Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) -
For Darren McFadden, 2008 was an utterly forgettable season and as a fantasy owner that's exactly how you should look at it.
The former Arkansas Razorbacks star was expected to have a huge rookie season and disappointed everyone from fantasy owners to Oakland Raiders fans. But it should be noted that the cause of all the dissatisfaction was injury, not lack of talent.
So in 2009 you should keep expectations high for the 6'2" tailback.
Here is why.
Despite just 113 carries, McFadden averaged a solid 4.4 yards-per-carry. That puts him right in line with running backs like Michael Turner (4.5 ypc), Jonathon Stewart (4.5), Ronnie Brown (4.3), Frank Gore (4.3), Clinton Portis (4.3) and Maurice Jones-Drew (4.2).
This even though the team had no passing attack what-so-ever, finishing 32nd (dead last) in passing with 148.1 yards-per-game. With no deep threat, it's a testament to the offensive line that the Raiders finished 10th in rushing offense.
McFadden suffered through a neck stinger, shoulder injury and turf toe for most of 2008, but if he can stay healthy, should produce much better results in 2009.
Raiders' coach Tom Cable has already indicated that the team will get him the ball more often in 2009. That doesn't mean just running either. In his limited time on the field in 2008, McFadden caught 29 balls for 285 yards.
Oakland also went out and got the fastest receiver they could find in Darrius Heyward-Bey and even if he doesn't catch many balls, he should take some of the attention away from the running game. If JaMarcus Russell can mature into even an average NFL quarterback, there should be plenty of opportunities for McFadden to shows his abilities, which are many.
In 2008, McFadden was the 18th running back selected (Average Draft Position - 40), between Laurence Maroney and Willie Parker. Unfortunately, due to his injuries, he finished with the 46th-most points from a running back (96 fantasy points).
This year, his ADP is around 43 (the 25th running back off the board) and I believe he will be a bargain at that price.