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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
Bills place Mario Williams, Leodis McKelvin, Dan Carpenter on injury list
by Shawn Krest | CBSSports.com
(4:02 pm ET) The Bills placed DE Mario Williams, DB Leodis McKelvin and K Dan Carpenter on the non-football injury list, the team announced on Thursday. 

All three players can return from the list at any time, once they are medically cleared to play. The team didn't release any details on their injuries. 


Veteran LB Keith Rivers retires after signing with Cowboys
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(3:50 pm ET) Four months after signing with the Cowboys, veteran linebacker Keith Rivers has announced his retirement.

Rivers, who played with three different teams over the last four seasons, managed just 16 tackles in 12 games for Buffalo in 2014. Several injuries derailed his career after he had been selected in the first round by Cincinnati in 2008.


Falcons' Lamar Holmes on crutches, placed on PUP
by Shawn Krest | CBSSports.com
(3:07 pm ET) Falcons tackle Lamar Holmes arrived at training camp Thursday morning on crutches and with his right foot in a protective boot. 

Holmes is recovering from a broken foot and clearly doesn't appear ready to start practicing with the team when camp opens on Friday. 

Holmes will open camp on the physically unable to perform (PUP) list. The team placed him on PUP Thursday afternoon.


Falcons' Jake Matthews, Jon Asamoah cleared to practice
by Shawn Krest | CBSSports.com
(3:03 pm ET) The Falcons had two offensive linemen cleared to practice on Thursday. 

Left tackle Jake Matthews, recovering from offseason foot surgery, will be able to participate in the team's first practice of training camp on Friday. His reps may be limited, however.

"It feels good," Matthews said, per the Atlanta Journal Constitution. "I'm ready to go. I'm cleared to do anything. When we start tomorrow, I will be out there and playing. I'm excited. It's been awhile." 

Right guard Jon Asamoah was also cleared to begin practice. He suffered an ankle injury in the offseason. 


Darren McFadden, Rolando McClain open Cowboys' camp on PUP
by Shawn Krest | CBSSports.com
(2:42 pm ET) The Cowboys opened training camp with two contributors on the physically unable to perform (PUP) list. 

Running back Darren McFadden is still returning from a hamstring injury and will open camp on PUP. McFadden signed with the Cowboys in the offseason after spending the first seven years of his career with Oakland. 

In addition, linebacker Rolando McClain was also placed on PUP, as he continues to recover from offseason knee surgery. 

Both players can be taken off PUP at any time during camp, after they're medically cleared. McClain will have to serve a four-game suspension for substance abuse policy violation, however. 


Bengals sign rookie WR Desmond Lawrence
by Shawn Krest | CBSSports.com
(2:34 pm ET) The Bengals signed rookie free agent wide receiver Desmond Lawrence on Thursday, per the Cincinnati Enquirer.

Lawrence played in college at NC A&T. He spent part of OTAs as a free agent with Detroit. 


Dolphins' Branden Albert avoids PUP, says knee is fine
by Shawn Krest | CBSSports.com
(2:31 pm ET) Dolphins offensive lineman Branden Albert's surgically repaired right knee feels fine, he reported after a walk-through to open camp on Thursday. 

Albert ruptured his ACL and MCL last November. 

"It's been a long road. I'm just happy I'm not on that PUP list and I can be involved with the team. I'm not off on the side no more like a stepchild," Albert said, per the Palm Beach Post.


Ravens' Lardarius Webb fails conditioning test
by Shawn Krest | CBSSports.com
(1:12 pm ET) Ravens' cornerback Lardarius Webb wasn't on the field for the start of training camp on Wednesday, because he failed the team's conditioning test, per BaltimoreRavens.com.

Webb isn't the first Ravens' veteran to fail the test under coach John Harbaugh. "It's always a big deal," Harbaugh said. "It was a big deal when Jacoby [Jones] didn't pass it. It was a big deal when Haloti [Ngata] didn't pass it. It's always a big deal."

Harbaugh said that, while Webb was in good shape, "it's not the kind of anaerobic shape he needs to be in to come out here in practice. ... He's a little behind that way, certainly. And he's going to have to make up the ground."


Ravens' Breshad Perriman leaves practice with apparent injury
by Shawn Krest | CBSSports.com
(1:06 pm ET) Ravens first-round draft pick Breshad Perriman didn't make it through the first practice of training camp. 

Perriman left Wednesday's practice with an apparent knee injury, after he fell on his right knee while making a catch. 

Perriman was limping but left the field under his own power. 

"It's not serious. It's all sound," coach John Harbaugh said, per ESPN. "He'll be back as soon as his knee feels a little bit better. It could be as early as tomorrow or a couple of days at the most."


Packers' Jared Abbrederis goes down to injury in first practice
by Shawn Krest | CBSSports.com
(12:49 pm ET) Packers wide receiver Jared Abbrederis left the team's first training camp practice with an undisclosed injury. 

Abbrederis tore his ACL in the fourth practice last year, but this year's injury didn't appear to be related to that.

"The way he fell, I don't think it was his knee," coach Mike McCarthy said, indicating that Abbrederis may have landed hard on his tailbone, per the Journal-Sentinel.


 
 
 
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