The 2012 Oakland Raiders will start this season in a very different manner: with no Al Davis. Davis was indeed the face for the Raiders for nearly a half century, and he loved the Raiders and wanted nothing but the best for his team. So now that Davis is gone, who will be the new face of the franchise? Who will be the life force to get this team back to it’s winning ways? The Raiders have been so close in recent years to winning the division and being a playoff team. Just last year, Oakland was 8-8: the same overall record, the same conference record of 6-6, and the same division record of 3-3 as the eventual division winner, the Denver Tebows, er Broncos. It’s been the same thing the last few year: they get close, but they can’t quite make that leap to above average. It does seem that they do have their quarterback. It also seems that they do have their running back. They do have a good defense, but what else do they have? Oh yeah, they have a great kicker, who can win those close games for the Raiders. But do you Raiders fans really want to hear about their kicker? Of course not. They want what Al wanted: they wanna Just Win Baby!!
Fantasy Football Studs: There are one or two true studs who have emerged in Oakland. Darren McFadden has top 10 fantasy player ability. He’s big, strong, and fast. He has become one of the most exciting players in the league and he is an every week starter. But I do have a big concern about Run DMc……he’s as brittle as a toothpick. McFadden has yet to play an entire season since being drafted in 2008. Last year, he started out strong, and then BOOM: he was out after 7 games. He’s a stud, but draft with a contingency plan. The other stud is of course, kicker Sebastian Janikowski. I don’t talk a lot about kickers. That’s the one position in Fantasy that really doesn’t need to be drafted, but the one definitely deserves a draft pick. He can kick a 60 yard field goal with the ease of a hot knife through butter. The defense is also a decent pick. Richard Seymour and Tommy Kelly can still get after QBs. I haven’t mentioned Carson Palmer because he’s not a stud, but he can be considered a sleeper because he’s had the entire off season to get familiar with the Raider system and get comfortable with his receivers. His top receiver should be Darrius Heyward-Bey, who should also be considered a sleeper.
Area of Strength: Now this team is mostly mediocre, but it does have strength: the kicking game. When you have a kicker like Sebastian Janikowski that can change the outcome of a game with just one swift swing of his leg, he deserves to be mentioned as a strength. His longest kick last season was 63 yards. He was 7 of 10 on kicks 50 or more yards, and he had an overall average of 89%. If the defense keeps them close and Palmer doesn’t make any big mistakes, the Raiders will win more games this season off Janikowski’s foot. Also, you can’t forget about his ability to put kickoffs through the end zone, controlling the opponent’s field position and their return game. This guy is a very valuable piece of the Raider’s success.
Area of Weakness: This team has a few deficiencies, but the biggest weakness has to be the receivers. There hasn’t been a consistent wide out since Jerry Rice and Tim Brown. It doesn’t mean that they don’t have any talented receivers, but Darrius Heyward-Bey and Denarius Moore don’t scare anybody. These are speedy receivers, along with Jacoby Ford and Louis Murphy, who haven’t had any consistent quarterback play. But you can’t put all the blame on the Raider QBs. Wide receivers have to run precise routes and gain some separation from the defenders. The Raider organization hasn’t had a big time receiver in quite a while. The last time the Raiders had a 1000 yard receiver was Randy Moss in 2005. 2005!!!!!!! Dreadful! Maybe this is the year that someone can break the drought. But until then, this is a weak squad.
2012 Marquee Matchups: In addition to divisional games, the Raiders have some great challenges on their schedule. Week 3 they face the Steelers. Right after their bye week the Raiders head to Atlanta and we should see lots of running that day. Week 10 that run game will be put to the test in Baltimore. Week 16 we’ll see if the Raiders can contain Cam for Christmas when they visit Carolina.
All Things Oakland Raiders: There are several ways to keep up with the 2012 Oakland Raiders. Here are a few…
Apps: Raiders Fans for iPhone (by Webscouts)
Fan Clubs: The official fan club for the Oakland Raiders can be found on www.raiders.com under fan zone.