Fantasy owners who select Darren McFadden understand the risk involved. The Oakland Raiders star running back is dynamic when healthy, but has struggled to stay on the field throughout his career and is now dealing with yet another injury.
McFadden's status for Week 10 remains unknown after missing practice on Wednesday due to an ankle problem. If he's unable to go, Marcel Reece and Taiwan Jones will lead the backfield charge for the Raiders since backup Mike Goodson is also battling injury.
The Raiders are facing a struggling Baltimore Ravens run defense on Sunday, meaning Reece and Jones would both have some sleeper value if McFadden is unable to suit up. Let's examine what to expect from each player if that happens.
Reece is the safer option. He's already been involved in the offense on a weekly basis, meaning the pass-catching fullback is more prepared to step right in to fill the void. He has 26 catches for 272 yards and a touchdown this season.
Given his size and ability to make plays out of the backfield, Reece should get the majority of snaps in short-yardage situations—including near the goal line—and on passing downs. He should be locked into a lot of touches even if Jones technically starts the game.
Reece is coming off a game in which he caught eight passes for 95 yards and a touchdown. Add some carries to his workload and it's easy to see why he should be able to put up a solid score against the Ravens, especially in PPR leagues.
The only downside is that he's not explosive. That means the Raiders are likely to give Jones, who has more big-play potential, a chance to establish himself early. That said, Reece should be able to put up around 12 points if McFadden can't go.
Jones will probably receive more hype leading up to Sunday and definitely falls into the high-risk, high-reward category for Week 10. He's the type of back who can break off an 80-yard touchdown run to turn an otherwise lackluster fantasy week into a great one in the blink of an eye.
That said, he lacks experience. The second-year back out of Eastern Washington has received just 20 touches in his young career, including two for six yards last week. Therefore, it's tough to gauge what to expect from him in a bigger role.
The other issue is size. He checks in at just under 200 pounds and his small frame is going to take a beating from the Ravens defense. Even though Baltimore is struggling to contain the run, this is still one of the hardest-hitting teams in the league.
Even though he would probably receive a bulk of the early-down carries without McFadden in the picture, the range for his potential score is wide. He could approach 20 fantasy points if he breaks off a long TD, but the odds are equal that he's a Week 10 bust.
If owners are feeling lucky, Jones is their man. If not, Reece is the safer choice.