Fantasy Football: What Running Back Can Be This Year's DeMarco Murray?

Phil GentileContributor IJuly 24, 2012

Fantasy Football: What Running Back Can Be This Year's DeMarco Murray?

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    In fantasy football running backs are worth their weight in gold. They are also some of the hardest players to predict. Every year a guy comes out of nowhere to dominate and owners fly to their computers to grab him off the waiver wire. I'm here to help you find that player before the season even starts.

    Two years ago it was Peyton Hillis who came out of nowhere to rush for 1,177 yards and 11 touchdowns. Last season it was DeMarco Murray. Here are some of the breakout candidates to keep your eye on as fantasy drafts approach.

Doug Martin, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

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    Martin is hardly a sleeper. He was a first-round pick, and most people think he will steal the starting gig from LeGarrette Blount relatively fast. I'll go one further. I think Martin could finish as a top 10 running back in his first year. Why am I so confident?

    Even though he only registered 64 catches during his four seasons at Boise State he is a polished receiver, unlike Blount. He also holds onto the ball, unlike Blount. Notice a trend here? If things go right, he could be the best offensive weapon in Tampa. Only problem is Martin's value keeps climbing and by the time your start happens he might be overvalued. Be careful.

Robert Turbin, Seattle Seahawks

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    With Marshawn Lynch's status in doubt due to a recent DUI, the Seahawks will need a viable replacement when (not if) he's suspended.

    It's obvious at this point that Justin Forsett and Leon Washington aren't three-down backs. Enter rookie Robert Turbin. He was the team's fourth-round pick back in April and has the measurables that fantasy owners are always looking for.

    He's a great blend of power and quickness and would be a must-pickup if Lynch is forced to miss any games. Snag him with a ninth- or 10th-round pick and you'll be rewarded.

Alex Green, Green Bay Packers

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    The only thing the high-powered Packers offense didn't have last season was a stud running back. I think Alex Green could be that guy. Not only does he have a huge frame, but he's surprisingly quick for a big back.

    Yes, Green is coming off a major knee injury and it's unknown if he will be completely healthy in time for training camp. James Starks averaged 4.3 yards per carry last season, but he has had a difficult staying healthy himself during his NFL career.

    Alex Green has the prototypical size of a workhorse running back. Recovering from his knee injury will be the only thing preventing him from stealing the starting gig in Green Bay. Don't worry about drafting him, but definitely keep your eye on him during the first couple weeks of the season.

Mikel Leshoure, Detroit Lions

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    There were rumblings out of Detroit that Jahvid Best would be forced to retire from the effects of several concussions. Luckily, the Lions have a back with the ideal combination of size and speed.

    Leshoure showed in college that he can a feature back between the tackles. If it weren't for an ACL injury in training camp last season he would have likely been the starter in the Motor City. Without him, the Lions running game finished 29th in the league with only 95.2 yards per game.

    After his second arrest for marijuana possession, there is a chance Mikel Leshoure could miss some time via suspension but if he gets on the field the starting role is within his grasp given Jahvid Best's injury history. According to Fantasy Football Calculator, his ADP right now is the ninth round which sounds about right. The potential is there.

Ronnie Hillman, Denver Broncos RB

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    Willis McGahee rushed for 1,199 yards last season, but he turns 31 in October so there is no telling how much he has left in the tank. Knowshon Moreno is one play away from tearing an ACL.

    Worst-case scenario the Broncos use Hillman as a change-of-pace back on third downs. Best case? They use him similar to Darren Sproles in New Orleans and let Peyton throw to him out of the backfield early and often.

    Either way I can see Hillman being a sneaky fantasy pickup by midseason. Beat the rush and get him before the other owners in your league know his name.