be looking behind his shoulder for Jones.  I see Bush putting up around 800 total yards with 10 TD’s- worthy of a later round pick up for your fantasy team or as a handcuff for Run DMC..

Speaking of Taiwan Jones, everyone knows Al Davis loves speed and this kid is the real deal.  Taken in the 4thround with the 125th overall pick, he may just be in line to put up some eye-opening numbers this year if given the chance.  Not only is he possibly quicker than McFadden, but he is an elusive runner as well.  I look for “Juice” to add some spark at times to the Raiders running game andsee him putting up around 500-600 yards and maybe 5 or 6 TD’s.  If you like taking chances withthe possibility of bigger payoffs, Jones may be worthy a late round pick for your team.

The Oakland wide receivers are all looking to put up bigger and better numbers this year.  Lets start with the probable #1 receiver Louis Murphy.  The former Gator caught 41 passes for 609 yards last year with 2 TDs.  10 of those passes last year were over 20 yards, so it would seem that Murphy is the big play guy that Campbell will be going to this year.  With good hands, the speedy Murphy is worthy of an early WR pick on your fantasy team.  I see Murphy breaking his first 1000 yard season and 8 TDs.  

Also looking to be a #1 reciever this year for Oakland is Jacoby Ford.  Out of Clemson, Ford broke out the 2nd half last year and Coach Jackson has said that he will be a “household name” in 2011.  Coach Jackson has backed it up by placing the explosive second-year breakout candidate atop the depth chart. Last year, Jacoby caught 25 passes for 470 yards and2 TDs but also rushed for 155 yards with 2 TDs and had 3 kickoffs returned for TDs.. As soon as Ford recovers from a broken hand, he will start outside and likely move to the slot in three-wide sets. There’s major potential here in return-yardage leagues.  I see Ford having a good year knocking on the 1000 yard mark with 10 to 12 over-all TDs worthy of a mid to later round selection.   

Hoping to be a solid #2 starter this year is Darrius Heyward-Bey.  He has the talent, he has the speed, and he has the hands.  Things really need to come together this year for Heyward-Bey or he may be labeled another “first round bust” for the Raiders.  Last year, Darrius played in 15 games, caught 26 passes for 366 yards and had 1 TD.  “DHB” needs to remain healthy and on the field in order to prove that there was good reason he was selected over Michael Crabtree in the 2009 draft.  News out of training camp so far is all positive (other than the “undisclosed injury”) andhe seems to be on track to make an impact this year for Oakland.  That being said, I see “DHB” putting up around 500 yards with 5 TDs- possibly a final round pick at best for your team this year..

Beset by the injury bug, Chaz Schilens has lost 19 games the past 2 years due to injury.. As I am writing this, Chaz is listed as “week to week” with a knee injury.  Last year, he played just 5 games with 5 receptions for 40 yards and 1 TD.  The risk is high on Schilens and at this point I would only consider a late round pick for him.

Finally,  looking at the Raiders WR position, we have the rookie taken in the 5th round from Tennessee, Denarius Moore.  Already, many sites are picking him as a sleeper at the WR position, and he has apparently has been the “talk” of the Raiders training camp so far and seems to have the attention of QB Jason Campbell.  Last year at Tennessee he caught the ball for 981 yards and 9 TDs.  Although he will face some heavy competition from the above mentioned receivers, Moore may show enough before the season starts to be considered the sleeper that many are picking him to be.  I see him see him as a late-round fantasy flier heading into the regular season. Moore has a chance to climb up the ranks with time.

You might,think that Oakland would be grief-stricken by losing their #1 receiver TE Zach Miller to the Seahawks but upon further review, it may seem that Miller’s replacement, Kevin Boss from the Giants,  may actually be a better fit for Oakland’s style of football.  Last year for NY, Boss put up some pretty good numbers, catching 35 passes for 531 yards and 5 TDs.  One thing about Boss is he may be a better fit for what the Raiders do because he is a superior run blocker. He is also faster to get down field and his advantage (6’6″-235 lbs) makes him a better red zone target.  If your league has a separate spot for tight ends, I would consider him in the top ten chosen.  I see Kevin ending up with 600 to 700 yards andaround 8 TDs.  The other Oakland TE’s Myers, Gordon and Ausberry have no value at this point.

The “Polish Cannon” Sebastian Janikowski is entering his 12th year in the silver and black.  He may have lost a step or two the past few years, but remains a very powerful kicker and is as accurate as many other kickers in the NFL today.  As far as kickers go, you could do worse than him.  I see him going in the top 10 or 12 for kickers this year..

There you have it.. Like I said, in years previous, drafting a Raider on your fantasy team was usually something the other players would laugh or chuckle at, but this year things are looking different.. There are a number of “solid” picks from Oakland and a couple “sleepers” as well.  I have been playing fantasy football since 1993 (Jeff Hostetler anyone??) and can honestly say that in not on of those 18 years have I not drafted a Raider. Many of those picks I probably regret ( Jerry Porter or Doug Gabriel anyone??) but this year, picking a Raider for your fantasy football team just may pay off..

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