Jon Gruden was mocked and ridiculed in his first year and a half on the job with the Oakland Raiders. He was crucified for trading Kahlil Mack. Internet experts stated he couldn’t adapt to the modern game as he went 4-12 in 2018. He was taunted for his quirks on Hard Knocks and being played by Antonio Brown.
The narrative is quickly turning after a 6-4 start to 2019. The team has been subject of a bit of luck in 2019. They are the only current winning NFL team with a negative point differential, but this organization is on the right track. They have a bevy of draft picks in 2020 and will have top 10 cap space to boot. This isn’t meant to be a Jon Gruden love fest, it has fantasy relevance to a greater point. Jon Gruden is one of the most fantasy friendly coaches we have left. He gives bell cow work to a single running back when healthy, and I tend to believe he would continue even if the lead back were injured. It helps that Josh Jacobs (#16) is immensely talented. Additionally, the Raiders have a target concentration amongst their RB1/WR1/WR2/TE over 60%. There isn’t a bevy of week to week randomness. The team is consistent and deploys the same personnel week to week. This is a rarity in today’s NFL and a key to fantasy football success moving forward. Locating and using these coaches will be a hot topic for myself in the offseason with an eye towards next year.
Davante Adams (#10) – This deserved bump is a week late on Davante Adams. Adams came back from injury with back to back double-digit target games and has 3 plus matchups in the Giants, Redskins, and Vikings remaining, with 2 difficult matchups against the 49ers and Bears sprinkled in. Adams doesn’t have a touchdown catch this season, and while the NFL is the most difficult sport to guess positive regression, Adams is ripe for it.
Julian Edelman (#24) – The Patriots offense is sputtering, but one player is a constant. Julian Edelman has 5 consecutive double-digit target games, with 19 red zone targets on the year (#1 in the NFL). Against the Eagles the Patriots showed a rare willingness to target Edelman on deep routes. This has long been the debilitating factor for Edelman being a top end fantasy option. He has elite volume, but the compressed ceiling with low ADOT targets has always held him back slightly. If the Patriots keep giving him a handful of shot plays per week, he will be a big component to fantasy championship teams.
Calvin Ridley (#45) – Ridley was the primary beneficiary of the exit of Austin Hooper from the Falcons lineup in week 11. Matt Ryan is quietly having a great season on a terrible team. He is on pace for around 4500 yards and 30 touchdowns. Those yards can’t all go to Julio Jones, and Russell Gage flopped against the Panthers. The Falcons have a mediocre pass game schedule the rest of the way and simply cannot run the football. Expect Ridley to be a lock for 7-8 targets per week with 4 games on the fast track in Atlanta left to go.
D.K. Metcalf (#62) –The consensus ranking of D.K. Metcalf in the 80s on FantasyPros is somewhat baffling. Josh Gordon has been added and that makes the target situation murkier, but Metcalf is averaging 8 targets per game over the last 4. He runs a specific route tree and has an MVP candidate throwing the ball to him. If you haven’t noticed… the Seahawks don’t get in the grind it out games they desire to. The defense is awful. Metcalf has been a WR3 all season and that isn’t going to change with the addition of Gordon.
Deebo Samuel (#71) – I’ve dropped Emmanuel Sanders down my rankings based on the rib injury sustained on Sunday. He looks likely to miss a game or two the rest of the year based on already being questionable prior to the game and then sustaining an additional injury. In my opinion, Sanders and Deebo are a see-saw. If Sanders plays, he is the guy to own and Deebo is fringy to even be on a roster, but in the chance that Sanders does miss Deebo is a must-own. Therefore, he is worth a speculative add and to make this list. George Kittle only makes rolling coverage to the primary receiver more difficult upon return.