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2022 Raiders Fantasy Football Preview: Does Davante Adams have them ready to make a leap?

CBS Sports logo CBS Sports 7/5/2022 Chris Towers
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The Raiders have been treading water for a few years, so they're hoping the addition of Davante Adams can help get them over the hump. He's the difference-making playmaker the offense has been missing, but in an increasingly competitive AFC West, they still face a tough test to return to the playoffs.  

2021 Review

Record: 10 - 7 (9)

PPG: 22.0 (18)

YPG: 363.8 (11)

Pass YPG: 268.6 (6)

Rush YPG: 95.1 (28)

PAPG: 36.9 (7)

RAPG: 24.4 (26)

2021 Fantasy finishes

QB: Derek Carr QB12

RB: Josh Jacobs RB12, Kenyan Drake RB55

WR: Hunter Renfrow WR10, Bryan Edwards* WR66, Zay Jones* WR67

TE: Darren Waller TE17, Foster Moreau TE25

*No longer with team

Number to know: 31.6

In an era where targets are increasingly spread out among teams' various receiving options, the Aaron Rodgers-to-Davante Adams connection has remained an outlier. Adams had a 31.6% target share in his 16 games last season, the second-highest in the league and one of just two players above 29.25%. That's a testament to the trust Rodgers had in Adams, but also to the singular abilities of those two players -- Rodgers, for his willingness to trust Adams in situations where lesser passers might shy away, and Adams for his ability to win contested targets consistently.

Will Carr have that same level of trust in Adams? The good news is they do have a history together dating back to their time at Fresno State  -- Adams had 31% more targets, 40% more yards, and 70% more touchdowns than any other receiver during his final year in college playing with Carr. That's a good sign, though not necessarily proof that Carr will lean on Adams to the same extent Rodgers did, especially with Darren Waller and Hunter Renfrow coming off target shares of 23.4% and 21.2% -- the highest target share for any non-Adams player on the Packers last season was Marquez Valdes-Scantling's 14.8% rate.

Which is to say, it's probably safe to assume we'll see some regression in Adams' target share, if only because the Raiders have more viable options than the Packers did. That's offset by pass volume a little bit, but not much, as the Raiders threw 35 more passes than the Packers last season. The question is, does Adams' share fall to, say, 28%, around where D.J. Moore and Diontae Johnson were in 2021? He could probably still be a top-three WR in that context even assuming a drop in the quality of targets as well.

However, if Renfrow and Waller are still going to be 20%-plus share guys, that might make it tougher for Adams to be north of 25%, which is where things could start to get dicey. For what it's worth, I'm expecting more of the former than the latter, which is why Adams is still my No. 2 WR for Fantasy, effectively neck-and-neck with Justin Jefferson. But there's some downside risk here for the first time in a few years.  

2021 Offseason

Draft Picks 

3. (90) Dylan Parham, OL

4. (122) Zamir White, RB

4. (126) Neil Farrell, DT

5. (175) Matthew Butler, DT

7. (238) Thayer Munford, OL

7. (250) Brittain Brown, RB

Additions

WR Davante Adams, DE Chandler Jones, WR Demarcus Robinson, CB Rock Ya-Sin, LB Jayon Brown, CB Anthony Averett, DT Bilal Nichols

Key losses

DE Yannick Ngakoue, CB Casey Hayward, WR Zay Jones, WR Bryan Edwards

Available Opportunity 

64 carries, 27 RB targets, 130 WR targets, 2 TE targets

2022 Preview

Rankings

Award
Derek Carr13111715
Josh Jacobs23201620
Kenyan Drake58NR5559
Davante Adams6442
Hunter Renfrow42413840
Darren Waller4435

Chris Towers' projections

QBDerek CarrPA: 614, YD: 4479, TD: 28, INT: 12; RUSH -- ATT: 43, YD: 150, TD: 1
RBJosh JacobsCAR: 235, YD: 940, TD: 8, TAR: 49, REC: 41, YD: 290, TD: 1
RBKenyan DrakeCAR: 64, YD: 256, TD: 2, TAR: 43, REC: 33, YD: 264, TD:
WRDavante AdamsTAR: 161, REC: 103, YD: 1534, TD: 10
WRHunter RenfrowTAR: 117, REC: 74, YD: 811, TD: 6
WRDemarcus RobinsonTAR: 27, REC: 18, YD: 210, TD: 1
TEDarren WallerTAR: 117, REC: 79, YD: 912, TD: 5

Biggest Question

How does Davante Adams fare without Aaron Rodgers?

Derek Carr is a fine quarterback, but I don't think I'm telling any tales out of school when I say he's no Aaron Rodgers. However, the Raiders were more pass-heavy than the Packers last season, and I don't think that's going to change with the addition of Adams. So, if Adams remains a 30% target share guy, there's still WR1 upside, even if the quality of those targets doesn't compare. He's my WR2.

One sleeper, one breakout and one bust

The Bulldogs played it safe with White for most of his career after he suffered two torn ACLs, but he sure looks the part at 6-foot, 214 pounds with a 4.40 40-yard dash. He was effective as a rusher but was never used as an every-down back, so don't expect that from him in the NFL either. However, the Raiders seem to like his talent, investing a fourth-round pick in him, and he could emerge as a legitimate threat to Josh Jacobs' playing time if he proves effective early on. A Damien Harris-esque outcome isn't totally out of the question for White in a best-case scenario. 

Carr remains a safe, efficient passer, but there might be room for him to grow into something more than that with the addition of Adams. He's averaged 7.7 yards per attempt or better in three straight seasons but has been a pretty fringe Fantasy starter largely because he has just one season in that stretch with more than 23 touchdowns. That's where Adams and his red-zone dominance comes in. Carr passed for 282.6 yards per game last season but just 23 touchdowns with the undersized Hunter Renfrow serving as his primary target, especially near the red zone. Now he has Adams, one of the most consistent red-zone winners in the league, to lean on, in addition to a hopefully healthier Darren Waller. This is the best situation Carr has found himself in, and 5,000-plus yards and 35-plus touchdowns is entirely within the realm of possibility. 

Jacobs has seemingly reached the point where the best thing he has going for him as a Fantasy asset is an assumed significant role in a good offense. That's not nothing, but that's also a type of running back that tends to bust pretty hard in the early rounds – the entire concept of the Running Back Dead Zone is largely built around the bust rate of guys like Jacobs. We're projecting him for a heavy role, so he rates out pretty well for Fantasy, but the Raiders also have no investment in him beyond this season after turning down his fifth-year option, which means they have no real reason to stick with him if he isn't making a difference, something that has been true too often since he was the No. 24 pick in the 2019 draft. If Jacobs cedes any of the passing role he earned last season, he pretty quickly becomes just a low-end Fantasy option, and there are some who cover the team who think Jacobs' role isn't nearly as safe as Fantasy players may assume

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