Let’s take a quick look at some of last week’s biggest stories.
ACDC Finally Charges the Raiders
One of the top QB/WR stacks over the past two seasons has been the combination of Derek Carr and Amari Cooper in Oakland. Prior to last Thursday night’s game against the Chiefs, this combo had been completely non-existent in 2017 and many fantasy owners were forced to jettison either Carr or Cooper from their lineups. Carr’s struggles are explained by his dealing with a stress fracture in his back but it’s tougher to figure out how Cooper became a fantasy ghost, catching only nine balls for 51 yards in his previous four games. Lightning finally struck, as Cooper hauled in 11 catches for 210 yards and two scores against a stingy Chiefs defense. Carr, would finish with 417 yards passing and three touchdowns, including the game winner to Michael Crabtree with no time left on the clock.
Moving forward, the big question is whether or not Carr and Cooper can remain on the same page. It took seven weeks for new offensive coordinator Todd Downing to finally open up the offense and if the Raiders continue with this air raid philosophy, your fantasy team should be able to benefit mightily. However, early season trends suggest that we might need to be wary of this explosion being a one time wonder.
It’s hard to believe but we’re already a quarter of the way through the NFL season. If you’re lucky, your fantasy team got off to a strong start and, like the Rams, Bills and Lions, you’re feelingly surprisingly good about your team. Or maybe, like the Browns, Giants and Chargers, your team is 0-4 and feeling pretty hopeless. (It’s worth nothing that your shitty fantasy team probably has more fans than the Chargers these days.) Either way, there’s still a lot of season left and players who have looked great could slow down or get hurt even as players who have slumped or been injured finally get back on track. In the meantime, let’s take a look at five early season storylines that have stood out through the season’s first quarter.
Todd Gurley is Back
It’s early but the Los Angeles Rams seem to have found new life under new head coach Sean McVay. Nowhere is this spark more visible than the rebirth of Todd Gurley, who leads all running backs in fantasy points and has been a monster in both rushing and receiving yardage. McVay has committed to getting Gurley the football behind a re-tooled offensive line and it sure seems to be working: Gurley is averaging 29 fantasy points per game and is showing no signs of stopping. With Gurley averaging over 21 carries and five catches per game, his owners have to be thrilled with his early work this year. Look for the Rams to continue to provide lots of opportunity for this offensive juggernaut.
ACDC and the Raiders are a Mess
New Raiders offensive coordinator Todd Downing has been ineffective in play-calling for this talented offense. Amari Cooper (AC) has ghosted on the season, tallying only 12 catches thus far. Couple this with Derek Carr’s (DC) lower back injury and you have a recipe for fantasy disaster. Carr is slated to miss as many as six weeks and the Raiders will have to handle his situation delicately. Backup QB E.J. Manuel does not provide the kind of downfield ability that Carr possesses and which is so important to the team’s offensive gameplan. To go along with the struggles of ACDC, the Raiders have hardly gotten anything from Marshawn Lynch. The preseason hype that Lynch garnered was due mainly to a supposed “high-caliber” offensive line. Lynch is averaging only 3.4 yards per carry and has found the end zone only once. If you’re an owner of anyone from the Silver and Black, your best bet might be to place them on your bench until they can prove that they’re worth a start.