2020 Fantasy Football: Las Vegas Raiders Team Outlook

In this 2020 Las Vegas Raiders Team Outlook, Senior Expert Shawn Childs provides an in-depth Fantasy Football breakdown of the entire franchise.
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Las Vegas Raiders

Coaching Staff

In his second year coaching the Las Vegas Raiders, Jon Gruden went 7-9 with growth on both sides of the ball. They improved by three wins from 2018 (4-12). Las Vegas inherits a team that missed the playoffs in 16 of their last 17 seasons.

Over 13 seasons as the head coach for the Bucs and the Raiders, Gruden went 106-102 with five playoff appearances and a Super Bowl victory.

Las Vegas needs this team to make a playoff push to move forward in 2020.

Greg Olson returns as the offensive coordinator, which was a position he held with the team in 2013 and 2014. Olson worked with Jon Gruden in Tampa in 2008 as an offensive coordinator. He has 16 years of experience in the NFL, with 12 coming as an offensive coordinator.

The Raiders climbed to 24th in points scored (313) with a much stronger move in yards gained (11th – 23rd in 2018).

Paul Guenther gets his third season to run the defense for Las Vegas. Guenther has 17 years of NFL coaching experience with his last six coming as the defensive coordinator for the Cincinnati Bengals and the Raiders.

The Raiders have ranked below 20th in yards allowed in each of the last six seasons while being never higher than 20th in points allowed in their previous 12 years.

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Free Agency

Las Vegas signed four players (LB Cory Littleton, S Damarious Randall, LB Nick Kwiatkoski, and DT Maliek Collins) to upgrade their defense with all players expected to start. The Raiders also added DE Carl Nassib and S Jeff Heath for depth on the bench.

Littleton plays well in coverage while struggling to make plays vs. the run. Randall made the switch from cornerback to safety, which suits him better. Kwiatkoski projects as a rotational player on passing downs. Collins continues to fall short of expectations while playing better, rushing the quarterback.

The defense lost LB Tahir Whitehead, DE Benson Mayowa, S Curtis Riley, DE Dion Jordan, and LB Vontaze Burfict. Whitehead was the only starter lost, but his play hasn’t been impactful over the past three seasons.

They brought in Marcus Mariota to compete for the starting quarterback job. The addition of WR Nelson Agholor looks like an afterthought based on their decision in this year’s draft. The Raiders brought in TE Jason Witten and RB DeAndre Washington.

Draft

With their first two draft choices in the 2020 NFL Draft, the Raiders invested in WR Henry Ruggs and CB Damon Arnette.

Ruggs is slightly undersized (5”11” and 188 lbs.), which will hurt him vs. press coverage out of the gate. His lack of resume will push him down draft boards, but there is no questioning Ruggs’ talent. His hands will be assets while proving to be a player that can be used at all levels of the offense. Ruggs will be viable on bubble screens, slants, and deep end cuts where his speed creates impact plays. He’ll break tackles and create after the catch. Alabama used his speed on quick-hitting plays as well at the goal line.

Arnette gains value as the field shortens thanks to his ability to win in press coverage. He’ll add strength in run support. His vision is a plus while needing to improve his decision making when moving forward in attack mode. Arnette can lose value vs. deep speed.

Las Vegas picked up a pair of playmakers in the third round – Lynn Bowden and Bryan Edwards.

Bowden needs to improve route running, but he does play with toughness and a feel for open space. The Raiders would like for him to develop into a third-down option out of the backfield while doing the most damage over the short areas of the field. A wild card player who doesn’t have a clear role/opportunity in his rookie season.

Edwards should be an intriguing wide receiver at the next level. His size (6’3” and 210 lbs.) paired with his strength and speed should rank him much higher on the WR prospect list.

He has the feel of a big, physical wide receiver in the NFL with the route running and release to win over the short areas of the field. Edwards has the wheels to get on top of some cornerbacks in the deep passing game. His hands should improve with more chances at the next level while already owning the ability to snatch tough passes in traffic. He’ll make some spectacular catches with one hand.

