The 2011 NFL season is set to get underway, and with it comes fantasy football. It's a craze that is, more and more, dominating headlines day-in and day-out. ESPN and the NFL Network dedicate a myriad of time slots to discussing it and of course, we here at SB Nation Bay Area plan to equip you with all the knowledge you need to make the decision to use - or don't use - San Francisco 49ers and Oakland Raiders players on your precious fantasy teams.
The former stream is located at this link - and now we're going to dive right into what makes the Oakland Raiders a viable source of fantasy football production. At first glance, many would think Darren McFadden and not much else, and they're ... well, they're only mostly right. The Raiders do have some other choices, we'll take a look at them right now in this post. Over the course of the season, we'll give you weekly updates on the Raiders players and what they have to bring that week - whether you should start or sit them (along with the help of numberFire.com) and things of that nature.
Let's take a look at the skill position players, the defense and the kicker ... here it goes.
Jason Campbell: He remains a mostly-solid quarterback with lacking weapons around him, as has been the case his entire career. One has to wonder if he could step up and put up truly dazzling numbers with offensive talent at the wide receiver position, but for now, he doesn't have a ton to work with. Campbell is a game manager with an average arm and decent decision making, so how does that bode for fantasy?
It means he had better not be your starter. Does he have the potential to perform well given the right matchup? Sure, and couple that with the unknown commodities of his receiving targets, should they turn out to be diamonds in the rough, signing Campbell for a bye-week fill-in wouldn't be a bad option.
Darren McFadden: After disappointing for a short while, McFadden really found himself performing where he should be last season. He's going high in fantasy football leagues and he's worth your pick as a starting running back. The Raiders will be depending on their rushing attack, and while he does share carries here and there, he's going to have his sights set on a big year and big numbers. If he's there, you draft him ... can't get much simpler than that at this point.
Michael Bush/Taiwan Jones: Bush has always found himself with a decent amount of carries and compliments McFadden quite well, but it's all up in the air as to how many carries he'll get this year. If there's some news about McFadden being hurt and Bush getting some carries, he'd be a good free agency pickup during any bye week of need. One factor that is a thorn in his side is Jones, who has extreme boom-or-bust potential. Jones isn't a guy to pick up week one, but be ready to try and nab him if he starts putting up yardage in limited playing time - because it will only lead to more of it.
Kevin Boss: Miller left to join the Seattle Seahawks, and the best thing the Raiders could have done was bring in someone like Boss. He's never been the primary target and has seemingly been an afterthought for some time, but has always put up good offensive numbers and has been reliable for his quarterbacks. How he'll do in Oakland's system is up in the air, but he is probably a solid option as a backup tight end for any fantasy footballer. Campbell is a quarterback looking for stability, and this might mean that he'll find Boss more often than naught.
Jacoby Ford: Expectations are high for Ford, who will be the number one target (outside of Boss) for Campbell. Ford has made some highlight reel-worthy plays and possesses incredible speed. Very fast receivers with high upside have a tendency to break out and become fantasy football stars - but can he do it in Oakland? It's a possibility, but this is a coin flip ... it's probably a good idea to grab him in the late rounds as a bench player or pick him up in free agency if possible.
Denarius Moore: If expectations are high for Ford, then Moore's hype isn't far behind - or perhaps is even farther. Moore has been great during the preseason and routinely made amazing catches look like child's play in camp. Is he draft-worthy? No, probably not, but he could very quickly become a hot commodity on the waiver wire if any Raiders' fans' expectations are even approaching realistic.
Louis Murphy/Chaz Schilens/Darrius Heyward-Bey/Derek Hagan: This group of guys is a mess. Murphy is middling, Schilens gets injured right on schedule every time the hype train sets to depart, Hagan doesn't factor into things much and Heyward-Bey is the definition of disappointment. The latter has upside, still, but it's not likely these guys will have much offensive output at this point. Don't even bother, initially.
Sebastian Janikowski: He'll have a ton of points because the Raiders have always lacked the ability to bring in the touchdowns. Janikowski seems to be getting better with age, and he's a must-draft and must-start in any league for any team. You should probably even start him on the bye week. (Don't actually do that, but you get the picture, most likely).
Raiders Defense: While the Raiders may not have the offensive output to put up big numbers week-in and week-out, the defense keeps them in games and often gets the stats that matter. Their defensive line is great, and getting better every week, while their linebackers remain a strong group. They did lose Nnamdi Asomugha, but that won't lead to less interceptions, considering he was never big in that regard to begin with. It's really up-in-the-air how the secondary will perform as a whole, but the projected sack output makes them a desirable second-tier defense from the get-go.