Is Darren McFadden the worst starting RB in the NFL?

By Gil Alcaraz IV


Darren McFadden
Daniel Shirey-USA TODAY Sports

According to Pro Football Focus, Oakland Raiders running back Darren McFadden graded out as by far the worst running back in the NFL last season. Is this a simple case of looking too deep into his mistakes or is there really a reason to believe that he’s doing more harm than good to the Raiders offense?

When he wasn’t on the inactive list due to injury, McFadden was spending his time making the least of his offensive opportunities. During a season when he was expected to help carry the Oakland offense, McFadden managed only 707 rushing yards and two touchdowns – no, that’s not a typo – on 216 carries. For a former first-round pick and high-profile player, that’s pathetic production.

If it wasn’t for a few 100-plus yard outings, McFadden’s yard-per-carry average would have been even more miserable than the 3.3 it ended up at. Remove his three games of 113, 114 and 110 yards, and his average dwindles to 2.6 yards per carry. Talk about inefficient.

Even when McFadden did have statistically-impressive games, they were often bloated by high carry totals or one big-yardage run. In his 113-yard performance in Week 3, 64 of those yards came on one run. If it wasn’t for that run, McFadden would have had only 49 yards on 17 carries. His 110-yard outing in Week 15 was aided by his 30 attempts, which still left him with a measly 3.7 yards per carry.

In 12 games, he graded out positively in only two – 0.4 against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and 0.5 against the Denver Broncos. McFadden carried the ball seven times for 17 yards against the Buccaneers before getting hurt. Against the Broncos, he managed 52 yards on 11 carries, but 36 yards came on one run.

The most telling statistic of all? The fact that, in 12 appearances and 216 carries, McFadden forced only 16 missed tackles. Supposedly known for his speed and elusiveness, McFadden going down so often in the hands of the first defender is not acceptable for a player of his potential. Despite receiving 35 and 22 carries, respectively, Mike Goodson and Marcel Reece managed half of the missed tackles forced that McFadden did. His total was one of the worst among starters in 2012, and that’s something that the Raiders simply can’t have moving forward.

To make matters worse, McFadden graded out negatively (-2.6) as a pass blocker as well. Even though his blocking improved after he returned from injury in Week 14, he still gave up two sacks, four hits and three hurries throughout the year on only 76 pass block opportunities.

It’s hard to argue with the facts. While McFadden can be a dynamic running back when he’s healthy and on his game, it appears that his peak has already passed. The Raiders need to find a ball carrier able to pick up consistent yards and find the end zone on occasion, both things that McFadden no longer appears capable of.

While he may not be the worst starting running back in the NFL, McFadden is certainly the most inefficient.

Gil Alcaraz IV is a Content Planner/NFL Featured Columnist for Follow him on Twitter @GilAlcarazIV, like him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google.

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