With their final three picks in the third and fourth rounds, the Raiders drafted S Tanner Muse, G John Simpson, and CB Amik Robertson.

Muse comes to the NFL with a tweener feel. His straight speed (4.41 forty) graded well while owning the strength to make plays in the run game when moving forward. He’s better as a quick-moving linebacker due to his shortfalls with his change of direction value and in coverage.

Simpson brings power, vision, and technique to the guard position, but his missing link (first step quickness) lowers his ceiling and ability to win quickly after the snap. Simpson can’t overcome his shortfalls, which leads to mistakes in his decision making and bad penalties.

Robertson may lack size (5’8” and 187 lbs.), but he plays hard with plenty of fight. His best value comes from his feel from the game. He should add value in coverage if he can avoid matching up with the top receivers on the outside. Robertson will struggle with big wide receivers and speed options in the deep passing game.

Offensive Line

Las Vegas improved to 13th in rushing yards (1,893) with 13 rushing TDs. They averaged 4.3 yards per rush with 13 TDs and 11 rushes over 20 yards.

The Raiders bumped to 13th in passing yards (4,110) with 22 TDs and eight Ints. They gained 7.9 yards per pass attempt with 54 completions over 20 yards. Their offensive line allowed 29 sacks and 52 QB hits.

LT Kolten Miller

Miller played much better in his second year in the NFL after Las Vegas selected him 15th overall in 2018. His foot speed and quickness should improve his chances in the run game. In 2018, he struggled to fulfill his draft value in pass protection. Miller still allows too many sacks, but he did show growth last year.

LG Richie Incognito

After missing 2018 with his early retirement, Incognito played great in pass protection while still adding value to the run. When at the top of his game, He’ll start the year at age 37, which invites some regression. The Raiders thought enough of his play to sign him to a two-year contract in December for $14.

C Rodney Hudson

Houston was one of the top pass-blocking centers in the NFL every year in his career while reaching a higher level over the past three seasons. He did show regression as a run blocker while playing well in this area over the past seven seasons.

RG Gabe Jackson

Despite playing well in every season in the NFL in pass blocking, Jackson has regressed slightly in each year in the league. His 2019 season started with five missed with a knee issue. He did struggle to find his rhythm in run blocking last year.

RT Trent Brown

The Raiders shifted Brown to right tackle in 2019. He missed the final four games of the year due to a pectoral injury. When on the field, Brown played well in pass protection while fading midseason as run blocker.

Offensive Line Outlook

The interior of this offensive line ranks highly in all positions, with pass protection being the stronger side of the equation. The Raiders need Miller to show growth on every down to reach a higher level offensively. An outside chance at a top ten offensive line.

Offensive Schedule

The data shows the strength of schedule as far as rushing attempts (RATT), rushing yards (YDS), yards per attempt rushing (YA), rushing touchdowns (TDs), completions (COMP), passing attempts (PATT), passing yards (YDS), yards per attempt passing (YA), and passing touchdowns (TDS).

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This information is based on 2019, which will work as our starting point for 2020. We’ll look at all the changes on offense on each team plus the upgrades and downgrades on each team on the defensive side. We’ll update this table when we finish the research on all 32 teams.

2019 LG Average = the league average of all stats from all 32 teams in 2019.

2019 Results = this is the results for each team in the NFL.

2019 Adjustment is based on the 2019 league average and the 2019 results for each team, this number will show if each team is above or below the league average in each stat category and the basis for the strength of schedule.

Las Vegas has three winnable games (CAR, CLE, and MIA) for their rushing offense, while two matchups vs. the Chiefs should be favorable. Their most challenging test should come against Tampa, followed by the Saints and the Jets. The Raiders also have three other mid-tier contests (NE, BUF, and IND) vs. teams that played well against the run in 2019.

