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

      September 17, 2012 @ 17:49:55 PDT

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The upside is too good to pass up, right? If he stays healthy, he'll be a top-three RB this year.

Oakland Raiders RB Darren McFadden
Misses holes like these

That scrolled through the brains of Darren McFadden's 2012 drafters. If the fifth-year toter could deliver another 2010 line, his spot in the second half of the first round would be justified.

The 13 receptions for 86 yards he compiled in Week 1 dropped jaws, but it also distracted from the problem that resurfaced in Week 2. DMC ran for just 32 yards on 15 carries in the opener, and 22 on 11 yesterday. And because he only caught two passes to go along with his ground dud, the struggles stand out more. McFadden is more accustomed to 5.0-plus yards per carry.

In the San Diego Chargers and Miami Dolphins, he faced two defenses that might rest in the upper tier of resistance units this year, but there's more.

Not in the zone?

Run DMC may be SOL when it comes to a WCO ZBS, per CSN Bay Area's Paul Gutierrez. A flame hit kindling over the summer that McFadden may have trouble excelling in Greg Knapp's West Coast, zone-blocking scheme. Heck, I mentioned this concern in our OC changes report.

Knapp, who has an illustrious history with his O-line-dependent setup, was at the helm when McFadden came into the NFL in 2008. The new back fought injuries, but he wasn't employed heavily, partially because he was green and partially because he wasn't a dynamic force in Knapp's attack. Instead, Justin Fargas held court most of the year while that Michael Bush guy mixed in, as well, while McFadden was hearing talk of being a bust.

That was the only season Knapp worked with McFadden until now. He left and found success in Seattle and Houston, helping mold Arian Foster in his last stop. With Knapp gone, Tom Cable's influence and work with Al Saunders by and large shifted the Silver and Black to a mindset closer to power running. That, combined with the fragile freak adopting a stronger running style in 2010, his third season, is frequently cited as the fuel behind McFadden's breakout in a healthy year.

McFadden insists he's a fit for the system and that now that he possesses better instincts as a vet, he'll "start popping" soon.

What now?

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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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