Raiders seeking 1st winning record since Gruden returned
LAS VEGAS RAIDERS (8-8)
New faces: DE Yannick Ngakoue, CB Casey Hayward, S Trevon Moehrig, RT Alex Leatherwood, defensive coordinator Gus Bradley, RB Kenyan Drake, DT Quinton Jefferson, CB Nate Hobbs, DT Solomon Thomas, LB Denzel Perryman.
Key losses: WR Nelson Agholor, C Rodney Hudson, RG Gabe Jackson, RT Trent Brown, DT Maliek Collins, S Jeff Heath, S Erik Harris, RB Devontae Booker.
Strengths: With QB Derek Carr coming off his most productive season in three years under coach Jon Gruden, the passing game should once again be the strength for the Raiders. Star tight end Darren Waller remains the top target but the Raiders are counting on second-year receivers Henry Ruggs III and Bryan Edwards to take a big step this year to help make up for the loss of Agholor.
Weaknesses: The Raiders have had one of of the NFL’s worst defenses since Gruden returned in 2018. They tried to address the pass rush by signing Ngakoue to team with Maxx Crosby on the edge. The secondary still has plenty of questions. Last year’s first-round pick Damon Arnette has struggled and will likely play off the bench behind soon-to-be 32-year-old Hayward coming off his worst season as a pro. Moehrig is being counted on to step in immediately at free safety, but third-year players Trayvon Mullen and Johnathan Abram will need to improve if the Raiders are to have a capable defense.
Camp Development: One of the bright spots this summer has been the play of fifth-round CB Hobbs, who has shown some playmaking ability at both slot and outside cornerback. If that can be maintained during the season, it could provide a big boost to the secondary.
Fantasy Player To Watch: Waller has been one of the most productive tight ends with back-to-back 1,000-yard receiving seasons. At a position with only a handful of surefire stars, Waller figures once again to rank near the top at the position in both fantasy and reality.
FanDuel Says: Win Super Bowl: 75-1. Over/under wins: 7.
Expectations: The Raiders haven’t even posted a winning record in any of the first three seasons since Gruden returned. They are hoping for that to change in 2021 in the first season with fans in Las Vegas. But unless the defense takes a major step forward and the offense can remain productive despite replacing three starters on the offensive line, that could be hard to pull off against a difficult schedule.
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