Editor's note: The experts at Rotoworld.com are breaking down all 32 NFL teams for their fantasy impact as the 2015 season approaches.
Raiders Year in Review
2014 Pass Attempts Rank: 4th (629)
2014 Rush Attempts Rank: 32nd (337)
2014 Total Offensive Plays Rank: 25th (994)
2014 Yards Per Play Rank: 32nd (4.5)
Projected Starting Lineup
QB: Derek Carr
RB: Latavius Murray
WR: Amari Cooper
WR: Michael Crabtree
WR: Rod Streater
TE: Mychal Rivera
LT: Donald Penn
LG: Gabe Jackson
C: Rodney Hudson
RG: J'Marcus Webb
RT: Austin Howard
Passing Game Outlook
Derek Carr is widely perceived as having had a successful rookie year. Carr did do well to avoid turnovers, but ranked 34th in completion rate (58.1), 39th in yards per pass attempt (5.5), and 37th in passer rating (76.6) among quarterbacks with at least 120 throws. Carr is athletic with a strong arm and quick release, but he was a checkdown machine as a rookie, and the jury is very much out on whether he'll grow into a quality starter. The Raiders have beefed up Carr's supporting cast, using early draft picks on Amari Cooper and Clive Walford and signing Michael Crabtree as a one-year rental. Underrated sub-package receiver Rod Streater returns from an injury-ruined campaign. The pieces around Carr are better, but they're still well-below league average. The Raiders are going to need more from Carr this year. His 2014 interception total was so low because Carr spent virtually the entire season dumping off to FB Marcel Reece, plodding TE Mychal Rivera, and departed slot guy James Jones. Last year's No. 20 fantasy quarterback, I'm not holding my breath for Carr to vault into high-end QB2 territory.
Amari Cooper won the 2014 Biletnikoff Award as college football's top receiver, setting an SEC record with 124 receptions as a 20-year-old true junior. He finished his college career with a 228-3,463-31 receiving line, averaging 15.2 yards per catch. Although Cooper lacks ideal in-air leaping ability (33-inch vertical), he combines sub-4.4 speed with blinding short-area quickness, evidenced by Cooper's 6.71 three-cone time and 3.98 short shuttle. Likened to Torry Holt by NFL Network's Mike Mayock, there are also elements of Odell Beckham to Cooper's small-ball game. Barely 21 years old, Cooper projects as an eventual PPR monster and is set up for immediate lead-receiving duties in Oakland. His game perfectly fits Derek Carr's conservative passing approach. While the Raiders probably won't finish top four in the NFL in pass attempts again this year, this is still a team that projects to spend most of the season playing from behind, and Cooper should command a lofty share of the targets. I like his chances of catching 80-plus passes as a rookie. Cooper's fifth-round ADP in season-long re-draft leagues is aggressive, but I'm willing to take him in the sixth round in best ball.
Coming off a massively disappointing 2014 where he managed a 68-698-4 receiving line, dropped 10-of-78 catchable targets, and played under 70 percent of the 49ers' snaps despite starting all 16 games, Michael Crabtree generated little interest on the free agent market. He settled for a one-year, $3 million contract in Oakland, with $2 million more available through incentives. The deal is almost a carbon copy of Hakeem Nicks' 2014 one-year pact with the Colts. At this stage of his career, Crabtree profiles very similarly to Nicks as a still-relatively-young (28 in September) wideout with a concerning history of lower-leg injuries that have sapped Crabtree's movement ability and separation skills. In March, NFL Network's Albert Breer reported the 49ers' coaching staff believed Crabtree had "really slowed down" after his 2013 Achilles' tear. Crabtree will compete for a starting job with Rod Streater across from Amari Cooper training camp. Crabtree will enter August as the presumptive favorite.
[RELATED: High praise for Cooper, Crabtree]
Rod Streater appeared to be an ascending player as recently as 2013, when he led Oakland in receiving (60-888-4), before fracturing his foot in Week 3 last season and missing the rest of the year. Undrafted in 2012, Streater's college production was limited by abysmal quarterback play in one of the nation's run-heaviest offenses at Temple, but he did impress at his Pro Day, clocking 4.46 with a 37 1/2-inch vertical and springy 11-foot-1 broad jump at 6-foot-2 and 193 pounds. Fully recovered at OTAs and minicamp, Streater impressed beat writers with his explosiveness in practice. The Raiders showed their belief in Streater by giving him a second-round tender ($2.356 million) in restricted free agency, while assigning fellow RFA Andre Holmes an original-pick tag ($1.542 million). 27-year-old Streater will enter camp as the front-runner for No. 3 receiver duties, ahead of Holmes and Kenbrell Thompkins. And don't be shocked if Streater puts heat on Michael Crabtree for a starting job at some point.
