As DeMarco Murray enters his third NFL season, fantasy owners are presented with a quandary as they consider the merits of drafting him. Because the appeal of his proven talent, blends awkwardly with an alarming history of injuries that has already sidelined him for nine games in his first two seasons. That is not a complete shock, as it is consistent with the results of his collegiate career at Oklahoma. There, he ran for 3,685 yards and scored 65 TDs. Plus, he generated over 1,000 yards in both 2008 and 2010. Yet, Murray was also forced to the sidelines during his tenure by a torn hamstring tendon, and later a dislocated kneecap.
Enticing Production And Alarming Injuries
His accomplishments while on the field were impressive enough for Dallas to select him in the third round of the 2011 NFL Draft. Murray then began his rookie year as the third string RB behind Felix Jones and Tashard Choice. That provided Murray with an excellent opportunity to quickly vault up the depth chart, since Jones possessed a hefty resume of health issues in his own right, while Choice had not (and has not) demonstrated that he can be a highly productive back. Murray's chance to secure more snaps occurred in Week 7 when Jones suffered a high ankle sprain. Even though Choice started that particular contest against the Rams, it was Murray who established a new franchise record by bolting for 253 yards on 25 attempts. He started the next seven contests, generated 897 yards for the year, and delivered an impressive 5.5 YPC average. But his season abruptly ended when an ankle injury kept him from the lineup for the Cowboys' final three games.
The Trend Continues
Last season, he amassed 330 yards in the Cowboys’ first five contests, largely on the strength of two performances with 93+. But then, a sprained left foot required him to miss six games. He returned in Week 13, averaged 67 YPG, and scored three times. When you collect all of the numbers from his first two seasons, he has performed in 23 contests, carried 325 times, accumulated 1,560 yards, scored six TDs, and averaged 4.8 YPC. Which means that despite his propensity to suffer injuries, Murray has also demonstrated the ability to churn out yardage. Plus, he is clearly the top back for Dallas. Rookie Joseph Randle is currently his backup, and does not pose a serious threat to Murray's status as the primary back. While a hamstring problem did limit him during OTAs, it does not appear to be a lingering issue. Which means that he should be healthy when training camp begins.
The Ongoing Quandary - Should You Draft Him?
Since he is only 25 years old, and runs so effectively when he is in the Dallas lineup, you are presented with a major enticement to snare him on draft day. And in no way am I suggesting that you give up on Murray, or ignore him during your draft process. What I do recommend, is that you not rely upon Murray as your RB1, because I am skeptical that he can remain on the field for all 16 regular season contests. His track record of being sidelined repeatedly throughout career cannot and should not be ignored. Unfortunately, this is one area of consistency that you would prefer not to see from a back that you are considering for your roster. Yet it is prominent with Murray. And it is very risky to progress into your fantasy season with such a talented but fragile runner as your top back. However, it still makes sense to add him to your roster, since there are a limited number of backs that have Murray's potential to accumulate yardage.
If You Want Him, You May Need To Reach
But therein lies the challenge. Murray’s current ADP is 25, and considering the fact that neither his talent nor his history of injuries are revelations, that number is unlikely to undergo drastic change over the summer. Even though I would not personally invest a draft pick on Murray until at least Round 3, it would not serve you to simply end my recommendation with that. Because there is a great chance that one of your competitors will snare him in Round 2. Therefore, if you are enticed by his talent, and are concerned about the dearth of feature backs that are not facing a legitimate threat to pilfer their touches, you will probably need to select Murray sooner than you should.
The Complete Murray Draft Plan
If that is the case, you will placing far less risk with this lofty investment if you draft Murray at this point after having already selected your first back in Round 1. That way you potentially avoid massive future headaches by utilizing Murray as your RB2, rather than relying upon him as your primary ball carrier. Then, further minimize your risk by drafting a third RB that can be comfortably thrust into your starting lineup. And finally, make sure to grab Randle as a handcuff in the latter portion of your drafts.