Optimism and Darren McFadden aren’t friends. They’ve never met, and they’ve never even been the two guys at a party who are forced to converse with each through the flow of the mingle, a product of natural selection that’s led to many awkward communications.

You knew this, though. You knew it when you drafted Run DMC, he of the worst and now the most inaccurate nickname in football. Yet he had to come off the board relatively early, because he’s both a running back, and a very efficient running back when he’s healthy. He needed only six games last year to finish with 614 rushing yards on 5.4 yards per carry, adding 154 more yards through the air.

The problem is that his season finished far too early, and for fantasy purposes, there’s a chance that could be happening again this year for many of his owners.

I’ve grown to passionately hate the injury prone label, so instead I’ll call McFadden unlucky. Incredibly, horribly unlucky, because despite immense talent he still hasn’t played a full season over his five-year career, a steak that isn’t stopping now. Prior to this year he had missed 19 games, and now with his ankle injury suffered two weeks ago he’s at 20, with another quite sticky tag — the slow healer label — still clinging strong.

That biological inability is quite literally embedded in his bones, and it’s especially concerning now following a report yesterday from Jay Glazer. The Raiders have been vague at best with McFadden’s timeline, but Glazer reported that a two-to-four week window is the likely recovery period. He’s already missed one week, and although he hasn’t officially been ruled out for the Raiders’ game this Sunday against New Orleans, let’s just go ahead and do that now. McFadden quite predictably missed practice again yesterday, and he limped away from the Raiders’ facility while still wearing a walking boot. That’s not the condition of a man who’s recovering quickly and will be ready for this week, or even next week, which is why in a moment of honesty Raiders head coach Dennis Allen didn’t express much confidence in McFadden’s availability for Sunday.

Let’s also go ahead and make the worst-case scenario assumption, and slot McFadden in for a month-long absence, and four missed games. That means he won’t return until Week 14, which is the final week of the regular season in many leagues, and the first week of the playoffs in many more. In this¬†apocalypse, owners who spent an early-round pick on a running back who had 100 yards per game potential are entering the playoff jostling portion of our fantasy calendar without said player. For fake team purposes, McFadden’s season very well could be over, or very close to it.

But despise all of this doom, he still retains a sliver of trade value as most leagues approach their trade deadline. That seems to defy all logic and sanity considering what we now seemingly know to be true, but please take a quick gander and the Raiders’ schedule, and the teams that a possibly, maybe, god willing healthy McFadden will run against in weeks 15 and 16. He’ll oppose the Chiefs and Panthers, two run defenses that rank in the bottom half of the league, with the Chiefs giving up 122.6 rushing yards per game, and the Panthers better but still very beatable at 113 per game.

Here’s where this is headed. If you’re a fringe playoff team that can’t afford to roster a stagnant player for potentially the remaining weeks prior to the playoffs, trade McFadden to a playoff team now, and get something — anything — that’s of remote value. Many leagues surely have teams at the top that have arrived there due to immense strength at other positions, and they’d be willing to take a cheap flier on McFadden.

So test that market, and do it now. Lusting low selling may be your only hope.

And now the links part of the links post…

  • As intolerable as it is to hear/read/watch useless Tim Tebow debate daily, I’ll never tire of seeing numbers that show exactly how horrible Mark Sanchez has been. We all realize that if Tebow had shown even a touch of promise in practice, the change would have been made a month ago, yes? Sanchez’s failures don’t tell us more about Sanchez, because we already knew that at best he’s an inconsistent mess, and at worst he’s a horrific draft bust. No, they tell us all we need to know about Tebow, and his future in the NFL. [Patrick Daugherty]
  • In other horribly predictable news, Ryan Mathews missed practice yesterday with a stiff neck. [Chargers.com]
  • Stream those defenses. Steam them now. [The Fake Football]
  • So hey, why do we let kids play tackle football? [Deadspin]