2015 Fantasy Football: Darren McFadden’s Impact With the Dallas Cowboys

The Fantasy Football world was shocked with the blockbuster signing of DeMarco Murray to the Philadelphia Eagles.

When a top rusher from last season changes teams it is pretty big news, and the teams being divisional rivals definitely added some spice to the story. The general consensus was that Eagles coach Chip Kelly may have pulled off the coup of the Fantasy offseason by landing a talented running back while simultaneously weakening a tough opponent. So the Dallas Cowboys have to respond right? There was still plenty of time to make a blockbuster move of their own. Thus, with baited breath, we all watched our twitter feeds for news of the Cowboys to make a big move. Would it be Adrian Peterson? Would Dallas snatch up Frank Gore? Would the Cowboys perhaps try to snag Melvin Gordon in the 2015 NFL Draft? Nope. The Cowboys were content with Darren McFadden. On the surface this may seem like trading off your Mercedes for a Pinto but what can we actually expect from McFadden this season? The backfield is still a mess in terms of Fantasy purposes and there is no clear-cut starter thus far. This analysis is focused on what McFadden could do as a starter and does not take into consideration Joseph Randle‘s potential larger role in 2015 Fantasy Football leagues. Well, let’s start with the facts.

Darren McFadden in Dallas 


McFadden’s tenure with the Oakland Raiders was pretty lackluster, especially in comparison to expectations coming in. He left Oakland with a career average of 4.1 YPC, 9.25 rushing touches per game, and a seasonal 3.57 touchdown average. Of course this was behind one of the poorer offensive lines in the league, so that must be taken into account and as we all know he has been plagued with too many injuries to count. But how can those numbers give us an idea of his production for 2015?

Let’s look at Murray’s career averages while in Dallas: 4.8 YPC, 14.6 rushing touches per game, and a seasonal seven touchdown average. While we shouldn’t expect McFadden to have the same monster campaign as Murray, the Cowboys found success with limiting Tony Romo‘s gun slinging. If McFadden can stay on the field, the Cowboys will not be adverse to handing him the ball and grinding it out.

If we figure in 15 touches (Dmarc’s average) x 4.1 (Dmac’s YPC average), we end up with about 62 yards per game or 992 rushing yards for the season.I feel like this is a pretty good baseline of expectation for McFadden in rushing. Could he outperform these numbers if he becomes the clear-cut starter? Sure, but he of course needs to stay on the field.

Darren McFadden as a Dual-Threat Back

The Cowboys have increasingly been incorporating their running backs into the passing game, and this is where DMAC actually outperforms Murray. McFadden has a 8.4 yard per catch average while Murray’s average is 7. McFadden in the pass game can be dangerous. He has the same (if not better) breakaway speed, and better hands.

Darren McFadden and the Wildcat

What’s the wildcard factor for McFadden? It’s the wildcat. I feel like “wildcat” is the buzzword for the past couple of seasons. A lot of teams have tried their hands at implementing this on the field(some with more success than others), but it seems to be on a lot of coaches’ minds. While it’s been some time since McFadden has seen any wildcat action, he excelled at the play call in college with the Arkansas Razorbacks. While this probably won’t be utilized in every game, there are a few circumstances where McFadden could take a snap or two and add some Fantasy points to your scoreboard.

The Conclusion on Darren McFadden

Last season Jeremy Hill was the tenth-ranked running back with 1,339 total yards and five touchdowns, and with McFadden’s dual-threat capabilities, I believe It’s entirely plausible that McFadden can hit these numbers with a starting role. For that reason I have him ranked as a top 20 back. As such, I would recommend drafting him by the 5th round in a 12 man league, as his current ADP on FantasyFootballCalculator.com is 5.02.

He’s such a polarizing player that teams are going to pay way too much for him or you’ll be able to draft him for a steal. Keep an eye on how the backfield plays out during training camp, as McFadden could end up as a steal.

Categories: 2015 Fantasy Football

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