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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
Haloti Ngata turned down extension with Ravens
by Dave Richard | Senior Fantasy Writer
(11:10 am ET) Looking to free up cap space earlier this offseason, the Ravens offered a "lucrative, long-term" deal with defensive lineman Haloti Ngata so that he wouldn't cost $16 million in cap space. Ngata, 30 years old with two years left on his current deal, wasn't willing to take the extension, NFL Network reports. 

Report: Ravens planning to add two running backs
by Dave Richard | Senior Fantasy Writer
(10:47 am ET) The Ravens are aware of what's been going on with Ray Rice this offseason but were planning to add a pair of running backs this offseason anyway. NFL Network reports that they now believe that one of those two might have to start depending on what happens with Rice. 

The veteran running back had a horrible 2013 season (under 1,000 total yards) and then was indicted on a third-degree aggravated assault charge when he struck his then-fiancee and current wife Janay Palmer in an Atlantic City casino. 


Kyle Rudolph hopes for contract extension
by Jamey Eisenberg | Senior Fantasy Writer
(10:43 am ET) Vikings tight end Kyle Rudolph hopes to stay in Minnesota on a long-term contract, reports the Minneapolis Star-Tribune.

Rudolph is entering the final year of his rookie contract. He said Tuesday that the team, which still has approximately $10 million in salary cap space after a busy offseason, has not approached him about a contract extension.

"I've really enjoyed my time here, from the top down, in our organization," Rudolph said. "I think we have the best owners in football. They're willing to do anything for us to win. Everybody in the front office, the new staff, I really like the direction this team is going in. I'm excited to be a part of that future."

Rudolph is hoping to bounce back after he was limited to eight games in 2013 because of a fracture in his left foot. He caught 30 passes for 313 yards and three touchdowns before injuring his foot in a Week 9 loss to the Cowboys. 

He has been studying tape of the Browns from last season so he can get a feel for how he will be utilized in new coordinator Norv Turner's offense. Tight ends such as Jay Novacek, Antonio Gates and Jordan Cameron produced impressive numbers in three different decades with Turner calling the plays.

"I hope to fall in line with that," Rudolph said. "I'm excited to get into this offense."


Peyton Manning excited for Emmanuel Sanders
by Jamey Eisenberg | Senior Fantasy Writer
(10:21 am ET) Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning recently spent time working out at Duke University with some of his receivers, including newest addition Emmanuel Sanders. Manning said "it was good to get some good work with him." 

Sanders is expected to replace the departed Eric Decker, and Manning said they have a lot of work to do.

"I'm excited about playing with him," Manning said.


Peyton: Montee Ball can handle new role
by Jamey Eisenberg | Senior Fantasy Writer
(10:14 am ET) Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning said running back Montee Ball has a great opportunity now that Knowshon Moreno is gone as a free agent to Miami.

"I thought Montee had a great year," Manning said. "I thought he learned a lot in his first year. In my past, I've seen a lot of development in guys from their first year to their second year. There is no question with the loss of Knowshon — who was just nothing short of awesome for us this past year and was a great teammate — that Montee is going to have more responsibilities, and I think he will answer that challenge. I think he has the work ethic, I think he has the mental capabilities to handle the workload and I look forward to having a full offseason with him. He didn't have a full one last year because of being a rookie, so I look forward to getting even closer with him as far as being on the same page."


Carson Palmer OK if Cardinals draft quarterback
by Jamey Eisenberg | Senior Fantasy Writer
(10:11 am ET) Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer would be OK if the team drafted a quarterback in the NFL Draft, reports the team's official website.

Palmer, 34, said if the team drafts a quarterback it would make sense.

"If you are in a position to draft the best player on your board, and that's the best position to be in as an organization, and (a quarterback) is the best player on the board, you are not only making your team better by creating competition but you are helping out the future," Palmer said. "I know I'm not going to play forever. It’s hard for us players to admit that. The older you get the harder it is to admit it. You don't see it happening. You still feel good, you still feel confident, you still feel healthy. But that's the reality. That's the business. It doesn't matter how you feel about it, whether it irks you or you don't care. That’s the game."

Palmer is coming off a solid season in 2013. He threw for a career-high 4,274 yards with 24 touchdowns and 22 interceptions.


Gerald McCoy says he won't hold out
by Dave Richard | Senior Fantasy Writer
(10:10 am ET) Buccaneers defensive lineman Gerald McCoy promised he wouldn't hold out of training camp this summer even though he's going into the final year of his contract. 

"When they say report to camp, Gerald McCoy will be there regardless of what happens," McCoy said per the Tampa Bay Times. McCoy also told the paper he can't wait to play in the Bucs' new version of the Cover-2 defense

"It's definitely going to be different," McCoy said. "We're playing the old-school, traditional Tampa 2 defense, and all we've been watching is old Chicago tape when (new Bucs coach Lovie Smith) was there. When (the Bucs) were in their prime, from 1996 to 2002, we've been watching all that tape because that's when the Tampa 2 was really thriving and took over the league. I'm excited about it."


Malcom Floyd's status still uncertain
by Jamey Eisenberg | Senior Fantasy Writer
(10:03 am ET) Even though Chargers receiver Malcom Floyd plans to attend the team's voluntary workouts April 22, it doesn't mean his football career is back on track, reports the Union-Tribune San Diego.

Floyd continues to recover from a neck injury suffered in September. His participation in the offseason workouts will be more limited than most of his teammates, according to the report.

The report also added that no decision has been made whether Floyd will be able to continue playing. For weeks, Floyd has been running and lifting. While the injury did not require surgery, it demanded a long recovery. Risk of re-injury will be assessed before any decision about Floyd's return to the field is made.


Report: Niners want to play without Aldon Smith in 2014
by Dave Richard | Senior Fantasy Writer
(9:59 am ET) Several 49ers decision makers allegedly believe that linebacker Aldon Smith won't play for the team in 2014. Smith was arrested recently for making false bomb reports at a Los Angeles airport, the latest of a string of troubles for the highly talented linebacker.

The San Jose Mercury News has sources that tell him that while Smith is unlikely to play, the team is unlikely to release him. They still owe him $3 million guaranteed and want to see how the situation plays out before making such a permanent decision. The team also expects Smith to receive a suspension from the league. 

In addition to his latest run-in with the law, Smith was arrested for suspicion of DUI in January, 2012 and again September, 2013. He also had marijuana on him during that September arrest. In October, 2013 he was charged with three felony counts of illegal possession of an assault weapon. 


Kevin Williams leaves visit with Giants without contract
by Jamey Eisenberg | Senior Fantasy Writer
(9:54 am ET) Free agent defensive tackle Kevin Williams left his visit with the Giants without a contract, reports the Minneapolis Star-Tribune.

"Had a good visit and gonna see what happens!" Williams said via text message.

The report says Williams, who arrived in New York on Monday night, has not ruled out playing what would be a 12th NFL season after spending the first 11 with the Vikings. The Giants were the first team to bring Williams in for a visit. 


 
 
 
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