DeMarco Murray is inching closer to his return as the starting running back of the Dallas Cowboys. If it happens in Week 11 against the Cleveland Browns though, he should not return to your fantasy football starting linuep.
There have been conflicting reports about Murray's foot injury all week. The most recent comes from ESPN's Ed Werder, who has sources reporting that Murray is looking less and less likely to hit the field come Sunday.
Cowboys not optimistic about DeMarco Murray return against Browns as they are skeptical sprained foot is sufficiently healed #cowboys— Ed Werder (@Edwerderespn) November 16, 2012
It's clear Dallas doesn't want to further jeopardize the health of their franchise back, especially since this is the second major injury he's sustained in just two professional seasons. If Dallas is going to make the playoffs it will be behind an improved running game, and they can't improve much more with Felix Jones at the helm.
However, head coach Jason Garrett expressed confidence in Murray's ability to play without practice on Thursday. His status has been in doubt because he hasn't been able to do anything substantial at practice, but Garrett has faith that Murray is just fine without it.
Jason Garrett says DeMarco Murray will do "something" at practice today. As for Sunday? Garrett said he could play wihtout practicing much— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) November 15, 2012
Don't be fooled by the what Garrett had to say. Murray shouldn't be in your lineup this week, even if it's hurting pretty bad with bye-weeks and other injuries kicking in.
Against the Browns, it's unlikely the team would use him for more than 10-12 touches, easing him back into game shape will utilize his skills as the team's best rusher.
Fantasy prospects aside, should Murray suit up this weekend?
But long term, Murray is much better served getting ready for divisional games against Washington and Philadelphia, as well as back-to-back games with New Orleans and Pittsburgh. Simply put, this isn't the game for him to breakout yet again.
Grab Felix Jones if someone in your league let him go. He'll see 15-20 touches out of the backfield against the Browns, one of the league's worst fantasy teams against RBs. Heck, Lance Dunbar might even see some action.
If Murray plays—an option that's sounding less likely by the hour—he's a good bet to put up about 50 yards and maybe find the end zone. But he's not worth the risk associated with what happens if he fails to suit up or aggravates that foot, a real possibility with his injury history.
Week 11 is critical in fantasy football. Most teams are fighting for a playoff spot or arranging seeding. Don't leave things in Murray's legs, because they're not ready to carry your team to a championship win just yet.
Ethan Grant is a featured columnist and syndicated writer for B/R's Breaking News Team.