Why You Should Reach for Darren McFadden in Your Fantasy Football Draft

Marcel DavisCorrespondent IAugust 13, 2013

In a contract year, Darren McFadden is poised for a bounce-back season.
In a contract year, Darren McFadden is poised for a bounce-back season.Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

Many have banked their fantasy lives on Darren McFadden turning his vast potential into production. After five mostly underwhelming seasons, many have given up and removed the enigmatic Oakland Raiders running back from their draft board all together.

Coming off his worst season and entering a contract year, there is no better time than now to reach for McFadden in your fantasy football draft.

Rather because of injury, poor performance or demotion, everyone at some point has had that fantasy bust that tanks their season. For past McFadden owners, the Raiders running back takes the cake for all three reasons

It’s well documented that McFadden is the epitome of injury prone, as he’s yet to play more than 13 games during his five-year career. Lost in that fact is that there was no real incentive for McFadden to play through injury.

Oakland's best record in the McFadden era was 8-8 in 2010 and 2011.

Now, with perhaps his lone chance at garnering a long-term contract approaching, that is no longer the case.

Furthermore, what makes a successful fantasy player is talent plus opportunity. With no running back stealing McFadden’s carries—especially on the goal-line—and Carson Palmer no longer around throwing picks, there may not be a better player to target than McFadden later in the draft.

Especially since his draft stock is at an all-time low. ESPN.com has McFadden ranked as the 18th best running back.

Of the five players who follow McFadden on this list (Montee Ball, Darren Sproles, DeMarco Murray, Chris Ivory and Reggie Bush) only Bush and Murray are unquestioned starters.

With their own history of injuries, coupled with the presence of elite (fantasy) quarterbacks like Matthew Stafford and Tony Romo, these two don’t present a positive alternative to McFadden.

Aside from last season’s disaster in a zone-running scheme, McFadden has been productive when he plays.

Look no further than his 2010 season. In 13 games, McFadden had 1,157 rushing yards, 507 receiving yards and 10 total touchdowns.

Couple the Raiders returning to a power-running scheme with the fact that you probably can’t even name another threatening weapon on Oakland’s offense, and it’s easy to imagine what a healthy and hungry McFadden could do in 2013.

I know it’s a huge gamble to count on McFadden to stay healthy, something he’s never done, but the truth is every running back is an injury risk.

Regardless if a running back has an ironman type career to date or not, they all are one hit away from being sidelined.

Maurice Jones-Drew had missed a grand total of three games prior to 2012. Last season he missed 10 games.

Outside of missing 14 games in 2011 because of a torn ACL, Jamaal Charles has missed only one game in his five-year NFL career. And now, according to ESPN.com via the Associated Press, Charles has a strained foot. Is he injury prone now?

Then there is Arian Foster. Since becoming a prominent player in 2010, Foster has missed only 3 games. But he’s had a constant presence on the Houston Texans’ injury report year in and year out. Is he injury prone?

With or without the injury prone label, injury will always be an unknown for running backs. You can only evaluate a backs’ production and his role within his offense.

When healthy, does he produce? And, will he get carries?

For McFadden, the answers are an emphatic yes.

With McFadden declining to negotiate a contract extension with Oakland according to NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport, he’s clearly banking on a breakout season, a la Joe Flacco.

All the reason to gamble on McFadden in your fantasy draft.


What do you think? Sound off in the comments below!