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Raiders' Darren Waller, Tyrell Williams, JJ Nelson Fantasy Outlook After Week 3

Megan ArmstrongAnalyst IISeptember 22, 2019

MINNEAPOLIS, MINNESOTA - SEPTEMBER 22: Tyler Conklin #83 of the Minnesota Vikings congratulates teammate Tyrell Williams #16 on Williams' touchdown against the Minnesota Vikings in the fourth quarter of the game at U.S. Bank Stadium on September 22, 2019 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The Vikings defeated the Raiders 34-14. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)
Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

The Oakland Raiders offense has stalled in the two weeks following their 24-16 win over the Denver Broncos to open the regular season, but the team's 1-2 record doesn't totally reflect how effective some players can be in fantasy.   

During Oakland's 34-14 loss to the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday, tight end Darren Waller was the brightest spot with 13 catches for 134 yards on 14 targets. It marked the 27-year-old's first 100-yard receiving game in the NFL, and he showcased plenty of ability to believe in moving forward:

Oakland Raiders @Raiders

D-Wall stays hauling them in. #OAKvsMIN https://t.co/S4AoBvk70e

What's most promising is how much quarterback Derek Carr depended on Waller to move the offense. At halftime, Waller had accounted for 54 of Carr's 199 passing yards (h/t Eddie Paskal).

Through the first three weeks of 2019, the one component keeping Waller from being a no-brainer starting fantasy tight end is his inability to find the end zone. He has zero touchdowns in three games. 

That said, NFL.com's senior fantasy analyst Michael Fabiano categorized Waller as a late-round flier prior to this season. He has proved since then he has more value than that.

If Waller is still available in your league, snag him. If he's on your bench, it's worth taking a chance and starting him in Week 4 when the Raiders travel to play the Indianapolis Colts, who allowed 66 yards and two touchdowns to Atlanta tight end Austin Hooper on Sunday.

While Waller led all pass-catchers Sunday, wide receivers Tyrell Williams and J.J. Nelson each caught a touchdown to record the Raiders' only points. Williams recorded a season-low three receptions for 29 yards, and Nelson hauled in his first four passes of 2019 for 36 yards.

Nelson had been recovering from a sprained ankle suffered in mid-August, and head coach Jon Gruden hyped his return:

Vic Tafur @VicTafur

Gruden excited to have J.J. Nelson back from ankle injury: “He’s a guy that had a great training camp for us. He was getting a lot of reps, for a lot of reasons, and he took advantage of them, but yeah, we need the speed. No doubt.” #Raiders

The fact Nelson notched a touchdown in his first game back from injury could be encouraging. However, the Raiders incorporating him back into the offense could take targets away from Williams.

Even so, Williams has scored a touchdown in each of the season's first three games and got off to a hot start with 105 yards receiving in the season-opener. In other words, he still holds the potential to be Carr's undisputed No. 1 target, though Sunday's performance was enough to give some fantasy owners pause. 

In the coming weeks, Williams remains a WR2 option, while Nelson is one to monitor at flex.

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