Las Vegas Raiders (3-2, 2-3 ATS) at Denver Broncos (3-2, 3-2), 4:25 p.m.
Brolley’s Raiders Stats and Trends
The Raiders won both matchups with the Broncos last season, but they split ATS with one game going over and one game falling under the total.
The Raiders are 6-1 ATS in the last seven meetings in this series.
Las Vegas is 1-4 ATS in its last five road games, and they’re 3-8 ATS in their last 11 games.
The Raiders’s offense will be in the hands of Greg Olson after Jon Gruden’s resignation earlier this week. He’ll be taske
d with getting Derek Carr back on track as he’s fallen below 210 passing yards with just one passing score in consecutive games after opening the year with 380+ yards and two TDs in each of the first three games. Denver has held quarterbacks to fewer than 20 FP in four straight games, but Ben Roethlisberger averaged a season-best 10.1 YPA against them last week.
Darren Waller hasn’t had the same connection with Carr this season. He caught just half of his targets last week for a season-worst 4/45 receiving, and he’s now fallen below 55 receiving yards in four straight games. He at least has 4+ catches in every game, and Mark Andrews managed 5/67 receiving in this matchup in Week 4.
Hunter Renfrow has 5+ catches, 45+ receiving yards, and 10+ FP in each of Las Vegas’ first five games, and he’s even scored twice in the early going. James Proche posted 5/74 receiving as a slot option against the Broncos in Week 4.
Henry Ruggs has fallen below 10 FP in consecutive games and in 3-of-5 contests this season after Carr targeted him a season-low three times last week. The Steelers did score a pair of TDs from 45+ yards away against the Broncos last week, and Marquise Brown shook loose for 4/91/1 receiving against Denver in Week 4.
Josh Jacobs’ snap share (52%<63%<69%), touches (11<18<19), and scrimmage yards (40<57<67) have risen in each of his first three games with the Raiders already hating the Drake. Jalen Richard returned to the rotation last week and ran more routes than Kenyan Drake (7 to 6), but Jacobs lapped them with 19 routes. We’ll want to keep an eye on the backfield rotations to see if they change at all with Olson now calling the shots. Najee Harris posted 23/122/1 rushing and 2/20 receiving against the Broncos last week, which was the first time a back reached 65+ scrimmage yards against Denver this season.
Brolley’s Broncos Stats and Trends
The Broncos are 4-1 toward unders.
Teddy Bridgewater returned to the lineup quicker than expected after suffering a concussion in their Week 4 loss to the Ravens, and he posted 19.6 FP while chasing points against the Steelers. He completed 24/38 passes for 288 yards (7.6 YPA), two touchdowns, and one INT and he added an 11-yard rush in the loss. Justin Herbert is the only passer to throw for multiple scores against the Raiders, but he averaged a season-low 5.8 YPA to do it.
Courtland Sutton has seen a 27% target share since Jerry Jeudy (ankle, IR) left the lineup. He’s turned in a pair of 24+ FP performances (120+ yards in each game) and he’s fallen below nine FP in the other two games (fewer than 50 yards). The Raiders have limited opposing games, including Allen Robinson (4/32 receiving) and Mike Williams (1/11) in the last two games.
Tim Patrick had just 3/39 receiving against the Ravens in Week 4, but he got back to scoring 12+ FP in Week 5 for the fourth time in five games. Patrick finished with 7/89 receiving on nine targets (24% share), but he failed to score for the third consecutive game. The Raiders are giving up the fifth-fewest FPG (29.1) to WRs this season.
Noah Fant has fallen below 50 receiving yards in four straight games, but he’s scored twice in that span to salvage his fantasy production. He’s been just a check-down option with Teddy this season with an aDOT sitting at an ugly 5.8 yards. The Raiders have given up three touchdowns to TEs over the last two weeks after the great Jesper Horsted scored last week.
Javonte Williams just missed out on a long TD run last week, which kept him from his best fantasy performance of the season. He still posted a season-best 86 scrimmage yards and he’s now posted three catches in three straight games. Melvin Gordon has fallen below nine FP in three of his last four games, but he saw a season-best 60% snap share last week with the Broncos playing from behind. The Broncos enter as 3.5-point home favorites this week so the gamescript could invite a few more touches for Javonte, who 14+ touches in wins and 10+ touches in losses. The Bears RBs combined for 139/1 rushing and 2/20 receiving against the Raiders last week.
Barfield’s Pace and Tendencies
Pace (seconds in between plays): 28.5 (17th)
Plays per game: 72.0 (3rd)
Pass: 66.1% (6th) | Run: 33.9% (27th)
Pace: 32.9 (32nd)
Plays per game: 66.4 (18th)
Pass: 60.6% (16th) | Run: 39.4% (17th)
With Jon Gruden leaving the team in disgrace, Greg Olson is going to take over as the team’s play-caller. Olson obviously won’t change any of the terminology – he’s been with the team since 2018 – but he has not called plays in an NFL game since 2016 with the Jaguars. Vegas has been passing much more often this year than in previous years, but we simply have no idea if Olson will share the same pass-heavy philosophy that Gruden shifted towards this year.
Meanwhile, the Broncos are the slowest team in the NFL and are taking off nearly 33 seconds of game clock every time they run a play. Granted, a lot of that has to do with the opponents they’ve played. After shredding the Giants (27 points scored), Jaguars (23), and Jets (26) the Broncos offense has stalled over their last two games. However, Teddy Bridgewater got hurt in Week 4 vs. the Ravens, so we still truly haven’t seen what this offense is made of yet after such an easy opening stretch of games in Weeks 1-3.
