The 2018 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 final standings.
Oakland Raiders (4-12)
In the second season of a five-year, $125 million contract extension signed in June 2017, Carr posted career highs in both passing yards and completion percentage, though appeared to regress as a signal caller for the second season in a row since throwing a combined 60 touchdown passes between 2015 and 2016. Carr seemed to rely far too much on checkdown passes, as his 6.7 average intended air yards per pass was league-low among quarterbacks who attempted at least 200 throws. Carr’s contract does include a two-year potential out where it could turn into a two-year, $47.675 million deal if the Raiders decide to cut him before June 1, in which case the team would free up $15 million in 2019 cap space while remaining on the hook for $7.5 million in dead money. Cutting Carr is an unlikely scenario with only journeymen A.J. McCarron and Nathan Peterman behind him on the depth chart, though we wouldn’t put it past the Raiders either. Head coach Jon Gruden already butted heads publicly with Carr earlier in 2018, and would likely relish the opportunity to hand pick a quarterback to groom rather than a guy he inherited from a prior coaching regime. With a receiving corps that’s akin to The Island of Misfit Toys, whomever is throwing the ball in Oakland during the 2019 season will be a bottom-of-the-barrel fantasy option.
While it was speculated during the preseason that Lynch would open 2018 in a committee with Martin, the 32-year old veteran handled the majority of Oakland’s carries through the season’s first six games before landing on Injured Reserve due to a groin injury. Lynch’s six starts didn’t go as swimmingly as the second half of the 2017 season, as he only managed to eclipse 3.7 yards-per-carry or 65 rushing yards just once (Week 4 against Cleveland). Martin had been written off by many after several dismal seasons in Tampa Bay, though wasn’t all that bad considering the sorry state of the Raiders offense. From Week 7 onward, Martin was able to average 62.7 rushing yards per game while scoring four times as Raiders’ lead back. With Carr doing his best Checkdown Charlie impersonation all season long, Richard became the X-factor in the Raiders backfield with 68 receptions (which placed him seventh in that category among running backs at the end of the year, and tied for the Raiders’ team lead). With Washington the only Raiders running back currently under contract, the team has some work to do in order to shore up their backfield for 2019. Lynch will be 33 in April, and it wouldn’t be surprising to see him hang up the cleats for good this time after a second injury-marred season since the start of 2015. Martin is no spring chicken either (turned 30 earlier this month), though did manage to close out 2018 strong with a pair of 100-yard efforts in Weeks 16 and 17. Oakland could potentially bring Martin back on a team-friendly deal, though he would undoubtedly be sharing the backfield on a team that will once again likely spend most of 2019 playing from behind. One drawback for Martin is his pass game utility, as he’s averaged just 16.5 receptions per season since catching 49 balls as a rookie in 2012. If the Raiders decide to re-sign Richard as well, it would make sense for the team to get him even more involved, particularly on the ground after he led the team with 4.7 yards per carry. When it comes down to pure fantasy value, this isn’t a group to get at all excited about come summer time unless the Raiders make a big move during the draft/free agency or swing a trade.