Ten second-year NFL breakout candidates

Players like Matt Ryan, Chris Johnson and Joe Flacco have already pulled a seat up to the proverbially NFL dinner table after turning in solid rookie seasons. But which second-year players (who didn’t have great success in their rookie campaigns) are set for breakout seasons in 2009?

Here are 10 that jump out to me:

(Note: I consider players like Ryan, Johnson, Flacco, Jonathan Stewart, Matt Forte and Steve Slaton as already having breakout seasons, so you won’t find them on this list.)

In no particular order:

1. Darren McFadden, RB, Raiders
Justin Fargas is a favorite of head coach Tom Cable’s in Oakland, but the Raiders didn’t select McFadden with the fourth overall pick in last year’s draft not to take full advantage of his talents. Thus far this summer, the Raiders have lined McFadden up not only at running back, but also at receiver and even quarterback. With Cable calling the offensive plays this season, McFadden is set to see plenty of opportunities to excel in Oakland’s offense and as long as he can stay healthy (a turf toe injury slowed him down last season) the former top 5 pick could emerge as the Raiders’ most potent offensive weapon. The one part of his game that he’ll need to improve on, however, is his ability to run between the tackles. If he can’t, the hard-running Fargas will steal plenty of McFadden’s touches this season.

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Cowboys’ Bennett says ‘Black Olympics’ video not offensive

Cowboys’ tight end Martellus Bennett says the YouTube video he and his brother filmed about “Black Olympics” isn’t offensive and states that he and his sibling were “just having a little fun.”

Bennett drew scorn earlier this week from Kansas City Star columnist Jason Whitlock for his video, in which he and his brother Michael, a rookie for the Seattle Seahawks, competed eating fried chicken and watermelon and drinking Kool-Aid.

Bennett told the Michael Irvin radio show on Monday that he didn’t intend to offend others, but doesn’t think the video was racially insensitive.

“I don’t really think it’s offensive,” Bennett told Irvin. “It depends on your sense of humor and how you look at things. We were just having fun and it was very funny for me and my brothers, when I look at it I just can’t stop laughing. If someone takes offense, I apologize. That wasn’t my intention. It was just us having fun.”

Bennett told Irvin he would not have a problem with a white person acting out something like the “Black Olympics.”

“There’s white comedians that do stuff like that all the time,” he said. “I think it’s funny to attack stereotypes. It’s funny how people just put people in a certain light and say that’s what all the people do of a certain race or particular person, so it’s fun to attack those stereotypes.”

Everyone has a different sense of humor and what Bennett should keep in mind is that we live in a day and age where people are hypersensitive about everything. He ran the risk of offending people when he shot this video and now he has to live with the attention and criticism it’s getting. That’s just the nature of the beast.

What he should be concerned with is how the video represents him as a person and how it makes the Cowboys and NFL look. Bennett isn’t Dave Chappelle, who makes a living off of offbeat sketches – he’s a football player. He should keep in mind that something like this brings negative attention to the Cowboys and to the NFL, and it could also set his career back because it shows immaturity on his part.

In the end, is doing a video like this (or any other video for that matter, seeing as how he also did a YouTube rap video before the “Black Olympics”) worth it?

Fantasy Football Update: 10/28

Jason Witten has a broken rib but wants to play through it this week in a big game against the Giants. Conventional wisdom states that the Cowboys should rest Witten this week because they have a bye in Week 10, so that would give him 2-3 weeks of rest. If Witten can’t go, Martellus Bennett wouldn’t be a bad fill in. Visanthe Shiancoe or Zach Miller would be good spot starters as well…Santonio Holmes will play Monday night, which means that Nate Washington will be relegated back to WR3 duties…Matt Hasselbeck is likely out for Week 9 with a bulging disk in his back. He apparently doesn’t have pain in his back or leg, but he has a ‘dead leg’ feeling. Not good…The 49ers named Shaun Hill their starting QB. He’s an interesting pickup in fantasy leagues since he’s playing in Mike Martz’s offense…Steven Jackson should be ready to go in Week 9, according to Jim Haslett.

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