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2007 Coaching Changes
Fantasy Impact: Oakland Raiders
6/25/07

New Head Coach: Lane Kiffin
(USC OC: 2005-2006; USC Pass. Co./WRs Coach 2004; USC WRs Coach: 2002-2003; USC TEs Coach: 2001)
Previous Head Coach: Art Shell (2006)

Lane Kiffin is the son of Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive coordinator, Monte Kiffin. While Monte's made a name for himself coaching defenses, Lane's background comes from his work with the offense. He graduated from Fresno State in 1998, playing quarterback from 1994-1996 with the Bulldogs. Upon graduation, he immediately took a position with the football team as their QB coach. From 1999-2000 he worked with Colorado State's offensive line before joining Pete Carroll at USC in 2001. His first season with the Trojans was spent coaching tight ends. He then worked with their wide receivers, before a promotion to offensive coordinator in 2005. It's a position he held until signing with the Oakland Raiders this offseason.

During his tenure at Southern Cal, Kiffin oversaw the development of wide receivers Mike Williams, Keary Colbert, Dwayne Jarrett, and Steve Smith. All four had been selected no later than the second round upon entering the NFL draft. Other USC receivers to make it to the pros under Kiffin's tutelage include Kareem Kelly, Alex Holmes, and Dominique Byrd. Over the course of the 2002 campaign, Williams and Colbert become the first USC receiving tandem to post 1000 yards each. In 2005, the Trojans offense became the first in NCAA history to produce 3000 yards from a quarterback (Matt Leinart), 1000 yards from two running backs (Reggie Bush, LenDale White), and have a wide out top 1000 yards (Dwayne Jarrett) all in the same season.

Kiffin's time at USC isn't marked simply by the explosive offense he helped design. The Trojans won the National Championship in 2005 and made a repeat appearance the following year--though they lost 41-38 against the Texas Longhorns. They also made appearances in the 2001 Las Vegas Bowl, 2003 Orange Bowl, and the Rose Bowl in both 2004 and 2007. While Kiffin has amassed an impressive resume over the years, he'll be hard pressed to find early success in the NFL. Oakland hasn't had a winning season in four years. With rookie quarterback JaMarcus Russell a candidate to start the season opener, it's likely they'll suffer the same fate for a fifth consecutive season.

Kiffin's Impact On The Offense:

Quarterbacks: JaMarcus Russell; Josh McCown; Andrew Walter

With the number one overall pick in this yearís draft, Oakland selected quarterback JaMarcus Russell out of LSU. While Russell will undoubtedly become the starter early in his career, he is not without competition for that role come opening day. After the selection, Oakland later sent a fourth pick to the Detroit Lions in exchange for quarterback Josh McCown and wide receiver Mike Williams. With Andrew Walter sidelined due to a knee injury, Russell and McCown split snaps evenly with the first team offense during recent minicamps. The two will battle it out during the preseason before Kiffin decides on his starting QB, but expectations are Russell will be under center by the end of the year.

Regardless of which signal caller gets the starting nod, chances are neither will be a valuable commodity in fantasy leagues. The Raiders offense ranked among the worst in all categories last year. Their 2850 passing yards ranked 30th, and their 7 touchdown passes were fewest in the league. Kiffin's background suggests he'll someday create a potent offensive attack in Oakland, but it won't happen overnight. If McCown starts, expect him to give way to Russell later in the season. Both QBs are better left on the waiver wire rather than taking up space on your roster this year.

Running Backs: LaMont Jordan; Dominic Rhodes; Justin Fargas; Michael Bush; Reshard Lee

Much like the passing game, Oakland's rushing attack was dismal last year. Starting halfback LaMont Jordan missed nearly half the season due to injuries and didn't produce much when healthy. Justin Fargas received most of the carries during his absence, but was unable to fare any better. The Raiders finished 29th in rushing yards, and like the passing game, ranked dead last in touchdowns. There should be improvement in this area for the upcoming season, but Oakland's running backs may yet again hold little value in fantasy leagues.

LaMont Jordan returns from injury and retains his place atop the depth chart. However, he'll face competition for playing time with the teamís additions of Dominic Rhodes and Michael Bush during the offseason. Rhodes was signed as free agent and will serve as a change of pace back for Oakland. If he proves himself as a valuable commodity in Kiffin's offense, the opportunity is there for him to become more involved. Bush, a fourth round pick in this years draft, was touted as one of the top college prospects at his position before a broken leg in Louisville's opener destroyed his senior season. If he's able to bounce back strong from the injury, he could be a pleasant surprise in the Raiders backfield. At the moment, none of Oakland's backs should be considered better than a number three RB in fantasy leagues.

Wide Receivers: Ronald Curry; Jerry Porter; Mike Williams; Alvis Whitted; Doug Gabriel; Travis Taylor; Carlos Francis; Johnnie Lee Higgins; Jonathan Holland

The Raiders cast of wide receivers is a bit of a crapshoot when it comes to deciding their fantasy value. None of them are likely to function as a reliable starter on a weekly basis, but there should be enough production for one or two of them to warrant consideration off the waiver wire during the course of the year. If you play in larger leagues, you might even find yourself holding onto Jerry Porter or Ronald Curry as your fourth or fifth wide out. Curry, a sixth year vet, is coming off a career year for himself. He recorded 62 receptions for 727 yards, but only found the end zone once. If he wins a starting job during the preseason, it's possible for him to improve upon those statistics.

Porter enters the 2007 season with a much needed fresh start. After demanding a trade, then eventually falling into Art Shell's doghouse, he played in just 4 games and totaled 1 reception in 2006. Based on his production in the two seasons prior to last, it was thought a 1000 yard outing was soon on the horizon for Porter. After sitting nearly all of last year however, one is left to wonder what type of value he will possess in 2007. With Oakland's current QB situation, don't expect those 1000 yards to come from Porter anytime soon.

Mike Williams is reunited with Kiffin as part of the deal that brought Josh McCown to the Raiders. Due to their past relationship at USC, it is possible Kiffin believes he can still muster worthwhile production from the former first round pick. That may be so, but don't bank on seeing great results from Williams. Travis Taylor was also acquired during the offseason and is expected to get thrown into the mix. It's a situation that will play out during the preseason before the depth chart is set. Follow it closely and consider Oakland's starters as a fourth or fifth receiver for your fantasy team.

Tight Ends: Zach Miller; Randal Williams; Courtney Anderson; John Madsen; Tony Stewart

The Raiders selected tight end Zach Miller out of Arizona State with an early pick in the second round of this years draft. The 6'4", 260 pound rookie is already talking of how he wants to start for the Raiders this season. A quick glance at those who will be challenging him gives good reason to believe he will accomplish that goal. While Miller is likely to be the only Oakland tight end worthy of consideration in fantasy leagues, his value will be limited. For this season, consider him no better than a back up at the position. In another year or two he may be a TE worth starting on a regular basis.