What We Saw: Week 2 2018
Raiders vs. Broncos
The audience reading this article will be a mixed bag of emotions. We will have the Raiders fans that will feel robbed after losing a game they won for 58 minutes to the hated divisional rivals in Denver. Then you will have the fantasy fans, who should be pretty happy with how the Silver and Black’s key fantasy pieces performed. There may also be those that fall in the middle of the Venn diagram and are both Raiders fans and have players from your beloved team, but let’s focus on the positive since this website is geared towards fantasy.
Passing Attack: Efficient, Not Deadly
The question of whether Derek Carr could bounce back after a slow start in week one was answered with a resounding, YES. Carr showed off amazing efficiency going 29/32 for 288 yards and a touchdown. One explanation of his incredible 90.6% completion percentage (93.8% adjusted) was Carr was once again in the bottom 20% in ADoT. In week one only quarterback averaged a lower average depth of target. In week two, with Russell Wilson (11.3 ADoT Week 1) and Mitchell Trubisky (6.3 ADoT Week 1) still to play, Carr is ranked 25th in the statistic once again only making 6 attempts of 10 yards or more. However, Carr did improve on those throws downfield going 6/6 with a strike to wide receiver Seth Roberts.
Marshawn Got His Touches
The Raiders marched up and down the field in the first half and played with the lead for nearly the entire game, which meant carries for Marshawn Lynch. Lynch carried the ball 18 times for 65 yards and a touchdown. He also added two receptions for three yards for a total of 20 touches. Lynch stayed active throughout the entire game seeing 11 touches in the first half and 9 in the second half. Doug Martin comes in to spell him over the course of the game, but offers no threat to take over Lynch’s position barring injury and will only help to keep Marshawn fresh as the season continues. Jalen Richard showed why he is a boom or bust play (a “Cherry Bomb” if you will for you Pitcher List readers). After a week one performance that saw 11 targets with 9 receptions and 5 carries when playing from behind against the Rams (42% of running back rushing and passing opportunities), Richard saw just two carries this week or 7% of running back rushing and passing opportunities). Unless you know that the Raiders will be playing from behind, Richard is not a viable fantasy option under his current usage.
Not to bury the lede, which I have, Amari Cooper reemerged as the focal point of the Raiders offense. After receiving just two targets in week one, Cooper was peppered with 10 this week and he pulled down every single one. Those ten targets were good for 30% target share. The next best was newly reinstated receiver Martavis Bryant with 15% target share on his 5 targets. Cooper led the team in air yards with 81 showing that his ability to run after the catch has been unaffected after putting on weight this offseason. Look for the continued force feeding of Amari Cooper to continue this season.
One interesting takeaway from this game was how the Raiders used Bryant. Bryant’s ADoT was only 1.8 yards, meaning the Raiders were trying to get Martavis the ball in space on screens and quick passes to try and capitalize on his speed. This is contradictory to what Amari Cooper stated about helping to “take the top off” defenses. It seems that Jordy Nelson was the one running the deeper routes with his team leading ADoT of 10.5 yards. Nelson was also runner-up to Cooper in air yards with 42 showing that they used Jordy down the field more. Volume is king in fantasy and with the ADoT that Carr is currently showing, Jordy continues to be the one running these down the field routes he may not be in line for many looks. If Bryant stays with the short catch-and-run and work in space routes, he may be the better match for Derek Carr’s throwing profile which will equal more volume and opportunities.
The Cook Cooled Off
Jared Cook came off of a franchise record-setting performance in week one. I mentioned in the preview that it was unexpected. Cook was obviously due for some regression after such a monster day against the Rams and it happened. Cook had a good matchup, as Denver was not great against the tight end last year, but I think you may have seen Cook’s best performance of the year already. Cook was targeted four times and converted all 4 for 49 yards, including a nice catch and run for 20 yards that helped the Silver and Black score right before the half. Going forward these are the types of games that you more than likely can expect from Cook. Solid low-end TE1 or TE2.
We Drafted The Wrong Rookie Running Back
If you were like me, you wanted RB Royce Freeman on your fantasy team. He looked good in the preseason. He beat out RB Devontae Booker for the starting job. He was drafted in the third round by the Denver Broncos. All signs pointed toward Freeman. Then RB Phillip Lindsay decided he was going to be the guy in Denver. Not only did he look better than Freeman and Booker, but Lindsay got more touches than both of them combined. He ended the day with 14 carries for 107 yards. Freeman got the touchdown in the red zone, but other than that, Freeman had a mediocre day with eight carries for 28 yards. I’ve long been a Freeman-truther, but my faith is wavering. I’ll hold that Freeman is going to be the goal line back and the go-to in short yardage. Still, I can’t help but believe that Lindsay is not only winning over his teammates, but now the coaching staff as well. We’ll have to watch what the Lindsay/Freeman combination looks like next week against Baltimore. Based on average draft position, Freeman is looking more and more like a victim of preseason hype.
Sanders Continues to Stand Out
WR Emmanuel Sanders continues to be the most productive wide receiver on the Denver Broncos. With only four targets, Sanders was still able to produce 96 yards. Some of those yards came on a hook-and-ladder play at the end of the first half, so he didn’t get credit for the reception, but he got the yardage. This week, WR Demaryius Thomas received more targets than Sanders, but he also dropped many more passes. Thomas finished with five receptions for a mere 18 yards. Rookie WR Courtland Sutton continues to grow in this offense, receiving six targets. He only caught one pass, but QB Case Keenum struggled to throw accurate passes. Sutton also had a remarkable touchdown reception that was ruled incomplete. It was an encouraging sign to see the rookie targeted in the red zone though. Going forward, it appears that Sanders will maintain his role as the top wide receiver on the Denver Broncos, especially if Thomas continues to drop passes thrown his direction.
I Like Big Butts
No, that was not some weird, deep-seated internet confession. I was talking about my love for TE Jake Butt. The second-year pro from Michigan is finally seeing the field after missing the entirety of last year with an injury. Butt was the main tight end in Denver this week. He recorded four receptions on six targets. He looked dynamic on the field. He was making defenders miss, fighting for extra yards, and showing great yards-after-catch. With this year being a down year for the tight end position, Butt might be worth a deep grab if you’re still hurting after the Delanie Walker or Greg Olsen injuries. Last year, Case Keenum helped TE Kyle Rudolph finish as TE8 in PPR leagues. If you are able to get a top 10 tight end off the waiver, it would be worth it. Keep an eye on Butt going forward and stash him away if you are needing some tight end help.