Darren McFadden: Raiders RB Isn't a Viable Fantasy Option

Richard LangfordCorrespondent IDecember 4, 2012

KANSAS CITY, MO - OCTOBER 28:  Running back Darren McFadden #20 of the Oakland Raiders rushes for a first down against the Kansas City Chiefs during the fourth quarter on October 28, 2012 at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri.  Oakland defeated Kansas City 26-16.  (Photo by Peter Aiken/Getty Images)
Peter Aiken/Getty Images

Oakland Raiders running back Darren McFadden appears set to return from injury, but that doesn't mean fantasy owners need to hinge any fantasy hopes on the five-year pro. 

McFadden has missed the last four games with a high-ankle sprain, but as the Contra Costa Times' Steve Corkran reports, he was practicing on Tuesday and not showing any "lingering effects" from the injury. He also adds that, "coach Dennis Allen said he expects McFadden and backup running back Mike Goodson to play Thursday night against the Denver Broncos." 

Goodson is McFadden's backup and has also missed the last four games. 

Despite this news, don't throw McFadden back into fantasy starting lineups just yet. 

McFadden is having a lackluster year. In his eight games this season before his injury, McFadden had rushed for 455 yards at an average of just 3.3 yards per carry and had only two touchdowns. 

He's had just two games this season where he rushed for over 70 yards. 

Under their new coach, the Raiders switched to the zone blocking scheme this year, and McFadden has struggled in that system. The Raiders employed the ZBS during DMC's first two seasons in the league, and combined in those two years he rushed for 856 yards with a 3.9 yards per carry average in 25 games. 

While part of the blame for his struggles this year is due to the ineffectiveness of the offensive line, McFadden, the Raiders leader in carries this year, has a significantly lower yards per carry number than three running backs directly behind him in carries. 

This casts doubt on how many touches McFadden will receive should he play. It is likely that he will be forced to share time with runners who have been more effective. 

Also working against McFadden is the fact that the Raiders have been playing terribly, and they will likely trail the Broncos for the majority of this Thursday night contest. That will limit the number of carries the Raiders have as a team. 

This has become an increasingly pass-heavy team. The Raiders are second in the league in pass attempts per game. 

McFadden still has the explosiveness to take the ball to the house, but there is too great of a risk that DMC will see limited action in this game to risk giving him a fantasy start.