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Three Weeks In Which You Should Not Necessarily Start Darren McFadden

This article is not entitled "Three Weeks In Which You Must Bench Darren McFadden" because in fantasy football you always start your best players, no matter the matchup. These games are merely going to be the toughest matchups for the Raider rushing game, and as such if you have a more attractive matchup on paper with a different running back you may wish to start him instead.

Week 2 vs. Miami Dolphins: The Dolphins were, inexplicably, the third best rush defense in the NFL last season, behind only to the otherworldly 49ers defense and the stalwart Ravens defense (who will be appearing later in this article). This success against the run may have been due in part to the Dolphins’ susceptibility to the pass, as they ranked 25th in that category so teams may not have felt the need to rush very often. The strong numbers against the run certainly did nothing to get the Dolphins many wins, although they did beat the Raiders in Miami last season. This week 2 matchup is also in Miami and as the Raiders usually have trouble on the East Coast, this may be a matchup to avoid for Darren McFadden provided you have another back with an easier matchup.

Week 6 vs. Atlanta Falcons: The Falcons are another team that is strong vs. the rush and weak vs. the pass. They are a team that emulates the Raiders in the sense that they are a ball-control offense that likes to grind out yards on the ground and take shots deep with their two excellent wideouts. They’re really a middle of the pack NFC team that isn’t quite ready to take the next step to Giants or Packers territory. However, their rush defense has been good the last few years led by DE John Abraham, LB Sean Weatherspoon and DT Peria Jerry. Their secondary outside of CB Brent Grimes is middling, and the Raiders may choose to air it out on the Georgia Dome turf.

Week 12 vs. Baltimore Ravens: This may be a game in which you may want to start no Raiders whatsoever, skip watching the game entirely and spend the entire day curled up in the fetal position. The Ravens have the second best rush defense in football to go along with the fourth-best pass defense. Provided the team has made strides under Dennis Allen, they may be able to keep the game close, but it is not a week to be banking on the Raiders to do anything but cause their fans to drink heavily.

Note that all three of these games are away games. Any game played in Oakland is a must-start for McFadden. Provided he remains healthy, he will probably end up with over 1,500 yards rushing. He is the fourth-best running back in the AFC and with a successful season could end up being thought of even more highly. However, as a fantasy owner he is nothing but a tool in your hands, and so you would be wise to avoid being sentimental and use different players during these particular weeks.

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