Raiders: Why Darren McFadden Should Be Third on Depth Chart

Provided he makes it through the next couple of days without a setback, running back Darren McFadden is expected to take a central role in the Oakland Raiders offense in the final two regular-season games. That would be a mistake, particularly if the team has already made up its mind to part ways with the former first-round draft pick in the offseason.

Making a case to restrict arguably the most talented offensive player on the roster seems foolish, no doubt. Yet with McFadden it is a no-brainer.

There are several reasons why, beginning from a production standpoint.

McFadden, who has missed six games this season due to a variety of injuries, has been a hindrance to the offense most of the year. His yards-per-carry average of 3.5 is the second-lowest of his career, and unless the former Arkansas star has a breakout performance over the last two games, his rushing total will also be one of the lowest of his six-year career.

Rashad Jennings and fullback Marcel Reece are capable backups who have played very well while filling in for McFadden throughout the year. This year, both have run harder, more physical and with a lot more determination than the oft-injured McFadden has.

Then there’s the injury factor.

While only McFadden truly knows the validity and extent of his injuries, he is seen by many to be too fragile to be an every-down back. He pulled himself out of Oakland’s Week 9 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles and has needed at least two weeks or more to recover from each injury he’s suffered throughout his NFL career.

That’s been the most maddening part of McFadden’s time with the Raiders. When healthy and focused, he is one of the elite running backs in the NFL, an explosive playmaker capable of taking over a game by himself.

The problem is that he hasn’t been able to stay on the field long enough to make much of an impact.

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