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Faceoff – Who Carries The Load In Oakland?

By: — August 6, 2009 @ 1:27 am
Filed under: Forecast

The Raiders have one of the most interesting backfields in the league for fantasy football purposes. Talented young running backs Darren McFadden and Michael Bush share the workload with productive veteran Justin Fargas. In addition, the trio’s production hinges on solid play from 3rd year quarterback JaMarcus Russell, who has struggled during his first two years in the league. While the Raiders managed just five wins in 2008, in large part due to their struggle to score points, the offense played well over the final three games with Russell tossing six touchdowns against just two interceptions. We’ll find out in 2009 whether that was a trend or an aberration.

Darren McFadden

Darren McFadden

Michael Bush

Michael Bush

Oakland has been a mess for years and there isn’t much to indicate that 2009 will be a turnaround year. One saving grace is that they play in the AFC West, likely the worst division in the league this year. Another is the team’s talented running backs. Look for the Raiders to increase Darren McFadden’s role, for Bush to assume the short yardage and 4th quarter work (not that they will have many leads to protect) and for Fargas to play a limited role, provided the team is willing to pay a high salary to a third string player. However, it all starts with McFadden and his big play ability. As a rookie, he managed 9.9 points per game in the ten games he was clearly healthy despite playing for an offense that ranked 29th in total yards. Predicting a breakout is difficult given the lack of talent on offense but he should be a decent option as a low end second running back with upside. Bush is also intriguing and played well when given an opportunity last year. If McFadden goes down, Bush has the ability to produce given his powerful running style and decent hands out of the backfield. The major issue with both players is that Oakland will struggle to finish in the middle of the pack on offense given the team’s dire situation at receiver and questionable offensive line talent. McFadden is a player to target but not worth reaching for and Bush is a solid option to stash at the end of your fantasy bench. ~ Dave

The path to fantasy success invariably includes a flier or late round gem that contributes more than expected. With that in mind, Michael Bush is an excellent player to target this year. McFadden appears to be headed for Reggie Bush-ville as a former high draft pick relegated to role player status, in large part due to his inability to stay healthy. The word on McFadden is that he is soft between the tackles and is not developing at the rate that Al “The Sea Monster” Davis had hoped. Meanwhile, Bush has all the tools to be a feature back and has been flying under the radar since his catastrophic college knee injury. Limited carries have allowed Bush to ease back into the regular pounding experienced by an NFL running back and he appears to be healthy heading into 2010. I see Bush having one or two very good years, maybe even three. The trick is to figure out when they are going to come. We might see a Michael Turner scenario where Bush needs to leave Oakland to find extended carries elsewhere, but it is worth gambling on him having a 240+ touch season in Oakland this year. Given the ADP of either back, Bush is not a huge risk but the reward could be enormous. ~ Andy

  • steelers fan

    Preferably stay away from Oakland RBs but McFadden should put up solid RB2 numbers this year, assuming he stays healthy. People will be down on him so you can probably get him as an RB3.

  • I’m not sure about that steelers fan, people seem somewhat bullish on McFadden. I just can’t get too excited about anyone on the Raiders, because of the lack of confidence starting them and relying on them. If I’m going to draft one, it will be Michael Bush because he is going much lower in drafts.

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