Mychal Rivera's 2014 counting stats (58-534-4) look somewhat respectable on paper, but the Raiders saw their tight end position as a weakness entering the offseason. They signed blocker Lee Smith to a three-year, $9 million deal before drafting Clive Walford with a top-70 pick. Pre-training camp buzz around the team has Walford as a legitimate candidate to overtake Rivera for lead tight end duties. Based on college film and measurables, Walford has superior size, athleticism, and blocking ability to the incumbent. In all likelihood, this tight end trio will fail to produce fantasy value in 2015. Even with tight end duties all to himself last season, Rivera finished as the TE19 with just three games over 40 yards.
Running Game Outlook
Latavius Murray is 6-foot-3, 223 with 4.38 speed, a 36-inch vertical, and a 10-foot-4 broad jump, absurd athletic metrics for his Eric Dickersonian size. He was identified as a SPARQ superstar in Zach Whitman's 2014 preseason column. Some fantasy analysts have noted that Murray's per-carry efficiency was spiked by long runs last year, but he did average a rock-solid 4.31 YPC even if you exclude his 90-yard TD against the Chiefs. Murray received strong pass-block grades from PFF and held his own as a receiver, securing 17-of-22 targets for 143 yards. I'm less worried about Latavius' talent and more concerned with his situation. The 2014 Raiders fielded the NFL's most anemic offense north of Jacksonville and are tied for the NFL's lowest Vegas Win Total at 5.5 victories. After the signing of passing-game specialist Roy Helu, Murray could fall flat if relegated to two-down duties on one of the league's worst teams. In that scenario, Helu might end up out-snapping Murray, even if Latavius keeps the "starting" job all year. Latavius' current early-fourth-round ADP is a bit too rich for my taste.
[RELATED: Murray poised for breakout year?]
One of the NFL's most-underappreciated tailbacks, 26-year-old Roy Helu has a career rushing line of 255-1,132-7, averaging 4.44 YPC with 129 receptions. Helu had a down year as a pass protector with Jay Gruden installing a new offense in Washington last season, but earned a top-three pass-block grade among 55 qualified backs from PFF the year before. Although Helu seems to have been typecast as a third-down back by NFL teams, he has the build of a lead runner at 6-foot, 219 and ran 4.44 coming out of Nebraska. Signed to a two-year, $4.1 million deal, Helu is the best value pick in Oakland's backfield this season, currently sporting a 13th-/14th-round ADP. His usage will benefit if the Raiders play from behind frequently, and I wouldn't entirely rule out the possibility of Helu stealing Latavius Murray's job. Helu should be an especially attractive target for fantasy owners taking a Zero RB approach.
The Raiders took a free-agent flyer on former No. 3 overall pick Trent Richardson, signing the colossal draft bust to a two-year, $3.85 million deal this past March. T-Rich received $600,000 guaranteed. Still only 25 years old, Richardson reportedly cut weight this offseason and will enter camp fighting Latavius Murray and Roy Helu for carries. T-Rich holds a career YPC of 3.31, including 3.09 in 29 games with the Colts. During that same time period in Indianapolis,Donald Brown posted a 5.26 per-carry clip, while Ahmad Bradshaw averaged 4.66 and Dan Herron went for 4.63. I'm not in the camp that believes T-Rich's talent was overrated coming out of Alabama. My belief is Richardson mailed it in after his rookie season, refusing to give full effort on the field and not keeping himself in shape. Either way, a "light" seems unlikely to flip on for Richardson in Oakland. His progress will still be worth monitoring in camp.
Vegas Win Total
In the football community, there has seemingly been more optimism than usual regarding the 2015 Raiders. Vegas isn't on board, setting Oakland's Win Total at 5.5 games, tied with Jacksonville and Tennessee for worst in the NFL. Keep in mind this is a team that last season ranked dead last in yards per play, first downs, yards per pass attempt, and turnover differential. They were 31st in points. This year, every other AFC West team has a Win Total of at least 8.5, while Oakland's non-division schedule consists of the tough AFC North and NFC North, plus Cleveland and the Jets. If you're buying Derek Carr as a quality NFL starter, you ought to bet the over on 5.5 wins. I'm not there yet, and will guess Oakland goes 5-11.