2022 Las Vegas Raiders Preview

The 2022 NFL Season is nearly upon us. As part of the run up to the season, we’re preview all the teams, culminating with our picks for who makes the playoffs and who wins the awards this season. Check back each day through September 5. Let’s get ready for some football!

You’d be hard-pressed to find a team that had a tougher road in 2021 than the Raiders. Early in the season Head Coach Jon Gruden resigned. Not long after, receiver Henry Ruggs was involved in a deadly car crash, arrested and subsequently released. Despite that, the team and interim Coach Rich Bisaccia persevered. The team gutted out a 10-7 finish, making the playoffs. While the Raiders lost in the Wild Card Round to the eventual AFC Champion Cincinnati Bengals, it was a heck of a run for the team, leaving many to wonder what they would do for an encore.

Off-Season Changes

While many thought Bisaccia would get a shot to do the full-time job, the Raiders instead hired former Patriots Offensive Coordinator Josh McDaniels as Head Coach. It was just the first of a few splashy moves for the franchise, which included acquiring former Packers’ receiver Davante Adams. Adams played with Raiders’ quarterback Derek Carr in college and should be a big upgrade for the McDaniels’ offense. He caught 669 passes for 8,121 yards and 73 touchdowns in eight seasons with the Packers.

In the draft, the Raiders added Georgia running back Zamir White. He rushed for 2,043 yards and 25 touchdowns in three seasons at Georgia. He joins a backfield group that includes fourth year back Josh Jacobs and veteran Kenyan Drake, now in his second season with the Raiders. On defense, the team signed former Cardinals’ linebacker Chandler Jones to help bolster the pass rush.

Fantasy Prospects

Carr has been one of the more under-rated quarterbacks the past few seasons. He finished as QB12 a year ago, and I like him to land in the same spot as a fringe QB1. I also like his primary receivers in Adams and Hunter Renfrow. Adams should again be a Top 5 option, while Renfrow seems to be going under-the radar. He finished as WR11 in 2021. Some believe the Raiders’ pass offense can’t support two receivers, but I disagree.

In 2007, when McDaniels was with the Patriots, the offense threw the ball 586 times and still gave 185 carries to a primary running back. In that spread, Randy Moss saw the ball 160 times, Wes Welker saw 145 targets and the combination of Donte Stallworth, Jabar Gaffney and Ben Watson saw 174 targets. The Raiders threw the ball 626 times in 2021 while Jacobs still saw 217 carries. The volume is there, and I suspect Renfrow finishes as a high-end WR2. I love him at his current ADP of WR32. He saw 128 targets in 2021, while the combination of Bryan Edwards, Zay Jones and DeSean Jackson saw 148 targets. Even if all those shift to Adams, that still leaves 100-plus targets for Darren Waller again at Tight End. I like him to remain a Top 10 option, though likely not Top 5, at the position.

Running Back is more of a mystery. Under McDaniels, the Patriots used a committee more often than not, but weren’t afraid to give a strong workload to one back who could carry it. I suspect Jacobs’ volume remains similar in 2022, making him a mid-tier RB2. White should see some work but likely won’t be a viable weekly start. The biggest question is Drake, who could earn flex value if he gets receiving work. At this point, I’m not banking on it.

Prediction

I like the core of the Raiders’ team and I think the offense will be fun. It comes down to a brutal division and a very competitive conference. I believe all four teams in the AFC West will finish above .500 and all four could make the playoffs. I think only three will, likely leaving a nine- or 10-win Raiders team on the outside looking in.

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. He is a member of the FSWA. You can find him @knighthawk7734 on Twitter and as co-host of the Fantasy Football Roundtable Podcast.

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