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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
No thanks to Terrance Williams
by Scott White | Senior Fantasy Writer
(5:14 pm ET) I hate to pooh-pooh a player a week after he scores two touchdowns, but I really don't get the Terrance Williams love. 

OK, so those two in Week 4 gave him four in four games, but in two of those games, he caught just two passes total. And prior to Sunday night, his season high in receiving yards was 50.

The Cowboys were a run-heavy team prior to opening up the passing game in what figured to be a high-scoring affair with the Saints in town, but I think they go back to feeding DeMarco Murray against Houston this week. In that version of the Cowboys offense, Tony Romo has shown he's good for only one or two touchdown passes, and you have to think Dez Bryant is more likely to get one than Williams. So what does that make Williams' chances of scoring a week-to-week basis? Less than 50/50?

Bottom line: I don't think he can keep up this scoring rate, and if he doesn't keep up this scoring rate, he doesn't have much to fall back on.

That doesn't mean I'm dropping Williams, but I'm not nearly as bullish on him as Jamey Eisenberg and Dave Richard, who rank him among their top 24 wide receivers for this week. I'm probably not even starting him in a standard 12-team league.


League suspends Panthers DE Frank Alexander until Week 15
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(5:04 pm ET) Panthers defensive end Frank Alexander has been suspended for the next 10 games by the league, according to ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter. He had already been suspended for four games for violating the NFL substance abuse policy.

Alexander played in all but four games the past two seasons. But he will not be eligible to play again until Week 15. That would allow him to play just three games in 2014.


Tony Romo still less than automatic
by Scott White | Senior Fantasy Writer
(4:53 pm ET) Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo finally performed up to his past standards Week 4 against New Orleans, firing three touchdown passes in a game where many assumed he'd have to throw just to keep pace with the competition.

Turns out the Cowboys were the ones that jumped out to an early lead, putting the Saints in catchup mode, but regardless, against Drew Brees and company, the game plan was likely a little different than against the 49ers, Titans and Rams.

The Texans, who will visit Dallas in Week 5, have more in common with the Cowboys' first three opponents. They don't have the Saints' explosive offense, so this game doesn't have the look of a shootout.

Does that mean the Cowboys go back to their approach from the first three weeks, when their offense relied mostly on running back DeMarco Murray? Well, the Texans rank 26th against the run this season compared to 19th against the pass.

Which doesn't mean Romo is going to stink -- he still has great weapons and a track record of success -- but I'd bet against him throwing another three touchdown passes this week, making him a fringy start in standard 12-team leagues.


Rams WR Tavon Austin back in action for Wednesday session
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(4:51 pm ET) Rams wide receiver Tavon Austin has recovered enough from a knee injury to practice Wednesday.

Austin caught three passes in Week 1, but none since. He did not play in Week 3 and the team was idle last weekend.


Jordan Cameron able to get through practice Wednesday
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(4:49 pm ET) Browns tight end Jordan Cameron was a full participant in practice Wednesday.

Cameron has been dealing with a shoulder issue, but said he felt better coming off the team's bye week. He's expected to play Week 5. 


Bears DE Jared Allen returns to practice Wednesday
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(4:48 pm ET) Bears defensive end Jared Allen has recovered from a bout with pneumonia and participated in practice on Wednesday.

Allen has contributed to 11 tackles in three games this season. The illness accompanied by a significant weight loss forced him to miss the Week 4 battle against Green Bay.


Texans veterans do not practice Wednesday
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(4:38 pm ET) A number of Texans veterans did not practice Wednesday.

Arian Foster was held out due to a hamstring issue. He was limited Week 4 due to the injury. Receiver Andre Johnson also missed practice due to an ankle injury.

On the defensive side, both J.J. Watt and Brian Cushing were unable to go. Watt was listed with a thigh injury, while Cushing is dealing with a knee issue. 


Smith: Bucs QB Josh McCown better, but not ready to throw
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(4:35 pm ET) Lovie Smith has reported that the thumb of Josh McCown is improving, but added that the Buccaneers quarterback is still not ready to throw, per the Tampa Tribune.

McCown has likely lost his starting job to Mike Glennon, who engineered a stirring comeback Sunday to beat host Pittsburgh. McCown averaged just 140 yards passing while throwing for two touchdowns and four interceptions in his three starts this season, though he did guide the team to two victories.


Marvin Jones tweaks ankle, does not practice
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(4:33 pm ET) Bengals wide receiver Marvin Jones sat out of practice Wednesday due to an ankle issue.

Jones has missed the first four weeks of the season due to a foot injury. The two issues are not related. Jones was able to practice last week, but the team was on a bye. 


Report: Donnie Avery will not practice Wednesday
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(4:24 pm ET) Chiefs wide receiver Donnie Avery is not expected to practice Wednesday, according to ESPN.

Avery is dealing with a strained abductor. His status for Week 5 is unclear at the moment. Avery has 14 receptions for 156 yards. 


 
 
 
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