The Cowboys are definitely a flawed team which both infuriates Cowboys fans and delights Cowboy-haters. There isn’t a much more polarizing team in the league–either you’re a Cowboy fan or the attention paid to “America’s Team” drives you crazy. While Dallas has issues, most of them lie on the defensive side of the ball as over the last few years the Cowboys offense has performed pretty well (at least until crunch time). That includes their rushing game which has turned out several fantasy-relevant RB in the last few years.
The Dallas system is always looking for a “feature back,” and they have a pretty good one when DeMarco Murray can be on the field. This offseason, his backup Lance Dunbar has generated quite a bit of buzz and is also worth keeping an eye on in your fantasy draft.
As we continue our RB rundowns series, we start the day with a look at the Cowboys backfield from a fantasy football perspective. Dallas’ backfield hasn’t been short on points the last few years, so they definitely deserve consideration if you can get one of their running backs at the right price. The ranking listed next to the player should help you determine what that price should be since it’s based on my overall top 80 rankings which should give you a good idea of where I think they should fit on your roster.
RB, Dallas Cowboys
Murray has the full complement of skills for a top flight running back. He catches the ball out of the backfield, gets goal line carries, makes big plays, and carries a heavy workload in the offense. There’s really only one thing holding Murray back from being a fantasy stud: injuries. Since taking over as a top back he’s had a litany of injuries and hasn’t been able to stay on the field enough to be a reliable contributor for a full season. The upside with Murray is enormous, but it comes with the caveat “if healthy” which has been a big if in the last few years. At the end of your first round, you could definitely do much worse, but if you get Murray make sure you have the depth to absorb an injury just in case. Much like Arian Foster, you definitely want to try and handcuff Murray or at least get plenty of options to proceed in a worst case scenario. On the other hand, if Murray is on the field and fully healthy, he could challenge the elite trio at the very top of fantasy drafts (McCoy, Charles, Peterson).
RB, Dallas Cowboys
Dunbar showed he can fill in for Murray when given the chance rushing for 82 yards on 12 carries last Thanksgiving, but he sustained his own injury at the end of that game blowing out his knee and requiring surgery. He’s back and reportedly fully healthy this preseason, and the Cowboys plan to work him into their regular rotation and get him 10-15 touches per game. Dunbar has some definite upside and makes sense as a late-round gamble based on Murray’s health issues and the way new offensive coordinator used the two-back system last season in Detroit making fantasy relevancy of both Reggie Bush and Joique Bell. Don’t overspend on Dunbar, but he’s a sleeper I like late in 10-team leagues.
RB, Dallas Cowboys
Randle is a deep-league sleeper who could pay off big time if Murray does go down with injury again. In fact, Randle is a truer “handcuff” option since he would be the player whose value would increase the most with a Murray injury. Dunbar’s role is more of a change of pace, outside rusher while Randle is more of an inside, first-and-second-down back. Randle looked good in the Cowboys preseason opener, but won’t get many touches once the season gets rolling barring injury. If you want a handcuff or need a last round pick in deep leagues, he’s worth a look, but in most standard formats just be ready to grab him off the wire in case of Murray injury.
This post is part of a series detailing the backfield situation for each NFL team from a fantasy football perspective. Check out my top 80 rankings and click here for the full series.