The Oakland Raiders (6-2), a long-suffering franchise despite their iconic brand, have turned things around this season and it’s in large part due to third-year quarterback Derek Carr. The 25-year-old unleashed a team-record 513 passing yards for four touchdowns, to help Oakland hold off the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in overtime, 30-24.
The Raiders are now 5-0 on the road for the first time in more than 40 years, with Carr emerging as an MVP candidate. Altogether, while leading the league in pass attempts (323), he’s completed 66.3 percent of his passes for 2,321 yards and 17 touchdowns to only three interceptions, ranking in the top 10 in most passing categories.
But, from a fantasy perspective and focusing on the defenses he’s faced, exactly how difficult were those eight matchups for Carr? Not very if we look at where each opponent is ranked in work against quarterbacks.
In the first eight games of the season Carr’s been at the Saints (No. 26), vs. the Falcons (No. 29), at the Titans (No. 11), at the Ravens (No. 14), vs. the Chargers (No. 22), vs. the Chiefs (No. 15), at the Jaguars (No. 17), and at the Bucs (No. 16).
Carr torched the Saints and Falcons’ woeful defensive backs for four touchdowns and 618 yards, but once the competition got stronger in Tennessee his completion percentage dipped and he tossed his first interception of the season. He then bounced back against the Ravens for four touchdowns but only threw for 199 yards. The yards came back, 317 of them against the Chargers, but Carr also threw his second interception of the season. He then struggled against the Chiefs with an interception and posted his then-lowest 6.62 yards per pass attempt.
The following week at Jacksonville, Carr slipped to 5.41 yards per attempt but needed only one touchdown pass in a 33-16 romp. Then came his heroics at Tampa Bay.
Carr’s clearly developing into one of the best passers in the game, taking what defenses give him, but if the opposition has the defensive backs to limit his longer throws and deep threats like Amari Cooper, some of Carr’s fantasy and overall value diminish.
And he does have some tough competition in the second half of the season.
Here’s how the rest of the Raiders opponents stack up in terms of points allowed to opposing quarterbacks: vs. Broncos (No. 2), vs. Texans (No. 5), vs. Panthers (No. 30), vs. Bills (No. 3), at Chiefs (No. 15), at Chargers (No. 22), vs. Colts (No. 25), and at Broncos (No. 2).
This week, and in several later, Carr isn’t a certifiable option. But check out our rankings below to find the best combinations for DraftKings, FanDuel, and any other daily fantasy platform.
Byes: Arizona, Chicago, Cincinnati, Houston, New England, Washington
1.Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers
2.Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints
3.Marcus Mariota, Tennessee Titans
4.Jameis Winston, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
5.Sam Bradford, Minnesota Vikings
Carr’s work somewhat overshadowed Rodgers in Week 8, but it’s the Packers’ veteran who has the best matchup this week, meeting a Colts D that’s allowing 19.05 points per week to opposing quarterbacks. Indy just gave up 334 yards and three touchdowns combined to Nick Foles and Alex Smith. Brees gets a 49ers defense that’s actually ranked sixth in the NFL in yards allowed, but that has surrendered 15 touchdown passes, tied for third-worst. Mariota’s a cheaper buy against the Chargers, ranked No. 22 with 18.39 points allowed to QBs. Winston, too, was overshadowed by Carr, but he’s tossed only one interception in the last three games and next faces Atlanta’s fourth-worst work versus QBs. From a numbers standpoint, Bradford by far as the best matchup versus a Detroit D letting up 24.17 points to QBs and he will be far cheaper than Rodgers and Brees.
1.Ezekiel Elliott, Dallas Cowboys
2.Mark Ingram, New Orleans Saints
3.DeMarco Murray, Tennessee Titans
4.Devonta Freeman, Atlanta Falcons
5.Christine Michael, Seattle Seahawks
Elliott can feast on the Browns rush defense, fifth-worst in fantasy with 23.63 points allowed per week, and Ingram should bounce back from his awful, negative-yardage Week 8 against the 49ers, who are dead-last in fantasy (27.11) versus RBs. Murray’s not cheap but he’s a force and lines up opposite San Diego (ranked sixth-worst versus backs). Freeman, who’s overall tailed off but should be less expensive, also has an intriguing with Tampa Bay (eight-worst versus RBs).
1.Antonio Brown, Pittsburgh Steelers
2.Jarvis Landry, Miami Dolphins
3.Allen Robinson, Jacksonville Jaguars
4.Dez Bryant, Dallas Cowboys
5.Emmanuel Sanders, Denver Broncos
The Steelers reportedly expect Ben Roethlisberger to return in Week 9, much to the chagrin of the Ravens cornerback shadowing Brown. Baltimore’s the third-worst defense in fantasy against WRs. Landry, a consistent threat all season, meets a Jets D that’s only one step above the Ravens, allowing 27.14 points per week to WRs. And Robinson, who netted 14 touchdowns last year, might benefit from a new Jags offensive coordinator and a Chiefs secondary ranked second-worst in fantasy (28.08 points per week). Meanwhile, Bryant’s clearly meshed with Dak Prescott and the Cowboys get the Browns’ fifth-worst work against WRs. Sanders, who has surpassed Demaryius Thomas as Denver’s leading receiver, should be a steal against the Raiders.
1.Kyle Rudolph, Minnesota Vikings
2.Jason Witten, Dallas Cowboys
3.Cameron Brate, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
4.Gary Barnidge, Cleveland Browns
5.Dennis Pitta, Baltimore Ravens
Rudolph started hot, scoring touchdowns in three straight games, but has failed to find the end zone the last two games. Still, he gets the Lions (12.33 points per week to TEs) and he’s Bradford’s favorite target with 48 looks this season. Brate’s a cost-effective pickup who gets the Falcons, ranked fourth-worst in fantasy versus TEs. The Cowboys defense has played much better than expected, but they follow Atlanta with 9.93 points surrendered per week, making Barnidge a solid pick.
1.Brandon Marshall, WR, New York Jets
2.Allen Hurns, WR, Jacksonville Jaguars
3.Carlos Hyde, RB, San Francisco 49ers
4.Terrance West, RB Baltimore Ravens
5.Devontae Booker, RB, Denver Broncos
Maybe the trade chatter will spark Marshall, who’s averaging a career-low 4.3 catches per game, or maybe a Miami D coughing up 26.21 points per week to receivers, seventh-worst in the league. Hurns, like his teammate Robinson, could blow up, while Hyde, West, and Booker all face teams ranked in the bottom third against running backs. But with West hurt, keep an eye on Baltimore fourth-round rookie Kenneth Dixon.
Carolina, finally, looked like the defense that went to the Super Bowl last year even if they faded late. The Panthers racked up 8.0 sacks and can pummel the Rams and convince Jeff Fisher that Case Keenum should not be under center anymore. Is it more telling that New Orleans was able to put up 25 points against Seattle (most allowed this year), or that the Seahawks offense has fallen so far? Thus, the Bills could pummel the Seahawks. Meanwhile, the Cowboys could be an easy 8 or 9 points against the Browns, and the same for the Steelers vs. Baltimore.