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Jakobi Meyers to Raiders: Fantasy Football Impact (2023 NFL Free Agency)

Jakobi Meyers to Raiders: Fantasy Football Impact (2023 NFL Free Agency)

On the first day of the NFL’s legal tampering period, Josh McDaniels and the Raiders agreed to terms with QB Jimmy Garoppolo. On Day 2, McDaniels is going back to the well of former New England Patriots, as the Raiders have reportedly signed WR Jakobi Meyers to a three-year, $33 million deal. Our analysts break down the move and take a look at the fantasy impact.

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Raiders Sign Jakobi Meyers

Josh McDaniels took another step today in making the Raiders “Patriots west” as they inked Jakobi Meyers to a three-year deal. This is a welcome addition to a Raiders’ wide receiver room that was looking thin outside of Davante Adams and Hunter Renfrow (Mack Hollins is a FA). The dominoes might not be done falling though as this could also signal a Renfrow departure. Renfrow can be cut and the Raiders can save 1.5 million against the cap. The likeliest outcome is that Renfrow remains in Vegas this year and is cut bait next year when the team can save 8.2 million against the cap next year by kicking him to the curb.

The Raiders are surrounding their new starting quarterback with underneath weapons. Meyers will rotate slot work with Renfrow. Meyers played 69.5% from the slot last year (Renfrow 86.0%), drawing a 22.0% target share (29th), a 25.8% target per route run rate (22nd), and a 27.4% air yard share as the Patriots’ number one option. He was 29th in PFF receiving grade and 23rd in yards per route run (minimum 50 targets per PFF). Meyers has been the WR29 and WR35 in fantasy points per game over the last two seasons. Meyers’ signing could signal the Raiders’ plan to deploy more 11 personnel this season after ranking 18th in the use of three-plus wide receiver sets last year and Foster Moreau’s likely free agency departure. Meyers will compete with Hunter Renfrow for second in line at the target water fountain. Meyers is a low-ceiling WR3/4 that gets a small boost in PPR formats. – Derek Brown

Jakobi Meyers inked a 3-year deal with the Raiders, reuniting him with his former Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels. He joins a Las Vegas offense littered with playmakers including Josh Jacobs, Davante Adams, Darren Waller (spoke too soon) and Hunter Renfrow. And that offense will be led by ex-Patriots and 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo. And that’s where things could be problematic for Meyers, who has been the target hog in a lackluster Patriots offense over the last two seasons. 

It’s hard to envision Meyers commanding a 23% target share with Davante Adams’ alpha presence in the offense, let alone Renfrow and Waller. Now it’s possible the Raiders aren’t finished changing their new-look offense — foreshadowing — so Meyers could still end as the clear-cut No. 2 — which is a pretty enticing role.

2023 free agent Mack Hollins was a near-every-down player for the Raiders in 2022, which would suggest Meyers could see similar play volume. Hollins finished last season as WR41 in half-point scoring, which seems like a nice floor projection for Meyers at this time. There’s more competition in the offense for targets, but Meyers is the superior talent after averaging nearly 2.0 yards per route run in 2022.

Although like Hollins, Meyers doesn’t offer much after the catch, ranking 48th among 83 qualifying WRs in YAC/reception last season. Per ESPN’s FiveThirtyEight wide receiver model, Meyers ranked 7th-worst among all WRs in yards after the catch. That doesn’t necessarily gel with his new quarterback, who led the NFL in YAC passing percentage (59%) with the 49ers.

Regardless, Meyers is currently a value in early-season best-ball drafts at WR46.

The major concern — despite Twitter taking my tweet seriously — is having Garoppolo at the head of the offense. 

Aside from Meyers’ sheer lack of YAC-ability, there are a lot of mouths to feed in this offense. I am not confident that Jimmy G can support anything more than 1-to-2 fantasy weapons. He won’t fully transform an offense and there’s no guarantee he lasts the season based on his injury history. If Meyers stays relatively cheap, he will likely be a solid WR value in the later rounds, but I seriously doubt me makes a major fantasy leap unless an injury happens to Adams. 

The former undrafted free agent finished as the WR32 in half-point scoring last season averaging 10.6 fantasy points per game (WR28).

Update: The Raiders traded Darren Waller to the New York Giants for a 2023 third-round pick (100th overall). This helps Meyers’ chances of maintaining a decent target share, but Renfrow/Adams is still the best duo he will have played alongside in his NFL career. I’d imagine Meyers still plays primarily on the outside with Renfrow operating from the slot in 11 personnel, which means Meyers won’t leave the field. Both guys are fringy WR3/4 options, but I’ll give a slight lean toward Meyers at this time with him most likely taking over the Hollins role. He finished 10th in routes run per dropbacks (93%) and commanded 1,153 air yards as the clear-cut No. 2 wide receiver in the Raiders offense last season.

As for the Patriots, their remaining top receiving options include Hunter Henry, DeVante Parker, Kendrick Bourne and Tyquan Thornton. Without Meyers or Jonnu Smith, Henry is a darkhorse to lead the team in targets in 2023. A rare feat for a tight end.
– Andrew Erickson

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