Las Vegas Raiders
|By Shawn Childs, Saturday, June 17, 2023|
2023 Las Vegas Raiders Outlook
Las Vegas gave Josh McDaniels his second head coaching job in 2022. He went 6-11 while ending the season with more questions than answers. In his first experience with the Broncos, McDaniels went 11-17, with an early exit after 11 games in 2021. He worked in the Patriots' system for 18 seasons, with much of the previous decade as their offensive coordinator. The Rams gave him their offensive coordinator job for one season (2011).
Mick Lombardi returns as the Raiders' offensive coordinator. He's been a coach in the NFL for 10 seasons. Lombardi worked under Josh McDaniels from 2019 to 2021 as New England's assistant quarterback and wide receivers coach.
Last year Las Vegas finished 12th in scoring (395 – 21 more than in 2021) while ranking 12th in offensive yards.
The Raiders brought in Patrick Graham to run their defense in 2022. 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).
Their defense ranked 28th in yards allowed (worst finish since 2011) and 26th in points allowed (418). Las Vegas placed 20th or below in points allowed over the previous 16 years.
In the offseason, Josh McDaniels went to his New England ties by adding QB Jimmy Garoppolo and WR Jakobi Meyers. They lost WR Mack Hollins (ATL) and TE Foster Moreau (NO) over the winter while taking a swing at TE Austin Hooper.
On defense, CB Rock Ya-Sin (BAL), LB Denzel Perryman (HOU), S Duran Harmon (FA), and DT Andrew Billings (CHI) went looking for new homes. The Raiders' only addition via free agency was S Marcus Epps.
The Raiders invested in two defensive players (DE Tyree Wilson and DT Byron Young) in the first and third rounds.
Wilson has yet to reach his potential as he grows into his body. He has a disrupter feel with a much higher ceiling in the pass rush when Wilson gets stronger and develops his pass-rushing moves and hands. His vision isn't ideal, leading to some mistakes in decision-making when picking the wrong lane to attack the run. He does project well as a three-down player who can seal the outside vs. running backs.
Young comes to the NFL with questions about his initial quickness and range when asked to move along the line of scrimmage. He earns his wins by power and his feel for running lanes. Young can lose after the snap but still have the fight in his game to counter with the correct move to the ball. His foundation skill set and hands lead to many of his wins.
Las Vegas filled their void at tight end by drafting Michael Mayer in the second round. He grades well in blocking, allowing him to see many snaps on all downs in the NFL. His physical style of play invites some limitations in his ability to create spacing off the line and at the top of his routes. Mayer will do most of his receiving work close to the line of scrimmage despite offering a winning time for his position in the 40-yard dash (4.70). His hands are a plus, helping his success in tight coverage.
The only other offensive players added were WR Tre Tucker (3rd) and QB Aidan O'Connell (4th).
Tucker is the fourth swing in this year's draft for teams looking to find a Tyreek-Hill-type wideout for their offense. He has plus speed (4.4 40-yard dash) and quickness while coming into the league at 5'9" and 180 lbs.). Tucker should get off the line easily, even with facing press coverage, thanks to his footwork. The Raiders will have the most success getting him the ball over the short areas of the field, where his opening field running creates yards after the catch. He will also challenge defenses in the deep passing game. Tucker loses value when facing tight coverage due to questionable hands and below-par wins in jump ball situations.
O'Connell might be Josh McDaniel's dart at finding the next upside pocket passer with slow feet, a la Tom Brady. He handles himself well when working the first two levels of the defense, thanks to reads and timing. O'Connell doesn't have a big arm, requiring more air on deep throws and creating less accuracy. He gets the ball out quickly to avoid losing plays while also hanging tough when asked to make a late throw on a long-developing play. His next step is improving his feel for the pass rush and staying connected with his throwing mechanics under duress.
Las Vegas dictated the rest of their draft to the defensive side of the ball – CB Jakorian Bennett, S Chris Smith, LB Amari Burney, and DT Nesta Jade Silvera.
Bennett has blistering speed (4.30 40-yard dash) that plays better in a trail position. His rhythm and feel for pass routes can lead to some easy catches coming back to the ball. Bennett doesn't have a playmaker skill set at this point in his career, but he does handle himself well in run support.
Smith handles the physical part of the safety position in run support despite being undersized (5'11" and 190 lbs.). His cover skill grade well, but they are areas of weakness and strengths. Smith is much better moving toward the line of scrimmage while getting trouble off the ball when thinking about his plan attack in coverage.
Burney has the speed to make tackles all over the field and improve the Raiders' pass coverage at linebacker. His vision isn't ideal, and he won't survive if trapped too low vs. the big bodies of an offensive line. His experience is limited, indicating a rotational role early in his career.
