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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
Panthers WR Stephen Hill carted off field with knee injury
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(4:27 pm ET) Panthers wide receiver Stephen Hill had to carted off the practice field Saturday after sustaining a right knee injury, reports the Associated Press. Hill spent the 2014 season on the practice squad.

Falcons sign Pierce Burton; release Harland Gunn
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(4:16 pm ET) The Falcons signed one offensive lineman and released another, the team announced Saturday. The team signed offensive lineman Pierce Burton and released guard Harland Gunn.

Cowboys' Tony Romo plans to practice Saturday
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(4:07 pm ET) Despite dealing with an eye issue, Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo is expected to practice Saturday, reports the Star-Telegram. Romo was held out of Friday's practice to receive treatment for a sty in his eye.

"I don't want to get into specifics of what we did, but we don't think it's a major thing, and we do anticipate him practicing [Saturday]," coach Jason Garrett said.


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(3:49 pm ET) After passing his conditioning test Friday, 49ers linebacker NaVorro Bowman is eager to get back on the practice field Saturday, reports CSNBayArea.com.

Bowman missed the entire 2014 season after a season-ending knee injury in the 2013 NFC Championship game. He is expected to participate in the first training camp practice Saturday and is eager to make his first hit.

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Smith sustained the injuries while after making a catch during Friday's practice. Coach Todd Bowles said Smith would be sidelined for 4-6 weeks, according to ESPNNewYork.com.


Bengals' Adam Jones says team has discussed contract extension
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(3:32 pm ET) Bengals cornerback Adam Jones revealed Saturday the team has reached out to his agent to discuss signing him to a contract extension, reports ESPN.com.

"They've contacted my agent," Jones said. "But ain't nothing I can do about the contract right now. I'm not upstairs."

Jones, 31, is entering his sixth season with the Bengals. He registered 63 tackles and three interceptions in 16 games last season. He added that he was not concerned about receiving an extension before the season starts.

"If it happens before the end of camp or after the end of camp, I'll be thankful," Jones said. "But right now, I'm just focusing on competing every day and helping my team win."


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(3:19 pm ET) Jets cornerback Dee Milliner was able to participate in his first practice of training camp on Saturday, reports ESPNNewYork.com.

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Broncos RB Jeremy Stewart injures hamstring Saturday
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(3:13 pm ET) Broncos running back Jeremy Stewart suffered a hamstring pull during Saturday's practice, reports 9News.com. Stewart is expected to compete for the No. 3 running back role.

Redskins sign Deshazor Everett, release Dasman McCullum
by Shawn Krest | CBSSports.com
(2:47 pm ET) The Redskins signed undrafted rookie free agent Deshazor Everett, a cornerback out of Texas A&M, the team announced on Saturday.

To make room on the roster, the team released rookie linebacker Dasman McCullum


Bills' John Miller leaves practice with bruised ankle
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(2:42 pm ET) Bills rookie guard John Miller left practice early on Saturday after suffering a bruised ankle. 

"Nothing serious at all," coach Rex Ryan said, per the Buffalo News. "He'll probably be a day, maybe two days max."

Miller was a third-round draft pick out of Georgia. 


 
 
 
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