DeMarco Murray: Injury Will Keep Cowboys RB from Being Fantasy Stud Down Stretch

Matt FitzgeraldCorrespondent IIINovember 17, 2012

ARLINGTON, TX - SEPTEMBER 23:  DeMarco Murray #29 of the Dallas Cowboys at Cowboys Stadium on September 23, 2012 in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Due to a sprained left foot, Dallas Cowboys RB DeMarco Murray is doubtful for Sunday's home game against the Cleveland Browns. Fantasy owners should be scared away from Murray due to the injury, but also due to the style of head coach Jason Garrett's offense. Both will prevent Murray from being a fantasy stud down the stretch of the 2012 season despite a relatively easy slate ahead.

Murray was expected to be a stud No. 1 option after breaking out in the middle of 2011, but that hasn't been the case due to all the talent the Cowboys have at wide receiver and an under-utilized fullback in Lawrence Vickers.

With the combination of Vickers and Murray, the Cowboys could easily have an outstanding rushing attack—assuming Murray was healthy, of course.

Unfortunately for fantasy nuts and for Murray in general, Garrett's play-calling and schematics lend themselves to a bunch of single back sets and very few opportunities for Vickers to pave the way as he did in Cleveland and Houston before.

A foot sprain is difficult for a running back to overcome. Considering how much Murray counts on making a lot of cuts, dictated by his shifty style of running, it becomes all the more difficult. Without a viable lead blocker typically ahead of him, Murray has to make more men miss than he would if Vickers were in front of him.

Heck, Dallas could have a marginally better record if the offense were more balanced. Part of the team's immense struggles this year have been due to not getting it done in the red zone despite racking up nearly 373 yards per game.

Even before he was hurt, the former Oklahoma Sooner star averaged 4.4 yards per carry. That's still just over one yard lower than what he averaged the previous year, largely due to the early breakout by WR Kevin Ogletree.

It's mainly due to being so one-dimensional, and for some reason the Cowboys continue to plow ahead with Dez Bryant, Miles Austin and Ogletree on the field at once.

There is enough play-making ability with Bryant, Austin and historically-great tight end Jason Witten to run power sets, yet Dallas doesn't do it frequently enough.

The cards are all stacked against Murray in terms of the Cowboys' current offensive identity, but his injury is going to be the real hurdle to overcome. Much of Murray's fantasy value hinges on his ability to catch the ball out of the backfield. That often comes on screens or checkdowns where he immediately has to make someone miss.

Unless that foot is very nearly 100 percent, it will be difficult for Murray to get any traction—or consistent production—for the remainder of the season. Even though the Cowboys play just one more winning team, tread with caution if you're banking on Murray to redeem his 2012 campaign.