Darren McFadden is expected to return from a three week absence in the Oakland Raiders’ backfield, and that return may happen as soon as Week 13 against the Cleveland Browns. McFadden has not played in the team’s past few games, although Marcel Reece has stepped up in a major way while filling in for the oft injured RB who is a fantasy headache for many owners once again this season, despite the fact that he had began the season healthy.
But what do you do now if you have McFadden, Reece or both Raiders’ running backs? Do you continue to start Reece is McFadden returns? Do you automatically go back to starting McFadden if he is going to play, regardless of whether or not his carries may be limited in his first game or so? Do you sit both this week and see how the whole thing plays out in Oakland, and then make an informed decision going forward?
The answer right now is that there is no answer.
As of now, we don’t even know for sure if McFadden will suit up this weekend, let alone start or go back to receiving the majority of the carries out the the backfield for the Raiders. His return is all speculation at this point, coming from a teammate and not the doctors or coaches. We don’t know how recovered McFadden truly is from his high ankle sprain, or whether or not he can even make it through a full game, let alone through the rest of the season. And keep in mind, even when he was healthy this season, it is not as if McFadden was putting up incredible numbers.
Over the past weeks, however, Reece has been a pleasant surprise. If you picked him up in McFadden’s absence, or if you simply handcuffed him earlier due to No. 20 and his past injury concerns, good for you. Due to the fact the McFadden could hit season ending IR at any time, do not cut Reece. Even if McFadden assumes his starting role as soon as this Sunday, Reece is too talented to cut, especially considering how the Raiders love to utilize him as a receiver.
At this point, you have to take a wait-and-see approach with the entire situation. If McFadden is going to play on Sunday, it is hard not to start him, unless you have much better options. If the Raiders say that Reece will continue to be a large part of the offense, even with the return of McFadden, it is difficult to bench him as well.
Then again, it is tough to give either a glowing recommendation if they are going to be splitting time, especially if we don’t now how that split will go down, exactly.
Keep in mind, however, that McFadden – when healthy – was a productive back in Oakland even when he was splitting time with Michael Bush. Having Reece to spell him and take some of the load may not be a bad thing for anyone in this situation. Not McFadden. Not Reece. Not any of their fantasy owners who own either or both back.
This could be one of those rare occasions where we all win.
Or lose. Six to one, right?