Cowboys RB coach Gary Brown broke down the team's backfield:
“I just admired him from afar, watching him on tape. I think he’s big, strong, incredibly fast, tough guy. He’s buying into our system. He wants to be here. He’s doing everything I ask him to do. I’m looking forward to seeing him in pads. … I’ve been out here watching him run. He looks very fast. We’re just looking forward to seeing him in pads in our system.”
“I think Joe really has to make sure he takes care of everything on and off the field. We want to trust Joe, we like Joe, but we want to make sure he’s going to be with us at all times. I think he’s maturing up and he’s getting better and he understands the opportunity he has in front of him and I think he’ll take full advantage. I think those days are behind him and we’re looking forward to working with Joe. … Just being around him these last few weeks, he seems to be more mature to me. He and I have sat down and had one-on-one conversations about his future and I think he wants to go in the right direction.”
“I envision [him getting more opportunities]. I think he’s a hell of a football player, we’ve got to try and get him more involved and I think coach Linehan is going to do a great job doing that. … [He didn’t get more carries last season] because I think the run game was so explosive and DeMarco was running so well. It’s just like anything in life, you’ve got a guy who is hot, you want to ride that guy and make sure he gets his touches and I think we did the right thing by getting him his touches. Obviously with, what was it, 1,800 yards and 13, 14 touchdowns, whatever it was, I think we made the right decision.”
Brown later said he might have been premature not also mentioning Ryan Williams with that group.
The soon-to-be 28-year-old McFadden hasn't cracked 3.5 YPC since the 2011 season, when he ran for 614 yards on 113 carries (5.4 YPC) in seven games. That's the rub with McFadden -- fantasy owners haven't been able to count on his durability. He has missed roughly a quarter of his team's games since entering the league. Randle averaged 6.7 YPC behind the Dallas offensive line last season, but has had a host of off-the-field issues. Dunbar is more of a third down back, while Williams is a former second round pick who has been unable to stay healthy. The team has insinuated that it still may trade for a running back or sign a free agent (like Chris Johnson or perhaps Ray Rice), so the backfield is far from settled. McFadden is currently the first Dallas running back off the board in the 7th round.
Dallas Cowboys site writer David Helman on how the team will use OTAs to evaluate the RB corps:
"Ever since the draft ended, we’ve heard the Cowboys say that they aren’t ruling out the possibility of adding another running back before the season. If I had to take an educated guess, I’d say they’re going to use OTAs and minicamp to take a hard look at the guys on the roster. Those practices should give them a better idea of how well they can handle it. If they aren’t confident in those four by the end of OTAs, I bet they’ll go add another guy this summer."
Cowboys beat writer David Moore on the team's "by committee" running back situation: "They made a point of saying if they had not gotten (Darren McFadden) in free agency, they would have approached it differently in the draft. They would have felt they had to get a running back."
On Ryan Williams, Moore said, "Several teams, when he was on the practice squad last year, came after him to get him, to try to steal him, which any team can do. The Cowboys convinced him to stay. 'You have a future here, we like what you're doing.' I think you're going to see something from him."
He also discussed Joseph Randle: "And Joseph Randle, temperamentally there are questions about him, but the guy averaged 6.7 yards per carry last year. He's that big-play back that can really help them."
This is a camp battle to watch closely. Whoever emerges as the lead back should be able to post good fantasy numbers. At this point our money is on Randle (6.7 YPC last year), but McFadden could thrive behind the team's talented offensive line, providing he stays healthy. Williams is the dark horse.
Monday, April 6, 2015, 1:07pm
The Cowboys certainly hope that's the case. McFadden averaged less than 3.4 yards a carry the past three seasons with Oakland. He rushed for a total of 1,620 yards, which is less than DeMarco Murray accumulated for the Cowboys last season.
So, what do the Cowboys see in McFadden?
"We liked him a lot coming out of college,'' head coach Jason Garrett said. "He came out in '08. That was the same year we drafted Felix Jones. We spent a lot of time with him and on him. I think he was the fourth player taken in that draft. There was a lot to like about him.
"We are confident in the environment we can create for our guys to bring the best out in him.''
McFadden played in 16 games for the first time in his career last season. He missed 19 games over the previous three seasons and has played in more than 13 games in a season only once in his career. There is no doubt McFadden will be behind a better offensive line this year, but the Cowboys could very well address the position in the draft. There is a lot to settle between now and fantasy draft day in terms of McFadden's possible value.
Update: The deal is worth up to $3 million over two years, with incentives.
McFadden turns 28 in August and he hasn't cracked 3.5 YPC since 2011 (when he rushed for 5.4 YPC). It's an interesting signing given the Dallas offensive line, which may be the best run-blocking unit in the league. But 2014 was the first time that McFadden played a full season; he has missed 26% of his team's games in his seven-year career. We'll see what else the Cowboys do at running back before going down this road once again.
Raiders RB Latavius Murray will be given every chance to show he can be a feature back, but HC Jack Del Rio said it's far from a done deal. He'll give Maurice Jones-Drew a chance to rejuvenate his legs, but he's a question mark based on last season's 2.2 yards per carry average. Darren McFadden is an unrestricted free agent.
