This new series will examine the fantasy football status of key players returning from injuries…
A quick glance at Darren Mcfadden’s career stats reveals that he has played in just 45 games out of 64 in his four years as a pro. The 24-year-old Arkansas alum (4th overall pick in 2008) has been a notoriously slow healer and 2011 was no different as RUN DMC missed the final 9 games of last season with a Lisfranc Sprain in his right foot.
When he dons the silver & black, Mcfadden usually produces like an elite talent and solid RB1 for fantasy purposes. Through the first six games of 2011, he was averaging 127 total yards per game with five touchdowns. Over the past two seasons (just 20 games), he has averaged an impressive 5.3 YPC and scored 11 TDs. Mcfadden would be in the conversation as a top 5 fantasy pick if he is ever able to suit up for all 16 regular season games.
There is one caveat to his numbers, they weren’t quite that great when it came to performing in a zone blocking scheme. A zone blocking scheme is apparently what new offensive coordinator Greg Knapp has in mind. On the plus side – goal line vulture Michael Bush has moved on to Chicago (much to the chagrin of Matt Forte owners).
Raiders RB coach Kelly Skipper does not expect the Lisfranc sprain to linger into the 2012 season and Mcfadden was apparently a full go during OTA’s.
Career Stats: Final column is Fantasy Points Per Game (FPG) based on standard scoring.
Other Expert Opinions
First year head coach Dennis Allen fully believes that Darren McFadden can emerge as a workhorse RB and expects to see him carry 25-30 times if the game plan allows it.
SilverandBlackPride.com gives a detailed analysis of the Raider backfield and currently they have Taiwan Jones listed ahead of Mike Goodson.
Razzball has RUN DMC as their #15 overall player for 2012 but cautions that he has yet to play a full season in his brief 4 year career.
ProFootballFocus ranked the Oakland Offensive Line at #19 in their 2011 end of the year O-line Rankings. Checout SilverandBlackPride.com for a more in-depth look at the Oakland line heading into 2012.
Strength of Schedule analysis from TheFakeFootball.com notes that Oakland has the 19th easiest schedule for RBs in 2012. On the plus side they seem to have a very favorable schedule in weeks 13-16 (CLEV, DEN, KC, CAR) – of course this assumes RUN DMC is not stationed on the sidelines nursing a stubbed toe.
FANTASY FOOTBALL SPIN
The 2012 season is setting up to be a put up or shut up year for Darren McFadden as he will be given every opportunity to carry the workload with Mike Bush now in Chicago. If Mcfadden has any inkling of a long-term contract (current deal expires after 2013) he’ll need to disprove his reputation as a China Doll.
Some have concerns with the new zone blocking scheme that the Raiders are expected to employ but Mcfadden has the burst to get up field and can distance himself from tacklers so we don’t foresee much of an issue.
Despite the injury concerns, the upside potential has his current ADP sitting at #10 overall (RB7). This seems a bit high for a RB that has missed at least 3 games in each of his four seasons. If RUN DMC slides into the 2nd round of your draft we recommend you roll the dice as he has the potential to finish as the #1 fantasy RB if he shocks the world and plays in all 16 games.
Owning his handcuff is an absolute must and Mike Goodson (formerly of Carolina) appears to be next in line should McFadden end up on the trainer’s table. Goodson is currently coming off the board at pick #120 (RB47) but we wouldn’t fault you for reaching for him in round 10-11 to secure your DMC investment. Goodson flashed his potential in three starts in 2010 when he averaging 92 rushing YPG (4.7 YPC). The 25-year-old former fourth-round pick out of Texas A&M will need to show better ball security if he intends to lock down the role as #2 RB (lost 7 fumbles in 125 career carries) – apparently he’s been practicing up on the Tiki Barber high and tight method.
Speedster Taiwan Jones (Eastern Washington) is also in the RB mix but he had just 18 touches during his rookie season. In limited action he flashed his explosive home run hitting ability with 16 carries for 73 yards (7.3 YPC). Jones battled a hamstring injury suffered in the 2nd half of 2011 but his 4.3 speed is intriguing provided he can gain the confidence of the new Raider coaching staff. He’s more of a dynasty league option for now but be sure to monitor the competition with Goodson during training camp. Jones is currently being selected at #201 (RB68) and is probably worth a final round flier.
Bottom Line: McFadden is the ultimate boom / bust pick heading into 2012. He has a clear path for goal line carries and should be the focal point of the Raiders offense. We aren’t thrilled with taking him in round 1 but those owners that are risk takers will likely be inclined to roll the dice towards the end of the first round. The ideal scenario is calling RUN DMC’s name in round 2 and then using a round 10/11 pick on whichever RB Goodson / Taiwan Jones wins the #2 job in camp.