Posted by Andy Rioux
Sunday, August 31, 2014 - 2:39pm
In a development as shocking as someone discovering Pizza Hut sells pizza, Darren McFadden missed time because of an injury last year. It has been a pattern throughout his career. McFadden has never appeared in more than 13 games in any given season. And unfortunately, another pattern has emerged with McFadden the past two years – declining play. He averaged just 3.3 yards a carry during that span. The Raiders, usually not the smartest organization in the NFL, somehow managed to pick up on McFadden’s fade and added Maurice Jones-Drew, who now projects as Oakland’s lead runner. Is there any hope left for McFadden?
Maybe a change-of-pace role is best for McFadden. In the league since 2008, he has only had two really productive seasons (in 2010 and 2011 where he averaged over five yards a carry). Darren does not appear capable of carrying the load in the backfield, but might get another chance as Jones-Drew struggled last year in Jacksonville and has also had injury issues the past two seasons. And in a nice change, owners don’t have to worry about blowing an early draft pick on McFadden. His stock is low enough to where you can get him after the tenth round. That makes him a worthy gamble, especially with Oakland looking to run a lot to take pressure off a dicey passing game.
Remember on Seinfeld where Kramer had an intern named Darren, who got involved in an ill-fated business venture that led to an oil spill? At the end of the episode, Kramer said “Darren is going away for a long time.” He could have easily been talking about McFadden’s injury history. So many owners have been bitten by McFadden in the past. Many don’t want to go through that trouble again, especially since Jones-Drew is the lead back. The Raiders will be playing teams such as Seattle, New England, and St. Louis in addition to a tough AFC West slate. All of their backs will be playing against a stacked deck thanks to Oakland’s questionable air attack. Also, the Raiders may end up abandoning the run quite a bit due to almost certain deficits during many weeks of the season.
Open-minded fantasy owners need to realize McFadden isn’t a terrible player to stash at the back end of your bench. At least in that spot, he won’t haunt you because you don’t have to count on him for anything major. If he suffers more aches and pains, it won’t hurt nearly as much. As a role player, McFadden could offer occasional flex value and might surprise if Jones-Drew underwhelms.