On Darren McFadden: Run-DMC's tricky start to 2012

      September 17, 2012 @ 17:49:55 PDT

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Silver and Black and Blue

Oakland Raiders QB Carson Palmer
Palmer needs polishing, too

There were plenty of other factors holding McFadden back in Week 2, though. He was poked in the eye and had to wear a visor upon returning. He'll don it for the immediate future, and it might've contributed to him dropping a pass that would've likely led to a six-pointer. Oakland also ran just six times in the second half for negative-1 yards and didn't stick with that game plan as they fell further behind.

Sure, McFadden's in-game adjustments to the highly specialized running format are probably slowing him, but Oakland's offense as a whole needs refurbishing. The passing game hasn't jelled yet; Carson Palmer reportedly had trouble getting his timing down during camp, especially with the slew of preseason wideout injuries. Targeting McFadden has been quite simple for opposing defenses to accomplish. San Diego allowed him to catch plenty of dump-offs and contained his yardage. Plus, Palmer and McFadden weren't in sync on that potential scoring grab previously mentioned.

Where does DMC go from here?

Don't expect an offensive upheaval during the system, even with the tempting presence of Saunders as senior offensive assistant.

To Oakland's offensive line, the ZBS isn't a foreign language; they have experience in it and have been a solid group. McFadden's more decisive running in recent years says he'd make a sensible transition to Knapp's style. If the holes aren't opening, though, it's hard to progress. Maybe we'll see more Mike Goodson like we did Sunday, and perhaps Taiwan Jones, if McFadden can't gain room. These backs aren't worth immediate pickups, but they might simply hinder McFadden's immediate upside.

After this weekend - a tough one versus the Pittsburgh Steelers - he faces what should be a competent Denver Broncos run-stuffing unit, then a bye (when he might try to digest the system further). Post-break, he has the Atlanta Falcons and Jacksonville Jaguars, two potential duds, at least on the ground. But the Kansas City Chiefs and Tampa Bay buccaneers present easier matchups in Weeks 8 and 9. He might have a productive fantasy playoff schedule, if you're looking that far ahead, but of course much can change by then.

Verdict

I'm keeping my faith in DMC, though in the PPR RB class for Week 3, I've ranked him as a low-end RB2. Expect another catch-filled day, which'll enhance his returns. It's not a good week to bet on an overall bounceback, though.

I warned that DMC and his front five may not show textbook form with the ZBS off the bat, and that has held true. I also believe in talent, though, and as long as McFadden stays upright, he'll be in line for a potent second half as this O starts to click. He's still the team's 20-plus-touch focus. Now's a solid time to buy low, especially since his matchup with the Steel Curtain might cloud his owners' judgment.

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About Tim Heaney

Tim's work has been featured by USA Today/Sports Weekly, among numerous outlets, and recognized as a finalist in the Fantasy Sports Writers Association awards. The Boston University alum, who competes in the prestigious LABR and Tout Wars, has won numerous industry leagues in both baseball and football.

He appears frequently, including every Sunday, on Sirius XM Fantasy Sports Radio, as well as every Wednesday on 1570 AM WNST in Baltimore.

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