In Week 9, Darren McFadden and Mike Goodson both sustained a high-ankle sprain and questionable 2012 prognosis. The Oakland Raiders may look for outside help, but fantasy players are focusing on their in-house options.
Fullback Marcel Reece did some tailback work in Week 9 and has been a sneaky contributor for receptions most games this year. He'll command serious bucks this week in free-agent acquisition periods.
It would hardly be season-crushing to settle for Taiwan Jones, who'll emerge as the less expensive target in FAAB processes but remain involved if both RBs must miss time. Ball security issues have restrained his involvement up to now. This preseason, he was working his way toward becoming McFadden's chief backup, but a training camp hamstring issue and an early-season rib ding halted his progress.
Though a testament to his untraditional but attractive makeup, Reece's big Sunday relieving the top two toters came when Oakland was trying to erase a palpable deficit. Carson Palmer's pillaging padded his performance.
Jones only was in on five snaps, but he'll get an extensive look soon. He had already been working his way back into Dennis Allen's good graces via his special teams efforts.
Since their Week 5 bye, Greg Knapp has varied Oakland's front-five strategy after their stubbornness over zone-blocking methods. They're still a middling group that has averaged just 3.6 yards per run over the last month. Luckily, their backs have registered 94 carries (ninth in the league over that same time) to jack up their numbers.
McFadden's impending absence could offer them a chance to go back to what Knapp has preached. Jones is a zone-blocking fit - all things equal, probably more so than DMC - and signs of success with the pigskin with this or any other method would allow Oakland to justify its chief system for the long term, instead of scrapping it to suit McFadden.
Conversely, their mix-in of more traditional O-line work probably increases the chances Reece gets more hand-offs, but Jones' explosiveness (4.4 yards per carry on 17 in his career) should still find a place here. A successful ground deployment in a Reece-Jones split would allow Oakland to put together longer drives and avoid putting too much on Palmer's shoulders.
The injury shared by the pair sitting atop the depth chart often lingers to limit performance even when the afflicted return. There isn't much time for them to get back into full form if the sprains touch the more serious side.
With his potential for goal line work to supplement his reception compilation, Reece may very well replicate the 2011 Mike Tolbert. But you'll have to spend big for him; fantasy teams are desperate for depth in the heart of the playoff chase.
Don't write off Oakland's opportunity to involve Jones; the bargain price at which he'd land on your team; and the looming downside that comes with breaking the bank on a fullback with miniscule load-carrying experience.
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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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