Jared Cook, Jordy Nelson Fantasy Outlook After Derek Carr's Benching

Kyle Newport@@KyleNewportFeatured ColumnistNovember 2, 2018

Oakland Raiders wide receiver Jordy Nelson (82) runs against San Francisco 49ers defensive back Richard Sherman (25) during the first half of an NFL football game in Santa Clara, Calif., Thursday, Nov. 1, 2018. (AP Photo/John Hefti)
John Hefti/Associated Press

Just hours after NFL Network's Ian Rapoport reported the Oakland Raiders wanted to build around Derek Carr, the fifth-year quarterback laid an egg against the San Francisco 49ers on Thursday and was benched by the end of the night at Levi's Stadium.

Following the Raiders' 34-3 loss to Nick Mullens and the Niners, fantasy football owners were wondering how to approach Oakland's skill position players.


Jordy Nelson

Like many of his fellow Raiders, Jordy Nelson had a quiet game against San Francisco. And unfortunately for fantasy owners, that's become a common trend for the Oakland wideout.

Nelson got off to a strong start during his first year in silver and black, putting up 317 yards and three touchdowns in his first five games. But over his last three contests, he has just five receptions for 36 yards and zero scores.

More glaringly, he is averaging just 3.3 targets per game during that stretch.

Nelson's track record speaks for itself, though. Prior to last year, he had recorded three consecutive 1,200-yard seasons with the Green Bay Packers and had another in 2011. He also has three years with at least 13 touchdowns, averaging 11.4 from 2011 to 2016. Even when he managed just 482 yards last year, he found the end zone six times.

There is reason for fantasy owners to be concerned with Nelson's recent slump, but unless your team is loaded at wideout, he should remain a starter. With Amari Cooper gone, Nelson is the clear go-to player in Oakland's receiving corps.


Jared Cook

Jared Cook should also remain in fantasy lineups as Carr struggles.

Even after Thursday night's two-catch, 20-yard game, the 6'5", 254-pound tight end leads Oakland in targets (48), yards (474) and touchdowns (three). All three of his scores came in the four-game stretch before Week 9.

Cook already has three games with 70-plus yards and five contests with five-plus targets, including two with double-digit looks.

The Raiders offensive line gave up eight sacks to the 49ers—seven with Carr in the game. As he faces pressure, Carr will look to get rid of the ball quickly, making Cook a valuable option in the middle of the field.

Fantasy owners may be worried that Cook has 20 yards or fewer in three of the past four games. But given he has been the team's leading pass-catcher, it would be a mistake to bench him unless the roster also includes a Rob Gronkowski or a Zach Ertz.