The Raiders only have one game (TB) vs. a defense that struggled to defend the pass last year. Their passing offense will be tested in five different weeks (NE, BUF, CLE, and LAC X 2) while also having four other below-par matchups (KC X 2 and DEN X 2).

Offense

Last year Las Vegas ran the ball 45.5 percent of the time, which ranked eighth in the NFL. Their passing yards (4,111) came in at the league average while showing growth in their ability to make big plays (7.9 yards per pass attempt).

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The Raiders will run the ball well again this year, and they upgraded their receiver depth in the offseason. When paired with an above the league average offensive line, Las Vegas should be much more explosive on offense in 2020.

Here’s a look at the early projections for Las Vegas, which will be fluid all summer after taking in all injury updates and training camp news:

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Quarterbacks

Derek Carr(RANK - ADP)

After leading the Raiders to the playoffs in 2016 (12-3 with 28 TDs), Carr has improved, but his team struggled to win games (17-31). Last year he set a career-high in completion rate (70.4) and yards per pass attempt (7.9).

Las Vegas needs better production at WR after ranking 30th in catches (145) and receiving yards (1858) in 2019.

Carr has the skill set to be a winning game manager, but his value falls short of expectation when his offense becomes one dimensional when forced to throw.

TE Darren Waller was a pleasant surprise last season, and Las Vegas added three more WRs (Henry Ruggs, Lynn Bowden, and Bryan Edwards) with three of their first four picks in this year’s draft.

Ruggs has the tools to hit the ground running after getting drafted in the first round, and I’m a big fan of Edwards. Carr threw one TD or fewer in ten of his 16 starts last year.

His early projections came to 4,125 combined yards with 27 TDs and 11 Ints, which look to be on the low side if his rookie wide receiving core develops as expected in 2020.

Marcus Mariota(RANK - ADP)

By signing Mariota to a two-year contract for $17.6 million in the season, the Raiders buy veteran insurance plus add a younger option to their quarterback stable in case they decide to move on from Carr after this year.

Mariota posted a 29-32 record over five seasons with the Titans. His only year of value came in 2016 (3,775 combined yards with 28 TDs and nine Ints). He’ll add value in the run game (242/1399/11 in his career) while showing improved accuracy in 2018 (68.9 percent).

If the Raiders happened to turn to him as a starter, I don’t expect any statistical regression.

Other options: Nathan Peterman

Running Backs

The running back position for the Raiders gained 2,626 combined yards with 11 TDs and 98 catches last year. Josh Jacobs led the way on early downs over his 13 games of action, but Las Vegas relied on three options in the passing game (Jacobs – 20/166, Jalen Richard – 36/323 DeAndre Washington – 36/292).

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The big question in 2020 is whether Jacobs will develop into a three-down stud or see minimal time on passing downs. The addition Lynn Bowden does invite more explosiveness out of the backfield in the passing game.

Josh Jacobs(RANK - ADP)

Jacobs played through a shoulder injury last year, which may have cost him more value in the passing game.

His play was much better at home over seven games (809 combined yards with seven TDs and 12 catches) while failing to score on the road. Jacobs had eight runs over 20 yards and a pair of carries that gained over 40 yards.

The Raiders gave him over 20 touches or more in six of his 13 starts, which led to 20.2 chances per contest. Jacobs rushed for over 100 yards in five games (26/123/2, 21/124, 28/120/2, 23/112, and 17/104) while adding an impact showing in Week 1 (113 combined yards with two TDs and one catch).

His season ended in Week 15 with his shoulder issue.

In 2020, Jacobs will be drafted as a borderline top 12 RB with his ceiling tied to growth in the passing games.

Out of the gate, I have Jacobs projected for 1,638 combined yards with ten TDs and 24 catches.

Lynn Bowden (RANK - ADP)

Over the last two seasons at Kentucky, Bowden played QB, RB, and WR while also flashing as a return man earlier in his career. He gained 1,431 rushing yards with 13 rushing TDs over his final 193 carries in 2019, covering eight games. His season started with 27 catches for 230 yards and one TD over four contests.

