As the 2014 NFL regular season swiftly approaches, the fantasy football world continues to be shaken up by roster moves and depth-chart alterations. One significant change took place on Monday when the Oakland Raiders announced rookie Derek Carr would be taking the reins as the team's starting quarterback to begin the season.
Jay Glazer of Fox Sports broke the news:
Breaking: Raiders players have been informed that the team is making the switch at QB and starting Derek Carr over Matt Schaub— Jay Glazer (@JayGlazer) September 1, 2014
This changes things for Oakland's top wide receivers, as the regular-season opener against the New York Jets—and their shaky secondary—looms on the horizon.
Veteran signal-caller Matt Schaub was originally slated as the team's starter earlier in training camp; however, several lackluster showings over the preseason signified a changing of the guard. Carr may be a rookie, but he showed flashes of his talent during the team's exhibition games—most notably his 143 yards and three touchdowns in 16 minutes against the Seattle Seahawks.
Here's a look at each quarterback's preseason numbers:
Who should be the Oakland Raiders starting QB? RT for Derek Carr FAV for Matt Schaub pic.twitter.com/Sor0mdto3u— NFL on ESPN (@ESPNNFL) August 29, 2014
The Raiders made a wise choice.
Oakland's wide receivers weren't exactly considered must-have players by fantasy owners—and they still aren't—but that doesn't mean we shouldn't keep a keen eye on them heading into the regular season.
Rod Streater enters his third year in the league—and with the Raiders—after a breakout 2013 performance in which he accumulated 60 receptions for 888 yards and four touchdowns. Of the team's top receivers, Streater has the most experience in offensive coordinator Greg Olson's system.
Last season, Streater became the team's most consistent target despite some very inconsistent quarterback play. That's a good sign considering he's about to continue his NFL career with a rookie under center.
James Jones enters his first season with the Raiders after spending seven with the Aaron Rodgers-led Green Bay Packers. To say he's in for a big change in 2014 could be considered a severe understatement.
Jones broke out in 2012, tallying 14 touchdowns and recorded a career-high 817 yards in 2013. He'll be taking on a much larger role in Oakland's offense this season, and fantasy owners must be patient with him early—there's no telling how he'll adjust to a new system after limited preseason play.
Denarius Moore may have the most upside of the trio, but due to his position on the depth chart behind the other two, fantasy owners may not see immediate results. Rotoworld's Adam Levitan tweeted the pecking order during the preseason:
Raiders started Rod Streater and James Jones. Denarius Moore rotated in. Also, MJD played every snap on first drive.— Adam Levitan (@adamlevitan) August 23, 2014
Wildly inconsistent in 2013, Moore shined at times and all but disappeared at others. He finished the season with 46 receptions for 695 yards and five touchdowns.
One big positive for Moore entering the season is his apparent rapport with Carr. During Oakland's final preseason contest against Seattle, Carr and Moore hooked up three times for 58 yards and two scores.
During a press conference after the game, via Raiders.com, Carr spoke of his relationship with the receiver:
Yeah, I mess with D-Mo all the time. If he's not in with me, I be like, 'Bro, when you're in, you help me look good. Can you get back in there?' So in this one, he catches the deep ball and I was like, 'Man, I really appreciate you being in there.' Obviously, we're all just joking around. But D-Mo's a good receiver. He's obviously fast. He ran that go-route right by that guy. He's someone that I trust and someone that I feel good going to. But to be completely honest, all of our receivers, I have that same feeling with all of them. He just happened to be in that position versus that coverage.
That's certainly a compelling statement by the rookie signal-caller. However, fantasy owners will have to wait to see how much time Moore will spend on the field before his value can be established.
Which receiver will benefit most with Carr at QB?
In fact, that statement could be made for any of the three aforementioned wide receivers. This will be the first year all three play together with a new quarterback who has spent a limited amount of time with the first-team offense.
For now, fantasy values should remain the same for Moore, Streater and Jones—none should really be considered more than low-end flex options. Although, all three should be on every owner's radar, as each has a chance to provide significant value this season due to the positive change at quarterback.