Image courtesy of Icon SMI

 

No, I don’t expect Darren McFadden to put on a bunch of weight and start sippin’ sizzurp. He is, however, starting to enter Bust Territory. In two seasons McFadden has ran for a mere 856 yards with five rushing TDs. He has salvaged some of his reputation by adding 530 receiving yards, but 1386 total yards should be a single-season output for a guy that ran for 4590 yards (nearly 5000 total yards) with 41 TDs (plus 2 receiving and 7 passing) and became the fourth pick of the 2008 draft.

 

McFadden missed his second straight preseason game because of a hamstring injury, which is troubling for a guy that has missed seven games in his first two seasons. Not only is he missing the games, but he’s missing practice, which could cement Michael Bush as the Raiders’ primary ball carrier.

 

Bush was the better runner last year averaging 4.8 yards on 123 carries compared to McFadden’s 3.4 average on 104 carries. McFadden is better at catching the ball out of the backfield, but if he’s not careful, he could find himself relegated to third-down duty. Bush’s size (6’1″, 245 lbs) already makes him a better fit for the tough carries near the goal line. Rock Cartwright could also get some of those carries.

 

Despite the lofty expectations everybody have for McFadden, he has only topped 74 rushing yards once in his career, and that came in Week 2 of his rookie season. Only twice in his career has he had more than 14 carries. It’s like they don’t even know how to use him.

 

For some reason McFadden has yet to attempt a pass in the NFL. Correct me if I’m wrong, but he was running the WildHog formation in college, so why not play to his strengths? Makes no sense to me, especially when your starting QB’s passer rating and completion percentage were hovering around 50.

 

I would love to see McFadden get his act together, but my optimism is wearing thin. That sentiment isn’t shared with fellow fantasy footballers though, as his ADP is 78 (32nd RB). It’s actually a few spots higher than Michael Bush (83, 34). I’m sorry, but the sixth pick of the seventh round needs to offer a little more certainty for my tastes.

 

Currently I have McFadden as my 43rd ranked RB (click to see my rankings), but that number will go even lower if he doesn’t get his act together. Plus people will start using air quotes when they call him “Run” DMC.

 

What are your thoughts on Darren McFadden?

 

By James Evans

 

On Monday, July 5, former Oakland Raiders’ Ryan Leaf impersonator JaMarcus Russell was arrested in Alabama on suspicion of possession of codeine syrup. Since it’s not a trunk-full of marijuana or a nose full of cocaine, many may be inquiring as to what the problem is. Well, codeine, while available by prescription, is also a key ingredient of many street cocktails, including the famous “purple syrup.”

 

Even though the number-one disappointment was cut back in May, this incident is quintessential “Oakland.” The Raiders have a propensity for picking up the bad seeds. And if JaMarcus could have played up to even a fraction of his potential, this arrest would have been front-page news as Russell would still be donning the silver and black.

 

One may say Russell’s forth-year elimination from Oakland was the driving force behind his syrup-drinking adventure. But one may be wrong. A betting man would place money on this being an ongoing addiction, and maybe the reason for his habitually poor performance with the Raiders.

 

Odds are better than online blackjack games—hell, even a coin toss—that Russell was sippin’ the sizz-urp during his playing days. How could one be so sure? The symptoms read like a bad player’s box score, minus the technicality of numbers.

 

For starters, the soda and the candy used to make the purple concoction is carb-loaded, causing weight gain. Russell, instead of shaping up, took to the field heavier in each of his NFL seasons. Sluggish body function follows, which could explain why Russell lost significant speed and mobility inexplicably from his time with LSU to his time with Oakland.

 

Last but not least, the purple syrup causes concentration difficulties. I know, I know. It’s the trifecta of Russell’s horrific performance, topped off by his curious loss of all accuracy once suiting up in the big leagues.

 

Russell admitting he was addicted to this intoxicating drink while playing with Oakland will probably never happen. The guy still wants a chance to play NFL ball somewhere. But if you had to bet on whether or not JaMarcus is addicted, your odds would be better than casino roulette – that’s for sure.

 

It’s hard to say what’s next for the down-and-out NFL player. But everyone knows one thing: if you continue to abuse your body, you’ll get nowhere as an athlete. And if you have run-ins with the law, the Commish is going to crack your head open. Al Davis giving you the boot will be the least of your worries.

 

Image courtesy of Icon SMI

The Raiders have officially decided to part ways with JaMarcus Russell. He finishes his Raiders’ career with a 65.2 passer rating, a 52.1 completion percentage, 4083 yards, 18 TDs, and 23 INTs. Russell had very few moments that showed he was worthy of a first round selection, let alone the first overall with all the money associated with it.

