Why Fantasy Football Owners Must Lean on DeMarco Murray Down the Stretch

Sean ODonnellContributor IIINovember 7, 2013

Nov 3, 2013; Arlington, TX, USA; Dallas Cowboys running back DeMarco Murray (29) runs with the ball against Minnesota Vikings safety Mistral Raymond (41) at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports
Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

DeMarco Murray's lack of production against the Minnesota Vikings in Week 9 was devastating to fantasy owners. After missing two weeks with a sprained MCL, more than four carries were expected from the third-year Dallas Cowboys running back.

Head coach Jason Garrett decided that the best course of action against the Vikings would be through the air. Minnesota is currently ranked 11th against the run and 29th against the pass, which makes the game plan sensible.

Dallas only ran the ball nine times during the game, letting quarterback Tony Romo throw 51 passes—not exactly a balanced offense.

Though the Cowboys ultimately won the game, the close 27-23 contest against a far inferior team should be a catalyst for greater use of the running game going forward.

Of the three running backs that received at least one carry against the Vikings, Murray was the only one to produce. Murray was able to gain 31 yards on just four carries for an average of 7.8 yards per rush.

Rookie Joseph Randle carried once for three yards and Lance Dunbar carried three times for a loss of six yards.

Clearly, Murray is the most viable option going forward for the Cowboys.

On the season, Murray has now gained 459 yards on 45 carries and is averaging 4.8 yards per attempt. He has also reached the end zone three times. He is a valuable receiver too, recording 30 receptions for 183 yards in 2013.

The Cowboys face off against the New Orleans Saints in Week 10—a very favorable matchup for Murray and the Cowboys' rushing attack. The Saints are currently ranked 25th against the run, allowing an average of 121.3 rushing yards per game.

Not only does the upcoming matchup against the Saints look good for Murray, but the remainder of the Cowboys' 2013 schedule does as well:

Cowboys' Remaining Opponents vs. the Run
WeekOpponentRank vs. Run

Despite playing three teams that are ranked in the top 10 against the run, Dallas is one of the few squads that can create an advantage due to their vertical aerial attack.

Romo and the Cowboys offense are able to keep safeties away from the line of scrimmage by utilizing the skill set of Dez Bryant and Co. to create room for running backs to maneuver underneath. In these situations, Murray becomes a threat as a receiver as well as a runner.

Fantasy owners should expect to see Murray's carries well into the double digits for the remainder of the season. Now that he is healthy once again and has proven that he is the most capable running back in the Dallas backfield, he is a surefire start over the Cowboys' remaining seven games.

Leaning on Murray will be beneficial to every fantasy owner's run to a championship in 2013.