Throughout the 2012 offseason, we will be taking a look at each NFL team from a keeper/dynasty perspective. Keeper leagues are very unique, with widely varying formats, but the following are observations based on reasonable draft positions in 2011. Further discussion of different keeper/dynasty decisions and trades is welcome in the comments below. Today, we look at the Offseason Odyssey of the Oakland Raiders…
Finish: 8-8 (3rd AFC West)
2012 Draft Order: No first round pick (but hey, they have Carson Palmer!)
2011 Leaders: QB- Carson Palmer: 2753 pass yds, 13/16 td/int RB- Michael Bush: 977 rush yds, 7 td, 37 rec, 418 yds, 1 td WR- Darrius Heyward-Bey: 64 rec, 975 yds, 4 td TE- Kevin Boss: 28 rec, 368 yds, 3 td
On the Fence? KEEP him: Denarius Moore- No players are capable of racking up fantasy points in a hurry like big play wide receivers. With a full season with Carson Palmer on the horizon, Denarius Moore has the tools to develop into fantasy football’s next dynamite deep threat. In 2011, Moore’s rookie season, the youngster averaged 18.7 yards per catch, tying him with Victor Cruz for third best in the NFL. A 23 year old receiver with that type of play making ability should not be tossed back into your league’s player pool. The cheap price/draft round that Moore will cost will undoubtedly provide a nice profit in 2012.
On the Fence? CUT him: Jacoby Ford- One of the fantasy world’s favorite 2011 sleepers, Jacoby Ford did not fulfill those expectations due to injuries and the arrival of other Raider wide receivers. At 24, Ford is still young enough to figure things out, but with the emergence of Denarius Moore and Darrius Heyward-Bey, the future does not seem as bright as it once was. Even at a severely discounted price, throw Ford back and use your keeper slot on a player with a clearer path to 2012 production.
Dynasty Vault: Darren McFadden– Yes, I am fully aware that McFaddden has missed nearly five games per season in his four year NFL career. I’m also pretty sure that you aren’t so perfect either! Put down the bottle of Jack, booze hound! There are not many players in the NFL that have a game changing ceiling (or sweet nick name) quite like Run DMC. 2011 was another short year for McFadden, but the six games in which he was at full speed saw the Oakland back rack up an average of 126.8 total yards per game. DMC’s receiving skills and quickness set him apart from other backs in the NFL and a full 16 game slate from this guy would blow your fantasy football mind, not to mention bring you a title. Don’t be tempted to dump McFadden after another frustrating and injury plagued season.
Dynasty Dump: Kevin Boss- After a couple productive years with the Giants, Boss tanked last year in Oakland. Boss tallied just 368 receiving yards in 2011 (good for 28th among NFL tight ends), and things didn’t improve once the Carson Palmer show debuted in Oakland, as Boss averaged only 21.9 yards per game in the 10 games featuring Palmer at quarterback. Only a philosophical change from the new Raider coaching staff could help salvage production from Boss, but I with the multitude of other options for the silver and black, that is not likely. At this point, Boss is just adding tight end depth on your dynasty roster, but your precious roster spot could be spent in much wiser ways.
Dynasty Target: Taiwan Jones- Cheap targets with high ceilings are what dynasty offseasons are all about. Jones’ rookie season was very unexciting, but the speedy back out of Eastern Washington University could see an increase in touches if free agent running back Michael Bush is not given the franchise tag and leaves town. Passing down back Marcel Reece may also be in the mix for backfield touches, but the backup role to brittle Darren McFadden is of considerable value in the fantasy world (see Michael Bush’s 1,395 total yards in 2011). Jones would make a nice high upside bench filler on a dynasty roster.
Offseason Interest: Michael Bush- The Raiders will have an interesting decision to make this offseason, as the most reliable half of their backfield tandem is a free agent. While it is a significant possibility that Oakland gives Bush the franchise tag, there is still a chance Bush will be allowed to enter the free agent market, which would impact running back needy NFL teams and the Raiders themselves. Bush’s value will not be overlooked by the Raiders, or other teams, as Bush was the 11th highest scoring fantasy back (in standard scoring systems) in 2011, despite not receiving more than 10 carries in a game until week 6.The landing spot of Bush will be of great interest to fantasy players, so stay tuned.