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Under The Microscope - Oakland Raiders

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Observations
The Raiders will field a completely new offense this year, making them one of the most intriguing teams to watch early in the season, both on the field and from a fantasy perspective. Raiders fans are understandably excited about an offense that could be one of the league's toughest to defend. If week one is any indication, the trio of Kerry Collins, Randy Moss, and LaMont Jordan should post some impressive numbers this year. Let's take a look into the microscope and see what else we can discover about this team.

Team Stats (numbers in parentheses are NFL Ranking)
NOTE: Until week 5, we will be using 2004 season stats.


Stat Analysis
In this case, the stats show a clear picture of why this team was 5-11 last year. Just by watching the first game, I think it's safe to say that improvement has been shown on the offensive side of the ball. Opening on the road against the world champions, Oakland moved the ball well on the ground, and Moss' 73-yard touchdown catch showed how explosive he can be, no matter the opponent. Statistically, the defense was just as bad as last year, allowing Tom Brady to pass for 300 yards and not producing a single sack or turnover. The Raiders paid dearly for the services of Moss, sending standout linebacker Napoleon Harris to the Vikings along with draft picks. Of course, New England's mistake-free brand of football can make nearly any defense look bad.


Schedule Analysis
Things won't get any easier for the men in silver and black, as they face divisional rival Kansas City, followed by two of the NFC's best teams, the Eagles and Cowboys. We should have a good idea what this team is all about by the time they reach their bye in week 5. You should start Jordan and Moss regardless of the matchup, but if you get negative points for turnovers, be wary of playing Collins against better defenses that bring pressure.

Depth Chart

Player Notes
If LaMont Jordan gets hurt, it's doubtful that either Zack Crockett or Justin Fargas will have much fantasy value. Crockett will continue to be the fullback and short yardage option, and although Fargas has great speed, he's too small to get the tough yards. Once you get past Moss and Porter, there is not much value at the wide receiver position. Ronald Curry didn't catch a single pass in week one, while career backup Alvis Whitted managed to snag two balls for 29 yards. Doug Gabriel could be out another 1-3 weeks with an injured finger. Second-year tight end Courtney Anderson was impressive with 2 TD's in week one, but there is a strong possibility it will be his best game of the season. Still, if your tight end is a dud, he might be worth taking a chance on.

Next Week... I'll put the Dallas Cowboys under the microscope. Does the tuna finally have enough of "his guys" to make a serious playoff run?