Bowden is a very intriguing talent who looks to have the most upside as the RB2 for the Raiders this year.

Jalen Richard (RANK - ADP)

Over the previous three seasons, Richard had success in his yards per catch (9.5, 8.9, and 9.0). The change at lead RB for the Raiders in 2019 led to a sharp decline in chance (75). Richard didn’t score a TD last year.

Las Vegas completed 98 balls to their RBs in 2019 for 825 yards and one TD. This year he’ll have to hold off Lynn Bowden for the passing catching job on third downs.

Other options: Devontae Booker, Rod Smith, William Stanback

Wide Receivers

The Raiders ranked near the bottom of the league at the wide receiver position in 2019. Their WRs finished with only 39.5 percent of the team’s overall completions, leading to a second straight year of decline.

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The offseason changes at wide receiver should lead to a jump in chances in 2020.

Henry Ruggs (RANK - ADP)

Ruggs brings elite speed (4.27 forty) to the passing game, but he only had 98 catches for 1,716 yards and 24 TDs over four seasons. He did score a touchdown once every four times he touched the ball.

In 2018, Ruggs worked his way to WR2 as far as catches (46) in Alabama’s offense, but he had to compete with WR Jaylen Waddle (45/848/7), TE Irv Smith (44/710/7), and WR Devonta Smith (42/693/6) for targets.

Last year Ruggs slipped to WR3 (40/746/7) with his best success coming in Week 3 (6/122/1) and Week 4 (4/148/2). WR Devonta Smith (68/1256/14) pushed his way past him on the depth chart while WR Jerry Jeudy (77/1163/10) regressed slightly.

His rhythm and route running will create plenty of chances in the Raiders’ offense in his rookie season. They hope he develops into a Tyreek Hill type wide receiver. His first set of projections came to 47 catches for 754 yards and six touchdowns while having an ADP of 120 in June as the 45th wide receiver drafted.

Ruggs is a risk/reward type in 2020.

Tyrell Williams (RANK - ADP)

The 2020 NFL Draft didn’t turn out well for Williams. The Raiders added a pair of talented WRs in Henry Ruggs and Bryan Edwards, while already signing WR Nelson Agholor in the offseason.

Last year Williams worked as the Raiders WR1 out of the gate, which led to a TD in his first five games. His best game came in Week 1 (6/105/1).

After a foot injury battle, Williams finished the year in anemic fashion with no fantasy impact. Possible starter, but his ride is going to be erratic while offering more regression than upside. Possible 45 catches for 665 yards and five touchdowns.

Hunter Renfrow(RANK - ADP)

After quiet first six games of the year (14/115/0 on 26 targets), Renfrow flashed over his next two games (4/88/1 and 6/54/1).

A broken rib knocked him out of the lineup from Week 13 to Week 15. Over the final two contests, the Raiders gave him nine targets per game, leading to success both weeks (7/107/1 and 6/102/1).

He came to the NFL with a possession type skill-set. The wide receiving core for Las Vegas is much deeper after this year's draft class, which puts Renfrow on a path for 55 catches for 600 yards with short TDs. More of a bye week cover.

Bryan Edwards (RANK - ADP)

Over four seasons at South Carolina, Edwards caught 234 balls for 3,045 yards and 22 TDs. His best season in catches (71) came in 2019, yards in 2018 (846), and TDs (7) in 2018. He missed his last two contests last year and suffered a broken foot before the NFL combine.

Edwards should be an interesting wide receiver at the next level. His size (6’3” and 210 lbs.) paired with his strength and speed should rank him much higher on the WR prospect list.

He has the feel of a big, physical wide receiver in the NFL with the route running and release to win over the short areas of the field. Edwards has the wheels to get on top of some cornerbacks in the deep passing game. His hands should improve with more chances at the next level while already owning the ability to snatch tough passes in traffic. He’ll make some spectacular catches with one hand.

