Don’t Bank on Big Numbers From DeMarco Murray in 2013
At different points during the past two NFL seasons, fantasy owners have been tricked into thinking Dallas Cowboy running back DeMarco Murray could be relied on to be a No. 1 or even a solid No. 2 fantasy back.
In 2011, Murray exploded onto the NFL scene with a 25 carry, 253 yard performance against the Rams in week six. Up until that point, he had not topped 34 yards in a single game and had an average of 2.92 yards per carry.
Murray played seven more games in 2011, topping 100 yards in only two of them. In the three games that he exceeded the 100-yard mark, He averaged just over 175 yards per game, 7.86 yards per carry and a total of two touchdowns. In the four games where had double-digit carries and still failed to reach 100 yards, Murray averaged 58 yards a game, 3.31 yards per carry and did not score.
Murray then opened up the 2012 season with a 20 carry, 131-yard performance against the Giants. That had fantasy owners who previously had him on their benches inserting him as a permanent starter.
That would be the best game Murray would play all season, as his next four games yielded owners a disappointing 49.75 yards per game with one touchdown before he suffered a mid-season foot injury. After missing six games, Murray returned and finished out the season by averaging 66.6 yards per game and scoring three touchdowns in the last five contests.
Many fantasy owners have expressed concerns about the health and durability of guys like Danny Amendola, but as far as running backs go, none have more durability questions than Murray. He has missed nine games in the past two seasons. Even when healthy, the record shows he is wildly inconsistent and not the type of back you count on for big points week in, week out.
DeMarco Murray Career Stats
Adding to the concerns of owning Murray are the change in offensive coordinator in Dallas to Bill Callahan and the talent on the depth chart behind him. Historically, Bill Callahan offenses, both when he is offensive coordinator and head coach, average just over 457 rushes a season. That number is above average but would not have been inside the top ten in the NFL in 2012.
What’s concerning is how those carries are distributed. The leading rusher on Bill Callahan offenses averages just over 201 attempts per season. Suffice to say, Callahan likes to mix it up and rotate his backs. A running back who logged 201 carries in 2012 would have finished 23rd in the NFL, one carry ahead of Philadelphia’s LeSean McCoy who missed four games.
Waiting to vulture those touches away from Murray is rookie Joseph Randle out of Oklahoma State. The fifth-round pick scored 38 touchdowns in his last two seasons in college and was one of the more explosive backs in the nation in 2012. On the night he was drafted, both Jerry Jones and Jason Garrett agreed that they very well might have drafted a starter in Randle.
What does this all mean? I’d say it all adds up to not being able to count on Murray as a consistent fantasy producer in any format. If you know some people in your league are targeting him early as a potential starter, I’d let them draft him. History shows you won’t be missing on much and there is a decent chance that he won’t finish the year as the starter for the Cowboys — injury or otherwise.
As far as stats, I’d say the best-case scenario for Murray in Bill Callahan’s Cowboy offense, barring injury, is 220 carries for 1056 yards and seven scores. Toss in another 250 receiving yards and he’d be slightly more valuable than Shonn Greene was a season ago.