Huber’s Key Matchup Notes
Through six weeks, this is the first matchup of the season where I am fading all options. The fallout from Jon Gruden’s firing is nowhere close to being realized. The rolling list of outcomes range from seeing the Raiders’ players rally behind one another to steamroll the Broncos on sheer adrenaline alone, to Denver destroying their intra-division rival that leaves interim HC Rich Bisaccia with quite an embarrassing first taste of NFL head coaching. I simply have no idea how to approach the situation.
Dolan’s Vantage Points
I appreciate the honesty, Wes! I kinda feel the same way.
This is what gamblers call a “spot,” trying to analyze if the Raiders will circle the wagons or if they’ll just get steamrolled on the road by a divisional opponent. Those making those wagers are braver than I am.
One thing I’m going to be interested in with Jon Gruden gone and Greg Olson now calling the plays is how the backfield shakes out, because Josh Jacobs has really started to take the reins behind a bad offensive line. The Raiders have, in a way, been tacitly admitting the Kenyan Drake signing was a mistake. (Drake played a season-low 18% of the snaps in Week 5, with Jalen Richard activated.) Here’s Scott Barrett from the Week 6 XFP Report:
“Jacobs is looking sort of bell cow-ish. Or, at least definitely by his standards.
Over the last two weeks, he's seen 29 of 33 carries and 10 of 13 targets out of the backfield (86% of the XFP), good for 18.0 XFP per game (5th-most over this span).
He played on 69% of the team’s snaps last week (4th-most of his career). And what’s most surprising about that, is this game was a 9-20 blowout loss that was only competitive in the first quarter. And the Raiders lost by two scores the week before too. So, in back-to-back losses, Jacobs has seen 5 targets and at least 12 carries in both games.
Coming into this season, Jacobs was one of the most gamescript-sensitive players in fantasy, averaging 21.3 FPG in wins but only 10.3 FPG in losses. But if he keeps this sort of usage up, he could be an every week gamescript-proof RB1.”
One thing I’d really like to see happen under Olson — forcefeed Darren Waller please! It’s not that anything Waller does beyond getting hurt or retiring is going to change your play strategy with him, since there are few reliable TEs in all of fantasy football. But his game should have been better than 4/45 on 8 targets against the Bears last week… as he dropped a good throw by Carr over the middle for a potential big gain and was wide open for a long TD on a bad throw by Carr. You have to suck it up with Waller, but these down games for a guy picked in the 2nd round at a non-premium fantasy position are not acceptable.
At WR for Carr, the only guy who has been anything close to reliable for fantasy is primary slot receiver Hunter Renfrow — 15 of Renfrow’s 28 receptions have come from a slot alignment. Unfortunately, when he’s there, he’ll be facing who is, for my money, the best slot corner in all of football — Bryce Callahan. Per PFF, Callahan has given up only 5 receptions on 13 targets on 128 slot coverage snaps, for a QB rating of 48.6. He’s the only slot corner out of 15 with 100 or more coverage snaps to give up fewer than 10 catches… and he’s given up half that. It’s a tough draw for Renfrow. I just don’t see fantasy players feeling comfortable with Bryan Edwards or Henry Ruggs as anything more than a deep flier.
“Over the past four weeks, Sutton’s production has been fairly volatile, but his volume has been rock solid. He totaled 19.8 XFP in Week 5, which ranked 9th-best, and marked the third time in four games he’s finished top-15. Over this span he ranks 17th in FPG (16.5), 16th in targets per game (9.3), 13th in XFP per game (17.4), 3rd in air yards per game (147.0), and 1st in deep targets per game (3.0).
While Chase and Diggs have ideal “deep-threat matchups,” Sutton’s matchup almost couldn’t be worse. The Raiders are giving up just 5.7 FPG (3rd-best) and 47.3 receiving YPG (3rd-best) to opposing WRs on deep targets. And Sutton’s 3.0 deep targets per game has been the driving force behind his high XFP totals.
But wait! It gets worse. Sutton is also likely to draw shadow coverage from PFF’s highest-graded CB, Casey Hayward, who has given up just 9.3 fantasy points on 15 targets and 181 snaps in coverage. Add everything up and Sutton should be downgraded as just a low-end WR3 this week.”
The Raiders’ pass defense has been really good so far this year, so it’s a tough spot for Teddy Bridgewater after a couple of rough performances. Besides Sutton in a tough spot, the only Bronco pass catcher I really want to mess with this week is TE Noah Fant.
Here’s Scott again!
“Last week, with Albert Okwuegbunam out, Fant ran a route on a position-high 93% of his team’s dropbacks (up from 74%). The target volume wasn’t there (only 4 targets), but it will come, and I think this increase in usage is more significant. Afterall, last week’s matchup came against a Steelers defense that ranks 4th-best in schedule-adjusted FPG allowed to opposing TEs (-4.8), but his matchup this week, against the Raiders, ranks 6th-best (+3.8).
Through five weeks, Fant ranks 9th in targets per game (6.4), 10th in XFP per game (10.3), and 11th in FPG (10.1). And his volume should be quite a bit better than that this week, with Casey Hayward likely to shadow Courtland Sutton (7.8 targets per game). I’d start Fant this week as a mid-range TE1.”
“Javonte Williams easily leads all RBs in missed tackles forced per carry (0.35) according to PFF.
Even though Williams has clearly been the better runner than Melvin Gordon, we haven’t seen a big increase in snaps. Williams has been stuck in between 40-50% of the snaps so far.
Gordon has also widely out-snapped Williams (98 to 67) on passing downs.”
The Raiders have given up the 8th-most rushing yards in the NFL, so I feel better about Williams than Gordon in this one. Williams is a RB2, to a FLEX for Gordon.