Oakland Raiders Running Back Darren McFadden: Don't Sit 'em on Sunday

Carl CockerhamSenior Analyst INovember 19, 2010

Oakland Raiders Running Back Darren McFadden: Don't Sit 'em on Sunday

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    Darren McFadden is shedding his bust label by averaging 108 yards per game this season. But he faces the the Pittsburgh Steeler's top ranked run defense on Sunday.

    There are many fantasy people that recommend that you sit McFadden against that No.1 run defense. But as the old dictum goes, "Everything isn't always what it seems."

    That is especially the case in Sunday's Raider Steeler game.

    Turn the page for a detailed look. 

Aaron Smith Is Out

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    Aaron Smith is one of the best defensive lineman in the NFL when he's healthy. You can forget about his stats because his value is being a player that takes double teams.

    This helps enable the Steeler's wrecking crew of linebackers to run around and make plays. Nose tackle Casey Hampton is there for the Steelers to take one double team but that's it now.

    You at least need two defensive lineman to require a double team to stop the run in a 3-4 scheme. 

Brett Is Keisel Is Out

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    Brett Keisel is another big part of the Pittsburgh Steeler's run stuffing ways. He requires a double team while running in his direction as well.

    No wonder why the Steeler have been so tough against the run. I said before that you need two defensive lineman to take double teams succeed against the run and the Steelers have three.

    But only one of them are playing on Sunday.

Stats Misleading?

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    Through the first few games, the Steeler defense was who they were as run stuffers. They've only allowed one 100-yard rusher in the last 43 games.

    And since the injuries to two of their three run stuffing defensive lineman, The Steelers have remained dominant against the run.

    How is that?

    Well, the last four games the Steelers played have been against Dophins, Saints, Bengals, and Patriots. Neither of the four teams are burning up the league running the football.

    The Raiders have the No. 2 ranked running game in the league.

    It takes a top rushing attack to expose a wounded defense.

Raider Strength On Steeler Weakness

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    There is a certain weakness the Steeler run defense has the plays into the Raider's strength. The Steelers are ranked only No. 21 on runs to the offensive left outside allowing 4.4 yards per carry.

    The Raiders are unstoppable running outside to the left with a whopping 5.2 yards per carry. Hue Jackson has to be aware of this stat and want to relentlessly take advantage of it.

    The Raiders have had a lot of big running plays outside to the left anyway.

Troy Polamalu Under Control

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    Troy Polamalu loves to move around and get real nosy at the line of scrimmage. With the Raider's track team of receivers and the Steelers weak secondary, I don't expect Polamalu to be too nosy.

    You just don't dare a quarterback to beat you with a secondary like that. It especially isn't a good idea with Jacoby Ford, Louis Murphy, and Darrius Heyward-Bey running around in your secondary.

    The Steelers already know about Murphy from his heroics last year.

    Steeler corners will get plenty of help over the top.

The Passing Game

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    McFadden has plenty of value that comes from the passing game. His blazing speed, route running, and excellent hands give McFadden the skill set of a wide receiver.

    There isn't a linebacker in the world that can cover him.

    Jackson has used Ray Rice in the passing game against Steelers when he was in Baltimore. There's no reason why Jackson wouldn't want to use McFadden's receiving skills to beat the Steeler blitz.

    A few big plays by McFadden might get the Steeler to tone the blitzing down.

Zach Miller

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    Along with the speedy receivers, Zach Miller will take a lot of attention in the Raider passing game. Therefore, there will be no special game plan for McFadden in the passing game.

    A fast receiver, a great tight end, and a good pass catching running back are hard to stop. The opposing defense never really has a chance to take one away because one of the others will hurt you.

    The Raiders have two running backs with receiver skill sets.

Marcel Reece

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    Marcel Reece is fullback with a wide receiver skill set.

    He was a collegiate wide receiver and was moved to fullback since his arrival in Raider Nation. This fullback is actually a deep threat that kills receivers in coverage so that's more attention away from McFadden.

    The blitzes the Steeler run will leave someone open.

    McFadden will be that guy at some point.

Steeler Linebackers Are Blitzers

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    The Steeler's No. 26 pass defense ranking is one thing that tells you that the Steeler linebackers don't cover very well. Sunday night game against the Patriots will show you even further as the Patriots hit the Steeler underneath.

    Defending passes is something the Steelers do by sacking and hitting the quarterback. What ever coverage the Steelers have for McFadden won't be enough for those linebacker to stop McFadden.

    The Steelers concern will mostly be deep anyway.

Third Down Runs

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    On third and three to five, the Steelers may have their dime defense on the field to cover the Raider running backs. The Raiders can take advantage of the Steeler's lack of size by simply running the ball.

    A situation like that can lead to more than just the three to five yards for a first down. It can lead a big run at some point in the game with the Steeler defense looking for the pass.

    The Raiders almost converted a third and 11 by running the ball a couple of games ago. 


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    There are many reasons McFadden could have a huge game on Sunday. There are too many other weapons the Steelers need to watch out for to focus too much on him.

    There are also too many ways the Raiders can us McFadden.

    The Steelers also have some weakness that appear to play right into Raider strengths. There is no reason why fantasy owners should be afraid to start McFadden Sunday.

    He could very well erupt.

    I hope you enjoyed the slide showed.