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2012 Draft Prep: McFadden the ultimate risk/reward

Senior Fantasy Writer
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Darren McFadden knows what you think of him. He hears the whispers of being called fragile and weak. In your view, porcelain dolls have a better chance of staying healthy compared to the Raiders running back.

McFadden is five years into his NFL career and has yet to play a full 16-game season. He has missed 19 of a possible 60 games, and last year was his worst season of all with only seven games played thanks to a Lisfranc injury in his right foot.

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But he's back this year at 100 percent, and his goal is to dominate the NFL. We believe in McFadden, and the prediction here is he will have a career year.

"I just want to come out there and pick up where I left off at," McFadden recently told the local Oakland media. "The type of injury that I had was something that set me down for a long time, but a lot of people may think it is hard to bounce back and get back in the flow of things. Once I am back out there on the field, I feel like I am at home, so I will just go out there and try to pick up where I left off."

Where McFadden left off in 2011 was impressive. Prior to going down, he had 113 carries for 614 rushing yards and four touchdowns and 19 catches for 154 yards and one touchdown. He was averaging 14.3 Fantasy points per game, which would have made him a Top 10 running back if he kept up that pace.

McFadden has been a beast when healthy. He has averaged 88.5 rush yards and 33.0 receiving yards over his last 20 starts with 15 total touchdowns -- all with Michael Bush there. Bush is gone now, signing as a free agent with the Bears, and McFadden's touches could actually increase given the lack of quality talent behind him with unproven commodities in Mike Goodson and Taiwan Jones.

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But the biggest issue with McFadden as we all know is health. Can he stay on the field? His best season to date was 2010 when he played 13 games and finished with 223 carries for 1,157 yards and seven touchdowns and 47 catches for 507 yards and three touchdowns. Fantasy owners would take that production in a second, and if he managed 16 games the stats would be phenomenal.

"I think we all understand that he's an explosive playmaker for us, and we need him to be healthy for an entire season," Raiders coach Dennis Allen said.

McFadden feels great now at the start of training camp, and he said he doesn't plan to alter his running style to protect himself from injuries. Fantasy owners will still fear McFadden, but if you want to win championships sometimes you have to gamble on talented players and hope they perform.

McFadden certainly falls into that category. He knows what he's capable of when he steps on the field, and he hopes this is the year he sheds the injury-prone label.

"It is one of those things where it happens in football," McFadden said of getting hurt. "I can't say I am unlucky about it. I am a very blessed person to even be playing in this league, so for me I just go out there and take it one day at a time. I can't control injuries. If I get hurt, I am going to get hurt going hard. So it's something I can't control, and I am not going to go out there and play to not get hurt."

McFadden's Average Draft Position at the start of training camp is No. 11 overall. He is being drafted as the No. 7 running back behind Arian Foster, LeSean McCoy, Ray Rice, Ryan Mathews, Chris Johnson and Maurice Jones-Drew. That's the right spot for McFadden to go. He has elite talent and if he plays close to a full season, he could easily be a Top 5 running back.

There is risk involved with drafting McFadden, but if he rewards you with a significant amount of games played then you could be looking at a possible Fantasy championship.

Stay in touch with the most passionate Fantasy staff in the business by following us via Twitter @CBSFantasyFB . You can also follow Jamey at @JameyEisenberg and on Facebook .

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Player News
LB Dwight Freeney to return for 14th season
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(11:45 am ET) Impending free agent linebacker Dwight Freeney has decided to return for a 14th season, reports the San Diego Union-Tribune. Freeney was an effective performer in 2014, leading the Chargers with 40 quarterback hurries and registering 3.5 sacks with 10 tackles.

He ranks 20th all-time with 111.5 career sacks. The paper said it's unclear whether Freeney, 35, will return to San Diego or land elsewhere.


Report: Jacoby Jones to visit Bengals, Titans
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(11:34 am ET) Receiver/returner Jacoby Jones, released by the Ravens last week, is scheduled to visit the Bengals and Titans this week, reports Pro Football Talk. Jones caught just nine passes last year, but averaged 30 yards per kickoff return.

The 30-year-old Jones has returned five kickoffs and four punts for touchdowns in his career.


Dolphins' Jimmy Wilson expected to reach free agency
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(11:23 am ET) Dolphins' defensive back Jimmy Wilson is not expected to re-sign with the team before the start of free agency, the Palm Beach Post reports.

A seventh-round draft pick in 2011, Wilson served as a slot cornerback and reserve safety last season. Wilson could have an opportunity at starting at safety if he were to come back to Miami next season, as the team will likely be looking to fill the spot next to Reshad Jones.


Vikings want Chad Greenway back in 2015
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(11:02 am ET) With Vikings linebacker Chad Greenway in the final year of his contract, general manager Rick Spielman said the team wants to bring Greenway back in 2015, reports the StarTribune.

Greenway is due to make $7 million in 2015, but he may have to take a pay cut to remain with the Vikings.

"We have a lot of things that we'll be working through between now and before March 10th, but we'd love to have Chad Greenway back and finish [his career] as a Minnesota Viking," Spielman said.


Report: Jets will let Willie Colon test free agency
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(10:47 am ET) With the Jets not intending to sign guard Willie Colon before free agency starts March 10, sources told Metro New York the team will let Colon test free agency.

If Colon cannot find a suitor, then the team could bring him back to add more depth. Colon is expected to become an unrestricted free agent March 10. Colon has started 32 games for the Jets over the last two seasons.


Report: Patriots more likely to tag Gostkowski than McCourty
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(10:19 am ET) If the Patriots are to use their franchise tag, the team is more likely to use the tag on kicker Stephen Gostkowski than cornerback Devin McCourty, sources told ESPNBoston.com.

A franchise tag for a kicker would be an estimated $4.5 million, while tagging a cornerback would cost about $9.5 million. If no long-term deal can be reached and neither player is tagged, they'll become free agents March 10.


Report: Chiefs use franchise tag on Justin Houston
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(9:59 am ET) The Chiefs have decided to use their franchise tag on Justin Houston, a source told ESPN.

Houston, 26, has recorded 48 1/2 sacks over his first four seasons in the NFL and produced 22 sacks in 2014, which led the league. Signing the one-year deal would be worth about $13 million. Houston is not expected to sign the franchise tag anytime soon, reports NFL.com.

Houston will consult with the NFLPA to decide whether to file a grievance to be classified as a defensive end and not outside linebacker, a source told NBCSports.com.


Lions will not use franchise tag on Ndamukong Suh
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(9:51 am ET) The Lions announced Monday they will not use the franchise tag on defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh.

If the Lions cannot work out a deal with Suh, he'll become a free agent March 10. Using the franchise tag on Suh would've cost the Lions $26.9 million in 2015. Suh is considered one of the top defensive tackles in the NFL.


Report: Packers' Jarrett Bush arrested for public intoxication
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(9:38 am ET) Packers cornerback Jarrett Bush was arrested for disorderly conduct while under the influence Sunday in California, reports KTVU in San Francisco and WBAY-TV in Green Bay.

Bush was placed in a detention hold and then released. Bush has played for the Packers since 2006 and serves as their special teams captain.


Report: Eagles working on new contract with Trent Cole
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(9:25 am ET) The Eagles have been working with linebacker Trent Cole on a new contract, a source told lehighvalleylive.com.

Cole is due to make $11.6 million next season and the team would save $8.4 million by cutting Cole.


 
 
 
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