Here is your 2012 Fantasy Football Preview on the Oakland Raiders.  This list features analysis on the wide receivers, running backs, quarterbacks, as well as the tight end position and the defense as a whole. 

In addition, for all the fantasy gurus presentated are the most likely to become the best sleeper, riskiest player, biggest bust, most valuable player, and the kicker, too.

Quarterbacks 

With an entire offseason under his belt, Carson Palmer, 32, looks to have much more success entering his second season with the team.  The Raiders’ starting signal-caller threw for 2,753 yards in 2011.

He completed 199 of 328 passes (60.7 completion percentage) with 13 touchdowns to 16 interceptions.  However, six of those picks came in his first two tests against the Kansas City Chiefs after just having come off the couch, and two weeks later against the Denver Broncos.

Palmer has since had plenty of time to learn the offense under new head coach Dennis Allen and offensive coordinator Gregg Knapp and get comfortable from the pocket with his protection and various weapons.

In most fantasy leagues, he appears to be the second QB selected or ranked between 17th and 19th on the boards.

Albeit he hasn’t been lighting things up in preseason, completing 33 of 56 passes for 321 yards with four interceptions, his best tools haven’t really been available, either.  And again, it is just preseason.

This time of the year carries plenty of weight for young guys trying to prove themselves and make the final roster, but overall, when it comes to the first-string guys, fans, coaches and teams alike just want them to be ready to go for Week 1 of the regular season.

Don’t be surprised if he ends up with 4,000 yards with 20 touchdowns at the end of the season.  Palmer will unquestionably provide an impact for your fantasy team in the bye week or filling in for an injured player.  If Palmer is lost, keep Matt Leinart and Terrell Pryor in mind, but don’t expect them to make a momentous impact in any way in the beginning.

 

Running Backs

Darren McFadden, aka “Run DMC,” is among the top five running backs in this league, when healthy.  However, he has had trouble staying on the field in the past.  That begs the question, is he worth the risk?

For fantasy owners, he’s a solid selection towards the end of the first round or at the top of the second.  In seven starts in 2011, McFadden racked up 614 yards and four scores on 113 carries with 19 catches for 154 yards and a score.

Hitting holes with authority and picking up yards after initial contact is the name of the game for McFadden.  Whenever he touches the ball, he has the ability to change the game.

The question left unanswered is who will fill his shoes if he goes down with another injury.

With Michael Bush now a member of the Bears, Mike Goodson and second-year RB Taiwan Jones—both of whom are currently injured—are backing up McFadden.  This leaves Marcel Reece as the only healthy backup behind Darren McFadden in fantasy leagues at the moment that’s likely to make the final roster in early September.

Wide Receivers

The absence of Jacoby Ford and Denarius Moore (who just missed the cut in our set of the Top 100 NFL Players of 2012) has effected Palmer’s play in preseason.  Both up-and-coming young receivers have been out of the lineup with injuries, but look to be good to go for September.  Their missing presence has also been a positive for a couple of rookie receivers in Juron Criner and Rod Streater.

Both of them have had a chance to see more action in the preseason and it should help with their early development.  Moreover, Criner could become the No. 3 receiver for the Raiders during the upcoming season if he continues to improve.

Darrius Heyward-Bey has looked good in preseason and comes off a breakout third season.  In 15 games (14 starts), Heyward-Bey chalked up 64 catches for 975 yards and four scores in 2011.  He looks to have even better numbers in 2012 with Denarius Moore finishing a close second for the Raiders this year.

 

Defense

While this defense doesn’t quite stack up yet to other AFC heavyweights like the Baltimore Ravens, Pittsburgh Steelers and Houston Texans, it’s improved and we should see a whole different side with a drastic decrease in the number of penalties in 2012.

The defense features key pieces with an all-important veteran presence in Tommy Kelly and our No. 99th overall best player in the game today in Richard Seymour with young up-and-coming linemen like Lamarr Houston and Matt Shaughnessy up front.

There’s also a solid group of linebackers, led by Rolando McClain and Philip Wheeler.  The talent at the back-end of the defense is less-than-impressive, though the group of guys in the secondary are better than last year by leaps and bounds, as killer penalties will no longer put a damper on the entire defense every week.

The Raiders replaced the corners that kept giving up chunks of yards from penalties with a couple of reliable vets in Ronald Bartell and Shawntae Spencer and held onto Michael Huff and Tyvon Branch at safety.

Risk Pick

Denarius Moore may possess exponential potential and very well could embark on a breakout second season, however buyer beware, as there are some injury concerns.  He’s been battling lingering hamstring issues this summer and is nowhere near 100 percent.

The team relies heavily on his blazing speed and once he returns to the field fully healthy, the sky is the limit.  Nevertheless, at the moment, it’s probably best to place him on your bench and pick him up in the later part of the middle rounds.

Tight Ends

If you’re looking for a great deal or a great steal, look elsewhere.  While Brandon Myers may become a decent option to some fantasy owners and perhaps a solid contributor for the Raiders, this isn’t going to get you a good ROI.

 

Sleeper Selection

Juron Criner is a rookie receiver ready to make a statement right out of the gate in his first year with the Raiders.  Selected at the tail-end of the fifth round (168th overall), Criner don’t come close to fitting the billing of the typical Raiders receiver.

While he may be an afterthought to others in your fantasy league, expect him to get involved early in Oakland’s offense and present trouble for opposing defenders.  Moreover, as his opportunities continue to increase, his numbers on the stats sheet and fantasy value will do the same, so keep him in mind down the road to become a fill-in and a late-round pick.

However, he has big potential and a great understanding of the fundamentals and that has been displayed all offseason. 

Biggest Busts

There are a plethora of better options at receiver on the Raiders’ roster and the team’s tight ends rank near the bottom of the NFL entering 2012.  Moreover, Carson Palmer has the potential to be the surprise quarterback of the year (in a good way).

As for the defense, the inexcusable and relentless penalties are in the past under this new regime and the Raiders looks to get after the opposing offenses early and often in the upcoming season.

While to-to-bottom, this team may not offer the crème de la crème options across the board, there are a number of talented young and proven players on the Raiders’ roster that will be sure to advance your fantasy team in 2012.

Kickers

As long as Sebastian Janikowski stays healthy, he’ll remain hands down one of the best options at the position.

Most Valuable Player

With the AFC West likely to end in a photo finish this season, the best players on the Broncos, Chargers, Chiefs and Raiders’ roster must stay out of trouble and remain healthy.

Easily the most important piece of Oakland’s offense, “Run DMC” has exceptional fantasy value and is an unreplacable piece to the Raiders’ puzzle.  One of the most multi-dimensional running backs in the league, McFadden is a scoring machine that could make or break this team if its in the mix in December. 

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