Which Oakland Raiders Receivers Will Stand Out in 2014?
With the reins of the Raiders being handed to Derek Carr, the question now becomes: who exactly will he be throwing too? Two of the receivers the Raiders had last year aren’t on the team in 2014, and one more just landed on injured reserve. With the five receivers on Oakland's roster right now, which ones should be the top targets on the team?
The Raiders brought in former Packers receiver James Jones to bolster the receiving corp over the offseason. How does his experience stack up against the rest of the team?
James Jones has the edge in experience, and accumulated nice nunbers in his seven years as a Packer. But remember this was with Aaron Rodgers at the helm, and Jones was always the third - sometimes fourth - option throughout his career. He shined at points in career due to injuries, but his 14 touchdown receptions in 2012 were the exception, not the rule.
However, we should note that Holmes finished 2013 with 0.67 Reception Net Expected Points (NEP) per target average. His mark was slightly above average, finishing 15th of 37 receivers who had between 40 and 70 targets last season.
While Holmes could make some noise for the Raiders this season, it’s really a three-man race for the top-two receiver positions on the team. I’ll be referring to the chart below to make a case for each receiver.
|2013 Stats||Reception NEP||Target NEP||Rec NEP per Target||Catch Rate||Success Rate|
The Case for James Jones
There’s a lot to be said about a receiver with experience. It can be a good thing for a receiver in a new system to know the nuances of the game. But James Jones is also taking a step down from catching passes from one of the top quarterbacks to catching passes from a rookie.
Just because Jones put up nice numbers in Green Bay doesn’t mean that will translate seamlessly to his new team. His problem with dropped passes is well documented, though recent years it's gotten better.
Jones’ two best catch rate campaigns came in two seasons that were the two lowest in terms of targets (2008 and 2011). Those two seasons also happen to be his best seasons in efficiency. So while Jones may add more value when catching more balls, his efficiency numbers drop pretty significantly with volume. Experience can be a good thing, but Jones may have been brought in to mentor, not become the number-one option.
The Case for Denarius Moore
Before the 2013 season began, our own JJ Zachariason wrote about how the Raiders may be better off featuring Rod Streater over Denarius Moore. The Raiders did just that, targeting Streater more often than Moore, but Moore was slightly more efficient on the season than Streater, something he couldn’t say before the 2013 season. Moore also had the edge in receiving touchdowns, but those are really the only advantages he had.
If we look at Moore in comparison to other receivers that received a similar amount of targets, we see Moore is about average as a receiver. Of the 24 receivers that received between 85 and 115 targets last year, Moore was right in the middle in terms of Reception NEP and Target NEP. The difference between the two metrics is simple; Reception NEP looks at a receiver and how he did on catches only, while Target NEP factors in all targets, including drops by the receiver and interceptions by the quarterback.
Despite being in the middle of the pack among those 24 receivers, Moore’s saving metric was his efficiency mark. His 0.78 Reception NEP per Target was fifth-best among the same group of receivers, right ahead of more recognizable receivers such as Golden Tate, Wes Welker, and Roddy White.
The Case for Rod Streater
Of the three Raiders receivers, Rod Streater had the highest Reception NEP, Target NEP, and Success Rate in 2013. Let’s take the Success Rate for Streater first. Not only do we measure how much of an impact a player had within our NEP metrics, we can also measure how many of the receptions counted as a positive contribution to the player – and team’s – overall NEP with the use of a player's Success Rate.
In looking at the 49 receivers with at least 85 targets last year, Streater’s 90% Success Rate was 16th best, and right in line with big name receivers like Brandon Marshall, Dez Bryant, and Keenan Allen. If he was able to contribute within an offense with better quarterback play, could Steater’s value as a receiver rise?
If we consider where Streater ranked among the same group of players we compared Denarius Moore, too, maybe he could. His Reception and Target NEP scores were in the top third of those 24 receivers, ahead of Moore in both and edging out James Jones as well. In comparison to all receivers with at least 85 targets, Streater’s Reception NEP doesn’t rank well (31st), but his Target NEP is right in the middle of the pack and comparable to the Reception NEP of Pierre Garcon, Torrey Smith and Kendall Wright.
Of the top three receivers for the Oakland Raiders, one guy stands out: Rod Streater. Despite the revolving door at quarterback last year, Streater still put up respectable numbers. Streater may not be the next Dez Bryant or Jordy Nelson, but that doesn't mean the talent isn’t there.
The second receiver is closer than it appears. It seems like Denarius Moore and James Jones will have specific roles, and it could take most of the year to see the clear-cut number-two guy in the Raiders offense. But for now, I’d give that edge to Jones based on experience.
These three receivers aren’t guys you want your fantasy football team hinging on, but between the three, the Raiders could put together an offense that can finally hold its own.