Kickoff: Sunday, October 2nd at 4:25 PM ET
Location: Allegiant Stadium, Las Vegas, NV
Betting Odds: LV -2.5, 45.5 total via Oddsshark
Russell Wilson (Sit, QB2)
The beginning of Russell Wilson‘s time as a Denver Bronco has been rocky, to say the least. The team has struggled to score points both in the NFL (43, ahead of only the Colts) and Wilson has struggled to score points for fantasy managers (averaging around 12 points per game in traditional leagues). Some of the blame has fallen on new HC Nathaniel Hackett, but Wilson is attempting more passes per game than during his tenure in Seattle and has seen a sharp decline in his passing TD percentage (1.9% this year compared to a career average of 6.1%). Perhaps things start to click with Wilson and the offense, but Wilson is simply not doing enough for fantasy managers to trust him yet. I’d recommend sitting Wilson this week.
Javonte Williams (Start, RB2), Melvin Gordon III (Sit, low-end FLEX)
It looked like Javonte Williams was going to establish himself as the primary RB following Denver’s Week 2 victory over the Texans as he commanded 65% of the team’s snaps there but then dropped back to 45% in Week 3 and ceded a short rushing TD to Melvin Gordon as well. Williams is still the lead RB in the offense and the preferred option for fantasy managers, but the presence of Gordon does just enough to keep Williams from being a potential RB1 regularly. Williams has been more efficient with his touches (4.9 yards per touch to Gordon’s 4.3) but neither has had much success finding the end zone with Gordon’s TD last week the only one between the two. The Raiders allowed Derrick Henry to post RB1 numbers last week and have allowed an opposing RB to score a TD every week, so projecting Williams as a solid RB2 and Gordon as a potential FLEX option feels right. Start Williams this week and use Gordon as a FLEX if you don’t have any better options.
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends
Courtland Sutton (Start, WR2), Jerry Jeudy (Start, WR3/Flex), KJ Hamler (Sit), Kendall Hinton (Sit), Albert Okwuegbunam (Sit)
I’ve already documented some of the struggles this offense has had in the Wilson section, but it bears some repeating here when talking about the receivers for Denver. Courtland Sutton has been far and away Wilson’s favorite receiver as Sutton has received 26.4% of Wilson’s targets and is averaging nearly 10 targets per game. The Raiders have had trouble stopping their opponent’s #1 WR, surrendering an average of nearly five receptions and 73 yards over the first three games. Sutton lands in the WR2 area on volume alone and should be able to replicate what other WRs have done against the Raiders this season. Plug Sutton in as your WR2 this week.
Interestingly enough, though the Raiders have struggled against #1 WRs, secondary options have had more success finding the end zone (DeAndre Carter in Week 1 and Greg Dortch in Week 2). Coincidentally, Jerry Jeudy has the only receiving TD among the WRs for Denver. Jeudy is behind Sutton and Williams in targets but missed most of the team’s Week 2 game with a shoulder injury. Jeudy should be back to close to 100% for Week 4 and there is no reason he should see a dip in snaps this week. He should be able to find space against the Raiders but might not see enough targets to make him reliable enough for anything above a WR3 or Flex option this week.
The third WR spot for Denver has been a shared opportunity between K.J. Hamler and Kendall Hinton thus far this season. Hamler is returning from an ACL injury suffered in 2021 but managed 40 snaps (61%) in the opener before missing Week 2 with knee and hip issues. Hinton replaced Hamler in Week 2 and saw 76% of the team’s snaps but was unable to do much with that opportunity (one reception for 20 yards on his only target). Hinton had the edge in snaps in Week 3 (32 to 19) but again saw just one target which he converted into a 27-yard gain. Hinton seems to be the preferred option for now, but neither player is seeing enough targets to warrant serious fantasy consideration. Keep both Hamler and Hinton on your bench this week.
With the way the current crop of Denver TEs is producing, it seems like ages ago when Noah Fant was a viable fantasy asset in the Mile High City. Fant was dealt to Seattle in the package that landed Wilson, and many predicted it was time for Albert Okweugbunam to break out. Unfortunately, Okwuegbunam has been mostly an afterthought with just 10 targets over three games and six receptions for 45 yards. Okwuegbunam saw fewer snaps than both Eric Saubert and Eric Tomlinson in Week 3, though that duo combined for a total of one target in the game. Okwuegbunam is the best fantasy asset of the group, but he’s simply too small of a part of the offense to consider as a viable starter right now. Maybe if Wilson and Hackett can turn the offense around the narrative will change, but for now, Okwuegbunam is best served to stay on your fantasy bench.
