Monday, August 18, 2014


                                                         DeMarco Murray

There is risk/reward players and than there is the case of Dallas Cowboys RB DeMarco Murray.  Currently sitting with a late first round average draft position, Murray has big expectations attached to his name to say the least.  This despite the fact Murray has yet to play a full season at the NFL and in fact has missed a total of 11 games in only there years in the league.  Thus Murray wears the injury prone label well and one would think that Murray's penchant for getting hurt would make him radioactive to draft.  However the fact of the matter is that Murray is incredibly difficult to ignore in fantasy football terms due to the excellent top end production he produces every season since being drafted by the team in the third round in 2011 out of Oklahoma.  Possessing one of the most potent combinations of receiving and running in the NFL, Murray can do it all on the football field.  And even after missing two games a year ago, Murray dazzled when in the lineup as he rushed for 1,121 yards and 9 big touchdowns while averaging 5.2 yards a carry.  In addition, Murray was beyond productive in the receiving game as he grabbed 53 passes for 350 yards and another score.  The 6 fumbles were a clear issue outside of the injuries but Murray very rare role as the team's workhorse back placed him clearly in the top 6 or 7 runners for 2014 fantasy football.  So with all that said, let's revisit Murray a bit and figure out what kind of role he may have in new OC Scott Linehan's offense and if he can finally avoid injury.

First let's get the good out of the way which we already sort of touched on.  The fact of the matter is that Murray's dual ability in the running and passing game is very rare and valuable in today's game and that is even before you factor in his role as the Cowboys' workhorse back.  Much chatter has begun to circulate recently that Linehan will phase in Ryan Williams and Lance Dunbar to create some sort of a committee like he did in Detroit with Reggie Bush and Joquie Bell.  However Murray is clearly the much better player than both Williams and Dubar and it would be foolish for Linehan to not give at least 80 percent of the work to Murray.  The bigger issue is the fact that the Cowboys will likely be in a ton of shootouts this season and for the fact Linehan is obsessed with the passing game.  The first issue could hurt Murray in standard leagues in that he won't be rushing the football much in the second half of games as the Cowboys use the pass to stay competitive.  However in PPR formats Murray would catch a ton of passes under this scenario so owners in those formats will be very happy there.  The second issue sort of goes along with the first in that Linehan will want to throw the football all over the place anyway as this is what he has done throughout his career as an OC.  That once again means Murray could see a scaling back on his rushing totals while he adds numbers in the receiving stats. 

Now for the bad news.  Murray's injury history is Darren McFadden-like and that is one comparison you don't want to have as a back.  Even going back to his tenure with the Sooners, Murray constantly dealt with lower body injuries.  The main reason for this is due to Murray's upright running style which opens up himself to the hits that cause him to get hurt like with McFadden who has a similar way of carrying the ball.  Thus we have to at least factor in a few missed games for Murray this season and hope it is nothing serious.  That is always very dicey in that you want to draft a fantasy football team with as little risk as possible.  Murray would be as polar opposite of that strategy as one can get. 

When you put things all together, there are big time issues on both sides of the debate here with Murray.  Perhaps no other running back causing more discussion both in a positive and negative way than does Murray.  The guy has immense talent and could pay off huge but he also could ruin his team if he once again gets injured.  How lucky do you feel?  This could go either way this season.


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