Oakland Raiders Running Game 2016[the_ad id=”63198″]This season, the Oakland Raiders have established themselves as one of the most explosive offensive teams in the NFL. They are currently ranked in the top 5 in scoring (27.2 points per game), rushing (127.8 yards per game) and total offense (404.1 yards per game). Deservedly so, Derek Carr and Amari Cooper have garnered many of the headlines for the Raiders, who find themselves with a 7-2 record and fighting for their first AFC West title since 2002. Because of this, the Raiders’ ability to run the ball effectively has been an underrated element of their offensive success. Oakland’s combination of Latavius Murray, DeAndre Washington, and Jalen Richard has taken the pressure off of Carr and brought balance to the offense. Unfortunately, this balanced attack has been frustrating for many fantasy owners looking for more stable production. Luckily, it appears that after nine weeks, the individual usage of each running back is becoming more predictable and their roles more defined.
Lead running back Latavius Murray came into this season with high expectations after being drafted by many fantasy owners as an RB1. Thanks to a recent surge in production, Murray is doing his best to meet those lofty expectations. He is averaging 13.9 fantasy points per game, which currently ranks 11th best among all running backs in fantasy scoring. He has also scored 8 rushing touchdowns, which is tied for 5th in the league, behind only the league’s most elite running backs such as David Johnson and Ezekiel Elliot. Murray also leads the Raiders’ backfield in carries (89), targets (24) and red zone opportunities.
The good news for Murray is that his usage is on the upswing. Over the first four weeks of the year, Murray averaged only 10 carries per game. During this stretch, the Raiders seemed eager to get both Washington and Richard involved early in the year. Perhaps this was done to keep Murray fresh for the stretch run or maybe it was done to see exactly what they had in their younger running backs. Fantasy owners had even more reason for concern when Murray missed two games with a toe injury. However, since returning to the lineup in week 7, Murray has averaged an improved 16.3 carries per game. He has also scored 5 touchdowns and added 8 receptions. In his last game, Murray ran wild against the Denver Broncos, rushing for 114 yards and 3 TDs on 20 carries.
It goes without saying that Murray has the most value of the Oakland trio. Even with Washington and Richard cutting into his weekly usage, fantasy owners can confidently deploy him as a low-end RB1 or high-end RB2. With Murray’s role apparently stabilized, it is important to evaluate how Washington and Richard will figure into the Raiders’ plans. Washington will have solid value as the true handcuff for Murray. He led the team in carries during Murray’s two-game absence and has out-snapped Richard over the course of the season. Despite the fact that Richard has shown more impressive play-making ability, Washington is the player Murray owners should be targeting in the case of an emergency. Richard is a player whose real life value will never be reflected in his fantasy numbers. He gives the Raiders an explosive change-of-pace back as evidenced by his 6.6 yard-per-touch average. In terms of fantasy relevance, however, Richard is only a flex level flier for extremely desperate teams who may be dealing with a number of byes or injuries. Diligent fantasy owners should keep a close eye on this situation as the Raiders continue to produce elite fantasy numbers on a weekly basis and having the right piece of their backfield may provide crucial value as the fantasy playoffs approach.
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|Quarter = 1||46||178||3.9||22||1||2||0||0||0||7|
|Quarter = 2||58||402||6.9||42||8||4||0||1||0||18|
|Quarter = 3||59||231||3.9||15||0||0||0||0||0||14|
|Quarter = 4||71||315||4.4||75||2||5||0||1||1||15|