Darren Waller had a breakout season with the Oakland Raiders in 2019. Will his phenomenal season be replicable once the team begins to play in Las Vegas?
One player that really caught The Fantasy Footballers‘ eyes this season was tight end Darren Waller. After struggling with substance abuse issues throughout much of his NFL career, Waller had a tremendous season with the then-Oakland Raiders. He had 90 catches for 1,145 and three touchdowns in Jon Gruden’s Oakland offense. Is this type of production sustainable out of him?
Waller only having three touchdown catches seems strange with the number of targets he had last season with 117. One would think that if he were to achieve a similar volume in 2020, he might be closer to five or six touchdown grabs with the 2020 Las Vegas Raiders. However, there are some concerns to keep in mind regarding Waller’s potential fantasy output in 2020.
We know that Gruden likes to get the tight ends involved in the passing game. We also know that a tight end often acts as a safety valve in passing-centric West Coast offenses like the one Gruden runs with the Raiders. But what we don’t know is the long-term future of Derek Carr as the Raiders quarterback. Does he even play for the team when they head to Southern Nevada?
If Carr returns to the Raiders for season No. 7, we can expect Waller to yield a similar number of targets in 2020. The number of receptions and overall yardage compiled could be on par with what we saw in 2019. Perhaps the touchdowns do increase by a few with greater familiarity in the Raiders offense?
As for Waller’s fantasy value heading into next season, he consistently will get you somewhere in the six-to-seven-point range. In terms of labeling a week a bust or not, Jason Moore usually goes with anything six points or lower, meaning Waller never busted in 2019. But if you were to go with seven points, then Waller busted several times in his breakout season with the Silver and Black.
Overall, Waller is a top-eight tight end in fantasy football. He is worthy of being a TE1 on your fantasy team, but won’t be able to hold his own against fantasy monsters at the same position like Travis Kelce of the Kansas City Chiefs, George Kittle of the San Francisco 49ers and Zach Ertz of the Philadelphia Eagles. Waller is good, but he is a class below that holy triumvirate.