 

The writing was on the wall when the Raiders traded for Jason Campbell. Given Russell’s ineffectiveness and apparent lack of work ethic, don’t expect him to land on his feet any time soon. Obviously he has zero fantasy value.

I like Darren McFadden.  I really do.  If he was selected by any other team in the league he’d have a much better career path by now.  Now’s he out for 2-4 weeks with torn meniscus in his knee.

Even when he returns things aren’t going to get better until someone other than JaMarcus Russell is under Center.  He just isn’t equipped at the time to be a starting QB on any team, let alone a dysfunctional one like the Raiders.  Unfortunately they cut the QB that gave them the best chance to win — Jeff Garcia.  With a strong defense and a seemingly mediocre division they would have been better off trying to grind out some Wins with Garcia.

The Raiders do not have one player you can count on for fantasy football production.  Even Zach Miller, who managed to have a great year despite Russell’s ineptness last season, can’t be counted on.  Even with Run DMC out a couple of weeks, you can’t count on Michael Bush to produce at the rate their offense is performing.

Luke McCown, Tampa Bay – If McCown can win the starting gig in Tampa Bay he could put up decent numbers.  He has a couple of nice targets in Antonio Bryant and Kellen Winslow, Jr.  Unfortunately he doesn’t have any easy matchups during the bye weeks.  He faces New Orleans in Weeks 11 & 16, although it would be pretty ballsy to use him in the fantasy Super Bowl.  He could possibly be used with Matt Cassel as the Chiefs face Baltimore in Week 11.

Chad Pennington, Miami Dolphins – Pennington could lose even more time to the Wildcat with the addition of Pat White.  Plus, Chad Henne could be breathing down his neck.  After an easy 2008 schedule, the Dolphins have a much more daunting task in ’09.  His best matchup is Week 7 vs. New Orleans.  Kyle Orton, Matt Hasselbeck, and David Garrard are on bye that week.

Shaun Hill, San Francisco 49ers – If Hill can hold off Alex Smith, he could have a solid year with Rookie Michael Crabree and Frank Gore.  Maybe this is the year Vernon Davis finally breaks out.  The Niners play Arizona in Week 1 & 14, St. Louis in Week 4, and Detroit in Week 16.  It would also take cojones to roll with Hill in the fantasy Super Bowl.  In Week 4 though, he could be used to spell Matt Ryan, Donovan McNabb, or Kurt Warner who are on bye. 

Jason Campbell, Washington Redskins – I give him credit for not pulling a Cutler and crying that his team wanted to trade him.  However, his team still wanted to trade him.  Not exactly the ringing endorsement I want for one of my fantasy QBs.  He has weapons in Santana Moss and Chris Cooley.  He has some decent matchups.  St. Louis and Detroit in Weeks 1 & 2, Kansas City in Week 6, Denver in Week 10, and New Orleans in Week 13.  He could fill in for Peyton or Romo in Week 6 or Eli or Schaub in Week 10.

Joe Flacco, Baltimore Ravens – I like the way he plays, but his thin arsenal took a hit when Derrick Mason retired.  If Todd Heap and L.J. Smith can stay healthy and Mark Clayton can step up, maybe he’ll be  a serviceable backup.  He faces Cleveland in Weeks 3 & 10, Cincy in Weeks 5 & 9, Denver in Week 8, and Detroit in Week 14.  He could fill in for Cutler, Rodgers, Brees, or Philips in Week 5 or Eli or Schaub in Week 10.  I don’t trust the Week 9 bye QBs to be #1 fantasy QBs.

Marc Bulger, St. Louis Rams – I have moved on from think Bulger can do anything.  Still, he may get drafted in some leagues.  He faced Detroit in Week 8 and New Orleans in Week 10 so he could fill in for Palmer, Cassel, Brady, or Big Ben in Week 8 or Eli or Schaub in Week 10.

Kerry Collins, Tennessee Titans – Not much of an option, but he’s a starting QB for what that’s worth.  Arizona in Week 12 and St. Louis in Week 14.  Odds are you won’t use him.

JaMarcus Russell, Oakland Raiders – He’s a Raider so I would avoid him, but if you must he faces the Chiefs in Week 2 & 10 (Eli or Schaub), Denver in Weeks 3 & 15, Cincy in Week 11, and Cleveland in Week 16.

Daunte Culpepper, Detroit Lions – He is throwing it to Calvin Johnson so he’s at least worth a mention.  Will likely cede the starting gig to Matthew Stafford at some point.  The face the Saints in Week 1, St. Louis in Week 8 (Palmer, Cassel, Brady, Big Ben), Cleveland in Week 11, Cincy in Week 13, and Arizona in Week 15.

