We’re careening toward the NFL Season, which begins a week from Thursday, and the news keeps coming. On Tuesday, Raiders’ wide receiver Tyrell Williams was put on season-ending IR. He needs shoulder surgery which will require a six-month recovery. Earlier in camp it was reported that Williams had a shoulder injury but would play through it. When that became impossible, he opted for surgery and ended his season.
Williams was one of the more high-profile veterans in the Raiders’ receiver group, but he was hardly the only option there. Now that he’s officially out for the season, it’s fair to wonder what it means for the Raiders and fantasy owners. Let’s consider the options.
Henry Ruggs III—Ruggs was the Raiders’ top draft choice, and he’s been moving all over the field in camp. He’s fast and was considered a top prospect by many coming out of Alabama. He had 98 grabs for 1,716 yards and 24 TDs in three seasons. That included the last two years at Alabama with at least 40 receptions and 700 yards. Ruggs fits the mold the Raiders have apprised in the past. In fact, when his name was called on draft night, my first thought was the old John Madden quote “Speed Kills.” Despite the lack of off-season, Ruggs is one of two Raiders’ rookie receivers that will need to grow up fast.
Bryan Edwards—Edwards is the other rookie receiver, and the one many, me included, think is the better prospect. He had a strong career at South Carolina, catching 234 passes for 3,045 yards and 22 TDs. He had more than 800 yards receiving each of his last two years, and I think he profiles better as a solid No.1 receiver than Ruggs. Either way, the Raiders thought enough of both to make them First and Second round picks in April, and both figure to contribute in year one.
Hunter Renfrow—The slot man made a splash to end the 2019 season. He finished with 49 receptions for 605 yards and four TDs. Most of that damage, including his two 100-yard games, came after Week 8. Some thought he was poised for a big role moving forward, others wondered if it was simply a case of him being available at the right time for a receiver-starved team. Either way, with Williams on IR and two rookies at the top of the heap, having experience in the system will be a plus.
Nelson Agholor—I know, I’m not thrilled to be writing about him, either. But he’s a veteran who has the most NFL experience of any of the four in this section, and was a free agent signed by the Raiders before Ruggs and Edwards fell to them in the draft. In five years in Philly he caught 224 passes for 2,515 yards and 18 TDs. In 2017 and 2018 he had more than 60 receptions in each season, so there’s that. He could find his way to the field simply due to his experience.
Betting on a Receiver
In addition to the four listed, the Raiders have a few other guys on the roster, including last year’s Hard Knocks darling Keelan Doss and former hype pick in Buffalo Zay Jones. (Yes, I, too, was surprised Zay is still on an NFL roster). In addition, the team found a pretty great tight end in Darren Waller and signed Theo Riddick, who I think could catch 70 passes out of the backfield for the Raiders in 2020. That means there are options. So, what do you do if you’re a fantasy owner?
In Dynasty, I want Edwards not only for the talent but the value. He’s climbing up boards, but still a value at a current ADP of WR79 in PPR and WR72. He has a decent shot to make his mark starting in 2020, and his ADP is a lot better than Ruggs, who is currently WR47. Either way, those two feel like the best bets long term and could return value right away in 2020.
In re-draft, if I’m taking a shot at the end of a draft, right now I’m taking Edwards if he’s there and possibly Agholor. Call me crazy, but I like Agholor better than Renfrow, especially since it’s believed Ruggs will get work in the slot and, again, I like Riddick to catch quite a few balls. With that being said, I wouldn’t want to count on any Raiders’ receiver to be my week-to-week starter in 2020.
Matthew Fox is a graduate of the Radio, Television and Film program at Biola University, and a giant nerd. He spends his free time watching movies, TV, and obsessing about football. You can find him @knighthawk7734 on Twitter and as co-host of the Fantasy Football Roundtable Podcast, a proud member of the Drive-In Podcast Network.