Edwards can bounce off defenders or beat them with his speed. He’ll win in space in many one-on-one matchups while also showing some value as an open-field runner.

I expect his ceiling in the NFL to be higher than his college resume, but his role/opportunity has a wide range of outcomes in 2020. An excellent bench flier in fantasy leagues if he works his way into a top-three wide receiver job for the Raiders.

Other options: Nelson Agholor, Zay Jones, Keelan Doss, Rico Gafford, Marcell Ateman

Tight Ends

The opportunity in Las Vegas grew by about 30 percent and 35 percent in the number of catches over the past two seasons, leading to 270 and 315 more yards. As great as Darren Waller (90/1145/3) was last year, there should be a natural regression in TE targets with the upgrades at the wide receiver position.

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Darren Waller(RANK - ADP)

Real-life issues cost Waller four years of development time after getting drafted by the Ravens in the sixth round in 2015. He missed 2017 for failing the NFL’s substance-abuse policy. After two clean years, Waller exploded for an impact season in 2019.

His most impressive stat was his catch rate (76.9), which suggests last year wasn’t a fluke.

When at his best (13/1344, 7/126/2), 7/100, 8/122, and 6/107), Waller has WR1 value from the TE position. The Raiders had questions at WR (145/1858/13) in 2019, but they added three WRs over their first four picks in this year's draft.

This year he has an early ADP of 65 in the PPR leagues in the high-stakes market as the fifth TE off the board.

I had Waller slightly rated over Mark Andrews (41.1 percent in 2019) based on expected snaps (90.6 percent last year), but more competition for targets pushes him down a notch for me while needing growth in TDs. I set his early bar at 78 catches for 935 yards and five TDs.

Jason Witten (RANK - ADP)

Despite sitting out 2018, Witten almost repeated his 2017 season (63/560/5) last year (63/529/4) at age 37. His yards per catch (8.4) continue to fade, making him only a safety value option for the Raiders. Witten ranks second all-time at tight end in catches (1,215) and receiving yards (12,977). Only veteran insurance with no fantasy starting value without an injury to Darren Waller.

Other options: Foster Moreau, Derek Carrier, Paul Butler, Nick Bowers, Nick O’Leary

Kicker

Daniel Carlson

The kicking job for the Raiders looks to be an open competition between Daniel Carlson and Dominik Eberle.

Over his first two seasons in the league, Carlson made 76.6 percent of his 47 field-goal tries with success from over 50 yards (3-for-5). He has two missed extra-points in 60 chances with his most significant area of improvement needed coming from 40 to 49 yards (15-for-22).

Eberle held the starting kicking job for Utah St. over the past two years, which led to an 80.3 percent success rate in field goals. He didn’t miss any of his 167 extra-point tries.

Last year the Raiders scored 37 touchdowns while creating 26 field goals. The winner kicker here would have matchup value at the very least with possible starting upside if Las Vegas pushed forward offensively.

Defensive Schedule

Like most of the teams in the AFC West, the Raiders have an excellent schedule for their run defense. The Colts will present the only issue based on 2019 stats. Las Vegas has four favorable games (MIA, NYJ, ATL, and NYJ X 2) plus five other mid-tier games (TB, KC X 2, and LAC X 2).

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Las Vegas faces seven opponents (NO, TB, ATL, KC X 2, and LAC X 2) that had success passing the ball last year. Their best success defending the passing game should come against Buffalo, NYJ. IND, and DEN X 2).

Defense

The Raiders improved to eighth in rushing yards allowed (1,570), but they did give up 15 TDs and nine runs over 20 yards. Ball carriers gained 3.9 yards per carry (fifth-best).

Las Vegas slipped to 25th in pass defense (4,107 yards) with tons of damage in pass TDs (33). Their defense finished with only nine Ints and 32 sacks with quarterbacks gaining 8.3 yards per pass attempt.