Silvera projects as an early down run stopper, thanks to his ability to get off the ball quickly and clog run lanes. His range is limited while expecting almost no value in the pass rush. Silvera must improve his understanding of what offenses want to do when running the ball to avoid being washed by misdirection blocks.
Las Vegas jumped to 17th in rushing yards (2,059) with 12 rushing touchdowns. They averaged 4.8 yards per rush with only nine runs over 20 yards.
The Raiders dipped to 11th in passing yards (4,182) with 28 touchdowns and 17 interceptions. They gained 7.1 yards per pass attempt with 58 completions over 20 yards. Their offensive line allowed 35 sacks.
LT Kolton Miller is one of the better players at his position, with strength in both run and pass blocking. However, his career started with questionable play in all areas over his first three years in the NFL after getting drafted in the first round in 2015.
Las Vegas didn't have their first pick in the 2022 NFL Draft until the third round when they selected LG Dylan Parham. His best asset early in his career comes in run blocking. Parham wants to attack off the snap, giving him wins in a quick-hitting run-blocking scheme. His vision and understanding of the oncoming rush help him stay engaged outside his frame. Parham must improve his footwork to become more reliable in pass blocking. He allowed too many sacks and tons of pressure in his rookie season while starting 17 games. His running blocking was about the league average.
The center and right guard positions don't have a player that matches the league average. Las Vegas needs someone to emerge over the summer to help their offensive line.
RT Jermaine Eluemuner had the most snaps of his career in 2022 after working off the bench over the previous five years. He handled himself in pass protection while showing growth last year in the run game.
This offensive line is loaded with downside risk at three positions. The left side should beat the league average, but Parham still has plenty of work to do.
QB Jimmy Garoppolo - Gamble (high risk)
In 2021, Garoppolo finished the season with strength in his completion rate (68.3) and yards per pass attempt (8.6). Over his final nine games (including the postseason), Garoppolo passed for 2,233 yards (248 per game) with only 10 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. In the playoffs, Garoppolo gained 540 yards in three matchups with two touchdowns and three interceptions. His completion rate (58.1) was a sign that his shoulder wasn't healthy, leading to surgery in March of 2022. When at his best, he passed for over 300 yards in five contests while failing to deliver more than two scores in any game.
A season-ending injury to Trey Lance in the second game of last season gave Garoppolo the starting quarterback job for the 49ers. From Week 3 to Week 12, he passed for 2,227 yards over nine games with 15 touchdowns and four interceptions. His best output came in three contests (307/2, 305/2, and 225/4) while adding 19 rushes for 28 yards and one score over this span. Unfortunately, Garoppolo saw his season end in Week 13 due to a broken left foot. He has been a winning quarterback (40-17) for the Patriots and 49ers in the regular season, with success in the postseason (4-2).
Las Vegas signed Garoppolo in March for three seasons ($72.75 million) before having surgery on his left foot. If his healing process doesn't progress as planned, the Raiders could release him without financial responsibility.
Fantasy Outlook: During his time in the NFL, Garoppolo played for two winning franchises, but he has only once (2019) kept the job for an entire season. He has plenty of passing weapons with a top chain moving back, but Garoppolo will have a smaller window to throw the ball in 2023. In the early draft season in the high-stakes market, he ranks as a waiver-wire QB3. At best, a game manager with a chance at 4,000 passing yards and 25 touchdowns if Garoppolo can stay upright for 17 games.
QB Aidan O'Connell - Dynasty Only
Over 33 games at Purdue, O'Connell completed two-thirds of his passes for 9,218 yards with 65 touchdowns and 30 interceptions. His best year came in 2021 (3,711/28). He brings no value to the run game besides the occasional score and short runs for first downs.
Fantasy Outlook: O'Connell will compete for the backup quarterback job for the Raiders in 2023. Brian Hoyer has experience in this system, making the logical choice to get the first chance to start if Jimmy Garoppolo has an injury.
Other Options: Brian Hoyer, Chase Garbers
RB Josh Jacobs - Solid/Safe Pick
Las Vegas gave Jacobs the ball 306 times over 15 games in 2020. His opportunity fell by 11.4% in 2021, 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 more than 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).
The Raiders worked Jacobs hard last season, leading to 393 touches (23.1 per game), while most fantasy drafters avoided him. He gained 2,053 combined yards with 12 touchdowns and 50 catches, ranking him third in running back scoring (329.30) in PPR formats. Jacobs gained more than 100 rushing yards in six matchups (28/144/2, 21/154/1, 20/143/3, 24/109, 33/229/2, and 26/144/1), which happened to come on two three-game stretches. The Raiders gave him a floor of five catches in five contests (5/31, 5/31, 5/39, 6/28, and 6/74), accounting for 54% of his season's receptions (50).
