2021 Stats (Rank)
Total Offense: 6,184 yards (11th)
Offensive Touchdowns: 37 (19th)
Offensive Plays: 1,082 (13th)
Pass Attempts + Sacks: 668 (T-5th)
Rush Attempts: 414 (26th)
Unaccounted for Targets: 171 (14th)
Unaccounted for Carries: 87 (T-14th)
New Raiders’ coach Josh McDaniels has arrived in Las Vegas, and he’s brought a few friends with him. In a straight up jack-move, McDaniels has brought in (former Patriots’ WR coach) Mick Lombardi as his offensive coordinator, (former Patriots’ offensive assistant) Bo Hardegree as the quarterbacks coach, and offensive line coach Carmen Bricillo has agreed to come over from New England for the same position. This is why the Patriots are scrambling to find a guy to call plays. Nonetheless, the Raiders’ offense will have a new look, led by an offensive mind with great success. Despite spending a total of 14 seasons in New England, McDaniels is not looking to bring the “Patriot Way” to the west coast.
This will be McDaniels’ second head coaching gig after he was the head man for the Broncos during the 2009 and most of the 2010 season. He will forever be known as the coach who drafted Tim Tebow in the first round. McDaniels has admitted that he tried to do too much in that situation. After the 2017 season, McDaniels was hired as the Colts’ head coach. He quit and ran back to the Patriots the same day. It’s safe to say that up until this point, his head coaching record doesn’t glow. In 2022, his situation with the Raiders will be his best one yet.
McDaniels’ offense will be coached and run based on his personnel. Don’t expect to see exactly what you saw when he worked with Tom Brady, and definitely don’t expect to see the conservative offenses you saw in the post-Brady era. In 2021, the Patriots ranked 25th in passing attempts (535) with McDaniels as offensive coordinator. That will change when your quarterback is not a rookie and you have multiple Pro Bowl-talented pass catchers. That’s not to say that the Raiders will line up and throw the ball 45 times a game, but if they need to, they can. With McDaniels calling the shots and the top-level talent, you can bank on the Raiders having an elite offense.
This offense is going to be fun. Davante Adams, Hunter Renfrow and Darren Waller make up probably the best passing-catching trio in the NFL. Defenses will have to pick their poison, and it could get ugly for opposing teams fast. In 2021, Derek Carr was ranked a pedestrian 17th overall in fantasy points per game. A mid-level QB2 was nothing to scoff at considering the circumstances. The Raiders' offensive line ranked as the 28th best according to PFF. Carr ranked third in pressured drop backs (239) and in pressured attempts (186). With a few new linemen and a gap-heavy run scheme brought in by McDaniels, this will help him a great deal. Waller, his top target, missed six games. The tragedy that involved Henry Ruggs and Jon Gruden’s firing shook up and affected the team as well. With all of these factors, Carr had his team ready to play every week and they even secured a playoff berth. I expect Carr to improve on his 23-to-14 TD:INT ratio in 2022 and get into the top-10 QB range in fantasy.
There will certainly be a lot of mouths to feed in the passing game, but there’s room for everyone to eat. McDaniels will use every part of the field with all of his weapons and often. Renfrow has no problems getting open on his own, making defenders look silly on a weekly basis. What’s going to make him more of a PPR machine is the combination of coverage focused on Adams and McDaniels scheming him open. Despite this, there is no question about who the team's alpha receiver is. Adams signed a five-year, $141 million deal to team up with his college quarterback in Carr. I, for one, don’t think what they did together in college (on the field) will have anything to do with how successful they are this season and beyond. They are going to get the job done regardless, and while many feel Adams moving on from Aaron Rodgers hurts his value drastically, a great player is going to be great. Adams is back on the west coast (where he wanted to be), with a quarterback he has a relationship with, a hefty contract and a lot of football skills. He will be fine. Adams being a top-three and Renfrow a top-15 receiver is very much on the table.
Waller will be there to gobble up what’s left in what he hopes to be a healthy season for him. After two straight seasons with at least 1,100 yards, he missed six games with ankle and knee injuries. Waller was TE7 on a points-per-game basis in 2021, so we know he can still be an elite option. Elsewhere in the receiving group, Demarcus Robinson, Mack Hollins and Keelan Cole will compete for the team’s WR3 spot that Bryan Edwards held until he was traded to the Falcons. One of these guys could become a week-to-week filler if one of the starters goes down with an injury. Josh Jacobs hauled in a career-high 54 receptions in 2021. The arrival of Adams could see that number go down a bit.
The running game for the Raiders in 2022 will be less complex but more efficient. McDaniels’ scheme thrives with downhill runners and that should help Josh Jacobs improve on his rushing numbers (872 yards) from 2021. The offense also looks to get blockers down field more which should also help one of the worst lines in football. Kenyan Drake looks to be first in line to back up Jacobs this fall. When Drake was brought in, it was initially thought that he would be the pass-catching back. He was anything but, as Jacobs out-targeted him 4.5 to 3.3 per game for the first 13 weeks. In that 13th week, Drake broke his hand and missed the rest of the season. The pass-catching role out of the backfield could surprisingly go to Brandon Bolden. Jacobs’ career-high 54 receptions in 2021 was a big reason why he was able to finish as RB12. As I mentioned earlier, it’ll be hard to duplicate those numbers.
With that being said, the Raiders chose not to pick up Jacobs’ fifth-year option. A couple of days later, they drafted the tough-running Zamir White out of Georgia. What White does in 2022 remains to be seen, but he’s much more fitting for Mcdaniels' gap and power-running scheme (see Damien Harris and/or LeGarrette Blount). If he performs well in camp, don’t count him out from cracking the rotation and taking some short-yardage/goal line work early on. White is probably not someone you’re targeting in redraft leagues at this point, but things change fast within weeks on NFL rosters. Keep an eye out for reports out of Raiders’ camp when it comes to this backfield.
PointsBet Win Total - 8.5
By now we all know that the AFC West is loaded. You often hear “This division could have three playoff teams”. None of those teams are the Raiders in the minds of most. People tend to forget that it was the Raiders who ended the Chargers' season in 2021. Like the other AFC West teams, the Raiders made upgrades as well, including bringing in Chandler Jones to play alongside Maxx Crosby. The Raiders are being slept on heavily. They won 10 games in 2021 and they certainly did not get worse. Give me over 8.5 wins for the Raiders.