Raiders Rumors: Fantasy Buzz on WRs Henry Ruggs, Bryan Edwards and Hunter Renfrow

Tim Daniels@@TimDanielsBRFeatured Columnist IVAugust 13, 2021

DENVER, COLORADO - JANUARY 3:  Las Vegas Raiders Bryan Edwards, #89, celebrates his second quarter touchdown with teammates and wide receivers Zay Jones, #12, second from left, Hunter Renfrow, #13, second from right, and Henry Ruggs III, #11, right, at Empower Field at Mile High as the Broncos take on the Las Vegas Raiders in their final game of the year on January 3, 2021 in Denver, Colorado. The Denver Broncos lost to the Las Vegas Raiders 32-31. (Photo by Helen H. Richardson/MediaNews Group/The Denver Post via Getty Images)
Helen H. Richardson/MediaNews Group/The Denver Post via Getty Images

Las Vegas Raiders wide receivers Henry Ruggs III, Bryan Edwards and Hunter Renfrow could all carry fantasy football value during the 2021 season, but they may struggle to separate themselves amid a crowded competition for targets from quarterback Derek Carr.

The Raiders also count John Brown, Willie Snead and Zay Jones among the wideouts on their training camp roster, and a pecking order may take a while to establish once the regular season kicks off in September.

ESPN's Jeremy Fowler provided a comprehensive breakdown of the competition Friday:

"Betting on a Raiders wide receiver in fantasy could be tough because there's good depth but no breakout star. At least not yet. Las Vegas is prioritizing Ruggs, Edwards and Hunter Renfrow, knowing each could have their breakouts in their own way. The Raiders believe Renfrow can become one of the league's top slot guys in 2021, and the trust between Edwards and QB Derek Carr is palpable at Raiders HQ. This is Edwards' first healthy camp, so he has opened some eyes. In the red zone, Carr has no issues throwing to Edwards' shoulders and letting him outmuscle the corner.
"Ruggs should be the safest play because he seems too talented to bust. The Raiders are working with Ruggs on making defenses feel his 4.2 speed by constantly staying on the attack off the line of scrimmage and refining his route-running. Expect some crossers and quick-hitting stuff in his arsenal to get him going and complement the deep ball. The Raiders also emphasized getting stronger, so Ruggs has added about 12 pounds this offseason."

Having six receivers with an opportunity to make an impact and no clear No. 1 target is why the Raiders don't have a wideout being drafted inside the top 50 at the position.

Ruggs is coming off the board as the No. 51 WR on average followed by Brown at No. 55, according to Yahoo Sports. The others are going undrafted in standard fantasy leagues.

Based on Fowler's report, Ruggs makes sense as the Raiders' best fantasy receiver, especially because of his big-play potential. He's got the best skill set of the group to make up for a lack of targets, with a couple long catches each week and the occasional touchdown on a deep ball.

In terms of upside relative to draft value, it sounds like Edwards has the best chance to enjoy a breakout year after an underwhelming rookie campaign in 2020 that saw him make 11 catches in 12 games.

"Very fun to throw him the ball," Carr told reporters last week about Edwards. "I've said it before, just like Davante [Adams] could just move through the air, their body control is just impressive."

Meanwhile, Renfrow is a worthwhile flier in the final rounds in PPR leagues since his work in the slot may give him the most consistent looks, even if it's only a handful per game.

Brown is the toughest player of the group to forecast. He was a rock-solid fantasy asset as the Buffalo Bills' No. 1 wide receiver in 2019, catching 72 passes for 1,060 yards and six touchdowns, but he struggled through an injury-plagued 2020 season after Stefon Diggs arrived as Josh Allen's new favorite weapon.

If Brown is back to full strength and emerges as a starter on the outside, he should be a No. 3 fantasy receiver or flex option each week, but that's far from a guarantee for a 31-year-old wideout who's value is tied closely to his speed.

So, while Las Vegas features one of the NFL's top fantasy tight ends in Darren Waller, it's hard to recommend taking any of the team's wide receivers before the latter stages of drafts.