Later Raider

Karl Safchick


The beginning of free agency saw a shake up in the Oakland Raiders backfield. Rashad Jennings signed a deal with the New York Giants, presumably to be the starter and long term insurance plan for David Wilson. Wilson, who underwent neck surgery in the off season, has underwhelmed for the Giants. The Raiders then signed Darren McFadden to a one year, worth up to $4 million with incentives, but with a base salary of just $1.75 million. McFadden has been a disappointment for the Raiders since they selected him with the fourth overall pick in 2008. Many dynasty owners were excited to see what sophomore Latavius Murray had to offer in a feature back role with the team. Those owners will either have to wait one more year, or until “Run DMC” misses time, as he’s known to do.

Lets review the fantasy implications of all running backs involved.

Rashad Jennings, RB NYG

The first four years of Jennings career was spent in Jacksonville behind star running back Maurice Jones-Drew. He averaged over five yards per carry in his first two seasons with the team. In 2013, Jennings finally got his opportunity to utilized in a feature role. Not only did Jennings rush for 733 yards in eight starts, but he was excellent out of the backfield. His 4.5 yards per carry average led the team of Oakland backs with significant carries. His 36 receptions were fourth on the team as he converted those receptions into 292 yards. In only eight starts, he went for over 1,000 all purpose yards. If Wilson stays sidelined due to injury or ineffectiveness, Jennings could be a viable option in fantasy leagues. Jennings is currently being drafted as the RB54 in March mocks. I fully expect that price to increase significantly in the coming days.

Darren McFadden, RB OAK

The former Arkansas standout has frustrated Raider fans and fantasy owners alike. McFadden has missed a whopping total of 45 games over his six-year career. He has literally spent almost as much time on the bench as he has active on game day. Despite his misfortunes, the Raiders seem content to sign McFadden to a “prove it” type of contract. They’ll pay him for one season in hopes his ability turns to availability. If he can return to 2011 form, he’ll be one of the better backs in the league. Recent history tells us that those days may be behind him. As the RB40 according to our March ADP data, he can be had for very cheap. He’s being drafted in round 11. If you need a one year, cheap, stopgap type player, McFadden may be your guy.

David Wilson, RB NYG

Neck surgeries are frightening for anyone, especially if you are an NFL running back and Wilson successfully went under the knife for one in January. The neck may always be a worry for the Giants, but even if Wilson stays healthy, he still holds other concerns. In short, he has proven to be ineffective in his limited opportunities. Whether it was an inability to learn the playbook or ball security issues, Giants coaches seem hesitant to trust Wilson with a large role. With the proven Jennings in town, Wilson’s most likely role will be in a committee.

If you have a spot on your team that you don’t know what to do with, Wilson provides plenty of upside. He likely will never live up to the hype bestowed upon him by dynasty owners when he entered the league in 2012, but his price tag may never be smaller. Our March ADP shows Wilson being drafted in the ninth round of dynasty startups as the RB38.

Latavius Murray, RB OAK

Murray spent the 2013 season on injured reserve, but many were optimistic about his return in 2014. Even his Head Coach, Dennis Allen, said he was “anxious” to see Murray on the field. With Jennings headed to New York, Murray gets a bump up on the Raiders depth chart. The short term deal McFadden received should not hinder Murray’s ability to see significant action. In today’s NFL, teams deploy multiple running backs each game. On the very small chance that McFadden stays healthy in 2014, Murray could very well end up being the best back on the team anyway. The former sixth round pick may be in one of the best “back-up” situations in the league. We’ve seen has his ADP rise recently, topping out at 115.8, but he’s still not being drafted in the top 100. As the RB37, his dynasty value should be monitored. If Murray owners become afraid with the return of McFadden, it may be time to pounce on this potential future starter.

For a complete rundown of all free agency moves, visit our 2014 offensive free agency blog, and our 2014 IDP free agency blog.

Follow me on Twitter @KarlSafchick.