Deeper Minings: A Closer Look at Raiders-Vikings

Carson Palmer suddenly looks good in silver and black.

We know the Raiders can run the ball. They’ve done it all year. They definitely did it on Sunday. Without their star running back and against a good Viking run defense, the hodgepodge of ballcarriers Oakland used got the job done. Michael Bush received the bulk of the carries and he scored and hit the century mark. Fullback Marcel Reese grabbed another 45 yards on his 6 carries. Against a Viking defense that knew they were going to continue to run out their lead, that is certainly good enough. Now if Darren McFadden is healthy, he is a must-start in any format. When he is out, Michael Bush will have value. With a good matchup, he could be a nice play in a weekly fantasy football contest.

What’s more interesting, is the element that Carson Palmer brings to the team. He didn’t have to do too much to beat the Vikings. He only threw the ball 23 times. But he completed 17 of them and looked much more accurate than he did in his Oakland debut. This Sunday, Palmer only ended up with 164 yards and a single touchdown. But, and fantasy owners should take note, there will be games in which he needs to throw it more, resulting in a more impressive statline. Quarterbacks have been going down recently. If you lost Jay Cutler or Matt Schaub, Palmer may be better than who you have on your bench. In salary cap fantasy football, Palmer’s price may be a bargain.

While Palmer’s low total may mean we are looking at a small sample size, the low production of Denarius Moore is interesting. Moore had emerged as Palmer’s favorite target. This week he only caught one ball, a 14-yard reception. Instead, Palmer preferred Darrius Heyward-Bey, the option whose value declined sharply upon Palmer’s installment. With the injury to Heyward-Bey, Moore has to be the guy you want to start for the time being, but he might be a matchup play only at the moment.

Though the scoreboard may show otherwise, the Vikings were never really in the game. Christian Ponder threw for only 100 yards in the first quarter. True, he matched that number in the 4th and threw two scores, but Oakland was coasting to victory by that point.  Ponder’s three picks ended the Vikings real chances in this game. That said, the passing game is not the best way to attack the Raiders, and Ponder looked decent for a rookie. His interceptions weren’t as horrendous as Andy Dalton’s were against Baltimore and he looked much more capable than Blaine Gabbart did against Cleveland.

Of course, Ponder shouldn’t have too much of an impact on free fantasy football teams until next year at the earliest. Fantasy owners were much gratified by the speed and agility shown by Percy Harvin, who looks fully healthy. Harvin who had 6 receptions, 94 combined yards and a score, could be a difference maker for your team down the stretch. Get him in the starting lineup.

As Adrian Peterson is reportedly only lightly injured, it isn’t time to pickup Toby Gerhardt. Additionally, the Vikings aren’t the Raiders. Gerhardt isn’t going to jump in and have real production. He carried the ball 7 times and garnered only 18 yards. While Peterson wasn’t lighting it up on the ground before he was taken off the field, it is probable that he would eventually have found more success against a weak Oakland run defense than Gerhardt did.

Lastly, Christian Ponder ran the ball for 71 yards. If you didn’t know to start running quarterbacks against Oakland by now, you probably a missed two years of football. This is their Achilles heel and fantasy owners should not fear to exploit it.

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