NFL Fantasy Football: Can Darren McFadden Be Even Better in 2011?

Ryan Lester@LestersLegendsSenior Writer IJuly 12, 2011

OAKLAND, CA - DECEMBER 19:  Darren McFadden #20 of the Oakland Raiders runs with the ball during their game against the Denver Broncos at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum on December 19, 2010 in Oakland, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Darren McFadden was great last year. After combining for 856 rushing yards (1,386 total yards) and five touchdowns in his first two disappointing years, he responded with a breakout season that saw him run for 1,157 yards (1,664 total yards) and 10 touchdowns (seven rushing, three receiving).

When somebody blows up like that you wonder if they can repeat their performance. Could it just have been a fluke? In Darren McFadden’s case though, you wonder if he could be even better.

For the third straight season Run DMC missed three games (four in 2009). If he could stay healthy and play in at least 15 games, a 2,000 total yards season is well within reach.

He certainly showed the explosiveness that we expected after he averaged 1,738.5 yards and 15 touchdowns in his final two years at Arkansas. McFadden was tied for sixth with a 5.2 yards per carry average. He was tied for third among players with at least 200 carries. He also led all ball carriers with 14 runs of at least 20 yards.

The Raiders are expected to retain Michael Bush, which at first glance is a negative. That said, the 6’1", 245-pound Bush can share the workload to keep McFadden fresh and take some of the tough carries to minimize DMC’s injury risk. With McFadden’s big-play ability, losing some carries at the stripe doesn’t sting as bad.

Another bonus that isn’t an obvious benefit to McFadden is the stability that Jason Campbell brought to the Raiders. He didn’t put up monster numbers, but he was effective. Campbell is locked in as the starting quarterback, which should help him focus on improving his game. He’s in a contract year, which provides further incentive. Don’t expect a 4,000-yard season out of Campbell, but he’s good enough to keep defenses honest and keep them from stuffing the box on McFadden.

As long as he can stay healthy I believe McFadden can be a top five to seven fantasy back. What’s your take?


Also check out:

2011 Early Fantasy Football QB Rankings

2011 Early Fantasy Football RB Rankings

2011 Early Fantasy Football WR Rankings

2011 Early Fantasy Football TE Rankings