Photo by Kyle Ross/Icon Sportswire
Each week, our writers will take a look at the fantasy-relevant things to watch for in every upcoming game. Today, it’s the Thursday night Week 8 matchup between the Oakland Raiders and the San Francisco 49ers.
Who Will Get Targets This Week?
The Raiders are adjusting to life without Amari Cooper and Marshawn Lynch. Last week, Oakland managed to score 28 points in a loss to the Colts. A big reason the Raiders found success on offense was the receivers and running backs tasked with replacing Cooper and Lynch had solid games. Oakland’s receivers caught 21 of 28 targets, including Jalen Richard catching all eight targets for 50 yards. Derek Carr and company will take on a San Francisco defense that allows 262.5 yards per game in the air and an abysmal 27.8 points per game. The Raiders could actually have some players put up some points this weekend, but who will get the targets in the passing game? Option number one should be Richard. The Raiders’ running back has caught six or more passes in three straight games and has posted an 87% catch rate this season. Behind Richard, Jared Cook is once again a good play. Cook led the Raiders with 74 yards and a touchdown last week against the Colts. The Raiders’ tight end has emerged a solid fantasy player in 2018, catching 36 passes for 474 yards and three scores. Outside of tight ends and running backs, the Raiders have some sneaky good receivers to pick up off waivers. Seth Roberts caught a touchdown last week and could see four or five targets this week against a weak 49ers’ secondary. Jordy Nelson, Martavis Bryant, and Brandon LaFell will all split targets this week as Carr begins to work new weapons into the Oakland offense.
What Can We Expect From Doug Martin?
The Raiders placed Lynch on the IR last week and veteran running back Doug Martin stepped into the starting spot. In his first start in Oakland, Martin ran for a modest 72 yards and caught two passes for 17 yards. Martin will go up against a 49ers defense that has allowed only one running back to cross the century mark this season. The 49ers held Kareem Hunt, Todd Gurley, and David Johnson to under 100 yards in games this season. This is not the week to test if Martin is going to be a viable option in 2018.
Can Derek Carr Continue His Streak Without a Pick?
It was no secret that Carr struggled with turnovers early in the season. The fifth-year quarterback has thrown eight interceptions this season to go alongside ten touchdowns. The good news for the Raiders is that Carr has not thrown an interception in his last two games. Carr has a good opportunity to continue that streak this Thursday against the 49ers. San Francisco is tied for 31st with only two interceptions this season.
Boom: Jared Cook
Bust: Doug Martin
Sleeper: Seth Roberts
Who is playing quarterback, and does it even matter?
Probably not. QB C.J. Beathard has been a turnover machine who hasn’t won a single game this season in relief of QB Jimmy Garoppolo, and Beathard is now a game-time decision thanks to an injured wrist. If Beathard can’t play, second-year UDFA Nick Mullens, a gritty Beathard-clone who’s equally turnover-prone (five turnovers in less than 100 preseason snaps), would start under center. Oakland is currently giving up 262.7 Yds/G to opposing passers, 10th worst in football, with a 16:4 TD-to-INT ratio. The matchup is ripe for the 49ers quarterback to take advantage, but with so much uncertainty surrounding Beathard’s availability and Mullens a virtual unknown (and what little is known seemingly far from impressive so far), it’s probably best to avoid viewing either QB as a streaming option.
Will the run game flash on Thursday Night Football?
Thursdays were once notorious for run-heavy game plans since offenses had less time to prepare and tended to employ more safer, vanilla-concepts with emphasis on rushing attacks. However, recent years have yielded barn-burners and shootouts, making TNF far less predictable. That being said, the Raiders are giving up a league-worst 144.7 Yds/g and 4.9 YPC to opposing rushers. This is a perfect rushing matchup, but RB Matt Breida is playing hurt, and RBs Alfred Morris and Raheem Mostert are picking up the scraps, making it hard to trust any of them despite the weak run defense on the other side. Breida is the most likely to take advantage of the opportunity, but he has only cleared 61 yards on the ground twice in 8 games. If looking for a high-upside play based on matchups, Breida offers some FLEX value.
Will the uncertainty at QB affect George Kittle?
TE George Kittle has proven to be an elite option this season regardless of who is under center, but that streak may be tested if Mullens starts at quarterback. Given how consistent and productive he’s been, it’s hard not to trust Kittle as a high-end TE1. Oakland has been gashed by TEs all season, and Kittle accounts for nearly 25% of all receptions on the 49ers so far. One of the few playmakers San Francisco has, he’s the primary read on a lot of plays. Oakland just gave up 10 receptions for over 133 yards and a TD to Colts’ tight ends last week.
Can the 49ers receivers get behind Oakland’s defense?
WR Marquise Goodwin got loose last week for a 55-yard TD on a crossing route, and the Raiders have given up 31 receptions over 20+ yards (6th most in football). After shipping off DL Khalil Mack to Chicago, the Raiders lack any discernible pass rush as their 7 sacks in 8 games rank last in the league. Regardless of who is under center on Thursday, expect HC Kyle Shanahan to challenge Oakland deep, making Goodwin an intriguing WR3 dart throw.
With WR Amari Cooper gone, can the 49ers be a viable streamer on defense?
It’s probably a stretch since QB Derek Carr actually played fairly well against the Colts in Week 8, his first game without Cooper. The Raiders are averaging less than 15 points per game on the road, so the 49ers’ defense has the advantage on paper, but their lack of a pass rush and propensity to give up TDs through the air make them hard to trust. The 49ers have given up multiple TD passes in every game but one this season, more than any team in football, but it’s possible the team comes out feeling inspired at home under the prime time lights as the only game happening like they did on Monday Night Football against the Packers earlier this season. San Francisco has also played acceptable run defense this year, limiting opposing rushers to a pedestrian 4.0 average. Consider the 49ers a desperation streamer with little more than a gut feeling that they can at least play competent defense against a Raiders team that has yet to prove it can score points on the road.