Don’t sleep on Darren McFadden in Big D
With the news that DeMarco Murray has signed a five-year contract with the rival Philadelphia Eagles, the Cowboys did not wait long to sign a potential replacement, former Raiders running back Darren McFadden.
McFadden was the fourth overall pick in the 2008 draft, entering the league with very high expectations out of Arkansas as a two-time All American, and supposed savior of the running back position. Let’s just say things did not go as planned, as McFadden dealt with a rash of injuries, only eclipsing the 1,000 yard mark once in his career, back in 2010 for the Raiders.
This is a prototypical Jerry Jones hire, who along with McFadden, is an Arkansas Razorback alum. Jones had used a first round pick on Darren’s former backfield mate, Felix Jones, who spent a few un-productive years in Dallas, before eventually falling out of the NFL.
I certainly would not expect McFadden to return to his college form, or even replace most of DeMarco Murray’s production from last season, but he can become a solid contributor to the Cowboys backfield. With Joseph Randle and Lance Dunbar still on the roster, and showing a lot of promise for the Cowboys in 2014, McFadden is not a lock for a lot of touches, if he even makes the team out of training camp (He only received $200,000 in guaranteed money).
If he does impress Cowboys coaches enough to make the roster, he could be a sneaky fantasy play to start 2015. Not expected to be drafted high (still a long way to go til draft time), McFadden will be able to run behind a competant offensive line for the first time in his professional career, something that was severly lacking in Oakland. The Cowboys ran the ball over 50% of the time in 2014, so even if Jason Garrett and the organization employ a running back by committee approach, all three backs could become valuable in many fantasy leagues due to potential production.
Keep an eye on McFadden’s off-season and training camp with the Cowboys organization, as they look to go back to the playoffs for a second consecutive year, something that has not happened in Dallas, since the 1990’s. I believe any running back would be successful behind Dallas’ line-unit, maybe not to the extent of DeMarco breaking Emmitt Smith’s single-season rushing record, but as a team leading the NFL in rushing is not far-fetched.