Last season, Darren McFadden was injured and missed substantial time. This season, he is healthy but does not look like the same back. He is averaging just 3.5 yards per carry and NFL Network insider Mike Lombardi believes he no longer appears to have the same explosive skills.
Oakland's offensive line is not the best, but McFadden needs to take over games if the Raiders are going to be a factor in the AFC West.
The good news for Fantasy owners?
It would seem he's going to get ample opportunity to prove Lombardi wrong.
In addition to the coaching staff being committed to getting their ground game on track, the Falcons, given their struggles against the run, could provide some relief to a Raiders running game ranked 32nd and to McFadden, who has just 201 rushing yards on the season.
Atlanta is ranked 27th against the run (142.8 yards per game) and 27th in yards per carry (5.4).
Moreover, the Raiders are convinced their running game was starting to come around against Denver even if that fact was hidden in a 37-6 defeat on Sept. 30.
"We did actually have a more efficient run game, we just didn't have any breakout runs," offensive coordinator Greg Knapp said. "We had more consistency and less negative runs. It was good improvement for us."
Against Denver, the Raiders had 13 runs for positive yardage and only two were losses. However, Oakland finished with just 56 yards on 16 carries (3.5 yards per attempt).
"We see it out there," McFadden said. "Guys keep grinding, like I say. It's one of those things that you have to keep pushing and eventually it's going to start hitting, and it's something we feel like we've been doing lately."
Carson Palmer, en route to a 4,000-yard passing season, hopes to be throwing a little less and handing off to McFadden more often.
But don't be surprised if Palmer doesn't wind up throwing to McFadden, who ranks fourth in the league among running backs with 18 receptions for 111 yards, going forward, too.
As San Francisco Chronicle staffer Vic Tafur noted Friday, Palmer is just 1-of-14 on throws more than 20 yards downfield this season, throwing incompletions on his first 12 attempts.
Seems like the short stuff suits him best.