The Dynasty Blitz analyzes trends and situations to find future fantasy production before your league mates.
In this episode, I will be discussing the Oakland Raider’s passing game, save for Zach Miller, as Zach is the constant in an ever-changing offensive lineup. We can always call the Oakland offense very offensive, unfortunately that is ironical with the Raiders. Everyone knows about their running game with Darren McFadden and Mike Bush, but what the Raiders will need is a balanced offense.
Let’s start with the confirmed starter when healthy, Bruce Gradkowski. He is 27, in his fifth year in the NFL, and has the confidence of his head coach Tom Cable. He played extensively for Tampa Bay his rookie year and found his way in Oakland. Gradkowski has shown a lot of poise when given the opportunity. He took over for JarMarcus Russell last year and posted 82-150 for 1007 yards with 6 tds and 3 ints. Gradkowski added 18 carries for 108 yards. This year with the ineffectiveness of Jason Campell, Gradkowski took over during game two and lasted into game five as the starter before succumbing to injury. In his four games this year, he has thrown for 53-102 with 4 tds and 4 ints. Bruce has not been as great on the ground only posting 11 carries for 29 yards. He is as gritty as they come, but can’t seem to keep himself healthy. It is easy to get excited about his “grit”, but injuries seem to add up with him.
Jason Campbell, much like Bruce Gradkowski, is entering his fifth year in the NFL. He is 28 and has been the starter since mid-way through his rookie year. Coach Mike Shanahan didn’t think that Jason could run his offense so he traded him for a lower end pick in the far distant future during the offseason. Last year, it appeared that he was finally feeling confident after having the same offensive co-ordinator for 2 years in a row (previously with his first two years in the NFL and also in college the OC had changed yearly). Campbell’s best statistical year was in 2009. He posted career numbers with 327-507 and 3618 yards. Campbell had 20 tds and 15 ints, while adding on 47 rushes for 236 and 1 rushing td. This year, he has thrown for 78-138 for 1023 yards with 6 tds and 4 ints. Jason has also added 25 rushes for 100 yards. Campbell doesn’t have “grit” as his “on the field leadership” appears to be non-existent. If you have one Raider QB, right now you are better off with having both as each has holes in their repective game.
Darrius Heyward-Bey, age 23, has made great improvements from his rookie year and his second year in the league. To say, his rookie season was a disappointment would be an understatement. Last year DHB on 40 targets only caught 9 receptions for 124 yards and 1 td (under a 25% catch rate). So far this year, DHB has 19 catches for 266 yards and 1 td on 30 targets. Injuries to Chaz Schilens and Louis Murphy have gotten him more looks in the passing game, but he is struggling with health as well. He is slowly, but surely, adjusting to life in the NFL. DHB has shown flashes so if you can get him cheaply and stick him on your bench, I would make a little trade for him or pick him up on waivers. Either Gradkowski or Campbell are a significant improvement over Russell.
Louis Murphy, also age 23, is improving on last year’s numbers and is becoming a more polished receiver in his second year in the league. In 2009, he had 34 catches with 521 yards and 4 tds. Decent numbers for a rookie, but his targets in 2009 were 96. It might have been more about his quarterback last year, but catching less than 36% of the passes thrown his way was not impressive despite leading the Raiders. Through week 8, Louis has 21 catches for 337 yards and 1 td. His targets are 43, which is a 49% catch rate. This is a huge improvement; however, this could be more of a factor of the improved QB play. Murphy has been getting the best coverage against him, so his improvement should continue. I would consider buying him low if an owner has an immediate need somewhere else that you can help them with cheaply to you.
Chaz Schilens, age 25, is the ultimate riddle. He has been productive when healthy. In the games that he was healthy in 2008 and 2009, Chaz had a combined 44 catches for 591 yards and 4 tds on 84 targets. Please keep in mind, he put up these numbers will Russell as his QB. When healthy and with much better QB play, Schilens could be a “get over it, he is a great playa” (Al Davis). I am not convinced that he ever stays healthy enough to contribute; however, if you have a injured reserve and he is available I would give him a shot.
To recap, Gradkowski is injury prone and gritty (you want him as your #3 QB). Campell is a adequate QB that every Gradkowski owner should own. DHB has the skills and maybe a good buy low right now if you have bench space. Murphy is the consistent talent at WR right now. Schilens is waiver wire fodder and should be picked up if you have an injured reserve and have space. Good luck and keep digging for fantasy gold.
Check me out on twitter @AndrewMiley and you will find me monthly here at razzball.