At 2-3, the Oakland Raiders have more problems than just a record that’s below .500. A banged-up secondary has struggled and ranks in the bottom half of the National Football League. And that same struggling secondary has yet to intercept a single pass this season.
Not one. In five games. Also, no team in the NFL is allowing a higher passer rating on throws of more than 20 yards either. Raiders are combining a lack of taking with a love for giving.
As Ray Aspuria reported for Yahoo Sports, Raiders corner T.J. Carrie really isn’t feeling that love.
“We’ve got to keep working,” Carrie said. “Last year we were excellent in turnovers and going into Week 6 we haven’t had an interception. The lack of turnovers has really hurt us. We’re used to winning those turnover battles and capitalizing, giving our offense a couple of extra opportunities to go down and play.”
Given the injuries in the secondary, Carrie’s more or less been a full-time player all season long. That should continue Sunday when the Raiders welcome in the Los Angeles Chargers, a team allowing the seventh-most fantasy points per game to the cornerback position so far in 2017.
The 27-year-old Carrie, a fourth-year pro out of Ohio, has all the qualities streamers at his position look for. Talent (but not too much talent), a favorable fantasy situation this week and the perfect level of obscurity – he’s on the waiver wire in the vast majority of IDP leagues.
However, on the off chance that Carrie isn’t on the wire, here are some other cornerbacks who might be.
Xavien Howard, Miami Dolphins (at ATL)
As Armando Salguero reported for the Miami Herald, Howard is coming off his best game of the season last week against the Tennessee Titans. “Howard entered the week ranked as the 96th out of 111 qualifying corners with an overall grade of 39.8,” he said, “but had a strong showing against the Titans, earning a grade of 81.5. That’s good enough for 11th-best in the league for the week. Howard was targeted just four times on the day, allowing two receptions for 14 yards while also defending a pass. His overall grade for the season now stands at 46.9, 79th out of 108 qualifying cornerbacks.”
Howard didn’t do a lot statistically last week (three solos), but was against the Matt Cassel-led Titans, who aren’t exactly an aerial juggernaut. Sunday’s trip to Atlanta is different story. Howard will likely draw Julio Jones in coverage most of the afternoon, and with Jones coming off a bye still looking for his first touchdown of the year – let’s just say Howard will be busy and leave it at that.
Buster Skrine, New York Jets (vs. NEP)
Buster Skrine has taken his lumps in 27 career starts with the Jets – and then some. But per Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News, you won’t hear head coach Todd Bowles complain about the 28-year-old. “He has not taken a play off or loped since he got here,” Bowles said. “You got to love that about the guy. He’s willing to do anything and everything. He’s willing to learn. He opens up. He sees things. He understands. He studies. To have that kind of player with that type of skill set, who still wants to learn and love the game, is special.”
If you’ve seen much of Skrine in action, then you know that Bowles probably complains about Skrine plenty — he’s a limited talent who has been one of the worst starting corners in the NFL the past 2+ years. But that doesn’t matter. In fact, it’s rather the point. Tom Brady is going to target Chris Hogan all day Sunday because Skrine will probably be the player “covering him.” And a big day for Hogan means lot of tackle opportunities for Skrine.
Trae Waynes, Minnesota Vikings (vs. GBP)
Like Buster Skrine, Trae Waynes has been picked on quite a bit – in 31 targets his passer rating against is over 100. But head coach Mike Zimmer told Luke Lonien of Vikings Wire that he’s seen some improvements of late. “Sometimes, again when you are a young player, which he still is a young player with the system and things, you tend to think a little bit too much,” Zimmer said. “That was our emphasis last week. Here’s what you do. Don’t worry about all the little intricacies of everything. Let’s just work on this part.”
We’ll see just how “improved” Waynes is Sunday at US Bank Stadium, when the Vikings play host to Aaron Rodgers and the high-powered passing game of the Green Bay Packers. It’s a matchup that should mean plenty of targets for Waynes, who is averaging just over 6 tackles a game in 2017. He also added a pick at home against the Pack a year ago.
Trevor Williams, Los Angeles Chargers (at OAK)
Williams told Ricky Henne of the team’s website that as a replacement for the injured Jason Verrett he knows opposing quarterbacks have him in their crosshairs. “My mindset is they can try me if they want, but if you do, I’ll make you pay for it,” he said. “I don’t take any offense to it. I’m prepared for it. I work my butt off day in and day out for that moment. So I know it’s coming, but I’m prepared. It’s about being focused on your preparation. Come to work with a worker’s mentality. Control the controllable. Then once your name is called, you’re in position to make plays. Don’t overthink anything. I trust myself and my abilities. I’ll do the same thing each week.”
Williams has yet to post any really bonkers stat lines this year or record an interception, although his seven-solo, pass defensed effort two weeks ago against the Philadelphia Eagles gives an inkling of his fantasy ceiling playing opposite Casey Hayward on the NFL’s most-ignored team. With Derek Carr back for the Raiders in Week 6, the second-year pro should be subjected to a healthy dose of targets/opportunities.