Raiders of the Lost Ark

Staring at the standings on FantasyDraft can be a bit nerve-racking if sitting just slightly inside or outside the cash line of a contest but owning players from this game should ease those concerns. Assuming you find yourself in a situation where tonight’s game can make or break the weekend, here are my projections for the game tonight that will help make your likely fate abundantly more clear:

Houston Texans at Oakland Raiders

Quarterbacks: Brock Osweiler is literally zero percent owned on FantasyDraft so there is no reason to overanalyze his prospects. The Raiders’ defense ranks 24th in passing defense according to Football Outsiders’ defense-adjusted value over average (DVOA) but Osweiler has graded as the second worst starting QB this season (behind only Ryan Fitzpatrick), per Pro Football Focus. On the other hand, Derek Carr has graded in the top six at the position but he will face a stout Texans defense that ranks 11th against the pass according to DVOA. With his elite protection, he can get it done in any matchup but the Texans’ glaring hole on defense is their rushing defense. If/when the team gets in the red zone, it would not be shocking for them to pound the ball with Latavius Murray and this limiting Carr’s opportunities. While 250 yards and two TDs is not out of the question, it would be a stretch to project more in what could turn into a Murray game. Projections: Derek Carr 20 fantasy points and Brock Osweiler 13 fantasy points

Running Backs: As noted in the QB tidbit, Latavius Murray is in a great spot tonight running behind one of the best few offensive lines in the game against a defense that has allowed the fifth most rushing yards per game (121.4). I continue to believe Murray is just an average talent at the position but the talent around him enhances his potential to the point where he cannot be overlooked. He should be able to at least flirt with the 100 yard rushing plateau and at least have the opportunity to flirt with multiple TDs (like he did last week when he rushed for 114 yards and three scores). Meanwhile, Lamar Miller has been one of the more disappointing backs as he has only exceeded 15 fantasy points twice this season and only once since Week 2. The Raiders are incredibly susceptible to the run, and he catches passes out of the backfield (Raiders 29th in DVOA to RBs in the passing game), so this could prove to be one of his better games. Projections: Latavius Murray 20 fantasy points and Lamar Miller 17 fantasy points

Wide Receivers: One of these days, DeAndre Hopkins is going to have to snap out of his funk by default because he is simply way more talented than he has shown. Somehow, someway he has failed to crack double-digit fantasy points in three consecutive games and now he will draw an individual matchup against the Raiders’ top corner: Sean Smith. While Smith is not unbeatable, he grades as one of the top 15 best cover corners in the league (even after an awful Week 1 showing). Other than him, there are no real other options as Will Fuller will most likely play tonight but not at 100-percent. The most interesting case of the night, however, is Amari Cooper’s individual matchup against A.J. Bouye. Folks, Bouye is probably the best player you have never heard of as he has graded as above and beyond Pro Football Focus’ number one corner in terms of coverage skills and overall so far this season. He has shut down virtually everyone he has faced and now Cooper will be tasked with trying to beat him. Therefore, both Michael Crabtree and Seth Roberts were actually the preferred plays as they should see more targets than usual. Projections: Michael Crabtree 17 fantasy points, Seth Roberts 13 fantasy points, DeAndre Hopkins 13 fantasy points, Amari Cooper 11 fantasy points and Will Fuller six fantasy points

Tight Ends: C.J. Fiedorowicz is clearly one of the top up-and-coming TEs in the league as he sneakily has eclipsed 40 yards receiving in four of his last six games and has scored three TDs during that span. Only eight teams have allowed more fantasy points to opposing TEs than the Raiders and they have also surrendered five TDs the position. As for the Raiders’ Clive Walford, well, he has been a huge disappointment this season and the Texans are one of the stoutest defenses against the position. He can be safely avoided and should have been for the weekend slate anyways. Projections: C.J. Fiedorowicz 12 fantasy points, Ryan Griffin five fantasy points and Clive Walford five fantasy points

Defense: Starting a defense against the Raiders is never a preferred play because the offensive line is so dominant. In fact, the Raiders rate best in football with their QB only having been sacked 1.2 times per game. Quite obviously, that limits the defense’s upside plus the fact that he has plenty of time to throw and the running game is blocked awfully well too. Therefore, not much should be expected from the Texans defense. On the other hand, the Raiders defense is in an intriguing spot against a Texans team that has only averaging 17.9 points per game this season. Additionally, they rank 30th in total offense with 308.8 yards gained from scrimmage per game. Quietly, the Raiders defense has been in positive points every week since Week 2 and they have allowed 20 points or less in two of their last three games. While they were not the absolute best defensive play on the whole slate, they certainly were a viable value play and should be come through with a respectable total tonight. Projection: Raiders Defense eight fantasy points and Texans Defense one fantasy points

Final Score Projection: Oakland Raiders 24, Houston Texans 17

Ricky Sanders

Ricky Sanders

Ricky Sanders is a fantasy sports expert with over 15 years of playing experience. After starting several freelance fantasy sports blogs, Ricky moved up in the fantasy industry when he joined Going9 Baseball. He wrote fantasy baseball content and had a weekly radio spot on the site’s SiriusXM Satellite Radio show. Shortly thereafter, in early 2013, Ricky joined RotoExperts as a three-sport fantasy contributor, eventually becoming one of the site’s lead basketball writers. While writing for RotoExperts, Ricky was introduced to daily fantasy sports and immediately fell in love. With help from some of his mentors, some of the best DFS players in the world, he honed his skills and became the daily fantasy expert he is today. When RotoExperts created a daily-focused website called DailyRoto.com, Ricky was brought on as one of the main contributors. He still makes frequent appearances on the RotoExperts SiriusXM Radio show and on the FNTSY Sports Television Network, talking daily fantasy sports. He also continues to write for a few DFS content sites: RotoCurve and The Fantasy Fix. Ricky is a proud and active member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association. He has agreed to be a writer and representative for the FantasyDraft brand and serves as an ambassador to the site. He has no more access to the site than the typical user. Don’t hesitate to contact Ricky with questions on Twitter @RSandersDFS.

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