Fantasy Outlook: Las Vegas didn't re-up his fifth-year option before last season, creating a franchise situation heading into the summer. If Jacobs holds out, he will slide in drafts. His early ADP (22) ranks him sixth at running back in the high-stakes market. Running backs coming off career seasons rarely repeats, especially after a massive workload. Jacobs starts the season at age 25, so he has plenty of life still in his game. I'll set his bar at 300 touches for 1,400 yards with double-digit scores and 40+ catches. His questionable offensive line suggests his yards per rush will be closer to the league average (4.3).
RB Zamir White - Deep-league Only
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 in 2021, 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). He had only one contest with over 100 yards rushing (14/105) and fewer than 15 touches in 13 games in his final year in college.
I feel for pro athletes who work hard to strengthen 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 in late games.
The Raiders only had him on the field for 40 plays in his rookie season, leading to 70 yards on 17 carries.
Fantasy Outlook: White gives the Raiders early-down insurance for Josh Jacobs. He comes off the early draft board as the 66th running back in early June in PPR formats. White could work as a goal-line runner with value in short-yardage situations. Player to follow over the summer with a close eye on the direction and news about Josh Jacobs.
RB Ameer Abdullah - Low Potential
Over his eight seasons in the NFL, Abdullah has four years with at least 25 catches (25/183/1, 25/162/1, 35/272/1, and 25/211/1). Unfortunately, his best output came in his rookie season (680 combined yards with three touchdowns and 25 catches). In 2022, the Raiders gave him only four carries for 20 yards with 25 catches for 211 yards and one score.
Fantasy Outlook: Abdullah gives the Raiders pass-catching experience off the bench. If Josh Jacobs missed any time, he worked as a change-of-pace runner while handling most of the third role on passing downs.
Other Options: Brandon Bolden, Brittain Bolden, Austin Walter
WR Davante Adams - Bust (overvalued)
Over his last four seasons in Green Bay, 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. In 2021, Adams finished with new tops in catches (123) and receiving yards (1,553). He gained more than 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).
The move to Las Vegas ended up being a win for anyone investing in Adams. He gained more than 1,500 yards for the second consecutive year thanks to a career-high in targets (180) and yards per catch (15.2). The Raiders used him more in the deep passing game, leading to 24 catches of 20 yards or more, with seven reaching the 40-yard market. Adams posted seven impact games (10/141/1, 10/146/2, 9/126/1, 7/141/2, 8/177/2, and 7/153/2).
Fantasy Outlook: His connection with Derek Carr proved to be real, leading to the third most fantasy points (336.00) in PPR leagues. Adams had been the best wide receiver in the game over the past three seasons. The change at quarterback in Las Vegas has drafters shying away from Adams in the early fantasy leagues. His only negative from 2022 was a much lower catch rate (55.6) than his previous two seasons (77.2 and 72.8).
As an aging player with a new quarterback playing for a coach that is highly likely to be fired, we're worried about Adams living up to his eleveated ADP in 2023.
WR Jakobi Meyers - Quality Backup
Meyers set career highs in catches (83), receiving yards (866), and targets (126) in 2021 while scoring his first two NFL touchdowns. However, he failed to gain over 100 yards in all 18 games while delivering two empty weeks (1/8 and 0/0). Meyers caught six passes or more in seven contests. He ranked 29th in wide receiver scoring (187.75 fantasy points) in PPR leagues while scoring over 15.00 fantasy points in only three games (9/94, 8/70, and 8/73/1).
Last season, Meyers missed three games with a concussion and a shoulder injury. Over his first six starts, he delivered three WR1 outcomes (9/95, 7/111/1, and 9/60/1). Unfortunately, Meyers produced five dull games (5/42, 4/52, 3/62, 3/22, and 2/47) over the next seven weeks. His season ended with a touchdown in matchups (6/83/1, 6/49/1, and 3/32/1).
Fantasy Outlook: Meyers brings a possession skill set with improved value in scoring. His catch rate (68.3) commands more looks. Despite his progression (13.02 FPPG – 27th highest rating in 2022), he comes off the board as the 51st wideout this year. Last season, Mack Hollins (57/690/4) had the second-most receptions on the Raiders. Meyers is trending toward an 80/950/5 season, but will Las Vegas throw the ball enough to fill his potential?
WR Hunter Renfrow - Deep-league Only
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 (80.5).
Over the first two games last season, Renfrow had 10 catches for 80 yards on 16 targets. He missed the next two weeks with a concussion. The Raiders barely looked his way over four starts (4/25, 3/55, 1/6, and 3/26 on 13 combined targets) before missing six more games with hip and oblique issues. Renfrow finished the season with 15 more catches for 138 yards and two touchdowns over 21 targets over four matchups.
