Raiders RB Darren McFadden: Is Run DMC for Real, or Was 2010 Just a Fantasy?

Jeremy Alpert@@pyroman1acSenior Analyst IIApril 21, 2011

2010 Review

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The jury is still out on the guy because frankly, one good year out of three injury-shortened seasons does not provide a large enough sample size to make a proper assessment.  That said, it does look like the real Darren McFadden has finally shown up, and none too late for the rabid, yet faithful Raider Nation.

McFadden was originally selected in the first round of the 2008 NFL Draft (4th overall) after Oakland Raiders owner, Al Davis, fell in love with his speed at the NFL Scouting Combine (he ran a 4.33 in the 40).  However, considering his lofty draft status, Darren’s first two seasons in the league would turn out to be a huge disappointment.  Not only were his two-year totals of 856 rushing yards, 1,386 total yards and five TDs pedestrian at best, but “Run DMC” also proved to be both injury-prone (25 games played, 12 started out of 32 games) and extremely soft as a runner (3.77 YPC).

In spite of what was looking like an obvious mis-evaluation of talent, Al Davis refused to admit failure and stayed firm in his belief of the young running back, which brings us to 2010.

Heading into a pivotal third NFL season, McFadden was slated to split time in the backfield with fellow running back Michael Bush…that is, until Bush injured his thumb in the preseason and was forced out of action for the team’s first two games.

Enter Darren McFadden.

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In Week One at Tennessee, with Bush on the sidelines, the Raiders had no choice but to depend on McFadden to carry the load.  Knowing his future was likely on the line, Darren would respond well to the assignment by rushing for 95 yards on 18 carries (5.3 YPC) while catching six balls out of the backfield for another 55 yards and a TD.  Not too bad of a debut for the speedster as the team’s featured back; a debut that would get even better in Week Two when he rattled off another 145 yards on 30 carries in Oakland’s first win of 2010.

Just two games into the season, it was clear as day to both the Raiders organization and their fans that the special talent Al Davis once saw in his 2008 first-round pick was finally going to live up to his nickname of Run DMC.

Though he would add to his reputation as an injury-prone player suiting up for just 13 games, McFadden went on to finish the season with stats that would nearly match or out-do his numbers from the previous two years combined.  On just 223 carries (16th in the NFL), Darren gained 1,157 yards (12th) for a 5.2 YPC (T-3rd) while also catching 47 passes (T-10th among RBs) for 507 yards (6th).  On top of that, McFadden also put up 10 total touchdowns (7 rushing, 3 receiving), 1,664 total yards (5th) and 226.4 total fantasy points (6th) for a whopping average of 17.4 fantasy points per week (2nd to Arian Foster).

If McFadden can somehow stay healthy while continuing his recent stellar pace of play, fantasy owners will easily be looking at a top-five fantasy back in 2011.  There are a lot of “ifs” when it comes to Run DMC, so he’ll likely slip into the late first round and possibly the second in most drafts.  If so, he’ll be worth the bargain price you get him for.

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2011 Pros & Cons

(+) In just 13 games last year, Run DMC ended up sixth for running backs in total fantasy points (226.4), yet was second in fantasy points per game (17.4)

(+) McFadden’s first two years in the league combined: 217 carries, 856 yards, 5 TDs, 50 receptions, 530 receiving yards, 0 Rec TDs – Last season: 223 carries, 1,157 yards, 7 TDs, 47 receptions, 507 yards, 3 Rec TDs

(+) How often do you see a running back that stands 6’2”, 210 lbs yet can run a 4.33 40-yard dash?

(+) Can score from anywhere on the field (had four TDs over 35 yards in 2010)

(+) Truly a multi-dimensional back—Darren was one of only two RBs in 2010 to put up over 1,000 yards rushing, 500 yards receiving and 10+ TDs (Arian Foster)

(+) Came in fifth in the league in total yards from scrimmage (1,664), and did so in just 13 games

(–) Still has to contend with Michael Bush for TDs (2010 rushing TDs: Bush-8, McFadden-7)

(–) It seems that with the amount of games McFadden has missed so far in his career (10 games in 3 years), health will always be an issue

(–) Though he turned in some outstanding games last season, he still has a tendency to disappear from time to time

(–) One good year does not make you an NFL star; Darren will still need to prove himself in 2011

For the rest of Darren McFadden's Player Profile, CLICK HERE

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