Las Vegas Raiders
Derek Carr (Sit, QB2)
It feels like we know what we’re getting from Derek Carr at this point as he’s tossed two TDs and 250+ yards in each of the first three games. He might toss an INT or two and he probably won’t get you much on the ground. Unfortunately for Carr, this week presents his toughest defensive challenge yet as the Broncos have yet to surrender more than 225 passing yards in any game this season and have allowed two passing TDs just once. s of this writing, the Raiders are slight favorites which could lead to a more balanced attack late in the game to control the clock and secure a victory. Carr is a great second QB and will have a place in leagues with two starting QBs, but I think you have to sit him this week against a solid Denver defense.
Josh Jacobs (Start, RB2), Ameer Abdullah (Sit), Brandon Bolden (Sit)
It was an interesting game from the lead RBs last week when the Raiders visited the Titans as both Josh Jacobs and Derrick Henry saw increased usage in the passing game. Jacobs had another solid outing on the ground (13 carries for 66 yards) but saw six targets in the passing game, converting five for 31 yards. Jacobs has yet to find the end zone this season, and his chances don’t look too good against a defense that has yet to yield a TD to any RB this season. Jacobs should be able to pound out another 60+ yard effort this week, but it’s hard to envision another heavy dose of targets in the passing game. Expect Jacobs to once again land firmly in the RB2 tier and he’s a fine player to start in Week 4.
Reports out of Raiders camp ahead of the season indicated that Ameer Abdullah was headed for a “James White role” in Josh McDaniels’ offense. Three weeks into the season and Abdullah hasn’t seen more than 14 snaps in a game and saw zero in Week 3. The backup role now seems to belong to Brandon Bolden as he saw 36% of the team’s snaps last week at RB. Bolden did get a receiving TD back in Week 1 but has been quiet since. Neither player has much appeal in this offense as long as Jacobs is healthy, but Bolden is the preferred option of the two right now if you’re looking to handcuff. Keep both on the bench this week.
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends
Davante Adams (Start, WR1), Hunter Renfrow (Start, WR3/Flex), Mack Hollins (Sit), Darren Waller (Start, TE1)
It’s been more of the same for Davante Adams in Sin City as he commands the largest target share (28.1%) by far of any other player on the team. Adams has found the end zone in each of his first three games as a Raider and is seeing the highest ADOT of his career (11.9 yards). Denver’s defense has been stingy against WRs this season as no WR has eclipsed 75 receiving yards and only Brandon Aiyuk last week has scored a TD against them. Adams presents a different challenge, however, to any other WR the Broncos have faced this season and Adams warrants WR1 consideration on volume alone. There’s no reason to think Adams won’t have another solid outing and I think he finished in the WR1 tier once again this week. Start him.
If you want a dependable WR that you can almost pencil in a handful of catches for 30-40 yards then Hunter Renfrow is that guy. Renfrow missed last week’s game with a concussion, but early reports are that he will be available for the Raiders this week. Renfrow has become Carr’s security blanket in the short and intermediate parts of the field as evidenced by his paltry ADOT of just 3.3 yards. Renfrow is a solid contributor but won’t break many big gains and is best served as an ancillary option for your fantasy team. Keep tabs on his health throughout the rest of the week, but if he’s cleared to play, trust Renfrow as a WR3 or Flex option in Week 4.
In Renfrow’s absence, Mack Hollins showed out. Hollins matched Adams for the team lead in targets with 10 and exploded with eight receptions for 158 yards and one TD. Now the big question becomes whether this breakout will lead to a bigger piece of the passing game or if Hollins gets relegated to fourth in the pecking order again. There’s no way to know for sure, but I think Hollins is worth at least a bench stash to see if Carr trusts him again this week with his full complement of receiving options back. Hollins might be a desperation play for fantasy managers dealing with injuries to key WRs, but don’t be surprised if he sees a significant reduction in his involvement in the passing game with Renfrow back. I’d sit him one more week but pick him up if he’s available, just in case.
One more certainty from the Raiders’ offense is that Carr trusts Darren Waller and treats his athletic TE as the second WR. Waller is tied with Hollins for second on the team in targets with 19 this season and has seen his ADOT rise to 10.7 yards this season. Denver allowed two TD receptions to TEs in their Week 1 clash with Seattle, and Waller has found the end zone once already this season. Waller is considered one of the top fantasy TEs out there and is having another TE1 campaign through three games. There’s no reason to think he won’t continue to post solid numbers this week and is an easy start for fantasy managers in Week 4.