2022 Las Vegas Raiders Team Outlook
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The Las Vegas Raiders appear to have the best combination of WR1 (Davante Adams), WR2 (Hunter Renfrow), and TE Darren Waller) in the AFC West, pointing to an exciting 2022 season. QB Derek Carr has never been an impact fantasy quarterback, but he now has the tools to shine. The Raiders would love for RB Josh Jacobs to add more explosiveness to his game to help their scoring in the red zone, but he could be playing for his next contract with another team. Las Vegas may end up being the longest odds to win their division at SI Sportsbook, but they have the talent to be the best team.
The Raiders had almost the season run/pass split (39.7/60.3) as the Chiefs in 2021, but they scored 20 fewer touchdowns (37). The addition of Davante Adams improves their scoring and how defenses will play Las Vegas. This year, they should have more success in the passing game and growth expected running the ball in the red zone.
The running back production for the Raiders regressed over the past two years, along with their yards per rush (4.44, 4.11, and 4.07). Derek Carr looked to his backs in the passing game (119/869/2 on 145 targets) at the highest rate of his career.
The Raiders' wideouts set three-year highs in catches (223), receiving yards (2,889), touchdowns (16), and targets (315). The addition of Davante Adams points to more follow through in their wide receiver production in 2022.
With injured for six games, the Raiders' tight ends caught 40 fewer passes for 369 yards and eight touchdowns than in 2020 (128/1,419/13). Even with regression in stats, they still finished with 141 targets. More chances should switch to the wide receiver position this season with Davante Adams added to the roster.
Las Vegas gave Josh McDaniels his second head coaching job in the offseason. In his first experience with the Broncos, he went 11-17 with an early exit after 11 games in 2021. McDaniels worked in the Patriots' system for 18 seasons. He spent much of the previous decade as their offensive coordinator, plus one season with the same position with the Rams in 2011.
Mick Lombardi takes over as the Raiders' offensive coordinator. He's been a coach in the NFL for nine seasons, with the last two coming as the wide receiver coach for New England.
Last year Las Vegas finished 18th in scoring (374 – 60 fewer than 2020) while ranking 11 in offensive yards.
The Raiders brought in Patrick Graham to run their defense. He also came through the New England coaching tree (seven years), earning him multiple jobs for three teams over the last six seasons (NYG – defensive line coach, GB – linebacker coach and run game coordinator, MIA – defensive coordinator, and NYG – assistant head coach and defensive coordinator).
They ranked 14th in yards allowed (their best finish since 2010) and 26th in points allowed (439). Las Vegas placed 20th or higher in points allowed over the previous 15 years.
The Raiders added DE Chandler Jones, LB Jayon Brown, S Duran Harmon, DT Bilal Nichols, and CB Darius Phillips to their defense. Jones improves their pass rush, but he'll start the year at age 32. Las Vegas lost CB Casey Hayward, LB K.J. Wright, and DT Quinton Jefferson to free agency. WR Keelan Cole was the only player signed to their offense. QB Marcus Mariota and WR Zay Jones found new homes in Atlanta and Jacksonville.
Las Vegas didn't have a selection in the first two rounds of the 2022 NFL Draft. They picked up a pair of offensive linemen (T Dylan Parham – 3.26 and T Thayer Munford – 7.17) and two defensive tackles (Neil Farrell – 4.21 and Matthew Butler – 5.32). The Raiders' other additions came at the running back position (Zamir White – 4.17 and Brittain Brown – 7.29).
Las Vegas fell to 28th in rushing yards (1,617) with 14 rushing touchdowns. They averaged 3.9 yards per rush with only seven runs over 20 yards.
The Raiders climbed to 6th in passing yards (4,808) with 23 touchdowns and 14 interceptions. They gained 7.7 yards per pass attempt with 67 completions over 20 yards. Their offensive line allowed 40 sacks.
LT Kolton Miller is one of the better players at his position, with strength in both run and pass blocking. In his rookie season, RT Alex Leatherwood failed to live up to his 2021 first-round pedigree. The interior of the Raiders' offensive line doesn't have a star player, pointing to Las Vegas having a below-par offensive line.
The Raiders jumped to 19th in rushing yards allowed (1,943), with 18 touchdowns and 13 runs over 20 yards. Ball carriers gained 4.2 yards per carry.
Las Vegas worked their way to 13th in pass defense (3,789 yards), with quarterbacks tossing 29 touchdowns. Their defense finished with only six interceptions and 35 sacks. They allowed 6.6 yards per pass attempt.
The anchor of the Raiders' defense is DE Maxx Crosby, who signed a $99 million deal in March. He has 25 sacks over his first 39 games in the NFL with excellent play defending the run. Las Vegas hopes to add more pressure on the quarterback with DE Chandler Jones (84 sacks over his last 99 starts). LB Denzel Perryman had his best year in the league in tackles (154) and his first full-time starting job at age 28. However, Las Vegas lacks star power at the second level of their defense. Their secondary has four potential upside players – S Trevon Moehrig, S Johnathan Abram, CB Trayvon Mullen, and CB Nate Hobbs.
With a new coaching staff and a history of struggling on the defensive side of the ball, the Raiders can't push higher up the defensive rankings without creating a smaller passing window and solidifying the interior of the defense against the run. As a result, I see more risk than reward, leading to minimal fantasy value in 2022.
QB Derek Carr, LVR - Quality Backup
In his eighth season with Las Vegas, Carr set career-highs in completions (428), pass attempts (626), and passing yards (4,804). On the downside, he finished with below the league average in touchdowns (23) for the fourth time in five years and the most interceptions (14) in his time in the NFL.
