The Las Vegas Raiders made their return to the postseason for the first time since 2016 and did so amid a rollercoaster season. They achieved their success despite injuries to their Pro Bowl tight end Darren Waller who saw his production dip as a result in 2021. After failing to miss a game in his first two seasons with the Raiders, Waller missed five games in 2021 due to a knee injury, back injury, and a stint on the COVID list.
Waller is expecting a return to form in 2022 and a return to the playoffs as well. He’ll look to do with new weapons around him on offense and a new head coach at the helm in Josh McDaniels. Las Vegas is going all in for the 2022 season and we’re previewing how that should impact Waller from a fantasy standpoint.
2021 season statistics & fantasy finish
Receiving: Waller caught 55 passes for 665 yards and two touchdowns last season. He averaged 60.5 receiving yards per game and 12.1 yards per reception.
Fantasy: Waller finished 17th among tight ends in PPR scoring with 133.5 fantasy points and 12.1 points per game. In standard scoring leagues, he finished with 78.5 total points and averaged 7.1 points per game, which ranked 18th among tight ends.
Raiders offseason moves
Every team in the AFC West went all-in during the offseason and the Raiders made their case by trading for wide receiver Davante Adams. Adams joins former college teammate and friend Derek Carr as his top option on the outside. Carr himself signed a three-year, $121.5 million extension to keep him under center in Vegas. The Raiders also locked in Renfrow with a two-year, $32 million extension and gave Pro Bowler Maxx Crosby a four-year, $94 million extension. Crosby is paired alongside former Arizona Cardinals’ pass rusher Chandler Jones after the Raiders signed Jones to a three-year $52 million contract.
2022 best-case scenario
Any improvement over last season’s production is a win for Waller’s fantasy owners and that ultimately hinges on his health. If Waller can remain healthy for the longevity of the season then he should easily bounce back to form in 2022. The addition of Adams may take away some opportunities but Waller has close chemistry with Carr as a go-to target. Keeping defenses accountable for Adams should also open up red zone opportunities for Waller, solidifying him as a TE1 fantasy option once again.
2022 worst-case scenario
The glaring question mark for Las Vegas is the state of their offensive line. Despite injuries and a lack of a running game last season the Raiders ranked sixth in the league with an average of 268.6 passing yards per game. Ultimately they were forced to throw the ball, but if the offensive line doesn’t hold up then we may never see the full potential of this Raiders offense. That in turn means Waller could be in for underwhelming fantasy production.
I think the addition of Adams should open up more easy looks for Waller as opposed to taking away opportunities. Waller should be the beneficiary in the red zone in particular, and what he may lose out on in yards he should make up for in receptions and touchdowns. I like Waller vaulting back into top-10 tight end status, though perhaps he just misses out on the top-five given the Raiders’ numerous receiving options for Carr to throw to.