Fantasy Preview: Darren Waller And Hunter Renfrow Breakout Games Incoming?
Darren Waller, Raiders
Dec 18, 2022; Paradise, Nevada, USA; Las Vegas Raiders tight end Darren Waller (83) celebrates after scoring a touchdown against the New England Patriots during the first half at Allegiant Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

It’s the semi-finals in most fantasy leagues this week, and what a weird week for it to fall on. We’ve got a Thursday game, 11 Saturday games, three Sunday games and a Monday night game.

Good luck trying to keep track of all that.

For the Raiders, they’re the prime-time night game on Saturday — Christmas Eve — in what should be a surprisingly fun matchup with the 6-8 Steelers. I say “fun” because these two teams are polar opposites — one has a bottom-tier quarterback and offense but a solid defense, while the other has a top-10 offense and a bottom-five defense.

As they say: something’s gotta give.

As a reminder: “start” simply means I like a player more than their current consensus rankings, while “sit” means I merely like them less than consensus.

Najee Harris, Steelers
Dec 18, 2022; Charlotte, North Carolina, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers running back Najee Harris (22) reacts after scoring a touchdown in the first quarter at Bank of America Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

Start: Najee Harris

The Raiders defense has been mostly good against the run this season — 12th in yards per rush, 15th in rushing yards per game — but last week, they got gashed. Rhamondre Stevenson ran for 172 yards on just 19 carries, which must have Harris licking his chops. Harris had a season-high 24 carries last week, and in the cold on Saturday night, I’d expect another healthy dose of the run. Does he get his first 100-yard game of the season? I say “no”, but you’ll be glad you started him.

Prediction: 20 carries, 85 yards, 1 touchdown

Pat Freiermuth, Steelers
Sep 18, 2022; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers tight end Pat Freiermuth (88) celebrates his touchdown catch with fans against New England Patriots during the fourth quarter at Acrisure Stadium. The Patriots won 17-14. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Start: Pat Freiermuth

I’ve got Freiermuth on my last remaining team, so I know that recent results haven’t been pretty. Like: “zero targets last week” levels of not pretty. So why the optimism this Sunday? On average, the Raiders have allowed opposing tight ends to catch five passes for 50 yards, scoring a touchdown just about every other game. With a banged-up linebacking group, I’d expect the Steelers tight end to out-perform those averages on Sunday.

Prediction: 6 catches, 75 yards, 1 touchdown

Hunter Renfrow, Raiders
Oct 23, 2022; Paradise, Nevada, USA; Las Vegas Raiders wide receiver Hunter Renfrow (13) warms up before a game against the Houston Texans at Allegiant Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

Sit: Hunter Renfrow and Darren Waller

I advocated for sitting both guys last week, and the same goes this time around. Still getting their feet back under them, both guys had minimal involvements in the offense last week, with just six targets between them. Waller did catch a touchdown pass when the Patriots had a busted coverage, but I’m predicting that both guys stay out of the limelight for one more week on Sunday.

Prediction: 5 catches, 60 yards, 0 touchdowns