The Oakland Raiders always seem to be a team that struggles to get wins. Since Darren McFadden was drafted in the first round of the 2008 draft, the Raiders have went .500 only twice. They have a combined 30-50 team record. One thing that always seems to be prevalent is that there’s not much talent surrounding their star running back Darren McFadden.
McFadden is one of the more talented running backs in football and he plays particularly physical. The reason he’s not being ranked as a top 10 running back? Injuries, injuries and more injuries. He’s missed 23 games over the course of his career and it’s becoming a headache for fantasy owners. I was one who had big expectations for him last season, as I took him in the second round. I must say it was nerve-racking to see ‘game-time decision’ a majority of the season. He’s only rushed for over 1,000 yards just once in his career. So why is 2013 the year McFadden must prove himself?
1. The Raiders Have to Win More Games to Attract Better Free Agent Talent
Many players today want get a large contract and more importantly win. If the Oakland Raiders go 4-12 again like they did in 2012, which big time free agents will that attract to the organization? They have a new quarterback in Matt Flynn who was supposed to be a diamond in the rough when he was with the Green Bay Packers backing up Aaron Rodgers. There are a lot of question marks with Flynn. The key to success is going to be not only Flynn, but also Darren McFadden staying healthy and producing.
2. McFadden is 25-years-old this Season
This is considered a prime age for an NFL running back. If he can’t stay healthy and produce when he’s in his prime, how gloomy does his future look? I think the key to his success this season will be to not be as physical as he’s been in past seasons.
AND MOST IMPORTANTLY
3. He’s in a Contract Year
Being in a contract year and in his prime, this is the year McFadden must show he’s a legit #1 running back. If he doesn’t produce this year, he can kiss that monster multi-year contract goodbye. Teams will most likely offer him a shorter contract in order for him to prove himself. I’m sure this is not the route McFadden wants to take after noting his injury history.
All in all, I think this is finally Darren McFadden’s year. If Matt Flynn can become even a third of what he’s showed in his short time in Green Bay, McFadden’s arrow will be pointing directly up. He’s currently being drafted in the late fourth, early fifth rough of fantasy drafts. I see him playing 15 games this season and recording 1,200 yards with 9 touchdowns, which would out produce his ADP of 49.7 in standard Yahoo! Sports leagues. As I won’t risk my second round pick on “Run DMC” like I did last season, he’s a high risk/high reward player that could pay huge dividends for fantasy owners…if he can stay healthy.
What do you think about Darren McFadden’s fantasy value in 2013?