Las Vegas Raiders (1-0, 1-0 ATS) at Pittsburgh Steelers (1-0, 1-0), 1 p.m.
Implied Team Totals: Raiders 20.5, Steelers 26.5
Spread/Total Movements: 5.5 to 6, 49 to 47
Weather: 80 degrees, 5% chance of rain, 5 mph
Raiders Injuries to Watch: RB Josh Jacobs (toe/ankle, out), LG Richie Incognito (calf, out), OG Denzelle Good (ACL, IR), DT Gerald McCoy (knee, IR), QB Marcus Mariota (quad, out), DE Carl Nassib (pec, questionable), DE Yannick Ngakoue (hamstring, questionable)
Steelers Injuries to Watch: CB Joe Haden (groin, questionable), LB Devin Bush (groin, questionable)
Brolley’s Raiders Stats and Trends
The Raiders are 4-1 ATS in their last five games as an underdog, and they’ve played over the total in four straight games as an underdog.
Las Vegas is 13-3-1 toward overs since last season.
Derek Carr got smoking hot in the fourth quarter and overtime after a slow start against the Ravens in Week 1. He turned his 56 attempts into 435 yards (7.8 YPA), two touchdowns, and one INT for 25 FP. The Steelers suffocated Josh Allen with three sacks and a 41% pressure rate all while blitzing just once on 56 dropbacks.
Darren Waller was the only TE to have 100+ receiving yards in Week 1 and it could’ve been a 200-yard night if Carr had been on point in the first three quarters. He soaked up 19 targets on his way to 10/105/1 receiving, which gives him 100+ receiving and double-digit targets in five of his last six games.
It took Bryan Edwards 59 minutes to make his presence felt in the season opener, but he caught fire late with 4/81 receiving on five targets (9% share) and he just missed a game-winning TD in overtime. The Steelers gave up 23 catches on 39 targets against a pass-heavy Bills’ offense last week.
Henry Ruggs still hasn’t cleared five targets in a game after posting 2/46 receiving on five looks in the season opener. Hunter Renfrow led this young receiving corps in routes (37), targets (9), and catches (6) with Ruggs and Edwards struggling for much of the season opener. Cole Beasley posted 8/60 receiving on 13 targets against the Steelers last week.
It didn’t take long for Josh Jacobs to have to play through injuries, but he turned his 10 carries into two touchdowns and 34 yards against the Ravens. He continued to be a limited option in the passing game with just a six-yard catch on two targets despite running the same number of routes (23) as Kenyan Drake, who turned his routes into 5/59 receiving. The Raiders could face a negative game script as a 5.5-point road underdogs, and the Steelers allowed 14/80 scrimmage to Devin Singletary last week.
Brolley’s Steelers Stats and Trends
The Steelers have failed to cover in four straight games as a favorite.
Pittsburgh is 4-1 toward overs in its last five games.
Najee Harris posted a pedestrian 5.9 FP in his professional debut but better fantasy days are coming in the near future. Najee posted just 16/45 rushing (2.8 YPC) with a four-yard catch on three targets against the Bills but, more importantly, he never left the field on Pittsburgh’s 58 offensive snaps. Harris isn’t going to be the most efficient player running behind one of the league’s worst offensive lines, but he has a great chance to finish as an RB1 this season based purely on volume. Ravens’ RBs combined for 21/98/2 rushing against the Raiders last week.
Ben Roethlisberger led the Steelers to a Week 1 victory over one of the AFC’s best in a defensive battle with the Bills. He completed 18/32 passes for 188 yards, including the go-ahead five-yard touchdown to Diontae in the fourth quarter. Roethlisberger averaged just 5.9 YPA with an aDOT of 6.1 yards in the season opener after averaging just 6.3 YPA and an aDOT of 6.9 yards in his first season back from elbow reconstruction surgery. Lamar Jackson averaged 7.8 YPA against the Raiders last week.
Diontae Johnson led the Steelers with 10 targets on 29 routes, which he turned into 5/36/1 receiving with an aDOT of 5.8 yards. Chase Claypool also ran 29 routes that he turned into 3/45 receiving on five targets with an aDOT of 10.6 yards. JuJu Smith-Schuster actually led the group with 35 routes and he produced 4/52 receiving on seven targets with an aDOT of 6.6 yards. The Raiders allowed a healthy 15.6 YPA to Ravens WRs last week for 11/171/1 receiving.
Eric Ebron posted just 1/19 receiving on two targets and 17 routes in the season opener while Pat Freiermuth caught his only target for 12 yards on 12 routes. Las Vegas held Mark Andrews in check with just 3/20 receiving.
