The Darren McFadden Fantasy Debate

For those of you who do not engage in the porn of the sports world that is fantasy football I’d suggest moving along to other more engaging topics today such as celebrating Lionel Richie’s belated birthday or searching Octomom videos. The rest of you, follow me, we’re going to take on the dicey subject of debating Darren McFadden’s fantasy value.

Now there really shouldn’t be any debate about this one. Darren McFadden is a top 5 fantasy stud that, obviously, were it not for health reasons would be in the top pick conversation. He is the quintessential fantasy running back racking up points in multitude of ways as a runner and a receiver…basically you name it and Run DMC does it. Most important of all is he finds the end zone. Anybody that had McFadden for the first half of last season was likely contending until disaster struck.

Of course if you were really proactive you didn’t sweat McFadden’s health issues because if you were hip to the game you went out and grabbed Michael Bush too. In my league I missed out on McFadden but landed Bush. For the first half of the season he sat on my bench but once McFadden went down I rode Bush and Marshawn Lynch to the title game…which I eventually lost no thanks to Drew Brees’ pursuit of history. But we’re getting off course here.

So here we are again. It’s June and your fantasy draft is a month or two away. By now you’ve already pegged a few sleepers, guys ready to breakout and you’ve also got your list of wildcards.

At the top of the wildcard list is McFadden. Unlike other rolls of the dice like Chris Johnson last year, there is no concern over McFadden’s ability to produce. Even in games when he doesn’t eclipse the golden 100-yard rushing barrier McFadden is still getting you at least 100 total yards. Johnson, on the other hand, just didn’t produce – at all.

For McFadden’s value to be so closely tied to his health is frightening. If he’s there and anyone you valued ahead of him is gone you’ve got to take McFadden. He’s a gamble but not the Peyton Manning type of gamble. Quiet as kept Manning is the biggest fantasy gamble this year and anyone taking him in the first round is really spinning the wheel. No telling how productive Manning will be or if he can even take a hot.

What confounds the McFadden dilemma is there is no insurance policy this time around. He’s not being backed by Bush any longer and there is no reason to think that Taiwan Jones, Mike Goodson or even Cedric Benson should he join the ranks can crank out Bush type numbers.

So the reality is this season you’re simply twisting in the wind with McFadden. Naturally every fantasy running back needs a backup plan. With injuries, bye weeks, bad matchups, etc. However with a healthy McFadden all you need to worry about is the bye. There is no such thing as a bad matchup for Run DMC. Ask the Jets and their supposed top notch run defense about that.

In short, McFadden is a fantasy stud that really shouldn’t last past the first 5 picks of any fantasy draft based on talent alone. Then there is all the uncertainty surrounding some of the other top backs around the league. Contract situations are making the likes of Matt Forte, Maurice Jones-Drew and Ray Rice a little less attractive in the fantasy market. Adrian Peterson’s health has taken him out of the conversation and top back Arian Foster has a new deal which, in recent years, has been a little like the Madden curse when it comes to top producing fantasy running backs.

Aside from his injury issues the other gamble with McFadden is the zone scheme Greg Knapp is installing. During the Raiders offseason program McFadden was singing the praises of the new scheme. But everything looks good when you’re not hitting in May. Then again, with McFadden’s talent he should be able to produce in any system. The problem is there is no system that guarantees his health.

What fantasy value do you give McFadden?

What kind of fantasy value will Darren McFadden have in 2012?

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Tags: Adrian Peterson Arian Foster Cedric Benson Chris Johnson Darren McFadden Drew Brees Fantasy Football Greg Knapp Marshawn Lynch Matt Forte Maurice Jones-Drew Michael Bush Mike Goodson Peyton Manning Ray Rice Taiwan Jones

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