Brady Quinn/Derek Anderson, Cleveland Browns – I wouldn’t touch Quinn or DA, but if you must they face Denver in Week 2, Cincy in Week 4 (Matt Ryan, McNabb, Warner) & 12, Detroit in Week 11, and Kansas City in Week 15.

Mark Sanchez, New York Jets – I wouldn’t trust Sanchez either, but if you must they face New Orleans in Week 4 (Ryan, McNabb, Warner).  They have a pretty tough schedule.

Things sure have changed for the Raiders.  Instead of being the team that everyone loves to hate, they are the team that everyone loves to hate on.  They actually showed a little something at the end of the year winning their last last two games, including the game that eliminated Tampa Bay and sent Jon Gruden packing.  JaMarcus Russell played decent considering the lack of weapons.  Darren McFadden disappointed as a Rookie, but I expect him to make big strides in his second year.  Justin Fargas had a solid year, but I expect him to yield carries to Run DMC.  Michael Bush will likely be kept in the mix just because McFadden and Fargas are injury risks and his contract is minimal.  Besides a decent run game the Raiders have one of the best young Tight Ends in Zach Miller. Unfortunately for Miller, he doesn’t get much help.  Johnnie Lee Higgins is a solid return man and can stretch the field, but he’s not going to command a lot of attention.  Chaz Schilens showed some potential.  Javon Walker will l be back with the club because it will be difficult to release him because of the terms in his contract.  Ashlie Lelie won’t be back.  Ronald Curry probably has a 50/50 chance of being back.  After the Walker debacle don’t look for the Raiders to add a big time WR this offseason.  They have some free agents on their O-Line (C Jake Grove and G Cooper Carlisle).

On Defense the Raiders took care of one Cornerback spot by signing Chris Johnson to a multi-year deal.  They will likely slap the Franchise Tag on shutdown CB Nnamdi Asomugha.  Ricky Brown is a Restricted Free Agent and Rashad Baker is a Unresticted Free Agent, but I expect them both to come to terms with the Raiders.  There is a good chance S Michael Huff gets his walking papers.

KFFL Free Agent Tracker:

Pos Player Name FA Status Previous Team Current Team
QB Marques Tuiasosopo UFA Oakland Raiders Free Agent
WR Drew Carter UFA Oakland Raiders Free Agent
WR Ashley Lelie UFA Oakland Raiders Free Agent
WR Johnnie Morant UFA Oakland Raiders Free Agent
TE Tony Stewart UFA Oakland Raiders Free Agent
TE Ben Troupe UFA Oakland Raiders Free Agent
P Shane Lechler UFA Oakland Raiders Free Agent
OG Cooper Carlisle UFA Oakland Raiders Free Agent
C Jake Grove UFA Oakland Raiders Free Agent
OL Chris Morris RFA Oakland Raiders Free Agent
DL William Joseph UFA Oakland Raiders Free Agent
LB Jon Alston RFA Oakland Raiders Free Agent
LB Ricky Brown RFA Oakland Raiders Free Agent
LB Isaiah Ekejiuba UFA Oakland Raiders Free Agent
LB Sam Williams UFA Oakland Raiders Free Agent
CB Nnamdi Asomugha UFA Oakland Raiders Free Agent
CB Chris X. Johnson Re-signed Oakland Raiders Oakland Raiders
CB Justin Miller UFA Oakland Raiders Free Agent
CB Duane Starks UFA Oakland Raiders Free Agent
FS Rashad Baker UFA Oakland Raiders Free Agent

J.D., a young Bleacher Report writer and creator of The Sports Report with J.D., contacted me to see if I wanted to post some of his articles on the site.  Always looking to encourage an aspiring writer, I agreed.  Here’s J.D. take on one of the Raiders biggest needs this offseason.
“When I was watching NFL Network, Adam Schefter said that Brian Baldinger said this: “JaMarcus Russell and Darren McFadden are busts.” I was surprised at this statement.

They aren’t busts. Russell will be in his third year, and the has yet to live up to his #1 status. D-Mac just needs to get in the flow.

But it’s not their fault.  The Raiders need a receiver. Big time! They have a chance of getting Michael Crabtree or Jeremy Maclin.  I thought Javon Walker was the guy for the Raiders, but it turned out that he didn’t do anything with the team.

Have you ever heard of any Raiders receiver? I guess not (except you Raiders’ fans out there). Pretty much their best receiver is a Tight End, Zach Miller.

