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The 2011 Raiders of fantasy football

The 2010 Oakland Raiders offense finished tenth in the NFL in yards per game and was sixth in the league in scoring mainly on the legs of Darren McFadden and Michael Bush. Together they scored a combined 18 of the team’s 44 touchdowns. Rookie wide receiver Jacoby Ford chimed in with an impressive seven scores (4 rec. 3 KO). The offense that scored a mere 17 touchdowns just one year prior turned into an offense with playmakers. With Hue Jackson at the helm for another year to keep the players growing, some Raiders are becoming real fantasy football options in 2011.

Sure bets:

Darren McFadden RB – McFadden’s big play capability led to some nice runs last year for the third year tailback. He led the league in runs over 20 yards by hanging 14 such runs on opposing defenses in spite of missing three games. The big question is going to be can he stay healthy for 13 games like he did last year. If you want to take McFadden in fantasy football this year take him in the second round of your draft. I’ve seen McFadden go as high as 13 overall and as low as 22. But he should do a little bit more than scratch the surface this year and you don’t want to miss out. McFadden is a solid number two fantasy back who runs it well and has really good hands.

Michael Bush RB – Bush is a guy who you will want to put on your bench, but make sure you have him and use him if Darren McFadden is out with injury for a game or two. Bush will make a great reserve player and is sure to get 25-30 touches in games where McFadden isn’t available. Bush scored eight times last year and will most likely get a lot of play in those short yardage and goal line situations. Look for Bush in Round 7-9 of your fantasy draft.

Jacoby Ford WR – Last year’s rookie sensation for the Raiders. Ford made a mockery of the rival Kansas City Chiefs last season by catching two unbelievable balls that set the Raiders up in position to score the game tying points in the fourth quarter and game winning points in overtime. He also opened on the first play of the second half with a kickoff return for a touchdown. This year he is listed as a starter on the Raider roster and will be returning kicks for the team as well. Pick him up in the 120’s, which would be Round 13 for those of you in ten team leagues.

Sebastian Janikowski K – Jano has become one of the most reliable kickers in the NFL and will have an opportunity to score even more this year with an offense that should score more touchdowns than their 44 last season and put him in good position to add threes consistently. All those other kickers might be rated higher, but they aren’t any more valuable than Janikowski, especially in leagues where you get extra points for those 50-plus yarders.

Late Round Flier:

Kevin Boss TE – If it’s round sixteen and you already have your kicker and your defense, think about Boss as a back-up tight end. The way Al Saunders likes to use his tight ends (Tony Gonzalez) you could end up with a red zone specialist with Boss. He was very effective in the red zone for the Giants in his four years there pulling in 16 TD’s in the last three seasons. Boss is entering the prime stage of his career heading into his fifth season.

Jason Campbell QB – If Campbell is hanging around in the bottom end of your draft and you have faith in Hue Jackson, he could be a solid late round back-up QB for your starting QB’s bye week. He also has the potential and the weapons to become more than just the bye week guy for your team if the starter doesn’t work out for whatever reason. Look for Campbell late in the draft if you want a late round value pick.

Sleeper to keep an eye on:

Louis Murphy WR – Murphy started off on fire last year, amassing nearly 300 yards receiving, 11 catches, and a touchdown in his first three games. Then he separated his shoulder and fell off the map until the end of the season when he finally got healthy. He finished with 41 catches for 609 yards and two touchdowns, but for a moment looked to be on the verge of special. Murphy is out of action in the first week this year already, but if he has a nice game when he returns he is worth considering as a FA pick up.

Defense/Sp.Tms. – The Raider defense is not worth drafting right off the bat, but once they get tested and you have an opportunity to judge whether they can stop the runs or not, there is some serious talent here. As far as special teams, the Raiders consistently put together one of the best units on the football field year in and year out.

Keeper League target:

Denarius Moore WR – Moore has come on strong in the preseason and many are talking about him being the real deal. If Moore can earn his way into significant playing time with the injuries to starter Chaz Schilens and third wide out, Louis Murphy, Moore will have an opportunity to make a name for himself with the Raiders. The team is in need of somebody to step up and have a breakout season and Moore could end up being that guy in 2012.

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