Thursday, October 20, 2011

Raider Week from a Fantasy Perspective

I'll admit it, I was a little disturbed when I first saw that I was assigned the Chiefs-Raiders game this week for Football Guys. No matter what Steve says, I am a true Chiefs of course, I'm also a Raider Hater. My first thought was "How am I going to be objective through this donnybrook?" I mean, let's be honest...journalistic integrity hasn't exactly been a focal point of this blog. Of course then it hit me...this isn't just Raiders Week...this is the most interesting NFL game this week from a fantasy football perspective. I'm lucky to have this game. Hence, I bring you my top 4 story lines from Chiefs-Raiders.
The debut of Carson Palmer?
I'll admit it, I'm not one of those people killing the Raiders for this trade. Did they give up too much? Absolutely....but isn't that exactly what you'd want your team to do in this situation? The Raiders are 4-2 with Kansas city (twice), Denver, Minnesota, Chicago, and Miami left on their schedule. With their roster, even an adequate QB wins 5 of those games, maybe 6. Steal one against San Diego and you're looking at a division title.
So the question becomes, is Carson Palmer still an adequate QB? I think we find out on Sunday even if he doesn't start. No matter how talented the Raiders are, I don't think they're good enough to beat the Chiefs with Kyle Boller at QB and if they have playoff aspirations, this is a must win. So even if Hue Jackson doesn't have the cajones to start Palmer, I think we'll see him in this game. How he performs may be the biggest storyline of Week 7.
Does Jackie Battle get the ball?
Todd Haley spent most of last year giving Thomas Jones far more carries than he deserved in light of Jamal Charles' dominance. Some argue that Charles' dominance was because of the small workload and not despite it, but even if he falls to 5 yards a carry, he's a much better play than the 3 yards and cloud of dust the 33 year old Jones produces. So, if Charles couldn't wrestle carries away from Jones why would Battle? Jamal Charles is the future of this franchise and he's undersized. Haley could legitimately argue(wrongly I'd say) that it's in the best interest of the franchise to limit Charles' carries. With Battle there is no such argument. He's big, he's 28 years old, and (assuming Charles comes back full strength next year) his future value to the franchise is negligible. If Battle is truly more effective than Jones (and if you've watched the Chiefs this year you know he is) Haley has no excuse to not give him 20 carries a game. If he does, there's no reason to think he couldn't become a solid RB2 for fantasy purposes.
Which Oakland WR emerges with a new QB?
The Raiders receivers have been teasing fantasy owners for years. If Carson Palmer is (still) better than Jason Campbell, it's conceivable that one of them could turn into a fantasy stud...but which one? Jacoby Ford is ridiculously fast, and equally athletic...but for some reason has never turned that promise into results. Darrius Heyward-Bey is also explosive and has the whole 3rd-year-breakout-WR thing going for him. Denarius Moore got all of the preseason pub and exploded onto the scene a little over a month ago, but has all but disappeared since. Is it possible that all three of these talents WRs remain fantasy disappointments? Yeah, but it's also possible that Carson Palmer makes one (or more) of them relevant, and that would be huge.
Is Matt Cassel to Dwayne Bowe once again turning into one of the most dominant QB-WR pairs in the league?
Last year these two hooked up for over 1100 yards an 15 TDs to make them the most prolific duo in the league. Throughout the off season (and the first two weeks of this season) the popular theory was that an inferior schedule was mostly responsible. But since week 2 Bowe has 16 catches for 302 yards and 4 TDs putting him back on pace to be one of the top fantasy WRs in the league. A lot has been made about how much more difficult the Chiefs' schedule is this season but, in terms of pass defense, it's really not lining up that way. The Chiefs remaining schedule includes 4 of the 5 worst pass defenses in the league this season and 8 of their last 12 games are against the bottom 3rd of the league. The Raiders are one of those bad pass defenses and another good showing could turn Cassel into a borderline fantasy QB1 and cements Bowe's spot in the elite WRs.

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