The 2017 NFL regular season has concluded, so it’s time to briefly examine the state of each team’s skill positions for fantasy purposes with an eye towards next season. I will be reviewing each team in the reverse order of the 2017 NFL standings. The next team on the docket:
Oakland Raiders (6-10)
Derek Carr did not have the 2017 stats many predicted, as he took a major step backwards after throwing a combined 60 touchdown passes across the two seasons prior. While a scary back injury Carr sustained in Oakland’s Week 4 loss to Denver (which caused Carr to miss Week 5 against Baltimore) may have contributed to the regression, his pass catchers dropping 28 passes (good for third-most in the NFL) did not help either. With Jon Gruden finally stepping away from the ESPN booth and back into coaching, whether or not he can get Carr back on his career trajectory of becoming one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL will be a storyline to monitor in 2018. As of now, Carr should not be too high on your 2018 fantasy draft boards, and is best considered a bye week replacement or streamer.
Though underused at times, Marshawn Lynch’s number weren’t too shabby for someone entering the 2017 season having not played a meaningful NFL snap in nearly two years. Lynch was particularly impressive over the second half of the season, as he put up at least 77 scrimmage yards or scored in every game from Weeks 9 through 17, and most importantly for a 31-year old running back, did not suffer any injuries (Lynch’s lone missed game was due to a suspension). Should Lynch decide to return for his age-32 campaign, he figures to maintain his prominent role on early downs, profiling as a low-end RB2. As they did the year prior, Jalen Richard and DeAndre Washington essentially split backup duties, though Richard (and his 4.9 yards per carry) was clearly the more explosive option. Assuming Lynch decides to keep playing, neither backup figures to carry much standalone fantasy value going into 2018.
Amari Cooper turned out to be one of the bigger 2017 fantasy busts at the wide receiver position, producing 48 receiving yards or less in 10-of-14 games played. The silver lining with Cooper, though, is that his seven receiving touchdowns represented a career high, and he will turn just 24 years old in June. That makes him younger than some of 2017’s highly touted rookie wideouts (Cooper Kupp and Kenny Golladay both come to mind). A fourth overall pick in 2015, Cooper’s talent level is undeniable (see his 11-catch, 210-yard, 2-touchdown performance in Week 7 against Kansas City) though the jury is still out as to whether he can be a consistently reliable No. 1receiver in the pass game. Going into 2018, Cooper is best viewed as an upside WR2. Over the first half of 2017, Michael Crabtree was the more desirable Oakland wideout to own, averaging 67.3 receiving yards per game and scoring six times across the six healthy games he played from Weeks 1 through 8. Crabtree’s season took a turn for the worse from Week 9 onward, as he averaged just 29.7 receiving yards per game and scored only two more times the rest of the way (in addition to earning a Week 13 suspension due his scuffle with Denver cornerback Aqib Talib the week prior). Turning 31 in September and coming off his worst receiving yard output since 2013, Crabtree enters the offseason as a potential release candidate, though the fact that he’s scored 25 times over the past three seasons ensures the former 10th overall pick in the 2009 draft won’t last long on the open market.
Signed to a two-year deal last March after a disappointing 2016 season in Green Bay, Jared Cook ended up leading all Oakland pass-catchers in 2017 receiving yards. In typical Cook fashion, consistency was an issue, as he typically followed up his big performances with clunkers and often failed to produce in pristine matchups. Further illustrating Cook’s volatility, across the seven games Cook caught at least four passes, he averaged 5.1 catches for 69.8 yards per game and scored twice, while averaging just two catches for 20 yards per game over his other nine contests. While Cook has always possessed game-breaking upside as a size/speed freak, he’ll remain nothing more than bye week filler going into his age-31 campaign. Once considered the heir apparent for the Oakland No. 1 tight end role, Clive Walford (a third-round draft pick in 2015) dropped to third on the depth chart after totaling 688 receiving yards and six touchdowns over his rookie and sophomore seasons.