This week, we’re keeping it simple and comparing the league’s top two rushers, Darren McFadden and LeSean McCoy.
McFadden, a former No. 4 overall pick, broke into the league surrounded by hype in 2008. After struggling and dealing with injuries during his first two seasons in Oakland, he bloomed in Year 3 and has continued to gain momentum in 2011 with a league-high 393 rushing yards through three weeks.
McCoy came out of Pitt with a lot less attention in 2009, but the No. 53 overall pick arrived with more impact than McFadden, amassing 945 yards from scrimmage despite playing second fiddle to Brian Westbrook in his rookie campaign. It’s been a steep rise since then, and he’s emerged as one of the game’s best all-around backs with 345 yards on the ground and five touchdowns in the first three games of 2011.
The question: Who would you rather have on your team?
Darren McFadden, Oakland Raiders
Experience: 4th season
Career stats: 41 GMS, 2406 rush YDS, 4.8 AVG, 15 rush TD, 11 FUM, 108 REC, 1121 REC YDS, 4 REC TD
Since start of 2010: 16 GMS, 1550 YDS, 5.5 AVG, 10 rush TD, 4 FUM, 58 REC, 591 REC YDS, 4 REC TD
This season: 3 GMS, 393 YDS, 6.4 AVG, 3 rush TD, 1 FUM, 11 REC, 84 REC YDS, 1 REC TD
Games missed due to injury: 10
LeSean McCoy, Philadelphia Eagles
Experience: 3rd season
Career stats: 34 GMS, 2062 TDS, 4.9 AVG, 15 rush TD, 3 FUM, 127 REC, 949 REC YDS, 3 REC TD
Since start of 2010: 18 GMS, 1425 YDS, 5.4 AVG, 11 rush TD, 1 FUM, 97 REC, 642 REC YDS, 3 REC TD
This season: 3 GMS, 345 YDS, 6.1 AVG, 4 rush TD, 0 FUM, 9 REC, 49 REC YDS, 1 REC TD
Games missed due to injury: 1
The sheer numbers indicate that McFadden has a small edge, but McCoy has three advantages:
1) He’s almost a full year younger than McFadden with one less season under his belt.
2) He’s been able to stay significantly healthier than McFadden has.
3) He almost laps McFadden in receptions dating back to the start of last season, which indicates that he’s a more versatile player.
But McCoy has also benefited from a stronger offensive line, better quarterbacks and better receivers keeping defenses honest. You could argue that while McFadden has been given a few more carries than McCoy, he’s been at a disadvantage because of the lack of support he’s received from his teammates.
McFadden has also been more of a home-run threat than McCoy, but only within the 20-to-40-yard range. Since the start of last season, McFadden has run for 20-plus yards on 6.7 percent of his carries, while McCoy has only done so on 3.8 percent of his reps. Although, McFadden has run for 40-plus yards 2.1 percent of the time, while McCoy has accomplished said feat on 2.3 percent of his carries.
Sean Tomlinson’s take: I want to side with McFadden here, I really do. McFadden has been more effective as a pure rusher, which is partly a product of his offensive system compared to McCoy’s, but is also a reflection of his stronger downfield running style. But McCoy is a little more versatile as a receiver out of the backfield, and is averaging 450 receiving yards per season to McFadden’s 345. What drives me away from McFadden most, though, is the obvious injury concern and questions about his durability.
Gagnon’s take: That’s the exact same reason I’m leaning McCoy. He has more tread on his tires. McFadden has been more battered and bruised, and I think McCoy is a more versatile player. McFadden is a beast, and he’s a prototypical, classic back. But in this era, McCoy has more value, especially considering that he has more gas left in the tank.
So, who would you rather?
Last week’s Would You Rather: Ryan Fitzpatrick or Mark Sanchez?