Spin Doctors: DeMarco Murray vs. Darren McFadden

Alongside Ryan Mathews, no rushers possess more Humpty Dumpty qualities than DeMarco Murray (27.6 ADP, RB18) and Darren McFadden (30.7, RB19). The fragile duo have missed 29 combined games over eight seasons. So what rusher houses the lowest risk? Andy Behrens and Brad Evans exchange pleasantries.

Behrens bats first: I’m thrilled to have McFadden on the other side of this debate, because it negates the one glaring issue with Murray — injury risk. You can’t tell me that McFadden is somehow safer. DMC has appeared in just 57 games over five NFL seasons, averaging 11.4 per year. He played 12 last season, seven the year before. He has all the sturdiness of fine blown glass. That is to say, he will break. You know it, I know it, Brad knows it.

I won’t argue that DeMarco is gonna challenge Brett Favre’s consecutive game streak — Murray is an excessively violent runner, a guy who seeks contact. But I love that he’s thinking about durability. “I am going to play all 16 this year,” he's declared.

Of course you should take that for what it is: offseason noisemaking. It’s just nice to know that Murray is focused on going the distance. When healthy – as he is now – he’s a hugely productive runner, averaging 4.8 career YPC. His tape is as exciting as any back’s (at least any back who isn’t AP, Spiller, Charles or Shady). Murray has clear RB1 potential, and, unlike McFadden, he’s actually tied to an explosive offense.

I’m sure Brad will have lots to say about DMC’s new blocking scheme (never mind that we liked last year’s scheme), his per-game production (not enough games) and his contract status (it’s always a contract year in the NFL). But the bottom line is that DMC is attached to a terrible team, coming off a terrible season. Go Murray, gamers.

Brad cleans up: In the race for the best 12 games played, Darren McFadden crosses the finish line first.

Last year, when not sidelined for the 10 millionth time with a lower body ailment, the disappointing rusher appeared overly timid, lacked explosiveness and was generally terrible, an ill-fit for Greg Knapp’s zone-blocking scheme. Shockingly 82 of his 216 rushing attempts (37.9 percent) went for one, zero or negative yards. His overall yards per carry average (3.3) was the lowest of his career, by a wide margin. According to Pro Football Focus‘ RB metrics, he was the worst back in the league registering a -19.2 rating, nearly ten ticks below next lowest Chris Johnson. Puke.

However, despite his sorrowful 2012 and oft-injured reputation, McFadden is primed for a McFabulous revival.

Under the direction of newly installed offensive coordinator Greg Olson and finely mustachioed O-line coach Tony Sparano, the Raiders are scrapping last year’s zone-blocking system, reverting to a similar power gap set they followed two seasons ago. Recall McFadden racked his finest numbers three years ago in an identical system. That year over 13 games, DMC bulled his way to 1,664 total yards (5.2 ypc) and 10 touchdowns. He also notched the best breakaway percentage in the game (45.7) logging 17 runs of 15-plus yards while forcing 42 total missed tackles. His subsequent 17.3 fantasy points per game ranked top-five. With a decent offensive line in place, an output in range of that this year isn’t farfetched.

Also keep in mind, the 26-year-0ld, whose career has reached a fork in the road, is in a contract year. Yes, Behrens, the Benjis do motivate.

No question, Dallas is the more nourishing environment offensively, but, unlike Murray, McFadden is the centerpiece. And, according to underlying data, he’s the more dynamic runner/receiver with a higher ceiling, particularly in PPR settings.

It’s "Tricky” to trust Run DMC, but in the Noise’s mind he offers more fantasy panache when compared to Murray.

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