If the Raiders could get a real good receiver, they would have someone to compliment Zach Miller. That would be dangerous!

Raiders, this is what you need: a receiver. You need the next Tim Brown! You need to get a Tim Brown type player. If you guys can do that, then you move closer to your first playoff berth since 2002.”

Oakland Raiders Preview

3 September 2008

The Raiders are a mess. Until Al Davis steps down, I’m not sure how this situation will improve.  How else can you explain throwing a bucket of cash to a WR (Javon Walker) who isn’t all the way healthy and nearly retired.  Part of the reason they have been so bad is they have been shackled with so many top picks in recent years.  You need to hit a Home Run in the draft or you’ll never improve with the ridiculous contracts that come with these prized rookies.  That’s a different argument for a different day though.

On offense, you don’t know what you’re going to get.  JaMarcus Russell has a big arm, but he also has a big affinity for eating.  If he can’t say fit, I don’t see how he’s going to be able to elude pass rushers.  His holdout last year cost him much of the season.  He looked OK at the end of the year, but often teams quit by then.  He’ll be handing the ball off to another prized Rookie, on Darren McFadden.  Run DMC was an explosive back in college, which appears to be able to translate into the pros.  He’ll be sharing carries with Justin Fargas, who ran for 1000 yards last year, and oft-injured Michael Bush.  Javon Walker and Ronald Curry are Russell’s primary wideout targets.  Zach Miller looks to be a nice up-and-coming Tight End who seemingly built a nice rapport with Russell last year. 

Defensively, this unit is led by Linebackers Kirk Morrison (120 Tackles, 4 INTs) and Thomas Howard (95 Tackles, 6 INTs).  They brought in DeAngelo Hall to team with Nnamdi Asomugha to give the Raiders two very capable Cornerbacks.  Michael Huff is coming of age at Safety and could approach 100 Tackles this year.  Gibril Wilson was brought over from the Giants to team with him.  Derrick Burgess (8 Sacks) will be asked to put pressure on the QB.  Thomas Kelly will hold down the middle. 

 

The Raiders will battle the Chiefs to avoid the basesement of the AFC West.  If they got any more that 6 Wins, I’d say they had a good year.

Fantasy-wise they have a few worthy guys.  First off, both Run DMC and Fargas will be taken.  McFadden will go first because of the hype.  Fargas could be the better value.  At WR you can take a chance on Javon Walker.  I’m a little worried about him, but he should be just fine.  Ronald Curry is a possibility, but my wideouts would have to be pretty weak for him to make it on.  Zach Miller makes the perfect backup Tight End.  If you’re hurting, you can use JaMarcus Russell.  For the most part, I’ll ignore Russell.

I’m going to preface this by stating that in this day and age there really are no “sleepers” since there is so much coverage that a third string QB can’t make a nice pass in practice without the world knowing about it.  That said, here is a list of QBs that I feel will exceed expectations this season.

Jake Delhomme – Delhomme was having an outstanding season before getting hurt last year.  He should be good to go and ready to bounce back in a big way.  There are around 15 QBs that are ranked higher or taken before him in mock drafts.  He has one of the game’s elite WRs in Steve Smith.  They added a pair of quality WRs in Muhsin Muhammad and D.J. Hackett.  Assuming he and his weapons can stay healthy, there is no reason he can’t return to the land of Top Ten QBs.

Vince Young – Last year VY was one of the guys I thought were going to bust.  This year I’m selecting him to pick himself up, dust himself off, and turn in a decent year.  He finally has a go-to-guy in Alge Crumpler, who jived well with another athletic QB.  I’d like to see him make some more plays with his feet. 

Alex Smith – Fool me one, shame on you.  Fool me twice, shame on me.  I predicted good things from Alex Smith last year.  To say he let me down is an understatement.  Instead of avoiding him like the plague though, I’ll give him another shot to prove himself.  Naturally, he’ll need to stay healthy and fend off Shaun Hill.  If he manages to do both he could be in line for a sneaky season.  Vernon Davis should be better in his third season.  They added Isaac Bruce and Bryant Johnson so at least he has some weapons to work with.  Throw Mike Martz into the mix and you see the stars beginning to align.  If you want further proof, check out their last four games.  In Week 13 when you’re looking to secure your playoff spot he faces Buffalo.  In the fantasy playoffs he goes against the Jets, Miami, and St. Louis.  Stop drooling.

JaMarcus Russell – He got a little taste of the NFL last year.  He has the physical tools to be a good QB in the league.  It will depend on how quickly he can pick up the mental aspect of the game.  If Javon Walker can be a factor, his progression will be that much easier.  That said, he still has Zach Miller, who he vibed well with last year.  He can be Russell’s security blanket.  I wouldn’t take Russell until deep in the draft, but he could be a pleasant surprise for whoever is willing to give him a chance.

