Depth in the passing game will be critical to the Las Vegas Raiders’ hopes of reaching the postseason in 2021 and quarterback Derek Carr will have a variety of options to choose from.
The top pass catcher from last year was tight end Darren Waller, who led the team in targets, receptions, yards, and touchdowns to earn Pro Bowl honors for the first time in his career. With the departure of Nelson Algholor to the New England Patriots, Hunter Renfrow returns as the top wide receiver having caught 56 passes for 656 yards and two touchdowns in 2020. After that, there’s open competition for the No. 2 receiver slot with Henry Ruggs III, Bryan Edwards, and newcomer John Brown in the mix.
Battling leg injuries early in the season, the speedy wideout from Alabama ended up having a so-so rookie year, hauling in only 26 catches for 452 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Edwards was only used sporadically in a backup role while in Buffalo, injuries hindered Brown from replicating his career year in 2019.
Latest camp news
Week 2 preseason recap: None of these players appeared in the 17-16 win over the Los Angeles Rams, suggesting the Raiders know what their depth chart is going to look like and don’t need preseason reps to evaluate players.
Week 1 preseason recap: Out of the three, the only person who stepped on the field in the Raiders’ 20-3 victory over the Seattle Seahawks on Saturday was Brown, who was targeted just once in the win.
8/9/21: The Raiders released their first unofficial depth chart on Monday with Ruggs, Renfrow, and Edwards all listed as starters. Brown is sitting right behind Ruggs on the depth chart.
Next preseason game: at San Francisco 49ers
This would supposedly be the “dress rehearsal” game for Las Vegas, but it’s unclear whether Jon Gruden will play his starters at all in preseason. If the starters do play, that’ll be an indication of each receiver’s role.
Fantasy football verdict
Week 2 preseason: The upside on Ruggs becoming a top weapon in 2021 is tantalizing but I’d still err on the side of caution and categorize him as a potential mid-round flex option heading into the season. The hope is for Edwards to return to his 2019 form so he could serve as a potential late-round gem while Brown will have his work cut out on him to simply find his way onto the field.