Darren McFadden’s 2012 Fantasy Outlook
Darren McFadden is entering his fifth season with the Oakland Raiders and still appears to be a top-15 pick in most fantasy drafts despite his history with injuries. Below we’ll take a look at the positives and negatives of McFadden and where you should be drafting him in 2012.
Injuries. Beginning and end of list: injuries.
McFadden has still not played a full 16 game season in his four years in Oakland. Out of a possible 64 games in that span, he has only appeared in 45 contests with a variety of injuries. Last year, he was most limited, only playing in seven games due to a foot injury.
In 2010, McFadden recorded the most carries he’s ever had in a season with 223, but the next best figure for the other three years is a mere 113 carries.
Reports on his health can claim whatever they want; they have claimed that he was fully healed and ready for a full season in years’ past and yet he always finds a way to get injured. McFadden, as you’ll see below, has elite potential, but fantasy football is not about drafting with hope; it’s about drafting with certainty. McFadden doesn’t provide that certainty given this ugly injury history.
The positives for McFadden are obviously that when he’s on the field, he’s an absolute monster. In the last two seasons, McFadden has played a total of twenty games. In those twenty games, McFadden has averaged over 5 yards per carry on 336 carries and has had 15 total touchdowns. All of these stats were amassed while splitting time with Michael Bush. Bush is now with the Chicago Bears, so McFadden’s number of carries – especially goal line touches – can only go up. The question is if his body can handle that workload – it historically hasn’t been able to handle even a shared load.
In his seven games last year specifically, McFadden rushed 113 times for 614 rushing yards and four touchdowns and tacked on 19 receptions for 154 yards and a score. The year before, he rushed 223 times for 1,157 yards and seven touchdown, plus 47 catches, three of which went for touchdowns.
Again with Michael Bush no longer in the picture and a questionable passing game led by Carson Palmer and Darius Heyward-Bey, the Raiders should be running the ball all day long. It will all come down to if McFadden can stay healthy.
Running back this year gets very murky after the top dogs, Arian Foster, Ray Rice, and LeSean McCoy. There are a lot of question marks in that next tier of backs, the following in that same category with McFadden due to injuries: Trent Richardson, Adrian Peterson, Jamaal Charles, and DeMarco Murray.
McFadden has started to creep up into the early second round as the summer moves on due to excellent reports out of training camp and his fresh appearance versus the Cowboys in the Raiders’ preseason opener, with 2 runs for 20 yards and a 16 yard reception. McFadden looks to be incorporated more in the passing game this year too, lining up in the slot a few times last Monday.
McFadden is going around tenth overall in most leagues. I wouldn’t stretch and pick him in the mid-first round given his injury past, but if he falls to you in the early second round, I would definitely take him proudly. In that scenario, you would ideally spend a late first round pick on a quarterback like Tom Brady and then come back in the second round to get your starting running back. It all depends on situation and who is available, but I would target McFadden confidently in the early second round.
Projected Stats: 254 carries, 1,225 yards, 10 TDs; 49 receptions, 440 receiving yards, 4 TDs