2013 Fantasy Football: DeMarco Murray is Fragile, But Who is His Handcuff?

By ericbeuning
Andrew Weber USA TODAY Sports

If you’re one of the poor souls who have owned DeMarco Murray in the last two seasons, then you’ve probably felt the burning frustration that comes from his durability issues. He has missed nine of the Dallas Cowboys‘ games in the last two seasons and been dinged up for several more even after coming back. I know a lot of people will walk into their Fantasy Draft with hopes that Murray’s early injury history is just a fluke. I don’t think it is.

If we take a closer look at his history we see a litany of concerns. He was redshirted his freshman year with the Oklahoma Sooners. He missed spring practices the following year with a slow healing knee. He followed that up with a lingering hamstring injury at the start of the 2008. In his final year in college there were several games where he played dinged up.

I hate to say it, but Murray’s bones are apparently made from candy canes attached by ligaments of yarn. I’m a little concerned if I use harsher words and he reads them it might give him a concussion. The bottom line is that there are just some guys who have all the talent to be an elite running back but completely lack the durability to be able to play the position for a long period of time.

The other problem is that Murray tends to fall to a place in Fantasy Drafts somewhere in the third or fourth round which makes him tempting to grab if you still haven’t picked your No. 2 running back.

When you grab most injury prone backs you look down the list for their handcuff and mentally move that guy’s name up a round or three. With Murray it’s not quite so easy, because beneath him is this strange slew of guys that haven’t done anything to stand out in their short careers. Trying to pick Murray’s handcuff from Phillip Tanner, Lance Dunbar and Joseph Randle feels a little bit like trying to win the Russian Roulette scene in the movie The Deer Hunter.

We could sit down and try to do a statistical analysis of the three but to be honest there isn’t a lot there.

Tanner and Dunbar both have one year of experience. Tanner actually would have two had he not been placed on IR as a rookie. Dunbar is currently hobbled and gimping around in a walking boot. We’ve seen enough of these two guys to know that they can make some plays, but ultimately their ceiling is going to be limited. It’s fair to assume that if Murray goes down and Joseph Randle doesn’t win the solo starting job outright that the Cowboys will turn to a committee approach for the run game.

So if there’s any hope of picking one name and spinning to the empty chamber, we need to take a look at Joseph Randle.

The Cowboys drafted him in the 5th round out of Oklahoma State, where he scored the second most touchdowns in school history behind only Barry Sanders. He ran a 4.59 in the 40 yard dash and also competed as a multi-event track athlete. Admittedly at 6-foot and 205-pounds he needs to fill out more in the weight room, but he proved durable through college. At the end of the day he’s the only guy with enough upside to warrant picking.

My Advice is if Murray falls to the 4th round or later and you’ve got a hole in your starting lineup that he can fill, then you probably have to take him. For a handcuff or as trade bait, the only guy worth taking a chance on is Joseph Randle. I’d pick him right before you pick your kicker or defense. Then just hold on and hope for the best!

Eric Beuning is a Fantasy Football writer for RantSports.com.

Follow him on Twitter @ericbeuning or add him to your network on Google.

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