Last year, the Raiders traveled to London for a game on October 14 against the Seahawks, and I spent a bit of that week trying to convince people that the Raiders offense was better than everyone thought it was. To that point in the season, the Raiders had been moving the ball as well as just about any team in the league, and their only issues had been converting yards into points.
This year, the Raiders are again traveling to London (this time for an October 6 game vs the Bears), and they have again been better in some areas than most probably realize. Five weeks seemed like a long enough sample size last year to put trust in what Oakland was doing, and they completely fell apart after that point. We’ll see what this year holds…
Thankfully, it’s easy to remove the Raiders from the “strong offensive pieces” discussion this week (“thankfully,” in that it’s always nice when we don’t have to think about potentially rostering Raiders). They will be taking on a Bears defense that has seen basically no drop-off from last year, ranking second in yards allowed per carry and sixth in yards allowed per pass attempt, while ranking top eight in fewest yards allowed per drive, fewest points allowed per drive, turnovers forced per drive, and drive success rate allowed. Chicago ranks sixth in adjusted line yards and third in adjusted sack rate, and while Oakland’s short-area passing attack is well-schemed, this is still a team leaning on a tight end and a downfield receiver to make this short-area attack work. Josh Jacobs is the “clearest” piece on this side of the ball with any paths to slate-winning upside; and those paths are (of course) extraordinarily murky, with the floor as a (so far) one-dimensional back in this difficult matchup rather low. Rostering Raiders this week is “hoping for a miracle” (or hoping that the Bears, a team with legitimate Super Bowl aspirations missing their starting quarterback and relying on their defense to keep the season alive, somehow fails to show up on defense for this game).
Things don’t get a whole lot more attractive on the other side of the ball, where Mitchell Trubisky is out of action and Chase Daniel will take over the “point guard” (i.e., Checkdown Master) role in this offense.
The Bears would love to win this game by leaning on the run, but the matchup is deceptively difficult in this spot against an Oakland defense that has been absolutely lights-out vs the run if you take away their game against the elite rush offense of the Vikings, with this unit allowing only 3.5 yards per carry to all other running backs. If we filter further and take away edge rushes from these remaining running backs, Oakland is allowing only 2.8 yards per carry; and with Chicago featuring very few edge rushes so far this season, it’s tough to get too excited about the prospects of David Montgomery in this spot even after Mike Davis was a healthy scratch last week. Montgomery is a “hope for something to break his way” or “hope for Chicago to hammer the edge with him” play this week.
In the secondary, the Raiders (as always) try to get receivers moving horizontally in order to limit upside opportunities, though they have had consistent breakdowns this year that have led to them allowing the most pass plays of 20+ yards (with Sutton // Sanders // Hardman // Robinson // Thielen // Pascal all getting in on the fun). With the Bears likely to control this game and unlikely to unleash many downfield throws, however, we also need to be concerned about the fact that Oakland is going to show looks that will lead to fewer wide receiver targets in general. With Daniel under center for Chicago, it probably goes without saying that Allen Robinson is (by far) the most attractive target on this side of the ball, though “most attractive” is relative. This is a good spot for Robinson to lead the Bears in scoring, and with a touchdown he would be a nice piece on this slate, but you’re also drawing a number of lower-score paths if you take on the handful of upside paths he carries. With an Over/Under of 40.5 and Daniel under center, of course, everyone else in this unpredictable, spread-the-wealth passing attack is completely guessing and hoping.
JM’s Interpretation ::
If Trubisky were playing this week, it would be an interesting week to consider Tarik Cohen in tighter builds, as a matchup against a Raiders team that is tough against the run but tries to limit downfield passing would set up really nicely for Cohen to see heavier schemed usage than he has been seeing lately. For that matter: the fact that Daniel is under center this week increases the likelihood of some schemed Cohen targets as well, but the chances of these coming on wheel routes that spike upside (and the chances of any wheel routes being completed) are lowered, leaving expectations here about where they have been. Cohen is worth a mention as the likeliest “slate breaker” from this game, but his paths to that sort of game remain fairly thin.
Robinson also has an outside shot at a slate-breaker, as he’s the featured piece of this offense and should see seven to nine targets in a good matchup; but it will likely take a broken play or multiple touchdowns for you to notice you didn’t have him.
I expect to leave this game alone in tighter builds and to have minimal exposure in large-field play (with exposure centered around Cohen // Robinson), and even for MME players this game will require outlier scenarios to hit for you to even notice you missed anything if you fade this game altogether.
Added Thoughts ::
Pretty much right after I finished this writeup, I went back and re-watched the Week 4 Bears // Vikings film in preparation for writing up the Vikings // Giants game, and it struck me that Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer is Raiders DC Paul Guenther’s mentor. The schemes these teams run are similar, with the Vikings (obviously) boasting far better personnel and presenting a much tougher matchup. In that matchup against the Vikings last week, the Bears really leaned on Robinson and featured Cohen pretty heavily in the first half (including a dropped wheel route that Daniel threw perfectly). None of this pushes these guys toward Core Build territory; but re-watching that game and thinking about how the Bears will try to attack the Raiders solidifies these guys a bit more for me as large-field pieces. I don’t expect either to be a staple on my rosters, but each is certainly interesting for carrying low ownership and genuine slate-breaking upside.
The Bears also targeted Javon Wims five times on only 30 Daniel pass attempts, and if Taylor Gabriel misses (which currently seems likely), Wims is a non-poor value play on DraftKings and FantasyDraft. Again: you’re unlikely to notice if you fade all these guys; but there are some paths to production on this side of the ball.