Fantasy Football: Does the Injury Risk Push Darren McFadden out of Rd. 1?

Eric StashinSenior Writer IAugust 1, 2012

OAKLAND, CA - SEPTEMBER 25: Darren McFadden #20 of the Oakland Raiders tosses the ball away after scoring on a two yard touchdown run against the New York Jets in the first quarter during an NFL football game at the Coliseum September 25, 2011 in Oakland, California.  (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

Darren McFadden represents one of the more frustrating fantasy football players to own.  If he could stay healthy for an entire 16-game schedule, he could arguably be a top-five selection.  However, year after year he finds himself on the sidelines for a handful of games for various reasons.

In his breakout 2010 campaign, when he rushed for 1,157 yards and added 47 receptions for 507 yards (10 total TDs), he played in just 13 games.  Just how great could that year have been?

Last season he managed to play in just seven games, amassing 614 yards on the ground and adding 19 catches for 154 yards (five total TDs).  Another fine season if he could’ve played all 16 games.

In fact, over the past two years (20 games) he is averaging 121.6 total yards per game.  With the addition of Carson Palmer seemingly taking some pressure off the running game, things could be even better.  No longer can defenses simply stack the box to try and stop the run.  The Raiders actually bring a threat through the air, making McFadden that much more dangerous.

You also have to factor in the backups for him and if, when healthy, he has a stranglehold of the job.  Is there a chance that they still add a veteran back?  Absolutely, but currently the only backs behind him on the depth chart are Mike Goodson and Taiwan Jones.  Unlike in the past, where Michael Bush was there to help vulture touchdowns, that may not be the case this season.

It’s just another feather in his cap and a reason to want him on your team.

You have to love the potential, but according to Mock Draft Central his current ADP is 12.81, meaning you likely need to use a first-round draft pick in order to obtain him.  That’s a hefty price to pay for a player who has never appeared in more than 13 games during his four-year career.

It’s been an assortment of injuries that have sidelined him, including a foot sprain in 2011 and past issues with his knee and hamstring.  That said, there’s nothing in his injury history that causes us concern long-term.  There are no chronic issues, so one could argue that the injuries have been bad luck...

That’s a lot of bad luck, however, but with his talent and potential there is a lot of allure in selecting him late in the first round/early in the second.  Obviously, if you commit yourself to drafting him you are going to have to ensure that you have the necessary depth in place.  While it is almost a foregone conclusion that he misses at least a handful of games, the potential to ultimately be the No. 1 running back at year’s end is too much to pass up.  He’s proved his talent, has seen a “vulture” depart via free agency and seen the passing game around him improve.  There’s way too much to like.

I would be more than willing to select him at the end of the first round if I had the opportunity.  What about you?  Is he a player you are willing to roll the dice on?  Why or why not?


Make sure to check out our 2012 fantasy football rankings: