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Camp Battles: Oakland RB
By Mike Beacom

Two stars, one starting job... let the limp to the finish line begin

There have been two-star backfields in Oakland before. Marcus Allen and Bo Jackson come to mind, and even Mark van Eeghen and Clarence Davis. Add Darren McFadden and Maurice Jones-Drew to the list.

The Raiders picked up Jones-Drew this offseason as insurance for McFadden, who has missed 19 starts in the past three seasons combined. The 29-year-old Jones-Drew was discarded by a Jacksonville club ready to rebuild. Now the two will go head-to-head for a job that could be attractive for fantasy owners this season.

Why McFadden will win the job: Heading into camp that was the word. McFadden has been with the club since 2008, and knows the Raider organization. When healthy, he is a better pure rusher than MJD. While the injury knocks follow him, it should be noted MJD has also not shown he is back to pre-injury form from his 2012 season-ending wound. And McFadden is three years younger than Jones-Drew, suggesting that if either is to have a future with the club, it’s McFadden.

Why Jones-Drew will win it: Oh, let us count the ways… there is McFadden’s injury history (never been healthy for a full season – never) and the fact that Jones-Drew does all of the little things (block/protect, sell fakes, stay healthy) better than his counterpart. But more than anything, there is the fact that Jones-Drew has always been an over-achiever. He gained more than 8,000 yards in eight seasons for lousy Jacksonville teams that offered him no supporting help. He came back from an injury, and catches the ball well. He is a ‘can do’ back, whereas McFadden is a ‘can’t do’ back.

Don’t forget about: Latavius Murray
Both of the backs ahead of him are beat up badly. It’s quite possible all Murray will need to do is hold his breath and wait for the stretchers to escort McFadden and Jones-Drew to the sideline. Then again (cough, cough) the biggest issue with Murray is that he spent all of his 2013 rookie season… injured.

Who fantasy owners should pull for: Jones-Drew
Do you want results, or do you want potential that will never be realized? Because McFadden still has the potential for greatness, it’s just unlikely to ever be realized. Jones-Drew, on the other hand, can easily become a serviceable fantasy back again. He’ll never be a top 10 back, like he once was, but he could fill a spot in your lineup most weeks.

Follow Mike Beacom on Twitter @mikebeacom
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