Is DeMarco Murray dependable?
How much should we trust DeMarco Murray as a starting RB for fantasy?
Let me paint you a picture. A second-year running back has started seven games. He has 164 career carries. He has scored two touchdowns in his NFL life. The man in question was injured throughout his collegiate career and had his rookie pro season ended by a broken leg. This kid we're talking about, he might be a nice sleeper this year, right?
Or he might be the No. 8 running back in fantasy.
DeMarco Murray is a fine symbol for everything that ails the RB position heading into 2012. He's the devil we don't know. And we love him for it. Whereas players such as Darren McFadden and Ryan Mathews have committed the sin of being injury-prone for multiple seasons, Murray has crushed his fantasy teams only once, so it's easier for us to assume that one year might've been an aberration. He's young. He's fast (Murray ran a 4.41 40 at the combine). He has tremendous receiving hands. And, a year after Felix Jones spit the bit as the Dallas Cowboys' starter, Murray appears to have a huge edge on backfield touches.
But should we trust him?
Let me answer that question by posing another question for you. You have been stranded on a desert island for three weeks, eating nothing but questionable-looking berries and drinking coconut milk, the supply of which is rapidly dwindling. A crate washes up on shore. This crate contains two items: a box of moldy Twinkies and a sack of horse manure. The moldy Twinkies are blue and smell like death. But at least they aren't horse manure.
DeMarco Murray is the moldy Twinkie in this analogy.
Listen, obviously, all kinds of things could go wrong with Murray. He's been a leg injury waiting to happen since early in his days at the University of Oklahoma. The Cowboys' offensive line looks as if it might struggle to begin the year. Tony Romo's aerial weapons can't stay healthy. Heck, take away that ludicrous 253-yard Week 6 effort against the St. Louis Rams last year, and Murray has just three carries for more than 20 yards (and exactly one TD) in his career. I can't recall a less experienced player ever making my RB top-10 list.
But he's there. He's there because the gentlemen around him have similar disaster potential. Mathews broke his collarbone on his first carry of the preseason. McFadden's ankles and feet appear to be constructed of papier-mâché. Jamaal Charles and Adrian Peterson are returning from torn ACLs. Steven Jackson and Frank Gore are likely deep into their respective back nines. And pretty much every other RB in the league is probably in some form of time share.
Do I trust Murray? I trust that, as long as he's healthy, he'll produce decent numbers. Including his breakout game against the Rams last year, he had five games of 20-plus carries in a six-week span, and he eclipsed 100 yards from scrimmage in each of those five contests. He averaged 5.5 yards per carry. He's actually something along the lines of a McFadden clone: an all-around player who runs fast for his size, catches passes amazingly well and packs a wallop when he meets tacklers. A healthy season could see him emerge as fantasy's No. 1 RB. I wouldn't be shocked.
But I also wouldn't be shocked to see him get hurt in Week 1, and I wouldn't be shocked to see the Cowboys' offense founder early in the year. I wouldn't be shocked if Jones produced a better season than we expect in a supporting role, draining Murray of some of his upside. Is Murray a good goal-line back? I expect he'd be fine, but the truth is: He has six career carries inside an opponent's 10, one of which has gone for a touchdown. We simply don't know yet.
This RB morass explains why there are so many dang quarterbacks in our top 20 this year, and it explains why Murray -- the No. 8 RB -- who in past years might've found himself ranked No. 11 or No. 12 overall, is No. 18 overall this season. Personally, I have five QBs, four WRs and a TE rated ahead of Murray.
So, do I trust him? About as far as I can throw him. But will I own him in leagues where he falls to me late in the second round?
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• Top 2012 storylines: 20 to 11 (Aug. 3)
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• Ten hotly debated players for 2012
• Does the two-QB approach work?
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• How to use value-based drafting
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• Metrics to consider in finding IDP breakouts
• Streaming D/ST units
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• Harris' 10 flag-planted players for 2012
• Harris' super-deep sleepers for 2012
• C.J. Spiller's effect on Fred Jackson's value
• Where should Trent Richardson be drafted?
• Will Green-Ellis' TD success continue?
• Ben Tate's impact on Arian Foster's value
• Will Cruz, Nelson fall back to earth?
• Is Jones-Drew poised for drop-off?
• When to draft Darren McFadden
• Demaryius Thomas or Eric Decker?
• Are Panthers RBs unstartable?
• How much will Gore's fantasy value decline?
• How will Charles, Hillis split workload in KC?
• When should you draft Adrian Peterson?
• Rivers' new favorite WR: Meachem or Floyd?
• Vincent Jackson's impact with new team
• Choosing between Bryant and Austin
• The polarizing Michael Turner
• Roddy White or Julio Jones?
• Lloyd effect on Pats' other receivers
• Will any one Patriots RB emerge in 2012?
• Making sense of Saints backfield
• Can you trust DeMarco Murray?
• What is Tim Tebow's value with the Jets?
• Assessing the values of Bucs RBs
• Can Robert Griffin III match Cam Newton?
• Joyner: Underrated PPR WRs for 2012
• Karabell: Top 35 rookies for 2012
• Kiper: Keeper-league targets
• Joyner: Underrated WRs for 2012
• Joyner: Underrated RBs for 2012
• Kiper: Fantasy rookies to target, avoid
• Joyner: Underrated QBs for 2012
• Karabell: Will DeSean Jackson bounce back?
• Joyner: How O-Lines impact QBs in fantasy
• Karabell: Reggie Bush outlook
• Karabell: Early ADP trends
• Karabell: Redskins RB situation
• Joyner: Undervalued, overvalued RBs
• Karabell: Be wary of Steve Smith
• Joyner: Why CJ2K will be top fantasy RB
• Joyner: Five breakout players in 2012
• Karabell: Five keeper-league targets
• Adrian Peterson outlook
• Peyton Manning's health
• Peyton Manning expectations
• Darren McFadden outlook
• Andre Johnson's health
• Projecting Cam Newton
• Second-tier RBs to consider
• Arian Foster versus Ray Rice
• Will DeSean Jackson bounce back?
• Michael Vick expectations
• Mark Sanchez versus Tim Tebow
• Will Rob Gronkowski repeat as top TE?
• Where to draft Gronkowski, Graham
• Aaron Hernandez expectations
• Can RG3 match Newton's rookie season?
• Will Jamaal Charles return to form?
• DeMarco Murray outlook
• Is Beanie Wells being undervalued?
• Rashard Mendenhall versus Isaac Redman
• How will Drew Brees handle turmoil in NO?
• Why has Matt Schaub's ranking fallen?
• Is this the year Matt Ryan breaks out?
• Tight end sleepers for 2012
• Jonathan Stewart versus DeAngelo Williams
• Which rookie RBs could surprise?
• Demaryius Thomas versus Eric Decker
• Better late pick: Rookie WR or Randy Moss?
• Is Jordy Nelson's TD total repeatable?
• Is Eli Manning an elite fantasy QB?
• Will Philip Rivers bounce back in 2012?
• Can Victor Cruz repeat his breakout 2011?
• Andrew Luck's short- and long-term value
• Expectations for Trent Richardson
• Will Julio Jones outperform Roddy White?
• Is it wise to draft a QB early?
• Will Reggie Bush repeat his 2011 numbers?
• Brandon Marshall expectations