The Las Vegas Raiders have taken their fair share of criticism over various draft strategies and roster moves, but Jon Gruden, Derek Carr & Co. actually haven't gotten enough credit for their offensive production in recent seasons. Last year, the team finished eighth in average yards per play (5.9), third in scoring drive rate (48%) and 11th in offensive points scored.
The false perception has caused fantasy drafters to be almost strictly hands-off players from Sin City. Their aggregate team ADP ranks 27th overall in 2021 fantasy drafts.
But the massive discount has sneakily made several Raiders offensive players solid values, creating a scenario where sharp fantasy drafters can capitalize on the market inefficiency. After all, targeting components of an offense led by an efficient passer will lead to fantasy points.
2021 Team Preview
Carr is a strikingly efficient passer who is more than capable of supporting fantasy viable weapons. He finished 2020 sixth in yards per attempt (7.9), ninth in PFF grade from a clean pocket (93.1) and second in PFF passing grade on throws with 20-plus air yards (97.8).
His proficiency elevated the Raiders to a top-12 finish in total fantasy points scored among the team’s running backs, wide receivers and tight ends. Carr’s underrated effectiveness also resulted in a QB11 finish in expected fantasy points, which is more predictive than total fantasy points. He did so on just 517 passing attempts — second-lowest among the top-11 behind only Lamar Jackson.
The lower passing volume is a result of Las Vegas’ run-first approach. The Raiders were a top-12 team in run rate (40%) in 2020 — the same rate they produced in each of the two previous seasons under Gruden (40%).
The lean toward the run game should continue in 2021, but that’s hardly a justification to avoid Carr, as he has shown more than enough evidence as an above-average passer to deliver at least a top-15 finish. There will also be plenty of situations when Las Vegas is forced to air it out in comeback mode to combat their 29th-ranked secondary and 26th-ranked defensive line, which figures to bleed points and yards to opposing offenses.
Carr adds little to no rushing upside, so he's not likely to be a difference-maker in one-quarterback leagues. He finished as a top-12 fantasy quarterback in more than half of his games last season (nine) but only one was top five (No. 1 overall in Week 13).
He’s much more of an alternative off the waiver wire in plus-matchups or as a steady QB2 in two-quarterback formats. There’s also the glaring issue of the Raiders’ brutal schedule. The first six weeks open with a juggernaut of pass defenses that boast top-10 units on paper — Baltimore, Pittsburgh, Miami, Los Angeles, Chicago and Denver.