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FANTASY FOOTBALL nfl draft coverage

NFL Draft: Player Profile - Darren McFadden
John Tuvey
April 8, 2008

Running Back - Arkansas

Combine Height: 6-1
Combine Weight: 211
Combine 40 Time: 4.33

Rushed for 1,830 yards and 16 touchdowns as a junior; finished as the Heisman runner-up for the second consecutive year.

Skill Set:
There is no question the talent is there. McFadden has drawn comparisons to Eric Dickerson and been lauded as this year’s version of Adrian Peterson, and his on-field performance provides plenty of supporting evidence. With 4,485 yards—at almost six yards a carry—and 42 touchdowns in three SEC seasons, McFadden more than lived up to the hype. He has good size and picks up yardage after contact, though he is a bit thin from the waist down and likely won’t find NFL defenders as easy to shed. That assumes, of course, said defenders can catch the speedy Run DMC; he has the quicks to reach the corner, the burst to get through the hole, and the afterburners to go the distance from anywhere on the field.

But he’s far from perfect. Among the issues are fumbling worries, durability concerns—he did, after all, cede plenty of carries to fellow first-round prospect Felix Jones—and a growing dossier of off-field troubles such as his impending fatherhood times two. That said, the NFL landscape is littered with GMs (and ex-GMs) who wish they could have another crack at the likes of Randy Moss and the baggage they brought to the league.

Possible Destinations:
On talent alone McFadden should be one of the first two or three players off the board. But with Michael Turner signing in Atlanta there isn’t an obvious need for him until the Jets at No. 6. That’s not to say the Raiders will pass on him, even though they just spent $12 million on Justin Fargas. The Jets could replace the underperforming Thomas Jones with McFadden, or this might be the portion of the draft where Cowboys owner Jerry Jones starts working the phone. The Lions and Bears could also be willing trade partners if the Jets or Patriots look to deal down.

Fantasy Impact:
It’s tempting to pencil McFadden in as this year’s Adrian Peterson… but keep in mind that there doesn’t have to be an Adrian Peterson every year. Running backs more than any other “skill” position can come in and have a fantasy impact, but it depends dramatically on the situation McFadden walks into. Plug him in behind the Jets’ revamped line and give him 15 touches while sharing with Jones and Leon Washington and it smacks of Peterson’s scenario with the Vikings. Pair him with Marion Barber in the Cowboys’ talent-laden offense and he’s capable of turning limited touches into multiple home runs with a high slugging percentage. Truth be told, the most disconcerting scenario for McFadden might be a situation where his new team asks him to do too much as a rookie. In any event, he’ll almost certainly be the first rookie off the board in just about any league format.

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