DE Clelin Ferrell

Ferrell has the foundation skills to be an impact player against the run plus rushing the quarterback. He’s quick off the snap with fire in his attack. His next step is a better motor and improved conditioning, which will help his value late in games. The Raiders drafted him in the first round in 2019.

In his rookie season, Ferrell picked up 38 tackles, 4.5 sacks, and five defended passes. Late in the year, his play improved dramatically, defending the run. This spring, Ferrell worked hard to add more bulk and strength.

DE Maxx Crosby

The better rookie player on the Raiders defensive line in 2019 was Crosby. He finished with 47 tackles with ten sacks and four defended passes. His biggest downside came in missed tackles, which led to weakness defending the run.

Crosby gives the Raiders a second passing rushing option from the outside. His quickness gives him an edge, and his frame has room to grow. He needs to develop his technique while tightening up his movements in the trenches. Crosby has risk in the open field when trying to lock down elite runners.

DT Maliek Collins

Collins continues to show risk defending the run while rarely delivering impact tackles (84 over 61 games). He’ll add an occasional sack (four in 2019). Overall, his game improved each year slightly in the NFL.

DT Johnathan Hankins

Early in his career, Hankins flashed upside in the pass rush (seven sacks in 2014). Over the last four years over 62 games, he has 173 tackles with only 6.5 sacks. Hankins projects as an early-down run defender.

LB Cory Littleton

Over the last two seasons, Littleton filled up the stat sheet (259 tackles, 7.5 sacks, five Ints, 22 defended passes, one TD, and four fumble recoveries). He has the look of a plus defender in pass coverage, but offenses will look his way on many pass attempts. Littleton will make plenty of tackles, but his play isn’t ideal against the run.

LB Nick Kwiatkoski

The Bears gave Kwiatkoski the best opportunity of his career in 2019, which led to a solid season in all areas. Las Vegas signed him to be on the field on passing downs, but he does play well vs. the run and some production in sacks.

LB Nicholas Morrow

Despite setting career-high in tackles (73), Morrow still hasn’t been able to play at a high-level in any area of the game. The Raiders lack impact talent linebacker, which points to Morrow being on the field on many plays again in 2020.

CB Trayvon Mullen

In the second round in 2019, the Raiders selected Mullen. He projects to be the press corner who can get in trouble if he loses the battle at the line of scrimmage. Mullen needs growth in his feel for developing pass patterns. I expect him to be much better over the short field than covering elite speed in the deep passing game.

Mullen finished last year with 50 tackles, ten defended passes, and one Int. He held wide receivers to short yards per catch while adding support in the run game.

CB Damon Arnette

The Raiders hope Arnette is ready to move into the starting lineup in his rookie season. His speed (4.56) is elite, but he should handle his responsibility in coverage over the short areas of the field. Arnette isn’t a lock to be an edge, and he’ll struggle at times in the deep passing game.

S Damarious Randall

Randall came into the league in the first round in 2015 as first-round draft pick as a cornerback. Over the previous seasons with the Browns, he switched to safety, leading to improvement in coverage while holding his previous form in run support. Over his last 26 games, Randall has 146 tackles, 2.5 sacks, four INTs, and 15 defended passes. He posted 14 interceptions over his first 54 games in the league.

S Johnathan Abram

Abram left Week 1 in his rookie season with a torn rotator cuff after getting drafted in the first round.

Abram should be an instant upgrade to the run defense thanks to his attack when moving toward the line of scrimmage. His speed (4.45 40 yard dash) should be an edge at his position with a chance to help in coverage. His vision and feel for the passing game may leave him a tick behind on too many plays.

Team Defense Outlook

This defense has some upside pieces and multiple first-rounders on the roster, but their core still needs time to develop. The Raiders have passing rushing talent on the defensive line with a focus in defending the pass in the red zone. Not quite ready to be trusted as fantasy options, but Las Vegas may offer matchup value in 2020.

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