One of the first major moves of free agency, at least from a Fantasy Football perspective, was also one of the least surprising. Jimmy Garoppolo is joining his former offensive coordinator, Josh McDaniels, in Las Vegas. Garoppolo received a reported $34 million guaranteed from the Raiders which signals they plan on starting him for at least 2023. That doesn't mean they won't draft a quarterback, but they probably won't draft a quarterback they plan on starting this season.
From the Raiders' perspective, this provides some much-needed stability after they let Derek Carr go earlier this offseason. Garoppolo has been one of the most efficient quarterbacks in the NFL when he's been healthy. His 8.3 yards per pass attempt ranks first among active quarterbacks and the only other guys about 8 yards per attempt are Deshaun Watson and Patrick Mahomes. He knows McDaniels' system as well, which is a plus.
Garoppolo specializes in short area throws that produce YAC. That would be a change from the Raiders offensive philosophy in 2022, when Carr averaged 9.1 intended air yards per attempt. That was by far Carr's highest mark of the past five years, Garoppolo hasn't been above 7.5 the past four seasons. Those shorter throws should be good news for Darren Waller, Hunter Renfrow, and Josh Jacobs. Waller in particular should have a bounce-back season after what we've seen Garoppolo and George Kittle do together the past five seasons.
The one guy who could be a loser if roles remain unchanged from last year is Davante Adams. The veteran averaged a career-high 15.2 yards per catch in 2022 and had an aDOT of 11.8. Those deep balls won't be there with Garoppolo, but Adams averaged a career-best 98 receiving yards per game in 2020 with an aDOT of 8.9, so it's not like Adams can't thrive on shorter targets as well. Expect the yards per catch to fall, but his catch rate should bounce back from last year's paltry 55.6%.
For now, view Adams and Jacobs as top-15 picks in most 2023 Fantasy Football leagues. Waller is a starting Fantasy tight end, but we're not drafting him as high as we used to -- think Round 6. And Renfrow, for now, becomes more intriguing as a PPR specialist who will be drafted in the double-digit rounds. That could change if the Raiders add someone of significance to the receiving corps.
As for Garoppolo himself, he won't be drafted in most one-quarterback leagues but I would expect him to be a solid streamer when he's healthy and has a good matchup. If he stays healthy, he profiles as a good No. 2 quarterback in leagues where you're allowed to start more than one. The fact that Garoppolo has only played 15 games in a season twice in his career means that whoever his backup is will be a bench stash in those leagues as well.
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If everything goes as planned and Garoppolo can stay healthy, this move is a net upgrade for the Raiders weapons, even if it's maybe a small downgrade for Adams. But Garoppolo missed more games last year than Carr has missed in his nine-year career, so the floor is still lower for everyone, at least until we see who the Raiders sign or draft to be their QB2.