By Vidur Malik
Last off-season, one of the biggest disappointments around the Bay Area was Raiders wide receiver Chaz Schilens injuring his foot. Schilens looked to be one of the few bright spots for the Raider offense after emerging as a dependable target late in the 2008 season, which made his injury a tough one. After sitting out most of 2009, Schilens had another solid end of the season, putting up 365 yards and two touchdowns.
If he can avoid the foot problems that made him miss most of last year, Schilens can be a dependable fantasy pick. With quarterback Jason Campbell coming in, Schilens should have an accurate quarterback throwing him passes, and with other consistent players complementing him, he should have opportunities to make plays.
Fellow wide receiver Louis Murphy put up over 500 yards and four touchdowns last year, and if he can improve those numbers, Schilens should be able to either be a solid number two receiver, or compete for the number one spot. Johnnie Lee-Higgins is a threat on offense and special teams, and could be a deep threat for the team. Darrius Heyward-Bey had a disappointing rookie year, but if he can use his speed to be another playmaker, the offense should have a good amount of weapons.
Schilens should benefit from being a bigger target in a speedy receiving corps. While most of the other Raider playmakers are dangerous because of their speed, Schilens is a powerful receiver, who can run short and intermediate routes while the other receivers go over the top. On the ground, Darren McFadden has yet to become the game breaker he was in college, but Michael Bush and Justin Fargas are bruisers who can both put up 500-600 yards and a few touchdowns each. Both are consistent runners who have had multiple productive seasons, and they should continue producing. If Campbell can give the offense any consistency at all, it will be an improvement from the JaMarcus Russell years. Bruce Gradkowski led the team to some wins last year, and can be another option as well.
If the Raiders can stay healthy, they might be able to improve from their recent struggles on offense. It will be a long time before they get the consistency and character that an organization needs to be successful, but several players could have breakout seasons this year. Their recent draft picks have been questionable, but bringing in Campbell was a smart move. If he can become the reliable leader the Raiders need, look for Schilens to have a good year. If he can be on the field for most of the season, a 1,000 yard year might not be out of the question.