This is the second in a series of columns that will break down fantasy production and value from teammates who play the same position.
This time the focus is on the Dallas Cowboys running backs.
Here’s the statistical comparison for Felix Jones and DeMarco Murray during the 2011 season, and included are the total fantasy points for the season (PTS):
ATT YDS AVG TD REC YDS AVG TD PTS
Felix Jones 127 575 4.5 1 33 221 6.7 0 71
DeMarco Murray 164 897 5.5 2 26 183 7.0 0 111
Marion Barber left the Cowboys before the 2011 season and Jones was given a chance to be the unquestioned every-down back for the Cowboys.
However, Jones’ role is less clear after a season in which he battled injuries once again. A hamstring issue caused him to miss four games.
In his absence, DeMarco Murray made a name for himself in Dallas and in the fantasy world.
Murray made his first start in Week 6 against the St. Louis Rams and made an immediate impression, scoring on a 91-yard TD run in the first quarter. He ended up with 253 yards on the ground, the franchise record for rushing yards in a game.
Murray added games of 74, 139 and 135 yards in Jones’ absence, remaining the starter even when Jones returned. But an ankle injury ended Murray’s season early, and he missed the final three games.
Both backs are 24 years old, but Jones has far more experience in the NFL, as he’s entering his fifth season in 2012. Murray was a rookie in 2011. And while Murray made a splash in 2011, Jones has also experienced success in the NFL.
In 2010, Jones was able to play in all 16 team games and amassed 1,250 total yards.
However, it certainly looks like Murray will be the starter in 2012. He seems more suited to the duties of 25 carries a game. Jones’ injury history doesn’t quite place him in the "fragile" category, but he’s close.
Jones will still get plenty of action and seems to be the better receiver of the two. In 2010, Jones had 48 receptions for 450 yards—a third of those receptions resulted in first downs.
With Jones being used most often on third downs, it's pretty clear that Murray will be the more productive back.
Shifting to value, this position matchup gets a bit more interesting. Where will you able to draft them? And what can you expect?
I find the trouble with both to be pretty clear: touchdowns—or lack thereof.
Jones has just 10 total TDs in four seasons (eight rushing, one receiving, one returning).
Murray had just two while he rushed for almost 900 yards.
For 2012 value, Jones should give you top backup production and will likely be drafted with the first wave of backup RBs like Ben Tate and players returning from injury like Jahvid Best.
Most of his fantasy value will come from the passing game—if he can rack up around 500 yards rushing and 500 yards receiving, he’s a solid first-choice backup.
If his TD production looked more promising, he would probably be a better value, but that just isn’t the case. There was no Marion Barber stealing goal-line carries this year.
Murray is more likely to hit a home run for you, and if he falls out of the top-30 overall picks, he should be the better value. The main question is whether Murray really has a nose for the end zone.
Unfortunately, there’s less than a season of material to go on.
This position battle is one to keep an eye on in training camp and during the preseason. For now, it looks like Murray all the way.
Better Production: Murray
Better Value: Murray
Other Matchups in the Series
Hakeem Nicks vs. Victor Cruz (coming soon)