If fantasy drafts were happening today Dallas Cowboys running back DeMarco Murray would almost certainly be the consensus number one pick. His season has been nothing but a success and yet it is time for fantasy owners to place a bet on his downfall.
Commitment to the ground game
Murray has been nothing but sensational. In the opening six games of the season Murray has rushed for over 100 yards in each and every game for 785 total rushing yards. Even better Murray has done this not just against weak teams but also against strong defenses like the 49ers and Seahawks.
Furthermore, Those six consecutive 100 plus yards rushing games put Murray in rare company. The only other NFL player to open the season with 6 100 yard plus games was the great James Brown in 1958.
As great as Murray has been, a big part of the credit for his success is the offensive line and the commitment new Offensive Co-ordinator Scott Linehan has put into establishing the run. Simply put the construction of the Cowboys team is ideally suited to a run heavy
attack regardless of Murray and his talent.
Firstly, with Romo recovering from back surgery it is wise for the Cowboys to give teams less chance to hit their star QB by having him hand the ball off as often as possible. Furthermore, the strength of the offensive line's run blocking means any running back is going to find themselves with plenty of open lanes in front of them.
This commitment to the run is shown up in the stats as well. The second most used running back in the NFL is LeSean McCoy. McCoy has has 116 rushing attempts in six weeks. Murray has 43 more rushing attempts then McCoy. To give this perspective
Darren Sproles has had 32 rushing attempts. This means Murray has rushed more than McCoy and Sproles combined.
Murray has been used as the rarest of things in the modern NFL, a true three down back. That means that big nasty defensive players have had plenty of opportunities to hit DeMarco Murray.
Lots of hits means an increased risk of injuries and sadly DeMarco Murray is one of the
most injury prone running backs in the league. Murray simply doesn't get through seasons without injuries.
This is the crux of the matter. History suggests that Murray will pick up an injury at
some point this season and it could be quite a serious one. Additionally, we know that the Cowboys are committed to running the ball even if Murray isn't playing. Plus with that offensive line in front of him any running back will be at least reasonably effective.
Next in line
Fantasy owners of Murray, or owners with a roster spot to burn, should therefore pick up
Joseph Randle now before he becomes the number one waiver wire pickup. Despite being arrested on allegations of shoplifting underwear Randle is the still second in the depth chart and is Murray's handcuff. Right now Randle is only owned in 0.4% of ESPN
If Murray gets injured though or the Cowboys just look to reduce his carries Randle's value will skyrocket. He has 16 carries for 113 yards this season. 52 of these yards came against Seattle where Randle got a season high five carries. These numbers far exceed Lance Dunbar's season long total of 23 yards at an average of 1.9 yards per rushing attempt. Should anything happen to Murray fantasy owners could expect Randle to have at least 20 carries a game behind the best offensive line in the NFL.
Fantasy owners should pick Joseph Randle up and stash him now. He ceiling is as high
as any player in the NFL.