His completion rate (68.7) has been a strength over the past four seasons while improving his yards per pass attempt over the last three years (7.9, 7.9, and 7.7). Carr passed for over 300 yards in seven of his 18 games (including the postseason), but he failed to throw more than two touchdowns in any matchup. Carr finished as the 12th highest scoring quarterback (324.40) in four-point passing touchdown leagues despite his low-scoring ability. Before 2021 (40/108), he chipped in with some scores on the ground over the previous three seasons (24/47/1, 27/82/2, and 39/140/3).
Fantasy outlook: Carr has the tools and opportunity to pass for 5,000 yards with a chance to set a career-high in touchdowns (32 in 2015). In the National Fantasy Football Championship, he ranks 13th at quarterback. I'd rather own Carr as an upside QB2 than settle for him as my starting QB if I get beat at the position.
Other Options: Nick Mullens, Jarrett Stidham, Chase Garbers
RB Josh Jacobs, LVR - Quality Backup
Las Vegas gave Jacobs 306 touches over 15 games in 2020. His opportunity fell by 11.4% in 2022, leading to 1,120 combined yards with nine touchdowns on 271 touches. He set a career-high in catches (54) and receiving yards (348). However, Jacobs gained only 4.0 yards per carry and 6.4 yards per catch while gaining 20 yards or more on only four plays (eight over his past 577 chances).
He rushed for over 100 yards in two games at home (27/129 and 26/132/1). Jacobs played the best over his final five games (97/459/2 – 4.7 yards per rush and 14 catches for 110 yards), possibly setting a higher bar for his output in 2022.
Fantasy outlook: The Raiders didn't pick up Jacobs' fifth-year option, putting him in a contract year. He ranks 22nd at running back in NFFC in the early draft season with an ADP of 45. In this year's draft, Las Vegas added RB Zamir White, pointing to more competition for touches on early downs for Jacobs. My conservative outlook for him is 1,150 combined yards in early June with eight to 10 scores and 40 catches.
RB Zamir White, LVR - Super Sleeper (high risk/potential)
The Bulldogs tend to have a deep bench of talented running backs, leading to multiple runners getting chances each season. White played in 15 games last year, but he gained only 931 yards with 11 touchdowns and nine catches on 169 touches. Over his three seasons, White finished with success in the run game (382/2,043/25) with minimal chances to catch the ball (17/132). Last year he had only one contest with over 100 yards rushing (14/105) and fewer than 15 touches in 13 games.
I feel for pro athletes who work hard to get stronger and build their bodies for success. Unfortunately, White has already blown out his right (2017) and left (2018) ACLs. Georgia used him as a north/south runner, which led to plenty of contact in tight quarters. White had a grinder feel but flashed quickness and elusiveness when breaking free at the second level of the defense. When asked to make plays on the outside, he showed the ability to make defenders miss, thanks to a shimmy in his running style. White will make yards after contact while being at his best late games.
Fantasy outlook: White gives the Raiders early-down insurance for Josh Jacobs. He comes off the early draft board as the 59th running back with an ADP of 192 in the NFFC. White could work as a goal-line runner with value in short-yardage situations. Player to follow over the summer with a close eye to the direction and news about Josh Jacobs.
WR Davante Adams, LVR - Stud (low risk)
Over the past four seasons, Adams caught 432 passes for 5,310 yards and 47 touchdowns on 614 targets. He secured 70.4% chances while averaging 7.8 catches for 93 yards and 0.82 touchdowns over 57 games. Last year Adams finished with new tops in catches (123) and receiving yards (1,553). He gained over 100 yards in eight matchups (8/121, 12/132/1, 11/206/1, 7/115/2, 8/104, 10/121/2, 10/114/2, and 11/136/1).
Fantasy drafters have an interesting dilemma evaluating Adams after the change to Las Vegas. In his two years playing with Derek Carr in 2012 and 2013 at Fresno State, Adams caught 33 passes for 3,031 yards and 38 targets, while Carr passed for 9.187 yards with 89 touchdowns and 15 interceptions.
Fantasy outlook: Adams should surely improve the overall passing attack by the Raiders, and he does have previous chemistry with Derek Carr. However, I expect regression in his production while maintaining a 100-catch floor with about 1,250 yards and double-digit touchdowns. In early June, Adams ranks fourth at wide receiver with an ADP of 11 in the NFFC.
WR Hunter Renfrow, LVR - Solid/Safe Pick
In his third season with Las Vegas, Renfrow emerged as a viable starting fantasy wide receiver, leading to 103 catches for 1,038 yards and nine scores on 128 targets. His best value came from Week 12 to Week 14 (8/134, 9/102, and 13/117/1). Renfrow had a floor of six catches in 11 of his 18 starts (including the playoffs). Despite his success, the Raiders gave him more than nine targets in only three matches (10, 14, and 11). Renfrow worked as a chain mover (10.1 yards per catch) with an exceptional catch rate (90.5).
Fantasy outlook: This year, Renfrow projects as the third receiving option for Las Vegas behind Davante Adams and Darren Waller. His floor should be five catches for 50 yards in many games with some value in scoring. He comes off the 33rd wideout in the high-stakes market in the early draft season with an ADP of 74. Nevertheless, Renfrow is challenging to cover, and he will get plenty of targets this year. I'll set the bar at 90 catches for 900 yards with five to seven touchdowns.