Fantasy Football 2012: 3 Reasons DeMarco Murray Should Be a First-Round Pick

Jamal Collier@@JCollierDAnalyst IIIAugust 18, 2012

The sky's the limit for DeMarco Murray.
The sky's the limit for DeMarco Murray.Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Sophomore running back DeMarco Murray should be a top-five fantasy RB this season.

The Dallas Cowboys’ violent rusher has obvious talent, but it’s not just talent that makes fantasy football superstars. Players need the opportunity to show off their skills as well.

Murray should get his. The Cowboys need him to do so for three reasons.


The Talent

Dallas was significantly more successful last season when it fed the ball to Murray in excess of 20 times per game. It did so five times, and went 5-0 during those games.

Murray averaged 26.8 touches (22.8 rushes, four receptions) over that time. He compiled 168.6 total yards (137.4 rushing, 31.2 receiving) per game and added two touchdowns.

Projecting those numbers over a 16-game schedule, Murray would have tallied an obscene 429 touches (365 carries, 64 catches) for about 2,700 (2,198 rushing, 499 receiving) total yards and six touchdowns.

It is unlikely that any player would stay healthy for a full season with that type of a workload, but it has been done before.

Adrian Peterson (363 rushes, 1,760 yards, 14 touchdowns) and Chris Johnson (408 touches, 2,509 total scrimmage yards, 16 total touchdowns) accomplished similar feats in their second NFL seasons (2008 and 2009, respectively).

That’s elite company, but if Murray remains healthy and is given enough opportunities to produce, his name will be mentioned in the same breath as those two star runners.

The addition of blocking fullback Lawrence Vickers doesn't hurt either.


The Results

DeMarco Murray’s impact on the Cowboys is also seen when he’s not on the field. In games that Murray did not touch the ball more than 12 times, the team scored 9.1 fewer points per game and went 3-8.

The Week 16 game against the Philadelphia Eagles notwithstanding, Tony Romo felt Murray’s absence as well.

Romo’s completion percentage was largely unaffected by whether or not Murray was used as a featured back (66.4 percent when he was, 66.6 percent when he wasn't). He threw 6.4 times more per game and averaged 48.5 more passing yards per game without Murray in a featured role.

However, Romo’s touchdown-to-turnover ratio was vastly more favorable in games when Murray was used as a feature back (12 touchdowns, two turnovers in five games) than when he wasn't (19 touchdowns, 11 turnovers in 10 games).


The Scoring Chances


One knock on Murray’s fantasy prospects for the 2012 season is the fact that he has two career NFL touchdowns on his resume.

The dude scored 65 total touchdowns at Oklahoma. That’s 23 more than Adrian Peterson. It took him four years (compared to Peterson’s three) to gain that statistical advantage, but suffice to say he knows where the end zone is.

Of the 38 offensive touchdowns Dallas scored in 2011, only five were of the rushing variety. That number would be 13 if the Cowboys had the league average proportion of rushing touchdowns. Murray would surely be a beneficiary of that increase.

11 of Dallas’ 33 passing touchdowns last year walked away with Laurent Robinson to Jacksonville in free agency.

There’s a void to be filled. The Cowboys didn't bring in any game-breaking receiving threats or add running backs which pose a real threat to stealing carries, but they need a touchdown-maker.

DeMarco Murray can be that man.