It was a trying season in 2018 for Oakland quarterback Derek Carr . He finished the year as the QB18 in fantasy football, and despite finishing in the lower half of quarterbacks, at point blank without knowing the standings and going solely off the rumblings from last year’s performance, you may be inclined to believe that he finished far lower. However, he didn’t, but he ended up being a mid-tier QB2 in 12-team formats. He completed plenty of passes last season, at the fifth-highest clip actually, but the other numbers alongside that were nearly putrid. There are some aspects of Carr’s games that lead to a bounceback 2019 season, but it’s been a rough go of things for Carr since that excellent, yet injury-shortened 2016 campaign.

Let’s start off with this just to get it out of the way. Per Pro Football Focus, only Matthew Stafford , Case Keenum , Joe Flacco , Brock Osweiler and Josh Rosen averaged less fantasy points per drop back last season than Carr. YIKES! This certainly isn’t great at all, but when you consider the fact that the 33-year-old Jordy Nelson was his top wide receiver after Amari Cooper was traded, it begins to make sense why Carr struggled so much. In fact, only two receivers had more than 40 receptions last year for the Raiders, and the two leading pass-catchers were a tight end (Jared Cook ) and a freaking running back (Jalen Richard )! One thing is for sure heading into 2019, and that is the fact the wide receivers are much, much, much better.

Let’s take a look here at how Carr stacked up amongst other quarterbacks in 2018, courtesy of Pro Football Reference.



League Ranks

Passing Yards



Completion Percentage









Yards per Attempt






Yes, a lot of the numbers in there are not great, and simply not good at all. However, there is some optimism to be had here, and it lies within that top 5 completion percentage. He completed 68.9 percent of his passes with Jared Cook , Jalen Richard , Jordy Nelson , Seth Roberts and Marcell Ateman . Now, he gets to throw to Antonio Brown and Tyrell Williams . Much, much improved as I mentioned earlier.

Yes, Amari Cooper is no longer in town, but it’s rather interesting that Carr got better, in terms of average depth of target (aDOT) and TD/INT ratio, per Pro Football Focus. See for yourself.



Attempts per Game

Pass Yds Per Game

Adjusted Completion Percentage



Fantasy Points per Game

Fantasy Points per Dropback

W/ Cooper









W/O Cooper










The above chart is interesting. Carr’s fantasy production took a hit, but the overall prognosis from the chart indicates that he could be more successful with his new supporting cast. Josh Jacobs will boost the run game, and a sure-handed receiver like Antonio Brown should factor well into Carr’s quality completion percentage. His average depth of target (aDOT) took off over the final 10 games of the season, and having a vertical threat like Tyrell Williams strengthens the claim that Carr could actually air it out more this season. Also, don’t forget that Mr. Big Chest (AB) is very capable of getting downfield as well.

The thought process of Carr airing out is certainly viable, especially considering the chart above, but the fact remains that in 2018, only 9.2 percent of Carr’s targets traveled 20 or more yards downfield. In the three seasons prior, he was anywhere from 10-12 percent. It may not seem like much, but when you throw the ball 530 times in a season, that’s six or seven extra deep passes per percentage point increase. It adds up! Williams and Brown will be able to get open and behind the defense, it just comes down to whether or not Carr is willing to risk raising his interception percentage here and there for the chunk plays.

Carr can continue to complete a high percentage of his passes and be serviceable, but with more talented receivers at his disposal, he can become more aggressive. In fact, he really should be, considering he has Brown and Williams. He was one of the most risk-averse quarterbacks in the league last season, as his 13.2 percent aggressiveness rating per NFL Next Gen Stats was ninth-lowest, and his average intended air yards was tied with Nick Foles and Cody Kessler for the lowest mark at 6.7 yards. His interception rate of 1.8 percent is pretty good, but to take the next step in fantasy, he needs to take more chances, and let three or four extra interceptions be overshadowed by pushing close to 30 touchdown passes in 2019.

With this cast around him, Carr has the pieces in play to be a backend QB1 in fantasy football this season, and perhaps his dink-and-dunk mentality will turn out better in 2019 thanks to the run after the catch prowess of guys like Brown and Williams, especially compared to the receivers of yesteryear, a la aging Jordy Nelson . However, if you draft Carr in 2019, he’s either your backup, or you’re praying to the fantasy football gods for Carr to be aggressive and take some damn chances. A touchdown total near 30 isn’t completely out of the question, but a fair projection would resemble something similar to 2017, just with more passing yards.

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