Kickoff: Monday, September 13th at 8:15 PM ET
Location: Allegiant Stadium, Paradise, Nevada
Betting Odds: BAL -6.5, 51 Total on Oddsshark
Lamar Jackson (Start)
Really, do I need to spend any time here? The Raiders project to be one of the worst defenses after ranking in the bottom-five in practically every defensive category last year. Meanwhile, Jackson is … checks notes ….. very good at football. A consensus top-five fantasy quarterback in drafts, he’s arguably the top quarterback this week with such a favorable matchup. I’d do practically anything before failing to start him this week.
Gus Edwards (Start, RB2), Ty’Son Williams (Sit)
On your way to school? The Gus Bus is here to pick you up! That’s right; Gus Edwards is in a position to thrive this week. The Raiders allowed the fourth-most points to running backs last year, and ranked in the bottom-ten in PFF run-defense grade. This was likely to be a 50/50 timeshare with JK Dobbins healthy, but it’s likely Edwards now gets a majority of the carries. After he averaged five rushing yards/attempt and earned an 86.3 PFF rushing grade, that’s music to my ears! I don’t only expect a very efficient game on the ground from Edwards, but also one with a lot of volume with a likely lead in the second half. If I were you, I’d be looking closely at Tyson Williams on the waiver wire; he’d be entering a fantastic situation if anything happened to Edwards, and will see his stock go up significantly should he get more touches than expected. That being said, we are focused on the Gus Bus this week!
WIDE RECEIVERS/TIGHT ENDS
Marquise Brown (Sit), Sammy Watkins (Sit), Devin Duvernay (Sit), Mark Andrews (Start)
The Raiders ranked fourth-worst in PFF coverage grade last year, so it might be enticing to start wide receivers playing against that. That would be true if this were any other team besides the Ravens. Expect a low-volume passing attack condensed to Mark Andrews, fresh off signing a four-year, $56 million contract extension. Andrews had five top-three finishes last year in just 13 games and is also poised to benefit from red-zone opportunities against one of the league’s worst defenses. Despite the big-play upside, I’d avoid starting any of the receivers, yet take that as just another complement to Andrews and the team’s rushing game!
Las Vegas Raiders
Derek Carr (Sit)
Quietly, Derek Carr ranked 11th among quarterbacks last year in expected fantasy points, per PFF. However, this isn’t the ideal matchup. I’d expect the Ravens to control the time of possession, while they possess, on paper, one of the best secondaries in the NFL. Carr will be playing behind a depleted offensive line and with little offensive firepower after a star tight end, we’ll get to in a second. In other words, almost everything is working against him in this game; there isn’t any upside here, and the floor is lower than normal.
Josh Jacobs (Start, FLEX), Kenyan Drake (Sit)
If you want to sit Josh Jacobs this week, I wouldn’t blame you. If we’re expecting the Ravens to control the time of possession and for the Raiders to be playing from behind, the game script hurts him significantly. We mentioned the offensive line downgrade, and the emergence of Kenyan Drake takes away from his receiving work. In what should be a less efficient offensive showing than they are used to, Jacobs is a risky start. If I had a bold prediction to make here, it’s that Drake may outscore him. He’s projected to be the team’s lead receiving back this year, and I expect Las Vegas to be forced to pass the ball with great frequency in the second half. Hey, I’ve got to spice things up a little here, right?
WIDE RECEIVERS/TIGHT ENDS
Henry Ruggs III (Sit), Bryan Edwards (Sit), Hunter Renfrow (Sit), Darren Waller (Start)
I’ll start off with the obvious: START Darren Waller. The 28-year-old finished as a top-five tight end in over half of his games played last year, and could command one of the league’s highest target shares this year. Even without as much touchdown upside, expect him to be extremely fantasy value just off of volume alone. I’m excited to see if Henry Ruggs III takes a major second-year leap after a disappointing year, or Bryan Edwards lives up to some of his training camp hype. However, against one of the league’s best pass defenses (sixth-least points allowed to receivers in 2020), they belong on your benches for the time being. Hopefully, they reach their higher range of outcomes down the stretch!