The Raiders had another fine season in 2020, but it's fair to wonder entering Year 4 of Jon Gruden's tenure if this iteration of the club can ever be more. Derek Carr is fine, and he's got fine weapons, but that may be all this offense can ever be, especially with the offensive line regressing. Where does the next step come from?
Record: 8 - 8 (14)
PPG: 27.1 (10)
YPG: 383.3 (8)
Pass YPG: 263.6 (7)
Rush YPG: 119.8 (14)
PAPG: 34.4 (21)
RAPG: 28.6 (11)
2020 Fantasy finishes
Number to know: 8.1
Carr's intended air yards per attempt spiked to 8.1 in 2020, his highest mark since 2017 -- he was at 6.84 and 6.54 yards per attempt in 2018 and 2019. Carr will never be a gunslinger, it's just not who he is, but a higher share of his passes traveled at least 15 yards down the field (20.3%) than any season of his career, as well. The book on Carr is that he's a game manager, a guy who gets what is there but doesn't do much else, and you can see that reflected in the fact that the Raiders don't have a single WR ranked inside of the top 50 at the position for any one of Jamey Eisenberg, Dave Richard, Heath Cummings, or myself this season. Darren Waller feasts on the short and intermediate targets, but Carr was able to find Agholor (and, to a lesser extent, Ruggs) down the field for some splash plays in 2020. This offense is going to be built around the running game and controlling time of possession, but if there is going to be a leap made by someone in this offense, it seems most likely to come from one of John Brown or Ruggs becoming a consistent big-play threat. Carr was, at least in 2020, more willing to make that happen than usual.
100 carries, 27 RB targets, 102 WR targets, 18 TE targets
Chris Towers' projections
|QB||Derek Carr||PA: 576, YD: 4494, TD: 27, INT: 10; RUSH -- ATT: 27, YD: 78, TD: 0|
|RB||Josh Jacobs||CAR: 270, YD: 1186, TD: 10; TAR: 35, REC: 26, YD: 197, TD: 1|
|RB||Kenyan Drake||CAR: 103, YD: 465, TD: 3; TAR: 74, REC: 52, YD: 408, TD: 3|
|WR||John Brown||TAR: 87, REC: 60, YD: 718, TD: 5|
|WR||Henry Ruggs||TAR: 76, REC: 48, YD: 612, TD: 4|
|WR||Hunter Renfrow||TAR: 60, REC: 41, YD: 494, TD: 3|
|WR||Bryan Edwards||TAR: 43, REC: 24, YD: 334, TD: 2|
|TE||Darren Waller||TAR: 138, REC: 101, YD: 1191, TD: 7|
Does Josh Jacobs still have No. 1 RB upside?
Jacobs took a step back in Year 2, and now he's sharing the backfield with Kenyan Drake, the biggest threat to his dominance yet. Jacobs should continue to be the lead back for the Raiders; however, if he doesn't have room to grow in the passing game, every carry Drake takes from him will be costly. If you can't rely on Jacobs for 270 carries, can you really rely on him as a must-start Fantasy RB?
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One sleeper, one breakout and one bust
Say what you want about Carr, but he showed in 2020 he can connect with a deep threat, as Nelson Agholor had 48 catches for 896 yards and eight touchdowns on just 82 targets. The hope here is Ruggs can step into that role in 2021 and be just as effective. We know he's got the physical abilities, but a disappointing rookie season raised a lot of questions about whether he'll be able to live up to his status as a top-12 overall pick. Ruggs is by no means a sure thing -- he had more than 100 yards in just four of 40 games in college -- but if you're looking for someone who could provide a significant return on investment, Ruggs is the guy to take a flier on in the later rounds.
Over the past two seasons, the non-Jacobs running backs in Oakland (Devontae Booker and Jalen Richard in 2020, DeAndre Washington and Richard in 2019) have averaged 539 rushing yards on 131 carries with 3.5 touchdowns as well as 54 catches for 419 yards, and that's not an unreasonable expectation for Drake as the primary backup to Jacobs. Drake figures to see time as the third-down back alongside Jacobs while seeing 5-10 carries per week and occasionally splitting out wide, and it's not out of the question he could get to 1,000 total yards and five touchdowns. Where the breakout would come from, of course, would be as a starter in the event something were to happen to Jacobs -- Booker and Washington have started four games with Jacobs sidelined over the last two seasons and they've averaged 17.5 carries and 5.3 targets in those four games. Drake is an excellent zero-RB pick with an ADP of 94.9 since May 1.
It might seem strange that Jacobs is RB20 in ADP right now given how good he's been over the first two seasons of his career, and it's worth considering the possibility that this is an overreaction. He's an incredibly skilled, still-very-young (he won't turn 24 until after this season) back on a team that would love nothing more than to run it 30 times every game. At his cost, there really isn't much wrong with Jacobs, to be quite honest. The problem is, there just isn't all that much to get excited about. He's talented, but this is a mediocre offense with a rebuilding offensive line, and he doesn't catch many passes -- and the addition of Drake suggests the latter isn't likely to change. Jacobs is a solid RB2 with a high floor and the chance to score a touchdown every game, but passing on the likes of Travis Etienne or Kareem Hunt to take him could mean passing on quite a bit more upside.
So which sleepers, breakouts and busts should you target and fade? And which QB shocks the NFL with a top-five performance? Visit SportsLine now to get Fantasy cheat sheets for every single position, all from the model that called Josh Allen's huge season, and find out.