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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
Vernon Davis still seeking new contract
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(12:48 pm ET) Although he reported for training camp, 49ers tight end Vernon Davis is "definitely" not O.K. with his current contract, reports Pro Football Talk. The website suggests Davis might have reported after getting the team to waive fines he incurred for skipping minicamp.

The 49ers reportedly won't negotiate with players who hold out -- another possible reason Davis showed up, the report said.


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by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(12:43 pm ET) As expected, 49ers guard Alex Boone will not report for training camp, reports Fox Sports. Boone is unhappy with his contract, which has two years remaining.

Mike Pouncey now expected to miss half the season
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(12:34 pm ET) Initial reports suggested Dolphins center Mike Pouncey might return from the torn labrum in his hip in late September. The Miami Herald reports that's unrealistic. A source tells the paper Pouncey likely will miss the season's first eight weeks, which covers seven games and a bye.

It's bad news for quarterback Ryan Tannehill and the entire offense.


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(12:27 pm ET) Rams coach Jeff Fisher referred to third-round pick Tre Mason as "a change-of-pace back," reports the Montgomery Advertiser. "Good zone runner, obviously the numbers speak for themselves," Fisher said. "He was a guy we just couldn't pass up at that point."

Mason will serve as a complement to lead runner Zac Stacy.


Tavon Austin: Playbook was 'like Spanish to me' last year
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Packers preparing Eddie Lacy for massive workload
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(12:12 pm ET) Although running back Eddie Lacy had some short-term injuries at Alabama, the Packers don't seem concerned at all about giving him a massive workload, reports PackersNews.com. Lacy, 24, carried 284 times in 15 games as a rookie while averaging 21.2 touches.

"This is the NFL, you're not going to play this game until you're 45 or 50," said running backs coach Sam Gash, a former Pro Bowl fullback. "A lot of people, especially the media, try to make it out, 'He's got to last.' He'll last as long as he's meant to last.

"If he gets 40 (carries in a game), I'm OK with that. If he gets 10 carries, 20 carries, as long as we're productive and winning, I don't really care. I tell all the guys, be ready for 50 carries, that's the way you should train in the offseason, as if you're getting 50 carries a game. You're going to beat your body down and beat yourself up, so it's going to harden you mentally and physically. You're not going to wear yourself down. God made a machine, he's not going to let you down when you need him the most."

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by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(12:06 pm ET) With Jaguars receiver Ace Sanders suspended four games and taking a leave of absence to deal with "personal issues," receiver Tandon Doss will step in as the No. 4 wideout and punt returner, reports the Florida Times-Union. The Jags' top three wideouts are Cecil Shorts and rookies Marqise Lee and Allen Robinson.

Tony Romo set up for huge season
by Jamey Eisenberg | Senior Fantasy Writer
(12:01 pm ET) Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo has the chance for a monster season in 2014. His back is healthy, the receiving corps is exceptional, the defense is bad and the playcalling should be in his favor.

Most Fantasy owners are leery of Romo because of his back and a track record of letting people down. Forget about that. The Cowboys will have trouble stopping people on defense, and the addition of new playcaller Scott Linehan will help Romo shine.

I love Romo as a Top 10 Fantasy quarterback, and he is a breakout candidate even at this stage of his career. For more on why, check out my column here.


Vernon Davis reports to training camp
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(11:58 am ET) 49ers tight end Vernon Davis, a potential holdout due to his unhappiness with his contract, reported to training camp, teammate C.J. Spillman tweeted. Davis skipped a mandatory minicamp in June and earlier voluntary workouts in a bid to get his contract reworked.

Andrew Luck headed for career season
by Jamey Eisenberg | Senior Fantasy Writer
(11:56 am ET) Colts quarterback Andrew Luck has been good for Fantasy owners the past two years. This year, he has the chance to be great.

Luck is a breakout candidate for a career season in 2014 because of his upgraded receiving corps with an improved T.Y. Hilton, the addition of Hakeem Nicks and the return to health of Reggie Wayne and Dwayne Allen.

For more on Luck's potential and how to approach drafting him, check out my breakout column here.


 
 
 
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