We don't think that Murray will need extra chances to prove he's a feature back. He rushed 82 times for 424 yards (a 5.2 YPC) and two touchdowns, including an incredible four-carry, 112-yard, two-TD performance against the Chiefs in Week 12. He still averaged a solid (if unspectacular) 4.0 YPC when that game is excluded. With good size (6'2", 223 lbs) and great speed (4.38 40-yard dash), Murray has all the physical tools to succeed at the position. He even showed solid hands with 17 receptions on 23 targets.
Saturday, December 27, 2014, 11:04am
This has not been a great season for Darren McFadden but he has had a significant impact in one category.
For the first time in his career, McFadden has been healthy for the entire season. McFadden is pace to play his 16th game Sunday at Denver in the season finale. He has not missed one game this season due to injury.
In McFadden’s first six NFL seasons, the most games he’d played in a season was 13, which he accomplished twice. He has missed 29 games due to injury since joining the Raiders in 2008 as the No. 4 overall draft pick.
It's good timing for McFadden as he'll enter free agency after this season. McFadden started this season as the backup but took over for an ineffective Maurice Jones-Drew. McFadden has since been replaced by Latavius Murray. McFadden did run well and contribute to the Raiders’ Week 16 win over Buffalo and has 521 yards on 151 carries this season. He'll likely have a reduced role somewhere next season and depending on the situation could at least be on the fantasy radar.
The job appears to be Murray’s for the rest of the season. He had 23 carries for 76 yards against the 49ers. Darren McFadden and Maurice Jones-Drew have been disappointments this season. It is likely neither will be back next year. Thus, Murray will get the chance in the final three games to show Oakland it doesn’t have to worry about finding a lead back. Murray is an interesting player. After missing his rookie year last season with an injury, the former sixth-round draft pick started very slowly. But he has played well in the past three weeks, highlighted by his 90-yard touchdown run against the Chiefs on Nov. 20. The Chiefs will clearly be keying on Murray in this game. It will be fascinating to see who wins this battle.
After saying that Murray wouldn't be the workhorse, the team gave Murray workhorse-type carries in a grind-it-out win against the 49ers in Week 14. Murray has a terrific matchup against the Chiefs, who have yielded 4.9 YPC this season. The question is -- can Derek Carr provide enough of a threat in the passing game to keep Kansas City from keying on Murray?
Friday, November 28, 2014, 6:04pm
Raiders RB Latavius Murray (concussion, out) missed practice Friday after taking limited reps Thursday and is out for Week 13. Darren McFadden will likely lead a committee that could also include Maurice Jones-Drew and Marcel Reece.
"Like any young player there is a progress you've got to see before you feel like you're going to put him out there in those situations," Sparano said. "I've had to see that in practice, and little by little I've seen it and this has kind of been where it has gone."
Sparano strikes us as old school, so he's not going to hand the job over to Murray. Darren McFadden may continue to start, but we'd be surprised if Murray isn't the best fantasy producer in the Oakland backfield down the stretch.
Thursday, November 20, 2014, 7:19pm
Raiders beat writer Bill Williamson: Expect Darren McFadden to continue to get more opportunities after a slow start to the season. McFadden has just two 10-yard runs in 2014. However, new interim Oakland coach Tony Sparano said he believes in McFadden and thinks he is running with a purpose. Sparano is a run-first coach and he said that's the approach he is going to take with the Raiders.
McFadden should see 14 or so touches, which has been his average through four weeks. He is our #32 RB in standard formats heading into Week 6.
“It’s no secret that my philosophy is to run the football,” Sparano said, “to keep games tight and try to be able to get yourself in a situation where you can win football games at the end of a game.”
The numbers certainly support that claim. Sparano ran the football 45.6-percent of the time during nearly four full seasons as Miami Dolphins head coach.
Sparano stuck to his guns – he made the Wildcat formation famous at the NFL level – and continued to run even during some lean years.
While Greg Olson will continue calling plays, Sparano is an offensive minded coach and will exert greater influence in the offensive game plan.
At running back, Oakland coach Dennis Allen told reporters in London on Friday that Darren McFadden is in line to make his third straight start, but Maurice Jones-Drew is probable to play for the first time since suffering a hand injury in Week 1. McFadden is getting the start based on more practice time.
It most likely doesn't matter a whole lot who the starter is because it doesn't necessarily mean McFadden will get the bulk of the work. MJD, assuming he plays, is very likely to factor in as well which means it's committee situation. It's a good matchup against the Dolphins, but we see both backs more of RB3 or flex options at best.
Raiders RB Maurice Jones-Drew says that he feels well enough to take the next step and play against the Dolphins in Week Four. Jones-Drew admitted that the choice isn’t entirely up to him, but things are pointing in that direction and Jones-Drew is looking forward to renewing his partnership with Darren McFadden.
“Just trying to get on the field and help my man out,” Jones-Drew said, via NFL Media. “I feel we both do better if we both out there. So obviously he’s been taking the brunt of the carries and the brunt of the reps, so I want to get out there and try and give him a blow here and there and let him get his legs back underneath him so he can run.”
Jones-Drew was running ahead of McFadden prior to the injury, but may be in a full-blown committee upon his return. The Raiders running game isn't strong enough to support one running back, much less two. MJD's only game thus far was against the impossible-to-run-on New York Jets, so there's still a chance he becomes fantasy relevant this season.