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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
Report: Bears will not bring Lance Briggs back in 2015
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(4:11 pm ET) The Bears are not planning on re-signing linebacker Lance Briggs, sources told CSNChicago.

Briggs has spent his entire 12-year career with the Bears. He'll become a free agent March 10. In eight games during the 2014 season, Briggs totaled 34 tackles and one interception.


Bills tender offers to Chris Hogan, Justin Brown, Corbin Bryant
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(4:06 pm ET) The Bills extended qualifying offers to exclusive rights free agents Chris Hogan, Justin Brown and Corbin Bryant on Thursday, the team announced.

By extending the offers, the Bills ensure the players will return to the team in 2015 on one-year contracts.


Bengals re-sign Rey Maualuga to three-year deal
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(4:01 pm ET) The Bengals signed linebacker Rey Maualuga to a three-year deal Thursday, the team announced.

Maualuga has spent his entire six-year career with the Bengals. In 2014, he produced 59 tackles and one interception over 12 games.


Cornerback Byron Maxwell will 'definitely' consider joining Eagles
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(3:57 pm ET) During an interview with ESPN on Thursday, cornerback Byron Maxwell said he likes the defense the Eagles use and he will consider signing with them, reports ESPN.

"They run the [defensive] scheme that I'm talking about," Maxwell said. "Cover 3, man press. And they're committed to winning, so definitely Philadelphia. If they were to come at me, I would definitely have to consider them."

Maxwell is set to become a free agent March 10 after the Seahawks opted not to use the franchise tag on him. In 13 games during the 2014 season, Maxwell totaled 39 tackles and two interceptions.


Browns CB Joe Haden on Justin Gilbert: 'He is growing up'
(3:52 pm ET) Browns cornerback Joe Haden has been working out with cornerback Justin Gilbertthis offseason. Haden is serving as a mentor on and off the field to the young cornerback. Gilbert has his struggles on the field as a rookie in 2014.

"He is growing up," Haden said, per the team's official website. "Justin's a very, very talented player. It's just going to take a little bit of time."

Gilbert, who was the eighth overall pick in last year's draft, was benched during the season in favor of fourth-round selection Pierre Desir and undrafted rookie K'Waun Williams.Despite his struggles, coach Mike Pettine believes in Gilbert's ability at cornerback.

"We've definitely seen flashes of his ability, and we've seen it in games as well," Pettine said in December. "I could make a 20-play cut-up of him where he'd look like one of the elite corners in the league, and I could make another 20-play cut-up where you wouldn't take him until Day 3 of the draft. In this league, it's all about being consistent."

As a rookie, Gilbert started two games. He totaled 29 tackles and one interception -- a pick-six of Colts quarterback Andrew Luck.


Falcons sign safety Charles Godfrey to extension
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(3:40 pm ET) The Falcons signed safety Charles Godfrey to a contract extension Thursday, the team announced.

Godfrey played for the Falcons and Panthers in 2014. In 13 games between the two teams, Godfrey totaled 19 tackles.


Bucs re-sign Jenkins, Lansanah, McDougald on Thursday
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(3:34 pm ET) The Buccaneers announced Thursday they re-signed cornerback Mike Jenkins and extended qualifying offers to exclusive rights free agents Danny Lansanah and Bradley McDougald.

By extending qualifying offers to Lansanah and McDougald, the team ensures the two will be back in 2015. When they sign their offers, they will essentially be signing one-year deals. Jenkins signed a one-year contract.


Report: 49ers still interested in re-signing Michael Crabtree
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(3:13 pm ET) Although wide receiver Michael Crabtree is on the verge of becoming a free agent March 10, the 49ers are interested in re-signing him, a source told CSNBayArea.com.

Agents can begin negotiations with teams on free agents beginning Saturday and it is not know how much interest Crabtree would generate. In 2014, he hauled in 68 receptions for 698 yards and four touchdowns over 16 games.


Cowboys sign linebacker Keith Rivers to one-year deal
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(3:04 pm ET) The Cowboys announced the signing of linebacker Keith Rivers on Thursday.

The contract is a one-year deal. Rivers appeared in 12 games for the Bills during the 2014 season and totaled 16 tackles.


Dolphins re-sign Jordan Kovacs on Thursday
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(2:47 pm ET) The Dolphins re-signed safety Jordan Kovacs on Thursday, his agent informed the Sun-Sentinel.

Kovacs was signed by the Dolphins in November and appeared in eight games during the 2014 season. He totaled seven tackles.


 
 
 
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