Fantasy Outlook: Renfrow has the talent to win over the short areas of the field, but his window for targets looks much smaller in 2023. He projects as a WR7 in PPR formats with only short-term or bye-week cover value. Despite his low bar, I wouldn't write him off so quickly. His starting point is 50 catches for 600 yards and low touchdowns.
Keelan Cole, LV
Twice over his six years in the NFL, Cole produced playable stats (42/748/3 and 55/642/5). However, he never had more than 88 targets in a season. In 2021, the Jets (28/449/1) and Raiders (10/141/1) gave him a minimal opportunity, but Cole did gain 15.0 and 14.1 yards per catch.
Fantasy Outlook: Cole provides veteran experience on the wide receiver depth chart, but he won't see many targets without an injury to one of the Raiders' top three wideouts.
Other Options: DeAndre Carter, Tre Tucker, Phillip Dorsett, Cam Sims
TE Michael Mayer - Sleeper (undervalued)
Over three seasons at Notre Dame, Mayer caught 180 passes for 2,099 yards and 18 touchdowns while adding length to his catches in each year (10.7, 11.8, and 12.1). He had almost the same production in 2021 (71/840/7) and 2022 (67/809/9). Mayer gained more than 100 yards in three starts (8/103/1, 11/118/2, and 6/115/1) in 2022.
Fantasy Outlook: Josh McDaniel had the services of Rob Gronkowski for a good part of his coaching career. Mayer brings a similar physical style, highlighted by his ability to catch balls in tight windows and break tackles with his strength. He has an excellent feel for reads on option routes while giving the Raiders a player to move the chain over the short areas of the field. As the 22nd tight end drafted in early June, Mayer should outperform his price point by a wide margin. Think Dallas Goedert with a better opportunity in his rookie season.
TE Austin Hooper - Deep-league Only
After two productive seasons (71/600/4 and 75/787/6) in Atlanta, Hooper failed to live up to expectations in his two years with the Browns (46/435/4 and 38/345/3) and one season with the Titans (41/444/2). In 2021, he gained over 50 yards in only one game (4/53) while averaging only 3.8 targets. In addition, Hooper only had one contest with over six chances. His production was fantasy worthy in only three games (5/41, 4/36/2, and 5/68) with Tennessee.
Fantasy Outlook: Hooper enters 2023 in a split role with incoming rookie Michael Mayer, making him a player to avoid in the fantasy market. He'll be found in the free-agent market this draft season.
Other Options: O.J. Howard, Jesper Horsted, Cole Fotheringham
PK Daniel Carlson - Solid/Safe Pick
Over the past three seasons, Carlson developed into a beast kicking field goals. He made 107 of his 115 chances (93.0%) with an edge from 50 yards or more (21-for-24). Carlson missed six of his 116 extra points over this span. He finished with three field goals or more in six of his 17 games last year while making 11 of his 13 attempts from long range.
Fantasy Outlook: Carlson was the top kicker in the land in back-to-back seasons (185.30 and 173.10 fantasy points). Las Vegas scored 41 touchdowns in 2022 while creating 37 field attempts. He'll be the second kicker drafter in many leagues in 2023 behind Justin Tucker.
Las Vegas - Not Draft Worthy
The Raiders repeated their 19th ranking in rushing yards allowed (2,087) with 20 touchdowns. Ball carriers gained 4.5 yards per carry on 27 rushes per game.
Las Vegas fell to 29th in pass defense (4,129 yards), with quarterbacks tossing 25 touchdowns. Their defense finished with only six interceptions and 27 sacks. They allowed 7.3 yards per pass attempt.
DE Maxx Crosby has been an absolute beast in back-to-back season, leading a career-high in tackles (89) and sacks (12.5) while creating tons of pressure on other plays. His run defense has been elite over the past two years. DE Chandler Jones failed to make an impact in his first year with Las Vegas. He pressured the quarterback but only sacked him 4.5 times. His run defense was about the league average despite missing too many tackles.
DT Jerry Tillery has yet to live up to his draft pedigree (first round in 2019). He missed 10 games in 2022 while remaining a weak line in all areas. The Raiders hope DT Bryon Young can at least help their run defense on earlier downs in his rookie season.
Their linebacking corps lacks star power, but the Raiders have a pair of veteran players with serviceable value against the run. Las Vegas must rebuild their options at cornerback, but they will have to wait for next year's draft class to address their shortfall in coverage. S Trevor Moehrig and S Marcus Epps are league-average at best.
I see more risk than reward on the defensive side of the ball for the Raiders. They finished 31st in fantasy points (72.00) in 2022, and I don't much changing this year. Their best hope is a bump in sacks and pressure by their top defensive ends, possibly creating more turnovers.