Tarvaris Jackson – The acquisiton of Bernard Berrian gives T-Jack a deep threat.  Sidney Rice looked decent at times last year.  He is a big target and can be the red zone guy.  Bobby Wade did well last year, and should be more comfortable sliding into the slot.  T-Jack has a good line and a solid ground game.  They will basically beg him to pass.  If he can show any poise, he could have a nice, solid season.

Deeper Sleepers
Joe Flacco
– If Baltimore’s season is in the tank, they could start developing Flacco.
Shaun Hill – If he can overcome Alex Smith’s contract and lofty expectations, he could be the SF slinger.
Brodie Croyle – WIth Gonzo and Dwayne Bowe he has options.  If the ground game can return, he could be serviceable.

With training camp approaching, I figured what better time to take a look at the QBs around the league. 

We profiled the Big DogsSecond Tier QBs, and the Serviceable QBs, now it’s time to look at the rest of the signal callers.  I know scrap pile may seem a little harsh, but when you consider we already profiled 20 QBs, you catch my drift.  These guys will be used on bye weeks and when injuries strike.  I’m sure a few of them will turn out to be decent plays.  Some will likely lose their starting job.  That’s the nature of the beast when you deal with the shallow end of the QB pool.

Scrap Pile
Jason Campbell
- I actually don’t mind Jason Campbell.  If he weren’t coming off a knee injury I would probably put him in the Serviceable QB group.  He made decent strides in his second year.  I would just like to see him throw more TDs.

Jeff Garcia – Garcia is a decent play in leagues that penalize for INTs since he seldom throws to the wrong color jersey.  He’s not going to give you a huge week, but he’s a decent fill-in when your starter is on bye.  He’s in the scrap pile because Tampa has a few decent QBs on hand in case they want to go a different direction.

Tarvaris Jackson – With the acquisition of Benard Berrian, the development of Sidney Rice, the double-headed monster in the backfield, and a little experience gained, and T-Jack has some potential to break out of the scrap pile.  He needs to gain confidence and consistency. 

Alex Smith – Smith was a pick of mine to breakout last year.  He made me look foolish.  My expectations are justifiably lower this year.  However, he does have Mike Martz to help him along, as well as newly acquired Bryant Johnson and Isaac Bruce.  Perhaps this is the year Vernon Davis lives up to his hype as well. 

JaMarcus Russell – They will probably be passing a lot since they will be behind in most games.  He’s got that going for him.  As long as Javon Walker can get home for some beauty rest instead of curbside butt whoopings, he’s got a legitimate weapon.  He’s still very inexperienced though, and there will be plenty of bumps along the way.  I can see him leading the league in INTs.

Chad Pennington/Kellen Clemens – Let’s face it.  Neither of these QBs excite you.  For good reason.  They do have a pair of quality WRs, but I can see split duty out of these two.  That’s a situation I’ll steer clear of.

Trent Edwards/J.P. Losman – Trent is penciled in as the starter, but I’m not sure Buffalo has witnessed the last of Mr. Losman.  Neither is going to wow you with statistics, but they may be useful for a game or two this year.

Brodie Croyle/Damon Huard – I ‘d like to see Brodie Croyle take the job and run with it.  He’s got some weapons in Tony Gonzalez and Dwayne Bowe.  Still, I know I wouldn’t trust him.

Rex Grossman – Yuck.  Marty Booker is back.  Oh boy.  They lost their best deep threat.  They are going to need Devin Hester to step up his game if Rexy is going to even be relevant in fantasy circles.  Avoid this like the plague.

Kyle Boller/Troy Smith/Joe Flacco – I actually could see all three getting starts this year.  Boller get the starting nod and loses it by Week 4.  Troy Smith takes over and mans the post until Week 10.  The rookie Joe Flacco finishes the season off to get him experience for next season.  That’s how it plays out in my head.

Josh McCown/John Beck/Chad Henne – I can see the same scenario go down in Miami.  McCown early.  Beck gets another shot and misses, Henne finishes with eyes towards the future. 

Chris Redman/Joey Harrington/Matt Ryan – The question is when, not if, the Matt Ryan era will begin.  I don’t know why, but I’d like to see Joey have a decent little go of things.  I’ve had a soft spot for him for whatever reason.  I think he got a bad shake in Detroit, and was ruined.    That said, the sooner they get to Ryan the better. 


Partner of USA TODAY Sports Digital Properties