Oakland Raiders running back Darren McFadden is hurt, again, and he is having a terrible year. This sounds like a great time to dump one of the all-time great fantasy frustrations. And that is exactly what the shrewd owner should do.
Let's get to the important injury news first.
The Oakland Tribune's Jerry McDonald passed along this positive update during the game on McFadden's health.
McFadden X-rays negative, but will not return.— Jerry McDonald (@Jerrymcd) November 4, 2012
It was pretty clear that it was some kind of leg injury, so it was positive that there were no fractures, but even more positive is this next bit of news.
After the game, ESPN relayed what coach Dennis Allen had to say about McFadden's injury.
Dennis Allen said Darren McFadden has ankle injury. No timetable given.— ESPN Blogs AFC West (@espn_afcwest) November 5, 2012
Now, ankle injuries, especially if it is to the dreaded high ankle, can shelve a running back for weeks. However, even given that, this is still good news for McFadden because it is not his foot.
Anyone who had McFadden on fantasy rosters last year (like yours truly) shudders at the mention of DMC and foot in the same sentence.
McFadden hurt his foot in Week 7 of last year. It was not thought to be serious and he seemed to be perpetually a week away from returning. He never did, and owners, like myself, held his roster spot for weeks.
Given just that, and his past history with injuries, owners have to be leery of keeping him on the roster with this latest injury. Further pushing those owners towards parting ways with McFadden is the fact that his fantasy production has been terrible this season.
At the halfway point of his season, McFadden has amassed just 438 rushing yards and an average of 3.3 yards per carry. He has added 29 catches for another 190 yards, but he has just two total touchdowns.
McFadden has just two games this season where he has surpassed the century mark on the ground. The first was Week 3 against the Steelers, and he wouldn't have been even close were it not for 64-yard TD scamper.
The second came last week when he went for 114 yards against the Chiefs, and therein lies the reason why McFadden is worth a shot.
The key is in this quote, following the Raiders' triumph last week over the Chiefs, from Raiders offensive coordinator Greg Knapp via the Contra Costa Times' Steve Corkran:
It was a good balance of zone blocking and the gap scheme, so it paid off pretty good. We definitely increased our gap run-blocking scheme to get a better balance and keep defenses honest, and we’ve done it well, so we’ll keep that same kind of formula working. It’s a good change-up for us to have some kind of gap scheme with that outsize zone.
McFadden has a history of producing far better in a gap scheme. He struggled breaking into the league under the zone blocking employed by the Raiders in his first two season. He exploded his third season (2010) in the league when Hue Jackson began to implement a gab-blocking scheme.
This isn't just due to McFadden. The Raiders' offensive line has functioned better in the gap scheme.
So, when McFadden is set to return, he will do so in an offense that he is more comfortable running in and behind lineman who are in a better position to succeed, and this will lead to an increase in his production.
While he may be on the shelf with this injury for a bit, it is a good bet that he will be back on the field by at least Week 14, or in other words, fantasy playoff time.
A move to acquire McFadden now is not likely to cost anything that will be missed, and it will carry with it huge potential for the end of the season.