There likely weren’t any fantasy owners drawing hearts or stars next to second-year Raiders tight end Clive Walford’s name on fantasy draft day earlier this month, but that might not be the case a year from now.
While Derek Carr, Amari Cooper and Latavius Murray are Oakland’s offensive headline makers, Walford is a key component to Oakland’s passing game who is primed for a breakout season.
Walford enjoyed modest success last season as an NFL rookie, reeling in 28 catches for 329 yards and three touchdowns, emerging as a viable option for Carr.
His sophomore season started quietly with a 3-catch, 25-yard performance in the Raiders’ 35-34 Week 1 victory over the Saints, but Walford picked up the pace in Week 2, catching a career-best 6 passes for 50 yards, including a 31-yard touchdown from Carr in a 35-28 loss to the Falcons.
Walford was targeted seven times against Atlanta, which could be a preview of things to come, especially if Oakland’s defense continues to spring leaks and playing catch-up becomes a way of life for the Silver and Black.
Cooper and Michael Crabtree sit well above him in the receiving pecking order, but there are plenty of balls to go around this season in Oakland, many of which will undoubtedly find their way into Walford’s hands.
For fantasy owners looking for lightning in a bottle at the tight end position, Walford has a savory matchup in Week 3 three against the Titans, who have surrendered the fourth-most touchdowns to tight ends since the start of last season.
Compiled by Stu Rosenberg