2014 Fantasy Football Dark Horse Candidate: Darren McFadden
When Darren McFadden was selected by the Oakland Raiders with the fourth overall selection in the 2008 NFL draft, they expected him to be the type of offensive player that the team could build around for many years to come. Unfortunately, for the Raiders and McFadden, those aspirations never materialized. McFadden’s career–to this point–has been marred by injuries, big and small.
He entered the 2013 NFL season hoping to silence his critics and play a full season during his contract year. However, his unlucky streak with injuries continued and he only played in 10 games. In five seasons in the NFL, the most that McFadden has played in a season is 13 games.
Given his past performances over those five seasons, it is pretty obvious that Oakland will let McFadden try his luck on the free agency market this upcoming offseason. The future looks uncertain for the former University of Arkansas product, but despite his durability issues, it seems likely that he will be able to secure a one-year deal somewhere.
So what does this mean for fantasy football owners looking at McFadden as a potential fantasy draft pick?
Most fantasy owners will immediately shy away from McFadden due to the injury concerns. Weather or not his body can withstand the rigors of the NFL game is one thing, but many times injuries are just unfortunate and nothing to do with the player. Fantasy owners should view McFadden as a high-risk, high-reward type of player. If you are willing to gamble on drafting him he could be the reason your fantasy team makes a championship run, or are reduced to a mere spectator for the fantasy playoffs.
There is no doubt that McFadden is loaded with talent, and a new offense could be just the spark he needs to recharge his career. Fantasy owners should look to scoop him up somewhere in the mid to late rounds of the draft. Forward thinkers could be thinking that if McFadden excels in his new offense early on in the season, he could be viewed as juicy trade bait to other players.
His career numbers aren’t that impressive due to his injury issues, but the fact that he still has his game-breaking abilities can make him an enticing low-end RB-2 with upside to start the season.
Advice: Don’t be too excited about McFadden and don’t plan on drafting him. Depending on how your fantasy draft shakes out, you might have him falling right into your draft board. If that scenario occurs, then be willing to throw caution into the wind and take a gamble on him. As mentioned before his upside as a game-breaker is the thing fantasy owners should be excited about, especially if your league gives bonus points for long TD runs.