With the 2022 NFL Draft in the books and Free Agency mostly wrapped up, it’s time to turn our attention to the upcoming season. Throughout the off-season, I’ll be looking at some position groups that featured new additions and could have a new look come September. Today, it’s time to look at one of the most interesting units in the NFL, the receiving corps for the Las Vegas Raiders.

The 2021 Las Vegas Raiders

It’s hard to imagine things going more wrong at times for the Raiders. The team suffered through a scandal that saw head Coach Jon Gruden resign, then one that saw star receiver Henry Ruggs arrested after a fiery crash and released. And yet, the team found a way to persevere. Thanks to interim coach Rich Bisaccia and quarterback Derek Carr, the Raiders finished 10-7 and made the playoffs. And they did it thanks to a robust passing game. Carr finished as QB13, throwing for more than 4,800 yards.

Meanwhile, receiver Hunter Renfrow exploded. He saw 128 targets and caught 103 passes for 1,038 yards and nine touchdowns. That was good enough to have him finish as WR10. But for as well as the Raiders’ passing game did in 2021, it might be even better in 2022.

The Coach and the Receiver

It’s been an off-season of change for the Raiders. Bisaccia interviewed for the permanent job, but, ultimately, the Raiders went with New England Patriots Offensive Coordinator Josh McDaniels. McDaniels has been a Head Coach before, a stint with the Denver Broncos that lasted less than two seasons. A few years ago, he also had a near-miss with the Indianapolis Colts. But now, he seems ready to bring his scheme to the Raiders. And he’s bringing a new weapon with him.

The biggest splash for the Raiders this off-season was a blockbuster trade with the Green Bay Packers to bring star receiver Davante Adams to Las Vegas. With the Raiders, Adams re-teams with his college quarterback in Carr. He also gives the Raiders a massive new weapon. Adams is one of the best in the game, a player who has seen at least 117 targets each season for the last six seasons. He comes to the Raiders with 669 receptions for 8,121 yards and 73 touchdowns.

The only question is what it means for the Raiders.

The 2022 Las Vegas Raiders

The team that enters training camp in July will look quite different from the one that took the field for the Raiders in September. Ruggs is gone, while former pick Bryan Edwards was dealt to the Atlanta Falcons, Zay Jones signed with the Jacksonville Jaguars, and DeSean Jackson retired again. The Raiders brought in role players in DeMarcus Robinson, the former Chief, and Keelan Cole, the former Jet and Jaguar. But it’s really about Adams and the two big pieces that remain.

I talked about Renfrow and his stellar 2021 season. But the other piece of the Raiders’ puzzle is the tight end, Darren Waller. Waller saw 93 targets in just 11 games. The star tight end missed six contests and still finished as TE17 in 2021. He’s been a target monster the past few seasons, one of the league’s best. The other piece of the puzzle is the running game. Josh Jacobs is entering his fourth season. The team declined his Fifth-Year option, but Jacobs still figures to be a big part of the attack in 2022. Last season he saw 217 carries and also got 64 targets in 15 games.

So, the Raiders return the big pieces of the passing attack from 2021 and have added a target monster in Adams. The logical question becomes, will there be enough to go around for all these pieces?

Prediction

To see the future for the Raiders, it’s helpful to look to the past. And by that, I mean the past for McDaniels. The 2007 Season, when the Patriots had Randy Moss, was the last time that McDaniels had an alpha receiver in his offense like Adams. That season, Brady slung the ball 578 times for 4,806 yards. In addition to Moss, the Patriots had a super slot receiver in Wes Welker and myriad other weapons, including Dante Stallworth, Jabar Gaffney, and tight end Ben Watson. And yet, they made it all work.

Moss saw 160 targets and caught 98 passes. That is similar to the kind of seasons that Adams enjoyed in Green Bay. Despite that, Welker managed 145 targets and caught 111 passes. Even with those two massive totals, the Patriots found 75 targets for Stallworth, 50 for Gaffney, and 49 for Watson. In short, there were more than enough targets to support three fantasy-relevant receivers.

But what about a rushing game? This lines up, too. Laurence Maroney carried the ball 185 times in 13 games; just 32 carries short of what Jacobs had in 2021 in two fewer games. While Maroney wasn’t much of a pass-catcher, receiving back, Kevin Faulk saw 61 targets, on par with the production from Jacobs in 2021. A part of the McDaniels scheme has always been getting the backs involved on the ground and in the receiving game. Whether it be Jacobs, Kenyan Drake, Zamir White, or some combination of the group, the running backs can get carries and targets while still allowing the passing game to thrive.

But can Carr handle that load? Good news, he already has. In 2021, Carr threw it 626 times for 4,804 yards. He already threw it at the same pace as Brady did in 2007. Meanwhile, Jones, Ruggs, Edwards, and Jackson vacated 184 targets. All that means Adams could see 160-170 targets, while Renfrow gets 140 targets, and Waller still sees 100 targets, giving them all a chance to be fantasy relevant.

That’s important going into the draft, where the common perception seems to see Renfrow’s value taking a hit. Renfrow is going as WR28 in PPR despite his WR10 finish a year ago. While Adams is likely the top fantasy receiver, Renfrow should easily slide into the WR2 range, giving him value over where he’s being taken. While I’m bullish on Renfrow, I’m more cautious with Waller. He’s still going as TE5, which isn’t terrible but might be a touch high. I think he finishes more in the TE7 to TE12 range.

Matthew Fox is a member of the FSWA. He’s a die-hard NFL Fan and Broncos’ Homer. You can find more from him on Twitter @knighthawk7734 or as co-host of the Fantasy Football Roundtable Podcast, a part of the Campus2Canton Network.

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