By: Christopher J. Kelly, FFSpin.com and FantasyFootballCrystalBall.com Writer
After missing four weeks with an ankle injury, Oakland running back Darren McFadden appears ready to return for the Week 14 when the Raiders host the Denver Broncos on Thursday Night Football. So what does this mean for your playoff run? Well it depends. If you are a McFadden owner and you made the playoffs, are you willing to insert him back in your lineup now that it is “win or go home” time? Or is this the typical play your studs because you used a first round pick on him?
FANTASY FOOTBALL SPIN:
Before McFadden was injured, the 5th-year starter only eclipsed 100 yards rushing twice in a game, averaging just over three yards per carry. In that same time frame the Arkansas alum had only scored two touchdowns on the season, the last one coming against the Falcons in Week 6.
In the four games where Marcel Reece has been the starter, Reece has 54 carries for 261 yards but has yet to reach the end zone. Reece has major PPR value as he’s totaled 20 catches for 195 yards during the past month. Through 12 weeks, the Raiders are ranked just 26th in rushing, averaging only 89 yards per game. Remember this includes all of McFadden’s totals for the first seven weeks as well.
It gets worse….
During Oakland’s five game losing streak the Silver and Black have been outscored 189-96, in many cases abandoning the run quickly as the offense is forced into catch up mode. Next up are the AFC West division champion Denver Broncos that are ranked 7th against the run and have only given up five touchdowns to running backs through Week 13. The next two contests are more ground game friendly against Kansas City (Week 15) and Carolina (Week 16), which rank 26th and 25th against running backs respectively.
However you can’t look ahead to those games since it’s “win or go home” time starting Thursday against Denver’s stout defense led by Von Miller and Elvis Dumervil. The Broncos are coming off a week 13 performance where they limited Tampa’s Muscle Hamster (aka Doug Martin) to 18 carries for 56 yards (3.1 YPC). The difficult matchup and potential time share limit McFadden and Reece to lower end RB2 status at best. We doubt either RB cracks the top 20 fantasy RBs this week.
Reece is dealing with quad and hamstring injuries that have him listed as questionable and the short week won’t do him any favors. If Reece is unable to suit up, Mcfadden could be worth rolling the dice on as he could see 15-20 touches in his return as the Raiders look to keep Peyton on the sidelines.