Barfield’s Pace and Tendencies
Week 1 – Pace (seconds in between plays): 24.1 (19th)
Week 1 – Plays per game: 84 (2nd)
Week 1 – Pass: 75% (4th) | Run: 25% (29th)
Week 1 – Pace (seconds in between plays): 23.0 (13th)
Week 1 – Plays per game: 57 (27th)
Week 1 – Pass: 63.2% (15th) | Run: 36.8% (18th)
This is one of the hardest games to pin down this week for fantasy. On the one hand, both of these offenses were above-average in pass rate in neutral situations last week as the Raiders went 76% pass and the Steelers went 64% pass when the game was within a score. That usually sets up nicely for a high-scoring environment, but I am concerned about the Raiders historically underwhelming in similar spots under HC Jon Gruden. Since 2018, the Raiders are 3-7 ATS in early-start games on the east coast and have been held to 20 or fewer points seven times in those 10 games. For fantasy, we need the Raiders to show up for this game to go nuts and coming off of their exciting OT victory on MNF vs. the Ravens – I’m not sure we see that.
(Note: We’re dealing with very small sample sizes early in the season – so I’m saving the deep dive into play-calling tendencies until Week 4.)
Huber’s Key Matchup Notes
Last week, the Raiders had a new approach on offense under OC Greg Olson. He utilized heavy personnel on over 70% of snaps last week. It’s a substantial increase over using the setup on just over half of all 2020 snaps. With perhaps Kenyan Drake serving as the catalyst, Olson also converted to an Outside Zone approach instead of using Inside Zone blocking at the fifth-highest rate a season ago.
The Steelers may have defeated the Bills in new OC Matt Canada’s debut, but they did so with the offense stagnating in miserable fashion. As it relates to the usage of Pittsburgh’s talented trio of wideouts, seeing the Steelers use Posse (three-WR) personnel on greater than 70% of snaps was one positive spin.
In specifics, I think the new scheme under Gus Bradley — the Raiders’ new defensive coordinator — is one that WR Chase Claypool should have a ton of success against. It’s no secret that Bradley loves his Cover 3, dating back to his time with Seattle, and Claypool should thrive after a quiet Week 1.
Dolan’s Vantage Points
I’m not overreacting — yet — to Pittsburgh’s Week 1 offense after that slopfest with Buffalo. I do worry about QB Ben Roethlisberger’s complete lack of downfield juice, as his aDOT was just 5.5 in Week 1, after what we thought was a conservative 7.0 in 2020. And keep in mind that Ben did this despite the Bills generating pressure at the sixth-lowest rate in the league in Week 1 (22.7%, per SIS). Ben isn’t a 1-QB option this week.
Ben not going deep benefits Diontae Johnson and JuJu Smith-Schuster. It sure as heck doesn’t benefit Chase Claypool. However, as Wes noted, this matchup sets up well for Claypool, so let’s see if he’s able to get it going after a slow Week 1.
The box score was ugly last week, but Najee Harris played every snap. That’s enough to get me to sign off on him again.
Neither Steeler TE did enough for me to sign off on either as a fantasy option, with both falling below 20 routes.
For the Raiders, it’s hard to recommend Derek Carr as a fantasy option with so many great options on the slate, but keep in mind that he is averaging 368 yards per game over his last five games.
A huge chunk of that yardage has found its way to TE Darren Waller, who will have an epic matchup with Minkah Fitzpatrick this week. It’s one I’m excited to sit back and watch, and Waller just can’t be taken out of a season-long lineup. He had 19 targets and 10 catches last week, and should have had more catches if Carr was more accurate in the first three quarters.
I’m worried about RB Josh Jacobs long term. I thought Jacobs looked good with the ball in his hands last week, but he’s been out of practice multiple times this week with toe and ankle injuries, and he was clearly in pain on Monday night.He’s out and at minimum this looks like something he’s going to have to manage all season.
From a fantasy perspective, Kenyan Drake should be a solid RB2 given his involvement in the passing game last week, but the run game could find room a little tight with both Raider starting guards injured — Denzelle Good (knee) is out for the year, and Richie Incognito (calf) remains week-to-week. Of course, Jon Gruden thinks this is a good time to get Peyton Barber, a stinky plodder, involved!
Raiders head coach Jon Gruden was asked if this will be an opportunity for Kenyan Drake with Josh Jacobs out Week 2.— Doug Kyed (@DougKyed) September 17, 2021
Gruden pivoted to talking about Peyton Barber while saying "Kenyan will continue to play a role in our system no matter who the other back is." pic.twitter.com/GIhsBOe1lg
At WR for Vegas, I’m cool having Bryan Edwards and Hunter Renfrow on my bench, but neither guy is a particularly appealing redraft league option against a tough defense on a West-to-East roadtrip. Joe Haden was added to the injury report on Friday, though, so the matchup could be a little bit juicier.